Thursday, 11 September 2014

Seeing Clearly

I'm proud of the way we have built and are extending our family through adoption. I am happy to stand up and shout about the massive difference adoption has made to someone who desperately needed and wanted a family. I'm talking about me. I was made whole by adopting.

While I remain happy talking about our family's less than conventional start, I am beginning to notice a change in smudge. With friends and family she is proud that we chose her. I've heard her shouting down another child with "my mummy and daddy chose me. Your mum had to take you." But with strangers and when she is less sure of herself she just wants to be the same as all the other 8 year old girls.

Going for an eye test really hit this home. Part of the form that the Optician was working through asked about family history. As I explained that we didn't know about her grandparent's, or even really her biological parents, ocular health as smudge is adopted I watched my confident girl shrink into the chair, her smile faltering.

Smudge wobbled her way through the eye test. No longer self assured enough to trust her instincts. Needing lots of reminding that she was doing brilliantly and that there are no right and wrong answers. My heart was fit to break. My words had done this.

What compounded the misery was my turn. G was on hand to take smudge off for sugar based compensation. Yes, she wanted specs and was not impressed with her near perfect vision. So I was on my own to have my eye test in peace.  At which point the Optician decided that my daughter's history was suitable small talk and even asked what her story is. This is what people say when they are really asking me to shock them with the horror of my daughter's early years.

The tragedy of reasons my daughter needed to be removed from her birth family and placed into the care system is not something I discuss with my nearest and oldest friends. I will not be sharing incredibly private and revealing aspects of smudge's story to satisfy anyone's nosiness.  

I left with a clean bill of eye health feeling wrung out. Filled with guilt that my need to be polite and answer all the questions left smudge hurting. Angry that people believe they have any right to smudge's story. Wondering how I align my feelings of pride that we are a family created by adoption with a genuine desire for normality, acceptance and not to be left feeling like a circus sideshow freak. 

I remain happy to shout about our experiences with adoption. I will not treat it like a dirty secret. This does not mean that I will share sensitive information with nosy strangers. I'm a Mum, my first instinct is to protect my child.


  1. Well said. Excellent post. Xx

  2. Sarah, I am sure as her MUM you will be able to reassure her and and in time I trust she will begin to understand that it is ok to be different, but maybe not just yet! Jon and I considered adoption when we lost two babies after Alfie. I admire yours and G's commitment to the adoption process and am in awe of the way you are building your family.xx

    1. Sorry to hear you lost babies. I'm eternally grateful that the nature of our fertility woes meant that I never had to be that strong, I am just not sure I could have come back from that. You rock!

  3. Lovely post Sarah. I came across something similar recently which I posted about and a reader pointed me here. I too am proud of how my family was formed and I want my son to feel the same way, however completely understand as a child particularly you often just want to feel you "fit in". Its a difficult balance for us to make. I get a bit tongue tied when asked details about his adoption and feel rude saying its off topic but need to remind myself that its them that is rude asking really. Perhaps its worth having a talk with your daughter now she is starting to make her own distinction about who she doesnt mind things shared with (and how much) and who she doesnt? (sorry you may have already done so, just an idea)

    1. Other people can make it so awkward can't they! The good thing to come out of it was that we did have a good chat to smudge about it being her story and us needing to respect that so onwards and upwards. Although she did end up telling a pregnant woman all about how she didn't grown in my tummy so I think it's all to do with the mood she's in at any given moment.