I wanted to write a bit about how I currently feel and have felt in the past whilst going through the adoption process and as an adoptive parent. It's a process that has been full of emotions for me - incredible highs and lows; fear and anxiety; frustration and confusion; loneliness; sadness; acceptance; intrusion and exposure; exhaustion; happiness; excitement; to name but a few.
The adoption process the second time round feels very different for me compared to the first time. Last time I needed acceptance. I needed to know that I was going to be a mother. I needed to be told that I was worthy of being a mother. I had tied myself up in knots through the years of infertility and miscarriage about whether the universe was trying to tell me that I'd be a lousy mum. Was that why I kept miscarrying? I needed to know my purpose in life. What was I here for? Having too many years to ponder a question is not always beneficial and, as my friends know very well, I'm a great over-thinker and am not always my best advocate, metaphorically beating myself up on a regular basis. Going through the adoption process with that question made the whole process incredibly personal. I was completely and utterly exhausted by the time we went to Panel for approval. I was so ill afterwards that I realised just how much was emotionally invested in getting that approval.
I now feel that part of my purpose in life was to be a mum to this particular little girl, I just wasn't intended to carry her myself. All the years of infertility were preparation so that I didn't take this incredible gift for granted. I don't take it for granted. Not for a single second. I sometimes pinch myself when I look at Katie because I can't always quite believe that she is here. It's so strange having a 2 year old suddenly join your family. One minute they're not there and then suddenly they are. Life turns upside-down. You blink and the world has changed. It's so hard to imagine and explain. I sometimes feel like it took me a good year or more to settle into our new life. For the shock of it all to subside and for life to regain it's routine - a very different routine from my life BK (before Katie). I love being a Stay At Home Mum nowadays although I did find it an enormous transition. I've worked since I was 16 and have always earned my own money. Giving up that independence was more difficult than I ever imagined. I'm also not quite the earth mother I'd like to be but I'm finding my stride. I'm finding out the sort of mother I am. I'm very patient (most of the time - there could be a few days of the month when I might use different describing words for my personality!) and understanding. I'm a pretty firm parent. I don't mess about with unacceptable behaviour! However I give tons of cuddles and hugs and I tell my daughter that I love her so many times a day, so she never doubts it.
That's not to say there aren't days when my little darling drives me to the point of Crazy Town! Those are the days when I long for her bedtime or at least the arrival of Daddy to home from work to take over for a while; when she has pushed and pushed and pushed and I have no idea of any parenting techniques good or bad ones! Those are the days when I try to remember that "Good Enough" is good enough! Those are the days when I pick up the phone to get a reality check from my best friends and then take a deep breath and dive once again back into the swirling waters known as parenthood! Those are the days when I gaze at her when she is asleep to remind myself just how adorable she actually is. Thankfully I don't have anywhere near as much time to dwell on things these days. That's a good thing in my opinion!
Two years on from first meeting Katie I don't beat myself up quite as much any more. I know that I'm a pretty good mum, most of the time. I know that I love and would do anything for my daughter. I know I will be open to discussing with her the things that drive her nuts about me. Not beating myself up makes life simpler in some ways. A lot of the other stuff is just stuff. Just a bunch of feelings as Travis would say. Those feelings are important though and they keep me on track, they remind me of the sort of mother I want to be.
Going into the adoption process for a second time has felt completely different. I'm very laid back about it all (probably because I don't have time to worry about it!). I have the sense of knowing that everything will happen when it's supposed to happen; in it's own time. I'm busy with preparing Katie for school; getting her dry at night; starting up my Reiki practice; keeping up with my tap, yoga and Mo-jive. Life is very busy. My concerns about being a good enough mum to two children remain, but I think that's just me and I do think it's important to make sure that such a big decision has been contemplated fully. I think my major concerns lie around the impact on Katie with the introduction of a sibling. She seems really keen on the idea but I do worry about what happens if it's not right for her. If it sets her back and causes her distress. She is a fairly well adjusted young lady. She has some anxieties about losing me and there are some anxieties around sharing me that I ponder about. It's difficult sometimes not to read too much into the emotions of an adopted child. See told you I was an over-thinker!!
One thing that hasn't changed this time though is the feeling of going to mental jelly whenever I speak to a Social Worker. I find it hilarious really. I puke verbal diarrhoea. I probably speak in tongues or certainly a language other than my own. I see no trace of the professional that I used to be. I used to work alongside Social Workers in case conferences and was a very competent professional working with young people, but all that experience seems to melt away when it becomes personal. I'm someone who, as well as over-thinking things, tends to try too hard. I'm the person who is trying to make everyone feel at home and welcome. Definitely a "you'll always find me in the kitchen at parties" kinda gal. I tend to talk too much when I'm anxious. Succinct is not a word I'd use to describe myself (as you can tell if you're still reading this far!) And, yes, of course I beat myself up over that one as well! I sometimes wonder if training to be a counsellor was such a great idea! Let's just back up all that over-thinking with some theory to keep it company and give it a few friends!
Adopting is an emotionally tough journey. It puts you through the wringer and turns you inside out. Imagine if you had to go through this process to have a biological child! For us, it has been worth it. If you'd told me when I was 28 and embarking on the whole trying to start a family thing that we would love and lose 10 tiny babies to miscarriage and it would take 15 years to become parents and not only all that, we would adopt, I'm not sure what I would have said to you. Yet now this feels exactly right and it all happened at the right time. Who says there's not some bigger plan involved in all this? I'm learning to trust that bigger plan and not get so emotional about it all. I'm going to save all that emotion up for when I meet the next addition to our family. As for how I'm currently feeling? I think I'm feeling quite excited about the future and what the stork might bring.