We have really settled into our new lifestyle and all the insignificant worries about how much porridge to pour into a bowl or how to change a nappy were gone, we are fully officially fledged nappy changing experts. Like everything in life, after a few messy mistakes or failed attempts, you just need to think of the saying “if at first you don’t succeed, then try and try again”. Well I personally think this describes parenting down to a tee, there isn’t a magical book you can purchase which gives you all the answers, as every single child and parent out there is different. But you can however, ask family and friends for help and believe me this isn’t something that is coming naturally to me, it’s something I am having to really learn. For me becoming a real parent was going to be perfect and run like clockwork, but this really isn’t the case, it’s actually a very difficult gig. I thought I would adjust well but I am finding it hard, which I know is completely my fault and not the boys, as I am keeping these struggles inside and not telling anyone, as I am too afraid of looking like a failure. A clear example of this was yesterday when I was visiting my Mum, the boy was pulling all of her DVDs out of the book case, which lead me to leaving early, as I didn’t want her to think that he was really naught, when actually this was just an overreaction on my part.
The visits from both Dawn and Gemma have been constant and have been going really well, they are both really happy with the boys progress, which was lovely to hear from their perspectives and Gemma is coming round for a visit this morning, as we are approaching the 10 week period since the boy has been living with us. The 10-week date is such an important milestone, as it means we can officially send off the forms needed to finalise the adoption process and for the court to decide if he legally becomes ours. This is the same for every adoption settling in period and if for some reason things don’t work out, there is the option to stop the whole thing and the children can go back into the care system, which is known as an adoption breakdown. I said to Rich it almost feels like you have a 10-week trial period, which I can understand why, but it does make me feel rather sick thinking about it. I cannot imagine what that must be like for anyone involved and I am sure this isn’t going to be something we want to happen, but it doesn’t stop me worrying about it. The most important thing about today though, is that we have both completed the forms ready for the courts and have been waiting for this big day, because in our minds the boy isn’t going anywhere and we just want Gemma to take the forms away and get the ball rolling. He is ours, we have completely claimed him, we already love him and couldn’t be without him.
Gemma is coming at 10am which is slightly worrying as this is when the boy starts to get a little moody, as it’s just before his morning nap, so the alarm bells are ringing in my head “she is going to think I am not handling this and will take him away”. The boy has been good as gold so far this morning and we have started to get our own language, or at least we both just know what the other one is thinking. I have taken it as a compliment that when I sing to him and I stop, he gets all upset until I start again, this is definitely a butterfly moment that I will always remember. Breakfast went well and he his dressed in one of his nicer outfits, not that he has horrible outfits but you know what I mean and we are just playing in the front room waiting for Gemma to arrive, which should be any minute now. As Gemma pulls onto the drive Nutter goes crazy, barking and jumping all over the sofa like usual, as if her whole reason for her visits was just to see him. The boy just stares at him probably thinking “what is that doggie doing” but at the same time they already are the best of friends and I am sure Nutter at times thinks he is the parent, which may explain why he has become very protective of the boy and will often growl at people when approaching the buggy when we are out. The doorbell rings and both the boy and Nutter head towards it as they always do when we have a visitor and at least Gemma knows what to expect. “Hi Gemma, come in, just let me deal with Nuts” who won’t stop jumping up her until he gets his treat. I stick the kettle on, as she tries to give them both attention until at least one of them settles down, which thank goodness she is used to by now.
The madness calms down and Gemma goes through all the forms again and what will happen in due course, explaining that we will basically now be waiting for a court date, where the judge will decide the final outcome or not, as the birth parents will be allowed to contest adoption order. This is anxiety on the next level for me, as I start thinking “what if the judge decides in favour of the birth family and we have to say goodbye to him? He has met all the family and everyone loves him, I have a son now and don’t think I will Icope if the worst situation was to happen”. Gemma explains that this has happened in the past and she will never rule it out but it is a very very small percentage and is very unlikely. I smile and say “we will just have to hope for the best” secretly dying inside at the thought that this could happen even if it is 0.01% it could happen and I fight to hold back my tears. Gemma has got to know me really well over the adoption process probably more than even some of my closest friends so I could tell she wasn’t buying my reaction. The boy is starting to rub his eyes and yawn, so it’s time for another pressure nap put down. He normally goes down perfectly for his naps but I bet today of all days he doesn’t, when we have a social worker here. “I’m just going to put him down as the poor boy looks wiped” and head upstairs to pop him into his sleeping sack, press his seahorse musical light, give him a kiss and very carefully leave the room. This is the routine and way I have been doing it and it has worked wonders so far, so holding my breath I make my way back down the stairs which felt like a year, hoping not to hear a cry or moan, which thankfully doesn’t come. Gemma looks up from her forms and says “Has he gone down already? That’s really good he must feel so settled”, which really gave me a much needed boost of confidence as I sit down on the sofa with a beaming smile, but still clutching the monitor just in case.
We talk about the ins and outs of the court hearing and all the outcomes that could occur, but hopefully the judge will listen to both sides and make the decision on the day, otherwise it would mean it doesn’t go through and we would have to wait till the next date, which could be months away. Gemma said this is totally normal and realistically in a good way it shows that the birth parents do make a final attempt to keep their children and in this case it seems likely that the birth Mum will contest, so we are expecting it. This is good in terms of the emotional side for the boy, as in years to come he may feel slightly better about them knowing they did try till the end and hopefully not feel that rejection. I do have a sick feeling in my stomach and of course it’s very hard to have all of this going on in the back of your mind, whilst building an attachment to the boy, worrying that the more I bond with him the harder it will be to say goodbye. Gemma asks me if I am ok and I just burst into tears, like all this pent up worry and pressure finally hit its limit and I don’t stop, “I’m so sorry Gemma how stupid am I being” and she turns to me and says “I was waiting for this to happen”. Slightly confused by what she meant, she goes on to say “I’ve been coming here for the past ten weeks and everything has been perfect, it’s been a fairy tale adoption but being a parent is not perfect and I can easily see how it’s affecting you. No parent is perfect regardless of how they became one and I know it is hard work, because remember I have two of my own. Anyone who pretends it is easy or perfect, will probably be the ones struggling the most. You are parenting a child through adoption, which has additional difficulties, where there is a history and back ground to consider, let alone the fact that overnight you have 10 month old toddler to handle. It’s not easy I agree, but you are doing a great job an do not give yourself enough credit”. I just didn’t know what to say back, I was sort of stunned in silence but that sort of appreciation silence where you don’t say anything, because that gave a better response than me talking. I think Gemma could see that a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, so I then replied really honestly with “I just feel so pressured to be the perfect parent and feel like that it is stopping me from actually being one”. Pleased with myself now that I have finally said it and actually finally admitting to myself that I know what I have been doing wrong, I carried on with “all the gadgets, routine and rotas with everything set out was just too much, and I am finding it really difficult to adapt to this new lifestyle, and with the added court stress, I just feel like I need some help. I feel like I haven’t got a clue about being a parent”. Gemma then explains that this is what our support network is for and the whole reason we had sessions about them during the process, was to actually use them but we haven’t been using them or asking for help. I haven’t been asking my Mum for advice as I don’t want anyone to think I am not coping and really this is the reason I wasn’t. I love the boy so much and just want the best for him, so at least now I know that I have just been overthinking everything and I feel much better for getting it all off my chest and today. I told Gemma I will have a conversation with Rich later to talk about this, which will I’m sure will make me feel even better, as he is a great support and seems to be handling it all so well.
With that it was time for Gemma to go. I walked her to the door and gave her a massive hug to say thank you, but all she said was “this is what I’m here for, you can call me anytime if you need me” and left. I shut the door and sat down on the sofa, feeling a whole lot better about things and now thinking that I cannot wait for the boy to wake up, so we can just hang out and play. Who cares about how messy the house will get or if he doesn’t have a snack at the exact time of the routine, because all he really wants is us and all we really want is him.