I rang the doorbell and waited with my heart in my mouth. I will never forget the moment when I heard my four year old son’s voice for the first time. From behind the door he shouted, ‘It’s my new Mummy and Daddy!’ The door opened and our little tornado was all at once in my arms, cemented in our hearts and lives forever.
For the three years that followed I thought nothing in life could come close to that moment. A couple of months ago our four year old daughter walked into a room bringing with her the same sunshine moment and the final side to our square.
Rewind five years to the autumn of 2007 and my husband and I were returning from two years in an overseas posting. We had had a ball but the time was slightly tinged by the failed fertility treatments which we had endured whilst we were away.
We had made the heart wrenching but cathartic decision that we would not be putting ourselves through any further treatment but still very much wanted a family. We flew home relieved that this was all behind us knowing that the next part of our journey would be adoption.
A phone call, an information evening and a visit from a social worker came and went. We could already see that although the path ahead may be long our children would be at the end of it.
We were raring to go, gobbling up any information that we could find, visiting people who had adopted already, joining internet forums and volunteering at a nursery in preparation.
An experience is always so much easier when you have someone who you trust and click with to guide you through. Our social worker, who saw us through the whole process for both of our adoptions, made sure that we knew what was expected at each step and what would be happening next. We felt informed, supported and that we were moving ahead.
The Home Study was emotional and intrusive. Talking about all areas of our lives, families and past relationships was difficult at times. There was no doubt that every tiny detail was being scrutinised, but with good reason. We felt sure that all of this would lead us to our children.
We were approved at Panel in the Spring of 2008 and 15 days later the phone rang with the news of a little boy who we might be matched with. It felt right from the first phone call but I remember spending a couple of weeks trying to push the bubbles of possibility down just in case. Despite our positivity throughout the process, the fact remained that we had spent so long having hopes and dreams snatched away month after month. It was hard to believe that this really might be it!
Little by little we were given more and more information about Jack. From a short profile to his full report. We were shown photos and then a DVD. Occasionally I watch the DVD which Jack’s foster carer brought with her when she visited us. Even thinking about it now brings a big smile to my face. Seeing our funny little chap on the screen, running around, waving at the camera and attempting to hula hoop, really brought him to life for us. All the pieces were slotting into place and with each one we were falling a bit more in love with our son. We just hadn’t met him yet.
The longest wait of my life has to be the few minutes after our Matching Panel when we were sent out of the room to allow the panel members to discuss us. Relief and elation followed at being told that yes, we were officially matched and that in a week’s time we would meet our son and our family would, at last, be a triangle.
Back to the doorbell and hearing ‘Mummy’ for the first time. Our first day of introductions was short but exhilarating. Jack was totally accepting of his new situation, that we were his new Mummy and Daddy. He understood that he would be coming home to live with us forever in his new house with his new pussy cats.
The days passed by and each day we spent more and more time with Jack at the foster carers’ home. We were getting up earlier and earlier each day to travel so that we were the first people that he saw when he opened his eyes in the morning. It got harder and harder to leave him and after just five or six days Jack was crying when we left him and standing on his bed peering out through the blinds watching us leave. I could paint a picture now of his fingers through the slats in the blinds and remember quite vividly one car journey home on our own when Jack’s tears became contagious and our eyes were more than a bit leaky.
Despite the introduction period, Homecoming Day and the weeks that followed were still a bit of a shock to our systems. We have a little boy! He was asleep in his bed. I tiptoed up the stairs so many times to look at him, it all felt rather surreal but wonderful. Our lives were completely turned upside down but every day we felt so blessed that Jack was with us.
We were told that we might experience a ‘honeymoon period’ and this was exactly what happened. For the first eight weeks Jack was a dream, doing as he was asked, not acting out, eager to please and so affectionate. All of that changed quite dramatically for the next six months as Jack tested his boundaries and pushed to see if he really was here to stay. We were quite exhausted by the behaviour but knew that all we could do was keep firm and consistent. Eventually things panned out and we settled down to ‘normal’ family life with our loveable, stubborn, energetic, charismatic son.
Being assessed as a second time adopter was a whistle stop tour compared to our first experience. It was refreshing to revisit our old Prospective Adopters’ Report, read what we had written about our family before Jack arrived and update our paperwork to reflect our triangle. How far we had come in three years! We were all excited about the prospect of being a square and hoped that we wouldn’t have to wait too long. Jack was adamant that it was a little sister that he wanted and we also felt this was right for our family. ‘Then I can be your special son and she can be your special daughter.’ Our thoughts exactly.
We first heard about Martha at a National Adoption Exchange Event in London. We had trawled around nearly all of the 65 stands speaking to social workers and listening to them talk about the children that they were looking to place for adoption.
When Martha’s profile was produced it was another moment in our lives that we will not forget. Something happened as the workers on the stand described this little girl. We were both looking at each other nodding and smiling. We were silently saying, ‘She’s ours, she’s ours,’ to each other. This was it! We felt that we had what she needed and she belonged with us. I knew right there and then that Martha was our daughter.
The months that followed were not straightforward as Martha was living a long way from our area. We travelled quite a distance for foster carer meetings, planning meetings and panels and eventually stayed away from home for a week to do introductions.
9 weeks ago our hilariously funny, lively, beautiful and cheeky daughter came home forever.
Jack has coped amazingly with the change. They are just like any other siblings who play together, argue, cuddle when they think no-one is watching, whisper secrets, fall out and make up. Their beautiful brown eyes and little features bind them; it’s astonishing to think that they have not always been together.
This time it seems like adding to our family has been just a ripple on our pond. We may be in for a storm ahead, but who knows? If we are we will ride it out again. Our four sides are standing stronger every day and our square is complete.
Without adoption we would not have our wonderful children who bring love and laughter to our lives every day. In National Adoption Week perhaps you could consider adoption as an option? Maybe you know someone who is thinking about adopting? You could ask them to read our story and tell them that adoption really does change lives.
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