On Big Adoption Day, which is almost exactly 2 years since our son was placed in our home (hence just over 2 years since we met him for the first time), and a year since we had our celebration hearing, I’ve taken time to reflect on what an uncertain thing becoming an adopter can be.
Becoming an adopter takes several leaps of faith:
- That your existing relationship is strong enough to get you through any challenges
- That your support network will be available no matter what
- That you can deal with whatever being an adopter can throw at you
- That you’re not afraid of uncertainty
When we adopted, we took all of these leaps, and more.
- We placed our faith in our animals reacting well to the new arrival (or, at least not causing problems!). So much so that, had it not been the case, I’d already told our son’s social worker that if he didn’t get on with the animals/was allergic then he’d have to go back since they were here first! In hindsight, that was perhaps not the right thing to say (as I learned immediately I’d said it…), and fortunately we weren’t faced with such decisions. Our animals have reacted brilliantly, particularly our dog who is our son’s best friend. They are pretty much inseparable – she looks out for him all the time and is quick to get to his side when he’s upset (although she also runs away if there’s any telling off being done – some loyalty!).
- We reassured ourselves that we could cope with whatever was thrown at our newly extended family – that the uncertainty around our son’s future due to his diagnosis of FAS was something that we, along with our support network, could cope with. So far, so good. We’ve (well, my wife) arranged for his school to have training on FASD and have slowly educated those around us that, although he’s functioning in the same way as his peers now, that might change in the future. We’re starting to get to the age at which FAS becomes prevalent, and signs of how a child with FAS will cope with the future start to appear. Needless to say, we’re watching with baited breath – to see if his emotional and social development will continue in line with his peers, or whether he’ll need additional support to keep up. Regardless, we’re prepared to offer him support for as long as he needs it/we’re alive, whichever comes first.
- We placed reliance on our support network always being there for us – each other; family, friends, employers, and professionals. We’ve found, however, that with the best will in the world it’s not worked out as we’d expected, so we’re changing our plans. We’re relocating to be closer to that vital support, and also to provide support in our own way to family members who need it. Having that proximity will make such a difference – we’ll feel more supported and be able to have more precious time back for our relationship.
Without doubt, at the time, the biggest leap of faith we took was to adopt a child with a diagnosis of FASD – with such uncertainty around his future we could have been forgiven for thinking again. But that’s the funny thing about adoption – as much as you can identify “issues” (there is no such thing as an adopted child without “issues” – they are placed for adoption for a reason) from a child’s past, or potential for difficulties in the future, that leap of faith is needed for you to truly discover that there is so much more to a child than a description on a profile. As adopters it is up to us to recognise that, to cherish our children and to give them all the love we can, no matter what. After all, that’s what makes our families special.