Sunday, 17 February 2013

The end of a long journey

I write this blog, sat in front of an open fire in our villa at Centre Parcs. It's the last night of our celebration weekend. We're celebrating that we are finally, officially, a forever family.

It's been a month or so since I updated the blog, it's the longest I've left it since the boys arrived, and in truth it probably just reflects the fact that life has become quite normal. We've been busy of course, as we always are - the boys take care of that. It's been the usual mix of school runs, children's parties, trips to the park and family time at home. As each week goes by, the boys grow and settle. Of course they continue to keep us on our toes and life continues to be less restful than it was a year ago, but that is more than made up for by the fact that the boys draw us in further and further as each day passes.

I had my first few nights away from home, working away for a few days in January. Being away from home has never bothered me before, but this time, I really resented it, really missing every night that I didn't see them. I caught up with them on Skype each evening and the boys were quite un phased by my absence which is surely a great sign.

On the 14th January, the Judge finally signed the court order, making the boys officially part of our family. Especially poignant as the 14th January would have been G's dad's birthday, we felt his presence was strong on that day! And in a run of significant dates, our celebration court hearing was set for the 14th February, a great day to celebrate love.  The day before the hearing we popped in to school, to chat to their respective classes about our forever family celebration day. The boys were so excited about seeing the judge, we thought it was important to involve the school too, so that everything felt joined up. I was a bit nervous addressing a class of 30 kids, twice! We did Joe's class first. Joe hates being centre of attention and sat on my lap closely cuddled in feeling shy. Charlie on the other hand was front and centre, bossing the other kids about, loving being the star attraction!

On the day itself, 20 plus of our closest friends and family gathered at court, for a brief and informal presentation with the judge. The boys got to sit in the judges chair, wear her wig and bang the gavel. The lack of formality was great, and even the court usher had a tear in her eye. We were joined by Jane and Davinia, the boy's social worker and our social worker respectively. We gave them cards and small gifts, and I found myself feeling very emotional saying good bye to them both. Other people we've spoken to have found great joy in getting to the point where they no longer have social workers in their lives, but I will genuinely miss ours, they have both become friends, and I'll really miss seeing them.

We have been through some of the most intensely emotional and personally significant days of our lives with Jane and Davinia, times we haven't even had our families with us. Davinia found the boys for us, and held our hands through those first meetings with foster carers, record readings and of course, adoption panel. Jane was with us the first time we ever met our boys, it was her careful thought and guidance that made our introductions so successful, and she was there that morning we went to collect the boys to finally bring them home. She was like a wisened sage those early weeks and months, giving us advice, support and reassurance. And I'll miss them, they both have had an important part to play in our lives and those of our family. I have felt that we've been truly lucky throughout the whole of our adoption journey. We've read such horror stories from other adopters who have been apparently at odds with their workers throughout, and in many cases that appears to have made their adoption experiences so negative. Ours could not have been further from that, our journey has been as straight forward as we could have hoped for, and I will always be thankful to our social workers for that.

Following the celebration hearing, we all came back home for a day of partying. We were touched by the cards and gifts but most importantly we had our nearest and dearest present to share with us, the joy of the official nature of our family. In truth, it feels no different, we have both felt very clearly from the first day the boys came home that they were our children, it's never like a trial period in any way. However now they have our surname and we have new birth certificates. The greatest bonus of that is that we can now apply for passports and take them on a proper holiday!

And this weekend, we've spent four days doing what we did with the boys for their first holiday last summer, at Centre Parcs, having family fun together. It's been interesting to reflect on what's changed since we were here last summer. Predominantly, I think we're dealing with things better. I remember a few weeks after Joe started his new school last year, he was invited with G and Charlie, to go on play date. I was chatting to the playdates mum afterwards and she said that she thought that we probably both needed to chill out a bit. We knew she was right, but at that point, everything felt like a battle. The reality was, and I guess this is the challenge of adopting older children, is that we were suddenly in a new world surrounded by parents of children the same age as ours. Those parents had 5 or 6 years experience of being a parent. We had two or three months. Show me the parent of a first child at two or three months, and tell me that they aren't a little on edge, a little hypervigilant, panicky, over analytical. Well we had that same inexperienced tension, but we were surrounded by people for whom this was now all normal and natural, and we felt a bit like we were still playing at being parents. We were inexperienced, in a group where they had all long since forgotten what it was like to be new parents. And we weren't experienced in managing the day to day stuff either. A silly example that bought that home to me today, was when we were getting the boys changed from swimming. I remember last summer when we were here, we had a bit of a breakdown in the changing cubicle, getting all four of us washed, dried and dressed, in the small confined space of a family changing cubicle. It was a horrid experience. But this week we've done it every day with relative ease. The difference being the experience of knowing how to structure the packing of the lockers and the bags, the timing of which one of gets ready first, and how we get the kids ready, in order to avoid the battles with the kids. We don't always get it right, and I for one, know that I can sometimes be far too stressy with the boys, but we do all know each other so much better now, and know ourselves better now too, and that all helps in making day to day life a little bit easier!

I started this blog a couple of years ago now, really just as a way of updating friends and family on our progress as we went through the various courses and assessments. I was a bit shocked at the result. Nearly 35,000 visitors, messages from friends if I miss an update, concerned that something's wrong, and messages from strangers, telling me that they've found the blog useful as they go through their own adoption thoughts and processes. I guess I feel that 'Our Journey Through Adoption' has reached an end, we've been through every step and every process and now, it's a journey through family life. (We have been asked once by a social worker if we are thinking of a third, and they were given a resounding no!!).

So, thanks for following our journey this far. G and I have been genuinely blown away by the support we've received along the way. Sometimes from sources that we wouldn't have predicted. People have been touched by the journey of the boys, from their troubled backgrounds, to the point that they are today, two beautiful, loving and loved boys with so much to offer. We've had advice, encouragement and love from so many friends and family, and we really couldn't have done it without you.

And to those of you reading the blog as people contemplating adoption. Please be assured that in our experience, it doesn't have to be as bad as the all the bad press adoption is given, and social workers sometimes make you believe. We've worked with positive and professional, efficient social workers, we've been matched with very normal little boys, and to the outside world, we are family that looks like we've always been together.

I read recently that if just 2% of same sex couples were to adopt, there would be no children waiting for homes in the UK. Adoption truly is the greatest gift. There are thousand's of children in the UK today, waiting for homes. Waiting for love, guidance, encouragement and support. And without it, they face a bleak future. If you're a home that have a bit of love (and a lot of patience!) to spare, consider this amazing gift.

I have never been more proud of anything in my whole life, as I have been when I tell people I'm a dad.

I love you boys, and I love our amazing, unique and happy, forever family.


  1. Congratulations to all of you. Me and my partner have read every single word of your blog and have found it invaluable. We're going through the adoption process (currently at matching stage) and your blog has been eye-opening, moving & heart-warmingly reassuring. Thank you so much for writing it. All the very best for the future.

  2. Many congratulations to you all, we have been going through the process for two years and are now finally a family we have loved your blog