Getting off the Rollercoaster - Going for Adoption

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another class, another breakdown

Always bloody crying, me. Probably not a good talent for someone who needs to convince a bunch of social workers that I would make a good parent of a disturbed child. But first things first . . .

I am feeling quite low – I have recently been going through quite a protracted process trying to get a new job. I am SO ready for a change, and the BEST job came up. The job was interesting and exactly suited to my experience. Hours were just 3 days a week and school holidays off too, (heaven to give up full-time stress) and in return I would only face a cut of about £200 a month, which R was very happy to put up with. He has been so supportive of my attempts to cut down my working hours. I would be so much more sane. But, as you have guessed, I didn’t get the post – beaten on the second interview into second place. All that work on the presentation for nought. I am gutted. In my head I had left my current job, gone through all the emotional stuff, and KNEW it was the right thing to do. So the phonecall last night, though lovely in many ways (she said I was actually her first choice, and she would like to keep in touch and really liked me) was still devastating. I did the oh-so-familiar waking up in the morning feeling OK, for a few seconds . . . till I remembered. I have certainly come through worse things, but it feels tough – having failed on the baby front, it would be nice to have a career success. Crap lives. Tears were had.

And on the adoption front:

Another class today. As I mentioned, we are fosterers and adopters all together, but the focus seemed more on the fosterers today – lots of talk about the insecurity for the child of a shorter-term placement etc. R and I are in fact the only couple there who do not already have children (the other couple looking to adopt are already parents of teenagers). I felt doubly inadequate – no children (inadequacy #1 in a world full of families) and no direct experience of bringing them up and knowing the ‘normal birth child’s developmental processes’. Oh weh. Oh inadequate me. More tears.

We started with attachment theory, and a very basic overview thereof. If I may summarise crudely, ‘lucky babies’ who get their needs seen to reliably by their carers, learn that the world will respond to their cries, and will smile back when they smile. They can influence what happens in the world, which is a good place to be. As against the unlucky baby whose needs are not met, who learns that the world is a dangerous, threatening, non-responsive place where s/he needs to take care of himself. S/he will likely switch off from attempting to get a helpful and friendly response, and learn to self-soothe in many inappropriate and ineffectual ways. The world is not a good place to be, and they do not have influence. And all that entails (lots, of course). And not only that, but once over the age of 18 months when the ‘reptilian’ part of the baby’s brain ceases further growth, there appears to be little a parent can do to reverse these fundamental negative attitudes towards the outside world and oneself.

I am not completely naïve, and none of this was new, but there is another consideration. In this very small county in which I (happily) live, there is no chance to adopt within the area, as there is just too much risk of adoptees eventually inadvertently coming into contact with a member of their birth family. (Undesirable). This means that R and I would have to adopt from OUT of county – and as other counties, being larger CAN find homes for ‘easy to place’ children within their own area, we would only get considered for the less easy to place – ie a little more baggage all of their own! Does this make sense? In short - R and I cannot expect a younger, easy-to-place child.

What can I make of this? Part of me says ALL of us are damaged, and we all cope in many different ways. Adopted children are all individuals, and I know I will not be an idiot parent and ignore all the basic advice.
(I have just been slightly scandalised by reading a story on an adoption web site about a parent struggling with an adopted 7 year-old. In spite of the fact he was clearly going through a really difficult time behaviourally and having problems at school they had decided to uproot and move to France. What? And then she even complained at the lack of support from their social services. Sigh.)

Anyway, the upshot is I am really keen to hear stories of anyone who has adopted children, maybe more than just a few months old, and who has had a POSITIVE experience. I know social workers have to give you a picture that includes all the worst case scenarios, so that you can’t claim to have been misled, but I need a bit of balance here!

(Oh – and next week is sexual abuse and dealing with allegations . . . that should be a laugh a minute).

Hey – I am still upbeat. Well, hanging in there, anyway. I'll have to get some of that shampoo ' No More Tears'. I wonder if it works?

Monday, November 06, 2006

First adoption class (check)

On Saturday we went to our first full day of 'Adoption Preparation'. It wasn't a bad way to spend the day - because of the small numbers of people involved we are 'prepared' alongside prospective foster parents. There were 10 prospective parents - 4 adopters and 6 fosterers, ranging in age. 4 couples and a man and a woman who were single foster parents.

We had a good introduction to the role of the social workers, and were given some case studies. The case studies involved passing little brightly-coloured plastic figures from home to home as their story was told. One little boy was taken into foster care from his drug-addicted parents almost from birth, and then adopted at 15 months. R and I had the little plastic figure as adoptive parents. I was ridiculously happy.

I did have a tearful moment, as the lifestyle of these birth-parents was discussed. They were taking amphetamines, and would be wakeful or asleep for days on end, right throughout the pregnancy. It brought some anger and frustration to the surface. How can some women do this, and still give birth to a healthy baby, while the rest of us struggle with finding the finest balance of progesterone, prednisolone, heparin and stress? (Oh - and then miscarry anyway).

But mostly I'm not angry. I am actually a little relieved that we are changing our direction. Honestly? No, we are not yet using contraception, as we always said we would 'give it till the end of the year' - but we are on the way to having a family, and I genuinely believe, as we approach Christmas 2007, it may be WITH A CHILD. It is an amazing thought.

Update on the pregnancies in my last post:
E, the SIL is due in March, but is already experiencing a lot of difficulties with the pregnancy. She is quite overweight, which I understand may have an influence, but she seems to have symptoms of pre-eclampsia already. I hope it's not serious - I can never judge with her whether it is really a serious threat or how much is just my brother and her making a bit of a fuss. Which they do about all sorts of other things, but who can say?

H, the cousin's partner, (American) is having a real nightmare. She has what I believe is called PROM, which means she has a ruptured amniotic sac. The baby (at 19 and a half weeks) has no fluid around it, and she may miscarry any time. I spoke to her yesterday. Her lovely doctor has already said 'not to worry, this is a very unusual condition, and will have no effect on future pregnancies'. FUTURE PREGNANCIES?? What about this one? Poor H. Meanwhile she stays in bed in the hope that the tear will mend itself, and the pregnancy will continue all right. Please let it be so.I feel oddly guilty. For all the envy I felt, I never would have wished this. If you are the praying type, could you put a word in for her?

And finally A, my niece, is due on December 7th. She feels the baby will arrive early to join his or her 4 year old brother.