When my three-year-old birth daughter, Sophie, decided to share this thought with me utter fear gripped my heart. I asked my husband: “What are we doing? Are we totally ruining her life by adopting a child?”
One of the biggest hurdles for us during to whole process, was how to explain to Sophie what was happening, and more importantly when. It’s a well-known fact that the adoption process doesn’t have a set amount of waiting time before a new arrival joins the family, so we really had to think outside the box.
We had been encouraged to share with Sophie from the start what we were doing and why. We told her who our social worker was so she didn’t worry that a woman came to visit us every fortnight. We read her some children’s books which helped us to explain why a child was going to come into our home in this way. We also realised that many Disney stories involve adoption in some way, and we found them wonderful in helping us to explain what makes a family a family, and how they can sometimes be made up differently.
All this worked amazingly well, and Sophie was becoming more and more excited about a baby brother. In fact, it worked a little too well as she soon started asking how many more sleeps it was until he was coming home. With no growing bump and no confirmed date, we didn’t really know how to answer her. However, we did have our spare room empty and ready for our adopted child. The room allowed us to give Sophie milestones for when things would be happening. A few bits of furniture started entering the room after we had been approved, so she knew that we were closer to bringing her brother home. But the big moment we told her to wait for was the arrival of the cot. We told her that when she helped Daddy put up the cot, then her brother would be coming home very soon. This worked so well in helping her to feel secure and content in what can be a very long, uncertain situation.
For me, the empty bedroom stood as a daily reminder that our child was not yet home. Sometimes the room allowed me to feel so excited, thinking about when it would be full, but most days it was a painful and lonely room that I struggled to be in.
When we knew an arrival date, we did countdown sleeps until she could put up the cot, and when the day came I think for her it was better then Christmas! I have the most wonderful photographs of Sophie so preciously turning the bed screws. She so delicately arranged his toys in a row for him and afterwards she stood in the middle of room, arms out twirling around with excitement.
The next day we bought her brother home and within moments the room Sophie had so lovingly brought to life was destroyed, but by some of the happiest playing I have ever seen!
The fear I had once had that adopting a child would prove too much for Sophie to handle was completely gone, and it was replaced with pride and joy. If you were to ever see Sophie and her brother together you would never know they’re not biological siblings. They laugh together, they cause havoc together, occasionally fight with one another and they even have the same hair colour. They are brother and sister.
This Sunday 3 November is Adoption Sunday. To find out more about how you can get involved, click here.
(Image via Creation Swap)