When you’re pregnant when do you become a Mother? I can only imagine it is from the moment you find out you are pregnant.

Well the first time I saw a photo of my children I felt a wave of love and protectiveness. When I found out they were in the process of being matched with another family, I cried; I thought it wasn’t meant to be, but my heart and mind kept on going back to the image of them I had seen.

A few months later we got our monthly edition of Adoption UK and there they were. Waiting for me. Waiting for us. It went quickly from there. My brother and his wife were expecting a baby, and everyone seemed so excited for them but nervous for us. I felt we were being treated differently because I couldn’t grow a baby. I know this is incorrect. Anyway, my point is I felt I was their Mother from very early on. Two weeks before we had our matching panel and three weeks before we were scheduled to meet them our landlord told us he was selling the house. We had set up everything, rooms moved, furniture built, pictures hung. We found another house in a week. The stress of moving and getting everything in place nearly broke me, but I didn’t break.

Before I knew it, we were taking the drive to meet them for the first time. I don’t know if I have the words for the memories of the first moments I saw them, but I’ll try. I felt an intense surge of emotions that seemed to be reflected in my son’s big blue eyes. I literally felt myself falling in love, and a few days later we brought them home, their 4th home in a year aged one and four. This was not lost on me.

The first night I was convinced they were going to stop breathing and wondered why I’d only brought a sound monitor and not one of those all singing and dancing video ones. I found myself checking it was working every 5 minutes and eventually sleeping by their door. The first couple of weeks they were compliant, suspiciously well behaved and slept from 7pm-7am. This soon changed as they settled in and attached to us. The first few months I felt overwhelmed, I wondered why after all my years training and working with children, I couldn’t remain calm at every moment and why I hadn’t stuck to the expectations I had set myself as a parent before I was a parent.  No sugar, no television and loads of educational activities. Yeah right.  I eventually realised that saying “everything in moderation” was some of the truest words spoken.

The first few months were filled with social worker visits, complimenting but observing and asking awkward questions.

My son would get incredibly anxious before they arrived. I wanted everyone to back off and let us become a family, but I was also scared that I wasn’t a good enough Mother for them. They didn’t have the best start in life, so they deserved perfection, right? Wrong, they deserved reality, consistent boundaries, to know we loved them enough to keep them safe, to recognise and regulate emotions not only in themselves but others and to have fun, when I realised that things started to naturally calm down.

After we applied for the adoption order and waited for the legalities to be processed, we got a new social worker; she asked me if I had spoken to the children about the fact that the adoption might not go through? “No, I have not, I am their Mother, they are mine. That’s it. No explanation needed” I said. “Good” she said.

Nearly three years later I feel like they have always been with us. I wish we had known them longer. But I’m also thankful as I truly believe everything happens for a reason and more than that I believe in my soul that we were meant to be a family. If love isn’t proof enough then; we all like 80’s music, we all love chocolate and as my son says, “it’s great that we love each other but we actually like each other a lot too”.

Ali Byatt is 37 and works in early years. Despite managing nurseries for 8 years, she soon realised nothing had prepared her for parenting.  She struggled to find any positive accounts on life with children after adoption and while admits it is hard, thinks parenting is hard however you come to be a family. Ali uses Instagram to share the randomness of family life.

In the run up to Mother’s Day and to celebrate the launch of The Unwind Package, we’re giving away three packages worth up to £50 each chosen at random from anyone joining in our #whenibecameamother campaign on Instagram. To enter:

1. Post a picture on your own Instagram account and include a caption about what you learned, or something you felt about your own experience, when you became a mother.
2. Include #whenIbecameamother in your post
3. Include the sentence ‘I am posting this to enter a @dontbuyherflowers competition’ at the end of your caption.

Entries close on 23rd March at 11.59pm. Winners will be drawn at random. Prizes can be delivered to UK and ROI addresses only.