The first few weeks passed in a haze, playing, getting Little Bear settled into a routine and getting ourselves into parenting mode. There were so many little things we needed to learn and it took some time before we felt confident.
The only way I can describe it is as I imagine any new parent experiences the first few months with their new baby. However instead of a tiny delicate infant whose needs had to be met, we had a little boy who was already eating 'proper food', drinking from a cup and in size 4+ nappies. His needs were different but they still needed to be met.
We were also acutely aware of how he was/was not ours. Registering him at the doctor was tricky as the doctor's receptionist was from the scary receptionist training school so many of them tend to go to and didn't seem to understand that this little boy wasn't legally allowed to be registered in our name until after the adoption order and yet we had permission to access routine doctors treatment for him. Argh! That was a difficult one.
The baby clinic was another trial. The health visitor noticed that he had missed one of his immunisations and so gave me an appointment to do it, which happened to be at the time she did all the jabs...baby clinic. That was hard work. Controlling a stomping toddler in a waiting room of tiny babies, while being acutely away both of my new mother status and my adoptive mother status.
Little Bear was obviously an energetic boy. The permanency report for him describes him as an active energetic child. (We were later to read between the lines about that one!) I suffered a couple of toddler groups but Little Bear would seek out other children and lash out at them and it made me extremely nervous. At one toddler group we were asked to go for time out in 'the quiet room' and were left alone in this room for ten minutes before another mother and son joined us. They had also been put in 'time out'. This was the first of many experiences like that for Little Bear and I. So I chose not to frequent toddler groups again and instead we socialised with good friends who knew our history and didn't judge our parenting based on Little Bear's difficulties socialising.
The adoption process itself had by this time moved to the final stage. Little Bear became a member of our family legally in August 2008. We travelled to court and after a very brief ceremony and lots of pictures we went to a restaurant and shared a meal with some close friends who had been in court with us, and one set of grandparents. Then on a happy Sunday in september 2008 we returned to the church which had 'sent' my husband to college for Little Bear's baptism. It was a joyous day and very important to us, a real sealing point joining Little Bear with us and with the wider family of God.
Towards the end of my husband's time at college we decided that maybe Little Bear should be socialising more widely and enrolled him at a nursery for just two mornings a week. With the wonder of hindsight I wish I hadn't as Little Bear didn't really gain from it. He needed (still needs) structure to help control his impulsiveness and this unstructured nursery setting didn't 'fit' him at all. Although the nursery manager appeared not to like boisterous boys in general very much so Little Bear wasn't the only one always in trouble!
We moved back to a suburban setting (as opposed to the rural idyll where the college is based) during Summer 2009. A good sized house, an ordination and a new member of the family were to come.