We Are Family



34 posts in this category

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #9: 1 plus 3 makes 4 this Christmas.

IMG_3125Christmas has been different this year.The decorations are up, the cake and turkey were cooked and eaten but something else happened. It was months in the limbo stage; all the usual social services blurb and all the red tape, and now suddenly she’s here in time for the celebrations. Our beautiful daughter!This is our second time around and most of it feels old hat.We are familiar with all the upheaval and the feeling of being emotionally dishevelled, but this time we had an added element to consider - our beloved son.We have been amazed by his reaction to all of this. He is 4 but blimey! – it feels like he could be 24!He has taken all of this on board and has shown courage, compassion and an immediate beautiful love towards his new sibling. It's like watching a beautiful masterpiece being painted, watching him shape his enthusiasm, outline and profile his brotherly reactions and eagerness to embrace and cuddle his future. A future that he will now get to share with someone else.I am awestruck at how willing he is to accept this baby so unconditionally. We were both apprehensive of course and I definitely was nervous about where I was going to find the same equal, immeasurable quantity of love I hold for my son; how was I going to double up? But it came in a heartbeat. Flowing and pushing its way up out into a smile that my wife lovingly calls my ‘giddy as a kipper’ smile.In the meantime we have been waiting, preparing, fixing things, stair-gating, baby-proofing, John Lewis buying, the Christmas shopping's prepared and wrapped early; yes, we were ready for her arrival.Our daughter came home for good with us a couple of weeks ago. We are exhausted already and I have a pile of ironing taller than me to get through. The dishwasher is on twice daily and the washing machine is on a permanent spin cycle. Oh, and on top of that - I almost forgot - my son also asked me to make a cake; a green cake with an elephant on for our celebration  as a family of 4. December really is magic this year. I best crack on!

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The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #3: Not this year's festive favourite.

DSC_4359I think it's fair to say I am not this year's festive favourite! The reason being we have decided to try and have the Christmas we want for ourselves and our children - rather than a (vain) attempt to balance everyone else's desires with our own. We are seeing all our family, just not on Christmas Day or Boxing Day... My Christmases up to now have always felt like snatched moments of joy in a sea of obligation. The dynamic hasn't exactly been uplifting. I don't want our children to be saying the same when they are adults. It also feels like a unique opportunity in the year to regroup, spend a period of special time together when the outside world really does retreat a little. It could even be a bit restorative - and boy would that be great. My mother feels my approach is selfish. She wants to spend Christmas with her children and grandchildren. I understand that and am sorry, but realised I am getting better at prioritising my own sanity and the needs of my primary family of four. She can't really grasp the turbulence of our daily life, especially at this time of year, or the value of moments like Christmas on our long road towards secure attachment. And hey, if the kids are really challenging, there's always somewhere to run! Happy Christmas!!

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Hand in Hand

2015-12-13 17.21.56How could I have known just how much emotion it could contain?How could I have prepared myself for the sheer pleasure and intimacy of something so simple?How could I have anticipated the intensity of such a natural act, or have predicted the purity of the love?I am sitting with one of my sons and we are simply holding hands.No conversation, we are not even looking at each other.He came and sat beside me and gently nestled his little hand into mine - immediately uniting us with a so very precious bond.Just sitting holding hands. We may not share blood, but that is all it takes to fill me with an unadulterated love that is so totally complete.A love that feels different from anything I have experienced before.A love that is unconditional. A love about forgiveness, about protection, about teaching, about leading by example, a love that is ALL about giving.A love that is everything. Together in our forever family. Together - Hand in Hand.

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Notes from a Grandmother

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was thinking about my grandson recently (as I so often do) and decided to “strike while the iron’s hot” and put pen to paper so here goes…When I learned I was to become a grandmother, a million thoughts filled my head...many of them negative. With a little perspective thinking I realized that this was about the happiness of my son, his wife and their son. I felt there would be large hurdles. One is distance, we live an ocean apart. How to bond? When he was eleven months old, Skype introduced my grandson to me. I was shocked and amazed at my immediate, overwhelming feeling of love for him. I couldn't hold him but through the miracle of Skype, I could visit him regularly and discover his delightful personality. I could watch him develop. For example I saw him learn to walk. When I learned that an expensive, complicated trip was planned to visit me, I was excited, thrilled and apprehensive. It had been decades since I had had any experience with an infant or toddler. When I saw him walk in, I fell in love all over again. He acted as if we had always known each other showing no fear or curiosity of my wheel chair. I rarely think of him as adopted. I simply think of him as having a wonderful home and parents. His poor father was raised on old wives tales and Dr.Spock but his grandmother loved him very much too. Like all grandmothers, I am absolutely certain that this is a very special boy with special talents that are already emerging. Thanks to his parents, this wonderful child has given joy and purpose to a solitary life.

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They're Adopted

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was at a meeting of fellow adopters and was surprised to hear a parent say how unhappy they were that their child's school had outed them as being adopted. They were clearly upset and concerned and stated that they had made an official complaint.On a number of occasions since I have heard similar comments and concerns from adopters who were saying that they felt a need and a desire to keep their child's status secret in certain situations.It surprises me greatly and I have to say that I am confused as to why any adoptive parent would feel a need not to be totally open and honest about their adoption in all circumstances, as surely that is an essential part of making an adopted child understand, appreciate and embrace exactly who they are.Isn't keeping a child's adopted status a secret suggesting it's something... well, to be ashamed of? I appreciate that ashamed may seem a little heavy, but to have a child - by default - denying they are adopted is far from instilling any sense of pride.Having something that you have to keep a secret because of what others may think can only be creating a degree of shame and no matter how open and honest you are around family and friends I can't see how it would fully eradicate that.I understand the reasoning - that is sets their child apart and that it may give bullies something to use - and I understand that a parent is supposedly trying to protect their child, but surely what is far more important it how the child feels about themselves.Regardless the fact that you are keeping it a secret means that you are potentially giving the bullies ammunition to use against your child, to them justifying their bullying. Teasing a child who is secure in an adopted family and secure in their knowledge of being adopted is surely going to have far less impact than teasing a child who has had a secret exposed.As gay adopters I am fully aware that we don't really have a choice over being 'out' as an adoptive family - as it's pretty self evident that it was unlikely to have happened naturally - and as such we are not faced with a choice over this. However, I should imagine we would be far less likely to decide to be anything other than fully open.Gay people know what it's like to live with a lie, we know how it confuses us and creates a shame - in some cases a self loathing - that is often with us for our entire life. We know how better it is when we 'come out' and live openly and freely as the people we are, when we face the world without fear or shame.Our sons at 7 and 8 declare their adopted status openly and freely to anybody and everybody, just as they declare that they have two daddies. They need to be proud of both and every time they state either fact they are acknowledging and affirming their pride. If they were encouraged to keep either fact a secret surely every time they stopped themselves from exposing it would diminish that pride.We know that as they get older and are with peers who have been fed prejudice and hatred that it may not be as easy to be so open and in fact that is exactly why they need to be so comfortable with it now, so they are prepared and can handle the possible abuse with knowledge and confidence.I think possibly the denial in some straight parents is far more to do with them and their journey to adoption. Declaring your child as adopted is possibly giving out a lot of very personal and intimate details about you, information that maybe just feels wrong sharing with anybody other than family and friends. However it is a reality and absolutely one to be proud of.

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The Questions #3 A peek into how we do family.

Why adoption?

I was volunteering in an orphanage (we adopted from Russia) and simply fell head over heels for one of the babies. Hadn't thought about it before, was definitely not part of the plans my then fiancé and I had talked about but when it happened out of the blue and so completely we just knew it was the only thing we wanted to do.

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Is it ok if I don't love you?

 "Stop it, Daddy" was the cry. When she first told me she didn't love me, I said it was ok, I loved her and always would. But it became a more frequent song, culminating in a frighteningly earnest, "Is it ok if I don't love you, Daddy?"

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You Won't Ever Leave Me Will You?

We know they are happy, we know they have attached, we know they feel like we are a family. Yet regardless of all that we also know that our son's lives to date have taught them that nothing is for sure and that families are not permanent.

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