22nd April 2012

How do you clean a CD player ‘coloured in’ with lip salve, a bed sheet ‘coloured in’ with felt tip or a face coloured in’ with an indelible marker? I am sure it wasn’t in the adoption training anywhere and believe me I’ve checked and double checked my notes and it isn’t even in the small print!

There are lots of other things I have learnt since adopting my daughter last year, but one of the biggest (apart from developing a whole new understanding of the word tantrum!) is how adults and children bond with each other. All families need bonding experiences but adoptive families are a lot more conscious of it than most.

And it’s the little things we do together; the times we laugh, talk, play and the times we simply enjoy being together doing nothing – these are the things that help to cement the bonds between us. Singing together, talking and listening, reading books, and sharing action rhymes all contribute to this process. Yes, even the constant repetition of Old Macdonald in the car (‘Mummy, do the cow noise again please’) is helping - no really it is! And if I can drag her away from the TV, ignore the telephone and the ironing basket, these shared quality experiences, away from the other distractions of daily life, are even more powerful.

Being a mum has helped me to really understand the power of play; how playing even the most simple of games builds trust and helps to deepen our understanding of each other. I know that whatever the challenges, these shared experiences of childhood become the shared experiences of adulthood; part of the glue which holds families together for a lifetime.  So next time I’m being dragged out of a nice warm shower into the sandpit, I’ll try to remember that ten minutes peace and quiet isn’t half as important as making a bit of family glue…