When Wonder Boy and Super Girl first came to live with us, this was when the real hard work started.
After three years of trying to adopt we were only too delighted to welcome our new children into our home. Our dreams were now fulfilled; we were the family we so longed to be.
Our social worker had warned us it was going to be hard.
- You’re taking on older children
- A sibling group
- They’ve always wanted a Dad, which means they might reject you
The reality is I am my children’s third mum and that’s a tough gig. Forming the initial bonds was incredibly hard. They seemed to take every opportunity to try and reject me. Always holding daddy’s hand, racing to sit next to daddy on the bus, turning their nose up at my food.
It was hard not to take it all personally. You see, they now had the dad they had always wanted, but part of the deal was a new mum too.
What did they do with this new mum? Put me to the test! Was I up to the job? Was I in for the long haul? Did I really want them?
Super Girl. Screamed three, four times a day until her voice was hoarse. Hitting, scratching, kicking and a bit of biting was a daily occurrence. Her tantrums were so strong they would make her face purple and her body rigid. This lasted over six month.
To the outside world she was on the charm offensive – the cute, perfect little girl everyone adores. But, when we were alone, in the comfort of our home, where she felt safe to reject me – she’d unleash her insecurities and anger.
Wonder Boy? It seemed like we were walking on eggshells. Mornings were particularly trying, each day like Mount Vesuvius he’d erupt at slightest transgression. Funny how his favourite superhero is the Incredible Hulk! I guess he identifies with green man with anger issues.
What could I do? I couldn’t turn by back, there was no get out clause, I had to take the punches.
Slowly life started to get better. Super Girl put up a really good fight, it took a good 15 months before we saw a real breakthrough.
I remember clearly the day Super Girl turned round to me and said: “I couldn’t stay with my foster mum that’s because you’re my real mum now.” I was floored.
But I can’t take all the credit; I had a lot of help along the way:
- My husband: my number one ally, helping to put up a united front when the tactic is to divide and conquer
- A brilliant psychologist at our local CAMHS who championed attachment to make sure we got seen
- A fabulous local school that has tremendous pastoral care. We have benefited from in-house child/parent support
- A great social worker. She was always at the end of a phone for me. After a particularly trying night, she responded to my tearful cry for help by turning up on my doorstep, the next, day with compassion and cake
- An amazing playtherapist who has helped transform our home life into relative calm.
- Time, patience and resilience needed by the truck load
- During those first days, in between the daily outbursts, I would note down their little gestures: combing my hair, plucking flowers for me, a little scribble here or there
- Having an emotional outlet, mine was weekly massages and yoga, now it’s pounding the pavements, running with a fab bunch of school mums
- Todd Parr’s The Mommy Book
- Dancing around the living room to Dizzee Rascal’s Bonkers
Would I do it again … hell yeah!
(First published 03/02/15)
Taxi Mum courtesy of Fouquier, Flickr