Little A moves in

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Wow another month goes by ! and i now have a 15 year old !

I’ve had a bit of a wobble this month A’s been having a few issues with his behaviour at school related to loosing his birth mother last year and the delayed reaction to the grief and dealing with his emotions, and I received a letter from my mother, which after 2 and a half years of not hearing from her came as a shock and also a big confusion of emotions for me.

But with support from from Mr G, friends and A’s lovely teacher, we’re getting through.   The adoption team and A’s school are working together with Winston’s Wish, and for the time being I’m giving myself some time to sort out my emotions before I do meet my mum for a cup of tea.

But to cheer me up on Friday we went to see Giffords Circus, if you haven’t been please do its brilliant, we were told about it on our adoption course by one of the ladies that had adopted 3 girls and said it was like a little bit of magic! She was right we’ve taken A every year since we’ve had him and he loves it too, plus you get to have a cuppa our of an Emma Bridgewater teapot !

Wow ! the day has come for A to finally move in we were both so excited as were Daisy and Molly, and couldn’t wait to go and pick him up at 10am.  Daisy and Molly were at school so we drove over to the foster carers, they were already with A’s bags all packed, it was a real mixture of emotions even though were excited you feel so sad for the foster carers who have done such an amazing job and were struggling to hold back their tears.  We put all of his bits in the car and then came back to the front door to take A.

He was fine and happy to come he said goodbye to S and B and we popped him in his car seat, I gave them both a hug and started crying Matthew shed a tear too, poor B had her tissues out i mouthed “thank you” and we drove off, we both felt so sad and guilty for what we had done, but it is the right thing but so so hard.

I take my hat off to the amazing work foster carers do they don’t get enough recognition for what they do.  Five minutes along the road A said “red” and pointed at the traffic light ! it made us giggle as in his little world for now he’d just moved on the his next chapter.

Then we were finally 5 with of course Stanley the dog.

It was so lovely having him home and i couldn’t wait for the girls to come home, when they were due in we took A out onto the wall and when he saw them he shouted “Daisy, Molly” and gave them a big smile.  It was a lovely day so we ate tea in the garden then gave him a bath and i couldn’t wait to tuck him in for the first night in his own Thomas bed in his own bedroom.

That night we both read him a story said goodnight and he just went straight of to sleep.  We went to check on him a little while later maybe expecting him to still be awake or upset and he was fast asleep, we both looked and said that other people admire us for what we have done but we could just pinch ourselves that we’ve been given a little boy, he’s all ours and finally sleeping in our house.

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Introduction process

 

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Happy Easter. I love this time of year, spring flowers, sunshine if we’re lucky and Easter egg hunts. This year I’ve even taught myself to crochet easter baskets and fitted in a family trip to Barcelona.

Going through the adoption process has not only completed our little family its been a emotional journey for me with the breakdown of my relationship of my own parents, something that is for all the right reasons but extremely difficult and hard to deal with.  The guilt as they are getting older and more vulnerable, the girls who I have never stopped them seeing coming home with snippets of whats going on in there lives and how difficult it is for them sometime as teenagers to understand the situation.

All I can do is think that for me its the right decision mentally, and they made the choice to not change and hence not have a relationship with their lovely grandson who could of added so much to their lives.

After the initial first meeting the next day involved going to the foster carers to give A his tea and put him to bed.  We arrived at 4pm and again were greeted with a big hug and taken outside to play in the garden, we then gave him his tea and took him upstairs to give him a bath.  It was such a surreal experience taking this little boy who already was so giving,  but we still hardly new and bath him and put him to bed, but just bathing him started to build such a strong emotional connection between us both, we dressed him and he chose a story I sat on the bed as Matthew read to him we then said good night and kissed him goodbye.

The rest of this week involved us taking him out with the foster carers to the park and and then at the end of the week we went to get him up and dressed and actually getting to take him out ourselves!

Daunting as it was we were both excited, the sun was shining so we packed a picnic and a football and took him to our local park. He was brilliant and loved the park, played football and then loved a huge vanilla ice bream (still his favourite).  We then took him back where the girls were due to come around and meet him for the first time.

We waited at the window for them to arrive he was really excited and so were they yet a little nervous, the foster carers were brilliant in this process to and so welcoming to the girls, it all went really well, when we left he waved goodbye to all of us shouting our names, we had been told he didn’t like goodbye, so we all said “see you soon”.

It was then time for a day off and the following week it was his turn to come to our house and visit his new home.

 

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First meeting

Well the day arrived and we were due to go round and meet A at 3pm on a Monday.  We were really excited and also incredibly nervous, excitement because we were finally going to meet our son for the first time and also nervous as we had no idea how he was going to take us or even accept or like us !

On the adoption course you are told that it can take up to a few months for the children to accept you and to not expect them to call you mum and dad straight away as this can take time, which of course we totally understood.

We decided to go out for lunch as the thought of staying home all day watching the clock ticking would drive us mad so off to Boston Tea Party we went.  This coffee shop ended up being a our place throughout our adoption process, it was where we went to celebrate officially adopting A and the first place we took him for tea and cake.

3pm came and we drove to the address of where A lived and rang the door bell S and B answered the door we had met them previously and they were a lovely old couple who had dedicated the last 20 years of there life to fostering vulnerable children, even though they both suffered with poor health and both used mobility scooters they had cared for A for the last year and to them we owe such a lot.

They shouted to A to come to the door as his new mummy and daddy had come to see him (just typing this now is making me feel emotional) he ran up to us with his arms open wide shouting “Mummy Daddy” and gave us a huge hug.   You could of knocked us over we weren’t expecting that welcome we then went in for a cup of tea.

The sun was shining so we all sat in the garden, A showed us his garden and his bike and ball and was playing while we sat talking to S and B.  We discussed with them both how the introduction had gone when they has showed him our book and played our dvd.  They said he loved the book and took it to be every night, he talked about the cat and the dog and was really excited about our garden and trampoline.  He also loved the dvd and asked to have it played over and over again (we apologised for our bad acting !) Through this dvd he got to see what we looked like and had learnt all of our names, he could also see what his bedroom looked like, we had heard that he liked Thomas so we got a Thomas duvet and pyjamas.

We chatted to A asked him what he liked playing and he let Matthew push him on his push along bike, we could see he had a really strong bond with S which was lovely to see, but you also have the guilt because effectively you are going to take that bond away when they have done so much to help, support and develop A and also ensure that he was ready to meet us and accept us as wonderfully as he had done.

Initial meetings are only supposed to be a couple of hours long so we left after arranging to come over the next day to make his tea, bath him and put him to bed in their house and went home.

We then came home, we were probably in a state of shock, i don’t know how to describe how we were feeling, relieved that it went so well, happy that he had accepted us and also overwhelmed that this little boy that we had never met before had given his heart over to us 100%.

For Matthew this he found difficult, after being rejected by his own daughters for a number of years and not having the chance to be a dad for such a long time, he was now being given the chance of being a dad again and whilst he was so happy, it also brought back all the heartache the last 5 years had given him.

We went to be exhausted ready for the next meeting.

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officially

Finally meeting A

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Can’t believe we will soon be at the end of Feb ! For me its been a brilliant month celebrating my birthday at the Dormy House and then a weekend away with friends for our anniversary, time to have a rest from the bubbles.  Also a lovely half term with the family and even a little sign of spring in the air.

Matching panel was on the 12th February our second wedding anniversary, it was strange because the potential adopters are not invited to attend only the birth parents if they wish so for us it was a waiting game at home ! we decided to go out for brunch to stop us pacing around the house.  Panel was at 11am and our social worker said she would call us as soon as she new anything.  The parents are invited to attend and can at this stage still stop the adoption proceedings by objecting so I’m sure you can imagine we were both really nervous.

We eventually got a phone call at 2.30 to say we had been successful !! and A was to be our son, we were so relieved and ecstatic, the first thing we did was call the girls at school to let them know the were so happy we then called  Grandma.

Our next job was to make a book and a dvd to give to A’s foster carers for the introduction process we had 2 weeks to do this.  Making the dvd was hilarious, none of us are really born actors or actresses and the number of retakes was ridiculous but we had lots of laughs making it and its a memory we can laugh about for years.  We gave both to the social worker which she then passed onto the foster carers.

Just to explain  a bit about how this process works the foster carers show A the book and each page has a different room of our house and one of his bedroom so he becomes familiar with his new home.  They then show him the dvd which has all of us introducing ourselves and showing him around and even stars Stanley the dog. (we later found out that he asked to watch this about 5 times a day)

I went into work to let them know the news and that i would be starting my adoption leave in two weeks ! Excited as I was, I was a little nervous I’d already taken a career break when I had my daughters and had been back working for the last 8 years so was a little nervous of doing it again especially as I was now in my 40s.

Adoption leave started and we were then given our dates for introduction process.  The first meeting was due to take place on a Monday at 3pm for a couple of hours, the next day we get to go over and bath A and read him a story.  the next day we get to go out but with the foster carers for a couple of hours.  Then we are able to take him out on our own for the day and then take him back at tea time and so on for a week.  The second week we actually get to take him to our house in the daytime.

We just couldn’t wait.

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Preparation for matching panel

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Another 2 months have flown by since I’ve written on here ! Well thankfully we’re now near the end of a dreary January which has been a bit grey this last week, surprisingly for me in January 2017 I’ve been feeling at my most positive mentally than i have been in a long time so long may it last.  Soon to be February which i love as i have a birthday, anniversary and of course Valentines day !

So the next part of the process was preparing with A’s social worker our case for matching Panel in the hope that they would approve us and the adoption would go ahead.

If you remember i said that we didn’t get off to a very good start with A’s social worker, funnily enough he left before our next meet up ! So we were then introduced to the very lovely L who we hit it off with straight away, she was lovely and told us that they had found no reason why we wouldn’t be suitable to adopt A so matching panel preparation started.

This process involved the social worker building a case of why she thought we were suitable adopters, again this meant more visits with us and my birth daughters, and other lead professionals that had been involved with A over the last year.

We were then given a more in depth medical reports to read, just to explain a bit more about this when children are taken into care due to neglect then are then subject to full medical assessment to check if any of their development has been affected by the years of neglect.  After we had read this we then had to go to meet with the adoption medical professional.  Although we were excited we were a little nervous in case there was anything brought up to worry about, as this was only a few days before the matching panel date we were anxious.

We met Dr S at the hospital she came across as quite cold and professional, we were then given her opinion of what she thought of A and his development and any concerns she thought he may have in the future.  It started off ok his progress had come on quite well since he had been in foster care, there were still worries about his speech and the affects of alcohol during pregnancy on his later development.

She then went on the explain that as he had come from parents with addictions the chances were that he would have an additive personality which could mean drugs or alcohol but we should try and channel this into a sport.  Also because his mother was obese the chances were that he could be the same, we were also told that there was a high chance that he would have some of the issues in relation to alcohol foetal syndrome.  We both felt again worried, deflated and extremely anxious.

But we then went home and had reality check, when you give birth to your own child you have no idea if its going to be healthy before its born and certainly have no idea if it has anything wrong development wise, so really we were given an information overload, so we took the view of what would be would be, and we would love him what ever the outcome as we’d already in or head starting including him as part of the family.

We were then given the date for matching panel 12th February our wedding anniversary.

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Meeting little A’s Social Worker

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Its been a while, with birthdays, christmas shopping, college work and just general busy life time has flown !

I so love Christmas its my favourite time, just sometimes a bit bittersweet knowing i still have two parents that are still alive but choose to not have a relationship with me, but knowing that it is the best thing for my own mental health brings me back to my very gorgeous family of 5 and fantastic friends! Christmas here we come.

A meeting was arranged by social services to meet Little A’s social worker, where he could give us some more information on A and how he was doing in foster care and he could then assess us to see if we were a suitable match for him.

He was quite an awkward fellow and spent a while criticising general social services and how they put to much pressure on their staff ! he then persisted to upset me by trying to make excuses for my parents negative adoption reference blaming there age, after he left I was in tears so not a good start.

However we didn’t give up he took our details and asked us questions and also why we thought that A would be a good match we explained that we had both had a connection and the fact that we had opened the profile two days before his birthday meant something.

He said that A had settled really well in foster care, was a happy very loving little boy and had started attending nursery which he had also settled well into.  He then had to go away look into our profiles and A’s and see of we were able to go ahead with the matching process and any concerns he may have.  Another waiting game !

I have just realised while writing this his 6th birthday is next week so i am now writing about 3 years ago !  Time has flown, this morning i spent watching his Nativity play and this afternoon i will be busy packing birthday presents.  couldn’t imagine life without him.

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Little A’s Full profile

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About a week later we had a visit from J and she gave us A’s full profile.  She explained what would be inside and the amount of detail it would go into and the fact that we may find it quite upsetting but should read it all and see if we were still happy to progress and then get back to her if we had any questions that needed answering .

It was quite daunting as it was a 30 page document and a lot of reading to do, we were both feeing nervous about starting it as we were scared about what it would say.

Its been a while since I’ve read this so while writing this I’m reading it at the same time even now its a very difficult thing to read, reading it now after 2 years just brings it home again how special he is.

It starts from A’s birth and gives in great detail the first 3 years of his life before he was taken into care, it describes when it was first reported that friends were concerned for his well being, to every visit sometimes daily to the home, and the strategies put in place to try and help birth mother and father to improve the home environment and care for the children.  We also found out that he had 3 birth brothers and sisters.  All the simple things that we take for granted, a clean bed, a bath, clean clothes, a healthy diet or just simply nutritional food to eat and a safe home environment, none of which he or his siblings had.

Being taken in to care eventually at 3 years old which was best for him, i can’t imagine how traumatic it was for his older brothers and sisters who were aware of what was going on must just of been horrible.  Luckily for them they were sent to live with the most lovely foster carers (separately A was with one family and the other 3 in a different foster home together) who do the most incredible job. I take my hat off to them, they have all this love to give and look after them sometimes for a year or longer and then have to say goodbye when they are actually officially adopted.

Emotional as it was nothing written in that report put us off or stopped us wanting to go ahead with the matching process so we contacted the social worker and she arranged for us to have a home visit from A’s social worker.

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11th October The Matching Process

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Autumn here we come ! i am loving the dark evenings and cosy fires and candles and of course the winter wardrobe ! Not too sure about these dark mornings though.  Had a fabulous Sunday,  after collecting Emma Bridgewater for 15 years i finally got to meet her at the Cheltenham Lit Fest and she was lovely and inspiring, i even got my book signed.

Now on to the exiting yet daunting bit !

We were given a lot of advice about what it would be like to look at children’s profiles and how difficult it would be to actually turn one down as all these lovely children need a home.  But we were also told that we would know when it was the right one.

i remember getting a call from the lovely J to say she had 3 profiles for us, at time she lived just by where i worked so i left work with butterflies and picked them up turning them upside down so i couldn’t see the pictures.  Sadly Matthew was away that night so we decided to open them together on FaceTime as we were too excited to leave it until the next day !

We were given 3, a 2 year old girl, an 18 month old boy and a soon to be 3 year old boy.  We opened the soon to be 3 year old first and the date of birth just hit us as he was going to be 3 in two days time ! I think this pulled at our heart strings, we read his profile and saw his pictures and just both seemed to get a connection.  We then looked at the other two profiles and felt sad and guilty for them but even though they were younger we couldn’t help feel that the first one was right for us.

We decided to  contact J then next day and ask if we could see his full information as we wanted to go ahead.  Just to explain initially you are only given a sheet with picture and a little background information of each child, once deciding to go ahead you then get to look as his full case and background information.

We were both really excited with the possibility that we had just seen a picture of our new son.

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September 19th 2016

Sorry for not blogging for a while I’ve recently taken on my NVQ 3 in the Early Years so juggling this, back to school with the start of GCSEs for one ALevels for another and Year 1 and me back to lots of gorgeous 2 year olds at preschool my heads spinning !  But we have managed to do our first camping trip this weekend so i will include some piccies.

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I had forgotten to mention on my last blog post how the girls had been involved and the assessments we had to go through with them.

After we had done our life story our social worker J asked to speak to the girls together without us being present, quite unnerving for us but understandable, and as J was so lovely we felt we had nothing to worry about.  The girls were happy to do this as they had got to know her during our visits. This only took about 20 minutes and all three of them came out laughing so next it was on to the observation.   We were asked to choose an activity we all enjoyed and could be observed doing together, we chose baking as its something the girls love.

It was a Saturday morning and we had everything set up J came and she just sat and watched us interact as a family, for some reason i felt really nervous it felt as though i was being investigated on whether i was a good mum ! it all went well just got a bit messy while mixing multicoloured icing but the cakes all rose so it was all good ! We then had a cuppa and of course a cup cake, we were told it was all good and she liked the way the girls had such a good, open and fun relationship with their step dad.  She left and maybe the pressure maybe my insecurities coming out i had a little cry, in all the years of being mum i had never been observed being one and not being the most confident person in this world it caused me to have a little wobble.

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After panel we then looked into finding some couples that had adopted with birth children to go and visit, one really lovely couple i had met through the school i worked in and had kept updated on our process invited us to go and spend the afternoon with them.  They were foster carers themselves and had recently adopted a little girl.  We went to visit them on a Sunday afternoon and i brought cake, we chatted about how there adoption had gone and what it had been like for the other family members, they had both been foster carers for years had and looked after many vulnerable children.  They were brilliant, such a lovely couple and a true inspiration.

We were then given another family to visit that had adopted two boys and had two birth daughters, they were lovely and had the most gorgeous dog, we went on an evening when the boys were in bed and got to speak the girls who were both lovely, they explained that at first they had been quite nervous about having new little brothers, when they arrived they were quite unsettled and times had been quite difficult.  Even though things had not been easy you could just see that years down the line the love the girls and mum and dad had for their boys and how the whole process had been a positive experience and they were now a very happy family.

Finally we went to visit a gay couple that had adopted two brothers, before being adopted they had been in separate foster homes so when they moved in it was the first time they had met.  For them the settling in period had been quite stressful and demanding also it was a huge adjustment as neither of them had had children.  They had been given extra support from social services and things had now settled down.

What was so lovely about all of these families was that even though they had all faced big challenges you could just see the unconditional love they had for all of there adopted children.img_0051

Going to Panel

While we were going through the adoption process it was perfectly timed as a programme was also being shown at the same time of families going through adoption, this meant that a lot of our friends watched it so knew each stage we were going through. They all commented on how stressful the panel stage looked and it was.

We received our panel date and although we were excited we were extremely nervous, it was at 10.30 in the morning and we were due to meet our social worker first for a coffee to have a chat and calm our nerves. Unfortunately, we both woke up with a stomach bug which was a bit of a nightmare but we had no choice but to take Imodium and go!

We met the very lovely J at a cute coffee shop opposite the Shire Hall sat making general chit chat and going through what was going to happen I just felt sick but we went in and met the lovey T the Social Services Manager who like J was very lovely and shared my taste in clothes so that helped break the ice.

We were put in the waiting room and were told we would be called when they were ready. A very friendly gentleman came in explained the how the panel process would work and said that they were ready for us. We went into a large room with a large oval table, seated around it were 8 panellists……. some looked quite friendly and some not so! We were given a seat each and our social workers sat either side and the questions begun. It was a cross between a job interview and what I imagine a court appearance to be like!

I actually can’t remember all of the questions as we were both so nervous but we both seemed to do a lot of talking! One of the panellists we had met at the adoption course so we thought he would be nice but his questioning was quite negative and it was suggested that with birth children our lives would have been to hectic for an adopted child. A couple of the others were very lovely and very supportive. The only negative that came about was us having a dog, and we were asked what we would do if the adopted child didn’t get on with the dog or vice versa, of course we said that we would consider getting rid of him but knowing full well how good he was with children and adults. In fact one of the adoption team said that if there was a problem she’d happily have Stanley (the dog) as she’d met him and he was lovely!

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This took about 20 minutes and we were them taken back into the waiting room to await their decision, this was awful and seemed like forever even though our social workers were so happy as they both said we had done so well and done so much talking which was great.

The head panellist came in 15 minutes later to say we had passed we were ecstatic! we were just told that they would like us to visit some couples that had adopted with birth children and maybe narrow down the age range we were prepared to adopt, as they thought 2-5 was too bigger difference.

 

We went home and went to the pub to celebrate.

Now it was all about matching!