Getting off the Rollercoaster - Going for Adoption

Monday, February 09, 2009

"I can do it" . . and how one person's dream, is another's 'devastation'.

From joining up a few bits of words to a whole, meaningful, and very life-affirming phrase! This is Theo's first phrase of more than 2 words (unless you count "good boy, mummy" which, actually, I don't!)

I am continuing to enjoy this. He really is a joy (as my MIL wrote to me today in an email).

Today an odd conversation at the mother/toddler group with a woman I'd not met before. She chatted freely about, after a life of nannying, how she now felt the need to decide if she was to continue with this, or re-train (possibly as a social worker) as her children were now 20 and 18, driving, having lives of their own etc. She is the same age as me.

She continued by talking about her friend, also 45, who had children at the same time as she did, and is now 'devastated' to find herself pregnant again. Doesn't know what to do. I think I managed to keep myself from looking too shocked - my mouth didn't actually drop open, though I did say she should tell her friend to have the baby, and I would adopt it! Oh how strange life really is. We talked rather non-comittally about older mothers - she is currently nannying for 4 children under 9, all born to an older mother, who also has a 21 year-old son. She mentioned that her mother and mother's mother [going back ad infinitum it would seem] had all been 40+ mothers, and began to muse on how she would feel if she found she were pregnant again. With hindsight, maybe she was looking to me for some insight, but I was just too generally gobsmacked to make much sense.

I do have a few hang ups about my age, and just in case anyone wants to know, and because I do need to face them, here are some . . .
  1. I don't tell people my age any more. (45 - I guess I can tell you, though I still had to think twice.) I used to think being coy about your age was ridiculous but I have become ridiculous, it seems. I feel stupid to worry that other people will judge me but it does worry me that they will.
  2. I spend a stupid amount of time calculating how old I will be when Theo is 16 / 18 / 30 etc. How old he is likely to be when he loses his mother (my own mother has just turned 88, so there is hope that I may reach a good age, except that I have been a little less clean-living, I fear).
  3. I also spend time thinking of how old my children would have been if I had had them at a 'normal' age. Related to this, I also wonder if I would actually have been fertile back then, or if the miscarriage problem would have raised its head anyway.
  4. I have a desire to seek out other mothers who are at least in their 40s - or, bizarrely, who just look as if they are!
  5. I often forget that I am not just over 40 - I am 5 years over 40. Just over 5 years away from 50. I can barely bear to write that!

I think I have issues here! Fitness, strength and health are key, and perhaps some self respect wouldn't go amiss. I know I was very conscious of having an older mother when I was growing up, and I do wish I wasn't doing this to another child . . . but there are worse things, after all.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A birthday

Theo is two years old and he had a 'white' birthday - a good fall of snow overnight gave us a new dimension to playing outdoors. I always think snow is so magical, but I'm not sure he was all that impressed - it wasn't thick enough to make snowmen or go sledging, but I am hoping that tonight's fall will give us that bit extra that we need for tomorrow! His first snow and the end of his second year. Nine months with us.

I made dinner for R's parents and we had a big chocolate cake with candles on it. Absurdly I made Sachertorte - but worth the effort - it was SO beautiful, with his name piped on it. Very sophisticated indeed for a 2-year-old! When we had all eaten a lump I remembered I had forgotten to photograph it, so it will have to be one that we just store in our memories (and arteries!)

My life is mostly very, very happy. It is odd to think that there are 'people out there' who know Theo from before we met him who may be thinking of him today. In a way, I hope they are. He had a card from his foster family, still using the nickname for him that we dropped, which just grates a little. I think I am not perfectly magnanimous.

In the meantime also Theo was diagnosed with a heart murmur. The GP who heard it first drove me crazy with his attitude. Eventually we had an appointment with a paediatric consultant who tried to assure me that there was no reason to worry and no need for a scan. I am not quite satisfied but we'll see. I am also not quite ready to become Mother From Hell at our local surgery (though quite capable of doing so, should I think it necessary!)

My lovely Canadian SIL gave me some advice: "Be a bear with him" - she is bringing up a child with lots of issues - he is "on the autistic spectrum" and has had to deal with all sorts of rubbish. So she knows how to stand up for what is needed for her child.

I am now in the process of trying to decide whether or not to return to work in June. So many pros and cons, but it will have to be another post, probably not tomorrow!

Monday, December 08, 2008

A strange date

Tomorrow is our final hearing, and we are invited to bring family and friends and a camera to "this happy occasion" !
I don't know quite what to expect, but we have invited three friends and R's parents (mine are too far away to travel for what is likely to be a 45 minute hearing).
What is really weird is the date. When we got married we chose to do it on John Lennon's birthday. Tomorrow is the anniversary of his death. I never thought it would be a date I would celebrate. How strange life is!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nearly there

The court case was heard this morning and I have just picked up the message from Theo's SW to say that the adoption order has been granted. One step closer.
It's a bit confusing and long-winded, but in April he was granted a Placement Order, which meant he could be placed for adoption. This hearing means he can now be adopted (whatever) and we will shortly know when the final Final Hearing is which will grant us the adoption. That's the one we take the champagne to. For reasons (below) I am not feeling as elated as maybe I should be, but I am glad this hearing is over.

In other news I am in pieces (crying uncontrollably while Theo has been sleeping) about poor, poor 'B@by P' who was tortured and finally killed by his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger. It totally beggars belief that all the different authorities which visited this child (60 times we are told) entirely failed him. I made the mistake of listening to a national phone-in programme as we drove home from shopping today. Normally I have a huge amount of sympathy for the difficulties faced by social services, and how easy it is to blame them when they get it wrong either way, but what the hell was going on - and HOW can the leader of that department not think that she needs to resign? It makes no difference to the child now I suppose, but though I am not a religious person, even I know that that poor b@by has gone to a better place. I cannot possibly write here any details of what he went through, but I am sure Google will help you out if you need to know, and don't know already. My heart breaks for him. I can't write anymore, I am losing the fight against the tears again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Disgruntled (and old)

It turns out that it isn't a Final Hearing after all (although it does say that on the letter from the court, so silly me for taking them so literally). No, this is just the Birth Parents' FINAL chance to make a case for them to have him back. Our final hearing, when they get to tell us we can keep him, will 'hopefully' be within a couple of weeks of their final hearing.
Oh how crap. Really.
I just want this over and sorted.

In the meantime I spend my time being paranoid about being an older mother, and wondering if I should just blog older mothering stuff. I could bore for England on the subject. And, just for laughs, a bit of me has also not quite given up hope of a younger brother or sister for Theo. (Hollow laughs here please. I really am not kidding anyone.)

I did actually discuss the possibility of adopting again with KT (my SW), but even I could see that there are all sorts of things to consider - some directly because he is who he is, and others under a general heading of 'other factors'. For example, and in no particular order:

  • Theo is just the most charming, smiley, gorgeous child - SO easy to love - I would worry that a second one may not be so loveable.
  • Theo needs to feel 100% secure with us, which means the timing of a second child would be critical - on the one hand said sibling would need to be 2 years younger (this is SS rule, apparently) AND not introduced just as Theo starts school for example.
  • If I feel such an old mother already, and Theo was born when I was 43, how am I going to feel about being a mother to a child born when I was 45 - 46?
  • A second very young child may be difficult to find and difficult to allocate to such ageing parents.
  • If we had a second child we would almost certainly have to look at moving house at some point - which would be a shame (we love where we live) and financially pretty problematic.
  • Theo is an incredibly sociable child - and he really does attract other children so that I genuinely believe he will always have lots of friends, which would certainly mitigate against being an only child.
  • He does already have a half sister and half brother, but as he will not be growing up with any contact with them, this really doesn't seem very relevant - and of course they will never share his relationship with us, which is kind of the point.

There is loads of stuff that has been floating around my head; I sometimes wish still that I were more articulate, more dedicated as a blogger and could record all these things.

In the event of my personality NOT changing, however, I shall just record here that Theo has started imitating lots of words now, and said another child's name last Friday (he did say a horse's name before that, but not sure that counts!) The child is Ali, (Alastair) - the horse 'Poppy'.

And finally, if I were not disgruntled, would I just be gruntled?

Monday, October 20, 2008

A date for the diary

On 13 November 2008 at 10.00am we have our 'final hearing' which is (supposedly) a formality, and from what we understand is held as an adoption celebration. To be honest, from the correspondence we received today, it didn't feel like that. It is very clinical, and states that should the birth parents wish to oppose the adoption they must provide evidence of a change in lifestyle and are urged to seek legal representation as a matter of urgency. Of course, the understanding from all the evidence that has been submitted so far is that it will go forward unopposed, but there is always a tiny chance I suppose . . .

The hearing takes place at a court in a city which is not where we live, but not too far . . . bizarrely we were advised to use a court away from home so as to throw the birth parents off the scent, so to speak. Any documentation sent to the birth parents from the court is anonymised, so that we are not traceable. All a bit cloak and dagger, but bearing in mind their lifestyles, it's probably just as well.

R has suggested that we pretty much keep it to ourselves until it is done and dusted. Really, with all the preparation and the numerous meetings we have had with SWs, I genuinely do not believe a problem will arise at this stage. But I do agree with R - let's not set ourselves up here. (Like we aren't already committed!) Can you imagine - to make a decision against us would involve Theo in unimaginable pain - quite apart from any consideration of us. No, no, no, no, no.

And this month I have also elected to do the 'letterbox' letter, which goes via social services to members of Theo's family. I will write a letter to his half brother (age 11), half sister (age 3) and aunt (mother's half sister) who have all expressed a wish to hear news of him on an annual basis. I am sure it will get easier, but they are not easy letters to write.

Just at the moment I am tired, and being perfect mum is hard; I know I don't have to be, but I want to so desperately. He deserves it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A day in the life . . .

It's been a long time since I left anything here - but here (left) is a tribute to our great British summer 2008!
I am less of a brain person these days, more the domestic goddess-in-training - and frankly not all that promising! Here is a rough summary of my day:
got up when child woke up (just before 7am) - pulled child from cot; changed nappy
watched a bit of TV (Tweenies, Boo and Bob the Builder - recommended only for the under 2's or the completely brain dead)
Had a shower while child watched Boo! (so inane, but he loves it)
Dressed child. Very cute rugby shirt and trousers.
Dressed Mummy. Not very cute - off-white ancient bra*, fleece and jeans.
Fed child smoothie and weetabix. Child rejected weetabix. Fed child some of own smoothie too.
Fed the cats
Mummy a bit hungry.
Put a large saucepan of chickpeas on to cook for meal later - had remembered to presoak them! Hurrah!
Greeted builders (currently having a conservatory built - can't wait till it's finished!) - made them coffee and gave them a plate of flapjacks, cooked previous evening (extra DG points)
Managed a cup of tea for mummy.
. . . and a flapjack, as still hungry.
Played a bit with child - rocked on rocking Moosie; "read" some books, bumped on the stairs, bashed a shape sorter for a while.
Changed pooey nappy of protesting, kicking child.
Drove into town - bought vegetable bouillon powder, toothpaste, fruit, 3 birthday cards, 1 birthday present. Ate samples of fudge in card shop - 2 pieces actually - both shared with Theo.
Bumped into the husband of a friend, whom I (embarrassingly) didn't immediately recognise. Problem = his child wasn't with him, therefore I assumed it must just be some speccy weirdo smiling at me.
Walked across park - went on swings, seesaw, slide, swings, slide, swings. Played with the gate. A lot.
Drove home - Theo failed to fall asleep in the car for late morning nap. Slightly frustrating!
Cooked Theo's lunch - eggy bread (French toast to the posh) - most of this also rejected, but yogurt went down easily.
After nappy change went for a short drive for the sole purpose of persuading the boy to nap. (It worked - heaven! Transferred sleeping child successfully from car to bed upstairs, set baby monitor and retired.)
Theo slept while I emptied dishwasher and re-stacked, cleared general debris in kitchen, tidied toys, brought in washing and (shock) read a chapter of my book.
When he awoke I changed his nappy, gave him some juice, and we played outdoors - push-along car up and down the lane, fed windfall apples to the horses, climbed up and down the front steps, blew up the beach-ball again, shouted excitedly at cows and chased the cat a bit.
Tried to stay clear of the wet concrete in the back garden - the footing for our new conservatory.
Finally, late afternoon and husband returns from hard day at the office. Hand over boy leaving me free to cook dinner.
Chick pea and spinach gratin for mummy and daddy. Pasta bake (frozen from previous leftovers) with additional tuna and cheese for boy.
Boy and husband come in one hour later - dinner is served. (Well, very close-to!)
Daddy baths boy. Mummy helps catch him after to dry, moisturise and wrap for bed.
Straight after The Archers lie on bed with boy until he falls asleep. Transfer beautiful sleeping baby to cot and creep from room.
Watch a rather poor film on DVD (Catch and Release - not sure what made me choose it, but I certainly didn't think very much of it).
After film creep back into bedroom to go to bed.
*it defies belief, I know, but this bra is actually the one I wore to run the London Marathon in 2001. Yes, honestly. What does this say about me?

The point of all that is, I suppose, my day-to-day life is inane, even monotonous in its minutia. Still, it would be wrong to think that I mind because in the grand scheme of things I feel it has purpose and meaning - pretty much as never before, which is amazing. Right at the centre of it is this little boy who doesn't yet understand what it means to be adopted, what his birth parents were like, how he has ended up here. I consider the issues daily, and feel the injustice of having to burst the beautiful, happy bubble he lives in. I worry that I will get it wrong and make it more painful than it needs to be somehow. But I am so glad and grateful to have him. I think I may end up as one of those people whose only regret was 'not having more children'. But I never knew it would be like this - that I would be like this.