This blog post is actually something I've been writing in my head for a long time now but have felt unsure as to wether I should for a number of reasons. The biggest being that I question wether it is my story to tell, this is my girls story, their life I'm talking about and do I have the right to put it out there on the internet? Don't get me wrong I am very open and honest about their adoption because its important that it is normalised for them and never something to feel ashamed or secretive about and because I want other people to see it as more of a 'norm' too, the more we talk about things, the more normalised they become and this is important if we want our children to grow up in a world where diversity is celebrated and equal opportunities are a given. However there is a fine line between being open and honest in order to normalise things and oversharing parts of the story that are theirs alone to decide wether to share and this is something I try to be very conscious of, like all Mothers I am learning on the job and hoping I get it right. I'm also conscious of not wanting it to become too much of a label for them, we are just a family like anyone else and shouldn't need to constantly set ourselves apart as different. I am their Mum, they are my Daughters and putting the word 'adoptive' in front of those words somehow has a tone of 'not a real mum' to it, which is absolutely not the case. So you see getting the balance of openness is complicated (for me anyway, maybe I'm just overthinking!)
In the end, reading about a new campaign called Make Motherhood Diverse started by Candice Braithwaite (find out more on Instagram at @makemotherhooddiverse) gave me a kick up the bum to start talking more about this topic and my experience as an 'adoptive mother'. The campaign is aiming to get ALL experiences of motherhood and all mothers represented more on social media, and beyond.
My experience of motherhood, like SO many has not been how I expected (largely because of how motherhood is presented to us and talked about and represented in the media) and I know how much I have benefitted and grown as a Mother by reading experiences that are similar to my own. I think for Mothers 'not feeling alone' in our experiences is key. Finding someone who is talking about exactly what we're going through is often enough to make us feel better in dark moments. Reading about others experiences of maternal mental health battles has definitely helped me with my own but thats another blog post altogether. This is about helping to diversify the image of motherhood on social media and in the media in general, beyond white, heterosexual, middle class women. Not that these things are bad or need to be excluded, I am all of those things too, but we need to be seeing a more varied picture and hearing different stories. Families come in all different shapes and configurations.
As Katarina Wegar states in the book 'Adoptive Families In a Diverse Society'; 'while often overlooked in the context of family diversity, adoptive families are a unique addition to this heterogeneous family landscape', she goes on to state, 'adoption challenges the dominant cultural belief that the best and strongest family relationships are necessarily based on blood'.
I know for sure that this misconception is untrue, I think it can be a big fear of prospective adopters that the bond and the love wont be 'the same' but know that it can be. Bonding and attachment is a massive and convoluted topic when it comes to adoption and although I have had two very different experiences with my two daughters I realise, for want of a better word, we have had it 'easy' in terms of attachment, our girls only had one foster placement from birth before they came to us and they were able to transfer a healthy attachment over to us. With our eldest this happened almost instantly from the first moment we met her and it continued to grow. With our youngest there were a lot more complications and as a result it took a lot longer but I can say almost one year on we are there, we have all had to grow together and learn to trust and love in different ways. This I think was largely part to a few circumstances that happened just after placement, a horrendous case of noro virus, followed a couple of weeks later by an ambulance call out, a hospital stay and daily visits to hospital for over a month afterwards because of a nasty infection. Looking back this was hugely traumatic for us all but as parents we just got on with it and ran on adrenaline, this meant that the trauma hit me a few months afterwards which became another complication in itself. Trying to bond with a new child when you have poor mental health is to be brutally honest, impossible. I think it took around 9/10 months after placement for us all to be settled and in some ways the bumpy road we all had has made me feel all the more grateful and full of love at the end. I know now from talking to plenty of mothers, that the experience of bonding can be SO different from child to child, biological or not. Sometimes instant, sometimes not, sometimes due to many different factors. My point is this example of our bumpy start with our youngest is by no means down to the adoption, it could happen to any mother and this is a general point when thinking of all issues and challenges we face as Mothers. It is important that all mothers feel included in these conversations. As Mothers. I recently read this article 'We are all mum's' which really makes this point very well and was a moving insight into the experience of Motherhood when your child has only lived a few short days.
This campaign is something I am totally behind and feel very passionate about, I love to chat to people about their journey to becoming a Mother, or indeed not, it is important to remember that it really isn't as simple as wanting to start a family and then getting pregnant a month or two later for everyone. I think this is a wonderful thing about adoption, for us, we got to the point of deciding this is how we would make our family when we realised it was a family we wanted in the long term, not just a positive pregnancy test and 9 months of pregnancy and we were ok with skipping that first bit. I love this quote that Candice shared on her blog and will leave it here. If you would like to chat more about adoption or have any questions then feel free to get in touch x