Saturday, 30 April 2016

Birth Mum's contesting...

We did expect it. We were prepared. Or so I thought...

Things were progressing so well. Met the Foster Carer a few times, exchanged notes with the medical advisor, visited school, SAW THE BOYS from a distance, sorted out adoption leave cover for my work place and then BOOM. 1 phone call from the SW and suddenly everything was on hold...

Suddenly everybody was asking me how do I feel. Some assumed I was angry, some thought I was disappointed or sad or even devastated. I guess, I did have those feelings, too. But thanks to this wonderful community on Twitter I was overwhelmed with encouragement and positive messages from strangers whom I never met, yet I felt the closest to already. Adopters who have been there, done that sent me messages and hearing their stories my initial negative attitude was transformed into one of feeling sorry for Her. I also gained a whole new appreciation for Her as a mother who was not giving up on her children without a fight! When I shared these thoughts with our SW she was very impressed (and probably relieved that she didn't have to give a motivational speech or pick me up from the floor). She more or less assured us that BM won't be able to get her children back, but we can't assume anything so we need to wait it out.

We expected the court date to happen soon, but sadly the judge picked a date in April, which was still a month away. This meant the boys would definitely not move in with us during the Easter break as originally hoped. Despite the encouraging news that the judge didn't ask for a re-assessment on BM we were naturally anxious and irrationally worried. I say irrationally because all the evidence, practice and really, common sense dictated that there was NO WAY the children would return to Her home and stay safe. But I couldn't think rationally. My mind went into panic mode and the 'What ifs' took over.

The weeks dragged on slowly and finally the dreaded Friday arrived. Needless to say I couldn't focus on work or on anything, really. The only think I could think of was the fact that in these very moments a judge is making a decision ABOUT MY LIFE and I can't even be there to hear it, let alone contribute. I know, the judge was not even considering me at that moment, just assessing BM, but still; if the decision is for the boys to be adopted, chances are very good they will come to us thus it will influence the rest of my life. On the other hand if she decides the children should stay in the Fostering system, in a sense they will be unavailable for us, prospective adopters... Not helpful thoughts!

A whole day was blocked out so we expected a decision to be made on the same day. By 2 pm I was sufficiently full of chocolate (forever grateful for an amazing colleague who constantly fed me sweets all day!) I was in the middle of a telephone conversation, when my mobile phone rang. I saw the name; it was my SW calling. I only said 'hello' to the phone when she started: 'Good news, I have good news. Hi, it's me calling.' I will always love her for not beating around the bush and she just said it right away!

And suddenly the mind returned to the rational reality... But of course the plan is still adoption. Who in their sane mind thought the children would be returned to BM? No judge would have ruled that in a million years! So, the plan is still adoption and we are still the only family considered!

We shared the outcome with out friends and naturally they assumed we were over the moon. Yes, we were very pleased with the decision, but I couldn't help feel sad for Her. She  put up a good fight; she believed that she had made sufficient changes in her life and she genuinely believed she can have her children back. Deep down I wish that was the case! I wish these two lovelies could grow up with their loving birth mother, because that is how it should be. But sadly that's not in their best interest and they wouldn't be safe. It will be MY job to keep them safe!

FeelingDadYet (a.k.a my lovely husband and always the practical one) celebrated by buying 2 children's beds! :)

Monday, 18 April 2016

Cathing up 5: Meeting the Foster Carer and School - with a sneak peek

After a lovely Christmas we got a call from our SW that in mid January we can (should) meet the FC. Enough to say we were a bit nervous. Her house was full of photos on the wall and social workers on the sofa: our SW, the Foster Carer's SW, the children's SW and the children's new SW - because the current one was leaving soon.

She did such a wonderful job bringing the children to life by telling us stories, their likes and dislikes, she showed us lots of photos and you could just tell that she adores them already! We felt a constant connection to her and I hope this good relationship will continue.

I really had to bite my tongue a few times not to say what I wanted to; I so desperately wanted to tell her how grateful I was for her looking after our future children so well! But I couldn't possibly say any of that. It wouldn't have been appropriate. In all honesty, I don't have any rights whatsoever to claim any feelings towards these children. Except that I know every single detail about their life, their terrible history and the challenges they currently present.

So I kept quiet and tried to record every singe word the FC told us about them. We were let into their room and I could almost see them playing with their toys or sleeping in their beds. In a sense it felt like we are violating their trust by being in their room without them. But again, I would feel violated myself if somebody knew this much about me or my life... This is one of those imbalances that follows the entire adoption process!


After this meeting we set off to visit their school to speak to their teachers. It didn't even cross my mind that we could see the children until our SW mentioned it on the way in as a slight possibility. As you can imagine my mind went into overdrive and I really struggled to pay attention to what was said. As far as I remember they shared some the concerns that were mentioned in the CAMHS assessment, which was good news in a sense that they both had the same diagnosis. That both boys are completely OK in their heads, and 'all is there', but due to their adverse history they are not able to function at their expected levels. This much we knew and expected. What we didn't expect is the head teacher's openness and willingness to grant my request at the end of the meeting.

The children's SW came with us but she decided to stay in the little room as they kids would have recognised her. Our SW came with us since she has not seen the kids before either. As we walked through the corridors my heart was pounding in my head so loud I didn't hear a word the teacher said.

I read blogs about THE first meeting; when parents meet their children (at birth or later) and pretty much all said the same: it is love at first sight! They all described how every single detail burnt into their memory and I was so full of anticipation that I almost missed it! We walked into a PE class and tiny boys in identical clothes were running around the room. The teacher asked me after a few minutes if I spotted him and I started to panic! No, I have no idea which of them is my future son!!!

Thank God she took pity on me and tried her best to point him out to me... As you would have it, our future son was the one standing closest to me! I could have touched his head, brush his face, but I guess it would have been super creepy and highly inappropriate. To him, we were just some random adults who got a tour of the school! His face was red from the running, his attention focused on the ball and his smile just captured my heart from that moment on!

It was too soon before we had to leave them to walk towards the other classroom. I think I was better prepared the second time to meet his brother. All the children in the room were focused on the board following closely what the teacher was saying. All but one! My little champion was struggling to cope and was sulking in his chair! He buried his head into his hands and looked miserable. And cute! So incredibly cute that all of us had to turn towards the door not to burst out laughing right there. The teacher asked if we spotted him and all we could do was nod with misty eyes.

In that very moment I knew that I AM FEELING MUM ALREADY! :)

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Schrödinger's cat in my tummy

This blog post was sitting in my drafts folder since January and now it seems like a good time to post it so chronological order is more or less accurate:

As approved adopters we joined the waiting game as soon as the ink dried on the Panel papers last May. We signed up to Children Who Wait, Be My Parent, National Adoption Register and Adoptionlink to maximise our chances. Now, several months and 'almost matches' later it seems we finally are not only the front runners, but (it seems) the only runners for 2 particular children. We were told the good news in January. In February we met the current Foster Carer; we could have had a lovely chat, but how do you relax when all your words are watched by several Social Workers? The SWs in the know informed us that the children would be moving in about 5 months.

So we wait.

When I share this news the natural response I get is 'oh, it must be so hard to wait that long!' and I am thinking 'boy, you couldn't be further away from the truth'! You see, we didn't choose adoption as the third option. We could have children born to us, but we decided to adopt instead as the FIRST OPTION!

Not for us, for the children. Not to meet our need, but to meet their need.

And we want to do a good job with that! Therefore, five months almost feels too short for us to be prepared and get ready. Our house needs to be finished and remodelled to accommodate them. As for our non existent parenting skills, we need to attend some specialised training to better understand and deal with their behaviour. I am a perfectionist who wants to get it right the first time... with everything! Hubby knows it's impossible; I am determined to prove him wrong. That means reading one more book, joining one more online support group, signing up for one more training session...

Perhaps I wouldn't be this patient if things were different. To explain the title: Schrödinger's cat is locked in a box and until you open the box you don't know if the cat is alive or not.

That is the same with us now; we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we quite enjoy the darkness around us at the moment and not too keen to dash towards the light just yet. Is it because we could have children if we wanted to? Perhaps. Could we have children at all? Well, we will never know.

So we wait. And Schrödinger's cat lives happily ever after in my tummy...


Catching up 4: The power of YES

This blog post originally appeared on http://www.alcoates.co.uk/2016/02/the-power-of-yes.html in February. Mr. C aka the flesh and brain behind Misadventures of An Adoptive Father has asked me for a guest post on his widely successful site, which I considered a great honour.

Now, hubby and I are approved adopters and if all goes well we will have a Matching Panel in a couple of weeks. I feel the time is right to dip my proverbial pen into the ink and start my own blog.

They said,

Yes, we need you...
Yes, we like you...
Yes, tell us all about yourselves...
Yes, we will train you...
Yes, we are happy to assess you...
Yes, we approved you...
Yes, you have a lot to offer...
Yes, you will be great adoptive parents...
Yes, that's a good book to read...
Yes, now we wait...
Yes, we know it's hard to wait...
Yes, we understand...
Yes, it's the climate...
Yes, we found a child...
Yes, you would be a good match...
Yes, you understand the needs of the child...
Yes, you are not the only family they look at...
Yes, we might know more in a month...
Yes, we know it's disappointing...
Yes, we are back to the drawing board...
Yes, we can continue looking again when you are ready...
Yes, you think you are ready...
Yes, we found a new child...
Yes, he looks just like you...
Yes, it's very promising...
Yes, they come to do a home visit...
Yes, there is another child who needs you...
Yes, they really want you...
Yes, it is hard to choose which child to pursue...
Yes, you need to decide now...
Yes, you are playing God...

No, you don't get to do that without consequences!

Catching up 3: What if the time is now?

This blog post originally appeared on http://www.alcoates.co.uk/2015/06/what-if-time-is-now.html in last June. Mr. C aka the flesh and brain behind Misadventures of An Adoptive Father has asked me for a guest post on his widely successful site, which I considered a great honour.

Now, almost a year later, hubby and I are approved adopters and if all goes well we will have a Matching Panel in a couple of weeks. I feel the time is right to dip my proverbial pen into the ink and start my own blog.

Mr C found out we have been approved a few weeks ago as adopters and asked me to jot down my feelings. Hope you can make sense of these ramblings now...

Friends were cheering for us, some prayed, others crossed fingers and they worked! We were recommended by Panel and 2 weeks later the single most important letter arrived confirming that we are indeed approved and Family Finding can start. Yay! Exciting times ahead! We were ecstatic...relieved... and scared. 

Then this emotional turmoil turned into a loop. Excited-happy-afraid, what a combo!

Yesterday our SW came to formally sign the Family Finding papers and encouraged us to look at websites dedicated to ‘Children shopping’. Suddenly a whole new world opened up in front of our very eyes. It took about 10 minutes of browsing to become overwhelmed. It reminded us of compiling our weekly Tesco shopping; inviting photos of the ‘products’ with a description and a way to enquire further.

Thank God we both knew exactly the kind of children we were hoping to receive into our family so it didn't take long to draw up a short list. In fact, we finished sooner than with our Tesco list, but boy, was it million times harder!!!

Naturally the Saviour complex kicked in and we wanted to rescue ALL the short-listed siblings in the system. Then we started to read their profiles. Hubby is smarter as he purposefully didn't look at the photos first. I couldn't ignore the pictures and with pretty much all the children I noticed something familiar: a smile; that mischievous look; those adventurous feet; the longing to be loved and cherished.

Not fully understanding the system just yet we clicked on ‘enquire further’ a few times. Then we went to bed still feeling enveloped by the excited-happy-scared loop.  

Today at work my phone dinged. The message read ‘a link was made’.

 A LINK WAS MADE!
We were told family finding can take a long time. All the way from day one everybody in the know told us to prepare for a long wait and we were. Deep down I was happy with it as I still think I am not ready to become a mummy. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never feel ready so I could overcome this nagging feeling of ‘not being there yet’. I even drew up a long list of reasons why it is good not to have the children just yet, although hubs doesn't share my views; he chose to drop the ‘scared’ bit from his loop and wishes the children were placed yesterday. All our friends encourage us with ‘it will happen in God’s time.’ Right... But! What if this time is NOW?


As I type this 2 SW are exchanging our PAR and the children’s CPR and I feel a level of panic creeping up in my heart. OMG! This is really happening!!

Realistically this might not lead to anywhere. This was just the very first step. So many unknowns, so many variables, so many potential outcomes... One of those might just change my life forever! Not like getting married; it will be much-much bigger! That I am sure of! What I am unsure of is how will I react if this progresses in the right direction??? 

So, for now, a link is made. And I am choosing to drop the ‘scared’ bit of the loop and just embrace this truly exciting moment in time and not worry about the next steps!

Catching up 2: Adoption: Is it happy ever after?

This blog post originally appeared on http://www.alcoates.co.uk/2015/05/adoption-is-it-happy-ever-after.html in last May. Mr. C aka the flesh and brain behind Misadventures of An Adoptive Father has asked me for a guest post on his widely successful site, which I considered a great honour.

Now, almost a year later, hubby and I are approved adopters and if all goes well we will have a Matching Panel in a couple of weeks. I feel the time is right to dip my proverbial pen into the ink and start my own blog.


Let me start by saying we are neither naive nor ignorant about the harsh reality of adoption; the ‘trying to raise somebody else’s child’ bits; the ‘trying to make the most of a less-than-ideal situation’ bits; the ‘trying to correct, re-train and manage damage control constantly’ bits... I do get it!

I appreciate the best intentions of adoption trainings where they only try to prepare you for the worst, while they tell you to ‘feel free to hope for the best’, but their knowing smile and sad face speaks louder and we both know better... or do I, really?

We are still waiting to be approved. In the meantime we take part in regular trainings like all adopters do. Recently the topics turned darker with titles like ‘Managing challenging behaviour and the use of restraint’ or ‘Attachment problems and Trauma management’ and these to reinforce this growing feeling inside me that we have signed up for 20+ stormy years with only occasional sunny minutes that are few and far in between.

We were encouraged to join online and offline support groups, subscribe to adoption related magazines, read books, socialise with adopters, hear their stories, follow blogs of funny/experienced/honest/REAL DEAL adopters who have seen it all and willing to share their stories...etc. We jumped onto the bandwagon eagerly realising that we have soooo much to learn! Now my social media feeds, my inbox, my post box is full of stories, full of how-to-avoid articles, and I do get one message loud and clear:


There are no happy ever afters! Ever!
It is well worth it, sure,
rewarding even, 
occasionally fun, 
sometimes OK, 
but never happy, or 
not for long anyway!

At the moment I am feeling overwhelmed with all the negativity that I read on Twitter/Facebook/online forums, all that I hear when I ask adopters direct questions or just listen to their ranting about ‘another terrible weekend’, ‘another epic fail’, ‘another bruise’, ‘another fight’... Suddenly I understand abbreviations like CPV (if you know this, well, I am truly sorry; if you don’t, be happy!) all too well.

Even the stock photos of happy people (the ones that are used in adoption advertisements) were condemned as ‘giving false hope and not showing the real side of adoption’. Another person told me once I adopt a child they will become invisible and can never be seen on photos ever again!

I do understand where all these comments come from. I understand that it is hard, that it can be painful. What I don’t understand is where the happy endings hide??? I refuse to believe there are none! I, for one, am tired of reading only about complaints, challenges and bad days and long for a more balanced representation of this crazy calling.

I am being encouraged ONLY by friends who are not part of the Adoption Triangle; those who don’t have first-hand experience; those who only know somebody who knows somebody who is involved in adoption and sadly I am beginning to believe that their positivism is rooted in blissful ignorance. But even so, they try to do the right thing by lifting my spirit up, bringing my vision back to the positive direction, help me to focus on the bright side and most importantly: don’t crush my hopes and dreams!

So, on behalf of every person who contemplates adoption:


I BEG YOU, ADOPTERS

Please please please post the happy memories too! Encourage prospective adopters with positive messages!

And share happy endings!

Catching up 1: Rocking the boat

This blog post originally appeared on http://www.alcoates.co.uk/2015/04/rocking-boat.html in last April. Mr. C aka the flesh and brain behind Misadventures of An Adoptive Father has asked me for a guest post on his widely successful site, which I considered a great honour.

Now, a year later, hubby and I are approved adopters and if all goes well we will have a Matching Panel in a couple of weeks. I feel the time is right to dip my proverbial pen into the ink and start my own blog.


How dare a SW judge the sincerity and communicational depth of my relatively short marriage when she claims to become an expert in knowing me in and out after meeting me only 6 times before her report (and my future happiness) is set in stone?

To be fair our SW is a well seasoned professional and a lovely person who is very able to assess me / us as a couple and write up a fair and true report, but my question is still valid...

In all honesty we are a V-E-R-Y unusual couple. Unusual is good – the SW said. Panel likes unusual – the SW said. But do they, really?

When they have to sit all day in a small room with familiar faces around the table; when they have to comment on each case for the minutes; when they have to read hundreds of pages to come prepared for the panel meeting; when they already know who will have a problem with which couple; when all they want is to approve a couple... do they really want unusual cases? Or do they rather wish for simple, straight forward, clean cut or (heaven forbid) textbook cases?

We could have children. We are 35+ young professionals from safe and stable families who C-H-O-S-E not to become birth parents themselves. We could fill pages (oh, wait, we did! On countless occasions!) with the reasons, but for now let’s just forget the many reasons and focus on the choice we made. If pro-choice is so widely popular; if abortion is so acceptable; if nobody is allowed to tell a young or old / drug addict or alcohol addict / severe mental health / abusive... etc or just simply a very nice ‘perfect’ person the sentence ‘you must not have birth children of your own’ or ‘ok, lady, you had enough, maybe a dozen will do’ and all these people and their choices are and should be respected then why do I feel I am the bad person here?


Why do I have to keep defending my view? Why am I labelled ‘unfit to be a parent’ if I am not desperate to become one (in other words: I need a child, any child would do really, just so that I can be a parent)? We have a happy marriage and life, we feel our family is complete, we do not yearn for a non-existent hole to be filled by somebody else’s child. We simply put our own needs aside and choose to adopt siblings already in the system who do not have a safe and loving home where they can just be children and then grow up to be happy and supported adults. We could provide all that and much more for these children. Yet, somehow we find ourselves time and time again judged, questioned, condemned even for the choices we made in our lives.

Other that this we tick all the boxes. House, car, income, support network, stay home parent...whatever you need. Why would then our chances of being approved tripled if we said we C-O-U-L-D not have children? I fail to see how any of the above mentioned factors would change and still, somehow we would fit the ‘usual’ box and would be approved in no time...

But I do want to become a parent...
I do want to get approved...
I do want to bless those children...

So I don’t rock the boat. Just keep quiet. And I keep answering the same questions on and on again. With a smile. As usual.