One question we're asked more frequently than others is, "Do Lyall and Rich know they're adopted?". When we adopted the boys six years ago (I know, where has the time gone?!) they were already four and five so the simple answer is yes, they had a good idea what was happening.
To be honest, the formal adoption process and complicated legalities all happened behind the scenes between our adoption agency and the boys' local authority. Meanwhile Lyall and Rich were prepared for their forever family by their lovely foster carer, Lindsay, who shared photographs and videos of me and Tom and age-appropriate explanations with the boys. When we eventually met Lyall and Rich, we were all prepared to face the big move as a team, together.
Lyall and Richard's early memories are part of who they are. To avoid any oppressed feelings or thoughts, we maintain an open dialogue with the boys about their earliest memories, including their adoption journey. Conversations about their foster placements and adoption story usually crop up in the car on the school run, when we're sat in traffic on the busy inner-city ring road. The boys' recollections are quite random and candid, but we just listen happily and encourage their stories to flow.
"You know when we lived with Anna and Dave?"
"Yes, babe- how old were you then?"
"I dunno like about two? Anyway, before we moved out of their house their microwave exploded cos Anna put a whole egg in it."
That kind of thing.
The Blanket Bears
Sam Langley-Swain, top-selling children's author of several children's books including Santa's Wish and What Wesley Wore (honestly if you haven't met Wesley you need to get involved) is himself an adoptive father of sibling boys with his partner, Rob.
Like Tom and I, Sam and Rob also met in 2002 and adopted their sons six years ago.
Sam's beautiful new children's book, The Blanket Bears follows the adoption journey of two neglected little bears, siblings like Lyall and Rich as they navigate through foster care to their forever family.
Sam hopes The Blanket Bears will become a useful resource for social workers and schools during their work to prepare children for adoption.
Sam came over for a cuppa and a chat about The Blanket Bears and the inspiration behind his book.
"When we adopted our boys we couldn't find anything age-appropriate to familiarise them with the journey ahead. I wanted to create a book to help children through the adoption process."
The Blanket Bears draws on Sam and Rob's own experience of adoption and even includes characters based on their own family, including Sam's Grandmother (a red panda in the book). It's illustrated by Ashlee Spink.
While The Blanket Bears follows the adoption journey of two little bears, the book's presiding theme of hope and acceptance will appeal broadly to all children.
The book's aimed at young children, we'd say perhaps between the ages of two and eight, but Lyall and Rich at nearly ten and eleven still enjoy The Blanket Bears because they identify with its characters and story. In fact, it's probably the first time they've seen anything close to their own adoption journey written about in such a warm, gentle way.
During his visit to Daddy & Dad HQ, Lyall and Rich came up with some questions to ask Sam about the characters in The Blanket Bears 👇🏽
We'd like to say a big thank you to Sam for popping over to see us, and for our copy of the book (#Gifted) which we absolutely love. Thanks, Sam! Xx