It’s our son’s 8th birthday this week.
This blog is to all the parents in our son's old class who never invited our son to your children's parties and who didn't even bother to reply when we invited your children to his parties.
Our son was adopted. These days adoption is less about babies being relinquished and more about children being taken into care. Children are not taken into care for no reason. Often they have been neglected, physically or sexually abused and isolated. They all carry trauma. It can take years for a child to get to the point where social workers or the courts finally say,
"Enough, this child needs a new family."
Often, by this point a child like ours may have had four or five different mother figures before his forever family is found.
This makes for really troubled, traumatised children, most of whom will spend the rest of their lives coming to terms with their early life experiences. Of course this means their behaviour will not be perfect. Often it will be far from it. Our child hits out. We are not excusing him, we’re not making out this is easy for your children or you as parents wanting to protect your little ones.
We didn't adopt because we were desperate for another baby, we already have three birth children. We didn't need another child. We didn't adopt thinking it would be easy. We adopted out of love and with the firm belief and knowledge that it "takes a village to raise a child."
And this is where you come in. You had the chance to do something really good. You had the chance to teach your children about kindness and difference and to let them know life is not always straightforward for many. Despite this, even in those whose lives are complicated or troubled, there is hope for a better future. And even more importantly community can play a huge part in the healing of a person's life. Your children's friendship could have played a key role in our child's path towards freedom.
When you decided to set up a Mummy WhatsApp group to discuss our son you lost the opportunity to learn and grow and contribute to the amazing society we live in. When you decided to start a petition against our son to have him expelled when he was only allowed in class 20% of the time anyway you sent a message to your own children.
We are also parents of teenagers. With this age group the parenting conversation is all about how we can help our young adults to grow resilience, how we have to teach them about the real world. A world that is harsh, unforgiving, unpredictable and sometimes dangerous.
It concerns us that this cotton wool upbringing where children aren't exposed to anything other than the perfect ideal doesn't prepare them for a life where difficulties may arise. By ostracising our child your own children have missed out on the chance to learn about diversity, conflict resolution, communication and helping others. They have failed to grow in wisdom and emotional intelligence. That's sad.
And so our son begins his new adventure in his new school. Hand on heart we are so glad we don't have to do the old school run ever again. It has taken daily psyching ourselves up to hold our heads high and walk through those gates.
And to those few parents who made eye contact, said hello, engaged us and our son, invited him on the odd play date and didn’t join the majority, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You will never know how those small gestures impacted and encouraged us as parents. May your children be richer for the experience as they have enriched our little broken but mending child.