Hello folks. Sorry it’s been a while. Everything fell apart (including me) in a rather catastrophic and impressive fashion last week and I’m sure anything I posted would have consisted of moans, sobs and sniffles. However, I have now bounced back (ish) and will proudly present you with the facts of the matter without added melancholy although, probably more than likely, with a smattering of indignation.
I didn’t commit to paper the excitement and apprehension we felt after our meeting last Monday (which is probably for the best...). We were talked through the children’s past history and behaviours...occasional biting, sleep issues, a bit clingy...nothing we hadn’t expected given that we have done tons of reading on the implications of neglect and domestic violence and also spoken to lots of current adopters. So no big shocks at all. We were there in the meeting waiting for the fact which would pop out and make us say; “whoa there, hold on a sec...” but it never came. The social worker complimented us on our child focused attitude to adoption and said it was great that we understood that they would come with issues and wanted to work with them rather than try to forget they had a past. She praised us for our extensive reading and the whole meeting was very open (or so we thought). I said that I was looking to take two years off and the social workers smiled at each other like this was very positive. Then I asked if they thought we would make good parents for these children and they said; “you have a lot of the skills needed to be good parents for these children” and I said; “OK then, what happens next?” and they said “Well, we arrange meetings with the medical advisor and it could be about three months...[then our social worker said]...much sooner than that, I think”. Then they showed us photographs and proudly looked on and asked us how we felt. We didn’t really know what to feel but we felt quite in awe of the fact that these were going to be our children. And that was that. They said they would call that afternoon to confirm the next steps. Wow, we thought. We are going to be parents really bloody soon! Then the social worker called on Monday afternoon and said that she hadn’t been able to talk to her manager so she would call me on Thursday or Friday. And that was Monday. Rightly or wrongly I assumed this was go, go, go (wouldn’t you?) and let my close friends and family know (the ones who had been references on our PAR) and also emailed school as I am very conscious of keeping them in the loop as they won’t have long to find my replacement.
So cue Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday where I go out and have jolly lunches with my chums and their kids only this time my brain is saying “wow...you’re not far off the Mummy club now!” So it all sort of feels different and exciting and scary but kind of wonderful because it’s what we’ve been working towards for so long.
And then Thursday comes and at 3.30 I get the phone call (the one I’m expecting to be confirming the appointments with the medical advisor etc) and I’m in the park in the sunshine with my friend and her two children. Our social worker says “how are you feeling?” I say...“well, I don’t know if I’m allowed to be completely excited”...she says...“oh...” and then I can’t remember her exact words but it was something along the lines of “the children’s social worker has decided it’s not a good match”.
Now I feel a mixture of crushed, sad, stupid, over-excitable and about 0.5mm tall. I also wish that the playground would swallow me up and send me away from all the cheerful mums and kids. I can’t really remember the rest of the conversation as I was just so shocked. The meeting had gone really well, they had shown us the photographs, they had told us it would be much less than three months and now...bang. So I can’t clearly remember the conversation we had but effectively what I took from it was “we don’t think you can manage these two children when you’re at home on your own”. I felt like someone had stamped on me repeatedly and it physically hurt. I tried to keep normal until my lovely friend and her kids had gone home but then I just melted down. I felt like they were saying I couldn’t do it...I couldn’t be a good parent. She said it was nothing to do with the meeting and that they definitely hadn’t withheld any information but that the children’s social worker felt I wouldn’t be able to cope and that they wanted what was best for everyone and that wasn’t for the adoption to break down. So in my mind I’m thinking...but all they had were some fairly minor behavioural issues (we questioned this during the meeting and they confirmed it), and they were two smiley, sociable children, and we can’t cope with them. Well I’m thinking, clearly we will never be matched then, because I’m not good enough to manage. I was in a state, I’m not going to lie about it. I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t stop sobbing because I blamed myself and I felt like I had let me, my partner and these children down. So that was Thursday and Friday. Not great. Not proud of that, not trying to be melodramatic, just trying to be honest.
Oh yes, and that phone call was the last thing our social worker did before going on holiday for a week.
On Friday our old social worker called (we text to say what had happened) to say that she was quite shocked as on paper it seemed like a really good match. These are the two children they have been talking about for us since before our panel. I said I couldn’t figure it out. I just kept going over it in my head...they said it wasn’t the meeting...they said it wasn’t that the children were different to what they had said...so what was it? Anyway, she advised me to call the adoption services manager (who is lovely) so I did, and that’s finally how I managed to get to this point. A point where I can function and reason and look forward and write about what happened.
I explained to her that I felt totally crushed and devastated because I didn’t understand what had happened and was blaming myself. She explained that it was the children’s social worker’s first ever link and that on paper it had seemed like a really good match but on talking to the children’s social worker it transpired that the children’s behaviour was much more challenging and demanding than the CPR stated. That they were violently clingy etc. although she admitted that it wasn’t her case so she didn’t know everything about it. She said (as did our other social worker) that they feel our primary skill is as nurturers, so we are better suited to more withdrawn children. One of my friends worries that this is slightly homophobic, as they are seeing us both as “mothers” rather than co-parents with different skills. I’m not sure. I said to the manager that we felt like everything they kept saying about us being nurturers was a sort of code for us not being resilient, and that it sounded like an insult and she said that it was just that some children are a better fit for some people than other children and these ones didn’t seem like the best fit for us. She apologised, she said that they shouldn’t really have matched us in the first place. I made it clear that we weren’t upset because these particular children wouldn’t be our children, we were upset because on Monday we were very firmly led to believe that we would be parents very soon and they waited until Thursday to tell us that we weren’t. They shouldn’t have left that meeting on such a positive if they had doubts; they shouldn’t have shown us the photographs; they should have asked us directly about the behaviour they felt I couldn’t manage and they definitely shouldn’t have let us spend three days feeling positive and excited about our imminent parenthood only to tell us it was all off and not really explain why. Especially when the reason why is that they have cocked up, not us. They messed up the match, they behaved inappropriately in the meeting and it seems like they have made massive assumptions about our personalities which we worry aren’t really true. But despite all this, I still feel inclined to trust that they understand matching better than I do. It’s their job and I’m not going to believe or argue that these children were right for us; I believe them, they probably weren’t, and that’s OK. Just don’t put us through all of this, please. Because we’re not even parents yet and we feel like our confidence has been totally squashed.
So that’s that. That was the last couple of weeks with my OH’s grandma’s funeral and an engagement party thrown in for good measure. I have two weeks left of school holidays and I’m not really sure what to do with myself. We have a meeting with our social worker next week and I wonder what we will say. I’ll let you know. Three months from our approval panel is fast approaching which means the national adoption register looms. I don’t know from experience but it sounds like when you are looking for a house, and they send you masses and masses of details which aren’t right, and then when one finally is right, the sellers choose someone else. It seems like a lonely old process fraught with rejection and negative assumptions made without even talking to you, let alone meeting you. I had really hoped that we would be matched in house and not get that far but you can’t win them all. Our adoption journey has been fairly painless up until now so I guess it was going to happen at some point.
Sorry that was so long! I hope it wasn’t too down in the dumps and angry! I do feel cross now. I feel like I’m mostly healed but all this emotion makes you seriously physically tired!
I need to get off the sofa, get dressed and have some breakfast! xx