After Dr Y gave us the devastating news, we went into shell shock and then we hurtled straight into the adoption process.
E contacted all the local councils to see if we would be able to attend an adoption training course. It was complicated because the city we are in refused to take us because of the risk of biological parents bumping into adopted children and parents. Plus local cities had their own rules too.
Eventually E got in touch with a social team that would meet with us. E had fully researched everything, whereas I felt a little overwhelmed by it all.
I mean, we were in our early 30s, never tried fertility treatment and now we were going to adopt. What a mind bender!
We met T, one if the senior social workers involved in the adoption process, at our home. T was a nice bloke but obviously he was going through some family crisis because he seemed more emotional than we expected.
Anyway, he loved us both- felt we were an ideal couple and put us on an upcoming ‘adoption training’ course.
The thing was, we were saying all the things he wanted to hear and we convinced him we were right, but we wanted it so much, maybe we convinced ourselves too.
A few weeks later we attended the course. There were 8 couples on the introduction session (I will describe them in broad generalisations (sorry to offend anyone!). There was:
– E and myself
– The young hip lesbian couple
– The middle aged friendly lesbian couple
– The middle aged posh gay couple (one of which was adopted as a child)
– The early 30s tattooed couple
– The early 40s middle class couple (that had struggled through many years of failed infertility treatment)
– The middle aged couple (he had older kids from previous marriage)
– The young couple (where one person had a disability).
So, quite a mix of couples in this class.
Over the next few days we learnt about the number of adopted children in the UK and locally, the backgrounds of the children, the neglect and harrowing stories, the damage these young children see and stories of children exhibiting histrionic and aggressive behaviour to their adopted parents for many years after adoption.
It was a lot to take in!
The difficulty I found was that the children that are up for adoption come from very difficult backgrounds. Everyone wants a baby and as such ‘baby adoptions’ are in limited numbers. By the age of two, an infant has developed a basic understanding of their surroundings and absorbs the good and bad events in their life. Potentially we could adopt a very damaged 2 year old who has major behavioural issues- did we really want that?
Also, in the UK, the adopted parents often have to maintain contact with the biological parent or family or foster family. This may be in the form of cards or letters and sometimes visits to foster families or other siblings. I felt meeting previous family after being adopted was very hard and confusing for the child. We also discovered the problems with Facebook and adopted children.
Another issue was you couldn’t change the name of the child. So if the child has been given a name that you may not like then you can’t change it, unless it was very identifiable. In that scenario a court order for change of name would be granted.
After the course ended we attended a one day ‘Summer School’ day where adopted and not-yet-adopted kids played with each other to give their parents respite but it was an opportunity for E and I and another couple to get some experience being around adopted kids.
It was a strange experience!
We met one child, approx 8 years old who was angry her adopted parents has changed the colour of her room and we assumed she’d been adopted last year. But upon looking at her case notes we saw she’d been adopted at 18 months.
After doing the adoption training and the summer school we felt adoption wasn’t quite right for us and it was the suggestion of getting a second opinion regarding fibroid surgery which ultimately changed the course if our life.