Foundations

At four and a half, Birdy is quite the character. Her nursery teachers describe her as "a natural leader" and say that she "knows her own mind." As I am familiar with teacher-speak, I know that these terms are euphemistic.

A lot of our conversations at home are characterised by intense amounts of stubbornness and a lot of "No!" and "I don't want to!" More than I would like, I correct her, re-direct her, and cross swords with her. Sometimes she cries. Sometimes she flounces. She's got quite the teenage vibe.

The other day, after a particularly sticky moment, I reflected that I had never had the need to correct Birdy or tell her off until she was nearly two years old. More than 18 months of love bombing. When she was hungry, I fed her. When she cried, I rocked her. When she laughed, I laughed with her. It was all good times as far as she was concerned.



How glad I am now, when I have to correct her and she hates it, that we had those early months and years to build a foundation of love, love, love. Whatever I say now, and however much she doesn't want to hear it, she can be in no doubt that the bedrock of who we are together is pure love. She recovers quickly from these disagreements and is soon all smiles and giggles that radiate her essential security in who she is and who I am to her.

And it made me glad and grateful again that, unlike so many adoptive parents, I had the wonderful chance to have those first months of Birdy's life so that we could build those foundations. Most care-experienced children are much older when they move to their permanent families. The foundation isn't there to underpin the necessary stage of correcting and re-directing that will come next.

Instead, families are straight in the deep end, trying to learn each others' characters and quirks and figure out a way to get along together, without the security of love, love, love underpinning it all. The love will come, of course, but it's hard to go back and fill in the foundations and, without them, every correction, every "No", every consequence, is a minefield of possible rejection.

Adoptive parents are doing life differently. And so are their children. This is just one of the ways.


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