Monday, 21 May 2012

They're moving in!

On one of our frequent visits to our local park recently I saw a friend with her newly adopted two-year-old little boy. He had been living with her for just 9 days when I saw them and I recognised the look on her face all too well. That, ‘oh my goodness, what have I done and how do I handle this?’ kind of look. One that I pulled off everyday for about 4 months when our children moved in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely brilliant, but it just such a shock. Friends that have had birth babies go into a similar shock where they can’t leave the house or see anyone for the first few weeks because they can’t believe what they’ve got in their hands and how dependent it is upon them. It’s the same when you adopt, only for many of us they are walking, talking little things that you’re just not used to having around.

The first couple of weeks when our two moved in my partner and I used to argue over who would go to the shop to get milk just so we could have 15 minutes to ourselves and not have any responsibility for that short, sweet walk to the Co-op. I even remember sitting in a Frankie and Benny’s (somewhere we would never have gone B.C. – Before Children) and looking over at a couple of teenagers on a date envying their freedom to please themselves. We literally walked around in the hazy smog of shock for weeks. It lifted slightly when they started school but came back around 3.15 every day.

Nothing can prepare you for the day your children move in. Nothing. It’s exciting, it’s frightening, it’s exhausting and it’s forever. The first night ours spent here in their new home after we put them to bed we went to watch the new series of The Apprentice. It was a Wednesday night. We laughed at the bunch of buffoons on the show and tried to guess who would win and it felt like any other normal night until we stared at each other and burst out laughing because we remembered we had two little children asleep upstairs. We crept up to take a look at them while they were sleeping and it was just like a John Lewis advert, if the bedrooms in John Lewis ads had toys all over the floor.

The next morning there was a tap on the bedroom door just before 6am. Our son was up and he wanted to chat and play. And so it began. And so it goes on to this day. The shock has gone. The arguments about who gets out of the house are long gone and the envy of the carefree teenagers has never reared its spotty head again. We’re okay now, well, more than okay actually but it does take time to adjust. I often tell new adoptive parents at matching panel about how it might feel when they move in, but I know they’re not really listening. Their eyes are glistening and they just want their family to hurry up and come together. I was the same. See, it’s impossible to prepare because you just want your children to be under your roof, and quite right too. It’s all part of the wonderfully bumpy ride that is modern adoption and there’s no use telling them. They’ll soon find out for themselves. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Don’t listen to the Daily Fail

This blog is being typed with hot and angry hands. Not because my kids have poured my favourite perfume down the sink or cleaned our new car with rocks, it’s because I have just read an article on adoption in the Daily Mail. I am furious. Have you read this tripe?

You see, what if you were/are a prospective adopter, someone who has struggled with fertility perhaps or is simply thinking about it as a way to create your family, this article could stop you in your tracks. I’m furious because it’s so bloody inaccurate! Local authorities and agencies do sometimes have their own ways of working and can be mildly different from each other but they all have to adhere to the same guidelines and I think I understand enough about it to be able to rant in this blog.

I am an adoption panel member for a local authority and have been for two years. I read those very heavy yellow pages sets of papers and help the panel come to a decision every month. If a child with an unusual or highly recognisable name comes up then sometimes we actively recommend they consider a change to protect the child’s identity. If you’re talking about a baby, you can introduce a new name gently and they will become used to it. Obviously get a 4 year old with a tricky name then it needs more consideration but you are adopting a person, a child, not a name that will embarrass you when you enrol them at baby yoga. The article was so unashamedly aimed at the middle classes it was thoroughly insulting to many who have considered adoption or have adopted. Your children’s friends don’t have to be called William and Henry!

This was badly researched, highly sensationalist, wholly inaccurate and actually damaging. The girl called Chardonnay they talked about in the article is, in my opinion, very likely to be fine and will find a loving family who will give her a tremendous life. They are playing us, the readers. Pulling our heartstrings and trying to get us to think the whole process is in ruins and best avoided. Well I can tell you it is not.

If you want to do you have to go for it. The process is nothing like as bad as they say it is. Read my previous blogs to find out what I think about that. As for letterbox contact, well, I don’t like it and don’t agree it’s beneficial for any party but still, their view is wrong. Children never get to write directly to their parents. Ever. It’s like prison mail and gets checked before being passed on. The Daily Mail is putting frighteners on people.

There. I said it. I said it quickly and with a hot head. This might not be my finest blog but it is one of the most passionate. Now I’m going to watch a DVD with my beautiful children and try and forget all about the Daily Mail. You should too.