Friday, June 24, 2011


I'm seeking them. Several of them, the main ones at the moment seem to be "how long will we have to wait to be parents", "will anything go wrong between a match and a placement, and between placement and finalisation" and "will our child love us, will we love them, will we cope as parents, and will they have such difficulties that our life won't be the same again". Secondary to that is "is there any point in our stopping using contraceptives after a placement".

Someone should tell me to stop seeking answers on the internet. Of course I can no more do that than fly to the moon.

What is interesting (and probably partly what makes me keep looking) is the differing sets of answers you find depending on where you look. One UK adoption board, and some "adoption situations" sites (similar to adoption facilitators) seem to give the answer to the first question as "really quickly, it's magic" (with the addendum by the second group of sites of "if you have lots of money"). The other main UK board, and the main US board I read, give the answer "not for years and years and you might end up giving up or changing route". Well, at least we've already done the changing route thing.

The UK adoption message boards generally suggest that nothing will go wrong between match and finalisation unless (and it's a big unless) the social workers are truly incompetent. But the US board has lots of horror stories. In contrast, there's a lot of stiff-upper-lip, kids are resilient, even those that have come through foster care, sure we can't leave our 13 year old alone for a minute but we love him, on the US boards and blogs; the smaller of the UK boards has a lot of sunshine, roses, and toddlers with "normal toddler tantrums" but the larger UK board can be really depressing. If you are considering adoption, steer clear. Or at least try and work out that the people who can spend lots of time posting are those with school age children who have such significant needs that the adoptive parents no longer work.

On the final question, one of the UK boards is linked to fertility treatment boards. So their answer is, pray hard enough and you'll get enough fairy dust that despite your great age you will have a healthy pregnancy. Even though I still have the wobbles, as in the post of the other day, I'm no longer sure I want to be pregnant. I want to have a baby, but I don't think I want to be pregnant.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Probably 3 or 4 years ago Overseas Adoption Colleague applied for promotion - it's a complicated process in my job, and involves masses of paperwork, usually only scrutinised once a year, and with petty bureaucrats dogging your every step. OAC was told it was "too soon" despite her stellar publication and funding record. About 2 years ago I did the same and was told something similar. I do have some funding - not as much as OAC, but more than a lot of people in my department. I have a pretty good publications record, perhaps not quite as good as OAC, but getting there. I was told it was mainly my lack of funding that was the problem.

OAC was just awarded promotion, which is very good. Very happy for her.

So was Colleague 2. Colleague 2 has a better publications record than I do but has no funding. Zero. None. Not very happy at all with that.

Also not happy with the fact that I spotted yesterday that Colleague 3 is pregnant. I thought at first she'd actually eaten some dessert (not really fair on Colleague 3, as she has as healthy appetite but is naturally small and very active). But no, she was wearing a top with those twee little tucks down the side. Dead giveaway. Of course no-one has told me this (just like Colleague 4 invited Colleagues 2, 3 and 5 through 7 to his wedding but didn't invite us...).

I wish I wasn't like this - but I was trying really hard to hold it together while driving home yesterday, and collapsed on the sofa with Mr Spouse, in tears, when I got there.

These two things feel so closely linked together. It feels like other people are being given things because they are adequate and I am not. I wish I didn't feel like this.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I think it could be the waiting

I'm feeling a bit "meh" as they say.

I've been trying to do productive but nice things - sewing, knitting, Brownies, running (did I mention I ran a 5K race in 33 minutes in a howling gale - third in my age group out of three? I'm aiming for 10K in September).

But I fear I may be veering towards obsessive - must run on Sunday and Tuesday or Thursday, must also run or do some other exercise on Tuesday or Thursday (I have recently tried Zumba, as have a couple of female neighbours near my age, so we have been egging each other on), must finish this skirt this weekend, must go to church, must read this book... and then this other one...

The weather isn't helping - typical British summer - cool, rainy, cloudy and unpredictable. I feel as if I should be relaxing and taking in the sun, and wearing all my nice summer clothes - instead I am stuck in autumn clothes which always make me feel like I should be gearing up for a new academic year.

I'm faced with another Sunday routine (it's getting bad when Sundays have routines) tomorrow - church, get a run in before lunch as there isn't really time after, then Brownies, which is a meeting I'm organising all of (usually we mix and match and either all do a bit towards each meeting, or take it in turns - but I tend to do all the admin and parent letters - so I always feel somehow responsible for that anyway).

I want to go somewhere, do something different, but I have to be back mid-afternoon - I was looking at National Trust houses for example - but one we haven't seen an hour away, doesn't open till 1pm - what use is that?

So instead, I'm doing what I keep trying to tell myself not to, i.e. tiring myself out by keeping myself up too late. I'm my own worst enemy.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


We all know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men*.

Discussion on a forum today was about whether people had planned their families - the implication being that the opposite was the Oops baby.

Clearly if we ever had plans about the best time to have children they went West long ago.

But to me what others call "planned" I call "hope plus luck".

To me, if you say "I planned to get a promotion" then you are just being a bit arrogant. Maybe I'm alone, but you can try, you can do your best, you can be lucky, but to say you planned it implies others who plan - but do not get - or don't plan - are inadequate.

And I may be alone, but it always seems to me that it's similar for having children. So it always feels to me that they are saying something negative about my planning skills if they do.

I'm sure it's possible I'm being oversensitive. But there are so many implications of inadequacy in this game. Why didn't you get married earlier? Why didn't you "just" do IVF? Why did you "let" them take so long to approve you to adopt/send the paperwork overseas/find a match? Why are you doing something so unethical? Why aren't you prepared to adopt a British child?

So I could really do without another one.

*in case you've forgotten, they gang aft agley.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #26

How do/would you talk with children about siblings in open adoption? How do you approach this as a (first or adoptive) parent, or how was it handled in your family if you grew up with siblings who didn't live with you? For prospective adoptive parents or first parents without other children, has this been something you've thought about how you would approach?

I have not shared many details of the situations we've been shown and I am going to be annoyingly non-specific here, to the point of boringness, nay tediousness, but I can definitely say that siblings were involved. Of the three situations we've been given details of, at least one had a child/ren that were being raised by their parents, at least one had child/ren that had already been adopted, and at least one had a child protective services order that meant no further children would be raised (at least not unless circumstances changed drastically). We saw a couple of pictures (and though all of the expectant parents were, still, expecting, and we didn't see any ultrasounds, it was a bit heart-wrenching to see what a child might look like).

So we have already had to think about siblings.

We were given full details including general living area of the placed sibling/s (and obviously the parented sibling/s). We knew how many and how old, not just for the purposes of getting a full health/pregnancy history but seemingly for the purpose of getting a better idea of the situation. All three sets of expectant parents asked for at least some degree of openness, but we don't know how much they already have with their placed child/ren - though at least one picture was of a placed child so in at least one case there are at least pictures being shared.

So we can know that our child, if any of these situations had worked out, or indeed in future situations, would be able to know about all older sibling/s (unless there are some that the expectant parents are not disclosing to the agency). We would have to address issues of, why was A raised and not me, and/or why was my mother not "allowed" to "keep" me.

If the future repeats the past, there could be further siblings but we would have no idea if we would get to know about any that were placed (in the one case not voluntarily). I think from our side, we would try to get in touch with the adoptive parents of the placed child/ren.

Contact with birth siblings is actually far more common in the UK than is contact with birth parents. It would be very rare here for adoptive parents not to have information about birth siblings, either older or younger, and adoptive parents here would understand that more (and do express frustration with the adopters of their child's siblings, who won't keep contact).

So I guess you could say we have a plan, or at least we've thought about the issues. But the practicalities are different. At least one of the placed child/ren lives in a different state to their birth parents. So although we are definitely planning to visit at least the state of our child's birth, even if we can't visit birth parents, that would mean we'd have to try and visit multiple locations to have direct contact with sibling/s - is that even practical in the long term? Would their adoptive parents want that? I know I've connected with cousins I saw rarely growing up, but is that inevitable assuming you are both willing, or does it assume some similar values in your upbringing?

But as far as talking to our child/ren, we have definitely had to think about that. Even in the UK, where most birth siblings of a child who was removed will also be removed, some will still be in the home (perhaps if half siblings, with their father). Some will be living with birth relatives. So we have been asked to think about how to talk to children about parented siblings.

In some ways that's harder than placed siblings - though of course we know children (whether birth or adopted) have all those impractical questions that make parents weep or despair, about why their parents can't have another child, have five more children, adopt their sibling/s.

I know it is all handwaving at this stage and it's easy to say it will all be fine and dandy if we are open - and I'm sure it won't - but I'm hoping that one aspect of "open" will be "open about the whole birth family" right from the start.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Not For the Likes of Us

I have heard this, not in those precise words, but almost, from other people about adoption, on a number of occasions since we announced we were thinking of adoption. Usually it is from people who actually don't need to make the decision: they have birth children, or they are trying to build a family but have not yet exhausted other avenues, or they may have children in the future but they are not particularly driven to do so.

Usually the reasons given are one of a) you're really brave, b) I don't think I could love an adopted child as much, or c) the process sounds too hard and I doubt we'd get approved/chosen.

Frankly I resent the implication that we are special, unique, or in some way gifted. I don't feel brave - I mainly feel scared - that we won't be chosen, yes, but also scared of being a mum, and scared that we won't do the right things for our child, and that I won't have any semblance of my old life - but that is fear of really major changes such as having a child that is so disabled I won't be able to work - not of missing a Saturday lie-in. I feel these are the kind of fears all prospective parents should have, but they aren't forced to think about parenthood as much as we have been. I do also feel broke, of course!

And although we don't have living birth children to compare, perhaps the ones we don't have would have been perfect. Perhaps we'll have more than one child and, like other thinking parents, we'll worry we'll love one more than the other.

And to be honest if we - medical problems, age and all, and in a fairly traditional part of the country, and very indecisive too, can be approved, I can't think anyone who doesn't actually have a criminal record or is imminently about to divorce or can't be bothered to spend some time with children, wouldn't be approved to adopt - possibly not everyone will find the first agency they approach is the one for them, it is true.

So there just remains matching. And I'm currently torn between "hurry up" and "I have too much to get done!"

Oh yeah, and the being broke bit.