Sunday, 28 April 2013

Chapter 1 – Where we are and how we got here

Excuses, excuses

So what do we know. Well, nothing more than anyone else who has passed through the process of preparing for adoption – so much like someone blindfolded and feeling their way around some strange terrain. There’s no room for pontificating here (and certainly no claims on authority other than the insight that comes from experiencing something first hand). However, we hope that this series of semi-random jottings either strikes a chord with those who have similarly navigated the rocks and shallows of adopting or provides some comfort and reassurance for those embarking on it.

Headline – no, it’s not just you. It is just as frustrating and bewildering as it seems to be. Just as contradictory, just as inconsistent, just as confusing, just as emotional but, ultimately, just as rewarding.

Personally, I blame a dear, dear friend of ours. It was probably just a throwaway comment based on the fact that she knows that I enjoy creative writing. “You should write a blog about it all!” I dismissed it at first, thinking “What the heck do I know?” Well, just about as much and as little as anyone else. But somehow it stuck. The idea burrowed away into the subconscious and kept niggling away when I least expected it.

I’d always avoided blogs before. Burned into my memory was an insightful cartoon – from the New Yorker, I think. Get me! “The New Yorker, I think”. No I’m not a subscriber and, for sure, I’m not a contributor. I found it sitting in one of those greetings card racks of humorous classic and modern cartoons.

Two dogs sit chatting next to a computer. One says to the other, “I’ve decided to give up blogging and just start barking aimlessly in the street.”

So who on earth would want to hear our opinion? No one. However, as we embarked on the confusing and bewildering adoption preparation process both my wife and I often felt that we were floundering in the dark, stumbling through a half lit and ever shifting maze. We often thought that it would be so comforting to find a first hand account of the process and the emotions involved as either a guide or a preparation.

So here we are. This is our perspective and that’s as valid as it gets. All we hope is that you will find it, at least engaging. Entertaining or helpful would be a bonus. Well, consider your “emptor” suitably caveated and I suppose we ought to tell you a little about who we are, where we are and why we’re here.

Dragnet – only the names have been changed.

I suppose we should start with the famous quote from the ‘60s cop show, “Dragnet”. “Everything you see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” As you enter the world of adoption you’ll start to see the importance of anonymity. In those age of Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Vanity Googling the concept of privacy and anonymity is becoming so much a thing of the past. However, given the backgrounds of so many children in the “looked after children” system (practically all, in fact) the protection of identity is hugely important. Our local Social Services and Adoption UK even run entire courses about it.

Anyway, within those limits just who are we? My wife and I have been a couple for nigh on twenty years and for us kids had always been part of the life plan. Soon after we were married a couple of bouts of illness (one each) put paid to trying for a family. But, hey, we were still young and there was plenty of time. Except that when that time eventually came it was rather more difficult than we had planned. Fertility treatment led to a series of miscarriages. Eventually we moved onto IVF treatment and for a few years our lives were dominated by regular hospital visits, battling through the commuter traffic for 7:30am appointments. Then there were the injections, the hormonal mood swings, the sacrifice of our routines to the IVF sausage machine... After five unsuccessful attempts frankly we both just wanted some time off.

A period of a few years followed where we decided to just concentrate on having a life for a change. We immersed ourselves into our hobbies, picking back up on the friendships which we’d inevitably let slip as we serviced the the fertility process. A little time just to be us again.

I guess that we’ve been lucky in our relationship in that we’ve both always been 110% committed to each other and to getting the most out of our relationship – no matter what life threw at us and no matter the cost. A pretty turbulent start to our marriage, health-wise, had given us plenty of experience of supporting each other and the chance to prove our commitment to each other. Frankly it stood us in good stead for coping with the rigours of the IVF process and subsequently the adoption process.

So a few years out from the IVF process found us settled in the suburbs. I’ve worked around the public sector since I’d left university. My wife worked in business management until her own bout of illness, after which she moved over to working part-time in the charitable sector. Weekends would see a mix of fun and the domestic grind. When not keeping on top of house, home and garden the weekends would be filled with fun, friends, arts, crafts and music. Sundays were reserved for the church fellowship of which we are a part. For most of those years thoughts of adoption were as far as you could get from our minds.

Fast forward

So that’s enough background for now. I guess that from the very existence of this blog you’ll have realised that our thoughts on adoption changed over time. Not a bad guess. So what of the present? Well, at the time of writing we’ve got through the Adoption Panel and been approved. So far we’ve not been successfully matched with any children, which leaves us in that frustrating limbo in which so many approved parents find themselves.

That means that we’re going, for the moment, to be concentrating on the process thus far. But that’s a subject for the next blog.

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