We’re not what he wanted

Like I said in my previous post, despite not being overall impressed with the SAI, we are happy with the DDP. This week, Robbie and I went on our own as Glen wasn’t feeling well. I don’t think Glen’s absence was a factor, but it was a very good session and Robbie opened up like never before.

We spent a good part of the session throwing a ball back and forth between the therapists, Robbie and I. This seemed to work very well as a distraction, and Robbie was happy to talk while this game was going on. We started by discussing an incident that happened last week: Glen had asked Robbie to take something in to school for one of the teaching assistants, whom we know outside school. Robbie completely panicked, thinking that he might be told off for going into her classroom. I tried empathising and to make him understand that he wouldn’t be, but by then Robbie had become quite irrational. Glen was very angry about Robbie’s refusal to do what he’d been asked. It wasn’t so much about not wanting to do it, but about the fact that despite having lived with us for two and a half years now, Robbie still assumed that Glen would ask him to do something that might get him into trouble. The discussion of this incident at the therapy session brought up many issues around trust, self-dependency, and Robbie’s understanding of what being parented means.

The other major thing we discussed was Robbie’s attitude towards having two dads. I’ve long suspected something about it, and I verbalised it during the session (not in the words I’m using here). Could it be that Robbie feels that – due to his low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness – he didn’t deserve a mum and dad and that’s why he got two dads? Yes. Was he disappointed that he didn’t have a mum and dad “like everyone else”? Yes. “It’s not what I wanted. I wanted a mum and dad”. Whilst this wasn’t easy to hear, at least now that it’s out in the open it’s something we can discuss and be aware of. For the record, I don’t think Robbie thinks we’re not doing a good job. I think he’s very aware that (although he knows several kids with two dads) he’s not like most kids, who have a mum and a dad. I also think that this comes down to foster carers and social workers going on about “finding a mum and dad” when they talk to kids who are waiting to be adopted. The law allows single parents and gay and lesbian couples to adopt, but in most cases children aren’t made aware that this is an option until they are due to be matched with such a parent. The work needs to happen beforehand, so social workers and foster carers talk to children about finding “a family” for them, and maybe discussing what a “family” may mean.

Robbie was quite emotional that evening after the therapy session, and last night he got out of bed at night to tell us that he was “missing his mummy”. Glen was out, so I offered lots of empathy and sympathy, and consoled him as best as I could. I guess he was thinking about what he’d said at the therapy session and was aware that I might have not liked what he’d said (even though I’d done my best not to show any sort of emotion other than empathy when he talked about it) because when he was ready to go back to bed he gave me a final hug, a big kiss, and whispered in my ear that he was very glad he has us as his parents. I told him how glad I was to hear that and what a lovely thing to say it was, and took him back to bed.