Sunday, 22 October 2017

Adoption Week: Making memories

We've been away for a week and in the first three days the boys slept at my parents' house then at the in-laws' house then in our holiday cottage. Even tonight they were really unsettled and wouldn't go to sleep until quite late. Blue Bear asked me for a "really long hug Mummy." We're very strict about bedtime and when Blue first came to live with us we introduced him to our routine which is a bath, warm milk and bedtime stories. It took a while for him to get used to this way of doing things and now he even takes himself upstairs some evenings declaring, "I tired, I go to sleep."

There is so much he's adapted to and so many things he deals with brilliantly. When he has a blip it catches us off guard. Being in a place he hasn't been to before, seeing a lot of new people or travelling somewhere new. All of these cause anxiety and we see a side of him that we almost don't recognise. Recently when we've been going out he is insistent that he hold an adult's hand the whole time. He clings on tightly and becomes agitated about being safe. This is the child who scooters to school at top speed and waits for no one. He has his own friends and a social circle both inside and outside school.  I forget that there are things he's not ok with and this week has been a stark reminder that familiarity is really important to him.

He's never stayed at my parents' house before and he was really excited about it. I rang in the evening to see if he was ok and then in the morning. He came to the phone - reluctantly - and said, "Not again !" It was adorable and cheeky, but a relief that he was ok. He's slept at Grandma's house quite a few times so that was fine. It was being in a different cottage from last time that really caused ructions. We try not to overwhelm Blue with too many new things and this is the same place we stayed in July. We couldn't stay in the same cottage and this time the boys were in bunk beds - which was always going to be a bit of a drama. However, visiting places we've been to before was a revelation. When we were in Polperro Brown Bear said, "We had crinkles for a snack when we were here last time," as we reached the top of the harbour. As the tide was out we went to the beach this time and the boys remembered that we couldn't last time due to a high tide. At the Eden Project the boys noticed that a bicycle they had ridden before was in a different place. At Lappa Valley they noticed the new swan shaped pedaloes.

Noticing and recording memories is something we take very seriously. There is a chunk of Blue Bear's past we weren't part of so since he's been with us we've taken photos and kept momentoes of everything. I show him photos of when he first came to us and we talk about what he was like when he was a baby. Just like I do with Brown Bear. We remind him that he brought Dog Bear with him when he came to live with us. We keep in touch with his foster family as they are the vital link between birth family and us. They also love him very much and seeing how he is doing in his forever family and with his brother makes them so happy and proud. We haven't talked about adoption with Blue Bear yet, as he is still very young. However, he is a bright boy and it is not something we intend to keep from him. On holiday this week I noticed that he goads his brother now. He still worships Brown Bear, thinks he's wonderful and wants to be just like him. However, he's also braver and will jump on him knowing it's going to get a reaction. It has been lovely to see how much fun he is. On long road trips he would chat to us at the front by pointing out the sheep, or the windmills he could see out of the window. This afternoon when we passed a field of pigs the boys spent about ten minutes oinking and laughing. I tried to point out Stonehenge as we passed it, but the pig impressions were far more fun.

That's what makes being a family for me. Stupid jokes and animal noises. I hope that the boys will remember family time in their own ways and look back with joy.

It's National Adoption Week: There are over 2000 children waiting to be adopted in England. 61% of these children waiting to be adopted are in sibling groups so it's vital to find families for some of the brothers and sisters who desperately need them.

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