Lily and Megan's story

Lily and Megan experienced severe neglect in their birth family and in 2004, aged four and five, were placed with adoptive parents Regina and Andrew.

Although the girls have never spoken of their experiences of Christmas with their birth family, mum Regina recalls how the lead up to Christmas and the celebrations have always been tricky for the girls – especially in the early years of placement.

“I can vividly remember our first Christmas together. My whole family came to visit which was, in hindsight, not a brilliant idea because of the chaos, the desire for everything to be ‘perfect’ and the need to manage other people’s expectations of the girls.”

"Lily has learning difficulties caused by the neglect she experienced and because of her birth mother’s alcohol misuse. She was, and still is, nervous of opening presents as she doesn’t like being the centre of attention. She also finds little enjoyment in joyful things so hasn’t always reacted to gifts the way people would expect,” Regina said.

But over the years, Regina and Andrew have gained valuable support from the Adoption UK online forums which has helped them understand their girls’ experiences and how best to support them in all aspects of their lives – including Christmas.

Regina continued: “It is wonderful to be able to follow the online forums and know we are not alone. You know that you can talk about or ask anything and you will be listened to and supported. It is so valuable.”

The girls are now 16 and 17 and Christmas for the family is about managing expectations and celebrating their way.

Regina said: “We do always look forward to Christmas, especially the tree and the glitter of it all. The girls seem to be enjoying helping me and we do have fun!"

Megan is now working and is enjoying being able to buy presents for the first time but this year has still been difficult for Lily, as mum Regina explains: “Lily is very isolated because of her learning difficulties and has been very depressed. I hope she can find some joy this Christmas.”

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