One of the (many) difficulties adopters face is the lack of understanding from friends and families. The people we leaned on for support over the years, that change in job, moving house, end of a relationship, start of a relationship, money worries, health troubles the list goes on, they’ve been there, they’ve understood because usually they’ve been there themselves but suddenly they aren’t able to understand, they’ve never been involved with adoption and only know what they’ve read in the newspaper or snippets from a film. They know nothing of the real, raw, life changing facts of adoption.
I met with a friend last night, I met her at Prep Group, we started the adoption process together. We got there first, they followed less than a year later. They live some distance from us, it’s manageable but it’s not ‘pop in for a cuppa whilst passing’ distance, if you know what I mean. Over the last 3 years we’ve met up a few times a year with our husbands, enjoyed some good food and much needed chatter. Organising a time that’s convenient for all, and arranging a babysitter for the chosen date, has always been quite troublesome. Like us, the only real practical support they get is from her parents, but sadly hers live quite a distance away and mine have busy lives of their own.
I met with her last night, just her and I. Recently we’ve been leaving our husbands home to babysit so we can meet more regular. We’ve needed too. We’ve needed that opportunity to offload. We head home with a smile, feeling a weight lifted.
Aside from our usual rants, moans and outrages, last night we also discussed friend’s and family. Neither of us have seen anyone this holiday (aside from our parents). We’ve spent the entire school holiday, just us and our kids and of course our husbands when they haven’t been at work. Were exhausted. Emotionally drained. Lonely. Fed up. There’s been no over night stays with grandparents or sleep overs with friends, there have been no play dates or outings without us. 24/7 it’s just been us and our traumatised kids. Yes, they’re still traumatised, it didn’t wash off in the bath one day.
This got us talking about how we see and hear very little from anyone these days. In those early weeks we may have had the odd phone call, facebook message or text with offers of support and help, if I’m honest, other than my mum, I never had many of those, I guess everyone either figured we needed some space, or that we could cope, I’m not sure, but in general, adopters are supported by friends and family and their struggles understood for at least a few months much like a family with a new baby.
But 3 years in, almost everyone seems to have forgotten us.
We’re settled now.
We’ve gone through the worst bit.
The children are secure.
It didn’t feel like it at the time, but that 1st year was the easiest. We had regular social worker support and the children were so terrified they didn’t dare do anything except please us. Our friend’s were still ‘our friends’ and we hadn’t been consumed by the trauma of our children, and we weren’t in therapy. That was the Honeymoon period. (it’s different for each family, but I think our honeymoon period was about a year). Then things changed, our friends had faded in to the distance, the social workers had vanished, the therapy had started the trauma began to leak.
What no one seems to realise is that the more settled the children become, the harder it is. The more boundaries they test, the more they explore their feelings around their past, the more angry they feel, the more loss they feel and the more trauma they offload. And it’s us they offload it onto.
If ever there was a time we NEEDED support, some practical help, that time is now. Yet we rarely receive offers of practical help anymore because 3 years down the line we’ve got it covered, haven’t we?!
I’ve written this on behalf of adopters out there that feel abandoned, unsupported, and lost not only by the system, but by their friends and family too. Those that have experienced the pressure, the expectations and assumptions from everyone else, that everything is ok, when really it’s not ok, we’re not ok!