We haven’t heard much of the birth family lately. Although our Christmas was difficult (thank God it’s over), it felt pretty ‘normal’, unlike previous years where the ghosts of Christmases past have definitely been stalking our rooms, clanking their chains and scaring the bejeezus out of us.
Children generally seem to like knowing what’s going to happen and what they’re going to be doing next. It’s reassuring knowledge that takes away some of their uncertainty and helps quieten their anxieties.
But for our children, it can be much more than that. The changes and lack of structure in their early lives can give them a dread of the unknown. The anxiety can be overpowering; the need to know can be desperate.
My one special present under the Christmas tree would be a mini, pocket sized version of our family therapist. I could then pull her out to consult at those moments when I’m a bit lost as to how to respond to our daughter’s more dysregulated moments, or am just in need a bit of a confidence boost.
It’s the first Christmas we have officially been a family of 4. Last year we had a court date in December that we had hoped would finalise the adoption, but a tiny overlooked detail meant that the judge deferred the decision until January. It wasn’t what we had hoped for, but he was still with us and as far as we were concerned he was one of us. It just wasn’t official yet.
As I take stock as the year closes and assess where we are as a family, I feel acutely aware and quite sad about one very particular thing. I can see both our children have made big strides this year in terms of learning new skills – from “school stuff” like vocabulary, reading, writing and (possibly!) arithmetic to their chosen creative and sporting pursuits. But emotionally I feel, for our son, his reality has evolved very little.
I don’t have one thing to put under the Christmas tree… I have a few things. I can’t help but be excited for Christmas. I smile and nod when people say it’s for the kids…Raspberry to that! I love it even more that I have children, despite the challenges.