Some days I give up trying to justify why I might be a little bit more stressed about a situation than A. N. Other parent would be. Sometimes I get fed up with being told that it is “normal behaviour”, that it is “what I signed up for”, that “all children are like that”.
It’s a situation which I’m sure many adopters are faced with. I sometimes feel like I’m getting my excuses in before people start saying those expressions. Then I’m usually greeted with a screwed up face which just says to me “I don’t understand what you mean, so I’m going to ignore you and have my own opinion which you won’t ever be able to change”. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying and it just adds even more stress to what I am already having to deal with.
What’s worse is when you can’t even express why you’re just that extra bit stressed because the reasons for it are confidential and don’t just effect your own family. Instead I have to grimace and stay quiet because I know that if I start down the road of explaining or correcting the person, then I will inevitably say something which I shouldn’t. Something which gives away just that little bit too much about my children and their surrounding baggage.
That is the extra, the baggage. I’m not just talking about the trauma that they come with. That is what I signed up for, to a point at least. I’m talking about the constant presence of social services interfering in things which should no longer be their business, but because of the nature of adoption they are required to be there. I’m talking about the extended biological family of the children who we know so little about yet may pose a danger to them should they discover where they now live. Not their biological parents (I’ll come on to them in a minute) but their uncles, their aunties, their cousins and their grandparents. They all know what my children look like. They may not have been local to us at the time of our adoption, but people move all the time. We simply do not have any way of tracking them, so it is a worry that we will always have.
And then there’s their parents, their biological parents. You’d think that someone in social services would be tracking them, keeping an eye on them to let us know if they move, or even if they’re still ok. But no. We have to do that ourselves. We have heard precisely nothing from social services in over a year and a half about our children’s biological family. In fact, in that time I have told them more about it than they have told us. What did they do? Nothing. What did they respond with? Nothing. Not even an acknowledgement.
Recently, I did some more digging. What did I find? One of them has moved. Moved much closer to us. Still not close enough to be a danger, but closer to the point that they now live in an area that we sometimes visit. Making that a no go area. We have many of those now, from shopping centres and play areas to whole towns, there are places we just cannot go with our children.
As well as that, yes we do have what would on first impressions be “normal behaviour” that “all children do”. We see that, we acknowledge that, but please before dismissing our extra concerns have the decency to see it from our point of view. Our children have seen things which have affected their physical and psychological development. Our children have experienced things that change their behaviour. Our children have had things done to them which make every day situations extremely scary for them. Our children are sometimes absolutely terrified to express what they’re really feeling, so they pretend. Those “normal behaviours” are borne out of the need to fit in, to show that they’re okay even when they’re not, because the alternative is too scary for them to comprehend.
What we need people to see is that actually yes it might be a normal behaviour, but we know that it only looks like that on the outside. The over confident little boy who loves to show off (normal right?), is absolutely terrified inside that if he doesn’t do something to keep your attention you will leave him on his own, leave him behind, and allow him to get lost – this is his reality, this is from his personal experience.
So, when you laugh at me when I look stressed out at having had a bad weekend and say “that’s what all parents have to put up with”, please have a think first. It’s not as simple as that for us.