Dear Ken and Mary (not your real names),
You gave our children a home, when they needed it most. You kept them together, letting them stay with each other and stay connected to the only family they had left. You helped her to recognize that she had a brother until they became inseparable (as they still are). Thank you.
You held her, when she arched her back and threw her head back and didn’t let her ironing board of a body dampen your love for her or desire to cuddle her. You loved her, unreservedly, however difficult her behaviour, however little she knew how to be loved, until she softened and yielded to love. Thank you.
You gave them structure and routine, love and fun, stories and bathtime, even when you’d only just left hospital and your shoulder was mending. You parented them with love and joy and kisses and hugs until they became touchy-feely-giggly-happy children. Thank you.
You took photos from the day they arrived to the day they left, charting their history, their lifestory, creating amazing books that meant we almost felt that we were there, stories we share with them and remind them of their past before us. Thank you.
You took those photos. The photos that tugged at my heart, as the Universe yelled “these” in my soul, the photos that had me falling in love with these little lives with their mischievous smiles and looks of contentment. I knew that these were my children the moment I saw those photos. Thank you.
You shot that video. Where he potters around, surprisingly trouser-less, playing with bracelets that she in her tutu kept stealing back for her cart, then they’re bouncing on the sofa until she says ‘that’s my bobble’ in her squeaky voice and my heart melted and I knew I was hooked for life. Thank you.
You came to our house, with a tower of photos, and the tears in your eyes Ken, told me how much you loved and would miss these precious lives. And if I could have done anything to save you from your tears, I would. Thank you.
You created a magical moment on the first day we met them, where those four incredible words “flowers for my mummy” shocked, surprised and delighted me, and tears flowed because for years I never thought I would hear those words said to me. You helped me bond with them, get to know them, by leaving the room and making space in your home for us to nudge you out and take over. Thank you.
Every day, despite your grief at losing them, you got them excited, peering through the window, waiting for our car to arrive – I can still see their cute little faces and feel my heart leap at that look. Thank you.
You helped me believe that I could do it, Mary, when you saw the doubt in my eyes, as you described their routines and I saw how effortlessly you parented them and knew I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. Hearing you say that I’d be an amazing mummy, when I felt like a fraud, was just the cheer-leading and encouragement I needed to save myself falling into a pit of doubt. Thank you.
You stepped in when needed, when the children struggled to cope with the confusion and different faces and feelings and more, calming them, even when you were struggling with the separation on the horizon. Thank you.
You were brave and courageous throughout this process, as you stepped aside and let go of our children until they became part of our family. Thank you.
You are the heroes of this story, their story, our story as a family.
Words are not enough
I cried as I wrote and read this back, because I mean every word from the depth of my heart.
With huge love, respect and more.
About the Author: Emma Sutton adopted two siblings a few years ago which changed her life and kept her on her toes as she learnt how little she knew about being a mummy. She is a speaker and the author of “and then there were four” her personal story of infertility, adoption and parenting—an unforgettable, unputdownable roller coaster of a story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. She also blogs at nibblesandbubbles.co.uk (where this blog was originally published) and is a champion for adoption in the UK.
You can read Emma’s new book, And Then There Were Four, through Kindle now.
Read the letter her children’s foster parents wrote in response.