Well, today is World Adoption Day 2020. I’ve struggled to write over the last few months, as you can probably ascertain by the silence here. The world seems to have gone more than a little bit pear shaped, and sometimes there are no world that quite seem enough…
Instead, I’ve decided to share our adoption story again, I’m pretty sure I’ll have done it before so I hope you don’t mind. Mrs S and I had decided early on in our relationship that we wanted children. I was approaching 30, so time was getting on a bit really! We talked about the various ways to go about it – obviously, nature was never going to take its course in the traditional way, so having a family was always going to take a great deal of planning.
A key part of our decision to adopt came from one of our old colleagues, whose mum was a foster carer. She told Mrs S a story of two little boys who had been placed with her mum for long term foster care because they were considered unadoptable, I believe they were three and four years old at the time – not Norman and Marvin, but their story certainly had similarities. I remember the shock I felt. She said the word “unadoptable” and at the time, I heard “unloveable”, which certainly wasn’t true, I know that foster carers love their children dearly, they’re a different kind of superhero in my eyes. But it’s what I heard, and moreover it’s what I felt, and our decision was made.
And so, just a few short weeks after we were married, we contacted social services and began the process. I have known pregnant women, and I have helped deliver babies, so I know that you give up a certain amount of dignity when you grow a baby; you expose bits of your body that are usually kept private. What I didn’t expect was that, through the adoption process, I would have to expose bits of my heart and soul that are usually kept private. By the end of our assessment, our lovely social worker knew things about us that even close friends and family didn’t know, and that remains true to this day!
By July 2016, we were ready to go to the adoption panel, which is basically a handful of people who have some interest in adoption – social workers, adoptive parents, adoptees, and so on – who read a report that our social worker had prepared about us and then asked us a variety of tricky questions. The upshot, of course (otherwise this blog wouldn’t exist), was that they agreed that we were decent enough people to raise children, so then we waited…
A lot of people seem to be under the impression that you get to “pick” your child, but it doesn’t quite work like that. Families for children, not children for families – meeting the child’s needs is the most important thing, so matching children with parents who can do that is the aim.
We first heard about Norman and Marvin in the November of 2016… we were told that they were “boisterous, excitable little boys”… which is, of course, very true! But only really the tip of the iceberg. That day, we were sent a couple of pictures of them and told all about them, and that was it, we wanted them to be our family. What followed was various meetings, another nerve wracking trip to the adoption panel, and three months of waiting… oh, and we squeezed a Christmas in there too! Which I can barely remember to be honest, there were only two things we wanted for Christmas that year.
We met our children for the first time on the 1st of February 2017. They were two and three at the time, and that day we spent about an hour with them. Norman was playful, chatty, excitable. Marvin was shy, clingy with his foster mum. They came home with us on the 13th of February, less than two weeks after we had met them for the very first time. I guess most people bring their children home not long after meeting them for the first time, but usually they’re tiny new babies rather than walking, talking little people!
The months that followed were tough, more difficult than I could ever have imagined. Mrs S went back to work after a couple of weeks, and I spent the early days going from meal time to meal time, as though surviving to the next one was an achievement. 8am we had breakfast… 10am was snack time, lunch was at 12pm… I had no clue what I was doing but I knew I could feed them! We had visitors every day, grandparents, aunties and uncles, conversations over the fence with our neighbours, because managing a whole day by myself was such a challenge.
We’ve been through a lot. Individually, as a family, it’s been a rollercoaster, some of which I’ve talked about, some of which I’ve forgotten, some of which I can’t even begin to put into words. But today, and every World Adoption Day, I will celebrate my boys. They are superheroes, in ways that most people will never even realise. They’re not lucky, they’ve already been through too much, and we’re still facing a massive uphill struggle. But I’m lucky.