Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A bit like a yoyo


Sorry I’ve not been as regular with my blogging as I might be.  I’ve been rather up and down lately.  Sometimes I forget things and feel happy and then other times I just feel overwhelmingly tired and saddened by it all.  I’ve only got three days left of my holiday now before I go back to the madness of school.  I’m sure it will be good to be busy again but I’m worried about coping with all of this going on as well as my full on teaching job.  I guess I should just snap out of it, stop worrying and get a grip!

We have been spending our pain a bit....oops.  I just bought an SLR camera which is something I’ve always wanted but never felt like I could quite buy.  It’s very cool and I’m planning to learn how to use it properly so I can take some really good photos.  Spending your pain is a bit of a temporary fix though but I figure as long as we are not spending more than we have then it’s OK.  We’ve been saving up for ages and now have fallen off the wagon a bit as I guess we both feel like we’re not saving for anything anymore.  And that in itself is just stupid...because clearly we will be matched at some point.  I think we are just both feeling rather wounded and negative about things.  Friends of ours have been approved for 1 ½ years and still no match and they are just lovely, wonderful people so I don’t understand why they have been kept waiting for so long.  It doesn’t make sense.  Which makes me worry that for all our support network, reading, preparation etc etc, it still could take forever.

I’m sorry.  Putting things on paper makes me realise how much of a big old whinger I’m being.  I’m not really that “woe is me”...well, I sort of am...sorry!  I really should get over myself.  Some of the people over on New Family Social have been through a whole lot worse with matches that were days before matching panel breaking up.  At least we didn’t get that far.

We took the opportunity to decorate our bedroom over the bank holiday weekend.  It is now no longer dingy beigey cream but a lovely shade of white with a Wedgewood blue wall.  It is nice that we have done it because it made us feel productive and also now we have a lovely relaxing space.  We thought it would be doomed to remain dull, dark cream forever so that’s a big positive.

We signed up to  I think it’s probably a bit premature but I just really wanted to do something proactive.  I suppose on some level it makes me feel better to know that we are doing something as I’m not very good at just sitting back and waiting.  It’s hard though, as the main thing you have to go on is the picture of the child (a bit like an estate agent) and that just seems a bit wrong.  I prefer the way the agency does it where they give you all the info first and you make a proper decision rather than starting it in such a superficial way with the strange emotional link that a photograph gives you.

Oh.  I haven’t told you about the meeting with our social worker last week.  She has restored our faith in her and reassured us that she is on our side.  It seems like the cock up with the agency was bigger than we realised and so really she was the wrong person to call us and break the bad news because she didn’t have the authority to apologise on behalf of her colleagues or the authority which is why she couldn’t really explain fully what had happened.  She only called us on Thursday afternoon before she went on holiday because really she was calling on behalf of the managers and the children’s social workers.  We were right about some negative assumptions though.  They had noted that our house was really tidy (clearly...there were social workers coming!) and apparently felt like our house would not be good for chaotic children as they would wreck the place and we wouldn’t be able to cope.  I mean...really!  Clearly our house isn’t currently covered in toys and vomit but we don’t have any children yet so it would be a bit strange if it was.  Our house is tidy(ish) but not *that* tidy.  I mean we do have things out on the side and our sink doesn’t have a mirror shine!  What do they want from you?  How do they expect your house to be?!  Luckily last time the twins came round, one of them spilled milk on the carpet so now there is a small stain...maybe that means they will think we will make better parents!  But I have been nesting 100% of my time for weeks!  I’m on “holiday”, what do they expect?!  What a bunch of crazies!  I can’t believe that they make these assumptions about you from your home decor...haven’t they ever seen “Through the Keyhole?” no-one ever got it right, did they?!

On some level it is nice to know that it is the system at fault and not us, but it doesn’t help too much when you know that this is the system you have to use to find your family.  But even this crazy old system seems less scary than heading off and trying to find a family on your own.  I much prefer the idea of being matched in house as at least social workers have knowledge and experience of matching.  I’ve never chosen a child before so I don’t really know what I’m looking for!

Ooh.  This blog is making me feel better!  Thanks anonymous readers, whoever you are.  I’m on the sofa in my pyjamas again.  Somehow you guys have given me the get up and go to get up and get some breakfast.  Well done, you!

I do believe that our children are out there.  I suppose we are worried that this mess up has wasted us time, which it has, but not that much time.  We are young!  And we should be enjoying our time as a couple and making the most of not having children and we are in a way but it’s peppered with sadness and hollow purchasing to try and make us feel better.  If we hadn’t had this link, we would feel funny and apprehensive but not in the same way.  I had fully imagined that I would only be back at school for a month or so, and what an exciting month it would be.  I had imagined Christmas and I had imagined trips out with my friends who are already mummies and I can’t un-imagine it.  I wish I could.  No...maybe I don’t.  Getting excited and getting ready and looking forward to being a parent is part of who I am and I don’t want to be a person who doesn’t do those things.  Unfortunately it just makes it harder now because the near future isn’t going to be what I thought it would be.

It makes you think though.  All these emotions I’m having.  I am constantly on a knife edge between coping and not coping.  Merrily getting on with things and then welling up and having to stop.  I’m getting there.  There is more merriment and coping than there was.  But my point was.  I’m an adult.  I’m an adult who has been through crap before and coped and managed and come out the other end more than usually perky and OK.  But these kids...they’re just kids and the amount of crap they have to go through before they get to their forever families and not just when they are with their birth families but in the “care” system too.  It makes me realise that though this path we are taking has brought us a huge amount of pain lately, it will be worth it in the end, not just for us, but for the children that eventually become a part of our family.

Another long one.  Congratulations for making it through to the end.  Maybe I should start putting summaries at the beginning.  “Feeling a bit sad.  Getting there.  Worried about going back to school. Social worker better than we thought. Will be worth it in the end”.  I’m not sure it quite gets across the same message though.  I love words.  I love the way they can make you feel so much less crap.

Hope that wasn’t too much of a snivvely moan bag of a blog!  TTFN! x

Friday, 17 August 2012

It's all gone Pete Tong!

Hello folks.  Sorry it’s been a while.  Everything fell apart (including me) in a rather catastrophic and impressive fashion last week and I’m sure anything I posted would have consisted of moans, sobs and sniffles.  However, I have now bounced back (ish) and will proudly present you with the facts of the matter without added melancholy although, probably more than likely, with a smattering of indignation.

I didn’t commit to paper the excitement and apprehension we felt after our meeting last Monday (which is probably for the best...).  We were talked through the children’s past history and behaviours...occasional biting, sleep issues, a bit clingy...nothing we hadn’t expected given that we have done tons of reading on the implications of neglect and domestic violence and also spoken to lots of current adopters.  So no big shocks at all.  We were there in the meeting waiting for the fact which would pop out and make us say; “whoa there, hold on a sec...” but it never came.  The social worker complimented us on our child focused attitude to adoption and said it was great that we understood that they would come with issues and wanted to work with them rather than try to forget they had a past.  She praised us for our extensive reading and the whole meeting was very open (or so we thought).  I said that I was looking to take two years off and the social workers smiled at each other like this was very positive.  Then I asked if they thought we would make good parents for these children and they said; “you have a lot of the skills needed to be good parents for these children” and I said; “OK then, what happens next?” and they said “Well, we arrange meetings with the medical advisor and it could be about three months...[then our social worker said]...much sooner than that, I think”.  Then they showed us photographs and proudly looked on and asked us how we felt.  We didn’t really know what to feel but we felt quite in awe of the fact that these were going to be our children.  And that was that.  They said they would call that afternoon to confirm the next steps.  Wow, we thought.  We are going to be parents really bloody soon!  Then the social worker called on Monday afternoon and said that she hadn’t been able to talk to her manager so she would call me on Thursday or Friday.  And that was Monday.  Rightly or wrongly I assumed this was go, go, go (wouldn’t you?) and let my close friends and family know (the ones who had been references on our PAR) and also emailed school as I am very conscious of keeping them in the loop as they won’t have long to find my replacement.

So cue Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday where I go out and have jolly lunches with my chums and their kids only this time my brain is saying “’re not far off the Mummy club now!”  So it all sort of feels different and exciting and scary but kind of wonderful because it’s what we’ve been working towards for so long.

And then Thursday comes and at 3.30 I get the phone call (the one I’m expecting to be confirming the appointments with the medical advisor etc) and I’m in the park in the sunshine with my friend and her two children.  Our social worker says “how are you feeling?” I say...“well, I don’t know if I’m allowed to be completely excited”...she says...“oh...” and then I can’t remember her exact words but it was something along the lines of “the children’s social worker has decided it’s not a good match”.



Now I feel a mixture of crushed, sad, stupid, over-excitable and about 0.5mm tall.  I also wish that the playground would swallow me up and send me away from all the cheerful mums and kids.  I can’t really remember the rest of the conversation as I was just so shocked.  The meeting had gone really well, they had shown us the photographs, they had told us it would be much less than three months and now...bang.  So I can’t clearly remember the conversation we had but effectively what I took from it was “we don’t think you can manage these two children when you’re at home on your own”.  I felt like someone had stamped on me repeatedly and it physically hurt.  I tried to keep normal until my lovely friend and her kids had gone home but then I just melted down.  I felt like they were saying I couldn’t do it...I couldn’t be a good parent.  She said it was nothing to do with the meeting and that they definitely hadn’t withheld any information but that the children’s social worker felt I wouldn’t be able to cope and that they wanted what was best for everyone and that wasn’t for the adoption to break down.  So in my mind I’m thinking...but all they had were some fairly minor behavioural issues (we questioned this during the meeting and they confirmed it), and they were two smiley, sociable children, and we can’t cope with them.  Well I’m thinking, clearly we will never be matched then, because I’m not good enough to manage.  I was in a state, I’m not going to lie about it.  I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t stop sobbing because I blamed myself and I felt like I had let me, my partner and these children down.  So that was Thursday and Friday.  Not great.  Not proud of that, not trying to be melodramatic, just trying to be honest.

Oh yes, and that phone call was the last thing our social worker did before going on holiday for a week.

On Friday our old social worker called (we text to say what had happened) to say that she was quite shocked as on paper it seemed like a really good match.  These are the two children they have been talking about for us since before our panel.  I said I couldn’t figure it out.  I just kept going over it in my head...they said it wasn’t the meeting...they said it wasn’t that the children were different to what they had what was it?  Anyway, she advised me to call the adoption services manager (who is lovely) so I did, and that’s finally how I managed to get to this point.  A point where I can function and reason and look forward and write about what happened.

I explained to her that I felt totally crushed and devastated because I didn’t understand what had happened and was blaming myself.  She explained that it was the children’s social worker’s first ever link and that on paper it had seemed like a really good match but on talking to the children’s social worker it transpired that the children’s behaviour was much more challenging and demanding than the CPR stated.  That they were violently clingy etc. although she admitted that it wasn’t her case so she didn’t know everything about it.  She said (as did our other social worker) that they feel our primary skill is as nurturers, so we are better suited to more withdrawn children.  One of my friends worries that this is slightly homophobic, as they are seeing us both as “mothers” rather than co-parents with different skills.  I’m not sure.  I said to the manager that we felt like everything they kept saying about us being nurturers was a sort of code for us not being resilient, and that it sounded like an insult and she said that it was just that some children are a better fit for some people than other children and these ones didn’t seem like the best fit for us.  She apologised, she said that they shouldn’t really have matched us in the first place.  I made it clear that we weren’t upset because these particular children wouldn’t be our children, we were upset because on Monday we were very firmly led to believe that we would be parents very soon and they waited until Thursday to tell us that we weren’t.  They shouldn’t have left that meeting on such a positive if they had doubts; they shouldn’t have shown us the photographs; they should have asked us directly about the behaviour they felt I couldn’t manage and they definitely shouldn’t have let us spend three days feeling positive and excited about our imminent parenthood only to tell us it was all off and not really explain why.  Especially when the reason why is that they have cocked up, not us.  They messed up the match, they behaved inappropriately in the meeting and it seems like they have made massive assumptions about our personalities which we worry aren’t really true.  But despite all this, I still feel inclined to trust that they understand matching better than I do.  It’s their job and I’m not going to believe or argue that these children were right for us; I believe them, they probably weren’t, and that’s OK.  Just don’t put us through all of this, please.  Because we’re not even parents yet and we feel like our confidence has been totally squashed.

So that’s that.  That was the last couple of weeks with my OH’s grandma’s funeral and an engagement party thrown in for good measure.  I have two weeks left of school holidays and I’m not really sure what to do with myself.  We have a meeting with our social worker next week and I wonder what we will say.  I’ll let you know.  Three months from our approval panel is fast approaching which means the national adoption register looms.  I don’t know from experience but it sounds like when you are looking for a house, and they send you masses and masses of details which aren’t right, and then when one finally is right, the sellers choose someone else.  It seems like a lonely old process fraught with rejection and negative assumptions made without even talking to you, let alone meeting you.  I had really hoped that we would be matched in house and not get that far but you can’t win them all.  Our adoption journey has been fairly painless up until now so I guess it was going to happen at some point.

Sorry that was so long!  I hope it wasn’t too down in the dumps and angry!  I do feel cross now.  I feel like I’m mostly healed but all this emotion makes you seriously physically tired!

I need to get off the sofa, get dressed and have some breakfast!  xx

Wednesday, 1 August 2012



I'm not sure whether I should be writing this or not as I don't want to jinx things, but then that's not really in the spirit of blogging, is it?!

So, after my whingey old moan bag of a post last time what happens...? Our social worker calls and tells us they have made a link with a sibling pair! I'm not going to give any details just in case but they are both under three!  Amazing. The reason she wasn't available to talk to me was because they hadn't had their official linking meeting and she was worried she wouldn't be able to keep it a secret if she spoke to me!  So there we are.

We have a meeting with our social worker and the children's social worker on Monday and then we will decide if we agree to the match.

We will have to ask loads and loads of questions.  I think I'm going to type up answers on the laptop as we go as this is undoubtedly going to be the biggest decision of our whole lives.  And it's so hard!
Because you just don't know how their life experiences will manifest as they grow, and you have to try to decide what sort of trauma you can manage and where you would be best placed to therapeutically parent them.  So we are excited and scared and nervous and hopeful and a million other emotions.  We have even been given names, which is lovely as we can think about them as real people, but we have avoided talking about them too much until after Monday when we will know more definitely whether we think they are a good match for us.  We have only really told people who came with us on our adoption journey, so far. I'm not going to worry my workplace until we know for sure so I will call them after Monday I think.

As a distraction technique on Sunday I made a treasure map for the wall on one of the bedrooms.  It is decorated with hot air balloons with children riding in them, clearly on an adventure and I just wanted it to have a real sense of adventure on there!  But instead of just making a fictional one, all the places are relevant to our friends and family, like there's a Rose Cottage named after one of our friends, and Lake Louise where we got engaged!  The whole family is on it! I think it's pretty cool...I even did the teabag staining and burned round the edges!  Unfortunately I can't share it on here because it would be a bit too identity revealing!  It's a bit like the map we had to do for our PAR of our support network only kid friendly. Luckily our family seem to have names that fit well with places!

So we have been busy putting up more storage and trying to get ready but not in a specific to these children kind of way.

Something about it feels very right now that we have settled down, but we still have to be sensible and measured and not get carried away with our emotions.  Much easier said than done.

It's just unbelievable that I've been blogging for just over a year now and we have been linked.  It's not taken nearly as long as we thought. I'm glad we timed it right so our extension etc were finished off and we don't have anything to worry about.  I've decided that I'm going to take photographs of all the breakable things we had as wedding presents so that if anything gets broken and the children can see on my face that I'm sad I can say "well, it was an accident so I'm not cross, but I am a bit sad because it was a wedding present from...but don't worry because I have a picture of it so I can remember it that way and still be happy".  I'm hoping that will work!

And that's all for now!

I will be in touch when we know more :)