Sunday, 11 January 2015

Another year, another update

Paddington has now been home for two years, time for another blog update. This last year has seen us take him on a plane for the first time, he's started nursery, been out trick-or-treating. He's now in a bed instead of a cot and largely toilet/potty trained. His speech is now great and we can have a conversation. Another birthday has been and gone, as has another Christmas. Just normal family stuff, really. We've had behaviour issues (fairly minor ones, at least compared to some parents of adopted or fostered children), and it's difficult to know what is down to his history or even genetics of his birth family and what is just general toddler/small boy behaviour.

One thing that is different for an adopted child is how to broach the entire subject of adoption with him. That, and dealing with his pre-home background. Relating to the latter, at the start of the year, I had texted his former foster carers to suggest we could meet up later, perhaps in summer. I think this is very important for his upbringing as I really want him to know who these people are. They were his stand-in parents for almost two years. They saw him take his first steps, get his first teeth and speak his first words. Dare I say it, they were borrowing him until we were ready to bring him home. Their care is part of what makes our Paddington the person he is now. However, we had to take a rain check for a while. Amongst the belongings that Paddington came with were a couple of "life story" books chronicling his life with his foster carers with numerous pictures, descriptions and things from places he'd been (like leaflets about attractions he'd visited) and he went through a phase early last year of wanting to look through these. This usually resulted in some bad behaviour suggesting he still had some memories of his life with his foster carers and these were disruptive. We will still arrange to meet up with them at some point, but not for the time being.

We haven't really broached the subject with him of how he is adopted since he's really only just getting the speech and general linguistic skills to have anything more than the most basic conversation. Again, this is something to embark on in the coming year, and do it slowly and gradually over many years to come. The people in social services during our training called it drip feeding. This is the expected process for modern adopted families and I'm perfectly happy letting him know we aren't his biological parents. Like his formative time with foster parents, it's part of who he is. I'd even go further and say that it makes him extra special because WE chose him. I also think it prevents resentment later in life if and when the subject comes up (and it would, no matter how much you might want to pretend otherwise). We do have a book called The Teazles' Baby Bunny which is about a couple of rabbits who adopt a baby bunny. It's very sweet, but it does read a bit propaganda-ry and you kind of feel that you're reading the story as a lesson rather than a nice thing to hear at bedtime. Still, it's an "in" on the subject.

Whatever the next year holds (school, more travel, swimming lessons?), one thing is cast iron. We will continue to love him more and more every day. Even if he goes on to become a new Adolf Hitler or Mao Tse Tung, we will still love him, though he will definitely not be getting his yoghurt after dinner for a few days when we find out.

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