adoption is for everyone

Adoption is for me, as I’ve felt the nudge, made the call, navigated the process. Adoption is for me as I redecorate, order curtains and choose furniture. Adoption is for me as I cock my head to one side, screw up my face, and try to work out just how crazy life will be when we adopt. Adoption is for me as I make plans, write lists, add dates to my diary.

Adoption is for my family, as we explore what that means, prepare to expand and get ready to welcome our new members. Adoption is for my kids as they ask questions, make cute remarks, draw pictures, and watch the DVD of their new siblings.

Adoption is for our parents, as they research what it is to be related by adoption, as they get their heads round loving an adopted grandchild like their birth grandchildren. Adoption is for our parents as they initially hold back from the cuddles, the kisses, the care-giving that comes so naturally, yet which is the domain of us parents alone for the first few tentative months.

Adoption is for our siblings, as they read and learn, as they ask questions, as they explain it all to their children. Adoption is for our siblings who never chose to have an adopted niece or nephew, instead having it flung upon them, but who have been excited and interested throughout. Adoption is for our niece and nephews, as they come to terms with having adopted cousins.

Adoption is for our friends, who are organising to make us meals, look after our birth children and help with our housework when we adopt. Adoption is for our friends who are contributing financially towards the costs of welcoming more children into our family. Adoption is for our friends who listen, who learn about the process, who remember key events coming up in our adoption journey, who are learning the language of explaining adoption to their young children, as they prepare to welcome adopted friends into their lives.

Adoption is for the foster carers, who love and nurture and care and then give away. Adoption is for the foster carers who lose a piece of their heart each time they move a child on to an adopted family – but do it so that that child can have every advantage in life.

Adoption is for the social workers, who make difficult decisions, who put the child first, who cope with endless paperwork and bureaucracy, working long hours with little thanks, so that a child can be raised in a loving, stable home.

Adoption is for my children’s school and preschool, who are enthusiastic about the growth of our family, who are interested to know how they can best support us, who give support and stability to our birth children when they’re away from us, and who will one day give this same support and stability to our adopted children.

Adoption is for our church family, who are allowing their vicar a generous amount of paternity leave and flexible working, with people filling gaps on the rota and stepping up their commitment so that we can both focus on our family. Adoption is for our church family, who welcome troubled souls into their community on a regular basis, and who will welcome adopted children, with all their baggage and difficulties.

Adoption is for you, as you read this and remember those you know who have adopted or are in the process of adopting. Adoption is for you, as you write them an encouraging note, drop a meal round, offer to babysit, take them for a coffee or pint, understand the issues their children have as a result of their past, accept that ‘normal’ behaviour strategies might not work with children who have been so badly damaged.

Adoption is for you as you read this, perhaps feeling the same nudge to adopt as we did four years ago – a still, small voice from God which says “I set the lonely in families, I lead the prisoners with singing” (Psalm 68:6).

Adoption is for everyone. We do not all adopt – but we are all called to play our part in adoption. Adoption is for everyone.

 

on being approved for adoption

So that’s it, we’ve done it. Apparently. We’ve crossed the most important hurdle in this very bizarre process. Our status has shifted from ‘prospective adopter’ to ‘approved adopter’.

“Does it feel like the burden’s been lifted?” asks one friend.

Hmmm. I know what she means. And yes, in one sense it does. We no longer have to use tentative ‘if’s in conversation. We don’t have to wonder what the adoption panel will ask or what they’ll make of our report. We can look forward to the future with the certainty that we will be growing our family through adoption.

On the other hand, though, there’s a new burden to take its place. The burden of OK we really do have to get out of the boat now. Speaking of adoption in the theoretical sense and speaking of it in the practical/expectant sense are two very different things. One is confident, assured, smiling – everyone else is on board and thinks you’re wonderful for doing it. The other is unsure, unsteady and just a little bit isolating – suddenly you’re in a place no one else can go, and it’s slightly frightening. How do we choose a child? Will we ‘just know’?

I can understand why people ask how long the process should take from now on, I really do. But I’m never going to be able to give a satisfactory answer to that one. Finding a family for a child who needs one – for life – is not something to rush. You can’t create a family by randomly assigning parents to children, or vice versa, and expect it to work. There is a thoroughness to the process, many different stages designed to ensure – as much as is humanly possible – that the parent-child match is a good fit. So, no – I don’t know how long it will take from this point, and nor would I want to assign a timeframe.

A better question is ‘What happens next?’, for which there is a clearer answer. Essentially, we are now looking for a child. This can happen in different ways. Our social worker receives details of children on the adoption register, which she can forward to us if they match our criteria. We can search for children on a secure web register. And we’re planning to go to an adoption exchange event, where lots of different local authorities will have details of children who need families. Only when there has been a ‘match’, approved by both social workers, will we have an idea of timing.

No one told us that looking at children’s profiles, knowing that we are now in a position to make enquiries, would be this hard. We were prepared, of course, for the tough life stories – but we didn’t realise how clueless we would feel about how to proceed. Do we ask for details of any child who matches our criteria? Or just pick one or two? What if other adopters have got there first? Should we subscribe to the online adoption registers? And if so, for how long? They offer subscriptions for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and a year – how are we supposed to know what to choose?

So – life post-adoption panel is exhilarating, exciting and filled with hope. It is also confusing, nerve-wracking and emotional. Out with the theoretical case studies – and in with the actual children, the ones with actual lives who actually need a family. They are why we’re in this process. I’m holding on to a thread of faith which believes that God will lead us to the right child – whilst also having no clue how He will do that.

So just like normal faith then 🙂

free clothes, being on telly and school discos – all what i’ve been up to recently

OK, this blog doesn’t tend to feature ‘newsy’ posts. I prefer to write about issues, thoughts and ideas I’ve been having, rather than over-personalise it, or turn it into some boring online diary. But I’m aware that posts have been a little irregular of late, and the fact is that some quite unusual and exciting things have been happening in Real Life, so here’s a little summary for you if you fancy. If you don’t fancy, feel free to close the window right now (and thanks for the extra blog stats).

Free clothes!

I won a prize draw after submitting my review of Skipton’s retiresavvy web portal! The lovely Mumsnet and Skipton Financial Services picked my name out of a hat to win a £250 shopping voucher which, after much deliberating, I chose to spend at a clothes shop which shall remain nameless and which, in all honesty, was probably the wrong choice but, hey, for the next couple of months I will look extremely fashionable.

TV appearance!

There was a thing on Twitter about chocolate addicts being needed for some BBC documentary and – well, you would, wouldn’t you? Turns out my chocolate addiction is pretty epic, and I’m now going to feature fairly heavily in the programme. Look out for Trust me, I’m a doctor, BBC2, late July, if you want to pre-empt the next day’s tabloid headlines: “BENEFITS MUM USES YOUR TAXES TO FUND OBSESSIVE CHOCOLATE ADDICTION”. They paid me in chocolate, though, so all good.

School disco!

Not only Mister’s first ever school disco, but my first ever organising of one. Seemed to go OK. Most of the essential ingredients were there (sugar-heavy tuck shop, enthusiastic DJ, dance competitions) but it turns out that Time Warp is no longer welcome at your average school disco.

And it seems that today’s kids don’t go anywhere without getting their nails done, so we set up a nail bar and tattoo parlour. (Temporary tattoos of course – what do you take me for?) Actually ‘bar’ and ‘parlour’ are stretching it a bit. A few teachers and parents sitting behind a school desk trying to make chit-chat with the kids probably sums it up more accurately.

Blogs!

Two friends of mine independently started writing blogs within 24 hours of each other. And they are both bloody amazing, if you don’t mind me saying. If it was a blog-eat-blog kinda world, I’d be out of business straightaway but, as it happens, they’re very happy to share cyberspace with me. Please go and read them, I promise you won’t regret it. Kate has an incredible family of 7, through birth and adoption, and shares her adoption story with humour and honesty. Jo is an amazing single mum, widowed, sufferer of MS – and has a lot to teach me about strength, resilience, perseverance, and trusting God through the difficult times. Go say hello on their blogs!

Adoption!

Oh yeah – and we went into a room filled with a whole load of scary grown-ups who weren’t actually that scary and they asked us questions and we talked and talked and then they went and said we could adopt a child. 🙂