Mr Six and I were chatting last night…well around 1am, after we had seen in the New Year and finally got the girls into bed. Chatting about our 2016. We were reminding each other of the reality of how 2016 was for our little family; about all the great things that we have experienced or worked hard at over the year. He was listing the adventures and fun stuff we have done, while I was selecting adjectives such as ‘challenging’, ‘exhausting’, ‘adventurous’ and ‘full to emotional capacity’!
We’ve seen and read lots of blog posts and media pieces about ‘the nightmare that was 2016’, with many people seemingly thankful that 2016 was almost/is now behind us. We did have a good, if challenging year, with just a few parts that we will happily leave behind.
We had our first full calendar year with Little Legs. Lots of firsts, a few seconds, and much retreating and regrouping after overestimating what she (and we) could cope with.
We had two holidays away as a family of Six for the first time. Center Parcs was a highlight for me as we took Little Legs on her first Six family holiday. Lots of bike riding, swimming, relaxing and family time together. A summer break in Cardiff was one of Mr Six’s highlights of the year, with plenty of family time, meals out (thank you Tesco vouchers!), a visit to the Doctor Who Exhibition, more swimming and city centre shopping.
I went on a day’s Social Media Training with our brilliant agency, Adoption Matters, and met some other lovely adoptive parents and fab folk from First 4 Adoption.
We started our little blog.
All four of the girls made significant progress with their swimming and the big three have joined our local swimming club. They also took part in their first competitive swimming galas, won medals (and Happy Dreamer won a couple of trophies) and had fun and laughs with new friends.
Our adoption of Little Legs was legally formalised in the spring, followed up with the Celebration Hearing in Court in July, on the hottest day of the year.
I had a brilliant day at The Open Nest conference in July, meeting a number of online adopter friends, as well as making new friends in real life, listening to amazing speakers telling their stories, buying brilliant badges and enjoying almost seven hours of solo driving to York and back ?
Big Girl passed over the threshold of Primary School to High School in September. She was given the opportunity to explore school as an option, but was clear in deciding that she wants to continue to be home educated for now. We have marked her transition as she requested, by working to increase her opportunities for independence and autonomy.
We also had our second and third evenings out without Little Legs since she came home 18 months ago. A trip to the local theatre in October for Mr Six and I, followed by an outing to the cinema to see Rogue One with the big three girls just before Christmas. We are thankful for our two occasional babysitters whom Little Legs has accepted. What a treat on both occasions! Those moments enable us (and especially the big girls) to exhale for a moment, before we step back in and carry on. They will become infrequent but regular diary events in 2017.
Church has brought a year involving more change, which has been intense and we are thankful to be doing it all alongside good friends. A particular highlight was another fab conference with our partner church in the summer.
My focus for 2016 was ‘simplify’. I have worked hard on this and have felt the benefit both mentally and physically of simplifying so much in our lives over the year. There is much work to be done, but progress is happening!
Our second Christmas has gone well on the whole. We had lots of quiet family time at home, keeping things simple and samey for Little Legs. She struggled muchly in the run up, but settled again once The Day arrived. We are so proud of how all of our girls face these challenges.
I think my overarching emotions towards 2016 have been coloured by it being our first full year as a blended family. Adoption has brought such immense blessing and joy into our lives, whilst at the same time challenging my parenting skills like nothing I have experienced before! And we already had three girls of differing ages, with such different personalities, thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes, dreams and desires! I thought I at least had some transferrable skills to bring to the adoption table!
We have a wonderful new PAS Social Worker, who is herself an adoptive parent, who understands how different it feels. She likens adoptive parenting to parenting an alien. I have another lovely friend who calls it ‘parenting on steroids’.
We have so much to learn and we are thankful for the ongoing support provided by our in real life support network, some of whom have stepped up and blown us away this last year. It has been fascinating growing new and old friendships, as well as knowing who has been there completely unexpectedly with a well timed text, a kind word, a bag of kids’ clothes or one of Those Envelopes. We have truly been blessed.
And to our awesome Twitter adoption friends. We genuinely wouldn’t be where we are now without you all! Thankful for the early morning brews, the cat pics, the Firefly GIFs, the diamonds, the bourbons, the badges, the DM chats, the support, the love, the stern words, the reassurance, the encouragement and the tissues for my tears. You are true Legends and we are thankful to have you in our lives.
We are also looking forward to finally getting our girls the support and advice that we need, thanks to the Adoption Support Fund and a handful of brilliant social workers. We get started this week.
Here’s to 2017!