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Some days I could walk away & on others I think I’m making a real difference
Published: October 14, 2016
To mark National Adoption Week 2016 Debra shares the highs and lows of being an adoptive Mum
People who know I have an adopted daughter describe me as ‘doing a wonderful thing, you are making such a difference, you’re a superhero’. I often reply that I don’t think I’m wonderful or making a difference, or in fact anyone’s hero.
The fact is that it is my daughter who is the one who is wonderful and making a difference and is my hero – she’s come in to my life and made me a mum. Something I never thought would happen – ever…
We adopted my daughter when she was 4 and she’s been with us now for 6 years. It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride and there is more excitement to come, but asked if I’d do it again…you bet I would!
Make no mistake the journey to adoption was long and not without some real soul searching, with difficult and challenging times. What I didn’t realise when we went down this path was how hard it would be and what some facts are about adoption which make the leap to do it a tough decision. We just wanted a family – that’s natural right? Perfect family life – the stuff you see on the television and in magazines but…
Fact 1: Most children today who are placed for adoption have been removed by the courts from their birth families – so not relinquished or placed for adoption willingly, which makes the whole thing fraught with issues.
Fact 2: It’s very rare to get a baby – most children are stuck in the system for quite a bit of their early years. My daughter was in the care system for 2 years until she was placed with us at 4 years old. Instant child – try explaining that one to the neighbours!
Fact 3: There’s this thing called ‘attachment disorder’, basically it’s how we as humans relate to our primary care giver. When children don’t get enough early care in the early years then their brains don’t form properly and they can and do find trusting grown-ups hard.
Big problems can therefore ensue in the education system and in daily life. Leaving the house is a big problem in our family…you’d think it would be simple, but no, my daughter is terrified she’ll leave the safety of the house and never come back, so all exits are tough – explains now why I’m never on time to work in the morning!
Fact 4: Systems are not always geared up to help adopted children, so you have to become a strong advocate and push open doors in the system to get the help you need.
Fact 5: It’s totally worth all the pain and trauma and upheaval! I strongly believe that I would not be the person I am today without my daughter. It helps being a strong advocate and in tune with people, but she has taught me so much about how to cope with uncertainty, how to adapt to new circumstances, and how not to take life for granted.
So am I doing a wonderful thing? Am I making a difference and am I a superhero?…sure I am!
Despite all this I can honestly say being an adoptive mum is the best and most fulfilling job I have ever had. There are times when it’s really tough, and days when for a small moment I could quite easily walk away because the emotional trauma is too much to handle. But there are those times when I see my daughter smile and laugh and accomplish something she couldn’t do yesterday, and I think – yes I am wonderful and I am making a difference!