Adopting during a Pandemic: The Calm After the Storm.
As Lockdown 1.0 happened, our baby girl came home with us forever. She was 7 months old at the time and one of the first children in the county to begin transitioning into her forever home during the lockdown.
We were excited, overjoyed, elated and scared (like all new parents). Our placement moved very quickly because of the lockdown; social workers were working incredibly hard to get this moving so that our daughter did not have to spend longer in care. We were an early permanence placement - this means we fostered her prior to moving to an adoptive placement, which is why things moved so fast.
We only had a cot, wardrobe and a changing table. We had one week to get hold of everything that we needed before she came home - and we organised this whilst travelling over an hour away everyday to start transitions with our daughter at her foster home. Thankfully, our amazing friends rallied round and to help us at a time when we knew very little about Covid-19. What we did know was that lockdown was days away. I shall be forever grateful to our wonderful friends for sourcing anything from nappies to highchairs. During this week, it is safe to say that my Prime subscription paid for itself!
Our daughter came home at the end of March 2020. We were elated and we were exhausted. Nothing prepares you for the day that you bring your child home forever. For some, this is a joyous and precious time. For all three of us, this was exhausting and traumatic.
A stranger moved in with us. A beautiful and vulnerable little stranger. We did not know her and she did not know us. I do not write this to be negative; I write this to be truthful. If you are a new parent during this pandemic and are feeling completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of what you have to do without any of the support you should have, know that you are not alone. You do not have your village at a time when you need it most. For the first two months of being a parent, I cried most days because I was exhausted, because I needed to hug my mum and because I was mourning what my adoption leave should have been. We were prepared to cocoon ourselves for at least the first month of our time with our daughter, as that is what you are told to do in your training. I did not expect the months of isolation from those that we desperately needed for our own sanity. I was in the eye of the storm and I could not see the calm that would come.
During the first two months of being a parent, we experienced horrendous sleep deprivation and huge feeding issues. It nearly broke me. I would dread giving her a bottle because she would often refuse it. I would have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when bedtime came around because I knew we were in for a long night. My heart goes out to anyone who is and has experienced this.
The best thing advice I can give is to talk. Reach out to those who can be your sounding board. Sometimes you need advice but sometimes you just want someone to be there to tell you that this is really hard, but this too shall pass.
With the warmer weather, came the calm. We were all sleeping better and our daughter was starting to eat and drink better. The bond was now there. We held her every night when she needed us and in the early days, she needed us on an hourly basis. We respected her boundaries with food and drink. The attachment was growing as she was starting to trust us more and more everyday. I stopped comparing her as much to other babies- it stole the joy. Our daughter, more so than other children, had endured such a lot in her little life and in my eyes, she is a superhero. At this time, the restrictions started to ease and we could get out more and start sharing our beautiful daughter with our family and friends.
Shortly, we will be approaching the year mark of our daughter coming home forever. Looking back on this past year, I do not solely focus on how traumatic becoming a new parent was at the start of a global pandemic. I have not forgotten those early days but instead, I look at how far we have come and how quickly we have all bonded because we had to stay home as a family of three. I have also come to realise that things do pass. The storm settled and things are now calm. No doubt we will have our tough times again but I know that they will pass. I know that it takes great strength to reach out when you are struggling but there will be those who will listen.
I am immensely proud of us and how we came out the other side of this. I am immensely proud of everyone who has become a parent during this pandemic. On a personal level, I am in awe of all of the families created through adoption this year. We have all been parents for less than a year, yet we are not entitled to a support bubble, even though families with a baby under a year are able to form a support bubble. To all parents in this pandemic, give yourself a huge hug because you are keeping your children safe, warm and happy. Strike up the band if you are managing to get dressed and get outside . Cut yourself some slack, order a takeaway, have a glass of wine, spend the day in your pyjamas and feel no shame about that. Our calm will come and we will feel such joy when we are all able to share our children with those we love, hug again and never let each other go.
You may wish to consider signing this petition to allow those with adopted children to form a support bubble during the pandemic: