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October 17, 2016
*Names have been changed for reasons of confidentiality
I always knew that I would adopt. I just never thought I’d do it as a single person.
By teen age I had already developed a strong sense of the beauty of second chances and power of nurture. My mother had received a second chance through informal adoption as exists in Caribbean culture, and my father had been made resilient through the powerful nurture of his mother in contrast to his father’s austere and often cruel parenting. Although not perfect (you don’t say!), both were wonderful parents in spite of their experiences. I decided I’d like to similarly offer the benefits of nurture to a child that needed it.
After a number of false starts and a bout of cold feet, I found the right fit for me with SFCS and the process of changing my life began in earnest. I was very fortunate in that the social worker I was matched with was brilliant; she felt more like a friend and, more importantly, was there from day one and present in court a couple of years later when my daughter met the judge for a fun but moving afternoon of taking my name.
The process of getting approved was very thorough and required a lot of patience. I say patience because I fancied myself as an easy ‘shoo-in’ with my years of working with children both in education and mental health. What more could they want?
I often felt frustration at the passing time and the missed opportunities to be matched with those children that became available and that met my idealistic vision of ‘my perfect match’. Could we not just get to the business end of things where I and my child went off to live happily ever after?
But time and time again I was getting to understand that relevant qualifications and experience are no preparation for parenting. This came as a useful reality check. I struggled to accept that at the time but boy, were they right!
The other learning curve for me was around my expectations about the child I would be matched with. I chose to pursue children that ‘jumped off the page’ at me and once I’d read the profile it would confirm to me that ‘she’s the one’. On a number of occasions, it turned out in fact that ‘she’ wasn’t ‘the one’ for whatever reason, and the search began again.
After several disappointments I was at the point of giving up. Maybe with all the best intentions, this wasn’t meant to be. I felt disheartened. For reasons that I couldn’t understand, it wasn’t coming together.
I was then shown a little girl that, at a glance, didn’t jump off the page. She didn’t tick my boxes. There was no emotional response, no ‘knowing feeling.’ I approached the whole thing with a tired resignation that if it doesn’t work out this time, then it’s not meant to be.
I made the journey to the introduction meeting with apprehension. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. My little girl sat on the floor surrounded by play things. She didn’t look up but I heard her strong accent as she said ‘mummy.’ I looked around, puzzled. My social worker said, “She’s talking to you.”
And so she was. I was so touched that she had been so beautifully prepared for that moment and that she knew who I was. She may not have ticked the boxes but she created a whole new set of ‘boxes’ all her own so much so that I cannot now imagine my life without her in it. That’s not to say we don’t struggle. Being a single parent is the hardest thing that I ever did, but it’s also the best!
If you are considering adoption, you can find out more about our Adoption Connections service here. You can also check out our adoption resources, read more real adoption stories and find out about our next information events. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we’d love to hear from you.