Decisions, decisions

26 04 2009

We decided to adopt for a whole host of reasons. Although we were not fixed on what sort of child we wanted, we decided very early on that we wanted two children and when we were approved to adopt it was for two children under 5.

Eventually our Social Worker (SW) came with the sheet of paper, which was literally three quarters of a side of A4 giving an outline of Little Miss Loud’s (LML) circumstances. It was both exciting and really, really scary. As soon as she left we were on the web looking up some of the medical terms she had talked to us about. Looking up stuff around premature birth and child development. We were faced with complex medical problems, an uncertainty about her development and a difficult family background. Four other adopters had looked at LML and decided to not pursue the process any further and we had to think long and hard before we said yes.

We decided we could provide LML with the significant amount of support she would need initially due of her developmental delay and understood that there was uncertainty about how long this would continue. We also welcomed LML into our lives knowing that we would probably still be addressing some of the issues around the circumstances of her adoption throughout her childhood and into adulthood.

There were the decisions about how we were going to look after LML. We made a decision to reduce our work hours and both now work part-time. Crap Dad works the first part of the week, Grumpy Mum works the latter, therefore LML only needs to go to a children’s centre one day a week. Of course this means that LML gets loads of input and support, but we have had to learn how to live on a reduced income as it it now half of what it was.

Once we had made the choice to go ahead with the match we had to consider who and what we told about why LML was being adopted. Because of LML’s background we decided that we would only disclose everything to our teenage daughter, Big Sis,. For everyone else we decided that we’d just tell them she has a complicated background which meant that there were limits on what we could tell them about it. We decided that LML’s background is her own, to disclose or not as she grows up and understands more.

One of the decisions we had to make early on was how we were going to deal with those “so your child’s adopted” questions.

During the first week of LML coming home Crap Dad took her to the park and was pushing her on the swings. LML was very unsure about what she needed to do and it was clear that having been at the foster carers since leaving hospital LML had rarely, if at all, been to the playground. A mum, with a child that was about half of LML’s age, placed her child in the swing next to LML’s, the child was confident and knew exactly what to do. LML, who was 18 months old and had no words just squawks and squeaks, was clearly nervous and struggling. The mum watched as CD started to teach LML how to hold onto the swing. The mum started to talk to CD about LML, asking how old she was. CD started to explain about LML being born prematurely but panicked because he hadn’t got the ‘script’, hadn’t yet rehearsed his responses to such questions and he soon fled the playground, only to return once we had talked more about how we would deal with these inevitable conversations.

People make assumptions that your child is a birth child. CD met someone who he used to work with and they asked, ‘is she your daughter?’ When he replied ‘yes’, they said ‘I thought so, she has your eyes.’

Grumpy Mum was once at at playgroup and one of the other mothers made a comment about LML’s delay. GM responded by saying it may be due to LML being born so prematurely. The other mum said that must have been hard and GM responded, ‘I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there!’

We soon made a very concious decision and effort to be open and honest to everyone about LML being adopted. It’s now a part of our every day discourse.

After LML came home to us we made the decision to wait to apply for the adoption order because there were a number of issues where we believed we and she needed support. Until you have that adoption order form the court, your child is still classed as a ‘looked after child’, and this means that you can get better access to services as they are given priority. For example her delay meant that she needed a full team assessment – which is where different medical disciplines, health visitors and social workers meet to assess the child’s development and agree what their support needs are. One of the support needs identified for LML was to access portage. When we met the portage manager she asked if LML was still looked after? If she hadn’t still been a looked after child then it would have been a three month wait as it was we had our portage worker three weeks later.

The decision which took the longest to make? What surname to give LML once she had been adopted. Grumpy Mum and Crap Dad are not married, and never likely to be. The question of what surname spun around and and around for months before the inevitable compromise of joining their surnames together with a hyphen. LML has become double barrelled!

We are consciously aware that the decisions we make affect LML and how she is perceived by the people around her, so we try very hard to make decisions with care and a great deal of thought.

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One response

26 04 2009
grace

Intriguing, enticing start to your story! Look forward to reading how things unfolded…

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