Genetics have never done either me or Al any favours… I do wish they would have her eyes, but as we’re adopting it’s not likely!! As this blog says, family is much more than a genetic link. In the same way a house can, with love, become a home.
The other day as I pushed the boys around a shop, a stranger stopped me. How cute, she exclaimed (about the twins, not me), and doesn’t that one look like you! She pointed at A. And I resisted the urge to say that no, actually he doesn’t.
A doesn’t have my mouth or nose or ears. His eyes, while the same colour as mine, are a completely different shape. In short, he has none of my physical features (although I’m picking up a strong shared tendency to stubbornness). And there is no reason why he should. Genetically, the boys are my partner’s. A and R both look like her.
When we first discussed the options for having kids, it was clear that for many reasons it made sense to use my partner’s eggs. After a little thought I was happy to say that the fact that I would have no…
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Reading this has given me a bit more strength… Congratulations! xx
So the day came – and we were ready. We had spent months preparing for this moment – read many books, written lots of notes and fake-interviewed each other countless times. We were both so nervous and running on adrenalin since we hadn’t been able to get much sleep that week. We knew this would be the most important day of our life to date, there was just so much riding on it. Because of the speed of our process and the social worker’s belief in the match that had come up, we were doing both adoption approval and match approval in one day – two panels for the price of one.
Despite all our team’s protestations that the panel were ‘really nice’ and we shouldn’t get too worried, when we asked about dress code, we were told in no uncertain terms to be formal. Out came the job interview…
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We had a phone call from the adoption agency. It wasn’t great news, but it wasn’t bad news either I guess.
I’ll have to explain, we’re a bit different to other couples and things are a bit more difficult.
A few years ago, April 2010 to be precise, we had to collect some blood test results for Alice. Alice’s family has a troubled past with genetics and in particular, the BRCA2 gene. Recently the BRCA1 gene has been in the papers courtesy of Angelina Jolie and the preventative surgery she opted for.
Well, to cut a long story short, Alice has the BRCA2 gene. If you’re so inclined, you can read the wikipedia entry about it here. She’s going to have the surgery at some point in the future, but we’re not sure when they’ll be able to do it and understandably, the adoption people need to know when too.
I can understand that.
Also they want us to prove we’re not smoking so we’ve got to go to the doctors and get reports done. Fair enough.
Also our nice new house is well, basically too new… We need to have been in there for longer. Which is something that worries me in any case as our landlady is a bit flighty… We’ve got a tenancy review in December so I’m hoping we’ll be able to extend the tenancy for a while longer. Also we’re going to put ourselves on the council list so that if we can, we’ll be able to get something more stable.
They also want to speak to any significant previous partners. Which is not good news for me, needless to say the person I was with before Alice could hold quite the grudge. Hopefully they’ll take a statement from a mutual friend instead.
Oh and then there’s me having been a bit crazy in my early twenties. Nothing major, I was just a bit messed up and suffered from thinking the whole world was out to get me, when in reality it really isn’t. I think I had a hard time coming out and not living up to what I thought my parents expected of me. In reality they wanted me to be happy, it just took me a while to figure that out and basically stop being a brat.
It’s added an extra 5 months to the whole process which initially knocked me for six. I’m gutted as we were so excited thinking that we would have a new addition to the family within the space of a year, and now that has been extended again.
We’re so desperate to have a family and share our lives with another little one (or two) that it feels like its slipping away from us again. It’s not and it’ll all be worth it, but we started to let ourselves believe things were really happening and happening quickly too.
I broke down on the phone to the woman, which was awful. She explained that it isn’t a no, it isn’t even necessarily an issue, but there are things that we need to get in order before they can consider us.
So we’ve got some work to do now…
Bring it on, we can do it.
Ok so we arrived at the Stadium of light and were lead upstairs to one of the meeting rooms.
Stinking hot weather and even hotter in the room…
There was a mixed bag of people waiting there some young, some older and then there was us.
We were informed about financial benefits and fall backs as well as some advice about the mental drain that the situation could cause.
It was absolutely fantastic, very clear and well delivered. They covered nearly all bases to the point that no one could think of any questions!
We were then split into 2 groups, the people interested in Fostering and the people interested in Adoption.
We had 2 adoption officers with us as well as 2 adoption officers from Barnados. There was also one of Sunderland Council’s Adopters there to tell us a little about her experience.
We listened to the officers from Barnados as they’ve introduced a new scheme called concurrent parenting. You basically have the child from day one and work alongside their birth family. This is incase there is a chance to rehome the child with their birth family. There is only a small chance of them returning, but it’s almost liked shared parenting. There’s much more to it and I’m probably not being fair to the system, but I remember thinking that it would take someone stronger than me to do that as I couldn’t take in and care for the baby and worry that I would never be able to adopt them. Selfish I know, but I’ve got to be honest.
They then let the lady talk about her experience of adoption. It was really interesting and her anecdotes of the child were extremely endearing.
She was looking for a child through adoption and had a son already who was 11. They were potentially looking for a boy of school age, but their adoption officer went on a hunch and offered them this beautiful little girl who was only 3. She ended up being a perfect match for the family as the son was old enough to be finding his own feet and making important moves forward into his teens. They hadn’t planned on a girl, but the officer thought that there was a desire for a girl in the house, but they hadn’t really thought about it!
Not long after they officially took the little girl home they were due to go away to visit the lady’s parents for their wedding anniversary and they were faced with explaining that the whole family was going away.
The little girl had been moved around quite a few times and they were unsure as to whether or not she would form an attachment, let alone deal with a break away so soon after being settled.
They planned out how to go about it and decided to show the little girl how they were packing the bag. They laid out all of the clothes for the weekend for everyone.
Everyone had exactly the same amount of clothing. 2 pairs of underwear, 2 pairs of socks, 2 tops etc… She explained to the little girl they all had the same amount of clothes so they had to come back and all come back together.
It was such a simple thing, but it was vital to the stability of the child. She needed to know she was in her forever home and going away didn’t mean they weren’t coming back.
I guess you have to remember how much these kids have been through the mill. They may not have physically obviously injuries, but that doesn’t mean they’re not emotionally scarred.
Listening to this woman just made me more certain that we can do this. It’s not about just loving and cuddles, although they’re important of course, it’s the extra steps you have to be prepared to take to ensure the child trusts you and what you are telling them.
I want to be a mum and this feels like one of the most amazingly rewarding ways to do it. Heaven knows I’ve needed a second chance (or 4) in my life, and this is our chance to give a child a second chance at a loving and secure home.
So we've made further steps onwards. We spoke to my Mum and Dad and told them we were going through the adoption process.
I don't know why I was nervous, but I was!
We talk a lot over FaceTime as they're over in Switzerland working during the summer. They never got the hang of retirement, so this helps keep them busy and earn some extra cash. Anyhoo, we were chatting and they asked us if there was anything new to report, to which I replied, “yeah, we've kinda taken a leap in a new direction.” My Dad, who never misses a trick said, “adoption?”
I guess it's written all over us!!
They're really supportive and we are very lucky. Al's Mum Rach, and step dad Andy are awesome too.
Mums decided already she's going to be a “Nana”. I like that as her mum was my nana, and I know she will be wonderful. Dad will no doubt end up being pops as that's what we call him already and I can see it sticking! Rach is “Nan” or “Nanny” and Andy, well I guess we will see. I think I can see him as a Grandpa… As for Alice's dad, god knows. All that matters on that side is that Al's half sister Holly will be an Aunty, and she's super excited! 13, going on 30 that kid though…
The big question I guess is what do we get called??
I've never thought of it really as I've always just seen myself as “Mum”. Alice has said she will be mummy, but I'm thinking she will end up as Mama!
It's nice to know we will still get time off for statutory adoption leave, which will no doubt be Alice and I'll take paternity. Which sounds weird to say the least… I wish I could have more time, but I'll be able to use some holidays too so it'll be good to be around for a while full time.
The next step is entering into Stage one…
More to follow soon!!