How I wish the ‘me’ that I am now could really speak to the ‘me’ that I was just over two years ago, and reassure ‘old me’ that everything would be just fine. Better actually, than fine. But that’s not how life works, and perhaps dealing with the uncertainty I felt back then prepared me for the present- and the future. However, if ‘me now’ really could speak to ‘old me’, maybe I’d say something like this:
Two-and-a-bit years ago was the official start of our adoption journey. We’d finally made official contact with an agency, and had decided we were ready to travel that road. It was a long way to get to the start line though, wasn’t it? All those years of waiting, hoping and medical intervention trying to help us have a birth child. And, after realising it was unlikely to happen, coming to terms with that fact. Adoption had entered our thinking much earlier- Mr Oak, and me, had talked about it as an idea, then as a possibility, then as an option. Finally, it became our next step. The phone call to our adoption agency felt so nerve-wracking, we had experienced so many disappointments and losses with the miscarriages and failed IVF, this felt like our last chance. We were desperate for it.
Do you remember, ‘old me’, how much you cleaned for that very first, informal visit and ‘chat’ with a social worker? We’d already made progress in our thinking through an information evening, through reading tons of stuff on the internet, and watching as much adoption-related telly as we could get. And now, here we were, with a real-life social worker coming. To our house. With our daft, bouncy, crazy dog, and every skirting board cleaned impeccably. After all, the opinion this social worker formed on us had potential to shape the course of the rest of our life.
The thing is, ‘old me’, you can’t have done that badly in that first meeting, because the social workjer who came to see us that evening, went on to invite us to stage one of the adoption assessment process. We had to provide people who knew us well who were willing to vouch for us and act as referees. We had to be police checked, our employers were approached, and we had medicals. You were so nervous, ‘old me’, about the medicals. You were scared that you would make us fail at the first hurdle. You were worried about your Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it’s associated tendency towards fatigue and joint pain. You were anxious it would prevent you from being considered for adoption. But, ‘old me’, your GP supported the application to adopt, she had seen the strength of our relationship through the rigours of IVF, and she was convinced that medically and mentally, there was no good reason that health concerns should be a barrier to being parents. Wonderful news- see, ‘old me’, one of your big fears laid to rest.
And so, things proceeded- through stage two, where the nitty gritty is. The social worker ended up knowing more about us- about our finances, our childhood experiences, our relationship, our faith, how we dealt with frustration and challenges- than our own parents do. Some people say it’s intrusive, but trust me, ‘old me’, we knew by the end that we were really well prepared. And, ‘old me’, believe it or not, we felt that the approval process validated us as potential parents- a whole room of people knew all the gory details about us, and yet still believed that we could make good parents- wow! As for your fears about your faith being seen as negative- quite the opposite- the network of support your faith gives us, both practically and emotionally, is seen as wonderful!
So, ‘old me’, we were approved. As parents. And in this process, contrary to IVF, there was definitely, absolutely, children at the end of it. All those doubts and worries about not being ‘good enough’, ‘old me’, don’t make so much of them. Allow yourself to believe that one day, you will be a mummy.
And that happened quickly. We saw a set of profiles, ‘old me’. Of real children, who needed forever families. Not the kind of example ones where stock photos of angelic looking model children are used. No, these were the real thing- and the photo we saw, the one that really jumped out at us- was grainy, not in focus, and in black-and-white. It was a terrible photo of Acorn, and yet immediately, we were drawn to him.
Things were a rollercoaster of emotions from there- oh, ‘old me’, one of my best memories from the adoption process, was the day that we were on a shortlist to be matched with Acorn. Mr Oak and I had both escaped, on tenterhooks, from our workplaces, and met for the 9 minutes or so that our lunch breaks crossed over. We were waiting for ‘the call’ to find out if we’d been selected. It didn’t come, so reluctantly, Mr Oak and I said goodbye to each other for the afternoon. As we walked away from each other, my mobile rang. It was our social worker. She said she had good news! I think, ‘old me’, that I nearly deafened her as I yelled to Mr Oak to come back!
We met Acorn for the first time on a Friday evening. We’d both been at work that morning, and had driven to the area where Acorn was in foster care. What a barrage of emotions that day! We walked up the garden path, and as we reached the front door, it swung open. There he was- he was only in a nappy and his glasses, looking up at us, wide eyed and curious. Our son.
That moment was just over a year ago, and Acorn is growing fast. He is boisterous, bold, loves being out of doors, and never stops talking. He races about on his balance bike, climbs anything he can, and makes us laugh and exhausted. He is everything I hoped for when I longed to be a mum. I know that, if he were ours biologically, I couldn’t love him any more than I do. And, ‘old me’, I wouldn’t change a single bit of the journey. It was all important- even the hard bits- and so very very worth it.
So, ‘old me’, hang on in there, it’ll be worth your wait.