Jan 13 2012 9:23PM
A brief introduction to our journey, how we got here and the reality of those first few days and weeks. Could this be real? Are they really here forever?
Our gorgeous son and daughter were placed with us in 2011. We are now approximately 6 months into placement and finalising the last few things. When I look at them, I feel as if they have been here forever and I can't believe how little time has actually passed. But at the same time, I'm met with an incredulous feeling and the thought 'Where did you come from? How did you get here? Is this real?' Pinch me, I might wake up....
I remember when we went to Matching Panel. Ooooooh the nerves. Even though we had been assured that everything was looking very positive, it was nerve-wracking to sit in front of a large panel of people who literally held our future in their hands. We were happily approved for the match and I remember being congratulated and told 'You are going to be parents to a toddler and a baby!' It felt surreal, intense, amazing....We had had a 6 year journey since we had decided we wanted to start a family. We had been through A LOT. Could this really be happening?
Cue 2 weeks of madness - ordering beds and cots and a double buggy, stockpiling nappies, wipes, clothes, toys and fitting stair gates to our house - easier said than done when you discover too late that you have an abnormally narrow staircase. Funny how we never noticed that before.
And then we met them and it was amazing. I won't deny it - we adored them at first sight despite our nerves. They were angels, on their best behaviour for these 2 new, smiley strangers who had come to play every day and I thought it too could to be true. We were warned this might not last and that as things changed and they relaxed around us but then also realised what was happening, we would experience some behaviours that would be challenging to say the least.
After moving in, things passed in a whirlwind for the first week. We seemed to be on autopilot. Dear Son (DS) began to test boundaries , whilst Dear Daughter (DD) wailed and wailed and refused to let me leave her sight, let alone allow me a solitary trip to the toilet. It was hard but we were loving it and happy and it seemed so amazing that our quiet 'adult' home was now filled with toys, baby things, little voices, running feet - and crying!
Over the next 3-4 months we experienced a lot......attention-seeking behaviour on a whole new level. Manipulation and deceit that I didn't know a toddler even had the capacity for. Controlling, aggressive and sometimes violent outbursts. Some items and parts of our house will never be the same again, once they had become the object for a release of frustrations and fear. What surprised me the most was the level of anger they both displayed. I really did not know children of such a young age could experience such absolute fury. I didnít know they were literally going into 'survival mode' such was the trauma they had experienced by moving into our care and leaving their former home. We were strangers to them, in a strange house, with strange ways of doing things and they could probably tell we were almost as scared as them.
Our social workers were amazing and we pulled together as a couple - evenings when they were in bed were spent discussing and considering new techniques to help attachment and help them settle. I pulled out all the paperwork from our Prep course and poured over it with a highlighter, underlining behaviours that I was now recognising in our children. And yes, I would be lying if I said that at times we hadn't asked ourselves if we had done the right thing. All we wanted was to be parents - we didn't ask for all these other issues. But then neither did DS and DD - they hadn't asked to be moved, they hadn't asked to be in care in the first place. And did we love them despite all this? Of course we did.
Sometime around the 4th month we began to turn a corner. We started to realise we were having more 'good days' than 'bad days' and as they began to relax, so did we. So I hadn't (and still haven't!) had a lie-in for months - so what? When you realise you are finally parents and you have 2 children staying FOREVER with you, who wants to stay in bed? Little things, such as calling to make an appointment and saying that you are making it for 'my son' are some of the amazing rewards you get for this. That might sound relatively inconsequential to someone who has not experienced what we have Ė but if you have found growing a family to not be straight-forward, you will know what I mean.
We are all doing really well now and the change in DS and DD is phenomenal. We still have reminders and we still see little signs in them that tell us and will always tell us, that they havenít had a conventional start in life. But that's ok because we understand. And even though we feel like they have always been here, we still find ourselves catching ourselves in amazement and thinking "where did you come from?" But I guess the literal answer to that question is a story for another day. For DS and DD, for no-one else. The important thing now is that they are here with us.