Baby X

Today my SW visited…and it turned out to be the weirdest visit ever.

She said she wanted to be honest with me and that my PAR had gone to a child’s SW and that she was waiting to hear back from them, she couldn’t see why the SW would object to us but you just never know. After the match-that-wasn’t I said under no circumstances did I want to see a profile until a SW had seen mine so she assured me that wouldn’t happen. She said what she would like to do was look at a baby’s profile to get me in the ‘baby mindset’.

I thought this was going to be a hypothetical baby – a pretend CPR, but no. So she starts telling me all about baby X (She actually told me the child’s full name) and their history. She says things like ‘Baby X had the same carer <then> as <then>, so that would be really good because they will be able to fill you in on what they were like <then>’ and ‘Oh I know the FC Baby X is with, they would be really great with <your son> as they have done another baby adoption where there was another child about <your son>’s age’ and ‘We know Baby X has <complex ethnic background> but you’re quite happy about that, aren’t you?’ and ‘BM has specifically asked that Baby X be placed with adopters with the same religious background as you – and that was what caught my eye about the baby in the first place, so you’d be able to meet that requirement’ and then at the end ‘so how do you feel about Baby X?’ So I mutter something about there being nothing that put me off and how Baby X’s background was actually more straightforward that my son’s. She asks me if I have had any thoughts about how we would work intros with my son (erm no, seeing as I don’t have a match yet…!) so she makes some suggestions. So by now I am thinking that Baby X must actually be the child she has enquired about and I’m ready for the big reveal…

But what she actually says is, ‘Well that was just to give you a flavour. Baby X isn’t even through the court system yet. I’ll let you know when the other baby’s SW is in touch, ok?’

She asked to see ‘the baby’s room’ again. At the moment this is a bare room with a book case and a dismantled cot bed in it as when I went through the process last time I wasn’t allowed to do anything until just before matching panel, certainly not until I had met the child’s SW. So I didn’t really think anything of it, plus she’d only seen it a few weeks ago.

‘Right, well you know a child’s SW would not be happy with this?’ She says. ‘You need to get this sorted quickly. They’ll want to see books and toys and a cot! If a baby’s SW agrees to you they won’t want to hang around, everything will happen really quickly. You need to get nesting!’

And then she left. And now my brain is reeling. What on earth was all that about?! Why tell me all about a child that can’t even be placed with me? Why did I need to hear about a child’s profile to ‘get in the baby mindset’? Was she playing mindgames? What was the point?

You think its all over…it is now.

After over 6 months of waiting, this week I was told the news that the SW of the child I had hoped would be agreed as a match had said no to us. The reasons given were valid – the lack of age gap (which was always the major factor) but also the fact I am not a man! Had I been a single man, or married to a man, I have been told it would be quite different.

So far I have been the wrong colour, religion and gender/or marital status to adopt the two children I have been considered for…and there isn’t a lot I can do about any of that!

These first few days since being given that news have obviously been difficult. My emotions have swung all over the place. From being totally pragmatic and philosophical to blubbering all over a terminally ill friend when I was supposed to be going over to visit to support him! People IRL have been sort of sympathetic in a quick ‘oh I’m sorry to hear that now lets move on’ sort of a way or have been quick to list all the reasons they thought it would never work anyway. Cheers for that. No understanding for the depth of emotion involved on my part at all. No appreciation of the fact this child is a friend of my son, a child at the moment I see twice per day, every week day. No appreciation of the fact that this decision means in all likelihood, in a few months we will never see this child again.

My SW has tried to offer me hope. I realise the SW was trying to say ‘there are other children out there’ but actually I’m not sure it has made me feel any better. In the course of the same conversation as giving me the news she asked my ‘permission’ to look at a couple of children that could be ‘potential’ matches and pass on my details to their respective SWs. She also told me I am ‘next on the list’ which means that any child who comes up in my age category I have to be considered for first (though the idea of this makes me uncomfortable – I thought it should be who is the best match rather than who is first on the list!). I am also not sure why my ‘permission’ was needed – to honest I would rather not know about these ‘possibilities’ as they are just that…and I have heard all this before. There is every chance the respective social workers of these children will say no again, or that their histories and needs mean that they are totally unsuitable for us. But though I try to feign total disinterest, I obviously can’t help but be intrigued a bit…could one of them be the right child for us? There is still that tiny bit of hope left but every time it rises to the surface now I force it down. I do not really believe anything will come of these ‘possibilities’ sadly because I cannot let myself wonder…hope just leads to more disappointment. Yes, as someone said on Twitter, one day a SW will say yes, but I still don’t believe that will be any time soon.

And now due to feeling caught in this downward spiral of sadness, disappointment and rejection, I am not much fun to be around (I imagine this post is not that much fun to read!) so I am avoiding Twitter due to all the newly approved people who are already allowed to join Linkmaker and appear to have a gazillion matches lined up already. Its rubbing salt in my already open and pussing wound and I don’t feel I have any emotional capability to rejoice with them in their joy. I will probably come back eventually, I always do…but a break is needed to mope, wallow in my grief a bit and then hopefully get my sanity together to be happy with and for others!

You think it’s all over

I hoped by now I would know the answer to whether or not I could be considered to adopt a child who is friends with my son.

After some confusion this week where I recieved some second hand information that turned out not to be correct, I discovered that I am going to be considered. But far from the stuffy meeting whereby Social Workers and managers got together and discussed all the pros and cons (which is what I was led to believe would happen by my former SW), I have actually been told that my son and I will have to undergo further assessment as the main part of the ‘consideration’.

Whilst being extremely happy that they have agreed to consider us, I am definitely not looking forward to being assessed further.  My new SW has been quite negative about the situation. She made some rather negative comments about my son saying he was ‘over excitable’ and that I needed to imagine what that would be like with two of them and how dreadful this would be if he acted like this during introductions during what is a tense time for all. I pointed out that he was over excitable because he was nervous about meeting her for the first time as she is a stranger. The FCs, their home and the child in question are all places and people he knows well – he doesn’t act like that around them…but she didn’t want to hear it. She had also fixated on the fact that my son said he needed to have the first turn of a game because ‘he was the youngest’. ‘His identity is clearly bound up in the fact he is the youngest, how will it be if a child comes into the home of a similar age and he loses that status?’ she says. Erm no. He was simply repeating the rules of the game that I read to him earlier in the day because he was trying to impress you with what he knows. He knows how old he is and how old his friend is. He knows he is the oldest. He has proudly said several times ‘I’m 4! He’s only 3! He can’t go to school, he’s too little’. At the moment it feels like she is going to jump on every tiny thing he says which really worries me. She even said we were doing this to ‘rule the situation out’ and ‘put the situation to bed’…whilst at the same time saying whilst the assessment takes place she will not be looking for any further matches for me.

After the assessment there are still no guarantees. She may decide the situation is not worth pursuing as a match. She might come to the conclusion that actually this can work and be a good match. Then she would present ‘my case’ to the little boy’s SW. That SW would then make the final decision…which of course might be a ‘no’.

My feelings right now are all over the place – I swing from hope to despair, to being philosophical to being fairly angry. I know I have to jump through these hoops and do whatever is asked of us. I know I have to have faith and trust that everything will work out for the best, but its so difficult having to let others decide the course of your life and your family and future.

 

All change!

When I adopted my son I had a great SW. She and I ‘clicked’. She saw me right through from the very first initial chat through to three months into placement. She was lovely but she liked things done ‘by the book’. At the time I resented that a bit, but actually I totally knew where I stood – like the day she called me and told me she’d found me a match, there was no doubt it was going to work out.

My SW this time was nice but we haven’t ‘clicked’ in the same way. There are things she has said and done which I know my last SW would be spinning about – like showing up at only panel minutes before we were due to go in. When I said I wasn’t even sure we were waiting in the right building she just kind of shrugged. It took her weeks to reply to emails, if she chose to acknowledge them at all, and she never gave me any other way of contacting her.  I took to nicknaming her ‘Queen of Cliches’ as my goodness I’ve heard them all – ‘sometimes people wait for a reason’, ‘what will be will be’, ‘if its right it will happen’. But she seemed to be very short on telling me facts or realistic outcomes. When she told me she was leaving I really wasn’t surprised, nor was I sad like with my last SW, I was actually a little relieved. But then came the worry of not knowing who would be my new SW and when they’d start on my case.

Thankfully this week I got an email from a new SW, giving me her text number and offering me some dates to meet. Within an hour of reading the email and responding via text, an appointment was set up. And then it happened, I got another text saying, ‘it will be good to chat properly and find out how you both are’ Complete with smily face emoji.

Find out how we both are? Wow. Though I’m not sure she’ll actually like the response…

Frustrated – that I still don’t know what is going on – that I have heard so many different messages coming from so many different sources over the last few months – even in my last meeting with my SW – that I don’t know what or who to believe any more. I’m not even certain what match criteria they are working to!

Disheartened – because the ‘failed match’ was presented to me at approval panel, I don’t look back at that day with any real joy, as the excitement I felt at being approved became bound up in the excitement of finding out they had found me a daughter…only actually, they hadn’t really. So approval now holds painful emotions. And now with 3 months of waiting I just feel like we’re in it for the long haul…this may just be the tip of the iceberg of waiting – no one really knows. The day I found out the whole thing wasn’t happening I stopped even the tentative beginnings of sorting out the junk room that I started. And I can’t bring myself to start again because what’s the point – it may be months, years even? And though my SW tried to assure me I should never have been shown the profile, a SW somewhere still judged me, my family and what I felt I could offer a child and found me more than wanting. That still stings however you dress it up.

Anxious– a question I first asked 6 months ago should in the next few weeks finally be answered. What the answer will be I don’t know. Because I am feeling so disheartened, I am struggling to believe there is genuinely going to be any good news for us any time soon. Sadly not only do I suspect it will be a ‘no’ to a potential match with another child, I suspect the reason it will be a ‘no’ is because although I have been told I will be considered, I suspect actually I won’t be.

Apprehensive – when she visits I will be at the point I can join adoption link. This sounds like a great idea but in practice users report that it can be quite painful – reading profiles and falling in love with children only to find out their SW isn’t interested in you or has gone with a couple instead. By the point I have to make a profile I will have had quite enough of that!

Getting on with things – mostly I am trying to just get on with stuff…with life and my job. Spending time enjoying being able to lavish my attention upon just one child. Still trying to create memories even in the waiting. In fact there have been one or two times where I have actually wondered what I am doing – why do I want to spoil what I already have? Why am I putting myself through this when I have an amazing little boy already?

It is a weirdly tiring and emotionally draining time. I am hoping a new SW, a new pair of eyes, possibly some enthusiasm and some clear information might help pick me up a bit and carry me through for a while. The first indications are positive.

Limbo

I wake up and its the first thing on my mind – I wonder if today will be the day I hear something.

Every time the phone rings.

Every time my computer beeps to say I have a new email.

Its in the back of my mind in almost every conversation to do with my job.

A constant rumbling. A longing. For the child I am yet to meet. For any kind of news.

I think: May be today will be the day I hear something. Or may be this week. God, I hope its next week, if not.

But its never the call I want to get. Or the email.

Time ticks on.

And we stay in this limbo.

The Difference

This morning I have been to a meeting with other people who do the same job as me. It is a voluntary meeting, designed for mutual support. Due to the adoption process and training taking up extra time, it was a meeting that I opted not to or couldn’t attend since before Christmas.

So I turned up and discovered to my delight that a colleague was obviously pregnant – only 10 weeks to go. I, of course, offered her my congratulations. And then I witnessed the difference between what it is like to be expecting a child through biological means and what it is like to be an expectant adoptive mother.

During the course of the meeting my colleague was asked about her physical health, her mental health, her preparations for the birth, she was offered practical support, she was asked about her maternity leave, she was given gifts of clothing by another colleague, she was complemented on how well she was managing to cope with everything considering she was about to become a mother, she was complimented on how well she was looking, she was asked if she was excited, if she knew if it was a boy or a girl….and on and on.

At the end of the meeting, seeing as the senior person in the meeting had not told everyone, I announced that although I clearly was not pregnant, I was too an expectant Mum as I had been approved to adopt a second child.

Silence.

Tumbleweed.

No congratulations offered.

One person asked me the age range of the child who would come to live with me. I then started to describe how difficult this matching period was. The senior person cut in, I was thanked for sharing and the topic was changed hastily.

I came home and cried.

The Darkness

Three and a half weeks on from my last post.

Despite the actual sunshine today I now feel in a rather bleak place. I believe I have recovered from the ‘failed match’ if that’s what it can be called and have even started telling people IRL about it (partly to stop them asking ‘Have you had any news yet?’). I am ready to move on and to consider what might be coming next…but the answer is…nothing yet!

I read a Home for Good reflection on Holy Saturday about what that day must have been like for the disciples and recognising that for some adopters or prospectives life must feel like we’re stuck in Holy Saturday.  (Read it here: http://www.homeforgood.org.uk/articles/reflection-easter-saturday ) Well Easter Day has been and gone and yes, I feel stuck there in that Saturday. My SW came and visited me last week and told me she had no news and there were no ‘prospects’ even on the horizon. Not only that, she is leaving and I’ll get a new SW soon so she said its unlikely anything will happen before that.

There is however, one possibility. A child that I first met 7 months a go and that I first made an enquiry about 4 months ago. The situation is complicated…and probably a story for another time if it works out. If it does it would be amazing – almost a mini miracle how it would have all come to be. But given my last experience, my hope in SW’s making good, right and well informed decisions has been stretched thin. This child is locked in their own Holy Saturday experience as the courts, after months of waiting, have failed to yet give a date for the final hearing to grant the PO. So there the child sits, asking and wondering when they are going to get their forever family.

I know that finally the dawn will come. I know for us the joy of welcoming a new life – in the form of a new child – will eventually happen. It might take weeks or months (or even, God forbid, years), but it will finally burst forth. And I know for this child the same is true. Eventually they will experience the mixture of excitement and fear of discovering their new family for the first time, and their life will never be the same. It probably wont actually be us, but we will share in their excitement that’s for sure.

But here we are.

Right now.

In the darkness.

Longing for the light.