We have *letter box contact with our sons’ birth parents, which means we, along with the boys, write to them once a year, to which they can choose to reply to or not. We received our first reply, handed to us by our neighbour on a Sunday evening. The letters had originally been sent to the wrong address (always encouraging!). At this point, the boys where in bed, and I had consumed the best part of a bottle of wine. It was a Sunday evening after all.
My partner and I, intrigued, decided to read the letters, on the sofa having paused Amazon Prime, with no thought to it, poised to carry on our viewing after we had dissected the information in hand. We tore open what was left of the teeth scared sodden envelop which had once been ravished by our neighbours dog and each of us holding a side, got stuck in.
We weren’t prepared, not at all, and in the time it took us to read it, we experienced more emotions than we had throughout our entire adoption journey.
The process informed us of it, I thought I had mentally prepared for it, but it was only while I was sat on my sofa, puffy eyed with tear soaked cheeks that it dawned on me the tremendous loss that is adoption.
Don’t get me wrong it is a great thing! These children; our children, needed love, they needed to be looked after and they needed a home but behind this, clouded in the mist of everyday, often chaotic life, there lies a great deal of loss. Regardless of the situation, the birth parent loses on adoption day and so does the child. No matter how pretty a picture you paint, adoption isn’t anyone’s ideal.
It takes guts to apply to adopt children knowing that your life is about to be closely scrutinised. My partner and I had no idea what we were doing when we first had the ‘why don’t we adopt’ conversation three years ago but we welcomed the process and actually thoroughly enjoyed it. Our social worker gave us the freedom to explore our options and took it at our pace. We knew we were doing the right thing and for those that do weather the adoption journey the level of dedication required clearly comes from one overriding wish: to give children love and a good experience of care.
The letters where a humbling experience to realise that I didn’t have it all together and in reality the parent I thought I was going to be, and the parent I have ended as, are very different. You can say ‘meant to be’ and ‘better off,’ but I’ve come to appreciate the difficult walks of our sons’ birth parents. I don’t know their pain first hand, but their loss is part of our family story.
Right now, our boys are too little to grasp the loss that predates their entry into our family, but one day soon, they’ll ask the hard questions. Our boys bring us happiness and a sense of fulfilment which we never imagined, but their stories begin with loss and I’ve learned to respect that.
*The Letterbox is a system that enables birth relatives and adoptive parents to stay in contact by exchanging written information. The frequency with which you exchange information via the Letterbox will be discussed and agreed on when the adoption is being planned.