Christmas Star

Christmas can be an amazing time, particularly if you have kids. The excitement and anticipation fuelled by magic and sparkle and too much chocolate is one of the best feelings in the world.  It’s a time for families to get together and make wonderful memories.  Who doesn’t remember at least one childhood Christmas experience with great fondness?

It is also a time for reflection. This has been our third Christmas with our precious daughter.  The first one was a bit of a disaster.  My mum had a mini stroke the week before and hubby managed to get pneumonia on Boxing Day.  We still managed to sneak in some amazing memories though of her first magical Christmas.

Our second Christmas threw a nasty sinus infection, panic attacks and a trip to the walk in centre at us and was clouded by us having to make the life changing decision about whether to expand our family. The thing that got us through was seeing our daughter’s face light up each day.

This Christmas has been more like what I had hoped all our Christmases with our daughter would be like. Filled with fun, laughter, magic and sparkle and of course the odd toddler tantrum thrown in to bring us back to reality.  There were no trips to any type of hospital by any members of the family which was a huge relief.

Feeling so blessed and lucky to have been picked to be parents to our daughter has made me think a lot about her birth family and her birth mum in particular. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her on Christmas morning knowing she won’t be able to share any of the excitement, laughter and fun with all of the children she gave birth to.

I wonder whether she thought about little Miss. If she did, did she hope she’s having an amazing time and that she’s happy, healthy and content?  I hope that’s how she felt for at least some of the time.  I hope she’s read the updates that we’ve sent and that she knows what an amazing little girl little Miss is growing into.

My worst fear is that she didn’t think of her at all. That she’s blocked her out of her mind so that she doesn’t exist to her anymore. That thought breaks my heart. I can’t begin to understand how utterly hideous an experience it is to have your child removed from your care, whatever the reason.  How do you move on?  How do you get on with your life knowing someone else is experiencing the amazing rollercoaster of parenting a child you gave birth to?

I really hope she has been able to move on. I hope she is content and doing ok.  Most of all though, I hope she does wish little Miss the happy, healthy and magical childhood that she deserves.  I hope that when she looks up at the stars, she thinks of little Miss and knows that she’s doing ok.

Perfect Match

Becoming a parent through adoption is a massive leap of faith in so many different ways. At the start of the process you pretty much bundle up all of your hopes, dreams, expectations and worries about becoming a parent and give them to your social worker. They have the mind blowing responsibility of taking you by the hand, leading you through the assessment so that at the end, although the adoption panel won’t know you, they will feel like they do once they’ve read your report.

That level of responsibility on the part of the social worker is beyond my comprehension. If they get it wrong, they crush the hopes and dreams of people wanting to become parents or, worse still, they let a vulnerable child live with people who are not good enough to be their parent. Getting it right though must be the most amazing feeling.

On the part of prospective adopters, it is the biggest leap of faith you will ever take. You are trusting your social worker with your future, trusting them to make sure the panel will see that you are good enough to become parents. At the start, that seems like the hardest part of the process, trusting a stranger with your future.

The hardest part though happens after you’re approved. The matching process utterly blew my mind. All adoption agencies do it differently, but the way it was for us is that all control was taken from us and placed firmly in the hands of our social worker. We didn’t read any profiles or hear details about any children at all for 10 very, very long months.

We weren’t left on our own or abandoned during that time. Our social worker came out to visit us quite regularly. Sometimes she gave us the tiniest snippet of information about children she was looking it. It took every ounce of strength in my body not to scream at her and ask for more information.

I really thought sometimes that she just didn’t get how torturous that part of the process was. She was expecting us to have complete and utter faith in her to find us the right child and I just couldn’t get my head round how she could possibly get it right. How could she? She wasn’t us.

Hindsight is the most amazing thing and I know now that the way it was done was absolutely the right way for us. I can’t imagine how I would have felt if we had been given a number of profiles of children and had to pick one that we thought would suit us best. I don’t think I would have been strong enough to say no to any child, once I’d started to read about them.

There were many, many dark days when I didn’t think we would ever become parents. As the weeks turned into months I began to lose faith. The worst time was about 9 and a half months after we had been approved and a devastating email from our social worker to say the final hearing for the child she’d been looking at for us had been delayed. We didn’t know any details such as age or sex of the child, just that the hearing had been delayed.

I really did think that was the end of the road for us as I didn’t think I had the strength to keep going and keep on waiting after that. It’s funny though how things happen for a reason and in adoption land, that is absolutely true. We weren’t meant to be the parents of that child. We were meant to be the parents of our little pink.

I will never, ever forget the feeling when I read “the” email from our social worker. I was at work, had had a pants afternoon and for once, I hadn’t checked my emails every 30 seconds. My phone took forever to open the email fully and I could hardly breath waiting to read the words. It was only a week or so after the devastating news about the child with the delayed hearing, and something inside me told me that the words I was about to read would change our lives forever. I’m filling up now just thinking about it. Oh my lord what a feeling.

We had to wait 24 very long hours to meet our social worker and for her to tell us about the child she had picked for us. As soon as I started to read, I knew she was meant to be our child. Everything suddenly made sense. The seemingly endless waiting was meant to happen. It was meant to happen because little pink was always meant to be our daughter.

I can’t really begin to tell you what a mind blowing experience it is to have someone else pick who is going to be your child because it is beyond words. Of all the children who were waiting to be adopted when we were waiting to be matched, (and sadly there are far, far too many), our social worker chose this child for us. How on earth did she know she was the right child for us?

Little pink was only 6 months old then. How could anyone know how she was going to fit in with our family? How could we possibly say from just reading a report that we would love and adore a child we had never met? But we did and we do. Oh my goodness, we do.

Our daughter could not fit into our family more perfectly than if she had been our birth child. She is a happy, funny, loving, articulate and bubbly little girl. She is on exactly the same wave length as one of her big cousins, they both have the same mischief twinkle in their eye. She is the centre of our world and that of our extended family and I can’t imagine our lives without her.

There are days when I wonder what would have happened if the court hadn’t decided to delay making a final order for the child we were going to be matched with. It actually makes me feel quite anxious because that would have meant we would never have met our beautiful little pink. She is our perfect match.

Tantrums

Trying to cope with a toddler’s tantrum sucks. Fact. No matter how much you try and play them down or empathise with why they happen, they suck.

I love my daughter more than anything else in the world, but when she goes into a meltdown, I could quite happily leave her at the side of the road and drive off. The shrill piercing of her screams gets to me like nothing else on this earth and makes me feel like such a failure as a parent. I have to fight with every fibre in my body not to lose my rag and scream just as loud back at her.

She’s only two, I tell myself in my calmest inner voice.  It’s just frustration, I tell myself. She doesn’t know how to control it yet. She will one day, just not today. Won’t she?

It’s so hard not to over analyse everything your kids do (or won’t do!). I’ve become really good at it since we met our little pink. Every time she won’t eat her tea, I’m convinced she’s going to waste away. Every runny nappy and I’m convinced she has some kind of terrible illness. For the most part, after my initial panic, I can rationalise things and realise it is just normal teething toddler behaviour.

Tantrums are a whole different kettle of fish though. How can it possibly be normal to scream so much, to lash about, to go so red in the face and to be so utterly horrible? The added dimension of panic for me about tantrums was planted as a seed in my brain when we were first told about our daughter. We read the report about her and knew she was meant to be ours from the moment we started to read, but what was enstilled in us from the beginning was that there was so much uncertainty about her future.

Uncertainty about how she would develop. Uncertainty about whether she would have heredity disease that no-one knew about, or whether she’d develop conditions that her birth family may have. What if the tantrums are the first signs of something not being right? What if it is the start of attachment issues because of the disruption of moving from her primary carer into our home as such an early stage in her life?

Some days I can work myself into a complete frenzie thinking like that. And then we go out and come across another grown up trying to contain a kicking and screaming toddler who doesn’t want to go home after a trip to the park. For some people, that sight would make them cross the road to avoid the spectacle. For me though I want to go and kiss said toddler as it is a very welcome reminder that the behaviour my daughter is displaying is probably normal.

No parent can ever know how their children are going to develop, regardless of how they came to be their parent. There is uncertainty every time a new life comes into the world, but that’s what makes parenthood such an amazing rollercoaster. It would be so much better though if it didn’t have to contain tantrums.

Walking away

Abandoning your child is something that the vast majority of parents could not even begin to contemplate doing. Most parents would do anything, jump through whatever hoop, walk on fire or in front of a bus to keep their children safe and make sure they were there for them throughout their lives.

When we started on our adoption journey, my thoughts were often occupied with birth parents in general and how they must feel fighting to keep their children. The reasons children are adopted now are very different from the reasons 40 or 50 years ago. In those days, the shame of having a child out of wedlock was often enough reason for a child to be reliquinshed by their mother. The removal of children born out of wedlock into some religions was often done without the consent of birth mum, sometimes even without their knowledge.

The story of the man who came to talk on our preparation course really moved me. He was born into a staunch catholic family out of wedlock. His birth mother was sent out to the hairdressers one day and when she returned, her baby had been removed, all sign of his existance erased. She was expected to just accept that and get on with her life without him.

Thankfully, feeling you have no choice but to relinquish your child because you’re a single mum in the UK is now very rare. The issues that lead to adoption today are usually to do with drug or alcohol misuse, violence or extreme neglect which lead a court to conclude that there is no other option but for the child to be placed for adoption outside of their birth family. I felt that would be something that our child could understand – they had to be removed because it wasn’t safe for them to stay with their birth family. If they had stayed they may not have survived, or they may have been very unhappy, ill or abused.

Explaining to your child that their birth mum didn’t fight for them is a whole different kettle of fish. It’s a scenario that I will always struggle to understand. How can a mother who has felt her baby kick and grow and move around inside her, not fight with every ounce of her strength for the right to parent her child and watch them grow and flourish? Walking away might have been done with the best of intentions but to a child it is rejection, no matter what age they are when it happens.

Being a parent isn’t something where you get to pick and choose to be around for the best bits and then leave when something difficult crops up. Having a parent walk out of your life at whatever age is heartbreaking but when you’re an adult it is crushing. You understand things so much more than you ever could as a child. You have more memories, experiences and adventures that you shared with your parent. They were someone you looked up to all your life, who you went to for advice or to just be a shoulder to cry on. They loved you unconditionally. Or so you thought.

Your role in that type of situation as an adult is different too. Even though you’re the child, you often have to be a parent for the parent who’s been left behind. You have to be strong, take control, pretend everything will be ok even though you feel like you’re dying inside.  It’s the worst kind of grief because the person whose loss you are mourning is alive and well. They’re living their new life to the full but that life doesn’t have room for you.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like for a parent to walk away from their child and out of their life, whether it was their decision or one made by a court. My daughter is my life and I will do all that I can to make sure I’m there for her throughout hers.

Think before you speak

Jamie Oliver has never been one to shy away from a debate. His honesty about issues involving the nation’s health and relationship with food has brought him as many supporters as it has haters. I think most would agree that when it comes to fighting the corner for things like healthier school meals and less sugar in drinks, Mr Oliver is more than qualified to comment. Not so sure about the appropriateness of making such generalised comments about breast feeding though.

Don’t get me wrong, I think making it easier for women to breastfeed whenever they need to is absolutely right. As is raising awareness of the benefits to both baby and mum and giving woman an informed choice. What his comments and most others about the whole breast is best campaign fail to take into account though, is the fact that not all mother’s have a choice. Breast feeding was not a choice that I had.

Being able to pro-create and provide food for your child is what women have done since time began. Not being able to do it is hard to come to terms with. For a while it made me feel like I wasn’t a proper woman. I am a proper woman though and I am a mother. I make the best choices that I can for the welfare of my daughter so that she grows up healthy and happy.

Being told by someone who has just announced he’s expecting his 5th child with his wife that my daughter is at risk of obesity, stunting and other health issues because she wasn’t breast fed is very hard to digest. I had absolutely no control over the issue of how she was fed as a new born.

I don’t doubt that research shows that breast fed children are less likely to have problems with obesity when they are older. Or that because I haven’t breastfed I am 50% more likely to get breast cancer than someone who has. It’s not the facts I have a problem with.

My problem lies in the way that this issue is seen as being so black or white. That women either choose to breast or bottle feed and if you do bottle feed, you are not doing the best for your child.

Some woman simply can’t breast feed because their bodies won’t let them. For some it just doesn’t work as it should meaning baby isn’t getting enough food. That doesn’t make them any less of a woman or a bad parent. By the time I met my daughter she was 9 months old and eating proper food having been in foster care since the day after she was born.

I’m sure that Jamie Oliver’s comments were made with the best of intentions. I’d also like to think that midwives and health visitors up and down the United Kingdom don’t intend to make mums to be and new mums feel like complete and utter failures with their sometimes cutting and harsh comments about bottle feeding.

The fact is though that their comments do hurt. So please Jamie Oliver, or anyone else who wants to wade into the breastfeeding debate, think carefully about what you say and bear in mind that for some, it simply isn’t a choice.

Instruction manual

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There are so many books around proferring advice and top tips to new parents. Everything from how to get your baby to sleep, what and how to feed them, to how to turn them into a child genius and routines. The value of all of this information varies for each parent but one thing they all have in common is their complete silence on the real nitty gritty of parenting.  There’s nothing about the really practical stuff like how to physically get out of the house with a baby / pushchair / changing bag when you have 10 steps to your front door. Then what do you do when you do manage to get out there and how on earth do you get back up the steps again in one piece?

There have been countless situations I’ve found myself in since I became a mum about 15 months ago, where I’ve had no clue about what to do. I’m not talking about complicated things like illnesses or refusing to eat, I’m talking the day to day challenge of being out and about. It’s as if there is this hidden test set for new parents that no-one tells you about and it’s up to you to figure out how to do something. If you succeed you lurch onto the next task with your dignity intact. When you fail you make a complete prize idiot out of yourself and get those looks of utter disapproval from the “proper” mums who passed the tests with flying colours.

Here are some of the situations I’ve found myself in over the last 15 months where some kind of instructions booklet or idiot guide would really have helped.

1. Shopping. Supermarket shopping, at the moment (clearly I’ve just jinxed it) is relatively stress free. My daughter is very happy sitting in the shopping trolley, holding court with fellow shoppers and hasn’t yet felt the need to refuse to get into said trolley, or have a meltdown once in it. Proper shopping though in shops that don’t have shopping trolleys is a whole different kettle of fish. Those proper shops have lots of lovely things that I’d like to be able to look at but can’t because they are at just the right height for fingers and sometimes feet to randomly grab out at. Before I became a parent I always raised an eyebrow at parents who took their babies proper shopping and vowed I would never do it because proper shopping and pushchairs just don’t go. Pushchairs are big and therefore don’t fit in small spaces. Sometimes though, you have no choice. I realise the smaller the space in between the rails and displays means more lovely things can be crammed in, but it also means I am constantly getting said large pushchair stuck. Cue disapproving look from everyone else in the shop (particularly from those with pushchairs who have managed to negotiate the small gaps without incident) as my daughter screams blue murder when I try and prize her out of the space I’ve managed to jam her into.

2. Music classes. How is it that every other parent in the class, regardless of their age, knows the words to all of the songs except me?? I have 2 nieces so it isn’t as if I have been avoiding the whole nursery rhyme thing in the recent past. Perhaps there is a song word gene and I missed out on it or my phone is the only one in the world that doesn’t have a song word app. Whatever it is, I have rarely felt such a failure as I did during the few months we went to the classes. Even after a few weeks of going I still didn’t know most of the words and any song I felt I was getting to grips with was removed from the playlist, never to be sung again. There were occasions when my daughter actually crawled across to another parent and sat with them because she was clearly humiliated by the fact that I didn’t know the words. At 12 months she was already learning how to zone out from my voice and preferred the company of other adults to me.

3. Changing dirty nappies. This task should come with a health warning and hip flask, particularly when the nappy belongs to a teething baby. My first solo experience of changing a dirty nappy was the second day of introductions. Our daughter had a virus at the time so her nappies were utterly hideous. Hubby looked green so I knew he was going to be no help other than by passing me the odd wet wipe.  So I had to clean up the mess with the foster carer scrutinising my every move.  I survived and quietly congratulated myself on the fact that I hadn’t thrown up and that I hadn’t got poo all over our daughter’s face when I took her vest off. It will get easier from now on, I thought. I know what to do now, I thought. How wrong I was? The next day we had to take our daughter out so we opted for a trip to the park. I knew there was a nice cafe there and the toilets were nice and clean. Of course I hadn’t had to change a baby’s nappy in them though. So, after a lovely long walk round the park we couldn’t ignore the hideous smell coming from the pram any longer. There were baby changing facilities in each set of toilets but that clearly meant whoever did it was going to have to do it alone. Guess who got to do it? I can honestly say that is still my most horrendous parenting experience to date. It’s bad enough doing it now when my daughter knows who I am and feels safe and secure with me, but she didn’t then. She was utterly hysterical. How on earth are you supposed to keep their feet and hands away from the poo while cleaning their bum and not get it all over you too? Even a basic diagram on the side of the nappy or wet wipe pack would have helped.

4. Swimming. Our daughter was around 10 months the first time I took her swimming. I thought it would be a lovely experience for us both and would help us to develop our bond. We went with my sister and 2 nieces (who were 9 and 6 at the time) and for once I had planned what I needed to take so was feeling very smug knowing I’d covered all bases and wouldn’t be getting a look of disappointment yet again from my nieces when I said I’d forgotten something vital like nappies or milk or food for the baby. Little miss wasn’t quite crawling but was rolling all over the place so couldn’t be left on her own. How anyone can cope with a wriggling, rolling child on their own and safely get themselves and the baby into the pool appropriately dressed is beyond me. It took 4 of us and by the time we got into the pool I was utterly exhausted.

It was quite a few months later before I dared venture to the pool without my very capable assistants and I was only brave enough to go because we went to a pool were I could take the pushchair onto the poolside. The pushchair was my saviour and the whole getting changed into our swimming gear was relatively painless compared to our first trip. The trouble started when it was time to get out. Hubby and I had spent several hours the night before blowing up the inflatable rubber ring that was nearly the size of the car boot, so that little miss could just float around the pool having fun. She looked very cute and content sitting in it in her Disney princess bathing costume complete with little net tutu. She looked adorable. Said tutu, it turns out, was not in the least bit practical and ended up causing little miss to be wedged in the inflatable. I spent what felt like forever trying to prize her (she was hysterical of course) out of the stupid inflatable without dropping her head first into the water. There were plenty of diagrams on the inflatable about how to blow it up and which was the correct way to put your child in it, but nothing about how to get them out again when wedged in. Needless to say the inflatable and the costume went straight in the charity bag when we got home.

So, if anyone has a spare instruction book on how to do any of the above, please send me a copy.

Real life

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For the past year or so I’ve been living in the most amazing bubble. In that bubble I get to spend pretty much all day every day with our beautiful little girl. I can go and visit my mum, sister and neices whenever I want. I take little miss to see her granma and grandad which puts a spring back in their step. We can go and have lunch with friends or go to the park or swimming when the mood takes us. In fact we can do pretty much what we like when we like to suit us. I’ve even been known to have the tea ready for hubby coming home from work, washing done and the house tidy(ish) and clean(ish).

It’s been a fabulous little bubble and worth every last penny of my savings it’s taken. And it has taken every last penny. Unfortunately though I’m told that all good things must come to an end. But why must they? Why can’t this go on forever? It’s been the most amazing journey which has allowed me time to get to know our daughter and for her to get to know me. We’ve created so many amazing memories from our first trip to the swimming baths (I had LOTS of help from sister and neices and needed a lie down afterwards!) to our first family holiday, first steps and lots and lots of laughs, with a fair few tears and tantrums thrown in too. It’s meant I could go and see my mum in hospital when she had a mini stroke, without worrying about work. Similarly when hubby very inconsiderately got pneumonia on Boxing Day (our first Boxing Day as a family of 3 I might add!), I didn’t have to juggle going to see him in hospital around work. Juggling that with childcare was hard enough, but if work had been in the mix too, I’m not sure I would have coped.

At this moment in time, other than being paid, I’m really struggling to see exactly what the benefits to me as a person are in going back to work. Clearly, the lure of being paid is a very big pull given we have a mortgage and bills to pay, but other than that and seeing some of my friends more often, going out to work fills me with nothing but dread and sadness. Dread that I’ll no longer be able to do the job I used to be able to do without a second thought, and sadness at how much I’m going to miss out on our daughter’s childhood. I was incredibly lucky and saw her first crawl, her first step, and so many other firsts. But there are going to be so many more I’m going to miss while I’m at work.

Before I went off on adoption leave, there were times when I worried that I’d struggle being away from work for so long. Away from adult company. But I haven’t struggled being off at all. I’ve really thrived being with our daughter, and fitting in setting up a small business and writing around her. That has given me far more satisfaction than a day at work ever did.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for in the build up to my return to work was just how guilty I’d feel at leaving our daughter at nursery and how difficult it would be to walk away from her at her first session. The next few times haven’t been any easier. The guilt you feel walking away and leaving your child when they are hysterically screaming your name, has to be one of the worst feelings in the world. Every fibre in my body was telling me to turn round and go and pick her up and take her home. But I couldn’t. She has to get used to being at nursery as I have to go back to work.

The last few weeks have made me realise more than ever that sometimes real life sucks. I really want to stay in my lovely bubble with our precious little girl forever. I might even let hubby stay at home with us every now and then too!

To tell or not to tell

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To tell or not to tell. That’s a dilemma I’ve found myself faced with more and more. I’m very proud of the fact that our daughter is adopted. Without her, our family and by that I mean not just my husband and I, I mean grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and close friends, would have missed out on so much. She’s a much loved addition in our lives. But is it anyone else’s business to know that I didn’t give birth to her?

I don’t want her to be labelled as “adopted” by people who don’t know any better.  How she came to be in the care system and ultimately adopted by us, is no-one else’s business. It’s our business and those who need to know, do. To the outside world she is just our daughter. It doesn’t matter how she came to be with us. Or does it?

She will grow up knowing she is adopted so it isn’t a big secret. Being adopted is part of who she is, but it doesn’t define her, just like being a birth child doesn’t define me. It feels like it’s a very fine line though between being too over-protective of the fact that she is adopted, and telling anyone who asks.

I’ve had so many comments from complete strangers about how much my daughter looks like me. Should I respond to this by saying something like, “that’s weird because actually she’s adopted?” One of the other mum’s in one of our toddler classes made a big thing of saying how much my daughter looked like me. She went on and on about how unfair it was that she had carried her daughter for 9 long months, did all the hard work to help her grow and nurture her in her tummy, and yet it was her husband that their daughter looked like.

I was willing the floor to swallow me up. They don’t tell you how to deal with situations like that in the adoption training. What should I have done? It wasn’t possible to just change the subject which is my usual tactic. If I’d said, “actually she’s adopted” it would probably have made the lady feel embarrassed which I didn’t want to do. It perhaps wasn’t the best topic of conversation to have with a group of ladies you don’t know anything about, but she didn’t mean any harm by it.

The whole conversation left me feeling a bit like I was hiding something. I haven’t deliberately not said anything to anyone, but it isn’t really the kind of class where there is a lot of chatting between parents and it just hasn’t come up. Should I have announced at the first class, this is ***** my adopted daughter?? No-one else said this is **** my birth child. Am I just being too sensitive and making it into something it isn’t?

I guess the older she gets and therefore the longer she’s been in our lives, the less it will feel like an issue. It still feels very new having a child. I’ve never had one before so I have nothing to compare it to. It does feel like a very big responsibility getting the right balance between her knowing and understanding her birth history without making it into an overwhelming thing. I guess it’s the same as all the other big things in parenting – there are no rule books, you just have to go with what feels right. For now it feels right not to say anything to those who don’t need to know. Only time will tell if that was the right thing to do.

Not love at first sight

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Adoption is an amazing thing.  It’s the best and also the most difficult thing I have ever done. We saw it as a positive way of creating our family when it became clear it wasn’t going to happen for us naturally.  Embarking on the assessment process gave me hope for the first time in a long time.  Hope that we would be parents.  That I could finally become a mum.

Once we were approved I was excited about the prospect of being matched with our child and setting off on our journey as a family together. I didn’t really think too much about how I’d feel about our child, I just assumed I’d love them straight away.  That’s what happens when you have a child.  You love them from the minute you set eyes on them. Don’t you? I didn’t give birth to my 2 amazing nieces but I loved them from the second I met them, so why would it be any different for our child?

It was different though. It was very different. I’d spent years dreaming about becoming a mum and built it up in my head to be something it could never be.  I imagined everything would be perfect. That our family life would be perfect and organised and a lovely bubble of fabulousness and happiness.

The day we met our daughter for the first time was surreal.  After waiting for so long, we were finally going to achieve our dream. We were going to be parents to a baby. A nine month old bundle of happiness, mischief and gorgeousness. What more could we have asked for? She had no major health issues, no drug or alcohol misuse by birth mother during pregnancy. She was perfect. So why didn’t I love her?

I felt nothing the first time I held her other than complete panic.  Panic that I wouldn’t be any good at being a mum.  That we wouldn’t be good enough to make up for the fact that she couldn’t spend her childhood with her birth family. How could we make up for that?  I felt like we were kidnapping someone else’s child.

Over thinking things is something I’ve become very good at and I really excelled once we brought little Miss home.  I felt quite jealous of my husband and his uncomplicated view of things.  He loved her from the moment he set eyes on her.  He empathised with her birth family and understands the importance of her history and being open and honest with her about it as she grows older, but he just accepted it and moved on.

I really struggled with my feelings for the first few months. Rather than feeling the overwhelming love I’d been expecting, I mainly felt guilty. Guilty because I was getting to enjoy so many precious moments with this beautiful little person that I didn’t create.  I didn’t carry her for nine months. I didn’t feel her growing and kicking inside me. I didn’t give birth to her so why should I get to experience all of these good times when the person who did create her couldn’t?

It took me a while to realise that feeling guilty wasn’t helping anyone.  We played no part in the court proceedings and to a large extent, neither did birth mother. She agreed to little Miss being accommodated by the local authority before giving birth and didn’t really engage in the assessments. I can’t even begin to understand how she must have felt giving birth to a child she knew she wouldn’t be taking home with her. But she did and we had no part in any of that. The court made the decision that adoption was the best option for little Miss to have a safe, loving and happy childhood and if we hadn’t been matched with her, someone else would.

Gradually I have learned to let go of the guilt and it has slowly been replaced by the all consuming love I’d expected to feel from the start. I can’t imagine our lives without her now.  She’s my world and I feel so proud to be her mum but it still completely blows my mind to think that she has birth brothers and sisters that won’t get to be part of her life as she grows up. I think I’ll struggle with that for all of her life. For now though, I’m just enjoying being her mum.