During Stage Two of our pre-approval adoption process, our Social Worker talked us through our ‘Ecomap’: a strange document that required us to construct a map format of our support network. I remember us looking at the template and being unsure how to complete it. Who to place in what space. How to describe and differentiate our relationships with our family and friends.
We spent significant amounts of time trying to make sure our Ecomap was representative of our lives at the time. We have some family locally (my Dad and my sister and family), though some much further away (Mr Six’s parents and his siblings).
As a family who are heavily invested in our local church, our church family is a significant part of our key support. Our girls are all involved in a mixture of the youth and children’s programmes. We both have a number of key friends who are involved in the leadership of our church. We also have a handful of good friends scattered around the UK, who are those kind of friends that you might not see for months, but you simply pick up where you left off when you get together. They’re there at the end of the phone line when we need them (and vice versa).
As with many aspects of our pre-placement adoption journey (and ever since tbh), we turned to the fabulous Twitter adoption community and asked as many questions as we could about support networks and Ecomaps.
One of the recurring themes that came back at us was how much our support network would shift and change shape during our adoption journey. How some people would completely drop off. How people not even entering our heads at this stage would step up and be significant in offering support. How people’s roles in our lives would shift and change and grow and shrink and develop and bless us.
How true this has been. And how we have needed it on this road.
I am not one of those people who has lots of friends from different places and circumstances in my past. I was having this conversation recently with a friend who still hangs out with friends from her primary school days. We were laughing at how it looks as if I leave friends behind each time I move on from something in life. My only real contact with friends from the first 21 years of my life is mostly through Facebook! That doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I have some amazing friends now who share key aspects of my life with me. I am a better person because I have them in my life.
But parenting with trauma and loss is not easy. It is often a slog. Repeating responses to behaviours. Saying the same phrases over and over. Dealing with aggression and fear. Working to create safety for our Little Legs. And her sisters. And all the meantime telling myself to “Just keep swimming”.
And you know what has made the difference on numerous occasions?
Receiving a supportive, encouraging text from a lovely friend.
Getting a postcard through the post from my best girl friend who lives on the other side of the UK, that just says they’re thinking of us.
Knowing that folk in our church are praying for us as we walk this road.
Sharing a brew with a friend and laughing so hard we snorted at a daft meme on Facebook.
Dropping in to see a friend, wanting to encourage her with flowers and biscuits and coming away so encouraged myself.
Just one of Those Hugs as I passed a friend in a shop.
A trusted friend offering to have the girls for a couple of hours for us.
Lovely family Facetiming to say hi and just ask how we’re getting on.
My slight concern was always that we didn’t have enough relationships on our Ecomap. Sitting here now, I don’t worry about that any more. Our Ecomap may not have as many names as other people’s, but the relationships that are on there are ones that will see us travel along here in good company. And with the love and support that comes with that.