None of us like change. We are all pretty much stick-in-the-muds when it comes to a change to our routine. Most of us go through life encountering change and going through it knowing we have a safe place or safe people we can turn to in times of need. As children, we should have the support of our parent/s and should know that home is safe and wherever we go we will have to safety of the parent/s with us.
Now, imagine, if you will, that you started life without that safety. Maybe you didn’t know when you would get your next meal, or your room was cold, you had no toys, there was a lot of shouting or worse. Imagine, potentially though no fault of their own, your parent figure could not keep you safe and give you that safety blanket... how would you feel if your basic needs were not adequately met? Hopefully, most who read this will not actually be able to imagine this- though some, I know, will not only imagine it, but remember it – even in the deepest recesses of their mind there will be a voiceless memory of this. i can’t pretend to know this but I am parenting the effects of it.
My adopted child gives me this insight every day. I will never write about the story of their early life that led them to me, as that is their story to own but suffice to say UK adoption are rarely relinquished babies, they are children that have been removed from the parental home.
This bring me to the ‘should I stay or should I go?’ part of the article... There is a relatively safe place for my adopted child, it is called home, our home, their home. Here there are safe places and safe people. However, as an adoptive parent, you soon realise that even in the home trauma will rear its head but it is still the relatively safe place.
It is a reality that leaving the home is a scary thing for an adopted child. The hypervigilance that most adopted children have will mean that outside the home the world is a scary place and it is exhausting to constantly be watching your back. So should I stay at home with them or go outside into the world of new experiences?
It is my opinion that I should expose them to new experiences as new experiences broaden the mind. It is my belief that my child should walk all of these new paths with me at their side. I am opening myself up to dealing with a potential meltdown in public and the get the meaningful stares and tuts of others and opening myself up to a round of many ‘hate you/ go away’ comments hurled my way but I stand my ground as I am also opening up a wealth of life for them.
No parent should feel scared to give the world to their child and no parent should hide away with them, rarely leaving the cocoon of the blanket fort of home. Adopted or not, every child deserves to see nature, to see history, to get dirty and to visit incredible places (which may be something as simple as your local park!).
So, I will take the stares, the tuts and snide comments about my ‘out-of-control’ child and I will make them feel they can get through anything. I will make them continue to want to try new things and I will feed their curiosity. All children deserve this and an adopted child especially. The world is an exciting and sometimes dangerous place and all children need to learn to live in it and how to adapt within it.
So, I should go. We all should. We all should face life’s challenges together and I want my adopted child to feel they are more important than what someone else thinks of them (their behaviour) and they are more than an inconvenience in the supermarket. They are more than hindrance to the family holiday and that they are, above all, supported and loved, encouraged and allowed to make mistakes.
So life with my adopted child may at times be hard work (what parenting isn’t?), it may leave me wondering why we bothered to go to the cinema/on holiday/on a plane/to the museum etc. It may leave them wishing they could be back in the comfort of home and it may leave them exhausted by emotions. However, it may also leave them remembering a trip with wonder and awe, it may leave them wanting to try new things again and it may leave them begging to go back, do something again and isn’t that wonder worthwhile?
So many times my child’s memory of an event is different to mine. They remember the good things over the bad, I am told, ‘Me want go again’ and perhaps this should be enough to check ourselves and look at why we so often remember the negative aspects of our experience together. If my child can focus on the positive then so can I. I owe that to them.