“What is family?”
“Is my family forever?”
“Will my Mum forget about me when we are apart?”
These were not questions I had really considered until we adopted Star. Most of us live as though our families, our parents, our siblings, our home, our neighbourhood are constants in our lives.
We assume they will be there when we wake up and when we return home from school.
In adoption circles they refer to this as “permenence.” This security helps us build our sense of self and allows us to thrive.
This is not the case for children like Star who have been taken into foster care, and then moved onto a permenent forever home.
Psychologists tell us that typically a child needs to reside in their forever home for longer than the total of the time they lived elsewhere. They also struggle to believe that if the parent is not with them that the parent will still be thinking of and caring for them.
So, if a child moved to an adoptive home age 3, they are unlikely to have a sense of belonging and a feeling of “I am here to stay ” until they are 6.
We have now learnt, that this makes a massive difference to how a child behaves.
For her first year with us, it was very apparent that Star was worried she might get taken away.
If we were in the car for longer than half an hour she was anxious she might be going to a new home.
If a social worker visited ,
If something happened to remind her of the past, a name, a change in season, a birthday
…… I could go on.
We deliberately spend a lot of time talking about “home“, “forever family” and “forever home.”
I have lost count of the number of times I have held her and said “Star is safe.” How we have run through the day on the visual timetable and pointed at the symbol for “Home” at the end of the day.
Slowly, but surely she appears to be learning, that wherever we go, whatever we do, we are family and family means we stay together, even when we are apart.
Star starts mainstream school in two days time, and so the question of coming home is a current issue for us again.
We have tried to do things which give her a sense of permenence.
Photos of her on the walls, in photo albums, on the fridge, on Mummy’s phone.
We have a lovely picture on the wall with all our names spelt out with scrabble pieces and joined to each other, with the date we legally became a forever family. It was a gift from Star’s Godparents.
For her celebration hearing I had a necklace made which has three silver circles intertwined with each other. Each ring has the name of one of my children engraved on it.
Star likes to sit on my lap and find her name on my necklace, and then Hannah’s and Ben’s.
I have worn it every day since I went back to work. So that my children know that even when we are apart I am holding them in my mind and in my heart.
Families and parents express this in different ways.
God is an adoptive Dad.
He knows all about being the parent of children who do not really trust him to be a good Dad.
The price to be adopted into God’s family was the death of his dear son, Jesus.
Unlike me, God is the perfect adoptive parent.
He never forgets about his children.
Though his family consists of millions, he knows them all by name.
He loves them with unquenchable passion,
He promises to be with us, to provide, to guide, to protect us until we reach our forever home.
And yet I find it so easy to forget his goodness, his grace, that I am a member of his forever family and that nothing, NOTHING can separate me from his love.
Do you know what God did about that?
He tattooed my name and yours onto his hands:
Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV
 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
Thank you very much for reading. If you have found this post encouraging, please consider liking, commenting or sharing using the social media buttons below.
If you would like to read more about our unexpected journey to adoption please like my Facebook page “Adopting Star” or sign up to receive the blog by email on the right hand sidebar.