We had been in America for 2 weeks, a few days after we returned we got invited to another child profiling event in Hammersmith. I went alone as Lee was working away that weekend.
It was very similar to the last one we sat in rows watching videos of children and then we were invited to visit the tables with the child’s photos on it and find out more information about them. I saw a little boy who I felt very excited about, I went over to speak to the people concerned.
After a short discussion the social worker asked me a question, now it wasn’t so much the question that bothered me, more the tone she used when she delivered it. It felt more like a she was telling me that this was going to be a deal breaker.
‘He is such a special boy and we were thinking for his 1st Birthday you could have the party at the foster family’s house, he is their baby and they are very attached to him.’
I thought it a little odd but I just nodded. We decided that our social workers would liaise and arrange a time for them to come and interview us at the house. This was brilliant.
I walked around a little bit, I went to a couple of the other tables, I felt so sad that some children did not have anyone interested in finding out more about them. As I walk past one table the social worker shoved a sibling group profile in my face.
“Have a look at these lovely wee girls, beautiful children, from a traveling family.”
As she was doing this a man walked past and said.
‘Bloody hell, the parents will look for them and if they find out that you have them they’ll burn your house down.’
I couldn’t believe he said that. I walked to the toilet and whilst I was washing my hands a women who was fixing her make in the mirror looked at me and said.
‘See any one you like?’
Her choice of language seemed so wrong to me.
‘I am still looking at all their information, it’s a lot to take in.’
I didn’t want to say anything about the little boy I’d seen incase she suddenly decided to go and make an inquiry herself.
‘I’m looking for a baby girl’ she said and then she left.
I had all the information I needed so I left. As I walked to the station I called Lee and told him about the little boy. I started to imagine him in our house; I kept looking at his photo, could he be our child?
Monday afternoon our social worker called and informed me that his family finder had been in touch and that they wanted to arrange a visit to our house to learn more about us.
We cleaned the house from top to bottom, we needed a new carpet on the stairs and the spare room was just painted floorboards so I would have to explain that to them apart from that I felt good about the house and we lived in a great area so I was feeling really hopeful.
A few weeks later they came to visit us, our social worker was busy on an urgent case so she sent a replacement social worker to support us.
The family finder and another social worker turned up on behalf of the little boy.
‘So it’s good to see you again and to meet you Lee. So tell us a little bit more about why you think you would make a good match for our child.’
We talked at great length about all the things we could offer him, our family backgrounds, the area we lived in and our support network.
They looked around the house and seemed very happy.
‘Now our little guy is having his 1st Birthday in February and we were thinking that he could have his Birthday party at the foster mothers house, what do you think?’
Jane our representative looked at me in confusion.
‘I think that decision would have to be made nearer the time.’ Said Jane
‘He is part of the family, they have just got him a passport, they’re taking him to a family wedding. He has a little suit and they want to delay the process until this engagement is over, I am sure you understand that this has been planned and they are all looking forward to it, after all he has been their baby and part of the family from birth so they are very attached to him.’
I was the confused, how was that thinking about the child, he is not even a year old, he was not looking forward to the wedding, he was unable to understand such things, this was selfish on their part and I could not believe that his social worker was allowing this.
‘They have bought him a little suit, it is going to be a wonderful experience for him.’
Yes we know you have said that already!
Jane rolled her eyes at me.
‘I am sure he will have a lovely time. I think the birthday will have to be discussed at the time.’
‘Now we would normally let you know in about a week, but we would ask you to be patient as we have one more couple to interview and we can’t interview them for 3 weeks so we’ll let you know in about a month, is that ok?’
No it was not ok but I guess we would just have to wait.
‘You really are a very suitable couple for our child and your house and your area is a brilliant place to bring up a child, it’s just we have to see all the couples who have expressed an interest in him before we make a final decision, you are in a very good position and we really think you are a great couple.’
We weren’t overly worried about them seeing other couples it was all part of the process as they have to interview everyone who had expressed an interest in the child. It seemed a long time to wait to hear, but we had waited this long so we could wait a little longer.
Jane called to tell us that they really liked us and that we should get the room ready. My stomach rolled over finally we would be getting a child. I didn’t want to get the room ready until it was absolutely confirmed, I didn’t want to stare at an empty baby room. I called my friend who was going to fit the carpet right away and told him, he said he would come the following week.
It was October so if we got the confirmation that this little bot would be a good match with us by the time we’d gone to matching panel and introductions were done it would be very close to Christmas and we had already been told that they didn’t like to place children around this time. I called my friend who had put me in touch with the women at the Ealing adoption.
‘I am going to call Heather and ask her to give you a ring, this is great news!’
Heather called minutes later I told her what had happened when they came to the house; I was not expecting her response.
‘If I were you I would walk away.’
I felt sick.
‘Asking you to have the child’s Birthday party at the foster mothers house is completely unacceptable and making you wait for three weeks until they have interviewed the other couple, something stinks, I would advise you to walk away.’
Walk away, Lee was feeling really positive about the meeting and the way they talked had led us to believe that we were in with a good chance of being accepted as a match for this little boy.
‘Look there’s a profiling event next week held by the north London consortium, I am going to be there, you should come along and see if there are any children there that you feel could be a match.’
I was really confused, she was asking me to go to an event and look for a child when all we could think about was this little fella, it felt wrong!
I was not sure that Lee would be happy to go along with this plan. I didn’t feel comfortable doing this so I called the friend that introduced us to Heather and told her what had suggested, she didn’t hesitate.
‘You should take her advice she’s been working in Adoption for over 20 years and knows what she was talking about.’
When we first started looking for a child I had hoped, that it would be guided by divine intervention. I remembered the adopted parent who spoke at one of the seminars who had said when he first laid eyes on his son it was like being struck by lightning.
I was sure they were going to say yes, but what if they didn’t, we’d be back out there again looking.
I decided to go. I got off the train at Charring cross and walked to the venue. I called Heather but it went straight to voicemail, so I went in. The reception was upstairs and the event was talking place on the lower level you could see down to the event through a glass window, as I was about to walk down the stairs I saw the social workers who had come to interview, I froze and immediately walked back towards the reception area. I recognised someone from Ealing social services and I asked him for his opinion.
‘So can I just clarify, you were interviewed for a child by one of the boroughs in the consortium and they are here today?’
‘Yes both of the social workers are here?’
‘I would advice you not to go in, if they see you, they might think that you’re not serious about the child in question, and as you haven’t had the decision yet it’s a big risk to take. You don’t know at this point what their decision is going to be, but if you go in and they do say no, you will always think that it was because you chose to go to this event, I think you were given some bad advice coming here today.’
‘I agree, thank you.’
‘Who told you to come today?’
‘I’d rather not say.’
‘I understand, well good luck and I hope you get the result you’re looking for.’
I left the event, and called Heather, it went to voicemail again. I left her a message, explaining what had happened.
I was pretty pissed off that she had put me in that position, she would have known what boroughs would be there that day, perhaps she just didn’t think, but this could have been really detrimental to us!
We waited the three weeks and then we got a call from our social worker.
‘It’s not good news, they have decided to give the baby to other couple.’
I was stunned.
‘Why? I don’t understand they led us to believe it was going to be us!’
‘They have handled this really badly, but there is nothing we can do, they have made their decision.’
I was completely floored, now I had to break the news to Lee, who was very invested in this child, this was probably going to put him off looking for another one and I was feeling a little bit like that too.
‘I will send you some more children’s profiles to look at.’
I didn’t feel like looking at any children, and I knew Lee wouldn’t, how can she expect us to start looking at more children when we were led to believe that we were going to be matched with this little boy.
I was introduced to someone very early on in our adoption journey who was told that they were a getting a baby they were overjoyed. They decorated the room and arranged time off work, two days before this was all supposed to happen they were informed that they were no longer go to get the baby as they decided to give the baby to someone else. I thought that this was an isolated case, apparently not!
Now we had never met the child that we’d invested in but you have to imagine the child in your lives, seeing him in your house, playing with family and friends.
For a few weeks I completely switched off looking for a child. Lee and I just went about out daily business until I got a phone call from Heather saying that she’d moved to a different borough and that there were lots of children on their books.
I would have to call the borough and make an independent enquiry and then she would be able to send me some profiles of children. So I called and then she sent out several children’s profiles, none of which I had any connection with, I showed them all to Lee, he was non-committal about all of them. The weeks went past and more profiles arrived, children who looked dead behind the eyes from horrific backgrounds. One little boy’s farther was in prison for prolific rape and his mother was a prostitute. This was his story, the story that we would have to tell him. I was not brave enough to be part of this story!
I felt as if it was hopeless, Christmas was just around the corner and so we decided to call it a day and try again in the new year, I think we just need some time, at least I’d hoped that was the case, I was worried if this went on for too long Lee would just want to give up. I wonder how many couples get this far and do just that? Will we be one of those?