6 Things I learned as an Adoptive Mum

National Adoption Week 2021, father walking with child.

This week was National Adoption Week in the UK. We adopted our gorgeous four just over eight years ago. It’s been an amazing rollercoaster ride with lots of highs and lots of spinning, freefalls and upside down stretches. Our kids have taught us so much, and I would like to share a few things with you at the end of this important week.

1. Kids talk about hilarious stuff.

I love to hear my kids chat together, it’s just too funny. It’s the way they look at life around them and view other people which is so sweet as well as funny. Sadly, with Mr P being 8 and Mr C catching up headspace-wise, most conversations end up being about bodily functions. Which is then primly corrected by Miss E. Usually. Unless they’re all in a burping mood and the chat deteriorates fast…

I love talking to my children. Their interest in the world around them is wonderful and they love to talk about their day. Mr P is the one who can ask more questions than anyone else I have ever met, but the others love to hear the answers just as much. Living with a Dutch mum has paid off as well, as they now all have opinions on anything in life. No standard English “Oh, I have never thought about that!” kind of answer from my kids!

2. Some kids like healthy food.

I never imagined any child would actually choose to eat vegetables, but there we are. My kids love their vegetables, telling any outsider that they clearly haven’t got my genes. There are plenty of food issues in our house, some to do with texture, some with taste, some with quantity, some with taking food when it’s not the time to do so, but generally, I can cook whatever I like and my kids will eat it. Most dinner times I’m declared best cook ever and at least once a week my kids will urge me to open a restaurant. (Don’t worry, I do recognise flattery when I see it, and I have no intention of making other people pay to eat my food!).

For many adoptive families, in fact, many families full stop, eating together can be a struggle and I know we’re blessed in having four children who love healthy and varied food. My children don’t crave grey food or the same kind of food, but will eat all kinds of meals and are willing to try out stuff that I would never have touched as a child!

A plate full of peas and carrots.
My son’s second round at the Carvery…

3. Weird things influence in weird ways.

Do you ever check the stand of the moon? Do you know which week of the month will be a full moon? I never did, but nowadays I can tell it’s a full moon, just by looking at my kids. I knew lots of stories about full moon and its effects, the Dutch Bible even talks about Moonsick people, but to see your children lose the plot for several days simply because of that round sphere is incredible. I can’t remember ever hearing about that when growing up.

The same is for the effect sugar has on my children. It’s marginally better now they’re a little older but eating something sweet has an instant effect. Or cheese with tomato sauce. They will go to sleep, but wake up just before midnight, restless and unable to fall asleep again. Eating lasagne for dinner in the evening guarantees a tricky following day. Thanks to their smartwatches, the race is on to get the most deep sleep each night, so bedtimes are not a problem.

three children in karting outfits.
My kids are up for anything, even karting!

4. Kids spend energy on the wrong things.

My children have masses of stamina, but not always directed at the right thing. They can melt down for two hours flat without losing their voice or other lasting effects. Spending more than 5 seconds thinking about a maths problem feels like it’s destroying their lives, and certainly ruining their day. Their determination to get something is astounding. Mr C was determined to get a bike, so he learned to ride in a very short time, falling off numerous times but brushing himself off, he would get back on again. Putting on shoes isn’t in the same league.

The way they watch the screen is hilarious, I think. Mr C’s shrieking laughter means that often the film has to be paused, otherwise nobody can hear anything. Miss E would love to rest her eyeball against the screen, and it’s only protesting siblings that make her move about three inches away from the screen grudgingly. Mr P does his high energy callisthenics whilst watching, leading to upset siblings when his high powered moves go wrong and he lands on them.

Even listening to a story means they need to be purposefully engaged otherwise reading out loud isn’t going to happen. I’m pleased, for it’s only recently that we can read aloud together, as before, only Miss M would sit and listen to a story, with C and E maybe managing one short picture book if they had to. Now, they will fiddle with a small toy, do playdoh, lego or colouring whilst listening to a book. Mr P prefers to lie on the floor, playing with something so he can swing his legs around and wriggle without getting glared at by irate siblings.

child hunched up on caravan sofa clearly upset.
Holidays are hard as well as fun.

5. Early Years Trauma has consequences.

It’s adoption Week, and I read from lots of adopters about the trauma that they live with, even years after adoption. The thing that surprised me is the range of unexpected issues that pop up after many years. Suddenly troubles develop and some of it is physical. Who knew that things that happen when you are one or two affect you suddenly when you’re ten or thirteen?!

Some people asked us why our children still struggle with x, y or z after eight years. Yes, trauma takes a long time to heal and some of it may never heal. On the other hand, there are plenty of adults who shriek when they see a spider, which isn’t a logical thing to do either. So my kids reacting badly to change or packed bags is more rational than running away from a harmless spider.

The brain is a complex thing, so are your emotions. When parts are missing through trauma, it makes it that bit harder to function like others. Fear is such a strong emotion, and it makes it hard to hear what is being said or what people expect from you. Maybe that is why the Bible tells us to “Fear Not” so many times? Fear not, then the message comes, because when we’re filled with fear, there is no space for anything or anyone else.

6. Adoption comes with strong emotions.

I was surprised by the feelings of grief and anger and sadness I felt when looking at my children’s struggle. This world is a fallen world, full of grief, fear and pain. As parents, we would love to shield our children from this, but like my friend Lucy Rycroft at The HopeFilled Family wrote for this week on Instagram , adoption brings suffering into your home. Visit her amazing website here to read more about adoption. We can’t take the suffering away, but we can share the Gospel with our children, the Good News that they don’t have to be alone in their sadness. That their guilt and shame can be forgiven and healed and that they can be accepted through Jesus, and through Him, be adopted into God’s Family.

I love feeling their squishy hands when walking together or hearing their laughs when we’re reading a book. I love their glowing faces when they’ve achieved something and they’re showing me their paintings. And my heart sinks when they’re hurt, especially when it’s not a physical hurt. How do you explain love when you don’t feel deserving of it? How do you explain to a young child that adoption was never, ever their fault or their choice? But my kids love hugs and kisses, they love being held and rocked and told that they are loved and maybe one day, they will fully understand love as well.

So these are some of the things that popped into my thoughts this week. Adoption is amazing, it’s hard, it’s beautiful, it’s full of grief, it’s a time to heal but also a time to hurt. I love my children, they’re such an incredible blessing, and the fact that they sleep about 12 hours every night is a huge bonus blessing!

mother knitting with cherub baby girl hanging over her shoulder.
Clearly not me. I can’t knit to save my life, but nothing beats getting hugged by chubby children’s arms!

I have talked about Adoption and the Bible to groups before, so if you would like to know more about this, let me know. I would love to come and speak to your group, whether it’s about Adoption, Writing or anything else you would like me to speak about! Send me an email, I would be happy to hear from you.

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