This is a hard one to write, and I almost didn’t post this, but decided that if I’m going to document my adoption journey, then it’s helpful to others if I include as much of it as I can.
After exploring my potential match a bit more, I decided not to pursue it any further. It was an impossibly hard decision, and I had to call up friends, family and colleagues to talk it over again and again. I am someone who needs to talk through things out loud to sort things out in my head – I do my thinking out loud, and I need to bounce ideas off other people to help me form opinions and consolidate my feelings.
When I first went into the matching database a couple of months ago, I had seen a child I felt a connection with, but you are only allowed to look within your local authority area for the first 3 months, so after they suggested I might be a match for another little boy, I stopped looking at the database.
At first, it was just exciting – being told you might have a possible match, and after such a long time waiting, getting ready, the excitement of it was overwhelming. I’ve got the room all ready, and am nesting and feeling really ready to start this huge adventure.
However, once the initial excitement wore off, I started to have doubts. I’m not going to be able to explain all of them here, I have many, complex reasons, but part of it comes down to plain old gut feeling. He just didn’t feel like my son – I tried and tried, but couldn’t picture him as my kid. He sounded incredibly sweet, and shy and cuddly and lot of other things, but it just didn’t feel right for me. I couldn’t seem to get a grasp of who he was, or feel any connection with him.
Eventually I went back into the database and realised that the other child I had looked at, I felt much more of an instant connection with. I can’t really explain why, or what it is that drew me to one child and not another.
It was such an impossibly hard decision, to have to reject a little boy who has been through so much (don’t worry, he will never know). I felt so unsure and undecided, and it was so hard to say no. But the thing is, it just wouldn’t be fair to that little boy, if I was feeling so ambivalent and uncertain. He has been neglected his whole life, and needs to be matched with someone who loves and wants him and chooses him. He simply cannot be my, or anyone else’s second choice, ever again.
I think part of the problem for me was that this is all so new, and I was very unsure how it’s supposed to happen, so I was kind of following along a bit passively. I wanted to trust the social workers and the process. I think I had expected them to one day come to me with a child’s profile and say “This is the kid for you”, but in reality, they weren’t really sure if it was a good match or not, and I wasn’t really sure, and it was all a bit vague and confusing. When this match was suggested to me, I went along with it, and I’ve been waiting for such a long time, part of me was just itching to get started. With hindsight, knowing that I had felt a connection with another child, I should have just waited 3 months until I was allowed to search beyond my local authority and then reached out and explored that option, and not felt pressured into exploring this other option. But then again, there is so little information about each child in the beginning, and if you don’t explore it further, you can’t find out more about that child, so it’s a tough process to work through.
It’s been a really hard couple of weeks, a lot of soul-searching and stress, but in the end, it was the right decision. I’m not a very decisive person, and it is so hard to be definitive and reject a child that you haven’t met – and it will be equally hard to know if and when the right kid comes along, as you have to commit before you meet them either way. I think when I started this process, I was so focused on getting to the next stage, on completing the next task, on doing all the admin, overcoming each hurdle, that it never occurred to me that at the end of it, I would have to choose a child – as in, pick this kid and reject that kid.
And as my social worker put it, sooner or later, with any child, you will have to take that leap of faith and make that decision before you get to meet them. But at least if you have a good feeling about it, if you feel that it’s the right choice in your gut, it’s a lot easier to take that leap. And as one good friend of mine pointed out, there isn’t a single child in the database that is right for me, until the moment that I feel it’s right.
It’s not something many people are faced with, as obviously when you give birth to a child, that is just the child that you have, there’s no choice in the matter. This is literally the biggest and most important decision I will ever make. It’s forever, and so it just has to feel right.
So, having learned a lot about the process from this failed attempt, I hope that I will have a much better sense of what to do and what feels right the next time around, and I hope that I will have learned to trust my instincts. Sooner or later the right kid is out there waiting for me, and I will find them when the time is right.