Our first night together. We gave him his dinner, put him in the bath which he loved! We splashed around for ages, it was such a joy to see him sitting in our bathtub! We just wanted him to feel secure. Imagine leaving the only person you have ever known since birth and who has been your everything for the best part of two years, to be handed over to relative strangers. I cannot imagine how these little people cope with that.
We had been given a cot, so that’s where he was going to sleep. Looking back now and considering that he never really slept in it, because the foster mother let him sleep with her. I think we should have rethought that. So many voices!
“He’s only 19mth he needs to be in a cot” “Don’t let him into your bed you’ll never get him out!” People love telling you what to do!
There was so much going on if we’d had the time to think about it, which we really didn’t it would have been much better to put him in a toddler bed. The thought hadn’t even entered my mind.
When we put him into that cot he looked surprised, we read him a story but he wouldn’t go to sleep. After about an hour he drifted off but not for long. BANG! It gave me a start, he came flying out of his room, I grabbed him pulled him close to me. I could feel his tiny heart beating like a drum. I think I was up most of the night. I held him in my arms rocking him, but every time I put him down he’d wake up. I had nowhere to sit in the room so I perched on the window sill. I held him for hours in the dead of night. He didn’t cry but he didn’t sleep either. My arms were numb I was so tired but I didn’t want to put him down so I just rocked him. The morning came I felt so exhausted and our Son was just bouncing around like he’d been asleep all night. He was hyper due to the lack of sleep.
I had a list of food that the foster mother had said he would eat. I tried him on lots of different stuff but he just would eat it. He wasn’t drinking much milk anymore but drank lots of water and apple juice. He was always asking for a drink, which meant he went through his nappies so quickly. His energy was boundless, we made sure that straight after breakfast we took him out for a walk to get some air, feed the ducks, go to the park. He was always very happy outside.
The rule is that when you first bring your child home you shouldn’t have anyone else in your house for 2 weeks. I understand that you need to bond with your child but when we went outside we would meet people. So strangers were meeting him for the first time instead of the people who really mattered. Stay in your house and get settled. Stay in the house for two weeks! To me that was insane! Our Son wanted to go out, he would get his shoes and make for the door. So we didn’t invite anyone over in those 2 weeks. I felt very isolated by this and as the time went on the not sleeping for me turned into not eating and it all seemed to go downhill. I felt really unwell. He wasn’t eating properly and he was up 8/9 times a night. I would be with him holding him hoping that he would finally give in and go to sleep.
After the two weeks passed I felt completely disorientated I was now unable to sleep, once I put him to bed I would lie there tense waiting for him to wake up, which he did. I felt so alone there with him in the dead of night unable to help him sleep. Sleep deprivation hinders your ability to rationalize. The nights were long and the days were fraught and exhausting due to the lack of sleep coupled with no apatite. I begin to feel like I was failing, I spoke to Lee, I said: “I don’t feel right, something’s wrong we need to call the social workers”. So that’s what we did. What happened next will stay with me for the rest of my life!
Two of them came to the house, two social workers, one of which we had never met before. They interviewed us separately, Lee played with our Son in the garden whilst they talked to me and then we swapped. I remember looking at his little face in the garden I was swinging him around but I could hardly lift him I just felt completely whipped out. I just needed some rest.
They said that they were going to go back to the office and they would have a meeting the following afternoon and decide what needs to be done.
The next day we were feeding the ducks it was around 10am when I got a call, she said “pack his things we’re coming to get him in an hour”. Lee and I were just flawed by this, they said they were going to have a meeting, how could they have had the meeting? They left us at 4pm the day before, so when had this decision been made? On the way to the bus stop! I can’t remember a lot about that meeting but I do remember asking if I could have some respite, could the Foster Mother come and help. The stress of the process compounded by the delay in the introductions, deprived of sleep lack of food, I was completely spent. I couldn’t think straight. All I could think about was his needs and in the effort to make sure he had everything I’d failed to look after my self.
My friend says that Mother’s are like ships if the ship goes down, everyone goes down with it. That’s what it felt like. If we’d been allowed to have our friends and family around I don’t think this would have happened.
The Foster Mother turned up, she had no idea why she been asked to take him. We had to pack all his little things, it was the most heartbreaking moment I have ever been through. He looked at the Foster Mother a little confused. We tried to get all his things into the car but it was not possible. I wanted him to have all his things around him. None of the social workers was there. I will never forget the image of him leaving, getting into the car and driving away. The physical pain I felt was overwhelming.
The next few hours were chaos! Our social worker turned up just as he was leaving. No one had called her and told her what was going on. After the car drove away she said and this is true.
“The likelihood of anyone else adopting him is slim”
I felt sick, my head was spinning what just happened. She left, Lee and I just sat on the floor and cried, we were howling, the sounds that came out of us made me feel scared. It was like someone had died. We cried for hours. I was so upset that some of his little things didn’t make it into the car we called a cab and Lee put the rest of his stuff into the cab so he would have them. We found out a few days later that the cab driver never delivered his precious things, he took the money but he never made the delivery. I have no idea what he did with all the stuff. Lee called the cab company to complain, they said he’d gone awol. It made me feel so angry that some of his little things had been lost, never to be seen again, it broke my heart! I have cursed that piece of shit so many times it still makes me mad to this day. I have no idea how someone could be so callous as to not deliver a little boys toys and baby things, Scum!
After having not slept properly for weeks I succumbed to pure exhaustion and fell asleep but when I woke the nightmare started again. I felt sick as soon as I woke up, I looked at my self in the mirror and couldn’t believe what I saw. I looked gaunt, my trousers were too big, I could see I’d lost weight, I didn’t care I felt hollow. Now because I’d had some sleep I began to rationalize what had happened. My survival instinct kicked straight in. I tried to assemble all the stuff that had just happened in my head. None of it made sense. I called some of my family and friends they were aghast. Lee and I felt like we were grieving. I called our social worker. She asked me how I was? Stupid question! She said that they had handled in very badly. They should have called her, she knew nothing of what had been planned. She felt that they had broken protocol as they should have informed her. They had told her that it was not a child protection issue so removing him as they did in under 24 hrs was not the best thing for either party especially the child. I agreed and then she said.
“It’s very unlikely you will ever see him again”.
I lost all my breath at this point and felt so dizzy I had to stop and sit on a wall. I was devastated by this, knowing that he was in the world but without us was more than I could bear to even contemplate.
“Why why couldn’t they have come back with you?”I said
“I don’t know but I would like to know what the reasons were, why did they do this so abruptly? I will call them?”
I went home I sat in his room and I wrote an email to the social workers responsible for removing him.
It became quite clear to me that due to a series of events that had happened along the way: the miscarriage, the ectopic pregnancy, the delay in getting our Son had really affected me. Compounded by the 2 weeks with little or no sleep, lack of food. I was either suffering from Post-adoption depression or my anxiety was so heightened that I could not process what was going on and make sense of it. However due to the fact that since having had some sleep I was very quickly able to unravel the situation and go into fight mode. So my conclusion was that, had I had Post-adoption depression, I wouldn’t have been able to snap back so quickly and action a plan to get him back.
The fight begins! One that I was never going to give up!