Waifs and Strays

27 04 2009

Crap Dad and Grumpy Mum had lived together for about a decade when Crap Dad’s daughter – Big Sis – came to live with them. Big Sis arrived about 6 years ago, about the same time as our cat, a stray we named chico and Little Miss Loud arrived 21 months ago.

Crap Dad has a brother, who has two children and four step children, two great nephews and a great niece. Grumpy Mum has 6 siblings and 14 nephews and nieces, some of which are step children.

Little Miss Loud (LML) comes from a large family.

LML has two full brothers, a sister and four half siblings. They are all adopted or in foster care. Once or twice a month we meet up LML’s bothers. Grumpy Mum and their mum also talk regularly on the phone. The kids are always really excited to see each other and are starting to develop a bond.

In the past year we’ve met up with all the siblings and their families twice. The first time was really weird. We started from the point that this is LML’s family and we wanted her to feel a part of it. To see them all together, too see the similarities, too meet them and their parents – nothing in our adoption preparation could have prepared us for that. We met at a Museum, this big incongruous group. There were four families, eight adults and 10 kids. There are strong similarities between the kids – you could see the confusion on peoples faces as they tried to workout the relationships that existed.

Throughout our adoption preparation we were open to contact with the birth parents and family, but in LML’s family’s case it was felt, by the social workers, to be inappropriate. We have had letter box contact with her birth dad and her maternal grandmother. This hasn’t gone entirely smoothly as the grandmother put her address on one letter and on another her mobile number. It is difficult, we agonised over the content of our letters, wanting to get the tone just right. We sent old pictures and talked in general terms about LML, trying to give them some idea of her new life, and trying to be as sensitive as possible. It isn’t easy but it feels like a valuable thing to do and the family seem to appreciate the information we’ve provided.

We have some pictures of LML’s birth parents and a video, which we show her periodically and although she is pre-verbal her family, both birth and adoptive, and her position within it are part of our everyday discourse.

Our family, from just the two of us, has now flowered in a way we never imagined only a few years ago. And it’s bloomin’ marvellous!

Introductions with LML

27 04 2009

The planning session for our ‘introductions’ to Little Miss Loud was very odd – there was us and our SW, the foster carers & their SW, LML’s SW and another SW – all with LML sitting in the middle.

Introductions is a bit of a mechanical process. You did this and that to learn the child’s routine. Yet it was emotionally draining. Our introductions took ten days. Each day, even if we had only seen LML for a couple of hours, felt exhausting. Its because you invest so much in it.

It wasn’t love at first sight. There weren’t fireworks going off. There was excitement and a real sense that something momentous was happening but LML didn’t feel like our daughter, not for a long time. On the day LML came home it was devastating, really emotional.

We’d arrived early so decided to sit in a car park up the road, knowing that we needed to allow the foster family their time to say goodbye. She had been part of their lives for nearly 18 months.

The foster family held things together magnificently and we took pictures of them handing her over where we were all smiles. However, it was clear that they were going to crumple as soon as we turned the corner. In the car, on the way home, we all had tears in our eyes and struggled to keep smiling and engaging with LML.

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