One of our Barnardo’s adopters - blogger and mother, notafictionalmum - writes about her journey through adoption, how their lives changed and the challenges and privileges of being a mum.
Hi, I'm notafictionalmum.
I'm a perfectionist, a planner. I like to plan most aspects of my life, I would love to plan most aspects of someone else's life if they would let me. They don't. I’m an introverted extrovert. By that I mean I'm an absolute show off, but when it comes to actually talking about my private life, it’s more like, "oooh look over there, a dancing swan!"
So, I had a life plan:
- Meet a sporty hunk, get married - check
- Live in a semi-detached with garden front and rear - double check
- Obtain a career that involves you needing a very expensive business bag - I've actually just handed my notice in, it's currently for sale if anyone's interested?
- Have a baby before 30 - big negative
Initially, this situation had the potential to be salvageable. I'd factored in some potential 'off piste' time, ideally for holidays or house renovations. So, providing myself and Non Fictional Dad (NFD) just stuck to the sex schedule we could be back on track. But then:
Five years, two womb scrapes, a miscarriage, £25,000 and half a head of hair later...we were no closer. Having taken the time to grieve for the life I thought I would have, I can reflect on the irony of it all:
You cannot plan your life. I'm sorry if I'm crushing dreams, but you just can’t. Granted, you can make some good decisions: green tea, sleep - all the boring stuff. I learnt a tough lesson. I realise now it was the best lesson, because I never would have become a mother to the most inspirational little boy whose start in life was anything less than planned.
People say, "Oh he's so lucky to have you as his parents."
Whilst a small, teeny-tiny part of me would absolutely love to bask in this angel Gabriel-type glory, I'm always quick to reply: "We're the lucky ones, we needed him just as much as he needed us."
Adoption isn't an act of charity; this kid is an absolute legend and I'm privileged to have him in my life.
Adopting through Barnardo’s
On the subject of good decisions, choosing to adopt with Barnardo's was definitely one of those. I won't lie, free lifetime support deemed very attractive to a couple that just love a good therapy session (think of the money to be saved!). Barnardo's resonated with NFD through his late father, who was a long-term donator to the charity. I guess that's the thing about Barnardo's, it's a charity that connects with so many people.
Before our initial visit, I remember bleaching the toilet to excess, bribing the dog with cheese and giving NFD a full debrief of what not to say. Along the lines of, but not limited to, "don't swear, don’t say anything that isn't pro-social, and don’t talk about my family." You soon reach the comforting realisation, however, that none of this is necessary. No one is trying to catch you out; they want this to work. There was something very human and personable about the team.
We never felt like a number in a large organisation. In fact, it felt like you'd suddenly gained an extended family of experts that were rooting for you and fighting your corner. In our case we needed that; after being initially overlooked for our little boy, the Barnardo's team stepped in to help us bring him home. I can only compare the support from Barnardo's to that of an Alexa, always on hand with a quick response.
There are a lot of preconceptions and assumptions when it comes to adoption, and people come out with some absolute corkers. My particular favourite was when someone asked me if I would share an ice-lolly with him because we weren't biologically related. What are you on about? I love ice-cream.
If you enjoyed that one, see the what not to ask an adoptive parent section of my blog.
You may be nervous, at times frightened, as you embark on this journey. Ironically, as the adult, you will draw strength from the absolute bravery and courage that these children own. I never expected to respect a toddler quite as much as I do. In those early moments of natural self-doubt I would look at him, unable to even string a sentence together and think, "if he can wake up today, willing to try and love again, then I'm right behind him."
In fact, I'm more than just behind him. I'm going to be a tighter security network for this boy then the whole of Jay z's and Beyonce's entourage put together.
Adoption is never a second choice. It's just a choice. It really doesn't matter in what order you have this epiphany, I just hope you have it because it really is beautiful.
Photo provided by the author.