Picture the scene: I am tidying the kitchen after my trip to the shops for pastries. Ethan is doing some last minute tidying in the lounge and getting the prospective children’s bedroom just right. We’re on track for Louise’s (our new PACT social worker now that we’re past panel) 10.15am arrival when the doorbell goes. Our Linking Meeting is due to start at 10.30am.
It’s 10.10am and I head downstairs ready to meet Louise for our pre-meeting chat.
Guess what? It’s not Louise, it’s Maureen, the family finder for the Local Authority who are looking after Cooper (18 months) and Kit (6 months) TWENTY MINUTES EARLY.
Cue a mild panic from myself as I stand in shock staring at her.
“Oh, hi!!! We weren’t expecting you! I mean… Obviously we were expecting you just not at this time…. COME IN!”
We settled Maureen in the lounge as Ethan and I buzzed around making preparations in order to avoid the awkwardness. Five minutes later Louise arrived so we all went in to the lounge to sit together & make small talk (we couldn’t start the PROPER conversation until the boy’s social worker, Billie, arrived). I couldn’t cope with the unspoken elephant in the room, so when I wasn’t being careful to prove our ‘togetherness’ and mirror Ethan’s body language, I was getting up and readjusting the oven temperature for the pastries just in order to leave the room.
Twenty or so minutes later, Billie arrived and we could FINALLY get started with the tour of our place. Although I was desperate to get the frickin’ pastries distributed, Ethan urged me to wait for the conclusion of the tour (all of my anxiety was channelled into the pastry items).
The tour went well, they loved the chickens and after sitting back down in the lounge with pastries divvied out (phew), we were ready to begin. We had been informed, before the meeting, that we were one of two couples that the LA were considering, so the first question Louise asked on our behalf was about the ‘competition’, when they were seeing them, what the timelines were etc BUT, guess what?! They were no longer part of the running! We were the only couple they had scheduled to see: the relief!
With this out of the way, Billie suggested we start with our questions, which was easy as we had a lot to ask: the boys’ current level of development, any current medical/developmental concerns, current & historic contact with birth parents, sleep routines, how often the social worker is visiting now and historically, their personalities, where they are sleeping… I could go on.
They answered every question in great detail but the best bit was not only had the family finder brought along some more photos of the boys but she had taken a VIDEO ON HER PHONE!! We got to see Cooper’s personality in full force. Him smiling and giggling and dancing and running around the room in that insanely cute ‘I’m-a-toddler-so-I-look-like-I’m-always-about-to-fall-on-my-arse’ fashion.
And in that moment all my concerns about feeling drawn to the boys, about a lack of development or personality, melted away. I felt sure, along with the reassuring answers to our questions, that these could be our boys. I didn’t fall in love, but I definitely developed a crush, and, more importantly, I didn’t feel worried about waiting for anyone else. For better or worse, we could take these boys on – Cooper and Kit could complete our family.
It was then their turn to ask us questions. I wonder if you can guess what they opened with?! Inevitably they had some questions on Ethan’s mental health, which is appropriate, which we expected and which he answered with aplomb. What was clear, though, was that Maureen had REALLY looked at our PAR in detail: she also asked me about my difficult relationship with my mum and knew who I was talking about when I mentioned Bette as a restorative figure in my life.
Next came the obvious question: ‘Why do you want these boys?’ which we were obviously able to answer with ease; especially Ethan, who felt that instant connection to them. We talked about that, about how well we will be able to meet their cultural and identity needs, about our own musical backgrounds and our desire to help give them a family and change their outcomes. We also talked at length about how much thought we’d put into having two children and whether it was for us. I made a joke about how getting two would mean we never have to see another social worker again. They laughed (perhaps too hard) but perhaps in future I should save my jokes for Ethan…..
Anyway, at the end of all of these questions they thanked us for our honesty and openness and, whilst Billie was in the toilets, Maureen dropped ‘I’m sure you’ll meet their foster carer’ into conversation AND let us keep hard copies of the photos. We took this as a great sign! So when the time came to say goodbye, Ethan, Louise and myself all felt very positive. They said they would let us know in two days: by Friday 9th June.
Well it’s now Sunday so you’re probably all wondering what happened….
At around lunchtime on Friday I got a phonemail to tell me that THEY SAID YES.
Of course we have a meeting with the foster carer, the medical advisor and the matching panel still to go but, all things being well WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TWO BOYS!
Cooper and Kit. Our two children. Our two soon-to-be sons.
We’re excited. We’re terrified. And this is only the very start.
It may have taken two years and lots of strife and heartache to get here, but, in reality, our journey is just beginning.
Parenthood…Here we come!