Friday, 9 December 2011


I was beginning to wonder how long it would take Katie to catch Chicken Pox.  I've lost count of how many times she's been exposed to the virus yet not caught it.  Imagine my surprise when she crept into bed on a Thursday morning about 10 days before Christmas complaining of a snuffy nose and a pain in her tummy.  I thought it was just a cold bug but upon investigation of her tummy, I discovered a very large spot, very much resembling an insect bite.  A quick inspection of the rest of her body brought several more spots to light.  Not many though.  Was this the long awaited Chicken-Pox?  I'm sure, as a mother, you're expected to know exactly what is wrong with your child all the time.  I had an inkling but went straight to Google to find out a diagnosis (who visits their GP these days?).  Trusty Google sites confirmed that Chicken-Pox spots look like insect bites and gave me lots of information and concerns to watch out for and reassured me that not all children are covered from head to toe in spots.  I had a chat with my childrens guru, Mrs VanderCave who reassured me that it sounded very much like Chicken-Pox and what the protocol was.  I was recently given some ViraSoothe by a friend whose children had the pox recently so with that, some Piriton; Calpol; Calprufen; and Tea Tree oil (to help prevent any infections) we were ready to rock and roll.

Thankfully Katie didn't have Chicken Pox particularly badly.  We had three days of new spots but she only totalled around 40 spots.  The Vira-Soothe is amazing stuff and stopped all the itching immediately.  I put a few drops of Tea-Tree Oil in her bath and a drop in her body wash and that prevented any infection within the spots.  What was most difficult was entertaining a relatively well and active child for a week without our usual activities to fall back on.  We wrapped up warm during school time and snuck off to the park and up to lakes near our house for long walks.  Being unable to take Katie shopping or anywhere public so close to Christmas was a complete nightmare.  One of my cats also needed her toe to be amputated during this period so I was rushing out of the house for vets checks as soon as Hubs arrived home from work.  The result was a pretty stressful build up to Christmas.

Hubs works within the NHS and was informed by a GP colleague that the biggest risk to children with mild Chicken-Pox is the frustration of their parents by the end of it.  He wasn't lying.  I couldn't wait for Katie to be well enough to go back to pre-school. I was anxious she would miss her Christmas concert but we managed to have all the spots scabbed over the day before the concert so back to pre-school she went. On a plus though, I am so happy that she wasn't really ill.  Lots of my friends have had children who have been extremely ill and I am so glad Katie was spared this.

As if having an illness wasn't enough to contend with, we now also have a new addition to our family.  This is Willow our baby Maine Coon.  She is Leo's half sister and, as you can see, they get along like a house on fire!!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

It's oh so quiet......until....

Well, as predicted, not much is going on here at the moment.  We're just coming down from all the birthday and family day excitement and waiting for a call or a letter letting us know what is going to happen next on the adoption front.  I've been writing so much lately that I'm missing having a solid topic to write about. I'm now writing on a lovely new laptop, after our old one was murdered by a virus.  Why do people created viruses?  All that creative talent put to such negative use.  Our old laptop is currently being mended or, should I say, rebuilt?

Other than that all that has been going on really is Katie is getting very good at being 4!  She has definitely become a pre-schooler with bags of attitude since her birthday. We've been seeing lots of temper tantrums and shouting and stomping off.  I have been watching BBC1's World's Strictest Parents for some tips. Sorry Supernanny but I need something tougher! Ok I'm only joking but it is interesting how children morph from one phase into the next.  Sometimes they even like to overlap their phases, just to test you!  I have found myself pushed to limits that I never even knew I had since becoming a parent.  It's not just because Katie is adopted. It's just because she is a child and is constantly pushing boundaries to see what will happen.  Picking those battles and enforcing those boundaries is a real challenge.   

I am interested in the temper tantrums Katie is experiencing.  She didn't seem to go through the Terrible Two's phase and was remarkably well behaved at that age.  I do wonder whether she has been delayed in this due to her changing families at this point in her life.  Maybe she didn't feel able to express herself in this way because she was unsure of her boundaries.  Thankfully she isn't melting down at every opportunity at the moment but she is having some pretty spectacular emotions, usually linked to the word "no"!  It is hard to watch her grabbling with such enormous emotions and anger. It must be quite scary for her and she usually needs a big hug afterwards.  Her other new thing is constantly saying "I'm not your friend anymore".  This got her into trouble yesterday when she said this to her best friend and he thumped her on the back because he was so upset with her for saying it.  She's been saying to me "I'm not your daughter anymore" as well.  I know this is a phase that all children go through, but I do wonder if it's harder for an adoptive parent to hear those words?  I know she doesn't mean it, and my response is usually "Well I still love you", but I will be honest and say I get a little knot in my stomach when I hear her say it.  I am also aware that Katie has been spending time with Grandma (her old Foster Carer) and we are preparing for some of the children there to be adopted and it must really bring home to her that some children get new Mummies and Daddies.  How many birth children who are living with their birth families even have a concept of this?  It must be unsettling.  She also likes calling me a "Poo-head" at every opportunity but I'm ignoring that one.

We have made big progress with Katie's bedtime routine.  It has been a hard battle to win (dare I say win?).  Katie loves Squinkies so she now gets a Squinky every night she goes to bed nicely and stays in bed until the sun comes up on her Groclock.  I am mercilessly firm on this and it seems to be working.  I've managed to now set the clock for the sun to come on at 6.30am so this is huge winter progress (I couldn't go back to another winter of 5.30am wake ups).  

Katie is extremely bright and we are noticing that when she is bored or unoccupied she will put her energy into, shall we say, less favourable pursuits.  This has resulted in Katie and her best friend throwing water and toilet paper (and using the toilet brushes) around the pre-school toilets.  This has happened a number of times at school.  I do feel for the teachers!  At home she is likely to start annoying the cat or drawing on the furniture.  School have noticed that most transgressions take place after 11:30am, when Katie has played all the games etc on offer for the day.  They are now engaging her in a specific helping activity at that time of day to prevent her getting bored.  This seems to be working.  We've had a very positive week at school this week and, if I get the all clear at hometime today, Katie will be rewarded with a new Little Pet Shop toy for her collection.  If I'm honest, I think she is ready to start full-time big school.  She currently only goes to pre-school three mornings a week and I've considered whether to increase this but I feel I've missed out on two years of her life already and once she starts school full-time I will get so little time with her.  I want to enjoy this last year before she starts school so I'm getting my thinking cap on for new activities for us to do together.  I am also trying to help her live with the feeling of being bored and learning how to find more accceptable things to do when she feels that way.  Her imagination is starting to fire up now and she is playing with her Squinkies and Little Pet Shop toys.  She is starting to make up games with them.  She loves playing "babies" with Milky the Bunny and Joey the Dog and her other toys.  It's just that little minx that takes over when she's finished the game that we need to work on.

I don't think we're going to get bored waiting for the Social Worker to get in touch!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Forever Family Day

Today is a very special day in our house.  It coincides with Remembrance Day, which is quite relevant.  Today is our Forever Family Day.  A year ago today a Judge said that Katie was legally part of our family.  It was such a wonderful and emotional day.  

We started the day at a SeaLife Centre and had great fun looking at all the fish and turtles and had a mission to find Nemo and Dory.  Katie came home with a toy Nemo and a matching necklace and bracelet with Dory on.

We then went to the courts where the ceremony was being held.  It took us ages to find the right way in because we had to go in through the back door of the courts.  It was raining and we were running around trying to work out where to go.  Thankfully we bumped into our Social Workers who showed us the way.  We went up to the Judge's Chambers for the ceremony and then into the court room for photographs.  Katie was initially quite intimidated by the Judges in their wigs and refused to share a lift with one Judge.  Our Judge took her wig off and let us all have a try!  One of the Judge's ushers was so emotional and happy for us, he set me off crying.  Our Social Workers both came along for the ceremony.  I could barely keep the tears away.  Katie was so grown up and loved being the centre of all the attention.  It was so wonderful.  Katie was given a scroll of her new birth certificate and a Teddy for the local football team (sadly not one we support!!). 

After the ceremony we went to a nearby retail centre and had a lovely lunch at a restaurant called Giraffe.  Katie loved every single moment of her day.  I don't think she really understood it all though.  We have since spoken about our special day with the Judge and she says she remembers it. She does have a phenomenal memory and has memories from when she was about one years old, so I can believe it.

We were planning to go out for a meal to celebrate at teatime today but we have now decided to postpone our plans until tomorrow.  Katie had an extremely emotional day visiting Grandma yesterday and was emotional and overtired when we got home.  It took me such a long time to soothe her enough to sleep and she was worried that I was going to leave her.  She then woke up from a bad dream about 3am and again at 4am and ended up snuggling in bed with us until it was time to get up.  She will be far too tired to go out today and will need to go to bed early, bless her.  We have decided that we will go out tomorrow instead. 

We have some friends of a friend visiting us tomorrow morning to talk about their adoption plans so it will be a special adoption-based day tomorrow and I think it will be nice to go out for lunch afterwards. I was thinking that maybe we head back down to the restaurant where we had lunch last year.  It's a bit of a drive but it might be a nice thing to do, however when I talked to Katie about it she said she wanted to go to the restaurant where you could have all the crunchy bits!  Funnily enough this is the Harvester restaurant we went on the day our case went to court to adopt Katie.  The adoptive parents don't attend that hearing because the birth parents can chose to attend.  The day we celebrate as our family day came a month later and is the official celebration day.  So the Harvester it is!!

Happy Anniversary to our family!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Home Visits

Phew!!  We have just had our initial home visit to start the adoption process again.  What a more relaxed meeting it was this time, compared to our last time.  The Social Worker was really lovely and gave a clear picture without being overly negative.  She said that we would have to be restrictive of the age range we could adopt, due to Katie's age, so we would have to apply for the 18months to 3 years age range.  Katie would be 5 by the time her sibling came home.  She said that that might delay us a little due to being restrictive but she felt happy with our interview and would be recommending that we are put forward for training.  There is a backlog for training anyway in our local area so we might have to wait until March/April 2012.  That isn't really a problem for us and is pretty much what I expected to hear.  She described the needs of some of the children coming forward for placement at the moment and that was helpful to give us a clearer picture.  We gave her a guided tour of the house (thank heavens for the whirlwind cleaning yesterday!) and she liked everything.  She particularly loved Leo, our Maine Coon, who was very friendly and particularly liked the product she had in her hair.  I need to work with him on boundaries I think.  He's quite imposing, especially when he puts his paws on your shoulders!

So am feeling very positive about where we're headed next.  We've been told to expect a wait of around 3 weeks to hear the outcome because the Social Worker is part-time and has two other assessments to write up.  The local Childrens Services team has been recently reorganised and it sounds like people in the team have a lot of additional work whilst all the changes are being implemented.  I hope Mr Cameron is aware that his big statements around speeding up the adoption process will have a huge impact on some very hardworking and, already stressed, individuals.  We can wait three weeks for a decision.  It's the least we can do for such a lovely Social Worker!

One thing that was interesting was we had a discussion about the figures currently being quoted in the media about the lack of adoptions compared to the huge number of children in the care system.  The Social Worker said that a huge majority of the children currently in the care system will be returned to their birth families.  The same applies for the numbers of babies placed for adoption.  We already knew that very few children are relinquished, which means that every effort has to be made to try and make the birth placement work.  Children are often in and out of care whilst this is attempted (not always to their benefit).  I do wonder what the real figures are i.e. children approved for adoption in the care system.  How many of those are adopted and how many waiting?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Birthday Celebrations!

What an amazing weekend Katie has had!  Three days of birthday celebrations and tons of presents.  More than our Queen!! The little lady is high on it all.  I think it will take her the rest of the week to come down again from all the fun and attention and we are seeing some very stroppy behaviour at the moment, bless her.  She must be exhausted.  I know I am!!  I was in bed asleep by 9.30pm on Sunday night!  Everyone is now full of cold and sneezing all over the place.  

Day 1 of the Celebrations: Her birthday party on Saturday was brilliant and all the children had a wonderful time.  The Childrens Entertainer we had hired did an amazing job and I would definitely use him again.  Several of the mums at pres-school have commented this morning on how good it all was.  We round around like the preverbial madpeople on Saturday, blowing up balloons, organising food, decorating the hall etc.  Everything went exactly to plan.  Katie's face when she magicked a real live rabbit with the Entertainer was a total picture.  She couldn't believe it!  We then went home to open all her party presents.  She was so lucky and received some wonderful presents.  She was so delighted with everything. 

Day 2 of the Celebrations: On Sunday we had a small afternoon tea party at home with some close friends and family, with lots of cakes and some party games.  The children played beautifully together, barely an argument between them.  One of my friend's daughters drew the most gorgeous card for Katie during the party.  It brought all the female adults to tears because it said how lucky she was to have such wonderful parents.  We have decided to keep this for the social workers!!  Bless her, she even created additional copies in case we needed them.  She has asked if she can be a referee and speak to the social worker when the time comes so she can tell them the same thing.  How amazing is that?

Milky the Bunny
Day 3 of the Celebrations: Yesterday we went to visit Nana and Pops and then we took Katie out for lunch at Frankie and Bennys followed by The Lion King movie.  Katie hadn't seen the film before and really enjoyed the film.  She looked so cute in her 3D glasses and she sat as still as it is possible for a very active 4 year old to sit.  I can't believe my little girl is 4 years old already.  She has grown so much over the past 18 months.  I decorated the hallway of our house with loads of photographs of Katie, from the day we first met her, up to the current time.  Seeing the changes the past 18 months have brought are phenomenal to see.  She was a toddler when she first came home and now she is looking so grown up and so gorgeous.  She is going to melt and break a few hearts when she grows up, of that I have no doubt.


Joey the Puppy
Katie is currently hiking around everywhere with her two prized birthday possessions, Milky the Bunny and Joey the Puppy.  They are full sized so it is hilarious to see her carrying both of them around at the same time.  She has gone to pre-school today with Milky to show her teacher and is planning to take Joey in tomorrow.  Mike has made her a kennel to keep in her bedroom for Joey and he sleeps very nicely in there each night.  Both of the new additions have been very well behaved indeed!

I did lots of cake baking for Sundays tea party and was very pleased with all my gluten-free cakes and brownies.  I am enjoying baking again but need to expand the repertoire of gluten-free cakes.  It's taken a bit of creativity and lots of mistakes but I'm getting there.  I do need to work on my presentation though.  I've never been an arty person, in the sense of decorating cakes etc and I really need to practice more.  Trouble is, I end up eating all the cakes and that is not doing my expanding waistline any cook whatsoever!  I am starting a diet today to get myself back to the trim size 12 I was last summer.  It's only about 9lbs to get myself back there but those pounds have sneaked on very slowly so I have bought lots of soup today and have a very healthy food week planned.  It's helped some by the fact that I choked (quite badly I might add) on a chunk of chocolate on Saturday night.  Mike had to give my back a good bash to get it back up again.  I haven't touched any chocolate since.  I can't face it.  My migraine specialist will be delighted as he has asked me to try and stop eating chocolate (I take absolutely no notice of him whatsoever as my diet is already so restricted and I refuse to cut anything out of it! He might get his way after all).

Today I am going to attempt to clean the house ready for our initial home visit tomorrow to start the process for our second adoption.  I remember the first time we did this I cleaned the house from top to bottom.  The house was totally immaculate and sparkled like a new pin.  Nowadays I'm happy if the house is hygenic enough to not make anyone ill and is relatively tidy.  I think we will be presenting a very different picture of ourselves this time round. The funny thing is I feel so much more relaxed about the process.  I suspect that is partly because I'm now a mum.  I have achieved that coveted position that I spent so many years trying to achieve. That overwhelming pressure I felt last time to prove that I could be a mum has dissipated but also because I don't have the time or the energy to invest in that level of cleaning anymore.  What's the point?  It is a mess again within 5 minutes anyway.  Our house is now a family home, full of love (and lots of toys) and it feels amazing. I wouldn't change it for the world (except at that time of the month when I cease to have a rational response to a messy house!) 

Roll on tomorrow, the start of our second chapter!

Friday, 4 November 2011

National Adoption Week

This week has been an interesting, and quite emotional week.  It's been National Adoption Week in the UK.  The media has been full of information, news and stories about the failings of the adoption system and some of the wonderful outcomes that can be achieved.  Questions are being asked within government as to how the process can be streamlined and speeded up, whilst maintaining the quality of the assessment process.  I do feel that the process took far too long when we adopted Katie, as highlighted in The Tonight Programme last night but I also feel that adopters do need to be prepared for some of the difficulties that they may face in the future.  All children grow and change and experience varying emotions throughout their lives.  It isn't just about being prepared for a child who has a disability or has suffered trauma; it's also about being prepared for the questions your child will have about their birth family; how they will feel about being adopted and how they react to the emotions they feel about this.  How you, as an adopter, will feel about writing contact letters or having contact visits or conversations about birth family.  These are all unknowns and you can't possibly know how you will feel until those moments occur.  There needs to be a balance in the adoption system that can approve and match adopters as swiftly as possible yet ensuring that they are prepared for what may lie ahead.  This may mean more post-adoption support.  This will required funding.

More funding generally is required for the already financially stretched Childrens Services teams across the country.   I welcome the news that the adoption process will be speeded up but I do have concerns as to how this will be achieved.  When similar targets were introduced to the NHS it led to huge amounts of additional work for already stretched NHS staff.  Hospitals were named and shamed for poor waiting lists.  Was there additional funding introduced to support the new targets?  Of course not!  I worry that the same will happen with Childrens Services.  I have counselled Social Workers in the past and seen the stress that they are working under.  Adding to that stress won't make for a better system unfortunately. It will lead to more Social Workers taking long term sick leave.  More Social Workers are required to deliver this new speedier adoption system.  Where is the money going to come from to enable this I wonder?

One of the piece of news I welcomed yesterday was the report that adopted children will now be given admissions priority in school, the same as Looked After Children (Adoption UK Statement on changes to Admissions Policies for Adopted Children).  It will be interesting to see if there is anything included on Katie's admissions forms when I complete them in the next few days.

Katie tends to ask questions about her birth family as we're walking through a busy shopping centre; hardly an appropriate moment for a conversation.  Katie has asked me several times why she needed a new mummy and this has been my reply to her. "Your "tummy mummy" did a wonderful job of growing you in her tummy and made you beautiful but sometimes mummies aren't very good at helping children grow up big and strong once they've been born and you needed a new mummy and daddy to help you grow up".  She accepts this answer and it seems to help her understand.  I know there are more questions to come, some that will be harder to answer.  She has asked if she can see her "tummy mummy" and we have said that this is something that we will organise for her when she is older.  For the moment, she seems very well adjusted and is in no doubt of our love for her.  She returns that love one hundred fold and I hope with all my heart that that never changes.  I will never make her choose between me and her first mummy or her birth father.  Our door will be open to support any relationship she may want with her birth parents.  What I do hope though is that the adoption system will be there to support us through that process when the time comes.  I will do whatever I can to help Katie grow into a happy and emotionally stable young lady but I am not so naive to think that that won't be emotionally taxing on us at times and that we might need a little help.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Getting Ready to Party!! Birthdays and Gotcha Days!!

Katie is going to be 4 in the next week so we are preparing for her birthday party on Saturday.  She is having a joint party with one of her best friends, who is 4 two days after her.  Excitement is building in our house at the moment.  Presents are being hidden (not very well as Katie found one of them! Rookie error!).  We have booked an entertainer (and paid extra for his musical trousers - one for the mums perhaps?) and he is doing pretty much everything, bar the food.  How great is that?  Katie can't wait for it to be her birthday.  She is going to be like the Queen though because we are having a party for the children on Saturday and then a house party on Sunday for our adult friends (plus children of course) and then her birthday is actually on Monday so Mummy, Daddy and Katie are going out for the day.  She wants to have lunch in a restaurant so we will be going out.  Only to the local Harvester (anyone who has seen our darling daughter's manners will understand why it's nowhere posher) but she will love it.  She'll order fish and chips as she always does and will eat with gusto!  Three days of celebrations. 

Next week also brings a very special day for us.  Friday will be our year anniversary since we became a legal family.  Our Family Day!  I can't believe where the time has gone.  I was looking at the pictures from our day at the court with the judge.  Katie looks so little.  It was such an emotional day.  A year on she is so grown up and growing more and more beautiful by the day.  We are starting to have our little family traditions.  At bedtime we make hearts with our hands and say "I love you to the moon and stars and Costa and back".  I also want to start a tradition for the Family Day but can't really decide what to do.  We went to the Sea-Life Centre on the day last year so maybe it will be an annual visit to the Centre followed by lunch at Giraffe!!  One thing that I am putting together is a charm bracelet and we will add a new charm each year.  Something that will represent that year in her life so that when she is 18 she will have a bracelet full of memories. 

So much to do so I'd better get on with it all instead of sitting here writing about it!!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Spring Forward, Fall Back

Last weekend the clocks went back in the UK.  This officially marks the end of summertime and the start of winter.  I believe the aim in adjusting the time is to ensure that the school children could go to school and return home during the daytime hours.  Last year, once the clocks went back, Katie started to wake up at 5.30am and this continued for most of the winter months.  I am a fairly early riser but a winter of 5:30am wake ups really took its toll on me.  Katie's circadian rhythm is pretty strong I suspect.  This year, bouyed by the fact that when we went to Spain recently we kept Katie on UK time and she slept until a sensible time, I've tried to offset the change in time by putting her to bed at 8pm instead of her usual 7pm.  Has it worked?  In a word, No!  She is currently waking up really early. On the plus side we've had a 5am; a 5:15am and today a 5:30am so maybe by the end of the winter she might be sleeping in until 7am!  I don't think I'll continue putting her to bed at 8pm though.  She is so tired and crabby and argumentative that I'm hoping that if I put her to bed at 7pm and she sleeps until 5:30pm that is, at least, one extra hour and hopefully a little more cheer will return to our house.  As for me, well I'm putting myself to bed earlier as well to try and ensure I get sufficient sleep (and, who knows, maybe I'll have a little more cheer as well!).

If anyone has any sensible suggestions for helping a child adjust to the seasonal time adjustment I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Gift of Life

The Gift of Life

I didn't give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
... As if it had been so.

For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn't give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Trick or Treating.....

I've just got home from taking Katie out for her first Trick or Treat for Samhain/Halloween with my Sister and my Nephew.  She simply loved the whole experience and looked adorable in her little purple and black witches costume.  I wish I could post a picture.  Everyone said she looked adorable.  She loved the concept of knocking on doors; shouting "Trick or Treat"; and getting sweets. 

If I'm honest I'm not sure how I feel about the Trick or Treat thing.  There feels something wrong really about knocking on people's door for sweets.  We teach our children to be wary of strangers and then encourage them to knock on strangers doors for sweets. The neighbourhood where my sister lives was great though.  Many of the people answered the door in fancy dress and had plates of sweets and goodies prepared.  It felt like the neighbourhood really loved the children and wanted them to have a good time.  Seeing Katie's face and her excitement made me question my own feelings about whether this is something I should be encouraging or not.  I worry about protecting Katie a lot; keeping her safe.  I do want her to have fun though.  I don't want to be overly protective and to suffocate her or make her anxious.  Keeping safe is about making sensible, considered, judgements and that is something I want to help her learn in her lifetime.  Being safe isn't about hiding away and not participating in life.  I am a very cautious person and would love to be more carefree.  I wonder if there is a class I can take to learn that? LOL

Happy Samhain!!!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Useful Adoption Links

Love is a very simple thing......

One thing that seems to put people off the idea of adoption is whether you can love a child that isn't biologically yours.  When we were first going through the adoption process someone very close to me said that she couldn't adopt because she couldn't love an adopted child because she had had a biological child and would know the difference.  My response was "How do you know that?, You haven't had that experience so you can't actually know"I know that I couldn't love a child anymore than I love Katie but I haven't had a biological child so I also can't say whether there is any difference.  I frequently hear of women wanting to adopt but their male partners feeling more reluctant because of the love and biology issue. I am sure this situation may be reversed with some people but I've not personally heard of anyone telling me this.  I would love to hear from anyone who has experienced this.  i do know of plenty of couples who have used donor sperm however and that is pretty much the same thing.  Mike and I discussed this when we were going through the process and he said he was initially anxious about it.  I absolutely knew that I could love a child that wasn't biologically mine because there were several children in my life that I knew I loved.  Having said that, since meeting Katie I have experienced an even deeper love for a child than I ever knew before.  I did have anxieties but my anxieties lay around the linking/matching process and wondering how I would know if the match was right.

Love is something that is written about endlessly.  This is mostly romantic love but I think all love is pretty much the same.  You meet someone and you have a connection and strong feelings for them and those feelings grow and deepen with time.  This can happen in romantic love or friendship, with your family and with a child.  Does biology really make such a huge difference?  We are genetically programmed to reproduce and it can be devastating if you are unable to reproduce. Being unable to reproduce doesn't mean remaining childless though and it certainly doesn't mean that you cannot love an adopted child with all of your heart; all of your being in fact.  It's worth noting that being able to reproduce doesn't necessarily guarantee that you will love that child or even get along well.  I know lots of biological parents who clash with their children and have turbulent relationships.

When you are pregnant with a child there is 9 months of bonding; dreaming; wondering who the child will look like and take after.  This process is very introverting and pulls the mother inward towards her child and the bond that is forming and often away from the father-to-be.  Adoption can't mirror that process in the physical sense but it does have an emotional parallel process that bonds you to the child that you have been matched with. In some ways adoption is a more joint process because the adoptive father is in exactly the same position as the adoptive mother.  This can be very bonding for the parents-to-be because you can both simultaneously experience the same thing. 

Katie resembles myself and Mike enormously.  More so than many of my friends with biological children.  I wonder how many fathers in the world love a child that they think is biologically theirs but actually is biologically someone elses?  Does that love change if they find out that the child isn't biologically theirs?

I remember clearly the moment I fell in love with Katie.  It wasn't when we read her background story and when were initially shown a photograph of her.  I was so worried because, although I felt connected to this little person, my feelings were unclear and very confused.  I felt quite numb right up until the day of our Linking Panel.  I was anxious because I didn't know how I felt and wondered if this was right.  Mike, on the other hand, knew that it was right.  He had no doubts at that point so I clung to his feelings.  Prior to our Linking Panel I had asked Katie's Social Worker to bring along a photograph of her to add to the little book we had made for her to introduce ourselves.  The picture was beautiful (it has pride of place in our house now) and I looked at that little girl and I fell in love.  Totally and unequivocally, it happened, and it continues to happen 18 months on.  Every day I look at her and fall a little bit more in love with her.  She is wonderful.  Everything I could want in a daughter.  Mike loves and adores her and it matters not a jot that we didn't give birth to her ourselves.  Of course there are complications in that Katie has a birth family that we try to maintain contact with so that Katie can have a full picture of her story when she is older.  Some people may find that hard to handle.  It is a reminder of the genetic side of things.  We don't know how that bond will effect Katie during her life.  It is an unknown.  Having said that parenting generally is an unknown.  We don't know what life will throw at our children and how we, as parents, can help them with the experiences they have and their emotional responses to those experiences.

We live in an age of nuclear families.  Families split up and new families blend and they make it work.  Celebrities are raising the profile of adoption, which is great.  It is no longer a secret, something to be hidden in the closet.  Children are told from the outset that they are adopted and (I hope) don't have a surprise on their 18th birthday.  Adoption is something to be proud about.  What a wonderful wonderful gift to give a child, and it's been a wonderful gift for me as well.

One thing that I think doesn't help the process though, and also puts many people off adoption, is that during the early stages of the adoption process the children are often presented very negatively by Social Workers.  Adopters are told about all the scary stuff; the unacceptable behaviour; and it's natural to feel anxious and question whether you can cope with all this scary stuff.  I do think this information needs to be presented a more balanced way.  Please don't scare off would-be adopters.  Yes we need to know what might be but we need to know all the wonderful bits too to get a really clear picture of what lies ahead.

If you ask me "Can you love a child that isn't biologically yours?" then I will reply, without hesitation "YES, you can!"  You have to be open to it though.  It's like romantic love, you have to allow it to happen.  As they say, "you have to be in it to win it".  If you tell yourself that you won't be able to love a child that isn't biologically yours then you are blocking that possibility.  Genetics really isn't everything, it is merely the building block of our species.  It has a huge impact on our thinking and emotions though.  I freely admit that adoption wasn't my first choice to becoming a parent.  Adoption wasn't even something on my radar but now I wouldn't change anything for the world and consider myself the luckiest mum on the planet.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Feeling delighted today.......

I am feeling considerably happier today for two reasons.  The first being that I received the awaited phone call from our Local Authority this morning to say that we have been allocated a Social Worker to come and do our initial home visit.  It's in a few weeks time so I'm delighted that this has been organised.  I obviously said something right when speaking to the other Social Worker a few weeks ago.  The second thing that has made my day is that I tweeted Sinitta who is an Ambassador for UK Adoption through the BAAF and asked if she would retweet my blog address to all her followers.  Within an hour Sinitta had retweeted my tweet to her.  I was so excited!!!  It would be lovely if I can encourage even one person to consider adoption as an option for them!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Contact Letters

I am sitting next to the completed contact letters and photographs and am trying to write with the very furry tail of my Maine Coon, Leo, flicking over the keyboard.  He does like to keep me company.

The letters are waiting for a nice, crisp, brown A4 envelope to send them off to our Local Authority to be forwarded on to Katie's birth family.  I am proud of what I have written but there is a tinge of anxiety about causing upset or sounding like a Bridget Jones smug.  I cannot even begin to imagine how it must feel to receive the letters I send; the feelings that arise for the receiver.  Adoption is a complex myriad of emotions for everyone involved.  I want to ensure that the door is open for Katie to contact her birth family when she is older; if this is what she wants.  You could accuse me of being a liar if I said that I didn't have my own feelings about it.  I am her mum.  I am bound to her and I don't really want to have to share her with anyone else; but Katie has a story and there are characters in her story that may need to be revisited one day and I want to ensure that door is open for her and them.  I would love to know how it will all pan out.  Someone hand me a crystal ball please, so that I can prepare for what may lie ahead.  Of course there are anxieties that she will reject me and Mike one day.  I am pretty sure that all adopters have that anxiety lurking at the back of their minds.  I do feel though that a son or daughter is unlikely to reject a parent if a) they have a strong relationship with them and b) if they aren't forced to choose.  I knew when I became an adoptive parent that Katie has birth parents and there may be an emotional tie to them for her as she grows up.  She talks about her birth mother frequently and asks questions.  I answer them all as best I can; with as much honesty and balance as I can.  I want her to grow up knowing she can ask me anything and that she doesn't have to keep her questions and feelings to herself about her adoption.  My biggest fear is that she will try and trace her birth family through Facebook or whatever relevant social networking site may be running when she is older.  My training as a counsellor warns me that the lack of emotional support in this route could be so damaging.  I want Katie to know that we will contact her birth family, should she wish it, but that we do it with all the emotional support that we can to ensure she has the backup she will need.

Adoption as an Option.....

I am so very proud of my friend "Pam" in this article.  The ladies of our forum are really getting the word out there about adoption.....

Power........waiting for the phone to ring and The Politics Show!

I'm feeling a little bit irritated today if I'm honest. It's amazing how quickly that feeling has returned and I did say that I was going to remain above it all this time and not get annoyed or frustrated.  What I'm irritated about is the same thing that irritated me last time.  Power.  Waiting for someone else to decide, with very little information I might add, whether we are going to be taken forward for a preparation course.  Actually getting an initial home visit is the first step before even that.  Someone, who hasn't even met our family as we are today is sat in an office deciding if they think we are ready to add to our family.  How can they make that judgement without even meeting us?  It frustrates me so much.  It's all about numbers.  It's only been 18 months since Katie was placed with you - you aren't ready to add to the family.  As I pointed out in our conversation, we're not looking to add to the family today - we're thinking in about 18 months time.  Let me see, that means Katie will have been placed with us for 3 years at that point.  I do have huge respect for the job that Social Workers do.  They want the best for the children that they are working alongside.  They want to make sure that they place a child in a placement where it has the highest chance of working out but this negativity seems endemic within the profession.  Are they testing the mettle of would-be adopters?  Is it right though to be so negative and off-putting to someone who is interested in becoming an adopter but needs more information?  Surely there are more supportive ways to introduce some of the difficulties that may lie within being an adoptive parent?  This could be explored in the home study much more on a one-to-one basis and concerns discussed in a more private setting.  I hear stories of so many potential adopters pulling out after their preparation course because it's put them off too much.

There is so much in the media with the build up to National Adoption Week about changes the government wants to see in the adoption process.  Speeding the process up.  Thinking more about the needs of the children in care.  You'd think they would be biting off our hands wouldn't you?  Adopters are so rare and so much negativity and so many obstacles are placed in the way before you even meet a Social Worker.  It is hard to remain detached as I'm exampling today.  I try to take a spiritual approach and I believe that everything happens in the time it's supposed to happen in but that doesn't stop me getting irritated at feeling like I'm being treated with disrespect and dismissal.

I've added a link to a programmed called The Politics Show.  This is this week's London edition and had a very interesting segment on Adoption at 41 minutes.  They talk about how prospective adopters are being put off adoption by initial negativity and also because of attempts to match racial mixes exactly. It sounds like it's an issue that is being recognised and, hopefully, addressed.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Being away from home

We are currently staying with some friends on a sheep farm.  We're having a lovely time with lots of good company and good food.  If you follow the link on my blog to the Back of Beyond Baking then you'll get an idea of how good the food is.  I'm getting Mrs Vander-Cave quite inspired with gluten-free cooking now!  We went on the most amazing walk yesterday to British Camp.  Lots of effort and puff was required to get to the top of the hill but the panoramic view from the top was simply amazing.  The wind was so strong that it almost blew Katie away!

Bringing young children away for overnight trips and holidays is lovely.  Katie gets lots of new experiences.  She loves playing with our friends 10 year old son and he tries very hard not to see her as a bit of a pain.  The main difficulty of bringing Katie away, is at bedtime.  Getting her to go to sleep is a total nightmare.  The first night we arrived late and Katie was already asleep so we put her straight into her Peppa Pig blow up bed.  She then woke up at 2am and panicked because it was too dark.  It was pretty dark so I could totally understand her anxiety.  Katie doesn't do anything quietly however so the whole house was woken up.  We put the hall light on and soothed her back to sleep.  An hour and a half later she was awake again and had no desire to go back to sleep.  We put her in our bed and tried every trick in the book to get her to give in and sleep again.  She eventually gave in at about 5am.  She was so tired yesterday and had a sleep in the car, whilst we were driving to British Camp, to catch up.

Last night she refused to give in and sleep at bedtime.  She kept our friends son awake and he had to move into his parents bed.  Katie then decided she wanted to sleep in our bed.  She then was found with all her My Little Pony's on the landing playing with them because "they kept falling down on the bed".  We then discovered she had Daddy's phone when he phoned me, but was sitting next to me.  Daddy turned the phone off and let her hold it but she managed to turn it back on and phone me again!! This continued in one form or another until she finally gave in and slept at around 10.30pm.  She would normally be in bed ready to sleep by 7pm!  We kept her in our bedroom in her bed last night and it was a much better night, except for a rude awakening around 3am with another panic.  Katie was reassured by our presence however and slept until nearly 8am.  She is currently playing Charlie and Lola on the Cebeebies website.  I think she'll be tired again later though.

Her bedtime antics sparked a discussion about whether her behaviour was simply a nearly 4 year olds typical behaviour or whether it was linked to being adopted.  We had been told during our Preparation Course that adopted children often don't cope with being taken away for holidays because they worry that they won't be going home and it can spark off anxieties from being moved into foster care.  I don't think this is the case for Katie at all.  It's more simply strange surroundings and a different routine and, a little bit of "what can I get away with?"  She is confident about where she lives and seems very secure in her attachments to both myself and Daddy and other adults in our lives.  I hope she gets better as she gets older though.  Please reassure me it gets better!!!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Enjoying spreading the word......

I am feeling quite excited today because I will be hopefully meeting up in the near future with two other sets of prospective adopters to talk about adoption with them.  They are both friends of friends.  I think the more people start to know someone who has adopted successfully, the more people will start to think that this is something that they too can do.  Word of mouth if you like.  I know how helpful it was for me to meet other adopters and their children when we were going through the process the first time round and I really want to offer that to other people.  Knowing you are not alone in this crazy and intense process and that there is a wonderful outcome at the end really kept me going during the darker days when I felt exposed and vulnerable and frustrated.  Adoption Champions are more than simply promoting adoption I think.  It's about supporting as well.  I love meeting other adopters!!!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dreaming of what might become....

I spend a lot of my time over-analysing things.  I've always been the same.  I think far too much about what might be or what if etc.  I worry about being a good parent far too much.  Sometimes it's nice to just dream about things though with no hidden anxiety and that's exactly what I've been doing about stepping back into the adoption process.  Dreaming of what might become.  Dreaming of changing nappies again; dreaming of a little girl sleeping in her bedroom in her cot; dreaming of a new buggy (one that I actually want this time rather than the hasty purchase we had to make last time); dreaming of those moments of first meeting and of forming a bond; dreaming of those words "you've been matched"; dreaming of creating her bedroom; dreaming of her calling us Mummy and Daddy; dreaming of her saying "I love you" for the first time; dreaming of all the possibilities.  All the positives; all the wonderful stuff that being a parent is all about.

Katie and I have started preparing for the day that three become four.  We had a big clear out of her wardrobe and chest of drawers and have identified lots of clothes for her sister.  We have started sorting out books, although Katie has since decided that her sister will  be too young for these baby books!!  I am hoping that this will start to prepare Katie for being a sister.  Katie and I have been wondering what she will be called.  A name is so powerful, so important.  What is her name?  What does she look like?  She has probably already been born.  As I write this, she could be out there, somewhere.  Is she already in foster care?  Is she with her birth family?  I try not to think too much about what circumstances will lead her to us.  I want to protect her already and can't bare to think of why she needs a new Mummy and Daddy.  It's amazing.  I know I am already her Mummy but in the words of our family song....."I just haven't met you yet".........

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

What makes people want to adopt?

Yesterday I received the press release from our Local Authority about me and Mike for National Adoption Week.  I made a few amendments and sent it back this morning.  I am feeling both excited and nervous about what this might bring.  

I feel excited because I want to share how wonderful adoption can be and hopefully bring forward more potential adopters.  There are so many children needing homes and so many people that might consider offering them a home.  It is natural to want a biological child, I know we did.  We did, because it didn't even occur to us to consider adoption as an option.  We went to hell and back in pursuit of a biological childIt took a long time before adoption was something we considered seriously and even then it took us 5 years to reach a point when we wanted to pursue this route.  We are biologically programmed to procreate.  Yet, for some people, either because they are unable to have biological children or because they have grown up with experience of fostering or adoption or because they know in their hearts that they want to adopt and made a difference, adoption is a route to creating a family.  Yet many people are put off.  Why?  

One reason is that many people cannot imagine loving a child that isn't biologically theirs.  The geneology is so important.  I cannot imagine that it is possible to love a child more than I love Katie, yet I did not give birth to her. 

People are put off adoption because the process takes so long or because they are worried they are too old, not in a relationship or in a single sex relationship or there there are fears that they may not be approved because of something in their background that causes them concern.  

People may be worried about the experiences a child has been through and how this may effect them throughout their life.  Potential adopters are given information about some of the very negative behaviour very emotionally damaged children may display.  This is quite scary to hear and this is often the point that people walk away from the process.  Yet behind all of this, are children.  Children who deserve the very best life has to offer them.  Children who, through no fault of their own, need parents who are able to take care of them and give them love and who will help them find their way in life.  Fundementally they are no different than biological children.  All children need love.  So many children are growing up in the care systemMany of them are with foster parents who love them and make them part of their family. Some older children are in childrens homes.  How can that situation enable a child to flourish?  Children need long term stability and investment in them and above all love.  We are often given a picture of these children that makes them scary.  Are we good enough parents to help a child through all these emotional or physical difficulties?  This is a very individual decision and one that makes you question everything you ever thought about being a parent and also your parenting abilities.  People understandably question whether they have the skills to parent an emotionally damaged child.  The adoption services aren't looking for super-human adopters.  They are looking for real people with experiences.  Those experiences that have shaped you as a person; the trials that you have overcome; those experiences that mean you can relate to how an adopted child may feel about themselves and their life and the ways in which they may express those feelings.  So many of us have experienced loss; we may have estranged relationships in our life; people it has not been possible to maintain a relationship with; relationships we have had to walk away from; family members or friends with illness or disability.  There are so many experiences that ordinary people have that they can draw on to help them be successful adopters.  We adopters are not super-human people. We are ordinary people who want to love a child and have a family.  Social Workers will guide adopters and help them understand their limits as a potential parent so that they can match them with the child that is right for them.  In our case this has worked perfectly and in the majority of the people that I know this has also been the case.  I only know personally of one adoption where there was a breakdown and I know lots of adopters.

So why am I feeling nervous about being involved with the media?  There is only one reason.  Actually there are two but the second one is just the usual nerves at saying the wrong thing - the usual self esteem stuff.  The main reason is ensuring Katie's anonymity.  Many of the people in our life know that Katie is adopted but not everyone in her life knows that she is adopted.  I would hate to do anything that might cause her any kind of harm in the future.  We are doing everything we can to ensure this doesn't happen.  We won't be using our surnames; or Katie's real name.  We won't be advertising whereabouts in the county we live.  I don't want people to look at her and say "there's that adopted kid".  We all cherish our anonymity, unless we seek fame.  I would hate for her to lose that.  It's weighing up the pros and cons though.  I feel so strongly about being an advocate for adoption and I hope Katie grows up feeling that adoption is something positive and something that we are proud of.  I hope that we can encourage more people to think about adoption.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Dancing for Chris

Yesterday was an extremely emotional day.  Along with my fellow tappers from my tap class we performed in a show to raise money for my friend, Christine's, charity.  Christine died last April after a very long and brave battle with breast cancer and her husband and children, friends and family have been raising money for her charity ever since.  There were over 120 people participating yesterday, singing and dancing and playing instruments.  Seeing all the children was amazing and so emotional. Christine used to be a nanny and she would have simply loved seeing all the children taking part.  I spent most of the day feeling like an emotional wreck, trying not to cry and feeling overwhelmed at all the children and costumes and all the hard work that had gone into producing the show.  Christine's two children both danced in the show and the daughter of another friend and I was so proud of them.  They all danced fantastically.  I was the most nervous I've been performing in a while, partly because I wanted to dance perfectly to honour Christine and partly because several of my friends were watching the show. Katie and Daddy came to watch the show and had front row tickets but it was too loud and overwhelming for Katie and she burst into tears as the show started.  Our act was opening the show so you can imagine how hard it was, dancing on the stage and seeing your daughter crying her heart out.  I tried to give her a little smile but she was beside herself.  Daddy took her out halfway through the performance and it was all I could do to focus on my steps and not run off the stage after her.  I was pleased at how well our performance went.  I think all our team remembered their steps and the routine flowed so well.  Best ever performance and in honour of a wonderful lady.  I snuck outside to front of house after our performance and got seats for Katie and Daddy upstairs at the back but Katie just wasn't in the right place to stay and watch yesterday.  She'd been a pickle since the evening before when she knew I was going out for the evening and did everything she could to prevent me going out (including a pooey nappy just as I got my going out dress on!) and she woke up with a pickle in her belly, probably due to being overtired.

Daddy had a fun day yesterday whilst I was out rehearsing and after they went home.  Katie waited up for me to come home and the show ended a little later than I was anticipating so it was past 7.30pm when Katie went to bed.  Baring in mind I'd hoped to have her in bed for 6.30pm last night so she's going to be tired again today. She was so pleased to see me though and we had lovely cuddles and I love you's.  She was up at 6am this morning.  We're dreading the clocks going back again because last winter she woke up around 5am every morning.  I'm hoping we can manage it a bit better this winter.  I think I'll put her to bed at 8pm instead of 7pm to start with and then slowly pull the time back until we're back to 7pm.  Oh I hope it works! I was so tired last winter from all the early starts!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

My Child-To-Be

I wonder if you’re sleeping
Soundly in your bed?
Whilst thoughts of you,
My child-to-be,
Are swimming in my head. 
And maybe while you’re resting
You’re dreaming of my smile.
It won’t be long,
My child-to-be.
Just wait a little while.
Perhaps you’ll be awake soon,
As the sun begins to rise.
I’m waiting now,
My child-to-be,
To meet your sparkling eyes. 
And all the while I think of you,
Your angel’s somewhere near.
He’s keeping you,
My child-to-be,
Until he brings you here. 
I feel that you are with me now,
Although we seem apart.
Already close,
My child-to-be,
You’re growing in my heart.
Written by my dear friend P Broughton

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Today's Motto!

Is there a spanner in the works?

Yesterday was a day very much about adoption in one form or another.

I contacted our Local Authority yesterday to chase up our application form and had a long conversation with the Social Worker who was reviewing our application.  It looks like things might not be quite as straightforward as we had hoped and I was reminded why so many people are put off the adoption process.  It wasn't so much the concerns that were being raised, because I can appreciate and even welcome those concerns and insights, but the negative approach that was initially taken without gaining further information and I was reminded of the horror stories we were told about on our preparation course of children killing the family pets or smearing their poo all over the walls and the anxiety that I felt around all this.  The Social Worker raised a concern that insufficient time had passed since we adopted Katie and that she might not cope with a new addition and might regress or experience difficulties with her attachment to us.  It was pointed out that a larger degree of second time adoptions fail.  I do agree with these concerns but I think they are issues that can be addressed in a home study when a full picture of our home situation is investigated, not during an initial phone call, particularly as Katie is a very well settled and well adjusted young lady who spent the first two years of her life in a busy foster home with lots of children.  

I have also reflected, since the conversation, of the different approaches taken by different Local Authorities because a friend of mine has recently been approved as a second time adopter and exactly the same amount of time has passed for her since the placement of her first child (bar one month) as us.  She and her husband have gone through the process with a neighbouring Local Authority however whose approach is very different.  

As my conversation progressed however I felt the discussion became more positive and I felt that the Social Worker I was talking to appreciated that we had thought through a lot of these concerns already and that my answers allayed some of her concerns.  I highlighted that part of our reasoning for adopting a 2+ year old were because they could play and interact and build their own relationship together and also a toddler would not be held and cuddled as much as a baby would be, potentially sparking jealousy issues of the baby being held and cuddled more than Katie.  I also stressed that we were looking to add to our family around March 2013 when Katie would be nearly 5.5 years old and would have been placed with us over 3 years at that point and would also be, hopefully, completely settled in school by that time.  She said to me that they were wanting to start fast tracking people and the adoption process wasn't taking nearly as long as it used to.  A close friend of mine who is seeking to adopt again through the same Local Authority was told recently that it was around 8 months from preparation course to panel.  I am aware that the next prep course is January and that would still take things from January until September/October 2012.  That isn't a world away from our hopes of adopting in March 2013.  I was informed that adopters are being approached literally outside the approval panel doors so it sounds like things are moving very quickly but even then it still takes several months before you meet the child.  I discussed this with another close friend last night and she reminded me of the amount of emotional investment that goes into adopting a child in those early months and how our energy would be needed to make sure Katie was settling well in school.  We do need to keep that in mind but, at the same time, I don't want a huge age gap between Katie and her sister.  I have a large age gap between me and my sister and it hasn't always been easy, particularly when we were younger.  I don't want Katie to feel like the babysitter, I want them to have a real sister relationship and have similar experiences as much as possible.

By the end of my conversation I did feel that the Social Worker felt quite positively about our conversation.  She now needs to speak to her manager to see what the decision is.  We will now wait and see!  One thing that I did realise however is that I feel more empowered this time round and felt more able to put my point and feelings across, whereas last time I was too worried about being turned down.

The second thing that happened literally 30 minutes after this conversation was another conversation that happened during Katie's gym class.  There is another older mum (like me) who has a little Chinese girl with her.  I wondered last week whether the lady's husband was Chinese or whether the girl was adopted.  It's funny how fate intervenes though.  Katie and I were late to gym because of the conversation with the Social Worker and the only chair left for me to sit on was next to this lady.  We sat silently for a little while before we started to share a chuckle over the antics of our children and started to chat.  I asked her if her husband was Chinese and she said that her daughter was adopted.  I admitted that I had asked specifically because Katie is also adopted.  We spent the rest of the afternoon, while the children played after gym in the soft play area at the leisure centre, chatting about the process and adopting overseas.  Interestingly she and her husband had initially approached the same Local Authority as us but felt very intimidated by their approach and chose to adopt through an agency overseas.  I hope a new friendship might blossom from this conversation.  We adopters are definitely a growing breed!!!

Friday, 14 October 2011

A lovely day

Yesterday Katie and I visited Grandma for the afternoon.  It was a beautiful October day, unexpectedly very warm.  I picked Katie up from pre-school and we drove the 50 minutes it takes to get to Grandma's house.  When we arrived Grandma suggested we all went to the beach for a few hours.  It was simply glorious down there, the sun was shining and there was a warm, gentle breeze.  Grandma had three other foster children with her so they all played on the sand and running in and out of the quite cold water.  They screamed and giggled with pure and utter delight.  it was so lovely to watch and play with them.  Everyone was wet and sandy, and we made a bit of a bloop in not taking a towel with us so washed our feet as best we could and we piled everyone back into Grandma's van.  Everyone had ice-creams from the shop and we drove back to Grandma's house for some tea and some of my homemade banana bread, which I made specially for Grandma because we are both gluten-free folk.  The children tore around the garden playing on scooters and bikes and collecting eggs from the chickens. It's quite a lovely place to be really.  After playtime we put all the children in the bath and everyone had some dinner. I put Katie in her PJ's after her bath in the hope that she would fall asleep in the car on the drive home but she was full of questions and wanted to chat rather than sleep.

Our conversation was interesting and difficult at the same time.  We are preparing Katie that the children that are currently living with Grandma will be placed for adoption soon.  I find this quite emotional, because we've grown to love the children very much. Imagine how a nearly 4 year old feels about this?  Grandma would love for us to adopt the two brothers but I've explained that a) we think a sister would be better for Katie and b) they would have to wait so long for us to go through the process that it is unfair on them to have to wait for a mummy and daddy that long.  Katie asked if they could come and live with us on the drive home.  I tried my best to explain this to her but it's so hard for her to understand.  She then said "I think I would like a new mummy and daddy and live in a new house too, but you and daddy and Leo can come too".  I replied by saying that if she had a new mummy and daddy then Leo and myself and daddy wouldn't be able to come with her.  She thought about this and very quickly said "Oh I don't want a new mummy and daddy then.  I want to stay with you".  Phew!! I was worried for a moment there!  I think she was just trying to get her head around what is happening. I want to ask the adopters for the children, when they are matched, if we could still see the children but I'm not sure that this would be in their interests.  It might be better to let them move on.  I will say that I share Katie's option about the two brothers though.  They are so wonderful and are so easy to love.  Somewhere out there is a very lucky mummy and daddy waiting to take them home and I'm so excited for them, and a little sad that we won't see them anymore. In the meantime we will enjoy spending time with them.

Michael Bublé - "Haven't Met You Yet" [Official Music Video]

This is our family song.  We played this incessantly in the car before we met Katie and now we all sing along together.  Katie often asks to have this in the car......

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Feeling quite excited

I had an exciting day yesterday.  I recently contacted our Social Worker with a view to doing something to support National Adoption Week.  She passed on my details to the media team and I did a phone interview yesterday with a lady from the media team with a view to her writing a press release and us possibly speaking to our local media, including newspapers and television.  It is great to feel that I might be able to do something to bring more adopters forward.  We try to meet up with people that we know are considering adoption to answer any questions they may have and allay any fears.  I know how I hung on to every word both the adopters said that we met at our information event and our prep course.  These were real adopters who knew what it was all about.

I was sad yesterday to hear that one of those couples we have spoken to have now pulled out of the adoption process because they had been put off by the messages they gained from their preparation course.  One of the things that is very difficult about the prep course is that you hear about all the sorts of things that can go wrong with adoption, including some less desirable behaviours that some children may present with.  It is quite scary to hear some of this information and can really give you pause for thought.  I was so lucky that I had met so many adopted children prior to this course, as I think it may well have made me question my ability to parent some of these behaviours.  Would I be up to that sort of parenting?  I actually don't know anyone personally who has adopted children who has experienced these sorts of behaviours.  That reassured me more than anything else.  I was lucky though to have this resource in my life, many would-be adopters don't.  They are probably the only person in their group of friends who are approaching adoption and life infertility, this can feel so isolating.  You have to dig so deep into yourself throughout the adoption process to answer the question "Am I up to this?".  It's such a shame that so many people pull out of the process because they don't have the reassurance that, with the right support, they can be "up to it".  I find myself feeling more and more passionate about trying to help people with this.  How do I do this?  I am still working on that one but I hope doing some media work might help a little.

A little closer to home, one of my big tasks this week is to write contact letters for Katie's birth family.  I confess to being a little late doing this and I need to get on with it.  We had a late holiday and life has just been so busy, and I admit that I've delayed a little as I do find the letters hard to write.  Trying to get a balance of what to include is so difficult.  I want to inform her birth family of her progress and things they might want to know about her so that they can get a good picture of her life but I also don't want to appear smug or make them feel bad.  Trying to chose some photos to send it also delaying this a little as I want to try and ensure that I send some nice pictures but ones that don't identify her too much, just to make sure her security is ensured.  This is one of the things that I find quite tough.  Wish me luck.........