It was one year ago to this day (yes, I know I'm not a very diligent blogger) that Paddington came home. Since that we haven't had anything resembling a lie in, or at least we've not had a day when we've not been woken later than 7:30. Gone are the lazy, mildly hungover 11am risings of a weekend but we haven't missed them, well, not apart from those days in the last year that started mildly hungover at 6 or 7am. Keep in mind when I say this, I know what I'm talking about is true of almost any child, whether they are your biological offspring or not, but this was a sudden culture and lifestyle shock without the 9 months of anticipation and physiological maelstrom that accompanies it. It's not special, just different
This year has flown past stupidly fast. Today Paddington is in bed in the room above our living room while we watch TV (or write a blog..). A year ago today we put him to bed in the same cot in the same room for the very first time, not having a clue how he or even if he would sleep. He did, but he woke up crying at something before 6am I seem to recall. The next few days there were the highs and lows of taking a new child into his new home. Even in this alien environment with these two very friendly strangers he'd only met a few days before he was such a loving and happy boy, sitting on our laps or snuggling up with us on the settee. But we really ached for him as he fretted for his foster carers. It's not surprising as they were who he had been living for the previous 20 months of his life so, as far as he knew or could remember, they were his parents and we'd taken him away from them. I've felt heart wrenching before, but never with such vicious torque as when Paddington went and got his coat and brought you your shoes then stood by our front door asking to be taken "home".
Gradually this did become less and we could tell he was settling more with every day. One day, a few weeks later I remember an almost palpable click as something seemed to fall into place and he really seemed to accept us as his family and his new house as his home. This was probably a mutual thing as we felt less uncomfortable and stressed by his anxiety. He stopped waking before 6, moving forward an hour or so, and was generally less anxious when we went out.
52 weeks later he's met his grandparents, his uncle and a lot of new friends. We've been away for a trip to stay in a hotel. We've played in snow, ridden on trains and buses. We've been to zoos, farms, playgrounds, been on bike rides, been swimming. There've been birthdays, Christmas, sunshine, rain, wind, some tears and an awful lot of laughter. Just normal family stuff really (again, see my bit above about not doing anything different to what other families do).
During the build up to the adoption process we had pictures and videos and heard all about Paddington. We started to imagine him in our house, what we would do when he was hear. They call it "claiming" your child in social work circles, and it's accepted, even expected. Nothing we thought of though prepared us for the first time we met him and things went uphill from there. One of our social workers went on about "falling in love with" your child which I thought was a bit stupid, but by God she hit the nail on the head. Now we are our family and we really could not love our little Paddington any more if he had been our biological child. Sometime over the last year someone asked us if we thought we should have done adoption earlier. The answer is a thousand times no because going through the process when we did gave us our Paddington, our son, and Paddington found his parents and we three became our family. Believing in fate is for idiots, but all that has happened in the universe from the Big Bang, the formation of stars, the atomic conglomeration of hydrogen to helium, lithium and the rest of the elements in their infernal cores to make the dust that aggregated to form the planets, life emerging on ours then evolution and progression of humanity to arrive at the circumstances where Paddington was born without us even being aware of who he was, then meeting him and the three of us becoming a family. Who'd have thought?