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You had me at Hello!

 

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Introductions

So it was decided that the introductions should start. We had a time-table from the previous planning meeting, so the next day we drove over the foster mothers house to begin. It felt good but I was already feeling tired all the waiting had taken its toil.

He was very engaged with us from the beginning, I think that’s why I was so drawn to him, his eyes were alive and expressive and his smile was just infectious.

We spent the first few days just playing and getting to know him. As the days passed we gradually took on more of the care giving roles nappy changing and feeding. I was used to  napping changing as I had been around children my whole life. Lee had not but he just rolled his sleeve’s up and got on with it. I will never forget the first time I changed him, I thought he would resist and wriggle around, he didn’t he just kept completely still, looked into my eyes and smiled I was totally in love with him already.

We took him to the park and we realized what a joy it was for him to get out of the house and run free. You could see he had boundless energy and clearly loved being outside. Eventually we got to bathe and put him to bed. We’ll when I say put him to bed, that was not exactly what happened. The foster-mother used to let him fall asleep in front of the TV, and then transferred him from the sofa to the cot up stairs. I was not impressed by this as I felt like it was a really bad habit to allow any child to end the day this way. I thought it was lazy! Foster parents were supposed to be getting the children into good routines so that when they moved on the their adoptive placement these routines could be mirrored enabling the child to settle and feel secure. She told us that he often gets up in the night and comes downstairs and lies on the couch. That’s why the room was very minimal. If he got up and went in to the foster mothers room she said that she would just put him in with her, instead of putting him back in his cot.

One day while we were there, he picked up one of the dinning room chairs and proceeded to throw it on the floor, I got up and tried to explain to him that this was not a safe thing to do but was interrupted by the foster-mother who said.

‘My house my rules, once he’s with you, then you can have your say.’

I was a little taken a back by this, surely as an adult no matter what your relationship to the child, letting a child throw furniture around was a bad example to set. He also liked to swing on the curtains which looked like great fun! I mean what child doesn’t love to swing on the curtains! Again she said nothing.

Introductions are an essential part of this process but I think they’re hard on all parties. The foster family has strangers in the their house everyday for two plus weeks. The adoptive parents have to try to bond with the child whilst being in an unfamiliar space and emotions are heightened as there’s a lot at stake. We had the agenda outlined by the social workers, we had our expectation and the foster family has their way of doing things and the two aren’t necessarily aligned.

About a week into introductions it was scheduled that we would take him out for the afternoon for a few hours, so we took him to the local shopping mall. Neither Lee nor I are big fans of these kinds on places but because of the weather, it was all that was available. We took him for lunch, he looked so sweet sitting in the high chair eating his food. He was so good, no crying, no calling for the foster-mother. It was as if he was taking us out not the other way around. He was very confident and secure in our company.

After we’d eaten we walked him around the department store. Lee had seen that his wellies needed to be replaced and he really wanted to buy him a new pair. We went to the kids department and our little man spotted the wellies he wanted right away. He grabbed one foot from the shelf and proceeded to push his foot inside it, even though it was the wrong size. We found him the right size and then he wouldn’t take them off, so we had to go to the till with just the tag in hand. The assistant thought he was just adorable in his new Gruffalo wellies and of course we couldn’t take our eyes off him.

As I looked down to admire him I could see that his nappy was looking a very strange shape, so off to the toilet we went.

When I took the nappy off it was everywhere, so I took everything thing off cleaned him up and we headed back to the car park as it was time to return him to the foster-mother.

The following day we got to bath our little man assist in the dinner routine. He was very happy for us to do that. When I look back there was never anytime that he objected to us doing any of these things. I was shocked at the amount of food she was feeding him. Two slices of white bread, 5 fish fingers and what looked like half a tin of beans. He was only 20 months old.

The day after he would be coming to visit our house for the first time. I was really excited to see his reaction to his room. The foster- mother drove him over to us, her daughter came with her as it was half term. They stayed for a little while and then they left the house leaving us all alone. He was up and down the stairs and then straight into his room. He looked at the cot, and all the other things that we had put in the room. He was more interested in the stairs and of course the garden. Our cat was not the most approachable but she stood still long enough for  him to get a quick stroke and he was thrilled to have a cat. At this point I had no idea whether he was actually processing any of this information. He just seemed happy to explore and have us with him. Looking back his lack of interest in the cot made a lot of sense.

Finally the day came to bring him home. We had brought quite a lot of his stuff home with us over the previous few days. We’d agreed that we’d get there just after lunch. The foster-mother gave us the last few bits. We put him in the car and said our goodbyes, she ran quickly back into the house, we drove off. I’m not sure if he really understood that he was coming home with us for good. As we drove away I kept looking in the rear view mirror, he was sitting so calming, watching everything out of the window, the sun was beaming, he looked so angelic, we drove towards home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eleventh Hour

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We’d talked about taking a holiday before introductions started but Lee was working, so I arranged to go away for a week with my sister to prepare me for the coming months ahead. It was Friday we were flying home in a few hours. I was just reading the last few pages of my book when the phone rang it was our social worker, I was a little surprised to see it was her.

‘Can you hear me?’

‘Yes, is everything OK?’

‘No, I am sorry to tell you this but you will not be meeting him on Monday.’

‘WHAT! why?’

‘The blood tests have not been completed.’

She was referring to the tests that were agreed should be done over two months ago. As they had not been completed and the results available we could not start introductions.

‘It’s all going to have to be postponed.’ she said

‘How long?’

‘Another month.’

I was shaking I told my sister she was speechless. I was in complete disbelief, I called Lee and he was furious. How could this have happened there was plenty of time to get this organised, it was just total incompetence. I arrived home from my holiday more stressed out than when I’d left. I had cancelled all my work and Lee had freed up his schedule so that he would be around for the whole of the first two weeks once we had brought him home. Social workers have no understanding of self-employed people it’s so hard to keep everything going when you have to turn down work unnecessarily. It was supposed to be a happy time now it just felt tainted. I grew suspicious, was there something they were not telling us? I didn’t trust these people one bit, not after the experience we had had the year before when they told us to get our room ready and then decided to give the child to another couple. It happens a lot apparently.

Lee and I were so unhappy about this and I really resented the way this had affected our emotions. Then out of the blue I got a call from the foster-mother.

She was so frustrated that they had cocked this up and I think she was worried about the little one because she had been getting him ready to meet us. She invited us to meet him before they went on their holiday. Or course we jumped at the chance to meet him so we arranged to go along in two days time, we all agreed that we would not inform the social workers.

The morning we drove over to her house I remember feeling really happy, not nervous or apprehensive. It all felt really good.

I will never forget the first time we saw him. She opened the door and he was hiding behind her dress.

“Look it’s Mummy and Daddy”

It felt pretty weird being called that considering that we’d never even met before. We had given the foster-mother the butterfly book. This book is specially designed for the introductions process. It has a voice recording facility so that the child can get used to hearing your voice. We filled the book with photos of us our house, his new room, Betty the cat, so that he could see where this all was before we took him there. She had been getting him to look at the book everyday for the last two weeks in order to familiarize him with his new surrounding and of course they used Mummy and Daddy when referring to us so that he would do the same. We had also given them a Rabbit called Biggie. My lovely neighbour who was a fashion designer helped me make it.

She took us into the front room where we sat down and just let him take a look at us and then he came out from behind her and after about 10 minutes he took an apple from the fruit bowl and started eating it. He then came over to Lee and handed it to him to take a bite, I could see that Lee was blown away by this. Not long after that he was sitting between my legs on the couch. He was such a beautiful little boy and I totally fell in love with him. I felt like I knew him, it was the same as when I saw his photo for the first time. Someone once told me that children pick their parents even before they’re born.

Then the foster-mother said something that I will never forget.

‘Are you happy with him?

‘He’s incredible!’

‘Good, I am so relieved!’

I was sort of shocked by that.

‘Why did you ask that?’

‘It’s not always the case I have had couples come in the past and then leave and change their minds.’

‘What, but they’ve already been matched?’

‘It doesn’t matter, people change their minds, sometimes they see the child and then they realize that they can’t go through with it.’

This had never occurred to me and no one mentioned this on the course.

We said our goodbyes and as we got back into the car Lee turned to me and said.

‘That’s your Son right?’

‘Yes he is!’

We drove home, now we could get the room ready! Off to Ikea!!! I’d seen some really cute quilt sets on-line, one had a little woodland scene, I though it would be perfect seeing as we lived very close to Richmond park.

Lee didn’t seem in the mood when we got to Ikea. We argued a bit, such a cliché! Considering where we were. Buying a duvet cover is a serious business!

We bought some other things to fill the room, a rug with a racing track on it, some wooden toys and a stool so that he could reach the sink. It felt very surreal shopping for this little guy we’d only just met.

The next few weeks we just got on with our daily lives. I tried not to worry but it was still stressful as the test results might raise something. I wasn’t worried but I knew that Lee has some trepidation. I was adamant that it would matter to me, but what if there was something that showed up?

Finally the test results came through, nothing detected he was absolutely fine. To think we could have had him come home with us weeks ago. I was still really angry that this had occurred, all due to the fact that people were so incompetent. In a few days time we would be starting our Introductions and at the end of that time, he would be coming home with us forever!

 

The Decision

ask-blackboard-356079The phone rang I could see from the number it was our social worker. My stomach turned over, what if it was a no? I wasn’t quite sure what we’d do. This was either going to be a perfect moment, one of those heart stopping euphoric moments or it was just going to be our very own ground zero, dropped into the ibis where we would drown in the pointlessness.

‘Hello’ I said in a tiny voice.

‘Are you together?’

‘Yes’ Leigh was in the garage.

‘Well…….its good news they’ve chosen you!’

The hair on my arms stood on end, I really needed her to say it again.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes they just called. Congratulations! I am going to see when we can get a date for matching panel, I will call you once I have sorted the first available date’.

I walked onto the garage and looked at Leigh, he was fixing one of his motorbikes. He looked up.

‘So?’

‘They chose us!’

“Wow! that’s great!’

I had to call  some of my friends and family. Of course we had to be approved by the matching panel, but I had heard from Sandy that they wouldn’t take you to any panel if they didn’t think you were going to be accepted. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

She called a few days later and said that she had got a date for panel it was 10 days from now. She would prepare all the relevant documents and we would just have to be ready for any questions they would throw at us.

Matching Panel

The day came we drove to Southwark and parked the car, the sun was shinning it was a glories day, I felt really good.

We were asked to wait in one of the small meeting rooms, we were not the only family going to panel that day.

We saw a couple walking down the corridor; the energy was jubilant, it made me feel reassured.

“Ok it’s time to go in” said our social worker.

It was the same room we had been in when we were approved as adopters. There were about 9 people on the panel they all introduced themselves and the questions began.

How did we find the process?

What have we done to prepare for the role of adoptive parents and the changes it will bring to our lives?

How much time are we taking off to be with the child?

Why him?

How will you address the differences between you and him and make him aware of his culture?

Finally they asked all the social workers present is there other paper work or legal matters that need to be taken care of in order for this match to go ahead?

I remember them all say a resounding NO.

We left the room and then had to wait for them to make their final decision. It didn’t take long, the gentleman chairing the panel came out and gave us the news.

“It is with great pleasure that I inform you that this match had been approved, you can now go off and start your family”

Lee and I hugged, I cried, it was over, he was our child we could now prepare for him to come home with us.

After everything had settled down we all went back in to the small room where we had a planning meeting, they gave us a timetable for when the introductions would start. The Foster Mother had booked a holiday so they were going to go on that and then once she returned we would start our introductions. So we were looking at 3 weeks!!!!

We went home told all of our family, friends and neighbor’s and we had a little informal party out of  the back of Lee’s garage, it was very touching to see how pleased everyone was. After all this time, was this really going to happen? Now we would have to get the room ready!!!!! We were going to be bringing a little boy home. I hope he likes us!

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?

 

I want this one?

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A New Year

I stared looking at the adoption websites and made a couple of enquiries, no one called me back. I rang again and again until finally I got a very rude women who said ‘That one’s gone.’ Nice choice of language! had I been ordering a washing machine it would have been fitting, but describing a child? Why was he still on the website then! January was my least favorite month and I was beginning to feel doomed.

After a few weeks I saw a little boy on be my parent, I looked at him everyday for a week until I finally had enough courage to show him to Lee.

‘He’s a crack baby.’

‘I know, but he’s doing well!’

‘We said no drugs or alcohol!’

‘Yes I know but I’ve been watching him on the video and he seems like a really lovely child, can we at least find out a bit more about him?’

Lee reluctantly agreed so I called our social worker and she made the enquiry. The child’s family finder was happy to meet with us. I felt good; perhaps this would lead to what we’d been working towards for such a long time.

So once again I cleaned the house from top to bottom we’d had people over for lunch the day before and the recycling bin was full of wine bottles so I moved that out of sight, I didn’t want them to think that we were drinkers, we weren’t but they looked at everything, someone told me that they ask to use your toilet and then go through your bathroom cabinet.

It didn’t start well; I could see from the start that the child’s social worker didn’t like Lee. She cut him off in the middle of his sentences and at one point they got in to what can only be described as an argument. He wouldn’t back down and it became really obvious that we were not going to get this child. I felt hopeless, what was the point of all this? I was really angry with Lee, what was he doing? They had obviously taken an instant dislike to each other, no point in going any further.

Once they’d left our social worker sat in silence for a few minutes and then said.

‘You really need to think about whether you want to go any further with this.’

How long was this going to go on, I felt exhausted, our social worker left, she was not impressed with the way Lee behaved you could see that.

I went up stairs to the bedroom and lay down on the bed. After about 5 minutes Lee came up and lay down next to me. I was so angry I wanted to hit him, but instead of that I said.

‘I want a divorce.’

He looked stunned; I didn’t need to explain why. This process was hard enough with out witnessing his behavior over the last hour.

‘I am so sorry, but she didn’t like me and this was never going to go the way we wanted it to.’

“Nothing’s going the way we want it to!” I yelled.

“She was not going to give us that child!”

‘I don’t care, you could have just held your tongue, you don’t really want this. I have had to drag you all the way, I can’t do it any more, I’m done, I don’t expect to be sabotaged by my own husband, let’s just call a day, I’ve had enough, I can’t do it any more.’

We sat in silence for quite sometime and then I got up and went down stairs.

I looked around the house, was this it? What was the point? Fighting to try to get a child, why was it so hard! It felt like I was drowning, slowly sinking. Maybe it was just not going to happen. Was now the time to give up? This New Year felt just like the old one. Maybe we should just give up.

 

Keep em coming

IMG_0313We 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?

 

 

Child Profiling Event

IMG_0432So now that we were approved we could start looking for a child. Our profile would be put on a national register which meant that agencies all over the country could see it and approach us if they felt that we were a suitable match for any of the children in their care.

We were invited to a profiling event this is where selected children are filmed and shown to the prospective adopters. An information pack is given to you regarding each child so you can read their background before seeing them on the screen.

As I held the pack in my hand I was really hoping that there would be a least one child that we might feel some connection to.  I slowly looked through the profiles and I saw a little boy who really made me smile. He was not the first child to be shown but when his little face appeared on the screen I was sure I wanted to know more about him.

After the screening if you wanted more information on any of the children you could go and speak with the foster career and social worker, they were sat at individual tables, with the child’s photo in the centre, foster career and social worker on either side. Some children had people queuing up, other tables sat in silence wondering why they bothered coming in the first place.

Lee and I agreed that we should find out more about this little boy so I called our social worker over and discussed this with her. She looked at me with what I can only describe as an exasperated look; she then pulled me to one side and said.

How about this one?’

Pointing to a completely different child which I thought was a little odd.

‘No, we want to find out more about this little boy.’

‘I think that you should at least consider this one.’

What was she doing, we weren’t buying a sofa! “No we don’t have this one, but this one is very similar, made in the same factory.’

‘Can we at least talk to the foster Mother about this one?’

She pulled us over to a corner of the room.

‘Ok, when you attended the course did they ever talk about a little boy who was named Master Lucifer Demon?’

‘Yes.’

‘Well that’s him!’

‘What?’

‘It’s him!’

‘So we’d change his name, we’d still like to know more about him.”

‘Both his parents have schizophrenia, so I am advising you to walk away.’

I looked at Lee, he was shaking his head in disbelief. I felt sick. My brother suffers with this and having grown up with it I was under no illusions, this was something that I was not prepared to take on. It was devastating, the guilt I felt for not having the courage to do this.

After that blow we sat and listened to adopted parents talking about their experiences and some of the challenges they had faced. One of the women who had adopted 3 children was talking about the baby that had recently joined her family.

‘I think it’s important to use the word adopted from the word go, so that it’s part of their vocabulary when they’re growing up. He a very chubby baby and I can’t resist blowing raspberries on his tummy, and as I do it I say, who’s adopted, who’s adopted, you are, yes you are!’

Lee and I just looked at each other in horror, then we both looked at our social worker who was rolling her eyes.

Apparently you are supposed to use the word adopted from the moment you bring your child home, but I’d like to think that when the time came we would deliver it with a bit more finesse.

We left that day feeling deflated, I had hoped, well I had the fantasy that first child we saw would be the one for us, but that was a ridiculous notion.

A few weeks later our social worker sent us the profile of a little red-headed boy. Lee and I really wanted to know more about him so our social worker contacted his family finder and we waited.

A week later I got a phone call from our social worker, she said.

‘They’re not going to meet with you as they don’t think you’re suitable.’

I was furious how dare they make that assumption when they hadn’t even met us. I wanted to know why.

‘Why, what reason did they give?’

‘They don’t have to give a reason, they’re not going to meet with you.’

Now I was really MAD!! How are we expected to improve our chances if we are not told the reasons why they have deemed us to be so unsuitable. When I told Lee he went ballistic. I had not seen this coming. This was not going the way I had imagined, how naïve, I felt so stupid and hopeless, I could feel that Lee was really starting to get frustrated with this process. We would just have to keep looking.