Parent Diaries

“When we finally got home, it was amazing how normal things were straight away.”

Settling at home with our adopted baby boy

Settling at home with our adopted baby boy

Helen, Melbourne, Australia

Our adoption journey took over twelve years, ending up in Nanjing, China. Meeting Finn for the first time was overwhelming for all of us. He was 19 months old, just old enough to feel shocked and confused, but too young to understand everything that was happening. We spent a couple of weeks in China together, bonding as a family in an environment that was familiar to him, and then it was time to come home.

To be honest, it was amazing how normal things were straight away. Finn spent the first couple of weeks exploring his new territory, learning where he could and couldn’t go, what he was and wasn’t allowed to touch. We have a lot of antiques in the house and decided not to move them. “He’s just got to learn” we said. So we put clear boundaries in from the start and helped him understand them. He’d been through so much change he now needed stability and routine, so that’s what we gave him. It helps that we’re always on the same page as parents. We follow the same rules and if we say ‘No’, which we do quite a bit, we explain why. He understands quickly - he’s a smart little boy.

For the first week, Finn slept in his cot in our room but he didn’t sleep very well, so it was tiresome for all of us. In the end we went out and bought a double bed for his room. That way if he was unsettled during the night one of us would sleep in his room, holding his hand through the cot. We limited visitors for the first few months too, to give him time to bond with us fully. We wanted him to know that, if he ever needs anything, he comes to us first. He bonded really quickly - almost straight away with me, and with Mick in just a few weeks. From what we’ve read that’s pretty unusual.

It’s not all been easy of course. He has a cleft lip and palate, so that’s meant surgery, and he’ll need speech therapy and orthodontic treatment well into his teens. At home we’re very focused on his speech. We’ve persisted with English and put Mandarin aside for now, so we can help with his word and sound formation. We watch quite a bit of kids’ TV, especially programs made by English production companies, as the diction tends to be really clear. He loves “Peppa Pig” and “Ben and Holly”!

Now that Finn’s older he understands that he’s adopted and that he has a Chinese mama somewhere in China. If there’s ever a chance to meet her, we would jump at it, but there are no known records so it’s highly unlikely. Finn knows where was born and can point to China on his map. We plan to make regular trips there when he’s a bit older, and we always celebrate Chinese New Year and the other major festivals. It’s important to us that he understands his own story.

We know there’ll be more challenges ahead, as with any family, but we’re so thankful to have Finn in our lives. My dad was 74 when we left for China, and he’s so proud to have a Chinese grandson. He carries Finn’s photo in his wallet and shares it whenever he can. Love has no boundaries, Finn is not of his flesh but he is so proud of ‘our boy’. We all are.