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The Aftermath

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I began to rationalise 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 had in less than 24 hrs was not the best thing to do especially for the child. I agreed and then she said.

“It’s very unlikely you will ever see him again”.

I lost my breath I felt so dizzy I had to stop and sit on a wall. I sat paralysed. I had been here before, in this state of nothingness powerless, dropped into a void.  A call telling me my Sister had committed suicide. My hearing seemed to shut down, the light grew dim.  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 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 in to fight mode. So my conclusion was that had I had Post adoption depression, I would not have been able to snap back so quickly and action a plan to get him back.

The pain I was feeling was indescribable I could not get his little face out of my mind. I missed his smell, his voice, his little hand in mine. His nosey footsteps on the wood floors. I really didn’t know what to do. Our social worker had been trying to get Southwark on the phone but they just stonewalled us.

“What are you hoping to achieve?’ she said

“I want a meeting with them, I want to see them face to face and I want them to tell us why they decided to rip us all apart so quickly.”

I could tell she was not that convinced that any of this was going to happen.

I was going to see him again! We were going to get him back and I was not going to take no for an answer.

I was so frustrated and angry, I went to see my doctor, she listened and you could see from the reaction on her face that she was pretty shocked. She looked at me and said

“I am so sorry that you have had to go through this! I can offer you some antidepressants but if you are trying to get him back it might not look very favourably if they ask for your latest medical records.”

I’m not going to lie the thought had crossed my mind, but I was not depressed I was angry really angry. The anxiety had gone so what was the point. I really did appreciate her consideration. She offered to refer me to a counsellor I declined as the waiting list was probably going to take far too long I needed someone now.

I went home and I decided to contact Adoption UK. I got a lady who once she’d heard the story recommended that I call CAMS. Tell them you really need to see someone and you need to do it now.

It was probably about a week later after still not having any contact with Southwark that we got our first appointment with a counsellor. Our social worker backed the decision.

Now I am not a fan of shrinks, my Sister was a regular visitor and it seemed to do her more harm than good, she committed suicide.

I know that if we had any chance of getting him back we had to be proactive. Find the reason behind my tipping point.

Lee and I went together she was a nice enough woman. We had an hour, going over what happened, it was horrible having to say it all out loud again. She looked exactly like the Doctor had, shocked and point blank said that she had never heard of a case like this before. Seeing as it wasn’t a child protection issue, why didn’t they just get us some help instead ripping him out like that so abruptly? It was sounded more and more to me like a completely unsupported decision a knee jerk reaction, they had not thought it through and certainly not considered him and how this would affect him long term. She also said that she knew of a family that were going through a difficult time but they had been given support and the child was still in placement. They were given daily help to get them over this difficult period. I was glad to hear that they were getting help but why the F didn’t we get offered some support!

I remember leaving the first session feeling really angry that they hadn’t given us more constructive support. Now what? The counsellor said that we would be eligible to have 6 or 7 more sessions and that she would like to see us separately as well as together. That made me a little suspicious!

I told anyone who would listen. We went about our daily business but all I could think about was our Son, wondering what he was doing now. How was he feeling? Was he asking for us? My heart was breaking I just wanted to see him and hold him tight! Had they allowed him to stay with the same Foster-mother or had they moved him on to someone else? I kept hearing his little voice.

After the three weeks of being stonewalled by Southwark I called our social worker again. She said she’d heard nothing. I was so frustrated, I felt like going down there, but that would only have made things worse.

I decided to write to Zac Goldsmith he was our MP. I sent him an email and I got a phone call the following day from one of his assistants. He was very sympathetic and asked me to tell him the whole story. I was on the phone with him for about twenty minutes and then he made us an appointment for the following week to see Zac at his office in Sheen.

In the meantime we waited not knowing what was going to happen. When would we see him? Would we ever see him again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Floored!

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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!

 

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 mother’s house to begin. It felt good but I was already feeling tired all the waiting had taken its toll.

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 caregiving roles nappy changing and feeding. I was used to nappy 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 upstairs. 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 to 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 dining 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 aback 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 their house every day 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 of 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 kid’s 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 and 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 rearview 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.