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.

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Barriers

This (rather rambling…apologies) post is for #WASO, the Weekly Adoption Shout Out and is on the theme of ‘barriers’.

I can’t ever really remember not being interested in adoption. My biggest barrier to considering adoption earlier was probably growing up in Churches that expected you to be married and biologically reproducing before the age of about 21. Marriage and the inevitable kids were seen as the ultimate goal before anything else in life. The unspoken outworking of this is that if you are still single and/or childless in your mid-late thirties then you haven’t really succeeded, even that God hasn’t blessed you. Lovely. (Being unmarried and childless himself, I’m not sure that making sure everyone got married was ever really Jesus’ intention) .

But nevertheless, sucked into this way of thinking, the goal for me for a good few years was the same – to get married. And of course, to have kids. But here’s the difference. Even then I knew I wanted to adopt. Yes I wanted biological children, can’t pretend for a moment I didn’t, but even from the moment I played ‘families’ with my Barbie dolls, some of the kids in Barbie’s (huge) family were adopted. But my barrier for years was that I had no Ken, no husband. I believed that first it was impossible for a single person to adopt but also that I wouldn’t have the strength/ability to do this unless I was married. Then there was the opinion of course that a child should grow up with two parents (and I’m not even going to start on the gender of those parents!). What would people think if I became a single mother by choice?

First the barrier of singleness in my own mind and  my own view of my standing before God was broken down and changed. I do not believe that I am somehow inferior or less loved or less following God’s intention because I am not married. I do not believe I am any less blessed. I do not believe I am living an inferior life because I am not married.

I have also watched friends’ and acquaintances’ relationships break up for all manner of reasons. And I saw the effect of relationship break ups on the kids I worked with (not all bad, I must say). I have also watched people in marriages where they are deeply unhappy and no longer even seem to know their spouse but carry on in their unhappiness because they believe ‘that is what God wants’. So therefore my view of this ‘ultimate goal’ has changed too and my life as it is became far more attractive. Then when I was told by a fellow Christian that singleness wasn’t a barrier to adoption and plenty of people with less background of working with young people and children than I’ve had cope just fine. That was pretty much it. Barriers all gone.

And I can’t help but wonder. I wonder, if I had got married, if I would still be doing this. I like to think I would be. But who knows? Adoption obviously certainly isn’t an ‘easy option’ to parenthood. I have been in contact with two married people recently – the first has no fertility issues but is thinking of adopting, but for her the possibility of biological children is a reality and adoption is simply ‘an option’ (but one she is seriously considering). The second has had fertility issues but the thought of the intrusive nature of the adoption process seems like too much to handle for them as a couple. So may be for me too marriage might actually have become its own barrier to adopting.

For other blog posts on adoption see: http://theadoptionsocial.com/

The Story so Far…

I am writing anonymously. Due to a high profile job, I would rather this was not too public as I go through the early stages of the process. If you are a friend and wish to comment please do so, but try to respect this. Thank you!

I don’t really know where my story with adoption begins. As a child I grew up living next door to a girl of similar age who was adopted, we played together when we were young and I remember her explaining to me why her cabbage patch doll (of which I was extremely jealous) was just like her. I’m not sure if this early experience has anything to do with my life long desire to adopt, but adoption to me has always been a normal thing.

I always wanted a large family, I told my mother outright at about 16 I would have 6 children! However somewhere I always knew some of them would not be ‘homegrown’ as a friend of mine puts it. What I never dreamed was that I would be doing this alone.

I grew up in a quite conservative evangelical wing of the church, the kind that says don’t date people who don’t believe the same things as you, certainly no sex before marriage and presumes you will get married, usually by the age of about 22. There is no room in this kind of church for what happens next if that doesn’t happen for you. What happens if, as a woman, one of the few vaguely normal Christian blokes doesn’t fall madly in love with you. Usually its more of the same nonsense, that one day someone will come along who is ‘the one’. Well, I stopped believing that a very long time ago. But my desire to have children, to be a parent, a mum, has not diminished.

Not long ago I was put in a position lucky enough to get to know two adoptive families and it was a conversation with one of them that really helped me to get to grips with the fact that I didn’t need to be married to adopt. In fact she was so encouraging that about me personally, and what I might offer a child, that she really set me on this course. As a Christian she talked to me about why Biblically speaking, adopting had been important to her.

After speaking with her, I started reading every website and every book on adoption I could lay my hands on. I even bought my mother a book about being an adoptive grandparent for Mother’s Day a few years back. (This was met with a thoroughly mixed reaction).

Four years ago I moved up North to take up a new job and I thought the time was right to approach an agency. However in their discussions with me, they made it clear they thought I needed a larger and stronger support network in the area and to wait a while as I was ‘still very young’. They also implied strongly that they felt I would be better with a younger child, even though I never said that, and so they felt their agency was out, as it dealt mainly with older children and those who had disabilities.

So for the last four years I have waited and now I’m pushing forty I’m hoping another agency will take me a bit more seriously, and that the friends and relationships I have made here are considered a ‘strong enough’ support network. Again, I have been reading more blogs to try to get a handle on this process (although its apparently recently changed) and the kind of thing I have in store.

I do have lots of worries. I’ve started following a number of adoptive parents on Twitter and the stories they have to tell about parenting children with attachment disorder appear daunting. I’m not sure I have the strength and stamina to deal with it, but I guess most people think that before they are faced with it (surely?). I am still worried they won’t think I have a good enough support network (I read on one blog how a potential adopter needed 8 references!), even though I have family members living close by. I’m worried about how my parents will react when I finally broach the subject and tell them I’m going for it.

I believe I do have an enormous rocky mountain to climb. I’m not sure right now I’m actually going to reach the top. But I’ve just filled in my inquiry form…so today at least I’ve taken the very first step.