Our adoption journey had begun with a massive false start and an extended wait as we sorted out a few things, so when things actually moved forward we were impatient to get on. We started 2017 newly approved, knowing that there was a possible match with a sibling group whose social worker we’d met at an Adoption Exchange Day; however, we quickly came down to earth with a bump!
In our first meeting of the year with our social worker, we were told that the children’s needs were greater than we’d initially thought, that we wouldn’t be moving ahead with the match and that there were no other potential links at the moment. We were totally deflated and wondered when we’d hear any news, so it was a massive relief when just over a week later we got a message asking if we had seen a sibling group on Link Maker. We had, we remembered them (they were gorgeous) and we wanted to know more. We read and reread their profiles every day and after a few more weeks we had met with their social worker and family finder, and it was agreed to move forward with the match.
Over the following months we met with the foster carers, paediatrician and teachers. The more we heard about “our” children as we were thinking of them, the more certain we were that this match was right for us and them. We knew there was going to plenty to think about, the children would be losing contact with their older siblings and they had a close relationship with their carers after being with them for 18 months – a long time when you’re 6, practically forever when you’re 2 and a half.
As well as this new loss in the children’s lives, there were their different experiences to consider: neglect and abuse, one child being scapegoated whilst another was heavily favoured. Hearing about these aspects of their lives was difficult but also made us more keen to get on with it. So we filled our time with finishing bedrooms and the garden, taking no end of photos of ourselves around the house with the toys we were going to give them, and making their books about us and their forever home.
Finally we got to matching panel which was a lot less stressful but a lot more emotional than we expected – tears from us and the panel, but we were approved! The decision was ratified and our final step before intros was to meet the children’s older siblings. Knowing that they were going into long term foster placements and had been to their final contact with our children was tough but it was definitely worthwhile and our children are pleased that we “know” their big brother and sister.
Nothing can truly prepare you for the intensity of introductions. As helpful as the foster carers were, going into a stranger’s house for hours every day is not easy or comfortable. We spent most time in their house in a small, very hot room and it was a relief when we moved on to the trips out part of the week.
It seemed strange at first being called mum and dad, and there were a few times when we had to remind each other – “that’s you they’re talking to”. It was exhausting and draining, and that was in spite of it all going smoothly. If anything, that was a worry to us as it was all too easy, I remember sitting in the review meeting saying that we knew it could only go downhill – and we were right.
The first few weeks seemed to consist of lots of crying (all of us) and refusing to eat (them). We quickly learnt that the change from a cot was not a good idea for our youngest, who on discovering she could get out of bed, spent the first evening doing just that, over and over and over again. A supermarket visit for a second bed guard the next morning sorted that out.
Other troubles haven’t been so easy to deal with; the relationship between the two older siblings can be challenging, seeing them take pleasure in deliberately spoiling things for the other is hard and the competition between them is grating at times; one’s seeming expectation and acceptance of poor treatment is upsetting and the teenager-like attitude of another’s can be infuriating. Add in tantrums that aren’t always from the toddler, plenty of oppositional behaviour, lying, screaming and shouting, and the difficulty of one child in particular desperately missing her foster carers, and it’s safe to say it’s been hard work.
But we know it could have been a lot worse and there have definitely been good times too. The children’s enthusiasm for even the smallest of things can be contagious; the caring nature of one and the sense of humour of another are lovely, and moments when we’re all able to have fun in the garden, play games and do puzzles or eat and talk together have kept us going. We’re getting to share the little moments that we’d hoped for, like cwtching on the sofa to watch a DVD, reading stories together and going to the park (although if we never have to push another swing, that will be fine with us!)
We’re lucky to have made some good friends through the different courses St Davids offer, and talking and messaging fellow adopters has been a godsend. It hasn’t mattered that we’re at different stages of the journey; they are there to moan to and share a laugh with. As good as our support network is, having people who are going through similar experiences to offload to is a great help.
As we head towards Christmas and the six month mark, we know that we are still in the early stages but we have gone from pretty much hating it and regretting ever hearing about adoption, then on to feeling like we’ve got visitors who outstayed their welcome, now to feeling like these children are ours. It’s certainly not a fairy tale, in truth we don’t always like our children but we’re getting there with loving them and I can now say we wouldn’t be parted from them. As we’ve told them, they are ours forever and we are (almost always) very happy about that.