There is no such thing as the perfect adopter, just as there is no such thing as the perfect child. This blog is about using self-reflection to figure out what works for me and my family. It might resonate strongly with you. You might think I am completely mad. Either is fine.

I am often asked by potential adopters, has adoption been tough? I talk about the kids – the ear-piercing banshee tantrums, the chorus of laughs for every ‘bad’ word learned, the worth-it-every-second cuddles. But I rarely talk about me, about the difficult lessons I’ve learned about my triggers and insecurities and how this is reflected in my parenting.

As parents, we only tend to self-reflect when something has gone wrong. The explosive tantrum that saw you lift your child over your shoulder and carry them kicking and screaming out of Boots when all you went in for was a packet of wipes and a tub of Sudocrem. These are the moments you mull over and pick apart later, riddled with guilt and halfway through a bottle of wine.

Then there are the perfect Sundays. They ate their dinner, you managed a film and bedtime, without so much as a huff. So, we put our feet up and put it down to a ‘good day’. No reflection, no need to unpick. 

I have dragged my children to every birthday party because I did not want them to miss out, and stood in the corner celebrating each minute that passed tantrum-free. I have dropped them off at school with my head down, avoiding eye contact with the teacher who dealt with them the day before when they flooded the bathroom and stood on another kid’s glasses.

I was so caught up in the overwhelming sense of what could go wrong, of how I would cope with it and how I would respond, that I couldn’t cherish what could go right.

But living like that is like holding your breath.

I realised I had to face the challenging behaviour head-on, being honest about how it made me feel. That allowed me to start to identify the children’s triggers much earlier and plan for eventualities.

Disclaimer: it won’t make you the most popular at times, but if people don’t understand your reasoning, then you have to ask, do they have yours and your child’s best interests at heart?

So, I now leave the party early if I feel it’s becoming too much. They don’t always cope well when something comes to an end, so leaving before this means they are none the wiser and are first to claim a party bag – win! If an incident happens at school, I now speak directly to the teacher and we agree on a way to deal with it that’s consistent at school and home.

I talk openly to the kids about behaviours and allow them to engage at their own pace. It allows them to become more aware of their actions and how this can affect others. It has also instilled a trust that if they are finding something difficult it can be talked about and resolved.

Self-reflection is not easy, but it’s worth it. Unpick it, resolve it and instil it. You will thank me. We adopted not just because we wanted to give children a family, a loving home, we adopted because we knew we could. I may not have all the answers, and that’s OK, because by not knowing all the answers we learn together, and we adopt an approach that is unique and works for us.


Damian Kerlin is a Wales-based family blogger and active advocate for adoption from a same-sex parenting perspective. You can read more at