Monday, 19 May 2014

Chapter 42 - Matching: Meeting Our Little Man (momentarily)...

The day had finally come for out "fly by" visit to the foster carers to see the little boy who might one day soon be our son. We were aware of the rules... LOOK, DON'T TOUCH! However, it was still an amazing opportunity to start to get a feel for who this little boy actually was. Up to now we had only seen some photos of him. It seemed that our authority didn't do the videos of children which others seemingly do. Or perhaps that was just for the more difficult to place children where there was the possibility of out of county adoption?  Or maybe we just never saw them? Either way, it felt like a unique opportunity.

We would actually get to see (we were pretty sure of this at the time) our son-to-be!

There were butterflies in our stomachs as we sat in the car a short way down the street from the foster carers' house. Since they lived at the far perimeter of the county from us and the road to their house included a couple of notorious black spots and bottlenecks we had left plenty of time. About half an hour's too much plenty of time. There's only so much small talk you can make at a time like this. Our anticipation had almost reached fever pitch when we saw Denise's car pull up a short distance away. She had barely switched off her engine and finished gathering her stuff together when she looked up and there we were standing next to her car with looks on our faces like eager puppies. 

Denise went through a final briefing laying out the strict ground rules. In these post-adoption reform days of adoption activity parties, online browsing of profiles and so on it seemed a little prudish. Almost quaint. However, the philosophy was sound.  There were still no certainties. The match might not proceed. There should be nothing that could raise false hopes in these little minds. 

Although we had been approved for up to two children up to five years of age we were so glad, at this moment, that the age of the child which we had been linked to meant that there was the chance for a more intimate, more close up meeting. Right now, hanging around in a park seemed so distant and cold.

It was with some trepidation that we followed Denise up the garden path. The door opened and a woman only a few years older than us proffered us into the hall. Her husband appeared in the living room doorway - clearly they were as keen to check us out as we were to see a certain little boy. Denise ushered us into the living room and stationed us on the sofa while the woman peeled off into the kitchen with coffee and tea orders. A few minutes later introductions had been made and Mike and Molly were staring intently at us while we exchanged some awkward pleasantries.

Our attention, however, was drawn away from the conversation towards a little figure who was toddling around the room, clinging onto any furniture of the appropriate height and wobbling across the void to the next thing he could steady himself against. To say we were a little distracted would be an understatement of monumental proportions. Before too long my wife asked Molly if she could show her where the loo was and was ushered away.

As she left it became clear that Mike had reached his own personal limit of restrained polite conversation. Suddenly he blurted out, "Oh, this is no good at all!" And stood up. Briskly he picked up the little boy under the armpits and deposited him on the other side of a patio door in a conservatory-come-play room. While I exchanged a puzzled look with Denise I felt a firm but gentle hand on my upper arm encouraging me to stand up. "Come on," Mike's voice said and ushered me into the play room too. "You need to get to know each other." Within the space of a second I watched a world of different thoughts and emotions flit across Denise's face. Almost imperceptible movements in her mouth, eyes, eyebrows and brow transitioned from WHAT!!?!? to IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? to OH HECK, YES IT IS! to NO IT CAN'T! to WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP THIS WITHOUT MAKING A HUGE, AWKWARD SCENE THAT SPOILS EVERYTHING?  to I AM SO FIRED IF ANYONE FINDS OUT! to WELL IF I DON'T TELL ANYONE... to TOO LATE NOW to AWW, WHAT HARM CAN IT DO? It was all so quick that I barely had time to react. I'm guessing that my face was a similar mixture of questions and emotions.

And then a few seconds later I was down on my knees in the conservatory playing with a set of stacking cups, rolling balls back and forth and watching the little boy tidying things in and out of the toys racks next to the door. After a couple of seconds of thinking "I really shouldn't be doing this..." any inhibitions had been abandoned and I genuinely couldn't have been happier. Whether or not he had made any connection with me I was absolutely convinced that my heart was irrevocably set on being a Daddy to this beautiful little boy.

I looked up when I heard my wife come back into the living room. She was standing stock still in front of the door, looking at me open mouthed. Her facial features were also busy rearranging themselves. They had just reached OH NO, WHAT IS HE DOING? and WE ARE NOW SO COMPLETELY UN-APPROVED AS PROSPECTIVE ADOPTERS... when she, too, felt Mike's hand firmly on her upper arm as she was also guided into the conservatory. Denise allowed herself a resigned shrug and sigh.

After a while playing together with the little one I got up on the pretext of getting my hitherto untouched cup of coffee, leaving my wife to have a little one to one time. It also allowed me the chance to continue chatting to the foster carers; starting to work through the endless list of questions which we had about this little boy, his background and his life. Mike was leaning against the door frame with a slightly self-satisfied look on his face and an expression of "They're OK. I'm happy about this arrangement."

After a few minutes the centre of all attention decided that the living room was much more interesting and cruised along any handy bits of furniture until he flumped head first into Molly's lap. We followed and got back into conversation with the foster carers.

The hour which we spent at their house seemed to fly by in a few seconds and it was in a slight daze that we said our goodbyes' having swapped contact details. The little one toddled over and clung onto Molly's leg as we stood at the door. We could hardly believe that in a few weeks he might be doing the same to us.

As we stood next to Denise's car she turned to us and said, "Well?" We both gabbled out some apologies about not knowing what to do, being taken by surprise and not wanting to make a scene. She just smiled. "No," she said, "what did you think of him?" The fact that we were both fighting back floods, of tears probably said it all. "I don't want to put words in your mouth," she said with a cheeky grin, "but I'm guessing that you still want to proceed?"

What followed was largely incoherent mumbling, shuffling, nodding of heads and hugging. It seemed like all those years of hoping and waiting had suddenly been released in that one moment. For both of us it wasn't panel, the start of intros, the handover day or the granting of the adoption order that marked the moment when this little boy became our son. It was there, standing on a pavement in a suburb of an average little town that our we became parents. At that point our hearts, minds, souls and futures were irrevocably intertwined with this little boy. No matter what the paperwork might say... from that moment on he was our son and we were his mummy daddy.


Anonymous said...

OK in tears here. We didn't get to see our son in the flesh till after matching panel. But the day we did is clear in my mind like little else. What a wonderful story and one I can relate to.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing story!