I haven't written about adoption for a while now and frankly it's been deliberate in order to stop myself from writing anything too bitter and stressed. I know some of you are interested in adoption and some things can only be talked about (written) with hindsight otherwise the emotion at the time it's happening is just too raw. Just before Christmas two big things happened.
We had a family assessment with a child psychologist to help us manage the boys and the various issues we have with their outbursts, aggression and overall emotions around the adoption and how they are managing to live with each other. It was after school so not the best timing really, but it was interesting to have a professional come in and observe how we are together. Some of her comments were a bit hard to hear, but the bottom line is that Big Boy is acting out because he is feeling that Baby Boy is taking over his territory. Baby Boy is asserting himself in his new home and making it clear that he will not be pushed around. It seems so obvious really, but managing this on a daily basis is not as simple as we had imagined. As a result of the assessment we will be getting some structured support to help us and some one to one sessions for Big Boy which will help address how he feels about it all.
It has taken so long for me to find the balance and work out how to spend enough time with both boys. For the first few months there was almost constant screaming as they fought for my attention and my default was to attend to the younger one. The other day a friend mentioned that she had noticed this when she visited and I felt so ashamed that it was that obvious that I was favouring one child over another. We all make mistakes, but everyone else's aren't under the spotlight as they are when you adopt.
The other thing that happened before Christmas was that we were given a date for a court hearing to decide whether or not to place Baby Boy with us permanently. It was a surprise as we hadn't expected anything to happen before the new year. We tried so hard not to get our hopes up too much, but it seemed that everything was in order so it was possible that it would be complete before Christmas and he would be officially in our family just in time for his first Christmas with us. On the day itself I had already booked the boys to go and see Santa at a grotto in town so we were there when the social worker rang me. I saw three missed calls when we were in Marks and Spencer and called her back. She said she was going to call in so I left straight away to get home to meet her. I knew it was unlikely to have gone smoothly as she didn't sound too cheery, but told myself she might just want to tell me the good news in person.
She was polite and friendly and played with the boys while I hung up the coats and offered to make tea or coffee. She had to get back to her own children as she was on annual leave and had attended court on her day off. Then finally the small talk finished and she told me the judge had given directions and there was one missing bit of information that had to be presented at a new hearing date set for January. So that was it. Our hopes dashed. In a 5 minute court hearing. The social worker had to go. I wished her a Happy Christmas. I fed the boys lunch, then called Hubbie to tell him. It was beyond disappointing. We had promised ourselves not to get our hopes up, but hadn't imagined that something so simple would be an issue. The judge wanted proof that Birth Mum knew about the proceedings. Fair enough and entirely correct. No one had done that. We went through anger, sadness, trying to make sense of it all then finally acceptance. Christmas was difficult.
I was thinking about how hard it must be for someone to accept that their child is not going to be in their lives any more. To know that their only contact will be via a letter once a year. That they won't see the changes in their face or hair colour, or listen to their first words. Missing those first steps or being there for the tearful nursery drop offs. Not being there to go to the park or to feed the ducks. No visits to A and E or plasters for no reason other than the child is convinced it will make the imaginary hurt better. Never telling a bedtime story or staying up at night with a child who can't sleep. Seeing a toy that you know your child will love and trying to hide it so they don't find it before their birthday. I can't imagine a time when I would be able to accept that was going to happen. It's a tall order to ask that of his mother.
The social worker managed to talk to her and confirm that she knew it was happening. That was enough to take to the court hearing. So on the day of the final hearing I was at a fitness class and had left Baby Boy with the lovely neighbour as he was too poorly for nursery. I had two missed calls when I left the class and decided to wait until I was in the car to call the social worker back.
I held my breath as I waited for her to answer her phone.
"Sorry I was in a class when you called earlier."
"That's ok. Was it a good class ?"
"Yes. How did it go ?" holding my breath.
"I've got really good news..."
I didn't hear the rest, but I knew it was finally done. She said she'd be in touch later in the week and congratulated me. I thanked her and breathed. I had to tell Hubbie first, then Big Boy. Both were busy so I went straight home and as I opened the door he gave me a huge, beautiful smile.
It doesn't matter how we came to be here or what happened before. We all belong to each other now.