Good news…

…well news anyway, my bed in in this country! I received an email to say the shipping container with my long awaited bed was due to reach the UK on December 1st. I can only presume it’s reached our shores as I haven’t had confirmation. I received an invoice via email asking me to pay a twenty quid installation fee – I did opt for my bed to be put together as last time I attempted this was on a single bed with my mum, it took us 3 hours and we nearly lost our relationship over it. I thought I’d paid the installation fee as they call it, when I paid for the actual bed. But as I bought said bed literally back in August, I actually don’t remember. In fact I barely remember what the bed I chose looks like as it was so long ago. I’ve been sleeping on a mattress on the floor since July. Just people! It’s now December!! To be fair, the company did tell me it was being made in China or something and that it could  take up to 18 weeks to get to me. If you’ve been watching I’m a Celeb and remember when Lady C won a night on a bed in the jungle then that’s what my bed looks like! It’s taken so long I’m beginning to wonder if that actually is my bed… And do I want it if Lady C slept in it…?! 
This is it….

 

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Thurs 26th Nov

Thurs 26th November
Loads has happened which I shall get round to imparting over the weeks to come hopefully – I’m still sleeping on a mattress on the floor but it’s now my thick new mattress specifically for my body. It’s still an effort getting out of bed every morning, or should I say, launching myself off the floor. There are two techniques I’ve adopted, one is the roll on to all fours and then stand up and the other is to crouch at the edge of the mattress and stand.

The latter I tend to go with but it does nothing for my tight IT bands in both legs; for now I have been diagnosed with fibromaylgia. I thought it was just exhaustion and constantly lifting my boxes of stuff for months on end plus sleeping on the floor but thanks to the m.e.(chronic fatigue) getting worse, I went to my gp and I accepted my first hospital referral for M.E. ever. The hospital was as shit as I expected, lots of smiles and sympathy but not actual help. When I told the lady consultant I had downloaded and read their pacing booklet 10 years previously but wondered if I should look at their more up to date version, they told me it hasn’t changed in the 10 years. They then showed my a diagram of a cartoon body with black dots on indicating the usual areas of pain in fibro and I realised they all fitted my less than cartoon body. Pain in my lower back which then becomes sciatica down the sides of both my legs, it stops me lying on either side to get to sleep as it’s too painful. Once I am asleep the pain wakes me up so I have to roll over. For this I was offered steroids but as I pointed out I have to be majorly suffering to take anything and had probably taken a total of one paracetamol in the last twelve months so I wasn’t about to take steroids which also make you constipated. So I have now been referred to their fibro unit and for physio. For the worsened m.e. I have been referred for mindfullness.

The consultant asked me if I’d heard of mindfullness and I said I had, isn’t when you take an hour to eat a piece of toast as you must live in the moment and take time to think about how the toast smells, feels and tastes then chew for minutes before swallowing and living in the moment of the sensations of that digestion marvel. She said sort of but there’s more to it and I’d enjoy it. I did point out that as my energy has decreased, so my life has slowed down and actually the aim is for everything to speed up again but she smiled again and ignored me.

A few weeks later and I got an appointment from this hospital through but it doesn’t actually say what it’s for. The one positive thing that’s happened to me this year is getting a casual job on Stage Door at the theatre and the appointment conflicted with one of my shifts. So I rang the hospital, I got the usual guff about changing appointments blah blah blah but when I mentioned I didn’t actually know what the app. is for she paused, checked her notes and said it’s a follow up appointment. ‘It’s lucky I rang to cancel then’, I said, ‘as I only saw them a month ago and nothing has changed and I haven’t ha any of my 3 referrals so there’s nothing to follow up on yet’. Hospital lady grumpily huffed then said she was going to actually leave her desk to check other notes……… Moments later she said the appointment was actually for mindfullness. ‘Oh great, so can you tell me how long this appointment is going to last then as it’s presumably going to be longer than most app.s and I need to plan it in to my day.’ An hour apparently…. You’d think given the only piece of advice they give to people with M.E. is pacing that if you offer an appointment it would actually say what it was for and the fact it’s going to be an hour so I can work out if I’ve got the energy for the bus ride or if I’m feeling pants, then fork out for parking.

So now in my diary I can look forward to an hour of chewing the cud in a hospital…. And I’m one of the lucky ones who only needs one total rest day a week and no medication; well I’m refusing medication anyway.

Living in Limbo

7 months after first approaching my adoption agency and I’m only just at the end of Stage One. It’s due to be at least another 7 months before I actually get a child. Add to this having weekly meetings and training days where you’re asked questions such as ‘is there enough light in your sitting room to see by?’ and I’m tempted to pretend I have no windows or electricity and have lit candles everywhere; however as I’ve now had my home assessment and I blush or laugh whenever I lie, I don’t think I’d get away with it.

The training days are like playing the game Scruples where you go off in groups and are asked endless scenarios such as ‘what would you do if a father kissed his 13 yr old daughter goodnight on the lips (closed)?’ and I’m just a little bit frustrated. Obviously we are taught valuable things too and asked pertinent questions but it sometimes feels as if you’re being tested as to how long before you laugh in their faces and walk out of the door.

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I’m not the only person feeling like this, chatting to other prospective adopters and people who have made it through and are out the other side, I wonder why there is such secrecy surrounding the whole adoption process and why the government say they’ve sped up the process as it often feels interminable. The sad truth is the inane questions are not made up by my agency who are very good and experienced, they are simply following government directives; no wonder not many people choose to adopt and that’s before the reality of coping with parenting a child who has experienced trauma.

Other people on my training days are feeling the same, none of us have come to this route blindly and spent time researching and talking to people experienced in this area for insight. So it feels as if I’ve been trying to adopt for a lot longer than seven months. As someone who took so long to make the decision as to which path to motherhood to take, once I finally made up my mind (3 years later) I want things to happen quickly. In theory, after another 7 months, Matching happens. This is when a child and I are matched, by what I can offer, personality and strengths. Then I have to be approved by the child’s adoption panel – I have heard this can be harsh as a single prospective parent and wonder how can I compete with a couple with twice as much time and energy?

I asked my social workers this recently as I think I’ve decided to adopt a baby and panels are more likely to give a baby to two people than one to raise. My SWs said I was already doing everything I can by getting experience with children I don’t know. This comes in the form of helping at my local pre-school every week and I’ve been doing this for 7 months too. You would think I would love this and I do love the children there, even the naughty ones make me laugh. There is one little girl, Lily, who will never do anything a grown up asks her to do and is very attention seeking but I think it’s because she’s incredibly clever and can run rings round most of the grown ups in charge. One week, Lily pushed Rebecca into the cupboard and shut the door. I found it hard to tell her off as Rebecca is a pain in the backside and had been particularly whiney that morning.

Since I was at nursery (as we called it in my day), by age 4 I could read and write, spell basic words and do basic sums. I wasn’t a child genius, most kids my age could do this and we were taught it at home as well as in nursery. Apparently these days the alphabet is practically defunct, having to sound out letters, which I thought would be more appropriate for 2 year olds, this is now being used with kids starting school this year. It is now left to the child to learn to associate shapes of letters with sounds of words…. I really don’t understand what was wrong with the old system unless particularly children needed teaching in a different way. So each week at pre-school where I now go, a different child is selected as Helper of the Day, gets a round of applause once their name is announced and gets to write their name on the board in front of everyone. The first time I watched this was with a boy named Tom, I had to stifle giggles as he put his pen on the board and scribbled round and round as if he was colouring in. I assumed the teacher would step in and help him but no we had to all give a round of applause for his scribble and then just hope he associates letter shapes before he starts school in four months. I’ve since discovered only 2 of the children can actually write their own name. We sit there occasionally sounding out the letter ‘s’ for snake or ‘b’ for ball and the children who struggle with this are never helped, it’s assumed they will get it eventually or it’s mentioned to their parents to help at home. Apparently this isn’t just my pre-school, its across the country. Last week we had to give a round of applause to a 3 year old who had learned to use the potty over the weekend; I spend a lot of time biting my lip to stop myself convulsing in to giggles.

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When I’d been there around four months, the headteacher greeted me one morning (this is unusual in itself as the staff barely talk to me) and said I wasn’t the only helper today and she then pointed to a board which apparently had a volunteer rota on. I had no idea this board even existed. She looked at the piece of paper and said, “oh the other helper is Sarah, she’ll be with you today”.

“I’m Sarah”, I replied.

“Oh”, she looked at the rota again,” right it’s Kate, she’s helping with you today”…. No apology offered.

Kate then turned up fifteen minutes late, spent some time checking the petty cash records as she’s also the treasurer while moaning to the staff about how much she had on that day. She disappeared soon after and a teacher said I would be on my own that day after all as Kate had an appointment to get to. As I’d stood eavesdropping earlier while peeling and chopping carrots for 25 children, I’d heard Kate say she had to get home in time for her shopping from Sainsbury’s to be delivered.

All the other helpers are parents of the children there, I was honest from the start as to why I wanted to help, not only to give back to my community (I have been on various village committees) but for experience as I’m applying to adopt. One of the teachers and one of the parents occasionally ask me how the process is going which is sweet but those are pretty much the only two conversations I’ve had with anyone there for six months; apart from when there were roadworks and everyone was late and moaning about it.

One of the kid’s dads often helps and is great playing with them all, he’s also very talented at not doing any of the chores which us volunteers are supposed to do. One week he asked me where the dustpan was which I thought was progress, only to discover he wanted to sweep up some woodshavings as he works as a handyman and had decided to fix a sticky door in the school (I don’t think any of the staff had asked him to do this but as they don’t talk to me it’s hard to know).

Most weeks I’m helping on my own, shopping, preparing food and clearing up after 25 kids. I do wonder what they do when I’m not there. What makes me laugh is that I used to be a nanny so when I start playing with the kids or catch them doing something naughty before a teacher does, the expressions on the staff’s faces is quite something.

Today, the head called me by the wrong name for the first couple of hours, I have given up correcting her now as I’ve learnt to keep my head down in this place. She told me we would be having a practice fire drill and when it happens, not to panic and simply help get the children to the front door and out of the building. She was about to press the alarm when I stopped her as one of the boys was on the loo doing a poo; how to traumatise a recently potty trained kid….

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When the alarm later sounded, half the kids had just come inside after playtime so they didn’t have shoes on. I herded a few to the back door where the adults created a gridlock. The children said they needed their shoes so I said it didn’t matter this time, it was more important to be safe and go outside. One girl wasn’t sure so I carried her and took another one by his hand. But we met gridlock again. The teachers told them to put their shoes on quickly but no one could find them as most of the shoes were in another room. So I started putting any shoes on any child just to get them out while explaining to them why. But the teachers then stopped them all again to find their own shoes. Ten minutes later we all got outside to get a lecture from the head. Quite frankly if this had been a real fire, the consequences would have been devastating.

Meanwhile my life is still on hold. My sense of timing is great, after ten years of not working in theatre and tv, I now want to go back in to it. I had moderate M.E. which is why I stopped working in the first place, once it became mild I started working part time and I’ve worked more hours in recent years as I have more and more energy and the condition has only flared up briefly a couple of times. Meanwhile, I usually work Spring to Autumn doing local fairs to increase my therapy business but as this Autumn will theoretically mean stopping work for 6 months, I’m only working with my regular clients. I can’t tell you how bored I am.

While I realise how lucky I am to be so well, I’m also frustrated that there’s no point in applying for other jobs as I’d have to give it up once a child is placed with me. A reality faced by every parent. My priority, like others, is my child I have yet to meet and so it seems I have to put my choices such as jobs on hold. I also have to put my human desires such as finding a partner on hold (you have to be seen as not actively pursuing a relationship). Meanwhile, I’ve come to the point of being able to afford to move house i.e. paying solicitor’s and estate agents’ fees but must also put this on hold for at least 2 years as this can traumatise a child who has already moved from their birth parents and foster parents and then to you. While all the reasons behind my limbo make sense, they’re also incredibly frustrating. I’m supposed to put my career and home desires and even sexual desires on hold for at least another two years while I’m asked endless questions, rather like someone constantly poking a bruise for hours on end – hey it’s like parenthood!

Without a child, and never being told if you might be approved as an adopter, so you live on hope for months, in limbo and in crazy pre-school.

13 Things We Can Do To Protect Our NHS

Protect Our NHS

PUT one of our postcards, leaflets or posters in your front window; talk to your neighbours and friends
READ NHS SOS edited by Jacky Davis & Raymond Tallis, published 2013 by Oneworld
OPT out of your medical records being sent to care.data by informing your GP accordingly (see http://protectournhs.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/important-how-to-opt-out-of-care-data-its-your-medical-records-and-your-life-look-after-it/)
TELL your elected representatives that you want the Health and Social Care Act 2012 repealed and the legal duty of the Secretary of State for Health to provide a National Health Service reinstated
E MAIL or phone 07891 432224 or 07841 238588 so we can keep you informed of our activities so you can get involved
CONTACT your GP and/or surgery to ask why you haven’t been consulted on the way local health services are being delivered – and what arrangements exist for consulting you as a patient and member of the public
TELL your CCG in person in its public…

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Self Help

Do you ever feel like you just don’t get it? You’re out of the loop of life? As if you could just realise the patterns you were making were causing your life to be as it is, then it would change? The self help world is a massive market full of books, gurus and workshops to help us see our patterns but some of us remain blind. Or deaf. I have a friend who is a victim of her life choices, she constantly complains she is broke yet spends money like water and has 3 wardrobes and several boxes full of clothes, she is also so disorganised that it spills over in to her life then wonders why things don’t work out for her. I try to see my patterns. I asked Adam, the recent ex, what is was about me that had contributed towards our relationship demise. He kindly said there was nothing and that we just didn’t gel, yet at the time of the spilt he said I sometimes had a condescending tone or was childish. He could not or would not give examples of these traits so I asked my close friends if they saw them in me too. They denied them and said he just didn’t ‘get me’, soothing my ego but I’m not sure if they were simply being kind.

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There are positives in any situation, and I’ve been searching for these (to save my sanity and to stop me from ditching the diet yet again). I’ve had a lovely time dating and exploring some beautiful historic buildings on these dates, a past time I love. I’ve had some fun times and learnt with relief that after 2 years of being single, my lady parts have not atrophied (this was a concern after meeting someone to whom this happened). I’ve also overhauled my underwear drawer so next time I go for a physical exam at the doctor I can get undressed with confidence and matching bra and knickers.

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So as I’d whipped myself in to shape (sort of) I went back on to the dating sites, really just as an ego boost but also the thought of not dating for two to three years while I attempt to adopt and settle my future child in to our home, isn’t contemplatable. My first date was with a divorced man who leads male only workshops, he’d also realised he had patterns from his childhood which had partly led to the end of his marriage and gone on one of these workshops to get in touch with his emotions. Years later, he now leads these groups of men on emotional expression journeys, it sounded very interesting and I was quite tempted to sign up the ex, Adam on one as he claimed to never know what he was feeling. However, shortly into the date I realised he was unable to hold eye contact for longer than two seconds and I felt like I was interrogating him as he asked me nothing, conversation was difficult. After a quick coffee, he said he’d ring me but never did and I didn’t follow up.

 

Date number two was a man who was quick to respond to messages and seemed keen, so keen that he wanted to drive the 2 hours from his home to meet me in Bath for coffee. As he arrived before me, he messaged me to ask how I ‘felt about shorts’… I thought he might be a bit cold being early March but he said he was hot. On arrival he looked as if he’d been out for a morning run with polo top, shorts and trainers on, looking slightly out of place in this french patisserie. Apparently he’d had a few drinks the night before with an old friend so had stayed on his sofa, leaving no time to change. Shortly after ordering our coffees, I thought he was winking at me quite vigorously which I thought was strange as we were making polite conversation about his car journey there. It dawned on me that actually he had some sort of nervous twitching affliction. Looking past this, as I have physical flaws too, we were quite peckish so I ordered a croissant and he ordered a full breakfast which he proceeded to push round the plate.

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I made my croissant last as long as I could while brushing the endless flakes of my top in what I presumed to be a ladylike way and after an hour of him eating one piece of toast he went to the loo. It did cross my mind he might be going out the back door and sticking me with the bill but he’d left his hoodie top on his chair. When he returned he asked if I felt like a walk. We went in to some bookshops and when I pointed out a couple of books I’d read and loved he bought them for himself. We chatted about things we like doing and when he said he also liked going to the theatre, I asked him the last thing he’d been to see, “The forty nine steps”, he replied. I tried not to react facially, “It’s the thirty nine steps”, I said, “unless they’ve added ten more steps since I saw it”. He did not laugh. By then I realised two things, one he never said please or thank you to any shop staff and two he sniffed continuously. By the time we got back to the main city square I made my excuses and left.

 

Date number three has potential, there was a spark and we chatted away easily and seemingly shared a sense of humour and life stories, though I have never been an alcoholic and am not now a rehab counselor. We’ve exchanged the odd text but who knows… I’m impatient but will not be mentioning the adoption during such early stages. In theory I will be an approved adopter by the Autumn so thats a long time off yet and as we know, life has a way of presenting little twists and turns when you least expect it; unless I haven’t seen one of my patterns that is pre-determining my future even now. You’ve read my ‘enthralling’ blog posts, what am I missing?!

Image    Answers on a Postcard please….

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Jealousy and Bingo Wings

images-2   From my sofa I have a great view out of the living room window on to the street where I live. It’s a high street in a small village and I live opposite one of the local hubs – the village hall. I often glance up from ‘working’ (browsing the internet) to people watch and see locals passing by, some going to yoga, art classes, or village meetings. I admit that sometimes jealousy does pass through me, not in a stalker mentally unstable way but in a wondering why I don’t have the seemingly normal life that others appear to i.e. married with kids. It’s a sort of, ‘oh’ moment, like when you went back to school after the holidays with a new six compartment folding pencilcase only to discover the most popular girl has the new farah fawcett hair flick. You look down at your pencilcase and hide it away at the back of your desk; that night go home and tell your parents you need them to take you to the hairdresser and soon. But they reply that won’t be happening for another three months because the trim your mum did at the kitchen table looks perfectly fine and they’ve just forked out for a jolly expensive, and in their eyes, totally unnecessary pencil case.

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As an adult I covet my single life but it’s sometimes hard to talk about the latest workshop or museum I went to, with someone with farah fawcett hair. Because they then wistfully reply they wish they had more time, money and / or energy to go to museums as their beautiful enviable hairstyle come in the form of offspring.

As I look out of my window, I sometimes wonder what it’s like to live in their world and find it odd that after thirty years thinking that next year I would meet someone and be part of that world, reality sets in. The last few years I’ve searched my soul and my options to becoming a parent and decided on adoption. This is not done without regret or grief; most of us spend our childhoods assuming we will meet our prince, live in a castle and be blessed with children. As an adult I wish fairytales had not been so Disneyfied and still served as stories with morals to make children think and learn from human mistakes. ‘Don’t trust strangers who happen to look like wolves’ or ‘just because you treat others as you would hope to be treated, does not automatically reward you with a Prince and a castle’. This Christmas I went to see a theatre production of The Little Mermaid, which luckily hadn’t had the Hollywood treatment. Halfway through the show, some characters came in to the audience and asked the children if they wanted to come to the ball and meet a prince. Several children enthusaistically accepted the invitation, until one little girl replied, ‘no thankyou, I don’t like Princes’. I would like to meet that girl’s parents and congratulate them.

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At 41, I am at one with reality and do not expect a millionaire to knock on my door and propose. But I do still have hopes that one day I might meet my life partner, with his own sets of flaws and share our lives together. This hope that most of us have is out of kilter with my life timing and is going to have to wait until I become a parent. I met someone a few months ago as I’d barely started the adoption process and it looks likely to be around a year until I get through it and am hopefully a parent. I foolishly thought I could start down both paths and see where they took me but the pressure of both played off on eachother and the brief relationship faltered. Having spent so long looking in to all viable options to become a mum and at last reach my decision, I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me to be thinking about becoming parents with someone else and to have all options suddenly back on the table. This all played in to my emotional wellbeing and made me more insecure about this new relationship and his character flaws. When it finished, it was sad but I also felt relief that I was back on the path I had long considered but it brings back the mild grief of not having my own DNA continued.

On my sofa, to the right of my view of the world is a table with family photos on. My mum as a toddler with the family dog, my mum older with her mum and step dad, and two photos of my great great granny, Kit. I look at these photos and wonder what these previous generations would have thought of my decision to adopt. As a teen, my parents divorced (after years of thick atmospheres this was a relief) and I decided not to make the same mistakes, in that black and white way that children see the world, it was as simple as making my mind up.

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My mum had met my dad when she wasn’t very confident and quite young in some ways, as they grew older together her confidence grew and she became the woman she is now. Taking their love out of the equation and my dad being older than her, he could grow no more and adaptability was not an option for him. As a teen, I decided to not marry anyone until I was completely grown up and confident in myself and knew myself inside and out. As I got older and relationships failed because I subconsciously chose men like my father, who did not know themselves inside out. Now, having grown up and realised we are probably less confident as adults than as kids and having seen so many therapists to sort out my subconscious, I’m as good as I get … for now, and I have flaws that I’m continually working on come as part of my package.

Looking at these photos as my maternal family history, my parent’s marriage may have lasted for 18 years but the man she refers to as the ‘love of her life’ is my stepdad, they probably were better suited but only had 8 years together before he got cancer and died. My mum was a child the result of a wartime affair, she only met her real dad twice as a teen and grew up with a step dad whom she was never hugely close to. I once asked my granny if this man I called Gaga and loved as my grandpa, was the love of her life, ‘no’ she’d replied. I always found it sad that she’d not had an easy childhood, had fallen pregnant with her first boyfriend so her mum insisted they get married. After a swift wedding, my gran lost the baby and realised she never loved her husband. He went off to fight the second world war and as more and more friends and family were killed, she said there was a sense that this country would not survive and so people grasped each day they had. At 20 years old, with her husband away, she went to a New Year’s dance and was wooed by my biological grandpa, Brian. Granny quickly became pregnant with my mum so her mother insisted she divorce her hubby and marry Brian instead. Luckily she soon realised Brian and she were not compatible and refused to marry him so she was chucked out of her parents’ home and sent to live with my great aunt. She went on to marry my Gaga when my mum was eight but he was not the easiest of men nor the love of her life.

Going back a generation and to where I have no photos on display is my great gran. The photos remain in albums and much as I loved her as a child, particularly as I was always given smarties or ice cream by her, she died when I was 8; she was an incredibly difficult woman for everyone else. Her husband, my granny’s father, was a lovely man but sadly an alcoholic who died when the children were young. My granny and her brother mourned their father but their mother became more hard hearted and didn’t spend much time as a widow before marrying her second husband who was simply a ‘yes-man’ and pretty hands off with the children.

Lastly on my sofa table is my great great grandmother, Kit, in two photos, one as a child and one as a widow (are you sensing a theme here…?). Kit fell in love and happily married her husband but he was sent away to fight the Boer war. Two weeks after the war ended, he came home and died of yellow fever; leaving her with 6 children and no widow’s pension so the eldest of the children and Kit had to go out to work.

And there the story ends, no one knows much of what went on with the family pre 20th century and knowing that four generations of your family could not achieve a happy and long lasting marriage is somewhat offputting. My generation are so lucky to have such a plethora of options, we don’t have to marry the first man we fall for, nor do we have to get pregnant by him, or stay in an unhappy relationship. If my maternal predecessors were here now I wonder what they’d say, what advice they’d give. Some married because they fell pregnant, some may have married because they wanted to get pregnant, and all my life I wanted to break the mould and have a long and happy marriage. Really, I’m the lucky one to have such choice, despite no partner by my side, I chose not to settle for the first man who came along, nor the wrong men who have come along since. I could have chosen to reproduce my genes using IVF or surrogacy but those weren’t the right paths for me. Even though I’m sad I won’t bend down and kiss my child and see my own small hands replicated or my mum’s paternal nose, or my granny’s cracking pair of legs. Nor will I see my inherited bingo wings nor worry they’d get our genetic diseases.

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And with a new start and a new set of genes becoming my family, I know that if there are any annoying character flaws that come out of my children, I won’t secretly blame my partner and think it’s come from his side of the family as some of my friends do.. Nor will I blame myself or my obviously brilliant parenting, I will happily blame their unknown genetics, continue to believe I am a perfect person with very minor flaws and live in my version of reality.

The Form…

At last I am invited to fill out The Form… There is actually ‘Der Der DERRR!’ music playing in my head every time I say or think these words. I was at an Open Day back in December and told I would be given The Form in January but when they called me on Jan 2nd, life was rather chaotic with trips to the vet, me seeing Adam, etc. and had been lead to believe that when I received the form I had 5 days in which to fill it out and hand it back along with all my other paperwork. I had a little heart stopping moment of overwhelm and said, ‘could I be in the next group instead please?’

 

Turns out, the next group begins in March, which feels like ages in my impatient world. In mid Feb I had an invitation to be interviewed by two social workers and receive The Form. I was told the interview would take 2 hours, so in my controlling manner I clear my social calendar for the whole of this year and am non committal to invitations should I be called in for yet another interview or training day as surely the process has begun! Luckily I have to social life of a 90 year old, probably less so, at least at 90 I intend to have regular tea parties and eat as much cake as I want to by that age. Though I had an Aunt who went the other way and lived off Complan plus walked 5 miles a day, she filled her days taking tea (never partaking in cake) with the local reverends while deciding which church would give her a better send off before defecting to Catholicism; she lived to 96.

 

Image  So at my interview I meet one young social worker who I felt looked not much older than twenty, she didn’t say much as she had to take notes all meeting. She seemed nice enough but I wasn’t confident she would defend my corner when I’m being torn apart by my prospective child’s panel who have to approve me over another family. The other woman was, lets just say, imagine a typical social worker in your head, with hair that I wonder if it’s seen a brush. At one point she asked how I feel at getting involved with couples on training days. I assured her I talk to anyone and it doesn’t bother me but liked that the agency will match similar adopters in groups if they can. This lady then suggested I would feel pandered to if I were put in a group with other single adopters or gay couples. I defended my corner and replied I preferred not to be the only ‘not the norm’ adopter in the room.

 

We then went over old ground in more depth, what have my years of receiving counselling taught me? Am I planning to move house? When I had an internship in America, could anyone verify that I was actually there building theatre sets and not in prison? At one point all I could think of was the Krispy Kreme I’d planned on getting on the way home instead of deflecting these probing questions. Just as I was day dreaming about an original glazed doughnut they asked me if I would consider Concurrent Adoption. This is when a child is taken straight from their birth parent and placed with you, no foster care interim. The placement lasts 6 months as during this time, the birth parent has the opportunity to change their circumstances and prove themselves a fit parent; if they do, they get their child back, if not I adopt. The Pros for this are less upheaval for the child but this means I would have to work extra hard to get them caught up if they are behind developmentally and emotionally, things most foster carers work on. And the major Cons are I would have to take the child to Contact with their parents regularly during that 6 months, plus the fact I could end up losing that child back to their parents. Supposedly you have more chance of getting a baby and was told it’s ‘low risk’ if you agree to this and there is more training involved but they also asked how I fair under long term stress; who on earth is good with long term stress?

Image Having said I would need to think on concurrent adoption, I since discovered that this is relatively new to the UK. Plus I’ve now heard of several cases where the adoption did not go through because the parents were originally accused of physical abuse but it turned out the child had Brittle Bone Disease which is now common in this country. I also know I don’t cope well with long term stress, You can meditate to your heart’s content but if you are constantly caring for a child who may or may not become yours plus dealing with the fallout of their birth parents behaviour, I opt for no. I also know there are many babies in areas of the UK up for adoption so it’s not like I won’t have a chance if I don’t go down that path. I also re-iterate I have no preference over a boy or girl, ethnic background, age or how many children.

 

A documentary on adoption was shown recently on Channel 4 with ‘adoption parties’ where children who had been waiting for parents for a while, go to parties to get the chance to be seen by prospective adopters. You saw a social worker walking to up to couples and basically trying to ‘sell’ these children, they were mainly boys and often sibling groups. The foster carers indicated why the boys had originally been ‘hard to place’ as they were behind in terms of development when they’d first gone in to care but were now up to speed and all came across as bright, articulate and loving children. My heart broke as they were taken to three different adoption parties and had to play with children they didn’t know. At the end, they asked their carer why no one wanted them as their ‘forever family’. There was no answer. 

Image After seeing this, I ranted on Facebook asking why adopters are given a choice of age, sex or single/siblings. Most people agreed with me but one friend who I haven’t seen for 15 years ranted back. It turned out that she was also single and had adopted but felt she only wanted one and a girl. I didn’t reply as I can’t think of a valid reason where anyone can say why they prefer one sex over the other. I also, as a single adopter am happy to have more than one child. I was an only child myself so always wanted my family to be more than one, quite often sibling groups are less traumatised by their background as they have always had eachother to rely on.  If you have a child naturally, you have no choice over gender, or even personality so why are adopters given these choices? If you have an answer to this, please let me know so I can understand this, my agency also had no answer.

 

Link to Ch4 Programme if you want to see it: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/finding-mum-and-dad/episode-guide