We’ve known about our latest adoption match for sometime now, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to publicly share the news. Given the fact that every time I have gone public there has been a dramatic twist in our tale, it seemed like the sensible thing to do.
It now feels safe to say that for the past few months we’ve been going through the motions with match number three. Ticking the same boxes as twice previous (only admittedly this time a little less enthusiastically, fearing the worse). So in order to preserve my emotions and protect my wellbeing I’ve skilfully learnt to compartmentalise this area of my life to enable me to meet the ongoing demands of family and work life. Only now (during the school hols) does it feel like a good time to open the floodgates and share the rest of our story…….
After baby E number two failed to come to fruition, I was adamant that enough was enough, so much so I made plans to move on from adoption altogether. Lining up a new job in a school and severing any adoption leave rights I had accrued, as far as I was concerned we were done. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.
During one of my final staff meetings at the adoption agency I squirmed in my seat when a discussion ensued with regards to the national shortage of prospective adoptive parents in the UK. The fact of the matter was there were lots of children waiting and simply not enough adopters putting themselves forward to meet the level of demand. Feelings of anger sparked within me at the ludicrous realisation that there were thousands of children in care yet we had just spent the last few months locked in a legal battle with another couple fighting over the same one. During the days that followed these feelings were magnified as booklets profiling multiple little people continued to hit my inbox and conversations of activity days and profiling events swirled around me.
One afternoon my Mum poured me tea whilst intermittently ranting from the kitchen her views with regards to the current state of our care system. As the threats to ring Adrian Giles filtered from the kitchen I became momentarily distracted by a message on my phone. Bustling into the room and busying herself with the tea tray (whilst continuing to animatedly share what her and Adrian would chat about) she stopped mid sentence when it became apparent I had disengaged from the conversation. Swivelling my phone to face her, I flashed her the image of a beautiful, smiley baby girl. ‘ I don’t suppose you fancy making another bear?’ Clocking the babies name and registering that she shared the identical initials of her predecessors I started to laugh and added…..’perhaps you should just stick the letter E on it this time’.
Of course there were ‘concerns’ there always are when there are social workers around. Concerns about how our children had been effected by our experiences….concerns that we hadn’t given ourselves enough time to ‘grieve’. Concerns about the concerns. Which all of course required exploring and evidencing in order to tick a few more boxes.
Eventually, (after sufficiently jumping through more hoops) we were given the green light. I was absolutely convinced that this was it and we had found ‘the one’ however in reality whilst initial conversations appeared positive with regards to our reciprocal interest it didn’t take long for the Link Maker conversation to dry up.
Losing a little more faith, patience and tolerance, we continued our search at our very first (and sure to be last) adoption activity day. This is an event where prospective adoptive parents are invited to meet (typically the more difficult to place) children who are waiting to be be adopted. Well what can I say about this day……we definitely left our sparkle behind that’s for sure……. and this sparkle could be seen all over the floor, walls, tables and children! In hindsight perhaps situating ourselves at the face paint and glitter station wasn’t one of the greatest decisions we’ve ever made. But of course hindsight is a wonderful thing and being naturally playful people once we were there we couldn’t resist the temptation. Before we knew it chaos had unfolded and like a scene from Daddy Day Care we were surrounded by multiple children of various ages all grabbing for the glitter and paint. It didn’t take long before it dawned on us that we were no longer in control and there was paint and glitter being smeared on faces, arms clothes… and you name it, it sparkled. Needless to say we didn’t hear back from any social workers after this event and if I’m honest I think the likelihood is we’ve been banned for life. I can just imagine a wanted picture of us covered in paint and glitter being circulated to Local Authorities near and far to warn them of our colourful and sparkly anti social behaviour.
On a serious note and talking of warnings these events do come with words of advice (in the form of a short briefing). If you are thinking about attending one then please do so with an open mind and take the time to meet all the children in the room. It took me a little while to shake the uncomfortable feeling that (at the one we attended) people naturally gravitated to the same children and the select few with obvious disabilities didn’t appear to get a look in. I can tell you that surprisingly there was an older child in the room we would have adopted in a heart beat however sadly the advice in her profile (and our family dynamics) prevented us from being able to actively pursue this interest.
After the activity day there appeared to be a flurry of interest in our profile on Link Maker. Walking into my office one day, one of my ‘close knit’ social worker friends (who I’d been updating regularly) at the adoption agency waved a piece of paper under my nose. ‘Is this your baby?’ She questioned. Low and behold, there staring back at me from the paper was the baby girl I’d shown to my Mum, the one who had inspired me to continue our search for baby number four. It transpired in the conversation which followed that she had been profiled at an event in London that day. Feelings of frustration bubbled within me and a distant memory was triggered from our very first adoption process which I’m going to share with you.
Back in the day, children waiting for adoption were featured in a magazine called ‘Children who wait’. Without fail this magazine used to hit our door mat every month and hubby and I would spend time looking at the profiles and contacting social workers. There was this one little girl who I had enquired about on multiple occasions leaving messages for her social worker (who never responded) until eventually I gave up. Months later my jaw dropped and I was left outraged as the same child was featured in a documentary. I sat and stared at the screen in disbelief as a short film of her was shown followed by a harrowing clip of her social worker telling the nation how there had been no interest shown in this child at all. Needless to say in the comfort of my own home I effed and and jeffed vehemently at the TV for some time until I felt decidedly better – now that would have made interesting viewing on Goggle Box let me just tell you!
Back in the room and still facing my friend she slid the paper profile across the desk, ‘get your social worker to chase them up’. So that night I pinged a message to the social worker who much to my amazement responded very quickly to explain that we were still being considered however the LAC (looked after child) social worker was off work sick at that time.
Time continued to tick by and admittedly things started to get a little confusing as multiple discussion requests from social workers started to hit our inbox. Following advice from our social worker we knew that we needed to focus on just one. There was never any doubt in our minds that our strongest connection was with baby E however with still zero progress on a potential match and no further communication we questioned how long we should wait and if we wanted to work with an agency who were clearly struggling. Taking some control over the situation we decided enough was enough and as a result made the difficult decision to end the conversation on Link Maker.
The thing is with Link Maker you don’t actually know which local authority / agency the child is linked with until you open up a discussion. With baby E no longer an option, it was time to move on. Opening up a new discussion relating to another little one, I groaned inwardly when I came to the realisation that I had contacted the same agency and laughed out loud when it revealed that a conversation had been started with the same social worker.
To cut a long story short I controversially ended up having a conversation about baby E through the profile discussion of another child, which much to our surprise resulted in a successful home visit and the rest (so to speak) is history.
Meeting our baby girl for the first time (during our chemistry visit) my heart nearly burst. Weirdly she reminded me of our eldest daughter and whilst I know this is the third little one that we’ve met I can honestly tell you that this particular meeting invoked the strongest emotion. Saying goodbye is never easy and as we prepared to leave the soft play area my ears picked up on the lyrics of a song playing in the background.
‘So before you go, was there something I could have said to make you heart beat better, if only I’d have know you had a storm to weather’. Now remember ‘what fires together wires together’ and therefore every time I have heard this song since I have thought of her.
And what a storm it has been! And so before we go….. (on introductions). I want to leave you with a conversation that I had with my youngest son this evening in our empty nursery.
‘Mummy did you realise that all of the babies names have started with E and ended with E?’
‘I hadn’t actually H, but now that you mention it, that feels like the perfect way to sum up our story up……..as we started with E and ended with one too.’
Coming soon my post intro’s blog