Guest post: Adoption - "We had to wait for love to come"
When Rosalind Powell adopted her son as a toddler, she felt she had to earn the right to be a mother
Author, How I Met My Son
Posted on: Tue 15-Mar-16 11:41:43
(18 comments )
My relationship with my son is much like any other mother's with a growing teenager. I can feel inordinately proud of him and extremely frustrated. I worry about him, I laugh at his jokes and despair at his laziness. I look at him and hope one day that someone will make him happy and love him as much as his mum does.
There are two fundamental questions that lie at the heart of adoption: can you love someone else's child, and can they love you? I know that you can. To all intents and purposes, we are a 'normal' family and Gabriel, 13, is completely 'our' son – although, in another sense, we're not and he isn't.
When my husband Harry and I discovered we couldn't have children naturally, without the help of fertility treatment, it felt as if my world had collapsed overnight. After three unsuccessful rounds of IVF and relentless cycles of hormones, hope and disappointment I was left feeling battered and bruised, and as if my body had let me down. After a year, we turned to adoption.
We knew that many of the children up for adoption now have been more than likely taken away from their parents and come through the care system. Undaunted, we embarked on a homestudy – the intensive, six-month appraisal of all potential adopters undertaken by a social worker.
We were approved and spent the next two years in limbo, waiting. It was a frustrating and occasionally distressing time as we were sent details of children to consider whose life stories gave me a glimpse of a cruel, hellish world. Others just didn't feel right. It felt awful turning them down, but we were determined to do right not only by ourselves but, more importantly, by the children we were asked to consider. We felt it was essential that we knew our limitations and what we could cope with.
Our son came to live with us just before his second birthday and overnight my life changed. Most other parents have had at least two years with their child to get into training for having a toddler. We didn't know each other, let alone love each other yet.
After two years we were on the verge of giving up when we were sent details of a little boy. We'd found our son.
Adoption is a leap of faith that co-exists with fear, and I had plenty of fear to begin with. We had spent almost eight years yearning for a child and then one came storming into our life like a small tornado. I'm amazed I didn't run around our flat screaming, "What have I done?"
Our son came to live with us just before his second birthday and overnight my life changed. I never finished a conversation or put my needs first; I mastered the art of crawling on all fours pushing small cars mumbling 'brum brum' and miming actions of nursery rhymes; I rarely socialised but would look forward to my first glass of wine at 6pm, sharp; I had more patience than I'd thought, but also discovered a bad temper; I became intimate with every café and swing park. It was, in short, a crash course in parenting and I hadn't read the manual. Of course these are common experiences for every parent of a toddler. But most other parents have had at least two years with their child to get into training. We didn't know each other, let alone love each other yet. Like an arranged marriage, we had to wait for love to come.
It didn't help that for the first six weeks he called us both Harry, which he'd call out loudly in swing parks. Maybe I had to earn the title of Mummy.
There were difficult spells: he had been taken from his foster family - the only family he'd ever known - and he was, in effect, in mourning. At times he became angry, tired of being on his best behaviour and testing us to see if we'd stay. Times of change were hard for him - but he was also incredibly adaptable and brave.
We've occasionally had to field awkward questions from nosey strangers. Our son is mixed-heritage, we're white, and I've been asked why he's got brown eyes when ours are blue. We've been told he looks like he's caught the sun. An acquaintance once explained to her child, in front of us, that our son was an orphan. Sometimes his friends at primary school would ask me if I was his 'real' mum. One boy went so far as to tell him – and me – that I definitely wasn't his 'real' mum.
But on the whole, the fact he's adopted hasn't been an issue. He's interested in his birth family background to a point, but doesn't choose to dwell on it. He might one day want to trace his birth parents and if he does, we will give him all the support he needs.
Part of the process of adopting is feeling a sense of 'entitlement' to be a parent. I felt I couldn't just become a mother, I had to earn the right to be one. As I now watch him grow into a young man, I feel proud of what a remarkable individual he has become. And like any other parent, I can also take some credit for that too.
How I Met My Son: A Journey Through Adoption by Rosalind Powell (Blink Publishing) is out now.
Photo: Trevor Leighton
By Rosalind Powell
That was a lovely read. I love that your son called you both Harry.
However, yet another guest post clearly bought and paid for, advertising a book. Shame really.
Hello, just to confirm that we thought this was a really interesting topic so we asked the author to write the guest blog - no payment was involved.
Lovely post, OP you write with lovely insight.
Thanks for sharing - I used to work as an admin assistant in a council family services dept an one of my jobs was to type up adoption applications. I still think of the hopeful parents to be and the children that needed them and their love. I have the utmost respect for those who adopt - it seems such a tough process. So it is nice to see a happy example.
We as a family of four adopted our foster child. She completed us and we adore her beyond words, especially beyond words like 'adopted' 'not her real family' etc
Thanks Kiran, agree it is a lovely post on a worthwhile subject. Think I was still twitching from that nonsense guest post the other day about how we're making our children unhappy...
Ace. I am adopted and you do get weird comments but you sound like great parents.
We adopted siblings just over a year ago. It's been so, so tough but thankfully we are now seeing the benefit of our patience, love and care. Our DD mourned the loss of her foster carer as the only mum she'd known for 2 years so much she refused to accept me for a long time.
I probably would have told you I loved them and I certainly tried to, but now I understand what others mean by that overwhelming love for your children. I feel it for them both and they are showing that they love us back more and more every day.
The fact that they were 3 and 5 when we adopted them, were siblings, had behavioural problems and had been in care for 2+ years seemed to put them in the category of not being able to find a family.
Thank goodness they found us. I couldn't imagine my life without them.
Cabawill, that sounds so lovely..
I admire you.
Adopting siblings is something I often think about..as my research has shown they are often among the ones (along with teenagers) least likely to get adopted. Or they get separated....
Hopefully, in the near future..
I have a five year old and I am currently expecting. But I want more kids and have always thought to complete my family through adopting.
We are due to go to panel in a couple of months and are really hoping to adopt siblings, it's good to hear real life stories and help us understand what to expect
Very best wishes.
Two sets of friends have each adopted three siblings, and at least one if each trio has learning issues.
But you never saw such happy families, even if the parents are exhausted: 0-3 in 30 seconds. And lovely children. Brings tears to the eyes.
we thought this was a really interesting topic so we asked the author to write the guest blog - no payment was involved
Why the bloody hell not?! So mumsnet is yet another profitable website who thinks authors can pay the mortgage through 'exposure'. They need to make a living too. This is really shoddy practice in an area where you ought to be setting a good example. Shame on you!
zoe isn't it fairly industry standard that when someone is promoting their book they don't ask for payment for promotion? Like book signings, book tours. This is no different, promotion means sales. Mumsnet was probably approached by this author, MN thought the content was relevant to their audience and gave the author a free platform for promotion of her book.
It's a poignant and relevant post and I think very well chosen by MN.
Well, Kiran said 'we asked the author to write the guest blog'. I get the promotion thing, but if you ask for content, imo you pay for it. Also, the guest blog isn't always written by someone with a book to promote, afaik? At a guess, the guest bloggers are therefore doing it for 'exposure'. Only in the creative arts is that considered a fair exchange for time and expertise - you try telling your plumber that you'll recommend them far and wide to your friends and relations, and that that should be payment enough for them fixing your sink