So… after a long all to familiar drive home I found myself flitting between silence, disbelief, tears, and elation. This was it, the moment I had dreamt of my whole life. I WAS going to become a father. We purposefully hadn’t told anyone what was happening that day in light of the unfortunate turn of events last time. There was no champagne on ice, no luxury suite, no table reservations. There was however a YES! An Unanimous YES. A yes we were told we may never get but a promised yes we had snatched away unmercifully. We immediately started the task of calling our nearest and dearest. I dint make much sense but between gasps of breath and muttered words they caught the gist. I forgot that they had walked the line along side us, and some of those shared our grief and fear, sorry and joy. Everyone was emotional an over joyed. I think we all collectively let go of breath we certainly knew we were holding onto, but them not so much.
Once approved we were added to a website for prospective parents who have run the gauntlet, stood the test of time, and passed the relentless scrutiny, we are known as ‘Adopters’. As well as us adopters there were of course the children looking for their forever home! The children we had dreamt about, the children who had oh so nearly slipped through our grasp!
We had already been given the heads up that as ‘desirable’ as we may be at that time there were more adopters than children and it was more than likely you would not get a response from the professionals you were pouring your heart out to, pleading for the opportunity to be considered and we could expect to end up in competitive matching. n
Initially this website evoked a sense of divide in us. It felt like we were trawling through catalogues looking at this seasons ‘must haves’, checking out the two for ones, BOGOF offers. It felt like we were treating the profiles to flippantly, why wouldn’t we consider a sibling group of 6 or a child with life limiting conditions. Its very hard to maintain a sense of perspective and practicalities when reading through these profiles. We found ourselves very quickly moving our goal posts and ‘expressing an interest’ in children that did not match with our original criteria, I hate to say it, but largely in a bid to be “matched”. Our social worker reminded us that we had identified our preferences and compatibilities for a good reason, and to try and stay within a relatively close distance to them.
Your asked to paraphrase the very essence of who you are singularly and in our case as collectively whilst hoping to sell yourself to your viewers, to get your ultimate right swipe. The children are afforded the luxury of the professionals managing the children profiles to do the same for them to. We soon realised photos of children 4 years old plus would always have photos of them at considerably younger ages to increase their saleability for want of a better expression. We weren’t faced with pages of the traumatised, abused and neglected children that you are told about and role play during your ‘preparation’ training. They were in fact all well dressed, clean, happy and healthy in their appearance.
Once again you find yourself laid bare in print, open to the judgement of the professionals seeking adopters for their children. The flip side is we are now trusted with and afforded the luxury of seeing our potential children. Hundreds of them in fact.
We quickly became fixated with constantly checking to see if ‘our children’ had been uploaded. It very quickly becomes all consuming, a Un healthy distraction from life. All of a sudden the day to day draw of social media, and current affairs is replaced by the desire to see your children. It begins to almost feel vouyeristic,
We quickly decided to set up an alert system that would notify us when a profile that loosely fitted certain aspect of our criteria had been uploaded. This felt callous and selective but also seemed necessary to control the relentless trawling through page after page wanting to help and home all of these beautiful children. It quickly becomes like a drug your drawn to for a fix every few hours!
We received a lot of interest from social workers or family finders who wanted us to consider certain profiles. We had to learn to become selective based on certain criteria:
- We wanted siblings
- We Wanted one of each gender or two boys ( something we were naturally drawn to )
- we couldn’t house children with physical disabilities due to our very rural location
Etc, you get the idea.
My Maternal grandfather who has featured as a real positive male/father figure for me through out my childhood in to adult hood in the absence of my father ( story for another day ) was diagnosed with pulmonary vascular fibrosis 8 years ago with an average life expectancy of 5 years. He’s been a constance source of strength and determination for me. In October 2017 he was admitted to a local hospice for end of life care. The plan was for him to marry his fiancé in the December. It was a sorry day when we were advised that our time frames may not be in line with the universes plans for him and we should maybe move it forward to 24hrs time.
Cue the day of the wedding ( a mere 24hrs later ) I was frantically searching for confetti , clutching at cards to acknowledge their celebrations. I soon learnt most wedding cards contain messages of congratulations and wishes of a lifetime of happiness. Something we knew they were going to be robbed of.
1 NEW UNREAD MAIL:
‘ A new profile that matched your criteria has been uploaded’
I remember this moment VIVIDLY. I was sat In my car outside a certain well know home store surrounded by confetti, and wedding cards avoiding the normal celebratory phrases that my grandfather and his wife to be ere going to denied.
Eagerly I open the link the takes you straight to the profile that matches our criteria and BANG. Life changed in that moment. For a brief moment time froze, life around me stood still. We had read that for most ( not all ) adopters you know when you know ‘something happens’ love isn’t instant but a connection is. There they were, two beautiful little boys who had no idea what had just happened for me in that moment. Im still now not entirely sure I know what happened. If I did I’m not sure words would do it justice. All I knew was it was significant.
My phone rings to snap me out of that ‘moment’ it’s my mum asking if I’m able to get her confetti and a card as he has been unable to. I agued her I was surrounded by both, she need not worry. I quickly messaged Jack and asked him to check his email and waited to gauge his response.
We both shared that same ‘moment’.
I had a wedding to attend, one that wouldn’t afford lateness, I was now late but unable to not act on our moment!. What if someone else had also had that same email and subsequently that same moment and didn’t have a wedding to attend? So I quickly sent a message to their professionals introducing ourselves explaining we loved the boys profile and would love to be given the opportunity to learn more about them and please don’t hesitate to contact us should you want any more information from or about us.
We had exchanged professional pleasantries from various professional prior to this but what happened next still blows me away.
I attended the beautiful and very emotional wedding service of my grandad and his now wife. Very much in the moment but with a nagging desire to check my email.
So we waited.