Adoptive parent Helen recalls how the behaviour and anxiety of her two daughters leading up to and during Christmas “tells a story of unmanageable tension and sadness”.
Helen said: “We used to dread the tantrums and temper outbreaks caused by the close proximity of the girls who couldn’t tolerate one other in the midst of being so excited as well.
“My older daughter really struggled in the run up to Christmas. She was so excited, yet cross and anxious too. Anticipation made her very anxious. My younger one just closed down as it was all too much! Our youngest wouldn’t open her Christmas presents as she felt unworthy of them whereas our older one ripped everything open, played with them obsessively, then discarded them.”
Helen says that now her daughters are adults “it’s much better” - but even last Christmas was not without its moments. “We had tensions but no blow up because of grandchildren being present. Both my daughters wanted to keep it good for them,” Helen explained.
Helen’s advice to adoptive parents this Christmas is to “keep it simple”.
“Try to tone down the exciting stuff if possible. Stay close to them to be that calming external brain - they won't manage the excitement and change in routine very well unless you're actively leading them through it all.”
Helen describes attending her first Adoption UK conference as a “massive light-bulb moment”.
“There was a massive sense of relief it wasn’t just us who couldn’t make sense of our children's behaviour. And there were things we could do to help them. And people we could talk to. And it wasn’t our fault."
She added: “We’ve learnt so much and had so much support from others within Adoption UK. They were the ones who gave us support, made sense of our children’s behaviour and helped us manage it, explaining their trauma and attachment issues which cause such difficulties.”