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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.

The Interrogation

 

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Once our application had been processed we were assigned a social worker. We were allocated a women who had the reputation of getting the preliminary process done fast. She came to our house once a week for 2 plus hours to talk about us about our life style, family, friends, attitudes, education, and reasons for wanting to adopt. Sometimes she would interview us as a couple and sometimes individually.

We had to give her the names of specific friends and family to be interviewed in person and Lee had to go to Scotland Yard to have his finger prints taken, they were then sent to the FBI in order to check that he wasn’t on Americas most wanted. They wrote to our accountant, asked about life insurance prodded our smoke alarms took a long hard look at our book shelves and checked that we had no morris dancing outfits in our wardrobe.

Now this is a very intrusive process especially when it comes to previous partners. The last woman who Lee lived with was a stripper last seen on a pole in a club called Shot Gun Willies’s somewhere in the state of Colorado. How in the hell were they going to track her down. My last boyfriend was MIA, probably living in one of her majesties hotels, trading bitcoin from his cell. I understand why they have to be so rigorous in their investigations but what if you are not on good terms with your ex and you don’t want them know that you are about to embark on this process? I guess it’s just tough!

After months of interviews and questions our PAR (Prospective adopters report) was completed and emailed to us to read and check before we went to the approval panel this would also eventually be sent out nation wide to all adoption agencies to in order for us to find and be matched with a child.

The report was sent to us by our social worker via email  at 11.55pm.

I opened it and read through all the information gathered about me. There were a few minor discrepancies which I changed but the rest was true and correct. Some lovely things had been written about me by my family and friends and of course the social worker had given her opinion on why she thought we would make good candidates for adoption.

It’s a really long document so I took a quick break before I started to read Lee’s part. Everything looked ok until I got to the part about his college years. I could not believe what I was reading. It stated that he liked to experiment sexually and that one summer joined the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transvestite society on campus and attended several conferences. She was also a member of their club in town.

Lee’s a Comedian and I know that sometimes he can be pretty controversial but he also knew how much this meant to me so I did not think for minute that he had made this up to mess with their heads. It’s then that it became patently obvious that our social worker had mixed up our applications and had copied and pasted the wrong information into two different applications. Isn’t that a violation of data protection? So I called her the following morning and after a long silence this was her response.

“ Oh he didn’t like that bit……….Well you can see what time I sent it”

I was looking for an apology, but instead I got an excuse. She ended the conversation and then called me back immediately.

“Can you send it back to me right now!”

I was a little confused by this request, this document existed it was out there, it wasn’t as if she’d sent me a hard copy through the post, she had it in her sent box, I had it in my in my in box. So I did what she asked and I sent it back, but it was a bit too late as I had already sent it to Lee for his approval. He was working away, I called to warn him, he was so mad! He went into the make changes facility in the document and wrote WHAT THE FUCK! all over it and then sent it to her. If I had been responsible for doing something like that I would have been mortified. She didn’t seem to think it warranted an apology I found that astounding. It wasn’t the content of this miss placed information that shocked me but the couldn’t give a shit attitude. We were perfectly within our rights to make a formal complaint, but  I decided not to, I wanted to keep her on board, I didn’t want to create any animosity we needed her to fight our corner. So she went away and replaced it with the information that was supposed to be there and we approved it. Our social worker then booked the first available date to go to approval panel.

Going to panel was painless, we had already been told that it was a formality and that they wouldn’t be taking us to panel if they didn’t think we were going to be approved, no point. So we sat and answered their questions there were about 8 people in the room made up of people from varies aspects of adoption. Once we had answered all their questions they voted, they all voted yes, what a relief! All we had to now was to find a little human.

 

Adoption Course

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Whilst I was waiting for my result from the embryo adoption, a very old friend called me and said

“Look I am sure it will work but if it doesn’t one of the Mum’s at Holly’s school is a social worker and I told her about you and she said that she can get you a baby.”

As I recovered from the surgery I remembered what my friend had said so I called her.

“Mandy will sort you out, give her a call, you’ll have to go to one of those information evenings, but she said if you apply through her borough she can oversee your case and get you a baby without any problems.” she said.

Could we really get this lucky?

“All that crap about there’s no babies, it’s a lie! call her”

I spoke to Lee, after the last experience he was reluctant but I persuaded him and we put our names down for the information event.

The day arrived, my friend had told us not to mention or make it obvious that we had been introduced via a friend, they’re weird about that sort of stuff she said. Now we had never met her in person, we just had a description, Mandy was easy to find as they all had name badges on. There were lots of tables with information on them and social worker’s taking the details from interested couples. It was fairly painless compared to the last one we went to. we just had to wait now for someone to contact us.

A few weeks later we got a call from one of the social works arranging to come and see us in our home. The date was fixed we were going on holiday the following day so it felt good that something was happening before we left.

I cleaned the house from top to bottom. God we had a lot of crap! Lee’s office was worse than mine perhaps we could skip showing her that room.

I remember a friend telling me about someone she knew who was thinking of adopting, they had the home visit and were turned down because they had a pond and they didn’t like their windows. I was a little worried as Lee was a Stand Up Comedian and I was an Actress/Comedian/jack of all trade’s, not sure what they were going to make of that. Being self-employed could be an issue. So I had a quick look at the criteria and was really surprised to see that they had relaxed it since the last time I looked a few years ago. They had changed the age limit and you didn’t even need to be in employment.

She looked around the house asked us some obvious questions. She wrote in her book a lot and talked about a course that we would have to go on if we were going to be considered as prospective adopters. A four-day course, Lee’s face dropped, I gave him a look. The September course was happening while we were on holiday, but they were running another one in December, but she was concerned that I had not had enough time between that and my ectopic pregnancy. I tried to reassure her that we were ready, she said that she would consult with the rest of the social workers on the team and get back to us, but she felt that it might be better for us to wait another year. She left and I was disappointed but hopeful that we would get a place on the next course. If we waited another year we would be too old, feel too old at least.

Whilst away on holiday I got a message from my friend saying that there was some objection to us being put on the December course. However that had been over ruled by Mandy who had insisted we be invited to attend. So we had insider information, was this orthodox? Probably not, did I care? I am going to say this loud so you can hear me………………… NO! Because for once we had someone in our corner and it felt good.

December came around really quickly.

Lee flew back from America the night before so was sleep deprived. It was snowing so I drove part of the way. There were 4 couples on the course, we had to do the introduction games as you would expect on one of these courses. I remember one of the social workers running the session got the instructions to the exercise wrong confusing the whole group, I put it down to nerves.

They talked about the process. Interviewing family and friends and any previous partners that you had lived with, which again horrified the majority of people in the room. Financial investigations would be done criminal checks, finger prints, your whole life up to this point would be scrutinized and you would have to talk about your past no matter how painful that might be. One guy kept shaking his head and said

“What if I don’t want to talk about all that stuff?”

One particular social worker (who I was growing to dislike) said “Well you better get used to the idea because we have to look into everything!”

I over heard this particular social worker talking to one of her colleagues in the break, she said

“That couple are not right for adoption, they always touching each other.”

I walked into the room unexpectedly another time and caught her talking about Lee, “He thinks he knows everything”

How can you judge people so harshly when you have known them for such a short amount of time?

I later got a text message which read:

“Tell Lee to rein it in!”

I was told that evening by my friend that they had been talking about him upstairs, Mandy overheard, hence the text. He had just challenged them on a few things and I don’t think they liked it.

That afternoon they shared some case studies with us. The picture was bleak, they talked of children who hit, bit and threw stuff, shit! Now I don’t mean shit, as in this is terrible but actual shit.

“How often do they throw excrement? Asked the very middle class older lady with the ugly shoes.

I couldn’t believe she asked that, how could they possibly know the answer. Did she expect them to have a chart of all the London boroughs indicating where the most prolific shit throws and biter’s were.

“It’s not a common problem, but some children will display these kinds of behaviors” said the social worker.

This was the last thing that was talked about before we all left for the day, everyone left the room in silence.

“I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to come out with tomorrow” said the partner of the middle-aged women with the ugly shoes.

The next morning we were asked to work together as a couple to write down our ideal child, dream child! Is there such a thing?

“What do you want your child to look like? Think about your dream child! Write down the color of their hair, eyes, how old do you want them to be? Think about their personality.”

Did she think we had images of babies swimming towards us like in the Evian adverts!!

Lee and I just looked at each other in disbelief, we did not have an image of a child in mind, so we voiced this.

One of the social workers promptly said.

“When asked this question, some couples say that they want their adopted child to look just like them”

We thought that was nuts how can you think that you would find a child that looks exactly like you and your partner when you did not give birth to the child.

What we wrote on our piece of paper was, we want our child to be cheeky and have curly hair, as she was not going to let us get away with out writing anything. Lee put down one eye, I think he’d watched futurama the night before.

You could see the other couples around the room talking to each other quite intently and taking a lot of time to get this right, I am not belittling them in any way it’s just Lee and I did not have an ideal child in mind, we did not have a picture of what our child should look like.

So after about 15 minutes she told us to stop writing and then she said.

“Now (everyone looked up at her) are you sure you have put all your thoughts and dreams down described your child clearly so that if I read it I would have a picture in my mind of what you really want?”

Everyone nodded.

“Good now read it one more time and make sure you haven’t left anything out.”

Heads went down one more time and then she said.

“Now tear that up!”

The whole group looked at each other in bewilderment, what the hell was she asking us to do, one bloke got really angry.

“You heard me tear it up, because you are never going to get your dream child”

You could see some of the people crumble and get smaller, It was hard to witness.

They called a break, and she left the room, I could see one couple close to tears. Didn’t she understand that most of the couples in the room were all for one reason or another unable to have their own children, could she not comprehend that this was a hard pill to swallow without being told that, hey guess what the fantasy you have in your mind of a small boy or girl with the curly hair and the cheeky grin, running towards you call out Mummy, feeling their hand in yours, not going to happen!!! Fuck you bitch, guess what! No one in this room likes you, not even the people you work with, anyone can see that. I had the feeling that one couple really thought that this was a sort of fact-finding exercise regarding the child and it was going to be put into their profile and used as a blueprint when social workers were looking for a suitable match. Instead it was a very cruel reality check.

Later on as we were all standing around in silence having a cup of tea I got talking to the only single woman on the course.

“Have you subscribed to any of the publications?” she said

“No”

I knew the ones she was talking about, it was a little early for that wasn’t it?

“I’ve signed up for be my parent, I want to start looking for children now”

I was a little bit shocked, she wasn’t even approved as an adopter and she was already looking for children, insane! I looked through those magazines when we went to the first adoption evening in Wandsworth. Didn’t she know that most of those kids would be matched by the time she’d got approval, and no borough will even consider your enquiry before that.

“I saw a little boy yesterday and he’d be perfect for me he even has the same color hair”

Well that’s all sorted then. She was who the social workers were talking about when she referred to some people searching for a child who looked like exactly like them.

I had to walk away, I sort refuge in the toilet but as I entered I saw one of the other women from the course crying in front of the mirror.

“Sorry!” I felt bad for intruding.

“Sorry, I’m just so pissed off! My sister has had 3 abortions and now she pregnant again, she’s keeping this one of course!! She didn’t give a shit about kids until I wanted one, now she’s 3 months gone. She doesn’t even know who the father is, Christ! We had 5 rounds of IVF, could have done the loft with the money we’ve spent not to mention getting fired from job because allegedly I rammed into by bosses car in the car park, he said I wasn’t hitting my targets. Sorry did you need the loo? that ones blocked.”

“No, I just wanted to wash my hands”

“These social workers have got no idea who we are, they’re treating us like idiots, it just makes me laugh, all of us here seem like reasonable educated people, meanwhile there are thousands of children out there being neglected by their birth parents. How many more hoops do we have to jump through in order to prove that we’re worthy!!”

She had a point, I know that they had to do their checks but some of the stuff they were putting us through seemed a little unnecessary.

That afternoon they asked us all sorts of questions. Would we smack our non-existent children? Agree to sibling contact, letterbox contact or in some cases visits with the birth parents. Then the subject of names came up and the big debate of whether or not we would feel the need to change the child’s birth name. It felt like we were being marked against each other.

“Why would you change a child’s name?” said one of the social workers

We all sat in silence for fear of getting the answer wrong.

“As a rule we would advise that the forever family keep the child’s birth name unless it’s a security risk some names have to be changed to protect the child. Also some names are just unsuitable for a child”

“What like Derek or Tinkerbell” said one of the men in the group.

Two of the social worker’s looked at each other.

“No, like Master Lucifer Demon”

“What that’s ridiculous no one would call a child that!” said the lady with the ugly shoes

“There is a child with that name, unfortunately the registrar didn’t feel the need to challenge this so it is the child’s legal name.”

On the last day they brought in some people who were fostering and two of who had adopted children. The women next to me asked if she could see a photo of them. Every one just stared at her, had she not listened to a word being said regarding the identity of the children. It was what everyone else was thinking. They had painted such a bleak picture, we wanted to see photos to see for ourselves that there were children out there living with their adopted families and that they weren’t all face biter’s and shit throwers.

We finished a little early on the last day and they sent us away with the obligatory feedback forms and an application pack. They told us to go away and think about all the stuff we had talked about over the last week and if we felt that we would like to go ahead then we need to fill out the application form and send it in.

We were leaving on the 22nd December and I wanted to get the application form in before we left, so I talked to Lee and he said go ahead fill it in, so I did and I drove it there and handed it in myself. I wanted to know in my mind that it had actually got there. It felt like things were finally moving and that felt really really good!

PS: At the top of the page is the picture of our dream child

 

Embryo Adoption

Photo foe EDTo Spain

From an outside perspective we were just a couple going off to Spain for a long weekend. Looking back now, I don’t think I really cared what anyone else thought. I was doing this now no mater what. I was in this kind of madness, obsessed by one thing and driven by the desire to get knocked up!

We got to Spain on the Sunday afternoon some friends of ours were also there, pure coincidence, a birthday trip.  Sitting in the sun with them the day before they all drank wine while I sipped water, we all laughed and joked about how our lives would be so different in a few weeks time.

The hotel we were staying at was recommended by the clinic, it was nice enough. The morning of our appointment we sat in the breakfast area and I looked around at some of the other people sipping coffee and reading the newspaper’s. Trying to guess who else had come to here to adopt and embryo, and then surge of panic ran through me. What do you tell a child born from embryo adoption? do you just not bother? seeing as none of the donors details would be made available. Maybe I should have thought about this before now! It didn’t even occur to me.

The clinic was better than I’d expected, it felt clean and well organised, lots of people coming and going. We checked in and sat in the waiting room. One of the ladies that we’d met at the fertility fair come out to greet us, it was reassuring to see a familiar face.

“How are you?” she said

Er… actually I am suddenly having a moral crisis! to tell or not to tell? what to tell? HELL!

So do you:

  1. Not tell the child and hope that no one blurts it out? Let’s face it, one big-mouthed family member is bound let it slip. (I’m guessing Norman, AKA Brian, my eldest brother who we fondly named after the character in Psycho, only he’s far more loveable than my brother.)
  2. Tell them that you adopted them as a frozen embryo, and then show them some random pictures of good-looking Spanish couples.
  3. Run now and never have to deal with this moral and ethical dilemma. 

“Yes fine?” What else could I say. 

“Good, ok so we’re preparing everything for you so if you can take a seat and drink some water as we need you to have a full bladder to do the procedure. Please do NOT empty your bladder, we will call you once everything is set up.”

I had downed so much orange juice at the hotel my tongue was starting to swell up (greedy cow!) I already had a full bladder and needed the loo so I was hoping that it wasn’t going to take too long as I wasn’t very good at holding on. Our appointment was for 12.00 it was 11.55, so not long now.

12.35, still waiting and I was getting really uncomfortable, it didn’t help that we were sitting really close to a toilet and there was a large clock on the wall, time was dragging and I could feel myself starting to sweat. I undid my trousers. How much longer were we going to have to wait. 1.00 what was going on? I was starting to lose my nerve, when finally we were called. We had to walk outside the building and down the road a few yards to a set of automatic doors. Inside we were led to a room where I was asked to get undressed and into a hospital gown. Lee had to wear scrubs we were looking at each other in surprise. They didn’t do this at the Lister. I was then led into a sterile room and got into the chair with my legs in the stirrups. The procedure began and I was so desperate to go to the toilet it was now becoming really painful. Just as they were about to insert the catheter the nurse spoke.

“The embryos we had selected for you did not defrost properly”

“Don’t you hate it when that happens!” said Lee

We all gave his a hard stare.

“What!” said Lee

“It’s ok we always have a back up and we are going to insert those now”

“Who donated these? a couple of mutant ninja turtles!”

The nurse looked at Lee with confusion, it had been lost in translation thank God! Although he had a point they could have told us this information before I was lying with my legs in stirrups, we didn’t really have much choice at this point.

It reminded me of the time my friend went to a slimming clinic. After they’d extorted bundles of cash they handed over a minuscule packet of pills that promised to remove the fat from the food when she ate it.

As she was leaving the surgery the doctor said “Oh, a warning!”

” WHAT! AND NOW A WARNING.

“Do not eat any fat whilst taking these pills!” “What happens if you do that?” she said

“You will not get the desired results.”

She crapped herself in the changing room of British home stores. I’m pretty sure that was not her desired result. Don’t eat fat won’t get fat you TWIT!

INFORMATION UP FRONT PEOPLE!

Back to me…

After much gouging and poking they managed to get them in. Two little embryos, they showed us them on the screen. They did look a bit like turtles.

“There we are, we have placed them nice and high, so you just relax for a while and when you’re ready you can get dressed and go back to your hotel. These embryos matched the criteria, there were just a few differences”

I was a little bit concerned when she said this.

“What differences?” I said

“The female donor was younger than the last one and the male donor was taller and the eye colour was green not blue.”

“Green, are you ok with that?” said Lee

I couldn’t give a shit at this point, all I heard was that they had eyes, so great that fine! eyes are good!

I got dressed and we said goodbye, got in a cab and went back to the hotel.

Lee went out to buy us some food and I lay on the bed and tried to get my head around what had just happened. Now we just had to wait for two weeks to see if this had all been worth it.

I took it easy for the next two weeks Lee was away working for part of the time so I amused myself with the popular TV series the Wire, getting completely obsessed with “Stringer Bell” they told me after 14 days to take a blood test this would determine the result, they don’t recommend a pregnancy test with this type of procedure as it can give you an incorrect outcome.

Waiting for the result to come through was agonising, as so much was ridding on it to work.

Doctor calling

“Hello Miss O’Reilly, yes I can confirm that the result from the blood test is positive.”

“What? Does that mean I’m pregnant?”

“Yes, it means you’re pregnant………….are you still there?”

“Yes, sorry I just can’t believe it”

“Congratulations, make an appointment to come in and we can get your delivery date confirmed and look at your birthing plan”

“Thank you”

I sat on the sofa with the phone pressed against my ear for a few minutes before I was able to think about what to do next. I called Lee.

“It’s positive, I’m pregnant.”

There was silence and I heard him sigh.

“Did you hear what I said?”

“Yes.”

“Wow, you don’t sound very happy?”

“I don’t know, I’m just trying to take it in.”

The phone went dead. It was a bit of an anticlimax, was he hoping it wasn’t going to work? was he just going along with me not really thinking that this was going to be a reality.  I called one of my really good friends and she drove over to see me, she was more emotional than I was.

The next few weeks were a bit surreal, I wanted to go out and buy things but I stopped by self. I couldn’t tell too many people until I got passed the 12 weeks. I was doing things slowly and not pushing myself too much. Lee came home and we just took things one day at a time. I had a few days work and then we had the May bank holiday weekend. Sunday I started to spot, I looked it up on the Internet and some of the fertility websites talked about implantation bleeding so I was reassured at first but then the pain kick in, a bit like menstrual cramps, then bleeding got much worse. Monday morning it was clear that something was not right, so Lee took me straight to the hospital; we didn’t have to wait long. The Doctor gave me an internal and removed the rest of what ever was left of my pregnancy, I had suffered a miscarriage. I felt a bit sore and yes I was disappointed but I thought you know what, we could do it again. I went home, had a bath and glass of wine for the first time in ages.

They did a blood test whilst I was at the hospital and it indicated that my HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels were really high, having suffered a miscarriage it would now decline. I was called by the Doctor and Instructed to go to my GP and have another blood test, I did this, this was now the middle of the week.

I was called on Friday night by the on call Doctor at the hospital.

“Hello is that Miss O’Reilly?”

“Yes.”

“Dr Stratos here, on call gynaecologist Kingston hospital, how are you feeling?”

“Fine.”

“Now, your HCG levels are still rising, so we need to just keep an eye on you for the next 24 hrs, the last blood test is still at the lab, that should be back by the morning, I need you to stay home this evening and if you do feel unwell come straight in to the hospital.”

“I don’t understand what this means.”

“You had a miscarriage last week, so you HCG levels should be going down, but they’re not. How many embryos did you have implanted?”

“Two, does this mean I could still be pregnant?”

“It’s difficult to say at this stage until we do some further investigation, so can you please stay at home and we’ll know more once the test result come back.”

“Ok, thank you.”

I put the phone down, I couldn’t help fantasising that one of the little embryo’s had clung in there, and was determined to take root. I went to bed feeling really hopeful.

The next morning I got up and as I hadn’t heard from the hospital  I got dressed and was just about to get in the car when the phone rang it was 7.30.

“Hello Dr Stratos here, can you bring your husband and come to the hospital right away.”

“But I feel fine.”

“ Your HCG scores are still rising and we need to find out why, please come in immediately, it’s really important that you do.”

I woke Lee up, and we walked to the hospital it was a beautiful sunny day. When we arrived they made us sit out side the ward until the on call gynaecologist came to see us.

“Hello, I’m Helen McCarty consultant gynaecologist can you follow me I want to do an internal scan to see if we can ascertain exactly what’s going on”

We followed her up to the floor above she unlocked the room with the large dildo machine resided. It was Saturday so it was cold in the room and there was a silence you don’t normally hear in hospitals. It took her a few minutes to warm up the machine and get in position.

“Ok, so if you can remove your lower garments and slide your bottom down as far a possible”

It funny after the miscarriage I had my hair done and painted my hands and toes, I guess I was just trying to cheer my self up. As I lay there I looked at my toenails, that’s when I realised that I’d forget to paint the big toe on my right foot, LOON!

“Ok, so just relax.”

She was much better at this that the last one. After about 2 minutes of fiddling and poking she turned to us and said.

“It’s as I thought I’m afraid, you have an ectopic pregnancy, I’m so sorry but we are going to have to take you down to surgery asap?”

I looked at Lee in disbelief, this had not even occurred to me, I had no clue that something like this could happen. I was slightly confused. How could I have an ectopic pregnancy, it wasn’t my egg that came down the tube, this made no sense to me, I expressed this to the doctor.

“Your tube has sucked the embryo up, we see quite a high rate of this with IVF.”

Not one person throughout this whole process ever mentioned the possibility of this happening.

“Have you eaten anything this morning? Said the Doctor

“She had an egg, ha ha, sorry I can’t believe I said that.”

The Doctor and I looked at Lee with contempt, she just ignored him.

“Right well let’s get back down to the ward and get you gowned up. I’m going to perform a procedure called a hysteroscopy it…”

“I know what it is. I have already had one of these, it was done in 2012, to remove a cyst on my tube.”

“Oh, well I’m really sorry but were going to have to do it all over again”

We walked in silence, I was feeling bad, I felt like I had brought this on myself and I was so fucked off that I had to have the same procedure again. No driving for two weeks, no running, no work, no strenuous anything. I had a job I would have to cancel and quick. It was bad enough that the bloody thing didn’t work, now this, I was just so pissed off. I was absolutely fine with it not working, but this, I felt like I was being punished, some higher power really didn’t want me to have a child, I felt fine all I wanted to do was leave the hospital and go home.

“Can’t you just give me an injection, I read somewhere that you could do that, can’t you do that?”

“It’s too late for that I’m afraid, the embryo has a heat beat, the only solution is surgery”

A heart beat, I felt completely sick, like I’d been hit with something sharp and heavy. It had a heart beat, it was alive and growing in my tube and the only alternative was to cut it out of me. It’s heart was beating, I really didn’t need to hear that, we were so close, it was living with a beating heart and there was nothing anyone could do to save it. I was so fucking mad! So I went back to the room and they prepped me for surgery and down I went.

I woke up a few hours later in a lot of pain, I was feeling so sad. I looked out of the window and saw two women walking down the road pushing baby buggies, now what? I remembered what my little nephews had told me (You can never have a baby because you’ve got white walls) turns out they were right.

“Hello” the consultant pushed the door open and came in.

“How are you feeling?”

“Sore”

“That’s to be expected, I can’t believe how unlucky you’ve been, I have never seen anyone have a miscarriage and then an ectopic pregnancy in the same week. You really have had the worst possible outcome, I am so sorry.”

She put her hand on mine, I was still taking it all in, I couldn’t believe it either. I had never been spoken to like that by a Doctor, it was unexpected, kind, I will never forget it.

The next two weeks were a blur of TV and Tramadol the doctor gave me a huge batch. So I sat drugged up to my eyeballs in front of the tele, watching crap with my cat on my lap. Thanks Betty x

 

 

NUTS

IMG_1348
‘You can’t have kids!’ yells my nephew ‘Oh yeah why’s that then?’I reply ‘Cos you’ve got white walls.’ Why the F***K didn’t anyone tell me this before!

Sometimes you’ll do anything to get what you want, but when you find yourself lying to the STD clinic just to get a few tests done, you know you’re officially a Psycho!

Lee was happy to pursue treatment at the clinic in Spain. I think he was doing it for me more than anything else. We talked about using his onward christian soldiers, but he said ‘If we can’t use your eggs then we should just go straight for the embryo adoption.’  YES!!!!! I was over the moon a baby’s a baby right? plus it did make things less complicated and much less expensive!

We had a skype call with the clinic in Spain, they went through the process and all the tests and paper work that needed to be completed before we could make the trip.

So I went to see my GP and she was not very happy about doing any tests in-fact she refused to do do them altogether. I couldn’t believe it because when she stood up you could clearly see she was about 6 months pregnant but felt it was ok to refuse me some blood tests that could help to the do the same, I thought pregnancy was supposed to make you all serene, not her she was mean!

So I left her surgery and then had an epiphany, we could go to the GUM clinic, they don’t ask questions there, well they do but they’re not going to say no! We needed HIV, Hep B, Hep C and Chlamydia. We would have to tell a white lie at the clinic otherwise they wouldn’t do the tests.

So I went home told Lee and I marched him straight to the clinic. What a bitch!

I haven’t been to one of those places for about 20 years so I was expecting it to be a bit demeaning as I’d certainly felt that the last time I been, with a friend of course!  Not the case here, we walked in, the place looked brand new there was a handful of people  sitting in the waiting room. Two obligatory teenagers looking guilty and terrified, a gay guy and an old lady who I think came in to get out of the cold, she was clearly confused as she kept asking for a cup of Earl Grey. The walls were full of posters depicting the risks of unsafe sex describing some of the unpronounceable sexually transmitted diseases. Blimey I don’t remember that one in my day! As I looked at the other people sitting there in the waiting I couldn’t help but wonder how many of those would be diagnosed with something. I don’t remember them being so complicated when I was a teenager. No wonder everyone was looking so perplexed.

‘Hi there, how can we help you?’

‘We’ve been traveling and we’d really like to get some test done now that were back just for peace of mind.’

‘Where have you been traveling?’

‘All over the planet, er everywhere really, we’ve been gone ages.’

‘Did you visit Africa?’

“Yep I am pretty sure we did, we were a bit messed up, you know how it is, it’s hard to remember!’

Lee looked away in embarrassment, I have always been a good liar it’s the Catholic up bringing.

‘Ok if you can fill out theses forms, and well see what we can do.’

So we sat down and waded through the forms stating our sexual orientation how many sexual partners we’d had, if we’d taken drugs, had anal sex or eaten bush meat, what?

‘Lee!’

‘What!’

‘We have to say that we have done everthing on this list otherwise they won’t do all the tests we need.’

‘This is fucking humilatating!’

‘Look, it’s good acting practice, get into character.’

We took the forms back up to the counter.

‘Ok if you can come with me.’ she indicated to me.

I followed the nurse down the corridor leaving Lee behind in the waiting area.

I had my list of tests I needed to get done but I couldn’t let them know that, so I just waited with patience as she looked through my forms.

‘So you’ve been traveling that’s nice! Where did you go?’

‘We travelled all over?’

‘Africa?’

‘Yes!’

‘Where in Africa?’

‘Wow where didn’t we go, all over.’

‘Ok so there are some standard tests we can do when you’ve been traveling to that part of the world. Have you been having unsafe sex?’

‘Yes.’ I said very emphatically

She raised an eyebrow, I don’t think she even realised that she did it. Well she had seen me in the waiting room with Lee.

‘I would like to have HIV, Hep B, Hep C and Chlamydia.’ I said it very casually.

‘We don’t do Hep B unless you’ve been having sex with intravenous drug users?’

‘I have been doing that.’

‘I’m sorry I’m a bit confused?’

‘Me too, I mean, I was.’

She looked at me as if to say ‘Really?’

Oh for Fuck sake, make it hard why don’t you! Yes I was in Africa with my husband and we were having sex with all sorts of people. Who may have been gay straight by-sexual HIV positive and yes I did take it up the arse whilst eating bush meat! And one did look a bit like Chewbacca from Starwars…Now will you do the tests I need……

‘What!’ she said

That’s when I realised the only part I actually said out loud was ‘Make it hard.’

‘What was that?.’ she said

‘Sorry I’m a bit nervous.’

She got up and went over to the drawer and got all the paraphernalia to do the blood tests, plus a speculum.

‘Well need to do an internal.’

‘Oh is it ok if I come back for that as Aunt flow has just arrived.’

She nodded, she didn’t believe but what could she do. She did all the tests and I left feeling victorious, Lee on the other hand was looking very traumatised.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘They stuck a steel rod up my Johnson!’

‘Jesus, why do you let the do that?’

‘Because you said they wouldn’t have done all the test if I’d said no!’

We walked home in silence but we’d done what we’d set out to do.

Sometimes you have to sacrifice one for the good of many!

Sorry Lee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympia

 

 

IMG_1795
‘Do you need sperm? We have very good strong sperm! Or maybe you need egg? We have a very exclusive list of donors, anything from ballet dancers to astronauts.’

December 2011 Jackie and I were still in the same position. So I turned once again to the Oracle, when I say oracle I’m mean of course the Metro, at the back, these things were always at the back. There was a huge advertisement for The Fertility fair! To be held at Olympia, wow! Fertility fair, like a wedding fair, only I have never been to a wedding fair or any other fair of this nature. My Sister went to the cat show once and went completely demented and came home with all sorts of useless cat paraphernalia, which I believe she is still paying off.

I tore out the advertisement and looked it up on-line when I got home, the tickets were unsurprisingly inexpensive so I called Jackie and suggested we go.

I bought three tickets as another friend Jules had expressed a desire to join us, even through she had managed to have her child, she thought it would be a good idea to have a least one stable person in the group in case Jackie or I became unhinged and tried to mount the driver of the night bus on the way home because it was obvious that there would be some drinking involved at some point if not all points during the day.

I didn’t really know what to expect and as we approached the main entrance we were bombarded by several promotion people giving out products. This very polite young guy handed us all a pen, which we all grabbed because who doesn’t like free stuff, plus you can never find a pen when you need one, but on closer inspection this was no ordinary pen, it reminded me of a lava lamp only instead of bright-colored blob’s moving slowly up and down, it had 5 little sperm and if you turned the pen up side down they were in hot pursuit of an egg. I love this pen so much I still have it, this was a promotion for the magazine The Fertility Road, me and Jackie looked at each other and telepathically acknowledged that is was going to be a long one.

Once inside it was set up like any other fair, stands with people promoting their particular part in this license to print money event. IVF clinics from all over the world, Pharmaceutical companies, sperm banks, nutritionists, Chinese medicine, Adoption agencies, complementary medicines and hockey cocky salesman, not to mention thousands of tortured men and women who are willing to buy, try, and believe anything in order to have a small human being, that they were going to, let’s face it, probably fuck up!

As we walked around it was patiently obvious that there were a lot more women here than men. One of the stands we wandered past had tall blond women in white uniforms manning it, on closer inspection we realized that it was the Russians, who waisted no time.

‘Come sit please!’

Jackie and I obeyed of course and before we knew it we were sitting in two chairs inside the stand.

‘Tell me what your problem, is it your eggs?’

Blimey we hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet I was thinking we might start with a bit of Aromatherapy, or a free stress ball!

‘Do you need sperm? We have very good strong sperm! Or maybe you need egg? We have a very exclusive list of donors, anything from ballet dancers to astronauts.’

Jackie and I looked at each other in disbelief but we were too scared to get up.

‘Ok you fill out this form, you pay today and when you come for treatment we put you up in 5 star hotel, you come, spend a week see sights, have treatment, we take care of you.’

I was starting to feel weird.

‘We have a seminar to go to, but we’ll come back after.’

We got up so quickly I knocked the chair over, and we walked as quickly as possible to the furthest end of the exhibition centre.

There were seminars going all over the place and we decided that we would sit in on a few of them to see if we could learn anything that may help us in our quest.

The first one was a very distinguished looking Doctor talking about the reproductive system in both men and women. He said something that all three of us could not believe. That woman were born with millions of eggs that disappear with increasing frequency, in-fact it declines so rapidly that after 30 she will barely have an eighth left. After 40 it’s very bleak having only 3% of her ovarian reserve left! We all looked at each other, in shock, I think we knew that the longer you left it the harder it would be, but sitting here hearing the cold hard facts made me feel really bloody stupid, why did we not pay attention to this? It made me want to go outside and yell it in the street.

‘You, put a baby in that women!’

‘But there are things we can do.’ said the Doc

‘We have been using pioneering treatment and the oldest women we have assisted in getting pregnant is a 72-year-old women in India.’

I burst out laughing, the whole room turned and looked at the three of us sitting there, Jackie and Jules were giggling too, but I was almost hysterical. Jules grabbed me and pulled me out of the seminar. ‘Go the toilet!’

So I ran into the nearest loo, laughing like a mad woman, I was laughing so much I could hardly catch my breath I was bent over the sink almost convulsing. Then I heard the door and then suddenly I felt an arm around me, I knew it wasn’t either of my friends because of the strange perfume I could smell.

‘It’s ok.’ said the voice

I glanced up and saw a strange women in the mirror.

‘It’s ok, I know exactly how you feel.’ she started to cry, that’s when I realised that she thought I was crying not laughing, so I played along, feeling terrible as I didn’t want her to think I was making fun of the situation, as I really wasn’t I think it was a defense mechanism, I tend to try to see the funny side of everything, even if sometimes some might think it inappropriate.

‘Thank you.’ I said and broke away from her and ran into a cubical, I waited for her to leave before I came out. I looked at my self in the mirror and it did look as if I’d been crying, but I think the laughter was just a way for me to release some tension. Once out of the toilet I found Jackie and Jules having a foot massage.

I had done some research on-line before I’d booked our tickets to see who would be at the event and I’d found a Spanish company offering IVF but they we also offering embryo adoption. Frozen embryo’s that are donated by couples that have had their children and were willing to give their spare embryos to people who had not managed to achieve this. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing, so what they’re doing is essentially giving away a dream for someone else to grab. It was also very inexpensive compared to IVF. We went over and had a chat with them. They were very nice not loud and pushy like the Russian’s. They explained the process all the tests you needed to have done before they would accept you as candidates. The problem was that a lot of the tests we’d had done were now all out of date, so they would have to be repeated all over again, and I couldn’t see my GP agreeing to do them all again, I would need another mammogram and Leigh and I would have to have a full sexual heath screening done again, this was going to cost! The woman we talked to said that they try to match blood type and physical characteristics, Jackie and I looked and each other and we were thinking the same thing, when can we go!

As we left the Exhibition centre we walked past the Lister Hospital stand and I saw the Doctor who had failed to listen to me talking to a young couple, I wanted to kick her up her hoop! I had such loathing for her, thinking back to the first time we meet her, I don’t remember her writing an awful lot down, she never gave me any documentation to check or confirm our understanding that what we had decided was what we actually wanted, she just didn’t listen.

We walked outside it was dark, we went to the nearest pub ordered a bottle of red wine and had a good laugh about what we had just witnessed. I was already thinking about the Spanish clinic and embryo adoption, but I would have to convince Lee first.

Let’s go get a bambino!