Coming from a large extended melting pot of a family, where some of my closest ‘relations’ have no blood connection to me, I always knew that I could adopt. To me family is about love and support, always being there and above all having fun together. We’ve had our fair share of dramas and traumas, but we have also had more than our fair share of coffee mornings, sleepovers, holidays, nights out and parties.
As children we enjoyed long hot summers running free in camping fields and cold winter nights at each other’s houses. The adults sustained by beer and wine. Our children now enjoy similar experiences. And I hadn’t realised how important these moments had become to Winnie Whirlwind.
In the early days she found it very difficult to cope with large gatherings, particularly if the focus was on her. She would literally shut down.
So to celebrate her sixth birthday (her third with us), we joined forces with four other family members celebrating birthdays around the same time and all met in a local restaurant for a late, relaxed Sunday lunch.
Winnie was most put-out.
She wanted a party at her house just like everyone else does on their birthday. So she wandered around and personally invited everyone to her birthday party, at our house, the following Saturday!
The feelings that followed were mixed. Terrible guilt as I had not realised how much she had wanted this and how important the extended family are to her. But also an overwhelming sense of joy that she now understands that this is her family and she loves them as much as we do. Oh and of course a mild sense of panic that I had to plan and cater for a party for 35 people in just six days time!