Sunday, 11 January 2015

Another year, another update

Paddington has now been home for two years, time for another blog update. This last year has seen us take him on a plane for the first time, he's started nursery, been out trick-or-treating. He's now in a bed instead of a cot and largely toilet/potty trained. His speech is now great and we can have a conversation. Another birthday has been and gone, as has another Christmas. Just normal family stuff, really. We've had behaviour issues (fairly minor ones, at least compared to some parents of adopted or fostered children), and it's difficult to know what is down to his history or even genetics of his birth family and what is just general toddler/small boy behaviour.

One thing that is different for an adopted child is how to broach the entire subject of adoption with him. That, and dealing with his pre-home background. Relating to the latter, at the start of the year, I had texted his former foster carers to suggest we could meet up later, perhaps in summer. I think this is very important for his upbringing as I really want him to know who these people are. They were his stand-in parents for almost two years. They saw him take his first steps, get his first teeth and speak his first words. Dare I say it, they were borrowing him until we were ready to bring him home. Their care is part of what makes our Paddington the person he is now. However, we had to take a rain check for a while. Amongst the belongings that Paddington came with were a couple of "life story" books chronicling his life with his foster carers with numerous pictures, descriptions and things from places he'd been (like leaflets about attractions he'd visited) and he went through a phase early last year of wanting to look through these. This usually resulted in some bad behaviour suggesting he still had some memories of his life with his foster carers and these were disruptive. We will still arrange to meet up with them at some point, but not for the time being.

We haven't really broached the subject with him of how he is adopted since he's really only just getting the speech and general linguistic skills to have anything more than the most basic conversation. Again, this is something to embark on in the coming year, and do it slowly and gradually over many years to come. The people in social services during our training called it drip feeding. This is the expected process for modern adopted families and I'm perfectly happy letting him know we aren't his biological parents. Like his formative time with foster parents, it's part of who he is. I'd even go further and say that it makes him extra special because WE chose him. I also think it prevents resentment later in life if and when the subject comes up (and it would, no matter how much you might want to pretend otherwise). We do have a book called The Teazles' Baby Bunny which is about a couple of rabbits who adopt a baby bunny. It's very sweet, but it does read a bit propaganda-ry and you kind of feel that you're reading the story as a lesson rather than a nice thing to hear at bedtime. Still, it's an "in" on the subject.

Whatever the next year holds (school, more travel, swimming lessons?), one thing is cast iron. We will continue to love him more and more every day. Even if he goes on to become a new Adolf Hitler or Mao Tse Tung, we will still love him, though he will definitely not be getting his yoghurt after dinner for a few days when we find out.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

What a year

It was one year ago to this day (yes, I know I'm not a very diligent blogger) that Paddington came home. Since that we haven't had anything resembling a lie in, or at least we've not had a day when we've not been woken later than 7:30. Gone are the lazy, mildly hungover 11am risings of a weekend but we haven't missed them, well, not apart from those days in the last year that started mildly hungover at 6 or 7am. Keep in mind when I say this, I know what I'm talking about is true of almost any child, whether they are your biological offspring or not, but this was a sudden culture and lifestyle shock without the 9 months of anticipation and physiological maelstrom that accompanies it. It's not special, just different

This year has flown past stupidly fast. Today Paddington is in bed in the room above our living room while we watch TV (or write a blog..). A year ago today we put him to bed in the same cot in the same room for the very first time, not having a clue how he or even if he would sleep. He did, but he woke up crying at something before 6am I seem to recall. The next few days there were the highs and lows of taking a new child into his new home. Even in this alien environment with these two very friendly strangers he'd only met a few days before he was such a loving and happy boy, sitting on our laps or snuggling up with us on the settee. But we really ached for him as he fretted for his foster carers. It's not surprising as they were who he had been living for the previous 20 months of his life so, as far as he knew or could remember, they were his parents and we'd taken him away from them. I've felt heart wrenching before, but never with such vicious torque as when Paddington went and got his coat and brought you your shoes then stood by our front door asking to be taken "home".

Gradually this did become less and we could tell he was settling more with every day. One day, a few weeks later I remember an almost palpable click as something seemed to fall into place and he really seemed to accept us as his family and his new house as his home. This was probably a mutual thing as we felt less uncomfortable and stressed by his anxiety. He stopped waking before 6, moving forward an hour or so, and was generally less anxious when we went out.

52 weeks later he's met his grandparents, his uncle and a lot of new friends. We've been away for a trip to stay in a hotel. We've played in snow, ridden on trains and buses. We've been to zoos, farms, playgrounds, been on bike rides, been swimming. There've been birthdays, Christmas, sunshine, rain, wind, some tears and an awful lot of laughter. Just normal family stuff really (again, see my bit above about not doing anything different to what other families do).

During the build up to the adoption process we had pictures and videos and heard all about Paddington. We started to imagine him in our house, what we would do when he was hear. They call it "claiming" your child in social work circles, and it's accepted, even expected. Nothing we thought of though prepared us for the first time we met him and things went uphill from there. One of our social workers went on about "falling in love with" your child which I thought was a bit stupid, but by God she hit the nail on the head. Now we are our family and we really could not love our little Paddington any more if he had been our biological child. Sometime over the last year someone asked us if we thought we should have done adoption earlier. The answer is a thousand times no because going through the process when we did gave us our Paddington, our son, and Paddington found his parents and we three became our family. Believing in fate is for idiots, but all that has happened in the universe from the Big Bang, the formation of stars, the atomic conglomeration of hydrogen to helium, lithium and the rest of the elements in their infernal cores to make the dust that aggregated to form the planets, life emerging on ours then evolution and progression of humanity to arrive at the circumstances where Paddington was born without us even being aware of who he was, then meeting him and the three of us becoming a family. Who'd have thought?

Friday, 18 January 2013

We've heard a lot about you

 Introductions went quite smoothly where we first met him, then over the next few days played a bigger and bigger role in his daily routine as procedure dictates. This culminates with foster carers dropping him off at our house one day when we look after him all day, give him dinner, occupy him and finally get him ready for bed then to take him home to FC's and put him straight to bed there. Next day we're there for him waking and pick him up in his nightwear to drive back to our's and do the full day with him from breakfast, getting him ready, spending the day with him through lunch, nap, dinner and bedtime routine before taking him back again. Then next morning it's FC who gets him up before we arrive to meet her and social workers and take him home to our's for good. Yes, so he sees us for almost two whole days then is back with foster carer so he thinks we only had him as he was on holiday.....

On the first meeting with him: we'd seen plenty of photos of him and heard so much about him, probably as much as there is to know about him at this early stage in his life, but there is nothing that could prepare us for the moment we went into FC's house and he appeared from round the corner. There he was, in 3D flesh more lovely than he looked in his pics (and believe me, that's saying something). I don't know, maybe it's his personality that you see in the flesh, but our Paddington there, the boy we've been planning our future with as part of our family, right in front of us, was the most amazing sight I'd ever witnessed.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Forgive me,  it's been about 9 months since my last update of this blog

It's difficult to keep a blog going when it's about something like this when there are such long periods of nothing happening. Then you're so happy when something does happen you're buzzing too much to update

So, quick update. We had our approval panel back at the end of July which we got through. This was followed by the highs and lows of trying to get a match. A couple of aborted suggestions, largely through questionable decision-making from social services. These were a 3 year old boy and a little girl who was 2, both of whom were lovely little kids (from the information we had, at least). An older boy of 4 was suggested but he turned out to be apparently unsuitable for various reasons, though we didn't end up seeing any real details on him. It was during this time we decided we'd prefer a child at the ounger end of our range, 2.5 to 5, and another little boy was suggested as a possible match who was actually not even two.I know it's difficult to not be swayed by the picture on the report, but he is the cutest little thing. We talked about him between ourselves and decided he would actually be a great match so went ahead with the process to adopt him. We got through matching panel for him so we had a lot of work to do round the house to make the place suitable for a toddler. To be honest, that wasn't radically different to what we needed for a kid a year or so older.

And that was the next part: progression towards matching with this new Paddington.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Still chugging along

We're still in the process. Social worker visits were going well, then we hit a snag as our social worker was taken seriously ill on the day we were expecting another visit. Obviously we're concerned about her since we got on very well and had built up a very good working relationship with her, but it's also set us back a few weeks. This came after we had been shown the details of a child who's on the books of the local authority. It may have been too early in our process, but we were immediately smitten by this kid. The details had a picture of a really happy, pleasant looking boy. The life story didn't hold any obvious problems from our point of view, though there were possible allusion to some issues so we requested the full report. We also asked if we could see the details of another boy on the local list who also matched our (for want of a better term) requirements. This was just so we could get an idea of what might be said and, more importantly, what might be omitted and let us read between the lines. This was a useful thing to do since we saw immediately why he wasn't a suitable chld for us and we certainly didn't get the instant affinity for him that we did with the first one.

The full report on the boy we first saw the details on makes for horrendous reading. Not so much for this boy(though at his young age he has seen and exerienced far more trauma than he should have), but his parents' stories also show that these things are clearly a cycle that goes round every generation and that by going to adopt a child we might be able to make a difference and actually stop it happening again to that little person and give them a real chance in life
A couple of weeks later we resumed with a new social worker. We had been progressing nicely and had covered a lot of ground in the homework we had to do, but she still insisted on going over the same stuff again.

We heard that we originally would have had our panel date some time in June (this is the date when you go before a group of people who decide that you are suitable to be adoptive parents) but this is now towards the end of July so adding between 4 and 6 weeks. We don't know at the moment where we stand with the child we were shown the details of earlier on, whether the delay we're having means socil servies will be loking elsehwhere for a family for him, but we live in hope. If we don't get matched with him, sad to say, there is no shortage of children waiting for their "forever mummy and daddy" in the local area or further afield

Monday, 2 April 2012

Let's see who you could have won

Paddington is out there somewhere (as I've mentioned numerous times already). I could go on like astupidly twee Google advert about what their life might have been like up until they arrive and how they won't have to go through any more of the stuff they've been through again, but that's not really my style. What I really want to know is who will they turn out to be. I don't mean what there name is, as such, but will their personality be like some child from off of the telly. Let's look at some possible scenarios.

South Park
Stan and Kyle are reasonable kids, normal and quite well balanced so they would be OK. Kenny would be a problem because of the speech thing (speech therapy is a long, drawn out process) and the snorkel jacket that seems to be grafted to his skin. Then, not forgetting the fact that he seems to die an awful lot which I think would contribute to some serious issues. However, you'd really hope that they'd be like Butters, though you'd always be worried they might end up as Eric Cartman. This is of course the worst-case scenario: a fat, selfish kid

Family Guy
Chris is a bit dumb, Meg a bit morose. Stewie would be fun, provided it was Stewie from the later series when he was more rounded and not trying to kill Lois. Could develop personality problems through things like time travel and occasional abandonment and being raised for large parts of his life by a dog that vaguely resembles Snoopy

The Simpsons
Bart might be a handful, but I could work with Lisa. I think her geekish tendencies would compliment my own. Maggie is too young to know what trouble might be geting stored up for her in later life

William Brown (from the Richmal Crompton Just William books)
This boy has clear attachment issues, probably due to parents who seem to hold the Victorian idea of kids being seen and not hurt and that he's best looked after by the servants. He'd be a nightmare

Kids on Coronation St and Eastenders
Children in soap operas almost invariably tend to be born on Christmas Day which means you could stand to save a good deal of cash in present buying. On the other hand, they often arise as a result of some sort of extra-marital affair/underage sex and one of their parents usually ending up to be a murederer or dead (or both). I'd be inclined to avoid adopting any child from Weatherfield or Albert Square on this basis

Monday, 12 March 2012

10 reasons to adopt that social workers don't want to hear you say

Obviously we want to have a child because of the joy it brings and stuf, but there are reasons you might think of that you probably wouldn't actually want to tell a social worker

1: I want a child so I can justify getting a dog

2: I'm doing it so I get shit loads of karma Nectar points. After this I'm sure to come back as something really cool like a dolphin and be a good half way along the route to Nirvana (if you're into that stuff)

3: Someone's got to look after me when I'm old and decrepit

4: An adoptive child might be more attractive than my own and may get sort of lucrative child modelling contract. It sounds cruel, but with some of the thinking of our current government and some of the ideas floating around the Republican candidates in the US, any of whom who could be leader of the "free" world, it's got to be better than making them clean chimneys.

5: Lurking round Toys R Us, playing with toys I want and not looking like a paedophile*

6: I can't be arsed to demolish the child's play house we have in our garden

7: It's going to force me to curb my potty mouth around the house

8: I eventually get someone to do chores round the house. After a few short years I need never pick up a lawnmower again

9: Hot chocolate at bedtime, seeing 3D Pixar films, getting all sorts of stupid kids cable channels, cartoons and sweets. Lots and lots of sweets. Real sweets like sherbet lemons, Kola Kubes, and Matlow's finest like Swizzles, Refreshers and Drumsticks. Not sure what the kid's going to have, mind

10: Christmas, Hallowe'en, Bonfire Night, Easter, birthdays. Actually, sod it, since one of the things we have to be is how sensitive to multiculturalism we are as a family, we'll also celebrate Eid, Divali, Hannukah, Chinese New Year, St George's, Patrick's, David's and Andrew's Days American Independence Day, Singapore National Day and May Day. Basically, any excuse to eat shit loads, give presents and have a good time.

*The "P" word is definitely one that I think will set off alarm bells in social worker's heads, whatever the context