Monday, 9 July 2012

Adoption story: It is a year since a tornado ripped through our lives

Today on the blog we hear from Kathryn, who shares an honest experience of what happened when a "whirlwind of sparkly pinkness" came to be her adoptive daughter.

It is a year since a tornado ripped through our lives.

I remember the day our little girl came home like it was yesterday; the first day we became a family.

She was a tiny blonde princess, dressing her daddy up in bunny ears and play jewellery, whilst she carefully dressed herself, layering princess dress after princess dress on top of her day clothes, and turning the house into a fairy castle.

We were ecstatic. It was everything we had wished for and dreamed of but didn’t dare think would be reality.

We had four days of this whirlwind of sparkly pinkness and a child that was beyond 'good'. She was a quiet, 'busy' girl; always racing around and willing to help out (I found her one morning making our bed!) Doesn't it sound perfect? But we were worried. She was too compliant, too independent, never sat still and it just didn't feel right.

On Day Five, the tornado was replaced by a volcano and boy, did she erupt. All the grief, confusion, anger and fear she was feeling spilled out. She could tantrum for hours on end and responded with aggression if we tried to get close. She also completely rejected my husband, to the point where she would physically turn her back on him or claw at him. We were prepared for the rejection of one of us (expecting it to be me as the mother figure is often a target for anger), but this was on a completely different scale to anything we were expecting and it put a strain on our marriage and we’d bicker between ourselves. Our daughter was an expert 'splitter' and she tried to manipulate this weakness so she could feel in control and therefore 'safe' and at the beginning she managed it rather successfully.

We realised then why so much time was taken up during Home Study, talking about the strengths and vulnerabilities within our relationship and the importance of presenting a united front and having a great support network. We are not a couple to struggle and we asked for help.

Our LA was magnificent and we had lots of face-to-face and telephone advice and they set up CAMHS support which was tremendous. We've also done lots of research about attachment ourselves and have learnt a great deal about the reasons behind her behaviour and also the reasons for our reactions.

A year on, she is a different child. Yes, she still has her moments but we recognise her triggers and we have lots of strategies in place to help.

She has blossomed into a funny, clever, affectionate child who is a bundle of energy. Our relationship has gone from strength to strength and the love we feel for her is indescribable.

And her relationship with daddy? Well, if I tell you that this morning she told me she was looking forward to spending a day with daddy because she loves him sooooo much, that just about covers it!

For more info and advice on adoption and fostering, please visit the main BAAF website. If you would like to share your story on the blog, please email

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