From going through the adoption process to meeting our son... there was no 'break' or 'rest'. We were thrown right in. It's the best way to learn right?
I finished off the third part to our adoption journey here. Today I'm picking up from there and talking about how the first few months went. From coming home, meeting family and adjusting to life as a three.
After what felt like forever, suddenly we had our baby at home with us. Like any new member to the family, there are no instructions. Nothing goes to the plan you have in your head. And you just ride it. The emotions are ridiculous. All over the shop. I think just having an awareness that you won't be 'all there' is probably helpful. So we just rode the wave.
I was constantly so worried for him. Here he was in what was basically a strangers house. Who are these two men that keep doing my nappies, who are trying to make me laugh, who are playing with me, bathing me and putting me to bed? All my energy from my mind, heart and body went into him. Doing everything I could to help him and create a bond that he could trust us. Love us. It was the same for my husband. We went on absolute auto pilot as Dad's. Adoptive Dad's.
We didn't want to introduce the family right away on day one. That would've been way too overwhelming for him. We just wanted a week or two alone. Waking, sleeping, eating together as a three. Allowing him to understand that we're his family now. This is it. Forever. Don't get me wrong, our friends and family were probably getting a hundred snap chats and video messages a day from me. I was the PROUDEST man on earth (I still am). I wanted to show this adorable, beautiful new addition off to the world. But we waited a bit longer.
I remember the feeling of popping him into his shiny new pushchair and going for walks around the village. My god I am pretty sure we were beaming so much you could've seen us from space. We walked so much everyday. We saw parts of the village we live in we never knew existed. I fell in love with where we lived a little more.
We live in a small village and our family are in the same neighbourhood. I'll never forget the first week we were walking through the street and my husband’s sister was driving past. Like a scene from a movie she pulled on the break, spun into the nearest driveway and jumped out the car. That was it. The first one to see our baby boy (I swear she was just driving around waiting to 'bump' into us). There he was. Her first nephew. (She has three kids of her own... I think everyone had been waiting for it to be our turn).
I think at this point we knew we could start introducing the family.
The days were really long but thank god he was (and still is) a great sleeper. Down by 7pm each night without so much of a peep. We were BLESSED!! We needed that time. All parents do. It was unbelievably draining. Massively enjoyable, but so tiring. My biggest fear was he wouldn't feel comfortable/happy/safe enough to sleep. But he did. A big tick in the box. He was doing so well. And there seemed to be no signs of any trauma/distress from the move. Had he really forgotten his past year with his wonderful foster carer? I doubt it. But I like to think we made him feel so secure that he knew he was going to be fed, safe and warm. I have said it all along but he made this so easy. He was the strong one. Just adapting so wonderfully.
I can sort of remember the day my family came to meet him and I sort of can't. It's a bit of a blur as everyday as a parent you tend to move onto the next thing, forgetting the last. But weirdly, it was like he'd been here forever. I don't know... it just felt right. Everyone was in love instantly and we were all relishing in these emotions. Every time i got to introduce him to someone new I felt like I'd won the lottery.
More and more friends and family popped in over the coming weeks. All three of us were finding our groove. I felt like he was trusting us more too. There were no "Daddy" 's or much talking yet. I don't think he was 100% with us for a good few weeks. We made him laugh, he ate, he slept… but it wasn’t 100%. We weren't getting much back. At the time, I didn't see or feel that though, I thought we were all doing so well. But comparing it to where we were a few months later, it was different. We all had to learn about each other and get used to the fact that this was the new normal for us all. This kind of thing really doesn't happen overnight. All the while, you carry on being daddy. Making the breakfast, going out for walks, entertaining him every given hour. When a mummy and/or daddy have been pregnant for nine months and suddenly have this newborn, yes your life certainly gets turned upside down, but you have a little time to prepare perhaps. Newborn’s pretty much feed, sleep and poop (not necessarily in that order). Bringing a 14 month old home is a different ball game. As great, supportive and essential the training adopters receive is… in that moment it’s hard to remember anything. It’s all about survival, making sure your new addition is happy… and drinking lots of coffee.
I made sure I had a good amount of time off from work, just over two months in total. Not only did I want to bond with him, but I wanted to be there and experience everything with my husband. Having two of you is a lot easier than one being on your own. My husband had the full year off (and ended up never going back to his job before our son arrived… priorities change!). I’ll never forget those months. Probably the most wonderful, tiring months off my life with a million lessons thrown in. Going back to work killed me. The first week, my heart literally hurt. On my first day back I had a quick catch up with my boss. The minute she asked how I was… I cried. I just missed him. I had just experienced the greatest thing that would ever happen in my life. And there i was, back in the same office, not a lot had changed in 2 months, my to-do list was still the same... it was hard adjusting. How on earth people return after a year off...! Being apart from my boys felt incredibly hard. But, like the age-old cliché of parents returning work goes… it does get easier. I would’ve happily had a year off though. Or more. I knew there and then my priorities had changed and I just wanted to be this little boy’s dad before anything else.
The first few months changed our lives… and his. Our time was filled with so many new adventures and experiences we'd never experienced before. If you’re reading this and are going through introductions or you have recently met your child and are worried or concerned about the bond… don’t be. It will happen. Depending on age and the situation, things differ. But ultimately just be open. Love them. It'll come.
Something magical had happened over night the day i met my son and I had fallen in love with another man (sorry Danny!). And he was falling in love with us too, i could tell. More everyday. You’d notice the loving looks… or when he hurt himself how he’d search for you in a room full of kids at toddler group… but best of all is the “Daddy, daddy, daddy!!” I get as I open the door after work. No greater feeling.