Life carries on…

The last couple of weeks has felt weird. My weekly routine, such as it is, is going to pot. I’m missing text messages. I’m forgetting to call people back. My usual Twitter account is becoming neglected. I’ve been asked to do something, agree and then forget. I’ll try to get on as usual and then something will happen and I’ll think, ‘Well, I wonder how I’d handle that situation a year from now’ or ‘I really should sort out XYZ but ….then again may be I won’t be around to see it through?’ Then before I know it, I’ve lost an hour with my ponderings when I should just get on with the issue at hand! Then I’m doing my weekly shop and I’m lingering far too long in the children’s clothes section, the toy aisle and the home furnishing departments. Areas I would have done my best to avoid a year ago. ‘Should I just get a few bits?’ I think to myself, ‘or is that tempting fate?’. ‘Ooh look at that <dinosaur lampshade> <cute jumper> <cool toy I’d quite like to play with>’ I think, ‘I could just get that, one thing wouldn’t hurt’. So far I’ve resisted. I fear once I open that floodgate there will be no shutting it again.

When I’m not actively working then my brain will automatically start chewing over things that I’ve discussed with my SW, and also the things that I know are going to come up over the next few weeks and the important decisions I’ll be making. The time my brain most likes chewing these things over at the moment seems to be between about 3-5am, either in the guise of panic filled dreams or I’m WIDE AWAKE. I’m hoping once I’ve actually made those decisions I’ll feel more confident and able to sleep!

And the problem is, of course, most people I come into contact with don’t have a clue why I am being so dippy at the moment. I see the raised eyebrows and I can feel the tutting. And even those who do know can forget easily what’s going on. Some people ask, but others who I thought would be full of questions just…aren’t. Some people are so confident that I’ll get approved that I don’t believe they understand why I would still be nervous or worried, or haven’t given any thought to what decisions I’d be making, ‘Well if they not going to approve you, then who would they approve?’ they say. I know they’re trying to be supportive but then that doesn’t leave me anywhere to go if I’m not approved. I am more than my job or role. But for everyone else around me, life carries on as normal and they expect me to as well.

When I described my stupidity to someone recently, they said, ‘well don’t forget you are expecting’! I laughed at her and said it isn’t quite the same. But she said, ‘no it is, quite a lot of the same questions and worries and doubts go through all future parents’ heads. The difference is with adoption, there is no baby bump to remind people what is going on for you and the major changes ahead’.

I asked on Twitter if there is such a thing as an adoption equivalent of ‘baby brain’ because if there is, then right now, I think I’ve got it!


Nephew no. 1 has his say…

Now I’m taking this with a pinch of salt, but yesterday my SIL broached the subject of me adopting with Oldest Nephew (aged 5). I think he’s picked up on things that have been said in front of him but this was the first proper sit down chat with him.

He was asked if he would like Auntie Mountain to have a little boy or a little girl, or both, that he could play with? Oldest Nephew: A little boy.

How old would he like the little boy to be? His age so they could play together properly or younger like Littlest Nephew? Oldest Nephew: I’d like him to be really little, one years old.

Apparently then he asked: ‘Why does Auntie Mountain want a child?’

Time to get him some adoption story books….!

Edit: Just saw Oldest Nephew. I said his Mummy had told me about the conversation they’d had about a child coming to live with me. I asked him the same questions again and he repeated word for word the above. I then said, ‘what do you think a one year old can do? Could you play with him like Littlest Nephew? Would he be able to talk to you?’ ‘No,’ he says, ‘he’d be too little, he might not be able to walk. But if he was little and he needed anything I could go and get it for him.’ So cute. But he did also relent later and say he didn’t mind if he was a bit older but not bigger than four (he’s five).

Stage 2 session 3

Today I had my third meeting with my SW for Stage 2. After having several distressing dreams about matching (after watching ‘Wanted: A Family of my Own’) we started today by talking about how matching works and the nuts and bolts of who I would meet, what information I would be given and just how much opportunity there is to say no. I think I needed that reassurance.

Our proper discussion was mainly talking about how my lifestyle will change after a child comes along. She asked me questions about different parts of my job and my working week and how I would manage things. Then support networks also came into play and I was asked who I would call on in emergencies or if I needed emotional support. Again nothing came up that I didn’t expect and because I’ve done no end of thinking about it – even down to what I would do with the dogs during introductions – I did have ready formulated answers, all of which she seemed to react positively to.

We had the siblings conversation again, and the questions this time were a lot more pointed about how I would cope with two children by myself. Some questions I couldn’t answer because I don’t know the child or potential children I am going to adopt or what their needs will be. Also some questions I didn’t see the point in – ‘So you’ll have two children one will be at school and one possibly at nursery so how will you get them ready to get to where they need to be?’ Well again that depends on the routines they already have in place and again if they have issues getting up and dressed – otherwise surely its simply that – up, dressed and breakfast (and all the cajoling, encouraging, fussing and organising that goes along with that), and then driving them to where they need to be. Same as if you have one child but with a whole lot more arguing? I really didn’t understand what she was getting at. She talked again about not having a break and how parenting is relentless and how adopters often don’t realise just how demanding being a parent is…doubly demanding with two children. I tried to point out the positives in having siblings but she quickly brought it back round by asking me to list the negatives in having two children – again I struggled because these are ‘invented’/’made up’ children. Do they get on well? Do they happily play together? Are they the same gender? Do they enjoy similar activities? How old are they? There are endless scenarios that would come into play in listing the negatives.

She also said that the chances of finding a sibling group where one of the children didn’t have significant needs were slim and so if I had my heart set on two it was likely to be a longer wait for matching as she wouldn’t want to place two ‘difficult’ (her description) children with a single adopter. She pointed out again that the process is much easier second time around and that there is also possibility that the birth mum, of any child placed with me, may also go on to have another child and I would be contacted to see if I wanted to adopt the sibling in that instance – but of course that’s not a given that it will happen.

I pointed out that I could be approved to adopt ‘up to two children’ which would mean that if a single child came along who was a match I would consider them, but equally if two children came along who were a suitable match then I would also be able to consider them. I said that I know in my heart of hearts I want more than one child so even if she recommends that I only go forward to adopt one child then I would definitely want to adopt again in the future.

I’m not actually sure where we left the discussion to be honest as we talked around so much within this that I’m not sure we drew any final conclusions. I strongly feel she is not supportive of single people – any single person, not just me – adopting more than a single child in one go. I’m not sure whether its just because it isn’t the norm, or because being a parent is difficult so the idea of a single person suddenly being overwhelmed by having two children without the support of a partner is more of a concern…or what. .

I must admit there are also postives about adopting two children separately – the main one being you can focus on developing a strong attachment with the first child before the next child comes along because they are able to be your sole priority. So I still have mixed feelings. I don’t feel like I was given a fair hearing on this topic as I felt she has a set view, but then conversely I also don’t want to be too fixed either. I said all along its about the right match and I need to trust her judgment.

Next time we move more into discussing the children and a more in depth look at the different needs the children have and what I think I could and couldn’t cope with, and also what level of uncertainty about a child’s future I could and couldn’t cope with.

Pre-adoption bucket list

As this post explains:  – last night some of us were having a conversation on twitter about all the things we would like to do before our children come to live with us – a pre adoption bucket list, as it were.

That’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to that day with excitement, but the reality is, there are lots of things, particularly as a single adopter, that I simply won’t be able to do as much or at all any more. And thinking about how life is going to change and preparing for it is healthy.

Some suggestions, from others, like having a shower or go to the toilet in peace, I haven’t been able to do for a while – not quite the same I know, but my two dogs insist on coming in the bathroom with me! If I lock them out then one of them particularly, cries pathetically – as in, like he’s being murdered – so I’ve had an audience for a while! That’s probably too much information…so, moving on…There are also lots of things that I *should* do (DIY and the like) but that’s not quite the same as things I *want* to do!

So here is my adoption bucket list:

1. Watch as many films for grown ups that I can – at the cinema
2. Go to as many live gigs as possible (I already have a rather exciting gig booked a few days after panel!)
3. Spend as much time as I can with my nephews – the entire family dynamic is going to completely shift when their cousin/s arrive/s
4. Spend as much time as I can with my friends before I can’t go anywhere without the hassle of getting in a babysitter – preferably one who understands my children
5. Talk to people as much as possible about world events, work, hobbies etc, before all I can talk about (or anyone asks about) is my child/ren
6. Take as much pleasure in my beautiful garden as I can, before wendy houses, trampolines, slides and the like make it look much more like a playground
7. Create the cut flower patch on the veg plot I’ve been meaning to make for 2 growing seasons
8. Enjoy long, quiet walks with the dogs
9. Find time to read the unread novels sitting on my bedroom bookcases
10. Go away on holiday when its cheaper while I still can!

I think most of that is achievable (though may be not *all* the unread novels!). If you’re going through the process what’s on your pre adoption bucket list?

Stage 2 meeting 2

Well I’ve just had my second stage two meeting with my social worker. I am now a mixture of extreme excitement and nervousness, topped off with quite a lot of relief!

My Social Worker, having not seen anyone through the new process before didn’t realise that she was meant to physically take my portfolio nor that she was supposed to get me to sign the new agreement. I asked her about what I’d read on Twitter about other people saying that I had to have a panel date 4 months from the agreement date and she said it wasn’t the case. She had wanted to put me on the June(!!) panel but having checked the folder to put in the date it was already full up with matchings, so with my agreement, we’re going for July instead. This is earlier than I’d thought, I had in my head August (4 months from the agreement date) and I would have been happy with that.

We talked a lot about the TV program 15,000 kids and counting and all the bits that I’d found helpful…and not so helpful too. She was able to give me some insider knowledge on some of it which I found quite helpful and reasurring.

We then spoke at great length about my teenage years, my Christian faith and my occupation. Lots of questions surrounding what I might do and how I might feel if a child didn’t want to share my faith. And lots of questions surrounding my beliefs.

(Boast alert!) She told me a couple of things about my portfolio that stood out to her and she said that she would like to include a section of it (about strategies I’d used as a teacher to discipline children) as an addition to her report to panel because she thought it was ‘just brilliant’ and totally what they advocate with adopters.

I asked some questions surrounding single adopters wanting more than one child. She said that we would now start to explore what it would mean to adopt more than one child and what that might look and feel like and what impact that would have on lifestyle and routine. She was careful to emphasise how many adopters talk about not getting a break and that’s the hardest thing they struggle with. She also talked a lot about coming back to adopt and how it was so much easier now. From this, I suspect she’s not that keen on the idea but she’s promised that we will look at it from now on. I’d also need to speak to my oldest nephew and try to gauge how he would react, in that instance about having a child closer to his age than we orignially anticipated. We had the small baby conversation again and I think this time she was reassured that I really do not want a tiny baby – anyone over 18 months is fine!

So all in all a really great visit. I finally feel properly excited – a panel date has really made a difference.

Mothering Sunday

A belated post I wrote on my phone on Mothering Sunday but didn’t publish then as I was away without access to my laptop. Its unfinished, but I want to include it here because this blog is a record of all my feelings and emotions to do with the journey, including the negative and the ranty!

This post has been ‘brewing’ for a while. A friend of mine got the unedited, full barrelled version over the phone earlier in the week and was left speechless. That for him is saying something!

I have found Mothering Sunday as its called in church, Mother’s Day as its known everywhere else, more and more difficult as the years have gone on. As the years have ticked by and I realised it was becoming less and less likely I would get married and have children its become more difficult. And the church, who is supposed to defend the rights of the orphan and hear the cry of the barren, hasn’t helped. As the years have passed, the church has seemingly embraced more and more the greetings card extravaganza of society. We have few festivals and celebrations in the church these days, but it seems to me, if the church had lost the orgins of another of its celebrations as much as it has ‘Mothering Sunday’ there’d be uproar.

Don’t get me wrong, its not all bad. Some use today to reclaim God as Mother and to celebrate the seemingly feminine characteristics of God, but the churches where that happen are few and far between. Some do celebrate motherhood and recognise both that not everone who ‘mothers’ is female nor do they have to be biologically related to you. The mother’s day flowers at these churches are given out to people who have ‘mothered’ you both male and female, related or not – because face it you will have already bought your Mum a much nicer bunch of flowers than what’s on offer at church! One of these types of services moved me to tears – where previously I, as an unmarried childless woman would have no flowers, that day I went home with several bunches because children from the school I taught in decided to give me them instead!

But its not even about the flowers. Its about being seen and heard and acknowledged amongst all the celebrations. Some people find this day difficult and painful and they’d just like that to be recognised and understood.

This year, personally, I’m finding it difficult because, there is a chance I might become a mother afterall, and whilst I’d like to join in and try and celebrate, I still can’t let myself because it is only a ‘might’. At this stage its a possibility, may be even a probability, but certainly not a given.

And then I stop and think about all those children in care waiting for a family (in whatever form that takes) and how painful today must be. I think about those children up and down the country who have had to take part in Mother’s day assemblies and sing vomit inducing, toe curling songs about how amazing mothers are, when that hasn’t been their experience.

And I know if I do become a mother through adoption, this day will not magically transform into the greetings card mush – it’ll be bittersweet and probably still carry with it a lot of pain both for me and my children.

Kick off!

With the news I have passed Stage One, I have felt more able to tell people that I am going through the adoption process. This week I told some work colleagues who have all been very supportive – I am very relieved as I am still uncertain what kind of reaction I will get. I obviously don’t know, but I imagine that when you are part of a couple people generally are pleased. As a single person I never know if people will think I am being too ambitious or foolish, or if people will feel negatively because I am not going to provide a child with two parents. Thankfully everyone has been so kind and happy for me its made it so much easier. I feel like a the cloak of secrecy is lifting and I can be more positive, just talking about it with people is great. And at the moment even their inevitable questions are not bothering me – I’m quite enjoying being an expert about something!

Today I had my first Stage Two meeting. We have put in lots of dates – 5 more between now and a months time! She kept saying that although this part of the process is supposed to be 4 months, because I’m single, a lot of it will not take as long which will mean that I could well be at panel a lot sooner. I’m not holding my breath though given timescales so far! She wants to review where we’re up to next month before deciding how many more dates to put in. Today was good, we discussed my childhood and what I’d written in my portfolio about that part of my life. It is an odd thing, thinking back and trying to make sense of what happened to you back then and how that might relate to adopting a child. I’m also quite concerned about just how much I’m waffling. It is very bizarre just talking about yourself for two and a half hours!

She also said all my references were glowing which was lovely and reassuring to hear. I’ll never know what was written but she says the level of detail was great and really good as evidence for her report. (So thank you referees if you are reading this!). The missing reference never turned up but the other person I asked to do it instead did it straight away. The reference that she took from somewhere I had worked previously (but she told me she wasn’t going to take) contained a two page letter berating her for breaching confidentiality, she addressed it to ‘To whom it may concern’ and I now know three people as well as the person who eventually replied saw it, so she did apologise without me needing to raise it, which I was quite pleased by.

She also said that I had to let the dogs out of their crates while we were talking next time. I said they could have come out today if she’d said and that actually it would be good for her to say hello to them before they do come out next week. So, I let the loopy mutts out. One of them was an angel and super well behaved, the other promptly pee’d all over the floor – something he’s never ever done before, even when he was a puppy! I was absolutely mortified!

Next time apparently, I’ll be talking to her about my teenage years through to my current occupation.