Throughout the approval period and while we were waiting to be matched, we were continuously reminded that the child or children we would adopt would not have had the best of starts in life (think ACEs), would unlikely be neurotypical, and would probably not fit our experiences or expectations of spending time with young people. In short, we were warned not to expect things to be ‘normal’. We were encouraged to accept a new normal, with an emphasis on routine, therapeutic parenting, and predictability. For the most part this is what we have done, and we have reaped the rewards because of it.
Currently, Little Chick is a happy, healthy little boy who especially enjoys spending time outside and does not seem particularly different from his peers. However, we know this could all change, quickly and for no apparent reason. But for now, almost a year since Little Chick moved in, we are grateful for our normal. Sunday was a particularly good example. It wasn’t an exciting or spectacular day. It was the kind of day most parents would expect and take for granted. But we relish our normal. A few moments stood out.
Most mornings, Little Chick’s first request, even before breakfast, is “Kindle”. We rarely let him play with his tablet early in the morning but that doesn’t stop him asking, trying his luck. Recently, we have been encouraging him to asks for books first thing, but with little success. However, on Sunday I made up a story to divert his attention from all things electronic. I have tried this several times without success but on this occasion something clicked. For a full half hour, we sat side by side and made up silly stories, with actions that involved him, and trump noises that delighted us both. I love stories and, though not a gifted storyteller, I have wanted to share stories with my little one since we began the adoption journey. This was a milestone I genuinely wasn’t sure we would reach and doing so makes me ridiculously happy.
Later, while playing, Little Chick used his new surname unprompted for the first time. We have been cautious not to force this as we have mixed feelings about the loss of his birth family name. But my heart soared when he took ownership of our family name for the very first time.
In the car we introduced him to Lady Gaga, partly in a desperate attempt to divert attention from Mr Tumble’s album. We went to soft play, dashed about on scooters (him not us), and had a short nap in the car (me and him). We watched some TV, warmed by hot chocolate, and later had an afternoon snack on the picnic blanket. We (I) upset him for some reason, which I still can’t fathom, and he asked for an apology and reassurance. We completed forms for a passport, planning for our first family holiday abroad. We read him bedtime stories, including ‘Mummy, Mama, and Me’ and ‘The Family Book’.
None of this is especially remarkable. It is mundane. Well done to those of you that have read this far and not sought excitement elsewhere. But I want to demonstrate the ordinariness of this to show how normal our life is. Our life would seem boring to a lot of families, but I bloody love the normality of it. It’s more than we expected, perhaps even hoped for. It’s just nice and normal.
I know that we are only one year in. I know that in many ways we are still in the honeymoon period. I know that things will almost certainly get tougher as Little Chick gets older. I know that for some adoptive families ‘normal’ is an impossible dream. I know. But for now, things are nice and normal. In time, these memories might be all that sustain me. So, I need to celebrate this, our normal.