I was born and still live in the Home Counties with my husband Steve & our two boys; our birth son Oliver who was born in 2007 and Max our adopted son who was born and adopted in 2013.
Having been told we were unable to have children, Oliver certainly came as a big surprise! But then we were told that there would be no chance of more. We agreed that adoption was the best way forward for us to complete our family. We had the most amazing social worker who became very much part of our lives during the process; we will always be grateful to her and the rest of the team for being there to support us and help us to fulfil our dreams, and to find Max a loving home. Whilst going through the adoption process, both Steve and myself were aware there weren’t many other families with birth children going through the same experience that we could link up with. As a result, neither of us became aware of the significant differences when adopting when you have a birth child to those families without.
For example, the challenges in preparing your birth child are huge. The dynamics that families have when introducing another sibling, be it birth, adopted, or fostered, are complex. We can go on all the courses and read all the suggested material. We can talk to professionals, attend support groups, and off-load on much needed case workers - but our birth children need that help and support too. We found little information for birth children to read to help them prepare for such a life changing event.
So, during the first few months of placement, (whilst chaos and emotions hit our family like a stream train) I began to think of writing the book I would have liked Oliver to read. Whilst up with Max during the nights the words began to flow. I felt my head exploding with all the words I wanted to get out. Everything in this book is completely based on Oliver’s own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Following on from writing this book, Oliver has also made a DVD with our local Authority in which he talks openly and honestly about his personal experiences of adoption & living with Max.I run a local support group for families with birth children and I also meet and speak with current and prospective adopters both with and without birth children to help them with their journey.
Steve and I have spoken to many adopters about our story and the possible impacts of trauma for not just your adopted child but the rest of the family! Not every story is like ours - everyone is individual and every family is different. Since adopting, I have written articles for the local authority on having birth children when adopting, and have also put our story on their website. Having previously worked in the mental health field, I feel strongly that one’s own mental health and that of your children is preserved throughout what can be a very stressful & anxious time.I've read so many books on adoption and have been greatly inspired by the down-to-earth writing and honesty of both Sally Donovan and Sarah Naish. I’m hoping this book will not only reach those with birth children, but maybe those who have step-children, or those adopting again.
This is an opportunity for your child to able to freely express their feelings towards having an adopted sibling. I will continue to make mistakes throughout parenting our two boys but having written this book maybe a birth child or parent may benefit from our family’s experiences.