A Thank You

This time last week I reached the most acute level of stress and anxiety I think I have ever experienced. Now there is and has been a lot going on in my life since Christmas – not just with the adoption process but other things it wouldn’t be appropriate to address here. But suffice to say I think my stress levels have been generally a lot higher than usual anyway. Still I have never had to lock myself away from my child because I just can’t control the need to cry before now, and not just one or two tears but full on shaky sobs.

At this point last week I thought I had been matched with a child. When the profile was given to me I wasn’t told it was ‘a profile’, ‘a possibility’ or ‘a link’, but ‘a match’ and even that she was ‘ready to go’. I had also been told they didn’t do ‘competitive matching’ here in this LA so my understanding was very much that if I said ‘yes’, which of course I did, it would be “all systems go”. Certainly the picture presented now at training is that everything flows along smoothly and at lightning speed to prevent delay for the child. In fact when I tried to say during my recent training that things sometimes were not as simple as they were presenting, I was told, ‘that wouldn’t happen here’ and ‘that’s the old way of doing things’.

But after two and a half weeks, apart from confirming how I would support a child with her particular complicated heritage, I hadn’t heard anything further…at all. So I emailed my SW (again) to beg for information. I also sought advice from others but people seemed to get the wrong impression – that I was just complaining about how long it was all taking and that I was being impatient. But by this stage I think my subconscious knew something was very wrong, deep down I knew we should at least have had an appointment booked in to see her SW by then – as my SW had promised would happen when I was given the CPR. With my son I had his profile for 3 weeks without anything happening due to a SW holiday, but I still knew the reason for the delay and had a date to see his SW booked in for when she came back which was made as soon as I’d said yes. People also didn’t seem to grasp the depth of emotion already involved with the match, suggesting I would be shown other profiles or that I ‘must be an exception’ for only being shown one profile at a time. I felt I totally misjudged the reaction I would get and in the end I felt abnormal for feeling so upset…and a bit stupid for even posting.

And so I found myself locked in my bathroom sobbing because I couldn’t bear the lack of information about what was happening any longer.* And probably also sobbing at some level because I knew something was indeed wrong. And sobbing because I felt stupid for being upset and that no-one understood why I felt so distressed.

(Now at this stage I need to make it crystal clear I am not having a go at people for their response to my post in that particular place or ‘slagging off the group’. Such groups/forums are invaluable to many people and for many an amazing support particularly in dealing with the challenges of the day to day parenting of our children. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, everyone has had their own experiences and frustrations which they want to share, and this is of course further confused by the differences to the process over the last 20 odd years and the multiple ways different LA’s operate. Perhaps that day in the peak of my anxiety I couldn’t read correctly what people were trying to say – perhaps, given all this, it wasn’t the right place to post when I was feeling so wretched anyway. I should also say there were also lots of people who responded who did clearly ‘get’ what I was saying and were very simply genuinely empathetic in their responses. The point of what I have just written was to make it clear how I felt when I posted my last blog.)

The day afterwards in response to my email I received a phone call where I found out that my ‘match’ was nothing of the sort. My fear over why I hadn’t heard anything wasn’t unfounded. There had been a total lack of communication – not just with me, but between SW’s and people ‘higher up’. I received a rather lame apology for the ‘difficult situation [I had] been put in’ which again glossed over the depth of emotion that I had been through. I also wonder, had I not have emailed to try to find out what was going on, how long it would have taken to find out the match wasn’t happening and just how long they would have kept me waiting in that terrible limbo. To begin with, I felt enormous relief to finally be put out of the misery of not knowing what on earth was going on.

But after the relief, of course has come sadness.

And so I wrote my last blogpost, to try to get some of those feelings of sadness out of my system. I wrote thinking that not many people would read it and if they did they wouldn’t ‘get’ it again…that I really shouldn’t have felt what I did about a child I’d never even seen. So the response to my post on Twitter and on this blog – the amount of people who read it and who did obviously ‘get’ it caught me off guard. There are so many people who have been through something similar or even much further along the matching process who have had it all fall apart and yes, they felt the same depth of emotion I did for a child on a piece of paper. In fact they think of that child still. Failed matches are certainly not something that are addressed on training so that response has made me feel that I wasn’t stupid and that I wasn’t alone.  So thank you for sharing your experiences with me and your understanding…in many ways it has brought me healing.

*A special thanks goes to ‘glitternails’ who was DMing me words of comfort and empathy whilst I was locked in the toilet!



I imagined you

I imagined you here in our home. I imagined you in your room decorated with yellow, playing with the toys I thought I might buy you. I saw in my mind your big brown eyes and the beautiful smile they described. I saw your big afro I would learn how to tame. I imagined the clothes I might pick out for you and wondered if you would like them too. I thought of you running around after your big brother, giggling and squealing with delight. I imagined too the teasing and the tears, the saying sorry and the making up.

And I researched and learnt. I thought about the books I would read you and the stories I would tell you to try to help piece your story together. I found out places I have never visited, cultures I knew nothing about and food I would learn to cook. And I was asked to write. I wrote for them all the things I would do to help you be proud of your heritage and who you are. I went to those wiser than me for advice and with their support I believed I could do this – be your parent.

I read your profile and believed I could meet your needs. I imagined how at times it would be tough for sure. I had already questioned the support that might be put in place to help us. I thought about the struggles you might face and I pictured how we might all support you and help you to stand strong. But I believed I could do it…be your Mummy.

But then, with a few words it was all shattered. My fears that had grown from the silence were confirmed and the bubble burst. I learnt now there was a miscommunication. Those higher up believed you were ‘harder to place’, that I was a good match for you and your SW would jump at the chance to place you. But they didn’t know you or what your SW had in mind. My own SW jumped the gun and thought it was a done deal – that your SW would see my profile and simply say yes. But your SW actually had something more specific in mind – a family who would reflect your cultural and/or religious background. A family without other children, where you would be the only focus of their mind. Your SW already had a family finder scouring the country looking for the perfect people – I was not the first port of call as my SW believed when she was given your profile to pass on to me. Had she known all of this I would never have read about you or known about you as I simply wouldn’t have been shown your profile.

And so I wonder, my little girl who never was, what will become of you? How long will you wait? Will they ever find you that perfect family – the one with the right colour skin and the right religion? I hope with all my heart they do and that you get to have a forever family who love you as you deserve…because we would have loved you of that there is no doubt.

And what of us? I am required to pick myself up, dust myself down and start all over again. I don’t know how long it will be until I am asked to try to imagine myself parenting another child. For now I don’t really want to think about it. Already I’ve been told, ‘The right child is out there’ and I know in time I will believe that is true again. But for once I am happy just to sit and wait. I don’t much care if the phone doesn’t ring for a while.



The single most frustrating thing I have found about the adoption process is lack of communication…what I have referred to before as ‘The Wall of Silence’. We as prospective adopters are required to give 100 %. Be available at a moments notice for meetings, get time off work for training, pay over a hundred pounds for medicals, be open and honest at all times. Prepare our hearts and homes for the arrival of a little one who we know nothing about. During the assessment phase meetings can be weekly or fortnightly with a social worker, you are heading towards the goal of approval panel, there is a finish line…and often its busy, busy, busy!

And then panel comes and you’ve reached that finish line…and then nothing…everything goes quiet. Now you’re approved then the silence descends. Then if things aren’t quite working out how they were promised, if you question what is going on, then you can be made to feel like the problem is yours – you’re just impatient, being unrealistic or a bit pushy. So you sit and you wait. Life goes on, it can’t stop. And you have to try to make plans for the future as it is now because no-one tells you what is happening…if anything. At the moment I finding myself double checking that it did all actually happen and it wasn’t all my in imagination!

I know in the grand scheme of things that it does pass. I know that when you meet your child it really doesn’t matter how long it took to get there, all that matters is that you are there now. But when you are in the middle of the waiting it is one of the most challenging things to live through. The tension between life now and the life you hope will be coming soon. The feeling that life as it is now is not complete because you just want to know about and ultimately meet the child you are going to parent.

I don’t know if SWs ever really fully grasp what this period is like for adopters…the depth and range of the feelings and emotions involved. I know this is the time they’d say we should be turning to and offloading to our support network. But I still feel that they could do more to be empathetic. May be just a call every now and then to say, ‘Things are going on behind the scenes that I can’t tell you about, but things are progressing’ or ‘I’m really sorry you haven’t had xyz like you were promised, there’s a backlog but you’ll get it soon’ or ‘I’m sorry but I have no news yet, it must be so tough – I’m here if you want to chat’ might make the difference.

And so last tonight I dealt with a meeting where people wanted to know what is going on, if there is any news, what’s going to happen with <abc>, can I at least roughly guess when <xyz> will happen… I had nothing to tell them and I have absolutely no idea.

And then today I have filed away a CPR to stop torturing myself over ‘what might be’…when it might not. I go away towards the end of this month and even if the SW decides I am suitable on paper for this LO, at the rate things are going I can’t see how we’re going to get ADM ratification, a SW to have time to read my PAR, arrange a meeting and actually meet before that… So I am going to pretend I never saw it and nothing is happening…because…well, it isn’t.