Thoughts are off summer and back to the daily routine of school and work for next week. As I reflect back on our summer break though I am encouraged in some ways that we have progressed as a family over the last six years since our children were placed with us. I remember the very first summer when I was terrified at the prospect of 6 weeks to entertain children I didn’t really know well and wasn’t sure I could cope. Now I know you have to take each week and sometimes each day at a time – that way the six weeks seems to go quickly and each week is a new adventure of sorts.
I have to say though whilst I am encouraged at some things there are other things that are more concerning as the children grow older. They have been able to do more without us this year but for our eldest the impact of that on her attachment to us has been surprising to me. Adopting older children (7 when she came to us) means that there is the chance of it being more difficult to form a solid attachment to each other. As she has gone into High School and teenage years the need to pull away and become more independent (as typical teenagers will do) is a bit more difficult for her as the foundation of relationship with us is not as solid as it would be if she had lived with us from birth. This means of course that while typical teenagers have a trusted safe base to come back to should they get things wrong – for our daughter she doesn’t feel that safety and security with us.
An example of how this can show itself is that she went on two 6 day camps this summer without us – one with the scouts and the other with a youth group. Whilst she had a good time and seemed to cope well with the activities and being away, when she came back she struggled to readjust to life in a family again. She had been used to doing her own thing with no one telling her what to do or parenting her – then when she came back to us the battles began as we all got used to being a family again.
These battles continue – and it doesn’t surprise me that these times are hard for my daughter and for us. Adoption is a great solution for children who do not have a safe family to grow up in, but it is not an easy option by any means. We can’t give our daughter those 5 years back – she desperately wants a ‘do over’ to be able to have what she calls a ‘normal’ life but she hasn’t and as much as we would like it to have been different we can’t give her those years back. What we can do of course is try to help her come to terms with her life, to feel good about herself and to grow in the best way that she can. It’s not always easy, I’m ashamed to say, as even though I understand why things are hard for her it is also hard for us and her brothers too, and sometimes we are not the most encouraging parents to her.
So as I look back on Summer 2014 I think it will be known as the ‘summer time when the living was easy’….well sometimes anyway, not so easy other times – just like life in general – but we survived, had some fun together and hopefully have growth a little bit closer as a family.