The venue is booked, the guests have been invited. The eldest of our three foster children is preparing to celebrate her birthday. She is drawing up a list of presents that she would like, tentatively at first but gradually growing in confidence, with some encouragement. This is not something she has been able to do in the past, and it takes some getting used to.
The one piece of advice I can give to anyone who has been adopted, is to be proud. Proud to be where you are today, to have been saved from that horrible beginning of your life, proud of how brave the people who took you in were, and ignore all the ridiculous comments of people who are too closed-minded to understand all of this.
Adoption legislation and practise has come far since Richard was a child being adopted and thanks to Ministers in Government such as Tim Loughton MP and Edward Timpson MP, who have sought to improve the lives of so many children in our society who seek to find a loving family to call their own we continue to grow the circumstances that make an enriching and nurturing experience in the first 1001 days of a child's life.
With hindsight we made mistakes in the early days of our son's adoption by allowing too much access from friends and family. My mother in law stayed for a long weekend. After the first day there was a small, but perceptible shift in our son's attitude towards me. He became less tactile, less cooperative.
My wife, natural born daughter nearly 12-years-old and I adopted a short time ago after a three-year journey of waiting and hoping. It felt strange and almost surreal when you open your doors, hearts and life to a stranger. The range of emotions that you and the child go through is well documented, however nothing can prepare you for the rollercoaster ride that both us and our new son will experience.