Reality Vs Expectation

A common theme for adopters is the difference between the reality of their experience of family life compared with the dream that spurred them through the process. The things you’d do, the places you’d see, the type of parent you’d become, all fade into oblivion when faced with traumatised small people whose view of the world is through damaged eyes, blinkered before they even have the words to express what they have seen or felt.

I was never a person with a huge social circle, I’ve always preferred smaller groups, people who know and understand me. As I get older, I seem to have forgotten how those friendships form, I feel an awkwardness that didn’t exist before, as though I have to explain or excuse myself. I think more recently it’s a symptom of anxiety, and that I have a slightly off balance view of reality, and that actually people aren’t judging nearly as much as I think they are. I also try my very best to mask that anxiety and put myself across as if it weren’t there. I think since having the boys, it has got worse, like I have to explain and excuse them, even though we don’t owe anyone an explanation really.

It does seem to me that other people also had a skewed perception of what family life would be like for us. Frequently people tell me that Norman and Marvin “won’t remember” their histories, that they were too young at one and two for their early life to have had an impact on them. I have also been told that we place too much emphasis at times on the fact that our boys are adopted, that they’ve now been in a stable and loving home for more than half their lives and so, essentially, they should be over it! I’m here to tell you that trauma doesn’t work like that. Recently I was on a course for work, and when I mentioned that I had two adopted sons, a near stranger’s first response was to ask about what they had been through, as though it was some sort of interesting story for others to know, some sort of cheap gossip for me to share with people I barely knew. I still haven’t quite figured out how to respond to those sorts of questions. I’m generally a fairly polite person so the idea that people would ask things like that with very little consideration for what they are actually asking still shocks me. What are people hoping to hear? What do people expect to hear?

On the surface, our boys behave like many other children. The tantrums and difficult behaviours look much the same as other children. The difference is the reason behind the behaviour. For example, this week at school, Norman “stole” a strawberry out of the school garden and ate it, and when the teacher asked, he lied and said he hadn’t done it. Typical six year old boy behaviour! I’m frustrated though that the school decided to reprimand him, because his early experience was of not knowing when or where his next meal might come from, and most children in our society have never had to worry about that. On a recent camping trip, Marvin really struggled to settle at night time, as he does every time he’s away from home. Our friends’ children were similar, over excited, reluctant to sleep. I seriously doubt though that our friends’ children felt the need to ask whether the tent was their new home, with a genuine worry that it might be.

The ongoing saga of waiting for some post adoption support continues. To my knowledge, social services are now waiting for quotes from the two therapists we have agreed might be suitable, then a funding request needs to be approved, then we need to find days when we can all be available… it doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon. It is now almost 9 months since I referred us, we are coping, but some days that’s all we’re doing. The really scary thing is that when we finally do get the funding and the support, we will then potentially be opening a massive can of worms for the boys and things will likely become harder before they get easier.

What’s on the needles?

My knitting is in a bit of chaos at the moment, I keep starting new things and not finishing the old things and so I have about fifteen active projects. So I’m not going to put any pictures here. The chaos reflects my state of mind! I’ll let you know when some of it becomes untangled.

1 thought on “Reality Vs Expectation”

  1. I love your posts Kate. Damn right your boys remember what happened to them. The first 1000 days of a child’s life are the most formative both in terms of who they are and how they interact or don’t interact. Plus it all depends what was going on inside the womb too as hormones and other chemicals whether natural or not have an impact.
    Taking food is something they may always do. I know of an adopted girl who is now 18 (but was adopted at a similar age) and she has a drawer in her room full of snacks, just in case she doesn’t get fed, some 16 years later! Happy to chat if you need to. X

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