Modern families come together in all sorts of ways – one parent, two parents; same sex, opposite sex; planned, unplanned; biological, adopted. We have examples of different sorts of families all around us, and these examples inevitably inform our own ideas of what our families will be like – the way we want to be as parents, the number of children we think is ideal.
This blog tells the story of how our wonderful little family came together, and the ups and downs as we got to know and love each other and become a successful family unit. Inevitably it focuses on the experience of adoption, and particularly the experience of adopting an older child. We adopted Mac when he was eight. As is not uncommon of a child adopted at that age, he had passed through a number of homes in his short life.
So I hope this account might help those who are either considering the same journey that we took, or are already on that journey. This is not a manual of how one should go about bringing up an adopted child – I wouldn’t presume to be able to tell anyone that! This is just a record of how one small family in rural Hampshire made it work and got through the everyday challenges and excitements of becoming a new family.
Of course, much of what is here is specifically related to adoption and how it works in the UK, but I hope that there is something here for all sorts of families as they enjoy and struggle to help their healthy, gorgeous, funny, moody and intelligent children grow into wonderful adults. I know that for me the greatest achievement of my life has been to see Mac grow into a kind, loving, thoughtful (and hilarious) young man.
I also wanted to record all of these memories somewhere. As I have grown older, and important family members have died, I realise that many of the stories that go with the photos we keep are lost. I used to love sitting with my grandma, listening to all of her stories of growing through two World Wars. I used to love asking her questions, especially if I had forgotten some important part of the narrative. But now I cannot ask her, and I regret that there is no permanent record anywhere of all of those wonderful stories.
I used to imagine, when we were thinking about and going through the process that our child must already be born and wondered what they were doing and how they were. It is hard to think too much about their past – it something that you were not part of – and yet you love your child and your natural parental instincts can make you wish that you could have been there to sooner to save them from all the hurt.
The stories here tell of how we found our son, Mac. Through recounting the events of his growing up, it tells of how we continued to peel away the layers, of how we helped to fill in the missing pieces from his early life – how we continued to find Mac. And eventually it tells how Mac grew up and found the person inside that he was happy with – how he found Mac himself.
As an adoptive parent, I sometimes felt that we had ‘borrowed’ Mac. As he was not our biological son, it sometimes felt that we might only have him for a short time. There was always the slight risk that when he was old enough, he might choose to go back to his biological family, and leave us behind. But in some ways, as parents, our children are always borrowed. We are successful when we let them go to pursue their own lives and build their own families. We can make memories together, we can teach them unconditional love and hope that they will value those and love us in return.
The memories we make are important – they are the things that can outlive us all. As I grow older, I realise that life is short, and I don’t want the memories that we have made to die with us when we finally shuffle off this mortal coil.
Finally, I hope that what you see in this account are stories based on love – the pure unconditional love between a parent and a child is the most precious thing and I am so glad to have been lucky to experience it. Love is the most important thing:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres….
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
(extract from St. Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13)