My 7 year old son came to live with me permanently after we had spent time visiting over a one month period. I wanted to do two things – take the edge off the awkwardness of those first moments and address some of the concerns I had heard directly and indirectly during the month we had visited. He had been in pre-adoptive homes that didn’t work out so I know he didn’t believe this move was permanent.
When we walked in, I asked him to come into the living room to sit on big pillows so we could do something special. I helped him light two candles. Then I handed him a piece of paper that had the words “Coming Home.” We each had something to read. He went first and I helped him with the words he didn’t know.
“My name is Jamie. I am 7 years old and today I am moving into my forever home with my forever family. Cleo will be my forever cat. Becca’s parents will be my forever grandma and grandpa. Becca will be my mommy forever. She will take care of me, feed me, play with me, and help me when I’m sick. She will buy me clothes and toys, hug me, cuddle me, and give me attention. Even if I feel angry or say I want to leave and live with someone else, this will always be my home and Becca will always be my mommy. I will try to listen to her. Even if I do not listen to her sometimes, she will still be my mommy. I will try to do good things. Even if I do bad things, this will still be my home forever and Becca will still be my forever mommy.”
My part echoed his part with a couple of additions: “Wherever I live will be Jamie’s home, too. Even when he grows up and wants to have his own place to live, this will always be his home. I will be his forever mommy and he will be my forever son.”
When Jamie came over to spend the night once before, he asked if the furniture would be his and the kitchen would be his. So after he blew out the candles and we hugged, we walked through the house. As we walked through I started to say, this is now “your” living room. He corrected me and said that this was now “our” living room, which was even better. We walked through the whole house doing this. Every time we went out and walked back into the house he wanted us to read our parts, again. If anyone came to visit, he wanted us to read our parts for them.
When Jamie came to live with me, I knew my life would change, I just didn’t know how much. His first week at home was during a school vacation. Beginning my life as a single parent with a child 24/7 for 9 days was exhausting. I have never been an early morning person and he wanted breakfast very early. I’d stagger downstairs and we’d sit and have breakfast while I tried to wake up.
And he expected to be entertained from morning until he fell asleep at night. It was a bit overwhelming and I was running on empty at times. I had no idea becoming a mother overnight would be so tiring and challenging. I got a bit of a break when Jamie would take a bath. He would sit in the bathtub every night and pretend to blow things up. At least he didn’t pee in a shampoo bottle the way he did in the last pre-adoptive home he was in.
I was so grateful when I got to take him to school for the first time. Being self-employed, I thought I’d go home and get some work done. I got home and collapsed. I had survived the first week.