Monday, 12 November 2012

Adopting part 2

The first part of our adoption story:  Adopting part 1

Pup had been with us for nearly 18 months. He was a week shy of his third birthday. We had got over the 'never again' stage. We were starting to wonder if maybe Pup might need a sibling sometime, but we were not quite ready to act.

Then we got a phone call. It was from the senior social worker at Pup's hometown of 'Royston Vasey'. Pups birth grandmother wanted us to be told that his birth mum had just had a baby boy. A healthy baby boy (no CF!) who had been taken straight into foster care. I scribbled the details on the back of an envelope. Name birth date, birth weight. I've still got that envelope, in Tigs memory box.
  To say we were torn in two is an understatement. We were in a whirl. Was this for us? Could we say no if he was offered to us? Could we deprive Pup of his brother? For us to have this baby he'd have to have been taken from his birth mum permanently. She'd lost one child already. Did she deserve to lose another? She was older now - should she not be given the chance to cope? But what if she was given the chance and failed Tigs? Could we pick up the pieces? Maybe a year, five years down the line? Then again would Royston social services even consider us for this baby? There were dozens of potential adoptive parents out there, younger, without the burden of a disabled child and many of them living much nearer. We did not contact their social services as we did not want want it to seem as if we were trying to grab this baby. Our social worker advised caution.

   We heard nothing. All we had were those scribbled details on an old envelope. We asked our social worker to request a photo 'to show Pup'. That took 5 months to arrive.
  We heard nothing. We had decided by then that we really wanted Pup to have a sibling, we felt a 3 year gap was perfect, we felt that to have his very own brother would be perfect. Pup was keen on the idea of a little brother or sister. At first he wanted a sister.

  We told Pup his 'first mummy' had had a baby brother, he seemed mildly interested. He prayed for his brother. At another time we asked him again if he'd like a sibling to come and live with us. This time he chose a boy (phew!).

  We'd had enough of being patient. In April we spoke to our adoption agency and let them know we'd like another child; they knew the situation and started to chase Royston Vasey social services. Suddenly things started to happen.We heard that Tigs would be adopted, that had been decided in February. (thanks for letting us know...  not) We heard that he had been without a social worker for some time, that he was in a stable foster home, that he was thriving. We still had just one photo. Royston admitted that they would consider us for Tigs. We got paperwork, we got meetings with a new social worker. We discovered with sinking hearts that the whole assessment to adopt process would have to be gone through again from scratch. They 'fast tracked' us; it took 4 months. Twice weekly meetings, paperwork coming out of our ears; while caring for Pup, who was hard work - feeding him alone took an hour at each meal.

  We told Pup he might be getting a brother, and asked him what the name of his new brother was. He said "I think maybe Tigs?"

 We had to wait until November to meet Tigs; he was 14 months old. We missed that much of his life. I can cope with knowing that we missed so much of Pups life, because we didn't know about him, but I have a little bitterness about missing that time with Tigs, especially missing his first birthday. He was very well cared for, but.....
   For the introduction week we went and stayed in a cottage near Royston; we took Himselfs parents with us this time to babysit Pup. We were a little wiser this second time around and did not let the social workers run the show. They wanted us to meet Tigs for the first time without Pup. We said 'no way' He was Pups own brother, Pup would feel totally indignant at being left out. That battle took a while to sort out, but we won that battle.

Tigs was unwell the day we met, full of cold and a sorry little boy. He was ill all week, and finding it hard having all these new people invading his life. But he's a positive child, and kept going despite obviously feeling quite poorly. He and Pup almost immediately started fighting over toys (some things don't change), but they were interested in each other, and Pup tried hard. The intro week was exhausting physically and emotionally as they are, desopite his very supportive foster carers, who again allowed us to break rules and threw the intro plan out the window (don't tell the social workers!), and spend almost all our time with Tigs. Pup came with us some times, other times he was allowed to stay with Grandma and Grandad.

   So Tigs came home to us. He was confused, he was not obviously unhappy but he had this look of bewilderment on his face for the first month. His eczema dramatically worsened, he ate like a starving animal (comfort eating?) He delighted in pulling Pups hair; which didn't quite put Pup off the idea of having a little brother, but made him a little more wary. He did not want me for a Mummy, and did not want cuddles or affection at first. When a friend visited who looked a bit like his foster mum, he was all over her.

  Then he got sick. 2 days after christmas I took him to our local cottage hospital at midnight, struggling to breath and very unhappy; and they sent me off to drive him 10 miles to our nearest A&E at midnight with Tigs gasping for breath. He cried all the way there which was reassuring to me as I could not see him in the back of the dark car trying to breathe. When we got there the nurse demanded to know why he wasn't sent by ambulance. A & E was busy, he was put on oxygen, given nebulisers and left alone in a bay with me for 2 or 3 hours. At one point he vomited and his oxygen saturations dropped to scarily low levels. I was wondering if we were going to lose our new son.  When they finally got round to sending us to a ward at about 4 am he was sitting up smiling at the nurses between gasps for breath. His Consultant looking at his X rays the next morning told us they looked 'really really bad'. He had pneumonia. He was meant to be very ill, but he didn't know it, and obviously was not aware of the correct protocol for a sick baby. He was  rampaging around his cot, rattling the bars, climbing and pulling the emergency bell until he got out of breath then he'd collapse in a heap until he got his breath back- and be off again.
  He bounced back, in three or 4 days he was well on the mend, and was allowed home. That is when we realised what a strong and resilient little boy we had. And these days he is as tough as ever; strong, agile and happy (most of the time), but with a mischievous streak a mile wide. He has made our family complete. He's taken our focus off Cystic Fibrosis, which is nothing but good. He is a delight.

  BUT this is my personal quarrel with social services. It took 6 months for Pup to come to us; that was hard enough. But to make a tiny boy wait 14 months when there is a family ready and waiting for him.  14 months. We wanted him so much, we were ready for him. As far as we know Social Services had no plans to place him with anyone else.  Our feeling was that he wasn't prioritised because he was in a safe stable foster home, and there were needier kids in town. I understand that. But is shouldn't have to be like that.

  And there are children out there who wait years for parents. children who can't go to adoptive parents because they are the wrong colour. We were rejected as potential adopters for one blue eyed blonde boy because he had one West Indian grandfather. We gave up enquiring about mixed race kids, or children with maybe one Romany or Italian parent. We laughed when we read in 'Be My Parent' about children with one Bulgarian and one Chinese parent and a Scottish grandmother who needed parents to 'reflect their ethnic origin.' I think things are changing; I hope for the better. But there are still dozens of kids out there needing homes. We feel that 2 is enough for us, but I still feel guilty about that sometimes.

No comments:

Post a Comment