Dear Darling,

It’s that time of year again, can’t quite believe that it’s come round so quickly. It’s your birthday again, and as you remind us so regularly, you’re now five!

Wow! what a year you’ve had. You’ve done so much, and grown up so much too. You really understand birthdays now, and it’s lovely to see you excited about yours. You’re so good at choosing gifts and making cards for everyone else, but now it’s your turn. It’s your 3rd birthday with Mummy & Daddy, so you’ve now had more birthdays with us than you’ve had anywhere else.

I was having a think about the last year, and all you’ve achieved. It makes me so proud to look back to see how far you’ve come, and it makes me excited to think about what’s around the corner for you. I think a highlight for you was going on holiday, twice! You really loved our holidays, especially the swimming. To think that this time last year you wouldn’t let go of us in the pool. Now you’re very happy to splash around on your own and are getting more confident in the water every time we go swimming. You summed up our holiday well when you proclaimed one particular day as ‘the best day ever!!”

Your biggest change was starting school, and as usual you took it all in your stride. You walked in on the first day with a smile on your face, and straight away got busy playing with the sparkly play doh. I am amazed by your enthusiasm and ability to learn. I still can’t quite believe that you can read properly now. I think it’s been one of my greatest parenting pleasures seeing you learn to read. I love reading with you, and it’s been a privilege to see a whole new world open up in front of you. I have to be careful now because you know when I’ve read something wrong, you definitely keep me on my toes! Your writing and drawing has come on loads too. I Love that one of your favourite things to do is to draw and colour. Maybe you’ll be an artist one day, who knows…

Although I’m proud of you for doing so well academically at school, I am also very grateful that you’re doing well in other areas. Your teacher tells us that you’re a great little friend, and very caring. You eat well, and have a go at everything. Another of my highlights was seeing you singing Away in a Manger in the Christmas Nativity. I’ll never forget your sweet little voice singing so confidently and clearly. You definitely deserved your merit certificate for that. I love coming to collect you from school everyday. You always run out happy to see me, with a big smile on your face. It makes me smile too.

Another great achievement has been starting gymnastics. You’ve done so well settling in there, and working hard each lesson. When I watched you, you listened hard and had lots of fun too. You’ve got so much stronger these last few months, and are getting really good at your running and scooting. I love going for our run/scoots together. You’re a great little motivator and help me keep going. It’s great that we’ve found something we like to do together. The hard work is paying off, and you managed to run the whole of the mini run the other day. What a difference two years makes. When we first did the run you struggled and fell over. This time you ran it all without stopping, and had a big smile on your face. Your medal collection is catching up with mine now.

I think that this year you’ve started to understand your story a little bit more. We talk quite regularly about it, and will continue to do so as you want to. You coped really well with meeting up with your relative and foster carer. I hope that these meet ups are helpful for you, even if it is all a bit confusing for you right now. I know you’d like to see them all more than we do, and maybe in the future, we will. I know for sure that they all love you so much. They think about you lots, and they’ll definitely be thinking about you and missing you on your birthday. I know that they’re happy you’re happy, and they’re glad you’re thriving in our family. They will always be a part of your past, and of your future too. I was so proud of how well you engaged in the letterbox bits we sent, and I know that they meant a lot to those that received them. I know your Birth Mum remembers you and thinks of you, even if she’s not able to write back right now.

You’re such a great big cousin, and It’s been lovely to see the bond with your cousins grow this last year. They look up to you, and I can’t wait to see the adventures you’ll get up to in the next year. I know you’d like to be a big sister, and I know you’d make a brilliant one. I’m hopeful one day you will. For now I’m glad we get to enjoy you on your own, to soak you up and give you our undivided love and attention whilst you’re still little.

I want you to know that although you’re now five, you’re still our little girl. If you need us to look after you like we would a baby, that’s ok, we won’t stop that just yet. We’ll go at your pace, and do what you need, don’t worry about that.

You know that my favourite song for us at the moment is ‘you are my sunshine’, and I think it sums you up perfectly. You most definitely are my sunshine, and you make me happy during the most grey of times, There have been some very grey moments this year for me, but you’ve kept me going and kept me smiling. The song says ‘you’ll never know how much `I love you’, but I hope you do know that I love you so much. I hope you know that even when I get cross, or when we fall out, I will always, always love you.

So, Happy Birthday little munchkin. Let’s celebrate the brilliant year you’ve had, and look forward to all the new adventures and experiences we’ll have in the year to come……