The first time ever I saw your face

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After the row we tiptoed around each other for several weeks. I would look at him sometimes in bed at night and I must confess on a number of occasions I was extremely temped to punch him in the face, but I didn’t. I may have elbowed him a few times accidentally on purpose. Don’t tell me you’ve never ever done that!

We’d talked it through and made the decision that we would look once more and if we could not find a child that we could both agree on then we were going to call it a day, we were both feeling pretty burnt out.

Our social worker had not sent us any children’s profiles for quite sometime. In my heart of hearts I wanted to find our child. So we went back to the Internet searching day after day knowing that some of these children might have already been matched.

It’s the first thing I would do every morning, because of this I knew who was on there, I knew who had been on there a while but this also meant that I was very aware when a new profile was put up. I was just scrolling through this particular day when I saw a little boy who really caught my attention. He had the most beautiful soulful eyes there was something so engaging about him. I pretty much fell in love with his photo. I looked at his photo on-line over and over throughout the following few days and then I showed the profile to Lee.

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‘Wow he looks like a neat little guy!’

‘Can I make an enquiry about him?’ I said

‘Will they take an enquiry from us?’

‘There’s only one way to find out?’

So I called them directly as I was so tired of registering our interest on-line and no one getting back to us. I didn’t bother to tell our social worker at this stage as they always took so long to get back.

The borough was Southwark so I found the number and asked to speak to the family finder for this little boy, I couldn’t believe I actually got through.

‘Hello I have seen a little boy on the be my parent website and we are very interested in finding out more about him, his name is Lenny is he still looking for a family?’

‘Yes he is.’

I was a little shocked; I was fully expecting her to say no. I had butterflies in my stomach, now was the nerve-racking bit!

‘What borough were you approved with?’ she said

‘We were approved via Ealing.

‘Look I am going to be totally upfront about this, my husband and I are both white and he’s not, so what we want to know is, do we have any chance of being considered?’

‘We will consider couples from different ethic groups, it’s really about finding the right match.’

‘That’s great, can I send you our PAR, our social worker knows that we are actively looking, it would be wonderful if once you’ve read it we could set up a meeting.’

I was so excited we got a real person to speak to, the little boy had still not been placed and they were open to coming along to meet us.

I told Lee, he seemed happy that they were at least engaging with us.

I called our social worker who then sent an email to set up a meeting. We waited about two weeks and then the day arrived. Again I cleaned the house from top to bottom, tided up the garden, the spare room was empty and had been painted so it was ready to be furnished as soon as we got a match we would sort it out.

They were due to arrive a 10.30 our social worker arrived first and then one of the social workers from Southwark arrived. She seemed very nice a lot more friendly than the previous ones. We had one more to come the family finder, she was lost and I had to go and get her from a near by super market car park and have her follow me back to the house, we live near a one way system and it can be tricky if you don’t know it. As we also have permit parking I got her a ticket and gave it to her as she was getting out of the car. She looked at me and said.

‘How kind’

I remember thinking wow she actually noticed that I was trying to be hospitable and she genuinely appreciated it. I felt like this was going to go well!

Once back at the house they settled down and then the questions began: Why him? What can we offer him as a family? What are the schools like in the area? Do you have a good support network? Did we specifically seek out to adopt a black child?

I knew that question was coming after all they had to make sure that we weren’t trying to mimic Madonna. I had done a lot of research regarding white people bringing up black children, trans-racial adoption was the term used. Most of the research was positive but I knew that some people would not see it so favourably. Both of our families were extremely diverse but this didn’t mean that we were going to exploit this fact, or should it? don’t worry I wasn’t about to print out masses of photos of my very cute mixed race nephews and place them strategically around the house. I did have a photo of Nelson Mandela in the kitchen but that was because I got to meet him once when I was in South Africa and he was one of my Hero’s.

I had grown up in London and attended a convent school in Battersea where I had experienced first hand how racist some individuals could be.

We knew that in an ideal world yes of course it would be preferable that the child grow up with people from the same ethnic mix, but if you don’t have any people from that background willing to adopt, what are you going to do? Leave the child in foster care, which can be uncertain, or allow them the chance to be adopted in to a new family regardless of the colour of the prospective adopters skin.

We knew that adopting a black child would come with a different set of challenges, and we had talked about this at great length. We told them that we were determined to nurture a strong ethnic identity in him as we believed that this will boost his resilience so that in the future when he does come across any discrimination and any form of racism and let’s face it sadly he will, he will be better equip to deal with it.

They looked around the house and after 2 hours they got ready to go. I showed them out of the house and just as they were leaving one of the social workers turned to me and said.

‘I came her today to tell you no, but now I’ve changed my mind. Can you write a letter and stating all the reasons why you want to adopt this child, speak from the heart.’

‘Yes of course.’

‘If you can do that today and send it over, we will let you know by the end of next week.’

As soon as they left I looked at my social worker, she had a smile on her face, which was rare.

‘That went as well as it could have done, they liked you.’

As soon as she left I got to work on the letter, I wanted his social worker to have it the following day, as I knew that we had been the last couple to be interviewed and they would be sitting down in the next few days to make their recommendation. I drafted it and then gave it to Lee so he could add his thoughts.

The next week was hard, I felt good about the interview but we had felt positive about the first meeting we’d had all those months ago and look how that turned out. I didn’t want to allow my self to get too hopeful but I really wanted them to choose us! But there was always an outside chance that they might decide he would be better suited to another family. I kept looking at his photo, I imagined him walking around our house, playing in the garden, sleeping in his bed. I wanted this to happen more than I’d wanted anything in my whole life! But what if is was a no. What would we do then?

 

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