I have always written. As a small child I wrote about everything which happened in my tiny life; the day my parents bought a freezer, how much I enjoyed fish fingers, the fire in the chip shop at the end of our road. As a teenager I wrote at length about friends and boys and smoking and clothes and won a short story competition. In my twenties I droned on about how awesome the universe was and yet how dull my life. Then I stopped.
What got me writing again was finding myself on the outside of things. As I got older, everyone around me had babies. Everywhere I turned there were babies, everywhere I went people talked about babies, I would turn on the television and yes, you’ve guessed it, babies. Even ‘Friends’ were having babies, even ‘Sex and the City’ were spawning. My husband Rob and I, on the other hand, try as we might, did not have any babies.
To cut a long story short, we found ourselves adopting two children from the care system and that’s when life really got interesting. We have grown to love our children very much, but because of the less than ideal early lives they have experienced, parenting them is not like parenting a healthy birth child. Writing became a way of dealing with heaps of challenges, many of which we have had to face alone.
My diaries started to take shape as a book when I came to realise that our lives, in a small way were epic. We were living family life in full colour, at full volume, at full speed. I made a few connections with other adopters and their family lives matched ours almost precisely. I began to hear over and over ‘but no one understands our children’, and ‘we feel so isolated’ and even ‘it’s as though our children are blamed for the way they are’. Our loud, colourful lives were not reflected in other people’s lives, nor on the television, nor in the newspapers and were often not being given credence by educators and health professionals.
Over two and a half years I wrote an account of our little epic lives; the high points, the struggles, the sadness, the bizarre and the breakthroughs. Hard work and a bit of serendipity have resulted in the book being brought into reality by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and it will be available in July of this year. It is called ‘No Matter What: an Adoptive Family’s Story of Hope, Love and Healing’. This week I have been looking at the cover artwork and talking over the publicity. It is something I never imagined would happen and every step is a total joy.
More than anything I hope that those struggling with infertility, or those parenting or working with traumatised children, or indeed any children who don’t fit the mould, will read my book and recognise something of their own experiences. I have worked hard to be truthful and honest, to strip away the gloss, and the sugar coating that adoption can sometimes be smothered in, and also to celebrate the joys and the rewards of parenting differently. And at the risk of coming over too worthy, I also hope that the book is a rollicking good read.