Chapter 1 – Do you want another child?
It’s been nearly two years since the boy has been living with us and we can honestly say that deciding to start a family and adopting him, is the best decision we have ever made. All the initial worries about going through the process, the stresses during it and some of the feeling like a failed parent at times when we got him, have all gone out of the window. Now with nearly two years parenting experience, we have found our own groove and we understand that you can only do your best which is always good enough. There is no point comparing yourself, your parenting and most importantly your child to anyone else, as parenting is the hardest job in the world and we all go through the same challenges, even if at times of the surface it all looks fine. We are feeling very proud though, of how we have coped with the complete change of lifestyle and actually wouldn’t ever change it for the world.
The boy is doing so well, he is happy, healthy and his attachment and bond with us is so strong, which is more than we could for him. He is our world and we will literally do anything for him to make sure he has the best life that we can possibly give him, we are a team and life is good. We have celebrated two birthdays and one Christmas and the memories along with a million photos we have taken will be treasured forever and used to show him when he is older, just so he knows how much love we all shared. I know we are biased but he is gorgeous with his bright blue eyes and blonde hair and already seems to be on his way to becoming the next child genius, although this has not been confirmed by anyone but us, which probably doesn’t say a lot about our own levels of intelligence.
Life has progressed quite a lot over the last couple of years and to be honest it has flown past, it feels like only a couple of months ago the boy was moving in. We have been on our first family holiday to Spain, which was a big deal, as we got there by train and as you can imagine my travel anxiety levels were on the high side. I was so worried that we would be stopped and questioned at every possible security check because we were two men travelling with a little boy, but of course this was just me overthinking problems that didn’t even exist. We have his passport and we all have the same surname, but I suppose I will always be a bit on guard in situations where our family could be questioned but please to report that most of the time I never need to be, as genuinely we have had such a positive response from people which is amazing.
We have moved out of London and now live in a lovely little village on the Kent coast after being given an offer on our house that we just couldn’t say no to. We also saw the fairytale of living in a little village, where the boy would get to grow up by the seaside and live in an area where life was more relaxed. It was crazy as well to see what you can buy for your money outside of London, as we ended up buying a five bedroomed house, with an outdoor heated swimming pool, with sea views and a stone’s throw away from the actual beachfront. We did speak about the change a lot, as it was some fifty miles away from where we lived but both of Rich’s grandparents lived very close, so we wouldn’t feel like we were completely starting again. In the end, we decided together to “just go for it” as we would only ever look back thinking what if and we really aren’t those sort of people, I mean the what is the worst that could really happen, if we don’t like it then we can move back. Our parents, family and closest friends really supported us with our decision, even if they deep down didn’t agree and maybe slighted hated the idea really. We knew that moving away from our family and friends was the downside, but we now have a house big enough for them all to come down, stay over and in the summer create some brilliant memories with beach walks and days by the pool. We also got married, which was one the best days of our lives and we got to share it with all of our closest family and friends, it wasn’t a big lavish ceremony but more of a smaller and very personal service followed by the big party for everyone, but this is probably deserving of its very own chapter, which I am sure any of you who have planned a wedding would understand.
The boy has started nursery, which for some families is quite normal at a younger age that the official reception age for children but for others it isn’t and both our families were a little concerned about him having to be left at such a young age in the care of essentially strangers. But, it is recommended for adoptive children to start at the earlier age of two and a half, to help them with relationship building and although the feeling of guilt and stress leading up to his start date were not fun, I had spent a whole year of being at home with him to ensure he was completely settled and felt at home with us. Any child going to nursey is of course going to bring up a mixture of emotions but because the boy is adopted my emotional state was not good. I kept thinking “what if he thinks he is being moved on again” and “what if he thinks I don’t love him or that I don’t want to spend time with him” but at the same time had to keep convincing myself that I am doing this for him and his development, while there is also a slight chance this could also be good for me too. The nursery has been amazing with us and him, giving us all the information and more to prove the boy was in good hands, so when it came to deciding for sure whether he actually was going to start earlier it was an easy decision. This was our first experience with any type of educational situation and we will essentially be handing over his care to strangers so it was a lot to handle, especially for me, as I have been the main person who he has had to rely on up until this point.
His first day was really hard, as we didn’t want the boy to pick up on how sad we were feeling, but instead we tried our hardest to ensure it was fun and exciting for him, to try and make sure he could have the best possible start. I am still amazed how I kept myself together as he hung up his coat on his peg and walked off to explore what was going on, I was I was smiling but fighting back the tears, seeing our little boy walking away from us into the big boy world. He was only going in for two hours which felt like a year to us, so we decided to go for a lunch date, just me and Rich to keep our minds off of it. Rich who was also not feeling his normal confident self about the situation, got straight into the car and said “I’ve booked a table at…” and then had a little bit of a tear before saying “I already cannot wait to go back and get him” which completely set me off crying. Nobody explains to you this feeling of guilt that you have when you know deep down you are doing the best for your kids, but at the same time you feel like an awful person and like you shouldn’t be putting them through it.
Having pulled ourselves together, we head off to the restaurant that we had booked to enjoy a nice lunch together which really will make a change. Once we sat down and ordered our food and drinks, I was having a little bit of a panic, worried about what the boy was up to and how he was coping, so cracked and decided to call the nursery for an update. The nursery assistant that answer, knew immediately who it was and very quickly explain that he was having a great time playing and really seemed to be enjoying himself, so I smiled and Rich immediately smiled, somehow reading my mind that it was obviously going well. I put the phone down and we spent the next hour just chatting about how lovely the boy is, how proud we are of him and have the most lovely lunch and before we knew it we were on the way back to the nursery and super excited to pick him up and see his little face. When we got there, we could see through the window and he was playing with another couple of little children and seemed to be in his element and I can honestly say that at that moment I felt a whole different type of butterflies in my stomach. The bell rang and we went in, the boy was so happy to see us and it was as if we had never left him, the relief I felt was second to none. To cut a long story short, after three distraught weeks for me worrying each time I dropped him off which was now on my own and without Rich who was at work, the boy was flourishing and excited to go in on his set days. We seem to now be at a place where we are both used to it and it is actually lovely to pick him up and find out what he has been up to, while also actually getting some time to myself, which I completely haven’t worked out what to do with just yet. But I now have a new favourite part of my day, which is the moment that bell goes and I get to embrace my little boy and tell him how much I love him.
I am now officially in the school parent zone, getting there early to have chitchats and the odd coffee date with the other school Mum’s, as it seems there are not many Dads that drop the kids off. I am not complaining though, as I doubt, I would be very good ant joining in with the latest football conversations or sport chat. You would think by now some information would have sunk in with the amount of sports talk that Rich attempts to tell me, but to be honest it doesn’t even register, I only really pay attention to whether his team won or lost, to give the right kind of excited or sympathetic response. The nursery was also an easy way to meet new potential friends, as we didn’t know anyone in the area apart from Richards Grandparents which as lovely as they are, was never going to become our new social group. I have really made an effort to make some connections, as really as much as it’s great to do so much as a family, we also need a healthy balance and I could now see living so far away from our friends being a bit of a problem. We both still work in London and so the evenings were really a no go for any type of social life, as by the time we got in from the rush hour traffic, it was pretty much bath and bed routine, by which time we were both knackered too.
Recently we have been lightly discussing the idea of adopting again and if this is even something we want to pursue, but I have been quite worried about being in a situation where maybe I want another child but Rich doesn’t. Also, if we were to consider adopting again, it would be a totally different consideration, as it wouldn’t be all about me and Rich, it would actually have to be based a lot around the boy and what would be best for him. My main worry is that we go ahead and bring a new child into the family and all the good work we have done with the boy is reversed, I’m not sure this is something that we should risk but at the same time it would be good for the boy to have a sibling around. As much as he is best friends with Nutter our dog, he needs someone to create a lifelong bond with other than us his parents. I have been back to work for nearly a year and the doing two days a week and the routine is water tight, with no sign of the terrible twos and from still keeping in contact with Gemma by our choice and talking about our experience on opening evenings she describes it as a “fairy tale adoption”.
Will we be pushing our luck in going for a second child, as we didn’t ever think we would be lucky enough to become parents, let alone to our now precious son who we love unconditionally and potentially another. Initially, the topic would come up in situations like when we took him to the local arcade where he would go on small fairground rides and he would be “driving” around on his own. One of us would say “how cute would it be if he had a brother or sister to go on the rides with”, both myself and Rich have siblings and I don’t think we could ever imagine growing up on our own. He also was the only one in his group of cousins who didn’t have a sibling and he loves playing with them, so sometimes seeing what it could be like got us thinking. We also both knew in the back of our minds that we were approaching the two year period after the boy’s adoption, which means we could potentially look at going through the adoption process again. We always said that we would wait for an actual sibling and if there ever was, that we would definitely consider them immediately to join our family but we need to realise that this may never happen and we could be waiting forever. We have always agreed that if there was no sibling by the two year date, then we would sit down together and have a chat about how we feel and what we would or wouldn’t do in terms of considering adoption again or not, as we have always had a strong opinion about trying not to have too big an age gap if we were to adopt again, so they could enjoy things together growing up.
The anniversary of the boy’s adoption has recently passed and we celebrated this with him and our family as usual, it’s a very special time for us and sort of similar to another birthday for him but we have always called it ‘our family day’ and plan to keep this a family tradition from now. So, it’s now time to get serious about what we are going to do and while bathing the boy and putting him to bed tonight, I have decided that I am just going to ask the outright question and see what happens and on walking back into the living room I ask “So Rich, do you want another child or are you not sure? It’s ok whatever you say, as we need to be completely honest and support each other, but I have been thinking about this a lot lately” which was met initially with just a smile and due to my absolute impatience ask “so what does that mean babe” and then Rich stands up, while still smiling and walks over to me while sayings “I think the boy would love it” before hugging me. I think we both have known for a while that this is what we wanted to do, but just haven’t spoken about it openly, so we start to chat away about all of the potential amazing things we could do in the future if we had another child in the mix.
We are both a little bit more experienced as parents now, we are experts in changing nappies, catching sick in our hands and although the lifestyle change was dramatic, we have never regretted a minute of it and wouldn’t be worried about the thought of actually being a parent to another child as we know how to do this. We are not blind to the fact it will be harder with splitting our attention, but we were finally at a point where we could leave the house without taking the entire contents with us so know this is something that we would have to again work towards. The bottom line was yes, we did want to adopt again but the stumbling block we now have is the boy, would he want us to bring another child into the family and both being wary to put the idea in his head, we decide the best thing to do and our go to with anything adoption wise was to call Gemma. Her advice as always was second to none, she told us to have little chats with him about the potential of a brother or sister but not to go into detail or make him feel like it is happening, just a light touch and get a feel for what he wanted, so we started to do just that.
To our surprise, this was a far easier part of the jigsaw that we imagined as every single time we spoke to him about having a brother or a sister, he would very easily reply with positive after positive and would be excited while talking about it. It was clear that the boy would love a sibling and we know he would be an amazing big brother, as he already shows so much empathy to other children who he sees them crying or upset, and he is very much on cloud nine when playing with his cousins. The decision was made, he had made the final decision, yes, the future of our lives has just been decided by a two-year-old, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Now we need to get the ball rolling and start to find out what adoption for a second time would even mean, we now have lots of questions to ask and so many thoughts going through our heads, such as ‘would it take the same amount of time?’ and ‘would we have to all of that paperwork all over again?’. Rich being his usual crazy organised self, lightened the mood by joking that he will buy a new ring binder for all the paperwork. We have now made the decision agreed that we are all ready, including the boy, to take the next steps and start to the journey to add to our family. The plan of action now is to call Gemma on Monday and invite her round for a chat, which we just know she is going to be super excited about and will probably say “I always told you that you will call me back to do it all over again”.