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!