Not love at first sight

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Adoption is an amazing thing.  It’s the best and also the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. We saw it as a positive way of creating our family when it became clear it wasn’t going to happen for us naturally.  Embarking on the assessment process gave me hope for the first time in a long time.  Hope that we would be parents.  That I could finally become a mum.

Once we were approved I was excited about the prospect of being matched with our child and setting off on our journey as a family together. I didn’t really think too much about how I’d feel about our child, I just assumed I’d love them straight away.  That’s what happens when you have a child.  You love them from the minute you set eyes on them. Don’t you? I didn’t give birth to my 2 amazing nieces but I loved them from the second I met them. Why would it be any different for our child?

It was different though. It was very different. I’d spent years dreaming about becoming a mum and built it up in my head to be something it could never be.  I imagined everything would be perfect. That our family life would be perfect and organised and a lovely bubble of fabulousness and happiness.

The day we met our daughter for the first time was surreal.  After waiting for so long, we were finally going to achieve our dream. We were going to be parents to a baby. A nine month old bundle of happiness, mischief and gorgeousness. What more could we have asked for? She had no major health issues, no known drug or alcohol misuse by birth mother during pregnancy. She was perfect. So why didn’t I love her?

I felt nothing the first time I held her other than complete panic.  Panic that I wouldn’t be any good at being a mum.  That we wouldn’t be good enough to make up for the fact that she couldn’t spend her childhood with her birth family. How could we make up for that?  I felt like we were kidnapping someone else’s child.

Over thinking things is something I’ve become very good at and I really excelled once we brought little Miss home.  I felt quite jealous of my husband and his uncomplicated view of things.  He loved her from the moment he set eyes on her.  He empathised with her birth family and understands the importance of her history and being open and honest with her about it as she grows older, but he just accepted it and moved on.

I really struggled with my feelings for the first few months. Rather than feeling the overwhelming love I’d been expecting, I mainly felt guilty. Guilty because I was getting to enjoy so many precious moments with this beautiful little person that I didn’t create.  I didn’t carry her for nine months. I didn’t feel her growing and kicking inside me. I didn’t give birth to her so why should I get to experience all of these good times when the person who did create her couldn’t?

It took me a while to realise that feeling guilty wasn’t helping anyone.  We played no part in the court proceedings and to a large extent, neither did birth mother. She agreed to little Miss being accommodated by the local authority before giving birth and didn’t really engage in the assessments. I can’t even begin to understand how she must have felt giving birth to a child she knew she wouldn’t be taking home with her. But she did and we had no part in any of that. The court made the decision that adoption was the best option for little Miss to have a safe, loving and happy childhood. If we hadn’t been matched with her, someone else would.

Gradually I have learned to let go of the guilt which has slowly been replaced by the all consuming love I’d expected to feel from the start. I can’t imagine our lives without her now.  She’s my world and I feel so proud to be her mum. It still completely blows my mind to think that she has birth brothers and sisters that won’t get to be part of her life as she grows up. I think I’ll struggle with that for all of her life. For now though, I’m just enjoying being her mum.

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