As a Mum I wanted to discuss adoption in my mother tongue

Mother-of-two and author Eurgain Haf has written a book for young children which introduces the idea of adoption – the first original book in Welsh to do so. Y Boced Wag (The Empty Pouch) is a lovely story which follows Cadi the kangaroo as she searches for happiness. In this article Eurgain reveals all about her own experience of adoption and how she worked with her son to write this special book.

When my son was three years old and attending the Nursery class in school, he came home one day with a picture of a sad-looking kangaroo. After praising his picture (he’s a good little artist!) the next obvious question was why the kangaroo had such a long face? And his answer – her pocket is empty. I remember my heart starting to beat faster and a voice in my head shouting, “this is it, this is your chance – go for it!”

We adopted our son when he was a 13-month-old baby, after almost fifteen years of trying for a family and several rounds of IVF. The adoption process took around a year and a half, from the first meeting with the lcoal authority, to attending courses, weekly sessions with a social worker and having to answer question after question about all aspects of our lives. Then we had to attend two different panels before meeting our son for the first time.

My husband and I were aware that the process would be intense and intrusive, and we received wonderful support from the local authority and family and friends throughout our journey.

Throughout the process, one piece of advice given to every parent-to-be was to start the conversation about adoption as early as possible, rather than leaving it until the child was older. This made complete sense to us and we introduced the Word ‘adoption’ to him straight away, even though he had no idea what it meant. But developing the conversation to the next level was difficult. I tried several times, but the words just drïed up. Where to start?

In a word – with a kangaroo!

When he produced his picture that day, I told him that we’d try to find a way to put a smile back on the face of the kangaroo. And together, we created the story Y Boced Wag.

Y Boced Wag is a short, simple story about a kangaroo called Cadi who feels sad because her pouch is empty. She embarks on an adventure to search for happiness and comes across animals who want to help her, just as the doctors, reflexology therapists and the social workers tried to help us conceive, and later to adopt. In the end, she meets a koala who reaches for a star and offers it as a wish to put in her pouch. The next day, Jo Bach (Little Joey) has jumped into Cadi’s pocket and the two have found each other.

I used the story as a way to explain the emptiness that we – his Mam and Dad – felt until we found him to fill our lives with happiness.

We then created Cadi’s story and he thought of the other characters for the story and named them. The simple story brings him comfort and as he’s said. “it’s my story.”

He also enjoyed being part of the whole process of preparing the book for publication. The illustrator Siôn Morris did a wonderful job in successfully portraying the characters, and his work definitely got a high-five in approval from my son. Siôn would send sketches to me by e-mail, and my son always had the final say!

There’s nothing in the story itself that says it’s a story about adoption. That’s intentional as I wanted the story to stand in its own rights. But, if parents wish to use it to prompt such an important and emotional conversation with their child that they are adopted, I hope the foundations are to build on. Everyone’s reasons and journey towards adoption is different – the hope is that people can adapt the story to fit their own needs. My hope is that I can also use the story again in the immediate future to explain to my biological daughter that her brother is adopted.

As a mother, I felt strongly that I should be able to discuss adoption with my son in my mother tongue. There are a number of books available in English that introduce adoption to children – and I bought copies of these books myself. But I felt that they weren’t suitable somehow, and ended up not using them.

There is only one book available in Welsh was Babi Newydd Teulu Meysydd, published by Gwasg Carreg Gwlach in 2013, which is a translation of The Teazles’ Baby Bunny, an endearing little story about a family of rabbits. But there is definitely a need room for more original books in Welsh and I’d like to thank Y Lolfa for their support and their vision in agreeing to publish Y Boced Wag.

Mam Cymru would like to thank Eurgain for sharing her experience, having the conversation is hard enough and I’m sure this book will be a great asset to those who wish to have that conversation in Welsh #MamPower! Y Boced Wag by Eurgain Haf is available now (£4.99, Y Lolfa).

If you have a story to share please email us at mam@mamcymru.wales – diolch!

Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru

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