Thursday, 7 June 2012

Adopting part 1

This is one I've been meaning to write for ages. 

  Every family has its own story. Each adoption story is different. I've been reading a few adoption blogs recently, and some are helping me gain insight into my boys, and why they are.... they way they are. 
I'll have to begin by saying that I think our attitude is not quite the same as that of many adoptive parents. The fact that the kids are adopted isn't something we focus on. We are always aware of it obviously, but our older sons medical condition has always dominated our experience of him; and that is the 'lens' through which we tended to view him from the beginning. When our second son arrived we were focusing on having a 'normal' child. Once the ordeal of adopting was over the adoption bit sometimes seems incidental. Of course it's not. It's central to them, and vitally important.

  Where to start? I find I don't want to write about the infertility issues, the years of waiting, of hoping. The highs and lows, the exciting meeting with social workers, to discuss possible children the phone calls to say we'd not been chosen. The good and bad experiences with many social service departments.
  I'll start with a prayer, in January 2005. I was losing hope that we'd ever get a child. We'd even been linked in 2004 with a little boy and lost him due to changes in his family situation. We were worn out with it all after a couple of years of waiting. So in weary desperation I prayed that we'd hear about the right child within the next week....
About 3 days later we got a phone call from our social worker telling us about a tiny boy just over 15 months old. We'd seen him in 'Be My Parent' but not enquired about him, because we'd given up trying for young children, we wanted preschoolers but were beginning to resign ourselves to accepting older kids. But this boy was a little different. He had Cystic Fibrosis. I knew a little about this condition from my nursing experience, Himself knew barely anything. We were told his life expectancy could be 30 years or more, but nothing was certain. He looked gorgeous, and seemed otherwise ok with no other issues apart from slight developmental delays which everyone said were due to being born prem and having so much illness in his first year of life. We thought, we prayed and we said yes. We discovered that no other families were seeking to adopt him. So we went into this with a great deal  of hope.

  Fast forward. We didn't get to meet him until June. Sometimes the adoption system in this country breaks your heart. Meetings, paperwork, e-mails, more meetings,the matching panel,  approval. A little boy waiting for a Mum and Dad. A foster family caring for a sick and needy little boy on top of their own family and a selection of other foster kids.

  Then there he was, suddenly centre frame. Our Pup. The person it was all about. Our new and terrifying responsibility. No longer a child on paper but a real live person. He was 20 months old, just walking, he could say 'hello' and 'car'. He was full of smiles, happy to meet new people,  gorgeous and friendly. That should have set off some alarm bells, but everyone kept reassuring us that he was normal. Just an extrovert. Well that is true. He IS an extrovert...
   We took a week to get to know him in his foster home, spending as much time with him as we could, while staying in a cottage nearby. We met his birth mum. We took him out, we learned about his routines, his medication, his physiotherapy - oh and all the normal toddler stuff. Then we had to go home without him. Two days later his foster carers arrived with  a carful of toys clothes, highchair; and one tiny boy. Our son. Two days later they left us alone with him, our new son.

 Most  of those first few weeks is a blur. We were so tired, we didn't know him , he didn't know us. We had to get used to living together, he had to adjust to a household totally different to what he was used to. No other kids, no dogs, instead 2 cats. People spoke with a funny accent. There were dozens of new people to meet. It was supposed to be a precious time of learning about each other. It was exhausting for us. We had so much to learn about caring for a child with Cystic Fibrosis. Just adapting to having a toddler in the house was hard enough. His nappies - Himself says that after changing a CF nappy no nappy will ever hold fears for him again! Doctors appointments, physiotherapists, dietitians, more social workers. Meeting family. 
  It was hard but I don't think  that my memory underestimates the fun, the excitement of seeing him settle in, of watching him adapt to our household, and become part of our extended family. of seeing him learn and achieve new things, Some bits were - and still are - very tough. He doesn't do food, and getting him eating was a massive battle. He came to us subsisting mainly on milk.

  I cannot imagine life without him now, and am so thankful we have the privilege of caring for this very strong resilient little boy, who has been through so much more than most kids his age. Yes, he still has big issues, but I am always amazed that despite everything he manages to keep going and keep positive.

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