Adoption real life stories - being a parent

When we hoped we could be adoptive parents, friends arranged for me to meet their friends who had adopted their children. It was really helpful and I felt inspired.

The council invited us to an introductory meeting, at that point we realised we couldn't do anything other than be ourselves. We were and are ordinary people, trying to do an extraordinary thing.

We were approved to adopt two children aged 4-7. At the ages of 44 and 45 we were matched with Susan and became her parents when she was 16 months old. Eight months later we adopted her birth sister who was 11 months old.

Things don't always work out as you imagine. We found it useful to have as our focus that adoption isn't about 'providing us' with the children we didn't have, it's about us giving children a loving family home with the best parents for them. Parents don't 'choose' they are chosen. As parents we have to be 'good enough' and then some.

Our parents, our children's grandparents, adore our children. They can't though, always understand the reaction of our children to certain things, particularly change, however seemingly insignificant.

As a parent, you worry about seeming to be over indulgent in the way you deal with things. I think my parents think we should implement more 'punishment' in terms of 'time out' rather than 'time in' which we do. You have to follow your instincts. I know when my daughter is anxious she hits out, she shouts and it can be alarming to see. But she finds more than one request at a time difficult to cope with, has to check doors, windows etc before she goes to bed. Change - which could be as small as someone going home after spending a lovely afternoon with her - can unsettle her.

As adoptive parents, we have to explain, explain and explain again in the hope that you'll gain some understanding. When you get that understanding from supportive family and friends it's invaluable. "Hello Susan's mummy," chorused the children in my eldest daughter's Y3 class as I went in to 'do a session' on her life story book which has pictures of her birth parents.

I said the book was very special to Susan and us, her parents and sister, because it's about her early life and how we came together as a family. I said that some adults can have a baby but not all adults can look after babies and children. Some adults can't have a baby but can look after babies and children. That's why we adopted Susan - and her sister. Families come together in different ways and they're all special.

While Susan sat on my knee at the front of the class, the teaching assistant wiped a tear from her eye and the teacher smiled encouragingly, I finished by asking for questions. All hands shot up. I braced myself. "Wasn't she a beautiful baby?" said Chloe. "Did Susan find it easy or difficult to ride a pony?" said David. "Has Susan REALLY driven a tractor?" said Ash. "This is MY mummy" said Susan.

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