Adoption: To move, or to stay put?
There’s always a dilemma created by any decision that will involve big changes for children who’ve been adopted. And for that reason, for months I had the professionals (who only had a small window into our life) saying that they thought the only way to achieve stability for our children was to stay put. Slowly, but surely, events and behaviours transpired to the point that one professional quite literally said “you need to get the hell out of there and fast”.
You see, a tension had built up where we were living. A tension made up of the fact that our neighbours were being intimidating to the children. A tension created by our son because it was “Mumma’s and Daddy’s house, Logan and Caitlin are just living there”. A tension from all the social workers, other key workers, therapists and miscellaneous professionals involved in their early placement making the children feel that this was a temporary situation.
The tension had grown so big it was impossible to banish. And it fed into the children’s inability to relax and settle, increased their anxieties to the point that, even when “fully relaxed” at home, they were still hypervigilant. So big that, at no point in the day could there not be full “eyes on” supervision. Even if I needed the toilet, the door had to be open, and the children in sight unless someone was there to keep a watchful eye on them.
For us, it was beyond the point of choice, it was an inevitable “only option”. The choice was less about “if/when?” and more about “where?” Bruce was working about 45 minutes away from where we lived, and was in the opposite direction to the largest part of our support network. Then saying that, the support our network could offer us at the time was either virtual, involved me taking a long journey or was support that (at the time) would not have been helpful (it would have been different if they weren’t children who’d experienced early childhood trauma, but as it stands, they had so certain things people offer to do, whilst appreciated, can’t be accepted as the consequences would by far outweigh any potential face value benefits).
Naturally, it was decided; moving closer to Bruce’s job would mean more availability of him being home; more support to me, more presence with the children, later starts to the day, more family time. But it would also create an opportunity to teach the children that change can be a positive thing, how to healthily get closure on a closing opportunity and receive the new opportunities they then face with gladness and positivity (and not tinged or tainted by the sadness of the reason for change). It would create the opportunity to expand our capabilities in a home education light – we could now ensure we had sufficient outdoor space, better access to educational activities, outings and networks. And ample space within our home to dedicate one area to the storage of anything related to their education.
So how did it pan out?
Well, moving to a new house was very stressful, due to the home education thing meaning the kids were always around, and their anxieties meaning they needed to see me the whole time. But, they were involved in viewings, packing, decluttering, moving boxes, unpacking, rehoming and all the other things you do as you move. This meant they had a long drawn out “goodbye” to the old house and a slow phased “hello” to the new house. Seeing it transform from a home to a shell and then from a shell to a home. Though very wired through this transition, it was obvious to anyone who knows both of our children well, it was very healing for them.
And now, as a result, both children are much more content. They miss our old house, but only really a few of the conveniences it offered (being so close to my little brother being the main one).
So I say, when you are faced with this dilemma (or something similar). Only you, living through it, can feel what it’s like to experience it. Only you know how your children are doing. A primary caregiver’s gut knows (by this I mean the parent/carer who’s there the most) the truth, and if that truth goes against professional opinion, fight the opinion – you have the true knowledge, an opinion is significantly inferior to that. It may need to be approached with caution, and it’s natural to second guess yourself, it may need to be planned to the nth degree. But that won’t make it wrong, that will just make it more work.