Monday, October 30, 2006

I think I’m going to have to dripfeed this…

because adoption is even slower than infertility. Life is measured in two-month segments, as far as I can tell, rather than two-week. But oddly it feels more like we can get on with our lives together.

OK, so I never finished the tale of the interview with the agency director, but it’s long enough ago that I will need to check I don’t repeat myself. She sounded pretty positive but trying to be realistic – we would have a good chance of being approved, I think, although obviously they can’t promise anything at this stage, she really endeared herself to Mr. Spouse by refusing to believe he is 51. But if it was between us and a younger couple, then a child’s social workers might well go for the younger couple. However, I believe that in a lot of cases only one couple is considered for a child or children.

One suggestion she made is that we might suit a pair of siblings with a large-ish age gap (e.g. a six year old and a one year old). She was very understanding of the “need to parent”, especially to parent young children and babies, which she says placing social workers often don’t understand, but not to make the mistake of taking an older sibling just so we could have a baby. I have to say I would be up for this if the older sibling was uncomplicated – but that is unlikely – though I heard about a child who had been in a loving foster home for four YEARS before an adoption placement so it is not completely impossible.

I also mentioned the possibility of mixed-race children. I’m not sure she really thinks that dark-skinned bi-racial children would be possible (we, on the other hand, don’t particularly see a problem – especially if they have heritage in a country we could take them to) but she said there are sometimes children who are mixed-race but appear fairly white, or sibling pairs with different fathers where one is mixed-race, and adopters who are dark in appearance won’t take such children, but again placing social workers tend to be rather unrealistic about such children. So that is another option.

So, we have found our referees (three friends – not family – plus one of the vicars at our rather over-staffed church) – they don’t show what the referees write to us, but the referees themselves are free to show us, which we have told them, and they have all said they’ll show us what we wrote. I’ve also been getting books out of the library, and vetting them for Mr. Spouse, who prefers to read newspapers. I have a feeling I might have to bite my tongue when the social workers recommend some of them, as there’s a lot of pseudoscience, poorly explained ideas, and unfounded therapies.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Chances are...

we will not be getting pregnant on our own, given these calculations, which don’t even take into account my previous miscarriages as a risk factor. I suppose I could restart the clock at the last, surgically assisted, pregnancy, and estimate about a 25% chance of pregnancy (6 months trying rather than a year) with a 40%-ish chance of keeping it making maybe 10% chance of one live birth in the next 4 years.

We were discussing this today after our adoption meeting where the SW was probing about how far we felt we’d gone with having a biological child, what we felt about using contraception, etc. I said I felt that we were being told we had a really low chance, and there was no treatment they could give, by the gynaes, and also (if she was any good at reading between the lines) that once we were matched, or had a newly placed child, that like with a birth child we would use contraception as we would want a gap between the arrival of children as any parents would. I do not honestly feel I could say we’d use contraception now (though Mr. Spouse and I are not quite on the same page on this one, as he is now very keen to Get On With It and afraid another miscarriage would set us back for too long, I am a glutton for punishment and feel I could cope with maybe one more…)

Of course the whole interview this morning was not about this. There was a lot more (including, inevitably, Madonna, but I brought my own twist onto this, I thought, with my observation – a major problem I have about overseas adoptions – that they would not be able to have any kind of developmental assessment to get an idea of any difficulties little David might have). Still processing. Output from program may or may not appear here in the next few days.

I think the order of the process is rather different between different agencies, but they sounded like they would be happy to find us a social worker for January, and a place on their February preparation course which, miracle of miracles, does not clash with any of my work commitments. We now have to forewarn our referees…

Thursday, October 19, 2006


A post about blogging...

I very rudely wrote far too much identifying information about one of the very nice women I spoke to on the phone about their adoptions, and as you may have seen I edited that post. People do not like to be identifiable, but adoptive parents especially do not like that, for extremely good reasons. When I started this blog I really wanted it to be a diary, somewhere to spill my thoughts. I don't have huge numbers of readers like Julie or even Thalia, and I don't mind - the occasional bit of feedback is good.

I do post as I say on a couple of forums that have adoption-related discussion and I had put my link on one of them (this one also has fertility stuff, so it seemed particularly relevant) in my profile, but I've decided to take that down. I'm not sure if this is sufficient to return this to the "personal diary, shared with a few" mode - I know I'm on a few blogrolls, but usually they are miles long so it's not like I get a lot of hits from those.

Anyway although this has not been of the scale that others' "outings" have been, the current hoo-ha with Thalia, together with a separate incident in which another adoption blog talked about something I'd been chatting in a PM with another board user about, which made me link them up as the same person, has given me a wake-up call. If you have any suggestions or other warnings, now is the time to make them. I don't want to stop writing, and I want to be informative, but I don't want to be indiscreet or give away too much information about myself, anyone else, or the UK adoption process. I'm going to find and delete the only information (a comment made by me, I think) that enables people to identify me by name, too.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Some good, some not so good

So the news is partly good – we have our first interview with the agency director on Friday – I’m feeling quite calm about it, probably because I suspect they will ask us the same type of thing the social worker from the first agency asked on the phone the other day. Even Mr Spouse seems quite calm.

I heard from a very dear friend who lives in the US and has one son through IVF that she is a) almost certainly coming back to live in the UK and b) expecting FET twins. She was very sweet and said if I didn’t want to mention it she’d understand totally.

We have told quite a few friends about our plans to adopt and they have invariably been very positive - in fact, it has given us some ideas about who might make a good referee (we have to have three each, I believe) based on their comments (although some of them seem to be a little unrealistic about us!) So we thought we should probably tell my mum in case someone else told her, as we were visiting over the weekend. The good news is she says she isn’t going to tell anyone else – though she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about my first pregnancy, and did…

She was incredibly negative about the whole idea. First of all, she thinks that no children who are not genetically related to us will be any good, to be honest. I have to say this is something I’ve struggled with but we are going to have to get over it. There are nice, pleasant, even bright people in this world who aren’t related to us. Such as my husband, for example. And being highly intellectual is not a guarantee of being pleasant or happy.

I'm not really sure what she thinks our options are - whether she thinks we are doing this instead of getting pregnant. I am not sure I really want to ask, but I know she is not in favour of IVF, so I don’t know quite what she thinks we should do. Wait another two years and hope we actually manage to keep a pregnancy, and if we don’t, then what? Does she think we’re refusing treatment for miscarriage, or that we’ve decided not to get pregnant because we don’t want to have any more miscarriages? I have a feeling even if "old-fashioned" adoptions where young, bright girls gave up their babies voluntarily at birth were still possible she'd probably be against the idea.

But she also seems very set on the idea that adopted children are bound to be extremely disturbed, no matter how good their foster homes, or how little they remember of their birth parents, or how young they are. I have tried to explain that we are consulted at every stage about what types of difficulties we would be able to cope with. We are, I hope, going into this with our eyes open. I also pointed out to her that if you have birth children you have no guarantees - I used the example of autism - she says there's no way we’d have autistic children because we are both normal and outgoing – of course my godmother's family who have a grandchild with Asperger's because they are weird.

As you can imagine I’m not very happy about this! - it's all very well to say "oh, she'll love them when they come along" because I'm not entirely sure she will. As far as I can work out, her opinion is that no-one in her family should have a child with a difficulty or disability, and if you do, you've brought it on yourself - she is really, really negative about the distant family member (my age) with Down Syndrome, despite the fact that she's a happy and loved individual - she says "oh, they didn't have the choice in those days".

I think I’ve been thrown by this partly because of the positive reaction of most of our friends – I assumed she’d be the same – she loves our nieces and can’t wait to see them (although she also can’t wait to say goodbye sometimes!)…

Edited: after Thalia's comment - I don't know which book you've read, but as part of my research is in this area, and there's a lot of recent data suggesting input/environment is MUCH more important than previously thought, and I keep telling my mother this (and have always done so) I can't help feeling like banging her head against the wall and saying "Have I taught you NOTHING?". But strict nativism makes much more sexy copy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A tale of two phone calls (plus a third to come, and several

Last week -phone call to a friend of a friend who lives in the next (vast, rural) county north of us, who has a little boy, aged four, been with them a year, adopted through their Local Authority. As only two women who have never met but have an important subject in common can, we talked for an hour and still had a lot to say. Their adoption procedure sounded boring and long-winded (it might be slightly better with non-LA agency because of how most of the voluntary agencies structure theirs) but ultimately well-run and they are very happy with their little boy. They both work in health/social care fields and had been through fertility treatments and said "no more". Their little boy sounds intelligent, sensitive, and advanced ("Mummy, do octopuses have teeth? How do they clean them under the ocean?"). I asked if they felt the social workers had matched them well to him and they said they felt it had been taken into account that they would be the kind of family to suit a bright and articulate child.

Yesterday - after a bit of trouble arranging it (her husband thinks everyone on the Internet is weird - well, can you blame him) - phone call to a nice woman who posts on two internet fora I frequent (one full of babydust I'm afraid, but very UK-oriented, one full of scary people with children with severe mental health problems, but also helpful in a practical sense). She lives about the same distance from us but slightly nearer Big City. Again, as only two women ..... we talked for an hour and still had a lot to say. They had been through a voluntary agency quite some time ago and their older child was placed with them, and then they had done concurrent placement and had a baby placed with them. Although far more children placed though concurrent placement stay with their adoptive parents, I get the impression from a few different people that social workers minimise this risk, and in their case the child was returned to the birth parents. Another poster on one of these boards whose child stayed with them, I think, said they felt torn between wanting the birth parents to set themselves straight, and wanting them not to, so the baby could stay with them. I'm also not sure whether concurrent placements that result in the child returning to their birth parents will include ongoing involvement in the child's life - most regular foster carers can do this, unless there's something specifically to prevent it. They then adopted their little girl through a LA they don't live in, but who was also quite young (about 12 or 18 months I think). Both children again sound delightful, allowing for the fact that the boy is a teenager! I also asked if the social workers had matched them well to their children, in her opinion - yes, they are always being told the kids look like them.

I am not quite sure if a) the two women understood my question about matching rather differently or b) they have very different priorities in matching and the social workers took this into account or c) they have very different priorities in matching and by chance the social workers got it right. I do know that of all the children I have seen on social work websites/magazines the pair that has stood out most for me was a pair of African descent who were noted to be advanced for their age. I'm pretty sure Mr Spouse would not be up for this particular pair but I guess what this tells me is I don't mind if people don't tell me the children look like us... I know they think about this when allocating donor sperm or eggs, but at this point I suppose what I'm trying to say is it would be a luxury, rather than a necessity.

So I've now got Wednesday afternoon down as my afternoon to ring the first agency - the one that does concurrent placement. Despite the lengthy contact sessions and the risk of the child going back to birth parents, I feel this is a good way to go. I don't think the risk of placement breakdown is any greater than with a regular adoption - although it might be differently upsetting to have a child returned to their birth parents rather than leave because we could no longer handle them or they put other children at risk. It remains to be seen whether our geographical distance from the contact centre can be put aside since our travelling time is no longer than many other much closer families (it's only 10 minutes longer than the woman I spoke to, for example).

Voicemails - mainly to the miscarriage nurse, again, I'm afraid. I finally got the information sheet from the clinical trial but I still want to find out about what happens if my prolactin levels are still too high, can we be tested for the balanced translocation (very rare I know, and probably only in my mind because of Julia, but also I have these niggling doubts about the very high number of only children in Mr Spouse's family), and my acupuncturist keeps on at me to find out if the progesterone cream is OK to use. She thinks not (it could stop the progesterone receptors working, she thinks, and I never specifically asked the nurse, and feel that (though it would be much easier) I cannot lie to my acupuncturist...

[Edited because I had put up some information I shouldn't have]