It sounds like going into a war zone at times

Adopty Mum: a Survival Guide to Life with Adopted Kids

By Elena Holmes

So you can’t have your own children and you adopt some. Once you’ve poured loads of love, care and attention all over them everything in the garden will be perfect, just as if they were your own birth children, right?

Wrong. This young woman describes her really scary rollercoaster ride with the two little ones she and her husband took on.

It sounds like going into a war zone at times and all the love and reassurance in the world does not prevent tantrums of tsunami proportions and mortifying social interactions – some of them very funny (for outsiders).

Adoption has changed dramatically over the decades. Now there are very few teenage mums giving up their babies to childless couples. The stigma associated with unmarried motherhood has all but disappeared and proper birth control has drastically lowered the rates of unplanned pregnancy.

It is rare for brand new babies to come up for adoption these days so the toddlers and children who do need homes mostly come with considerable baggage and often with horrific histories. And those taking them on are thoroughly briefed as to facts.

Before they had even been accepted as safe pairs of hands this couple fell for the siblings they were to adopt when shown a video.

“…blimey! they were our children…we watched over and over again, transfixed by our future running round the screen. We were goners. Our hearts had been stretched and two small people had reached up and tucked themselves inside.”

When you finish the book you are full of admiration that Adoptymum and Adoptydad put themselves through it all and stuck with these highly needy and difficult children. They could have had brilliant holidays, more dogs and just done a spot of youth work on the side. But they opted for thestretched nerves and almost daily calamities which came with this adoption.

Adoptymum shows herself as vulnerable and frustrated – not at the children but at the cliquey mums at the school gate. However she is really funny, not at all self-pitying and her bouncy, irreverent style makes the book a page turner.

Her top tips for surviving shopping trips, holidays and schools– not always tuned into individual needs, are sensible, practical and battle-tested. Mostly. Sometimes they are slightly off the wall, though.

“Parents: don’t offer your kids’ teacher class A drugs at a parents’ evening. It’s not the ideal ice breaker…”

You will grieve over this troubled little boy though he is in good hands with rock solid love and support. Adoptydad has agreat rapport with him.

But I challenge anyone not to fall in love with his sassy little sister.

“If we eat out she has been known to save leftovers and ask the waiters to box them up for her, so she can give them to anyone homeless. She has questioned me very publicly about why the homeless lady on the floor can’t come and stay in her room with us as she does have a bunk bed and she wouldn’tmind sharing.”

The personalities of the parents are the greatest aids to survival. He is empathetic, appreciative of his wife, calm in a storm. She is full of energy – sustained by her ability to see the funny side and, of course, chocolate.

These children are getting an excellent second chance – I just hope their new parents survive. Sharen Green

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