I had intended to write this post last night, and the night before, but have been slow to do so. Partly that’s cos I have had a parents’ evening at work, a conference with work, and generally a really busy week, but also partly cos Acorn has been really quite needy, clingy, easily upset.
It’s his birthday soon, and I do wonder if he’s aware of being a ‘big boy’- or more to the point, others’ expectations of him being a big boy. He’s said and shown lots of wanting to be babied, and though he was potty trained two months ago, has pooed his pants three days on the trot. He is reaching the age where he is starting to have conscious memory, and yet so much of his subconscious memory, his early life experiences, the trauma and neglect he experienced in his early months, already have moulded who he is. It’s hard to try and figure out from the toddler we see each day, what may, or may not, be influenced by his early experiences- and what may just be ‘normal’ toddler behaviour.
The early experiences our Acorn had are things which won’t ever go away, and we can never live pretending they didn’t happen- which is why, when learning about a child you are becoming a new, adopted mum or dad to, it’s so important to get as many pieces of the jigsaw as possible.
I knew this was important in principle because of the training you go through as an adopter. I knew we may have a chance to meet with birth family, and whilst this was just an ‘in theory’ thing, it made complete sense.
But then, when we were matched with Acorn, we were told we could have a one-off meeting with his birth grandma. It wasn’t compulsory, but was encouraged- for all the reasons above, but also because Acorn may want to know about these things and people as he grows up, so to be able to say we did everything we could seemed wise.
As a result, we met Sally during introductions week, once we’d spent time with Acorn and his foster carer over a few days. We were itching to get home by this point, ready to be a family. Meeting with Sally seemed like a necessary but unwelcome additionality to fit in and find energy for. I guess I felt like this about it because I had made assumptions about what Sally would be like and how she might respond to us. I felt sure she would be cold, cynical, hacked off with the system and resentful towards us- those awful people who were taking her first grandchild out of her life. I felt this kind of attitude would be totally justified and understandable, and that we therefore needed to steel ourselves for the meeting.
In reality, meeting Sally was nothing like my expectations. We met in a meeting room at the offices of the local authority we were adopting through. We saw down with Sally over a cup of tea, along with our social workers. They were there to guide the conversation, to support both us and Sally, and to leap in if the conversation headed down an inappropriate track.
What was surprising, in fact, overwhelming for me, was that Sally was just so lovely. Where I’d expected coldness- warmth, where we’d thought she would be simmering with resentment, genuine, generous goodwill towards us as the people who were going to bring Acorn up as their own.
I was totally blown away by the meeting, completely broken by it. I sobbed and sobbed, following Sally saying goodbye, grieving on her behalf that this had to be so hard and final for her. Whilst I understood why this was, and why Sally, or Acorn’s birth parents couldn’t keep him safe, I realised there and then that she was driven in her generosity towards us by a love for her grandson. I am so thankful to her for this. I bet she never forgets, as we can’t, Acorn’s adoption heritage.
That meeting influenced me a huge amount, and i am so very glad we did take the opportunity given to meet Sally. I think Acorn has good reason to be very proud of his birth grandma and the self-giving love she showed.