Through thick and thin: reflections from an adoptive mum

An adoptive mum shares how she journeys with her children and finds precious connections, even in those harder moments.

There are loads of things I love about being a mum. I love the cuddles (and I feel lucky that I still get them from my teenage son). I love the conversations, especially around the dinner table when everyone’s chipping in with their own thoughts and stories. I love it when we laugh together at an inside joke that only my family understand – even if those jokes are normally at my expense! I just love journeying with my children. I love to find those precious connections, wherever and however that happens, even when the journey takes us through those harder days.

We had one of those hard days around the time of the Home for Good online Summit last year. They were sending activity packs out to children and teenagers, and while my son wasn’t at all interested, I ordered him one anyway. The day the pack arrived in the post, my son came home from school really upset. He had been playing hockey, and some of the other boys at school had been unkind to him. One of the boys was supposed to be one of his close friends. He felt defeated, lonely and hurt, and spoke about wanting to quit the sport altogether.

Teenage years are difficult for most children, whether they are birth children or they’re fostered or adopted. But for my adopted children, when something difficult or hurtful happens to them they dip very quickly, faster and further than their peers might, because they haven’t got those strong foundations of safety and security. For me, a huge part of my learning as a mum has been to figure out how to help my children climb back from those dips. I’ve identified a few things over the years – but I’m still learning.

Sometimes I can identify those dips, and what has caused them. When that’s the case, I meet them with affirmation; reminding my children of the truth of who they are, of the gold I see in them and of how safe, loved and valued they are. Often, though, I can’t tell exactly what’s going on. Our children aren’t always able to communicate what’s causing that dip, because it’s so deep inside that it’s hard to put into words. I can’t see what has triggered it, but I believe that God can see. In these moments, I have to step back and ask that God will settle them; that He will give them what they need to feel affirmed and valued and that this will help raise their head.

I’ve learned that in order to best care for my children, I need to be strong and resilient. And if I’m not in a good place, then I need to seek out the things that nourish me. These nourishing things will be different for everyone; it might be going for a walk, journaling, sitting with friends and crying or even moaning at God - which I think is an okay thing to do.

We’ve been adoptive parents for over 25 years now, and if I was to give some advice to someone at the beginning of their journey, it would be to find those people who love you and support you regardless of how things are going, and who will also love your children, sticking by them through thick and thin. Committed friendships can bring a real sense of security and stability for an adopted child or young person, so when you find those friends who invest in your children, who love and accept them exactly as they are, who join you in affirming them and who aren’t phased when the hard days come, you’ve found something powerful.

The day my son came home in tears after hockey practice, I suggested we do the Home for Good Summit activity pack together. The activities were focussed on God being able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. We began to fill out the activity sheet together, and I affirmed him as he did it. We watched the accompanying video clip together, in which an enthusiastic youth leader reminded him of how special and brilliant he is. I felt him start to settle, and I could see the tears stop and a smile appear. I said to my son, “Why don’t we pray about what happened today?” and right as we finished our prayer, a text came through to his phone from the friend who had been unkind to him. It said, “I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have done that today.” Even when we can’t see or understand the depth of what our children are experiencing, I believe that God can. He sees, He hears, He knows and He acts.

Author:
An adoptive mum


Date published:
21 October 2021


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