For about a year before finally meeting our daughter, I have been a member a facebook group for UK adopters. In that group, I got to see people’s messages of going through matching panel, with introductions usually starting very shortly after (usually within a week).
However, as our link was turning into a match and it became apparent that everyone involved are going to support this match, we started to discuss dates and our hearts sunk. Suddenly we were talking about weeks between matching panel and intros.
In hindsight, it all makes sense but at the time it was so frustrating. Our daughter (who I’ll refer to as D from now on, for Daughter) was almost 7. She had been living with her amazing foster carer for nearly 2 years. In addition to leaving her foster carer, she was going to say goodbye to her entire family, who she had clear and vivid memories of.
She needed time to process all of this loss before she could begin to be happy or excited about meeting us. On the other hand, there was a lot of anxiety surrounding us. This took me back to the initial training we had and the one thing that had stuck with me the most from it.
It was when the instructor drew three houses on the board. “This is the birth home”, she pointed at the first one. “Where the child has known trauma, possibly abuse, probably neglect. Now this is the second home”, she continued to the next one, “the foster home where hopefully they were shown love and care and were kept safe.”
“Now this is the third home, it’s your home and they know nothing about what’s going to happen there. But they do know what happened the last time they were in a home that had a ‘mum’ and a ‘dad’”.
To try and relax some of that anxiety, we put a photo of our full fridge in the welcome book. We also made videos back and forth over the week leading up to intros. The foster carer told us that these really helped D feel better and less anxious about meeting us.
However, whatever you do before or during intros, you cannot stop this loss. It’s coming, and the only question is when will it hit the child. I’ll talk more about that and what responses we found were helpful, in my next post.