Many of the freedoms that we have as adults get compromised when we become parents. That is true regardless of how you become a parent. This isn’t something to complain about, it is something that any parent should expect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t miss them and, if I’m being brutally honest, resent their loss just a little.
One thing that we, as adoptive parents, don’t get to choose is how much we share about our children on social media. We aren’t able to post videos of their first steps, or photos of the complete state they get into when eating their first ever chocolate biscuit. We can’t share a photo of the proof that our 3 year-old is able to write his name very legibly all on his own without any guidance. We can’t share that recording of him singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ in an angelic voice, perfectly in tune. We can’t be that annoying parent that shows off about how proud they are of their children. I’ve discovered I would definitely be one of those parents if I were able to be, but the anonymity of my children is more important than satisfying that desire.
Like the majority of parents our social lives have disintegrated into a pile of nothingness. We were by no means social butterflies before we became parents but since we adopted our children I can count on just over one hand the number of times we have been out as a couple, and on three fingers how many times we’ve been out with our friends, without children being present. Our social lives now revolve around children’s parties, zoo trips and other such child friendly activities. The last thing we did as a couple without the children present was to go and see our eldest son’s key worker at his nursery.
Get a babysitter! I hear you cry. Yes, that would be the solution. Care to point one out that has experience with attachment disorders, disruptive behaviour due to anxiety of being left with strangers, knowledge of how to discipline an adoptive child who will inevitably play up due to one of the aforementioned issues? I’m not saying that we need all of those things, but they are considerations that adopters need to take into account when asking someone to look after their children. We can’t just ask a family friend to pop round for the evening regardless of how much we trust them. Adopted children need special care, they have faced such disruption in their lives that we want to limit it in their own home as much as we can.
Our pool of babysitters is very limited, and so we don’t like to take advantage too often, we know how much of a handful our children can be for us, and we know how to handle them at their worst. We know that the children’s grandparents will always be there when we need them to be, but we don’t want to wear them out too much! A rare night out is better than none at all.
We give our children the most stable routine that we are able to, it’s the antithesis of the lifestyle they had before they got taken into care. That means we eat most meals with them at the dining table, I even changed my work hours slightly to allow me to come home early enough to eat with them every day. I have to admit though, those days when we give the children a warmed up ‘banked meal’ from the freezer, and we have something different are the best days. We eat our food slumped on the sofa, watching TV, with one ear listening for a crying child and one eye on the children’s room video monitor. It’s almost relaxing.
Yes, we would love to be invited out more, yes we would love to have the energy to organise nights out ourselves, but realistically the latter is never going to happen and the former? Well, that’s not up to us.
All in all though, this is what we signed up for, none of what I’ve mentioned has come as a surprise. I love my children, but I have to admit it is tiring giving them the stablest routine possible, but we see them thriving in the environment we give them so, to use a cliché with total honesty, it is all worth it in the end.