In retrospect it’s easy to see that it was probably just self doubt, but at the time it felt like something so much bigger, something so much more significant.
We were new parents and loving (mostly) everything that entailed, we were totally smitten with our two sons and relished every moment we spent together.
It had been a long and at times very difficult process to get us to where we were and we were delighted and relieved in equal measures to finally be the family we set out to be some three years earlier.
We were in our early and late 40’s and new parents to two brothers almost 5&6 years old and we were embracing the role wholeheartedly and from the moment they woke to the moment they went off to sleep we were there for their every needs.
We were active in their school and would ferry the boys around for various after school activities almost every night of the week. We engaged more with friends who had children, encouraging friendships amongst the little ones and had play dates with school friends and big birthday parties with kids and parents in attendance.
Yet, regardless of all of this we didn’t truly believe in ourselves, didn’t truly believe in the fact that we were indeed parents. We knew the reality – that we had children and that we were now a family. We knew that we loved our sons unconditionally and immediately couldn’t imagine life without them – yet we felt a bit…fraudulent.
We hadn’t gone through the 9 months of pregnancy, the wonder of birth, the sleepless nights, the caring for a being so helpless that the need for your attention and your love 247 outshone everything else – literally everything else.
Being school age meant that after the initial few weeks of settling in, we packed them off every day and made them somebody else’s responsibility – and we have to confess to a certain relief each and every time we did so. It was proving to be so much harder than we ever could have imagined and on many levels we were struggling and we figured that IF ‘real parents’ had the same struggles they would be so much more adept in dealing with them.
We got on with it all, we walked the walk, we talked the talk and we smiled our way through it, yet looking back I realise just how much we felt that we were bluffing.
Now with five years of experience behind us we realise that bluffing is not unique to adoptive parents at all, in fact probably ALL new parents start out bluffing – because in fact nothing can truly prepare us for being a parent.
However, I think the feeling of being a fraud is possibly unique to us adopters and I can see that it takes a while for us to shrug it off.
We now feel like fully fledged parents and we know that our sons are 100% ours – regardless of being born to others, but in those early days the ghosts of their birth parents were always with us as indeed were those of the established (and oh so accomplished) foster parents where the boys spent almost three years.
We felt we could never really compete with the history of either of those and that we possibly never would. We felt we were somehow just ‘standing in’ – not their real parents at all.
Looking back now, it seems unthinkable that we doubted our role. Amazingly from day one the boys simply knew us as their new parents, and of course they fully relied on us as their parents – as we were the ones putting clothes on the back, food on the table and a roof over their heads. It may well have taken a little while for them to emotionally attach, but I don’t feel that got in the way of their understanding of our role in their lives right from the very start.
They were open to us nurturing them every step of the way, we were their security, we were the one’s putting them first and reassuring them that we would always be here for them and that we would be protecting them no matter what.
So regardless of how fraudulent we felt and regardless of the fact that it took time for our sons to fully attach to us, in their eyes we were the real thing right from the very start.