“There’s no denying it – it is hard!” Stories From Lockdown -

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There is no denying it – it is hard!

I would love to be able to say that 13 weeks in, we have established a new routine, a new normal, and every day is full of new opportunity and delight, but this is no fairytale. The reality is we take each day as it comes: some are truly inspiring and give you a glimmer of hope, that maybe you do actually have your sh*t together, while others we plough through with our heads down.

Routine was once a formidable safety blanket, but introducing and more importantly maintaining a new structure in a two up, two down terrace house, which is no longer just their home, but now an office, a gym, a playground, a school and canteen, is just damn-near impossible. Their emotions are shot, my children have already grieved heavily in the past. The loss of their birth family, their foster family, and now this.

I understand to many, they may feel I am over exaggerating, but the truth is our five year olds have experienced more trauma than many of us will face in a lifetime, and to have their routine, family and friends suddenly stripped from them alongside the emotional anguish attached is an experience they only know too well.

After the honeymoon period of being at home with Dad and Dadi ended, about two weeks in, the realisation that this wasn’t going away hit. Their behaviours started to regress, and past feelings, along with their dragon-like tantrums, started to raise their ugly head again. Chaos well and truly descended!

So, we took each day as it came, reverting back to old tactics which we were first introduced to from their foster family. Their days became structured around their meal times, breakfast, lunch and dinner, because as long as they knew they wouldn’t go hungry, which they once did, they felt secure. We then dotted in some home-schooling, garden play, PE with Joe Wicks (who I hope to never have in my living room again) around this, keeping it very much lead by them.

We vastly reduced the number of video calls. We discovered as time went on that they could unsettle the boys. The presence of a family or friend, on a screen, in our house, with only verbal interaction combined with their already mixed feelings of uncertainty, and lack of understanding only enticed their already hyper vigilant and sometimes manic behaviour. Instead, we hold off video calls until they ask, which is usually when they are excited to tell them something or want to show something off.

I myself have also struggled. Just before lockdown I was made redundant from a job I loved. Not to be too disheartened, I had a number of very positive interviews under my belt and opportunities started to dot across the horizon, yet this all came to a halt with the uncertainty brought on by lockdown. I love the boys but, personally, being a stay at home dad was never something I desired. My career is part of my identity, something I could succeed in that was my own, but now in lockdown, and with the light at the end of the tunnel constantly on dim, it is difficult to motivate yourself when you don’t actually feel you are working towards anything.

That said, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom and now as we enter our 14th week, those dragon-like tantrums are securely reigned, they are returning to school in some shape-or-form in a couple of weeks and we can meet other families in the park.

The chorus of ‘Dadi, he hit me!’ or ‘DADIIIII, he took my toy’ will resound in my ears long after lockdown but if you had the choice, being locked down with your brother who also happens to be your best friend doesn’t seem like a bad option. The pair of them are completely different, yin & yang, but lockdown has meant that they have not only found comfort in each other, but learned to appreciate each other’s differences and enjoys each other’s company through the sharing of the others interests.

I no longer feel guilty about their screen-time and the worry that they may not develop at the same rate as their peers has well and truly been erased. Comparison is the devil and as long as they feel happy, safe and content and sleep well at night we are happy.

So, for now, whether it is a long walk or simply vegging out in front of the TV, we’ll take it, and when routine finally presents itself again, we’ll relish it but more importantly be ready!!

When our daughter’s social worker visited our home to see that we could accommodate the little person about to enter into our lives, she mentioned the “honeymoon period” that adopters often have. We said we hope that our “honeymoon period” would be as short as possible, because it’s a honeymoon for adopters but a nightmare for the adoptee.

Well, how about no honeymoon period at all?

The day we brought our daughter home wasn’t anything like we imagined it would be. We knew it was going to be a bit sad for her, but we thought there would also be happiness, excitement. Instead, it was one of the toughest days in the lives of all three of us.

The first few weeks were incredibly challenging and lonely. We had moments of happiness that felt like they were surrounded by grief and sadness. We remembered that we were told this might happen in our training, and our social worker Jane was always just a phone call away – day or night, 24/7/365.

That made it easier, and the tools that St David’s provided us with were producing results, which gave us a great sense of empowerment. We felt like “we got this”- and that whatever would be thrown at us, we can handle it.

Adopting an older child has its difficulties. It sometimes feels like we’re “sharing” her with her birth family and foster carer. She’s also burdened with so much guilt, that often if we have happy moments she’ll feel like she has to compensate by expressing her loyalty and love to the people she’s no longer with.

On the other hand, in many ways it makes things easier. She can talk and has the self awareness to help us understand what’s bothering her. She also has clear memories of her family and a connection to her past. That, we feel, takes a huge burden off her in terms of her identity and also off of us as we don’t need to “carry” her past for her – she knows what she’s been through.

There are amazing highs and devastating lows in this journey. Two weeks after our daughter moved in with us, one of our two cats of 9 years died unexpectedly. It was crushing, but we had to deal with it while we had a child who was herself grieving and finally letting out the pain that she had kept inside for a long time.

For a long time it didn’t really feel like parenting. It felt like supporting a child who was going through stuff that adults would struggle with, a child who feels like at any moment her whole world can turn on its head and once again she’ll have to start over.

Of course, when that period finally started to end after the first couple of months, other challenges came up. There’s always something, and every day has its trials and tests. But it’s different now: it feels more like parenting, she feels more and more like a child who’s confident in her place in the world. A child with a feeling of self-worth and who isn’t afraid of new experiences.

Seeing that difference in her, and hearing her social worker and other professionals say what a different girl she is to the one who moved in with us, that makes it all worth it. With St David’s amazing support, we’re doing OK.

 

I remember planning my outfit. It sounds ridiculous but I remember the conversation with my partner, Andrew, the night before we visited St David’s. I wanted something that said I was responsible but fun, light-hearted but protective, and fun but stern too. Upon realising that I didn’t own anything that could present all of that, I decided on my usual clobber – but with a smart shoe.

To be honest, Andrew and I did little to no research. We didn’t want our experience to be hindered by other people’s perspectives, or to be disillusioned by the whole process due to one person’s difficult experience. We treated it as if we were to read reviews: you always focus on the negative responses on TripAdvisor, as opposed to the positive. So we decided not to consume any of it. That didn’t stop me making up scenarios in my head, but it did stop them from being backed up with real stories, which wasn’t what I needed right then.

The next day we called into St David’s during one of their Drop-In Sessions and we couldn’t have felt more welcome. I have completely invented this trepidation, this idea that I would have to present myself as someone different. This very quickly subsided once we sat down with the social workers. Here, we were asked some questions to assess our readiness for adoption, but we never felt like we were being judged.  The discussion was informative but not overloading. It gave us the information required for us to be able to make an informed decision as to whether we wished to fill out the initial paperwork, progressing us to the next stage. This is literally: name, address, D.O.B, family pets and any other information we would like to disclose. We found ourselves filling out the initial paperwork there and then, although we weren’t pressured to and could just as easily have taken it away with us to discuss further.

Having come away from the Drop-In Session, we were glad we decided to limit our research. From St David’s information pack and the initial conversation with the social workers, we felt they would tell us what we needed to know to put us in good stead for the assessment process and the start of this journey.

You will always ask yourself: Am I ready? Am I good enough?

I felt I didn’t just have to learn how to become a Dadi, I also had to earn the right to be one.

We were asked by others and, more often, by ourselves: Is now the right time?

Were we 100% ready? Probably not – renovating your garden during introductions is not advised. But we did it, and we embraced the entire process from the start. And did we take ownership of it? Yes. Did we work through it with our social worker at a pace that was comfortable for us? Yes. Did we ask 101 and then some questions throughout, regardless of how stupid they sounded? Yes. Did it completely engulf our lives for 9 months? Yes!!

I can’t stress this enough: embrace it! The assessment process covered a wide array of topics around adoption – it succeeded in balancing the intensity of raising an adopted child, with the absolute “worth it” moments of forming a family. It is a positive, thought-provoking and informative experience, answering all the questions we had and many that we hadn’t even thought of. You may feel talking about your experiences as intrusive and daunting, but in fact it was highly therapeutic.

You are cautioned to expect problems and mentally you prepare for the worst, but to date, all has been well! We have the normal age-related behaviours and other aspects that perhaps need some fine tuning; however, all in all, it feels like they have always been here with us.  Together we have formed a strong attachment and we’re confident that we will manage any problems that occur in the future – as a family.

We have St David’s to thank for that!

In the end, it is completely worth it! We have beautiful, funny, energetic children and a very different feel to our home. Toys have taken over our house, nothing we own is clean anymore, fish fingers have become a delicacy, and we frequently hear:

“Dad, Dadi… look!”

“Good morning, Dad! Good morning Dadi!”

“I need a poo!”

“No, I don’t want to go to bed!”

And: “I love you Dad and Dadi.”

These are the sounds of our family setting. This is our story. It may not appear ‘perfect’, but that’s the best bit: it’s those bits in between, those imperfect bits, where you learn the most about each other, where you develop that trust that begins to connect you as a family.

A forever family.

 

St David’s Children Society has Drop-In hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 12pm – 2pm. Why not stop by and start your journey like Andrew and Damian?

“Don’t write off a child because of their age, it’s not their fault they’re growing older in the system” – future adopters from Llanelli support campaign to reduce numbers of children in care

A Llanelli couple in the process of adopting siblings is getting behind a new campaign to reduce the number of Welsh children in foster care who wait 12 months or more to find a permanent home.

Ben and husband Chris aged 35 and 37, are supporting Adopting Together, a new project supported by the National Adoption Service and led by St David’s Children’s Society aimed at placing children who have waited over 12 months for an adoptive family.

These children can be aged four and over, are part of sibling groups, have uncertain or additional needs, or are from a BME background

Bringing together best practice components under one, distinct model, it’s the first project of its kind to involve a specific collaboration between local authority regional adoption agencies, voluntary adoption agencies, Cardiff University, therapeutic partners and other key professionals such as medical advisors and schools.

The approach centres on an innovative model of psychological and therapeutic support for adoptive parents, both pre and post-placement*. This specific model is in addition to the established and ongoing programme of support offered to anyone who adopts through St David’s, which has been successfully placing children since 1942.

The project is also aiming to normalise access to post-adoption support, and break down barriers which might prevent people from adopting children who continue to wait for a family.

Ben and Chris, who live in Llanelli, are two of the first prospective adopters to benefit from the Adopting Together project. They are currently going through the adoption process and hope to welcome a brother and sister sibling group in the coming months.

The couple decided to explore adoption as a route to starting a family, initially thinking they would be best suited to having one or two boys, aged around two-years-old. However, a training course offered by St David’s opened their eyes to the benefits of adopting older children, so the couple widened the search to a mixed, older sibling group.

Ben explained: “The course enabled us to have more of an open mind with what we thought we were looking for, and we quickly realised there was no point overlooking children just because they didn’t fit our initial perceptions of the ‘ideal’ age. With older children, you have a much clearer picture of how they are developing than you might have with a baby.

“Our social worker from St David’s got to work straight away to find us an appropriate match, and we completely trusted them to find us children with similar interests and hobbies to us.

“The actual process itself hasn’t taken long at all – around one year by the time we’ve actually adopted if everything goes to plan.”

Ben added that the most beneficial part of the Adopting Together project so far has been the Team for the Child meeting, an intrinsic part of the new model, which brings together everyone involved in the child’s care, including psychologists, existing foster cares and social workers, to provide first-hand, real-time insights into the child/children.

He explained: “The meeting was an absolute eye-opener. Having that many people in one room together, each of whom knows the children in a different capacity, discussing their needs, was a unique opportunity.

“The meeting gave us first-hand insights into the children, using relevant and up-to-date information. We were able to question information on the children that was written in earlier reports – for example past behaviours or tendencies – and ask whether this information still stands, or whether changes have taken place since those comments were written.

“Having a foster carer in the room who currently lives with the children is a huge benefit, as they can corroborate or update information that’s no longer relevant, and offer day-to-day insights on the child’s behaviours, likes and dislikes. Similarly, having a psychologist there to offer professional insights is hugely important.

“Everyone in the room has the best interest of the child in mind, and each person can offer a different slant. Rather than just reading a bland written report, you have a clear and evidenced understanding of what to expect, and what parenting strategies you might need to consider. This means you enter the process with open eyes, based on accurate and wide-ranging information.”

Following the Team for the Child meeting, Ben and Chris now have to be approved at a matching panel, after which introductions and transition work with the children will take place.

Ben added: “We just can’t wait now. We feel so ready for the next stage, we’re excited about everything from teatimes, to family activities, trips to the beach, and introducing the children to our wider family. Everyone’s looking forward to meeting them.

“If I had one message for a prospective adopter, it would be to cast aside any preconceptions about age; instead focus on finding the right match. You shouldn’t write off any child because of their age, it’s not their fault they’re growing older in the system. We have been fantastically supported through this project and are delighted it’s being rolled out as a new initiative.”

Adopting Together will offer other families like Ben and Chris a structured, comprehensive suite of support at every stage of the adoption journey, including:

-Child-centred recruitment strategies
-Collaborative ‘Team for the Child’ meetings at the outset bringing together involved in the child’s care, including psychologists, existing foster cares and social workers, to provide first-hand insights
-A trained buddy who is also an adoptive parent and understands the joys and challenges of parenting children with specific needs
-Specifically designed transition sessions, including Theraplay, to ensure smooth transitions and introductions to an adoptive family
-Structured pre and post-placement consultation support, where issues and therapeutic interventions can be discussed

We follow three families who have adopted through St. David’s Children Society as they tell their stories from the time they first considered adoption to the ongoing support they receive from our agency.

The videos are available on our website under the ‘Adoption Family Sories’ section, or available on our Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube pages.

 

https://www.facebook.com/StDavidsChildrenSociety

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmz437De98tWZJzdUwjwwPg

https://vimeo.com/adoptionwales

When you make the initial call to enquire about adoption you have no idea of what awaits you. From our initial phone call, to our son being placed with us took over three years. People come to adoption for many reasons and you expect many things along the way to be difficult, but for us the hardest part was the waiting.

At the time of enquiry our birth daughter had just turned four years old and she was a part of our journey from the beginning. She met with Jodi our social worker and we had many discussions on what adoption meant and how it might affect her in an age appropriate way. It was difficult to explain the wait to her at that young age, when to her she wanted a brother tomorrow!

It is easy to become a little bit obsessed with ringing and emailing your social worker to ask for news, checking Linkmaker and the Children Who Wait newspaper and letting it crowd into everyday life. We had to find a balance between getting on with life with our daughter as well as making sure we kept up our reading and training so that when a match did come along we felt ready. In the meantime our daughter was getting older and our discussions became a lot deeper, so in some sense it was beneficial for her that she was actually 7 years old when our son came home as she had a much fuller understanding of the situation.

We did have a couple of matches in that time, but they fell through because it was felt that our family wasn’t right for that particular child. It’s immensely difficult to go through that at the time as you invest a lot of emotions in imagining that child with you, this part was also hard for our daughter as the child’s social worker wants to make sure you have prepared your birth child and so they are also involved in these linking meetings. Though your instinct is to shield your birth child from disappointment, it is just not possible as they need to go through this journey with you too. I believe as a family unit we are all a lot closer and stronger together as a result.

I remember a time when we were all in tears when a match fell through, as for a while it had seemed it was all going to work out; once we were approved our social worker felt almost like a friend to us as they were so supportive to us throughout.  We are glad that we trusted in the process and in the experience of our social worker to know what was right for us as when our son was linked to us, it was most definitely the perfect match.

Our son has been with us now for 9 months and it has been the best and worst of times adjusting to life as a family of four. Our daughter has been incredible and although it has been a difficult adjustment for her, the preparation and talking we did with her has paid off. They now have a pretty normal love/hate sibling relationship!

There are times in the adoption process where it feels like it has taken over your life as you are advised to not book any long holidays whilst waiting for a match and things like moving house, job or family bereavements (all of which happened to us) can also place delays on things. My advice to anyone waiting for a match would be to first and foremost, look after yourself. Concentrate your mind on your health and also on preparation. Read as much as you can, join social media support groups and if you can, book last minute weekend breaks away.

It is a very hard journey but it is worth every step. Our son has completed our family in the most beautiful way imaginable.

Yesterday, our family waved goodbye to our children’s social worker, Claire, for the last time. She had been with them since the beginning of their adoption journey. The term ‘journey’ is so very X-factor, but for once, it really does seem appropriate. Our children have been on a journey of epic proportions in their short lives and Claire has been with them for most of it. She was there when they were taken from their birth family and during their time with a foster family; when they first met us – their two Dads – a year later, and during our first year as a family together.

Two weeks ago the Adoption Orders were granted. Our children are now legally ours. No turning back.

As our children waved goodbye before running off to play, largely unaware of the significance of what was happening, my body was overwhelmed by racking sobs. Moments before, I’d watched as Claire quietly looked at them, taking them in for one last time. They were sitting next to each other on the floor laughing as they played together. It was, on the surface, entirely unremarkable; and yet, the fact that they were sitting together at all – concentrating, laughing happily – was remarkable. Through love, boundaries, playfulness and empathy, they have come such a long way within the space of two years.

It was Claire’s cue to leave. Her job was done. We now continue the journey together as a family, for the rest of our lives.

Adopting isn’t always easy. On the morning we went to pick the children up from their foster carers, I thought we’d made “the worst mistake of our lives”, “the ‘match’ was all wrong”, “we really couldn’t do this” – or words to that effect, peppered with others that are unprintable. I wanted to turn back. The first three months after they moved in were the most challenging of our lives. Everybody said that adopting siblings would be really tough, and we nodded and smiled and said, yes, yes, we understand; and then they arrived and we nodded and cried and said, no, no, WE REALLY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. Another father told me during that time that though he always loves his children, there are times when he doesn’t like them, and that’s OK. I quietly thought, “oh dear, I don’t like them but I really don’t love them either. What do I do with that?”

But the love grew.

I still have those days when I swear. A lot (in private). When you adopt, there will be days when your child will push you to your limit and you feel like the worst parent on planet earth. There will be days when you want to scream, and days when your children scream whilst wondering why you’re standing in the corner doing deep-breathing exercises in order not to scream back. As I said, it isn’t always easy; but parenting itself isn’t easy, and now we’ve made it through the first year we are encouraged that we must be doing something right because they are thriving. And the love? The love grows and grows….

Which is why there are those other moments, like the one I had yesterday when I sobbed, not because of the terror or the exasperation of it all, but simply because of the overwhelming love and pride I felt about how far our children had come, how we are part of that, and how we will continue to be part of that for the rest of our lives together.

No turning back; nor do I want to.

85 days ago our home and lives changed completely FOREVER!!!! The rooms we had ready, the car seats we bought and the mountains of toys we had given to us by friends and family finally had little fingers to play with the toys, get sticky fingers all over the car windows & even nimbler fingers to pick the wall stickers off the bedroom wall in an arc the size of a 2 year olds reach.

Our whole family has totally embraced its latest additions, from my 92yr old grandad to our 9 year old nephew, who wrapped up his own toy diggers to give as a birthday present to one of his new cousins.  Our 20 year old daughter is totally adored by her 3 younger sisters who were 2, 3 & 5 only 85 days ago and are now so quickly older and, in their opinion, wiser.  Some of the cute toddler phrases have already disappeared but we feel so lucky to have those early memories & are sure that conkers will forever be known as “wonkers”, “toetats” formerly known as tattoos & “a car with a flat”, also known as a campervan.  But perhaps the most memorable comment was after a visit from their social worker we were all sat on the floor chatting about the visit, saying that one day soon we won’t have a social worker & our gorgeous 5 year old, the thinker of the trio, screamed “Yay, you mean I really am staying forever!”

85 days is no time at all to learn each other’s funny ways, and that goes for all of us – we are all still learning what makes things easier, how to calm conflict, who likes broccoli today when they didn’t like it 3 days ago. We are all still learning though, and learning from each other every day, they share bits of their past with us in the same way we talk about things we did when we were small.

We were lucky enough to have our gorgeous girlies at the beginning of summer so were able to spend hours playing in the garden, or at the allotment and just exploring.  They love being outdoors so walking up a mountain in August all dressed as minions seemed like a fun thing to do.  They were very keen on planning a holiday, something they had unfortunately never experienced before, so with a lot of planning and testing out the “party bags” (sleeping bags) we decided to give it a go.  We put the tent up at home first and tried out the sleeping bags in their own beds, talked about what happened on a holiday (apparently you have a stick of rock and go to the beach!)  We chose somewhere close enough that, if things weren’t going as we had hoped, we could easily pack up and come home.  We spent days picking what things they wanted to take from home and what things would be here when we came back – it’s a good job we have an 8 seater mini-van !!!!! We had more cuddly toys than Hamleys, Pop-Up Pirate, enough crafts to last the winter and enough bedtime stories an insomniac would struggle to get through……… Our thought was to let them choose the things they feel are important and made them feel relaxed at home – we read ONE story, didn’t play dominoes or matching pairs once & poor old Pop-up Pirate stayed in his box! They adjusted so well to being away (it was only 2 nights in Brean) and if we hadn’t been hit by a vomiting bug (not pleasant in a tent) the holiday would have been a roaring success.  They had the best time ever and talk about it all of the time & are already planning the next holiday !!!!!!

So 85 days really isn’t long but feels like a lifetime and its impossible to imagine life without our little ones now and in another 85 days we will have another big milestone – their first Christmas at home – we have planned already what we have for breakfast and we NEED candy canes on the tree & in the middle of august spent the evening singing Christmas songs – we think they wanted to make sure we knew the same ones as them !  We are sure the next 85 days will be as amazing and briefly challenging as the last but each one is a step closer to another big family event – but never as big as the one 85 DAYS AGO

Our adoption journey had begun with a massive false start and an extended wait as we sorted out a few things, so when things actually moved forward we were impatient to get on. We started 2017 newly approved, knowing that there was a possible match with a sibling group whose social worker we’d met at an Adoption Exchange Day; however, we quickly came down to earth with a bump!

In our first meeting of the year with our social worker, we were told that the children’s needs were greater than we’d initially thought, that we wouldn’t be moving ahead with the match and that there were no other potential links at the moment. We were totally deflated and wondered when we’d hear any news, so it was a massive relief when just over a week later we got a message asking if we had seen a sibling group on Link Maker. We had, we remembered them (they were gorgeous) and we wanted to know more. We read and reread their profiles every day and after a few more weeks we had met with their social worker and family finder, and it was agreed to move forward with the match.

Over the following months we met with the foster carers, paediatrician and teachers. The more we heard about “our” children as we were thinking of them, the more certain we were that this match was right for us and them. We knew there was going to plenty to think about, the children would be losing contact with their older siblings and they had a close relationship with their carers after being with them for 18 months – a long time when you’re 6, practically forever when you’re 2 and a half.

As well as this new loss in the children’s lives, there were their different experiences to consider: neglect and abuse, one child being scapegoated whilst another was heavily favoured. Hearing about these aspects of their lives was difficult but also made us more keen to get on with it. So we filled our time with finishing bedrooms and the garden, taking no end of photos of ourselves around the house with the toys we were going to give them, and making their books about us and their forever home.

Finally we got to matching panel which was a lot less stressful but a lot more emotional than we expected – tears from us and the panel, but we were approved! The decision was ratified and our final step before intros was to meet the children’s older siblings. Knowing that they were going into long term foster placements and had been to their final contact with our children was tough but it was definitely worthwhile and our children are pleased that we “know” their big brother and sister.

Nothing can truly prepare you for the intensity of introductions. As helpful as the foster carers were, going into a stranger’s house for hours every day is not easy or comfortable.  We spent most time in their house in a small, very hot room and it was a relief when we moved on to the trips out part of the week.

It seemed strange at first being called mum and dad, and there were a few times when we had to remind each other – “that’s you they’re talking to”. It was exhausting and draining, and that was in spite of it all going smoothly. If anything, that was a worry to us as it was all too easy, I remember sitting in the review meeting saying that we knew it could only go downhill – and we were right.

The first few weeks seemed to consist of lots of crying (all of us) and refusing to eat (them). We quickly learnt that the change from a cot was not a good idea for our youngest, who on discovering she could get out of bed, spent the first evening doing just that, over and over and over again. A supermarket visit for a second bed guard the next morning sorted that out.

Other troubles haven’t been so easy to deal with; the relationship between the two older siblings can be challenging, seeing them take pleasure in deliberately spoiling things for the other is hard and the competition between them is grating at times; one’s seeming expectation and acceptance of poor treatment is upsetting and the teenager-like attitude of another’s can be infuriating. Add in tantrums that aren’t always from the toddler, plenty of oppositional behaviour, lying, screaming and shouting, and the difficulty of one child in particular desperately missing her foster carers, and it’s safe to say it’s been hard work.

But we know it could have been a lot worse and there have definitely been good times too. The children’s enthusiasm for even the smallest of things can be contagious; the caring nature of one and the sense of humour of another are lovely, and moments when we’re all able to have fun in the garden, play games and do puzzles or eat and talk together have kept us going. We’re getting to share the little moments that we’d hoped for, like cwtching on the sofa to watch a DVD, reading stories together and going to the park (although if we never have to push another swing, that will be fine with us!)

We’re lucky to have made some good friends through the different courses St Davids offer, and talking and messaging fellow adopters has been a godsend. It hasn’t mattered that we’re at different stages of the journey; they are there to moan to and share a laugh with. As good as our support network is, having people who are going through similar experiences to offload to is a great help.

As we head towards Christmas and the six month mark, we know that we are still in the early stages but we have gone from pretty much hating it and regretting ever hearing about adoption, then on to feeling like we’ve got visitors who outstayed their welcome, now to feeling like these children are ours. It’s certainly not a fairy tale, in truth we don’t always like our children but we’re getting there with loving them and I can now say we wouldn’t be parted from them. As we’ve told them, they are ours forever and we are (almost always) very happy about that.

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