At the request of one of my readers, I am going to try and convey what it felt like for the first few days after the wee man moved in. The UK adoption process is something I want to help people understand more about. Hopefully this will help.
During the build-up to the boy moving in I remember a clear feeling of awe for him. I saw many pictures and videos, and I started to develop a view of him similar to how a number one fan views their pop idol, or sporting hero.
Once he was in, the first day was a bit like having my own iconic figure living in my house. I was star struck, and a little bit scared.
The first day, a Friday, felt very natural, the wee man was very calm, we played, we giggled, the routine went well, and he slept like a baby. I did think critically about whether I was playing the right games with him, but my wife pointed out to observe his reaction. He was chuckling away, so I assumed he was okay.
Days 2 and 3
The weekend was good, however, the day before we had been lured into a false sense of security. I think the boy had still been in ‘these people are fun’ mode. Now he was in ‘when I am going home’ mode.
I won’t share the detail, but it is not uncommon for children who are going through a period of anxiety to experience… toilet trouble. We had such an experience, but (and I may be completely wrong on this) I felt that it helped us bond with the boy.
We also had a couple of restless nights. The wee man was troubled by his new surroundings, and took exception to being in a new bed for a second and third night.
This was one of the most heart breaking feelings I have ever had. To know that this tiny person is feeling such loss and separation, and knowing they can’t understand why, is very, very hard. I felt a huge burden on my shoulders those nights, and I wished I could take his pain away.
The training you get during the adoption process is useful though, and we reassured him as best as we could. We knew that only time would build the bond, and allow him to trust us. It doesn’t happen immediately, so we just had to be sure we were there.
He had moved in just before the snow hit our part of the country, and so, with the pristine white blanket outside, we had a tremendous opportunity to play, and get some much needed fresh air.
We were well aware of the need to bed down our son, and get him used to our house, so for the first three days, I don’t think we left the house. In fact, I am not even sure he saw every room, and we only have five, so it was nice to venture into the garden at least.
I was still on cloud 9. The routine was going well, and the wee man seemed to be bonding with both of us as well as we could have predicted. It was still early days at this point, a honeymoon period, if you will, but we could not have wished for anything else. Admittedly, his happy and confident nature made life a little easier for us, but we were still wary of his situation, and didn’t want to get complacent.
Days 6 and 7
I know that adoptive parents sometimes don’t develop a love for their child straight away, and I know that having an adopted child won’t replace the loss of not having your own children.
I was very lucky. I remember at this point thinking that my life was complete. I had nurtured a love for my son, even before I met him. I knew that all the pain and heartache of infertility and IVF, and even the hardship of a bumpy adoption process was definitely worth going through for this.
I won’t forget the first week with the wee man; I had so many moments of looking upon him, and feeling so proud; pride for him, and pride for my wife and I. Fortune played a great part in experiencing these feelings at such an early stage, so I won’t take that for granted.
If you are going through the adoption process within the UK, and you are having a hard time of it, then I hope you can hold in your heart a wish to have the same feelings that I did. I am not going to patronise you, it won’t help, but I have seen my share of low points. All I can say is this:
The adoption process is no walk in the park, but it can work. You have to stick at it. Good luck.