So, I wrote a while ago that I was planning to adopt again, and all the incredibly slow and boring red tape that goes with it. Since then I have moved house to Chateau d’Omnishambles to have more space etc and be ready for the next child.
I also wrote about the specific girl who I really want to adopt. Well things are FINALLY moving forward and starting to happen!
I am still in the middle of the approval process, and on-track to get approved by mid-December. I’m currently back in the homestudy part of the process so having some lengthy meetings every other week with my social worker to go back over my life, work, family history, medical history, support networks etc etc and update all the info.
The girl who I want to adopt, S, is 10 years old, and we have been visiting as often as we can over the last few months trying to see her and spend time with her. I’ve been asking her lots of questions about herself and trying to get to know her as best I can, without her figuring out why I am asking so many questions (and she is sharp as a tack so she picks up on everything!).
I had a lengthy discussion with her social worker (who is completely awesome) and we both agreed that she should be told what is happening as soon as possible. Partly because it’s getting harder and harder to visit and not say anything to her, and also because the social workers want me to start having her come and stay for sleepovers and she’s a very smart 10-year old who has been in the care system long enough to know you don’t just randomly go and sleep over at strange adult’s house for no reason.
And also because the poor girl thinks that no-one wants her, and has watched other children come and go in and out of foster care to their permanent homes, and has been told she is going to a permanent home twice now and both times ended up back in the care system. It’s so heartbreaking to see how sad and alone she must be feeling and it’s so hard not to grab her and hug her and shout “Someone DOES want YOU! There’s a PLAN!”
So some lengthy discussions had to happen internally over at the adoption team. Everything has to go to the senior team leads because (as they like to keep telling me) I am breaking ALL the rules with this adoption. Normally, as someone who is not approved yet, I wouldn’t know which children are in the system or looking for families, let alone be physically seeing them and having direct contact with them. And normally they don’t approve adoptions of a new child who is older that your current child. And typically children at her age (and with her history) wouldn’t go back into the family finding system but would be most likely moved into a long-term foster care placement. And so on and so on.
So every time a discussion happens or a decision needs to be made we have to escalate everything up the chain because this situation is so unprecedented and no-one really knows what the procedures are (because there aren’t any for this type of situation).
Nevertheless S’s amazing social worker and I both pushed for her to be told what’s going on as soon as possible. Again, typically an adopter gets fully approved first, and THEN starts the family-finding process to be matched with a child, so the child would not be told about a potential adoption until it’s basically approved and ready to go, to avoid disappointment.
I’m due to be approved in December, but can’t feasibly have her some for sleepovers and visits without her cotttoning on to something in the meantime, and furthermore if we wait til December and present it all as a fait accompli, a done deal, without her involvement, she’s likely to feel blindsided, that a bunch of adults she doesn’t know and doesn’t trust have once again made a load of decisions about her life without even asking her.
There’s a chance if they do that she’ll be pissed off and won’t want to come and live with us, but will also have even less trust in me and her social worker for hiding it from her all this time while visiting and pretending nothing is going on. Both of us desperately want S to be able to have a choice, and be able to actively participate in the decision-making about her own life. Obviously she’s only 10 so she may not be able to make massive life decisions on her own, but she should be involved, and have some agency in her own life, and have time to think it over, ask questions and decide for herself what she really wants.
Of course the reason they don’t usually do this is because it’s risky. What if we get her hopes up and I don’t get approved? She would be devastated (so would I!). However both of us felt this was extremely unlikely, so we dove back on the merry-go-round into the senior leadership’s “Well this is HIGHLY irregular! You’re breaking all the rules with this one” routine. (Yeah yeah we know, and we don’t care!).
Thankfully we won that round, and in early October, S was told about the plan! I was worried she might not want to come and live with us, or that she might need some time to get used to it and ask questions but actually she was really excited about it! Her social worker said she was gobsmacked and couldn’t believe anyone really wanted to adopt her. It’s heartbreakingly sad, and she was also really worried that my daughter wouldn’t like her, or want her as a sister. (My kid worships her, so there’s no question she wouldn’t be thrilled!).
I was quite nervous about our next visit as we had planned to go and see her the Saturday after she was told about us. I wasn’t too sure if she would want to be hugged or cuddled (she’s 10 and that might be weird or something) or quite how to react, but when we arrived she had made a lovely present for my daughter A, and written us both letters saying how excited she was to come and be part of our family forever. She had lots of questions for me, but was happy to snuggle up for a cuddle on the sofa while we chatted, and clearly did want to have lots of cuddles, which is a relief because I’m a hugger!
It was just amazing to be able to talk openly with her about how much I want her to be part of our family, and how excited we are to be able to make this work. I explained that A has had me all to herself for 2.5 years and so there would probably be some issues when she moves in, and A might say some mean things sometimes or feel jealous, but she would do that to any kid I brought into the family, and it’s not personal.
I’ve been talking to my daughter a lot recently about how we are going to have a sister soon, and getting her used to the idea of a big sister (sometimes she gets cross and shouts that she wants a little sister!). On the way to see them, A piped up in the car and said out of the blue “I want S to be my big sister” which was just so lovely and spontaneous, so I told S all about it and we decided it was a good time to tell A what was happening too.
So now they both know they are going to be sisters, officially, and we took our first family photo together, which is utterly gorgeous, and I want to get prints done immediately to put it up in the house in pride of place!!!
We have scheduled a few dates for her to come and visit, although her room isn’t ready yet and I haven’t bought her bed as I as waiting for the carpets to get installed. But it’s all super exciting and now it feels really real, and I just can’t wait! I’ve already bought her a matching stocking to go with ours for xmas, and some matching slippers to go with mine and A’s. She told me while we were snuggled up on the sofa that she wishes she could move in straight away and I feel the same way (even though the house is in an absolute state just now!).
So to sum up, it’s all really exciting and FINALLY moving forward at last. I literally can’t wait to have both my daughters at home. What a family of unique and special girls we shall be!