I love my child more than I thought would be possible; more than I could imagine. But I always pause when someone who hasn’t adopted asks, “Would you do it all again?”
I pause because my answer might change depending on the day. Has the day/week/month been especially challenging? Has the destructive and aggressive behaviour hit an all-time high? Or is it a phase I don’t see often, where things tick along ‘normally’?
I pause because I wonder if I need to educate them or not. Yes, developmental trauma can start in the womb so, even if you adopt a baby or toddler, they can have long-lasting trauma throughout their life. Do they understand the effects on a child that’s been in foster care? (Or had more than one placement?)
I pause because I wonder if they have ever experienced a time when they worried every minute, every hour if they would survive (no food, no water, no safe place, and certainly no love). Can they relate to my child?
I pause because it isn’t a simple answer. Do I really remember the introductions and how heart-wrenching it was to take my child from the only person they thought could ever take care of them and provide the bare necessities?
I pause because most days my child says, “I hate you. You’re not my real mum/dad.” And yes, it’s been several years since our adoption order but no, shame and abandonment are not things that are ‘loved away’.
I pause because it is an immense, complicated question to ask.
Today, I answered the question quickly – yes. Nothing has been more purposeful or rewarding.
But it’s tough. In fact, it’s beyond tough most days. Our child’s clinical psychologist said to me this week, “It’s very tough work, isn’t it?” I nearly cried. I felt relief and validation. Yes – it is tough.
It’s important to allow ourselves to pause. It’s important to be kind to ourselves. Because we are all doing the often thankless, demanding, unrelenting work. Every day.
It’s okay to pause. And it’s okay if the answer isn’t yes. We will do our best for our children as often as we can. Some days we feel guilty, some days frustrated, some days numb. Every day exhausted.
It’s okay to pause. We are all in this together. And our children have us – fighting for them, keeping them safe, and loving them.