So its national adoption week so felt only right that i brought everyone upto speed.
So did we dance the dance? Play the Game?
We sat on the sofa and looked at each other, with a vacant slightly expectant look on each others faces. I said to my other half: Do we need to wait, ponder, consider all we’ve been told and learnt over the past few hours? No of course not. One of the few things we have agreed on over our 9 year relationship.
I felt fused with excitement and trepidation, Our Social worker could only of been a few miles down the road when she would have been in receipt of our email the read something along the lines of:
‘Hi, guess who, we have both spoken and feel its seems daft to delay our decision. They are OUR boys, Would you be kind enough to let ***** know we would love to say yes!”
We then had a good hours wait whilst she made the journey home and took the time to respond. She of course was not surprised but wanted to make sure we were completely certain, again due to the uncertainties surrounding Trex.
The others had a much longer journey ahead of them, approximately 250 miles. A journey we would become all to familiar with all to soon, and one I no longer miss. They picked up the email explaining they were over joyed and would love to move forward with the match. They replied almost instantly to us and the compliments we received still to this day blow me away. They explained that the warmth they felt when they walked into our home sold it/us to them almost instantly. They could visualise the boys in our space, their future space. They saw the potential in all we had to offer, not just in our home and location, but in the experiences we have had singularly and collectively. They seemed to see in us the positives that others had considered risks or negatives. Most importantly they were excited by the future we could offer these two little boys. Emails went back and forth with a flurry of excitement for several hours, a mutual exchange of compliments and excitement. Needles to say not much sleep was had that night despite being emotionally exhausted. I now consider all of this to of been valuable preparation for when my boys came home!
We had severals days pass where things seem to slow off a little, we spent all our time pawing over the photos we were left. Clutching to them like kids to candy canes at Christmas. Your mind runs wild now. You want to allow yourself to start forming an emotional connection to these children but your also aware we have the dreaded panel to go through again, which naturally causes reservations.
For those who don’t know, your agency or authority take you to their own independent panel to approve you as suitable adopters. Then once matched you got panel again at the child/rens placing authority. Panel consists of a collective of people who are some way involved with adoption and or child care. They want to be confident that you have received as much information as is available about the children in question and then secondly that you are the right match for these kids. All of this is done to ensure that these children don’t then experience disruptions and break downs at a later stage. This does unfortunately happen, but we were certain of one thing, NOT IN THIS CASE!
Lots of dates came through very quickly, dates for life appreciation day, bump into, planning meetings, panel, introductions, meeting birth parents, ‘hand over’ day.
I treated myself to a new diary in a bid to keep on top of all our new found engagements for our newly found family.
We were given the boys foster carers mobile number and encouraged to make contact. I remember being confused by what we should do with it. The whole process thus far had been so heavily governed by protocol and adoption etiquette I felt a little lost with the lack of rules or direction.
I fumbled nervously with the number I had scribbled down on a scrap of paper in my pocket all day, wracked with a mixture of excitement, trepidation, and fear. What if she didn’t like us? What if she didn’t agree that we are two men? What if she struggled to let go? What if she didn’t feel we were right for them? I was at work all day and had sent a text to introduce us, and ask when it would be convenient to call. “anytime after 6;30pm” – that day.
I sat on the couch at work shuffling awkwardly from cheek to cheek once again irritated by the very fabric I was wearing. I must have typed the number out 10 times over and deleted it again before I finally summoned up the courage to just hit call…. In that second time stood still.
She answered. I clumsily introduced my self ” hi…,” cue awkward silence ” its steven” like she would know who steven was. ” oh you know Steven..Steven. Jack and Steven ” all the time convincing my self at that moment she was thinking oh yes Steven and Jack who are taking my kids away. We had heard all along how integral the boys foster carer was to the progress they had made. Not only had she provided our boys with love, warmth, security, a sense of belonging and being, she had done it alone! How could we ever compare to this?
I had dinner reservations that night, and used that as a reason to keep the conversation short and introductory. Two things happened here, the first, I was late for dinner as we spoke for over an hour. I think both caught off guard by our genuine connection. Secondly the start of a beautiful, life long relationship had been sewn! Thank you for that moment L x x
The first entry in my newly purchased diary was ‘Life Appreciation day’ Im stuck now as to wether to carry on, or take stock of what was the most significant day and experience of my life, at that point.
Im on a roll! and it is #nationaladoptionweek so……
Life Appreciation Day. The opportunity to meet with as many ‘professionals’ that have been involved in the care of the children thus far. The purpose of this is to give you a much more detailed insight into the lives of your future children.
We set off the night before and made the arduous 250+ mile journey. After a relatively sleepless night the sat nav informed me we had “arrived at our destination”. Another brightly lit room with a huge array of tables laid together. I was thrown back to panel, the tightness in my neck, the inability to speak, sweaty palms, the walls of the room were closing in, the flickering of the lights became unbearable and I wanted to run! I had arrived at my destination and the reality of it frightened the proverbial living shit out of me.
We had a pretty busy agenda, with people coming in every 15 mins for nearly 6 hours. We had been told there would be possible ‘bump into’ where we would see the boys from afar after wards.
What happened during those 6+ hours I will never be able to do justice with this keyboard, but trust me when I tell you it blew my heart and head!
The chair of the meeting went round and asked everyone to carry out introductions of those who were staying for the duration. It was at this point it really hit home to me how invested everyone was in these boys, we weren’t looking at 2 or 3 people but instead 8-10 plus those arriving every 15mins to join us and inject their little bit of colour on the boys pretty dark story. They all helped to bring our boys to life in those hours and I will forever be grateful. Thank you.
After a few hours, before lunch we were asked if we wanted to see the police photographs. The narrative of their story left little to the imagination. It was at this point I remember our social worker looking over to us with an almost cautious glance to tell us she had seen them the day before and to prepare ourselves. We were caught off guard by this as we had no idea there were photographs of Trex’s hell, let lone that we would be privy to them. We looked at each other silently, I began crying, silently. I explained I was pretty sure our answer would be the same but, every ounce of my being didn’t want to see what my little boy had been subjected to, hearing about it, reading about it was enough, but equally I wanted him to know in years to come when we share his journey with him that we were brave enough to see them for him. We hoped this would enable us to hold his hand that bit tighter should he ever want or need to explore these for himself. ( its probably worth mentioning here that before this meeting, having learnt about our boys early years we decided as their parents that their story was just that, theirs, theirs to tell as of when they are old enough, to whom they want, should they want. So what we share here is as much as we will ever share )
What we witnessed after lunch is something I will never forget and equally never wish to experience again or be able to unsee unless our boys choose to in which are we will walk with them side by side, hand in hand, heart in heart. They took my breath away and changed my life, but also serve as a constant reminder or how incredible my little soul mate is with his desire to face the world with such untainted bravery and curiosity .
After lunch we had been told that the boys foster carer would be arriving and there had been a carefully managed handover of ‘Beamer’ our youngest between foster carer and respite carer. We were mid way through listening to the contact supervisor’s take on birth parents and their relationship with the boy when phones started ringing, people started moving about and there was an awkwardness in the room. Unable to concentrate on what was really being said we had been informed that said strategic handover had gone wrong. The boys foster carer was outside the room with ‘Beamer’ with no one to hand him to.
At that moment life changed once again, FOREVER.
“how would you feel about meeting your son? this isn’t protocol but i think everyones in agreement with how this is going? are you ok if he comes in with L, now”
Life has just paused.
NOW!! You’re asking if we are ok with meeting our ‘SON’ NOW!
So I had been in contact with L almost daily since our initial phone call but this would be the first time we got to meet, and she had our son with her? Everyone agreed it would be best if everyone took a few minutes out leaving Myself, Jack and the boys social worker. I can still hear the door opening now, L walked in with Beamer but I couldn’t allow myself to look up. I knew the moment that I did my life would be changed forever. Then I heard him. I locked eyes with L and made my way over asking if she was ok? Both of us fighting back the urge to cry or be honest enough to say “no” we weren’t ok. I was to frightened to break our eye contact and the hug that followed. Time stood still in that moment. I could have held onto her forever.
I felt like I was seeing life for the first time, there he was completely unaware of what had just happened in this moment. The boys social worker had hold of him and said “are you ready to meet your son”. What a sentence. Ready? I’ve dreamt of this moment for as long as I can remember but am I ready, NO? Has it just happened, YES.
My head had imploded. I can’t remember much else to be honest apart from L struggling with what was happening around her. Her boys were going. The meeting concluded, everyone appeared to be happy including Beamer as he was passed from person to person all doting on him and adoring his beaming smile that we had heard so much about, but words had done it no justice, He was PERFECT! And my SON.
Life appreciation wrapped up, minutes person left, everyone exasperated and little drained.
“so seeing as you’ve met son number one seems only right you meet the other”
I remember in this moment feel absolutely drained. I had no more room, no more tears, no more emotions, no more room, I was full. Are you for real? Meeting Trex felt like it had more weight to it somehow. He was the ‘discovered’ one of the two, the one with the unthathomable pictures, he was older, he had memories, a past, L was all Beamer had known.
L set off to pick him up from nursery. The room began to empty of the professionals who had shared their part of the boys journey leaving myself, Jack, our social worker and theirs. Our social worker lovingly checked we were ok?. She had been privy to all of todays findings the day before so knew we were in for a pretty intense and emotional day. We nodded numbly. She left.
What felt like an age passed. We exchanged awkward, uncomfortable pleasantries with someone who we had previously shared everything with, with ease.
Her phone sprung to life. Its was L. They had arrived.
I felt like my head was in a vice, I couldn’t speak, swallow talk or move.
“are you ready they’re here”
I began crying uncontrollably I assured her I couldn’t do this. I was many things but ready wasn’t one of them. The gravity of everything we had heard, seen and learnt that day was too much. I was more than full, I was uncomfortable.
She shared a few words I will always remember. Her hand stretched over the table and took mine in all its clammy glory and simply said ” Steven you can and you will, because your son is waiting on the other side of the door” These words will forever ring through my soul. In that moment I became a father, a father to my beautiful sons. I took a breath harder, and deeper than ever before and opened the door. There he was with is back to us.
We played the role of being friends of L as he ricochet around the soft play area completely disinterested in us. What blew me away was his natural curiosity where the other children were concerned. His desire to play was in complete contradiction to his early years, but yet he had a hunger to engage to be able to ‘play’. All I could do was breathe and fight back the tears.
We had to leave, we were shot emotionally with a 250mile journey in front of us late afternoon and L needed to get her boys home to. I don’t know to this day how we got home. But we did some 6 hours later.
My mum had been looking after the other babies in our lives, the three hounds. She was poised on the edge of the sofa with bated breath. “sooo…?”
I cried unconsolably, my mum is a source of constant strength and admiration. I didn’t have to be strong in front of her I could cry about seeing things I will never be able to unsee, and then seeing my sons? A truly unthinkable, inexplainable, car crash, life changing, life long dream, experience.
Then comes panel…..Again.