It was a weird question for us to be asked because of how we had come to be provisionally linked to the children. Even stranger was that the person asking us was the person who approached us about the children before we were even approved to adopt.
It was a question that we floundered on, that we failed to answer or even give a half-hearted response to. Many prospective adopters who have been linked to children will be shouting at us things like “how on earth can you not know?” but we simply didn’t.
At the end of that meeting, when we were asked that question, we still did not know very much about the children. It had been the 2nd meeting of over 3 hours in length about the children, except in both of those meetings we had never been told a single personal detail about them.
So, to answer that question with honesty at that point in time would have made us seem cold and uninterested, as the answer would have been “they are 2 boys, and they’re in the age range we were interested in adopting”.
It’s horrendous to think about giving that answer to a social worker, so we didn’t. We would loved to have said things like “Oh, we really felt an emotional connection to them” or “we saw some real similarities to us in them”, but we couldn’t.
We had been approached before a profile had been written about them. We had been approached before the local authority had taken any pictures of them, yes we’d seen a few but not many. So all we really knew were their names, their ages and the trauma that they had faced. We did not know what TV shows they liked, what nursery rhyme was their favourite, what food they liked and disliked, or where they were in development other than there “weren’t any concerns”. We knew next to nothing.
In hind sight we did not do enough in that meeting to present ourselves as the potential loving parents that we knew we would be to the two boys. Instead we had shielded our emotions from ourselves and the social workers. The main reason for that was we had been provisionally linked to them before they even had a Placement Order, which is the court decision that means they were allowed to be adopted. Although that order had come through a couple of days previously it still did not feel real to us, and we had still been following the advice of the social workers which had been “do not get too emotionally involved”. We didn’t realise that that advice was a box ticking exercise and following it would count against us. But it did.
After the meeting that ended with that question, the unthinkable happened. The link got severed. Something we did not even contemplate as being possible.
It was then that the emotional flood gates didn’t just open but completely ruptured. The grief at losing the children was very real. We were bewildered, we were angry, we cried, and we felt totally broken. We felt we had been treated extremely unfairly and callously, but in the back of my mind I have always blamed ourselves for not being more openly emotional about the very few details we actually knew about the children.
But we did not give up on them. We absolutely refused to do so. Too many people had given up on them already. I spent an entire morning at work crafting an enormously long email detailing how we felt about everything, we had nothing to lose, it felt like we had already lost everything.
I included what made us immediately think “Yes, we want to adopt these children” at an emotional level, not just the practical one. I can tell you now, it even surprised me when I was thinking about it just how attached I had got to that one paragraph we had been given about the boys.
After that the powers that be had decided to give us one last chance to prove ourselves for these boys and we knew we could not make any mistakes. We had to take hold of our chance and do everything in our power to make the social workers see us properly.
We talked about every single point in the court documents we had, every possible thing that we could do to help with each and every trauma that Eldest may face now or in the future. We came up with plans about activities he may be able to do if he ended up physically impaired as had been implied he could be. We talked tirelessly every evening until the new meeting came. One thing that really bothered us through this was that there was absolutely nothing in the documentation we had about Youngest, he was a baby and that was that as far as social services was concerned. No further details for us to discuss.
The meeting came and I think we totally nailed it. We nailed it from an emotional point of view, from a personal point of view and from a practical point of view. We could, no we would be parents to those two boys and we would be damned good ones too.
I often wonder why we didn’t do any of that talking before the ill-fated meeting. Was it because we hadn’t acknowledged our true attachment to the boys? Was it because we had been linked so early on in our process that we felt it was a done deal and didn’t need any effort? Was it because we put our trust in the social workers that if we did what they said then all would go smoothly? It was probably some of all of that.
All I know now is that going through that time of grief and loss helped us greatly. Where we may not have been prepared we became prepared. Where we thought it would be easy, we had to fight. And that is a story of it’s own, one which we can now tell our children.
We may not have chosen our children from a huge list of profiles like many adopters have to do, but we did fight for them and we fought for them far harder than any one else ever has.