My phone rang during the coffee break at a seminar I was presenting.
I still have the scrap of pink paper containing those scribbled, fateful notes: “Girl, almost five years old. Feisty, screams a lot, communication issues, charismatic, likes grapes, unidentified triggers, early trauma, same foster carers for four years, one sibling in foster care, North West England, when can we see you?”
I already knew enough.
Two months later she stood – tiny – on my doormat; delivered unceremoniously alongside three heartbreaking black bin bags full of stuff.
There was no honeymoon period. The screaming began even before the social workers and foster carers had left. Our lives were in an instant irrevocably changed.
“CHT, we are not in Kansas anymore.”
Neither of us where prepared. Neither of us really knew what had truly happened, or what lay in store. But somehow we both knew right from the off that we were deep in this – together. Whatever we had to throw at each other, we would somehow find a way to unravel the mess, make it as right as it can be, and move forward.
So, who are we?
CHT: born into unimaginable DV after being brain damaged through drinking and drugs while in utero. Spent two years undergoing repeat attempts at repatriation, and then somehow got lost in the care system for three whole years.
Mumdrah: first started talking adoption at age 14. Not that I ‘didn’t’ want to have ‘my own’ kids, it’s just that I ‘did’ want to ‘scoop up someone who had been through the wringer’; for me this was option one.
It’s you and me now, kid.
Almost six years later (early 2013) and finally starting this website, I look back in amazement. Nothing prepares you for this journey; nothing. And I still can’t quite believe these words describe my – our – story; our battles, triumphs and victories.
We’ve had to reach down inside to find the skills to see this through: patience, resolve, self-love, forgiveness, curiosity, trust. We’ve had to take on whole new personas – and invent new ones: Lion Tamer, Lioness, Negotiator, Researcher, Peacemaker, Bodyguard, Interpreter, Psychic, Therapist, Punch Bag, Shape Shifter, Battle Commander…
In addition, as if the initial upheaval, loss and change were not enough, since living together we have discovered that CHT has: an attachment disorder, been excluded from renewed contact with her mother, another sister, brain damage from ARND, become an auntie, had to move schools again, and lost her mother to suspected suicide.
Quite a ride.
For now, our adoption story pauses momentarily here, but we are still hanging onto our hats because we are: in the process of re-etablishing contact with Birth Father, on the cusp of transitioning to secondary school, and teetering on the brink of puberty. Like Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree, our worlds and priorities constantly shift and change. The loss and change never ends, it just twists and turns and throws up new surprises, as well as the same surprises at different levels of maturity and reflection.
We just get better at anticipating it, navigating it.
Adoption is an adventure like no other. It challenges and stretches you, breaks you and bonds you. The harder it becomes, the more we are equipped to explore the worlds opened up to us. The one thing I can be sure of is that with CHT in my life, nothing will ever be dull.
For all your questions – of which there will be many (never enough, in my experience) – use the search function as I have tried to tag my posts. And email me, follow on Twiter, or use the comment box; both me, CHT and this blog are here to help.
We can never have enough help where adoption is concerned.