As an adoptive mum, I have felt torn reading the recent negative stories about adoption in the press.
I can see how important it is that serious issues such as child on parent violence in adoption are raised and that adopters are aware that early traumatic experiences can sometimes manifest themselves in this way. These children in most cases have experienced and seen things that most people couldn't even begin to imagine: neglect, violence, fear. They need help to begin to trust the world around them again, to feel safe, confident and secure. Highlighting these issues also helps to bring attention to the support adopters receive and questions what more needs to be done to ensure this support is on hand and more readily available.
However, I am saddened that we rarely hear or see any positive news shared on adoption. It's not easy adopting, and recent press has highlighted some of the huge challenges, but we mustn't forget the joy and happiness it brings.
My husband and I always knew we wanted to adopt siblings. We both grew up with siblings and these relationships are so important to us. It's unthinkable in our minds that our girls would have been separated had they not come to us. They have an incredible bond that even we can't have with them - not only biological but due to sharing their early experiences together. This is something they can always relate to with each other and something I truly hope will help them not to feel alone or alienated in the world as they grow up.
When the girls first came to us, we spent a lot of time together just the four of us, snuggling on the sofa watching films and having days out, to help us bond as a family. It was a big change when they started school, what helped was giving them each a foam heart sticker that they'd keep safe all day and then we'd stick on a wall chart when they got home. It gave them the routine they needed and instilled in them that they would always come home, and that we'd always be with them. We also read books together such as 'Nutmeg gets adopted' to help them explore and understand some of their early painful memories.
Our girls have had very difficult early experiences, and whilst together, were treated differently by their birth parents. Because of this, they have different triggers, needs and coping mechanisms. Deciphering and managing these has been the most exhausting and emotionally draining of all aspects of learning to parent adopted children. There have been very tough weeks for me and my husband; times when we have cried and the girls have done the same. But we've found that taking time out with family and friends has helped us get through.
We are so fortunate to have these support networks around us as well receiving excellent post-adoption support from our adoption agency Coram, which is invaluable to us as the girls get older.
Our girls argue like most siblings, and at their age they're not really into sharing. You have to quickly work out the dynamics of their relationship, and make sure you're giving them equal attention to avoid any jealousy.
But I have seen such tender moments between them that my heart melts. When they were first placed with us, both were extremely withdrawn and did not interact with each other at all. Now they put on shows for us daily, and they are confident and happy to learn new things away from us such as ballet class - a year ago neither would have coped with this, so all of this is extra special for us. There is a lot of giggling, den building, snail finding, and of course we love the fact we get double the cuddles!
Adoption is hard, and nothing truly prepares you for some of the challenges that come with it. But they also don't prepare you for how wonderful it is. We have become a real team together, and there is really nothing sweeter than seeing our two girls grow together as siblings, build these strong bonds and grow into these beautiful little girls - our beautiful little girls.