Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Our first holiday as an adoptive family

Summer is here and it's time for holidays. But what's it like going away for the first time as a new family that's come together through adoption? In the first of a two part series about summer breaks, we hear from adoptive father, and author of Frozen, Mike Butcher, about a holiday of a lifetime.

As a couple in our early 40s, my wife and I have had plenty of time to enjoy some very special holidays. We’ve travelled the world, seen the sights and experienced adventures of one kind or another in more than 30 different countries. I suppose that’s what happens when you don’t have children. The arrival of our wonderful baby boy, just seven months old when he came to live with us in September 2009, signalled an end to all that and the beginning of a new era of ‘new-parent paranoia’, serious responsibilities and acute nervousness about any kind of travel with our son on board. We were also conscious of his (and our!) need to settle into new routines and into what had finally become our ‘family’ home.

So in July this year it was with some considerable excitement (and a little trepidation) that we set off on our first holiday as a family. Not to some far-flung destination, but instead to a lovely little two-bedroom lodge in mid-Devon, just on the edge of Exmoor. Naturally, the journey there took longer than expected (refuelling stops for us, the car and our little one are all factors we are learning to take account of these days), but when we arrived the sun was shining and our son sprang into life, eagerly exploring our temporary home with great amusement. It is surprising how quickly you can collect up all the ornaments around a new place and relocate them to a higher shelf. And if you miss one, well, it only takes a nanosecond or two for a toddler to find it for you!

The next 24 hours saw no less than four brief visits to local supermarkets to stock up on food and a handful of items we had forgotten despite our meticulous planning. Our son was beginning to think that we had come all this way to tour the local grocery stores, but a couple of new toys to play with in the car helped placate him and he seemed to forgive his foolish parents. Finally, we made it to the beach and everything was looking up. A giant sandpit... no, a really giant sandpit!

At first, I think our little boy was quite overwhelmed by it all. He just plonked his bum on the sand, waved his bucket and spade in the air and looked around in wonder. We made him small sandcastles and he knocked them all down, laughing merrily at his sandy trail of destruction. It was lovely! At last, he got used to the feel of the sand between his feet and set off running around the beach, with poor Daddy doing his best to keep up and make ‘sand-monster’ noises at appropriate moments.

Despite some up-and-down weather, lots more fun ensued over the new few days: a trip to a model railway; visits to several different beaches; and many ducks were fed at the local lake. Our son was having the time of his life and so were we, but come the end of our week, we were all ready to head for home. Our little boy couldn’t actually tell us what he wanted, but there was something in his eyes that said: “Can I have all my regular toys back now? And my house, and my garden.” With the car packed up for our return journey, he settled into his baby seat with a contented smile and showed his approval by managing to sleep for almost three quarters of our drive home.

The broad smile on our son’s face when he walked into his living room in his house – our ‘family’ living room in our ‘family’ house – was just as good as the holiday itself. And it made us realise that you can keep your fortnights in Mauritius and your explorations of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. The holiday of a lifetime? We’ll take sitting on a beach on the North Devon coast with our coats on and dodging raindrops while our little boy digs a big hole in the sand anyday!

Frozen is available from the BAAF Bookshop or via Amazon.


Anonymous said...

Nice... I'm taking my adopted daughter to New york in about 3 weeks for 2. Travling all on my own with my 17mth baby. I keep saying to myself what have I done but I know we will have fun

Ali said...

We have all this to come - we were the same - been there done that - visited over 20 countries & survived the Tsunami whilst on Honeymoon, but we can't wait for a holiday with our "junior" some day. Somewhere not far from home, somewhere where we can come back from (jump in the car) if needs be to re assure him that we won't be leaving him there, and that he will be coming back home to his home, his room etc. with us, forever and if that does happy, then we will simply try again! A beach on the North Devon Coast or even the South Coast, dodging raindrops, wellies and umbrella's with a flask of tea sounds just the ticket.

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