Chapter 2 – Gemma is coming to see us AGAIN
So today is Monday and we have decided that the time is right to give Gemma our social worker the call about our decision to hopefully adopt for the second time. We did wonder what she would initially say but we between the two of us, we hope she will be excited. We did and still do really get on well with her, as she has sort of by accident become one of the main people on our list of other parents that we would turn to for advice. We always said that if we were going to go through the process again, we would once again use the same local council and hopefully Gemma would be the one to do it, as all round they were great. We both have our fingers crossed that we will be lucky enough four our little plan to work out and although we feel we would easily adapt to a new social worker, this would just create a whole new anxiety, instead of that comforting feeling of what you are already used to and know.
Rich was at work so I waited till I got home from dropping the boy at nursey to call, so silly really that I am so nervous about it as we have already had what so far seemed like a perfect adoption where the boy was settled, happy and thriving and we are obviously confident enough to even be considering welcoming a sibling, but for some reason I am scared about it all over again. Big deep breath and I ring Gemma, who answers the phone straight away, “Hi Lewis how are you, is everything okay?” probably worried that something was wrong, so I quickly respond “Hey Gemma everything is great here, the boy is happy and healthy so all is good, Rich and I have been talking about starting the process for a second time”.
Legally we knew that you have to wait a minimum of a two-year period before you can adopt again, unless a biological sibling was in the equation. Gemma then went on to explain a bit about the birth parents’ situation, who are now not together, so the likely hood of this happening was very small. Gemma was not at all shocked about what we were thinking and said she knew this phone call was coming, so we arranged to meet on Thursday at our house, which Gemma have never actually been to. As soon as I got off the phone to Gemma, I called Rich to say she was fine and very happy to come and chat with us, Rich acted all cool like there wasn’t a worry in the world about it. Secretly I think Rich felt the first hurdle was done and that it will be smooth sailing from now on. I said to Rich “you need to either book Thursday off or work from home” which then hit home and all the flexibility needed surrounding the process quickly came rushing back, but we both cannot wait to start it all over again.
Thursday has very quickly arrived and Rich has taken the whole day off, so there can be no distractions and we can take in everything that is said. The boy was very excited this morning, as we both took him to nursery which is a treat for him as Rich has to leave early for work now, we live on the Kent coast. Gemma is arriving at ten so like old times we are making sure the house is a show home and of course the posh biscuits are ready and waiting, even though Gemma will probably laugh at us for doing it. It feels like we haven’t ever adopted and as if this was the first time, we had ever done anything like this, with my nerves absolutely all over the place. I suppose as we now have the boy to consider, the stakes are that bit higher than before.
The house is immaculate, the sun was shining and we are both sitting in the front room watching out of the window for the arrival window, along with Nutter’s in his new favourite spot. Gemma’s car pulls up and Nutter goes mad barking and jumping up at the window and I did laugh to myself thinking that, maybe he remembers Gemma and knows she is the one who gave us his best friend, so this might mean there is going to be another one. We all greet her at the door but with Rich holding Nutter as he is clearly excited to see Gemma, “hello Nutter I’ve missed you too” while making our way into the front room. After all the hellos, we give Gemma a tour of the new house which went down really well and she agreed it was a lovely house and could see why we moved here. We then make a drink and settle at the dining room table, as it was time to get down to business.
“How are you both feeling? How is everything going?” Two very important questions which we honestly can say is ‘great’, the boy is doing so well and we haven’t had any significant problems with him and as a family we have all bonded well. It’s like he has always been with us. Our parents treat him like we gave birth to him and yes, we do talk about adoption but as a whole family unit the boy is unconditionally loved by everyone. The lifestyle changes from being a couple to being parents is of course crazy but it was always going to be, we now have the biggest responsibility in the world and his needs have to come first, but that is what being a parent is all about. It was hard at first whilst building our attachment and bond with him, while also being thrown in the deep end of parenting, but we have overcome any problems we had and now family life is simply amazing. We are parents and we have a son who is the centre of our world, as cheesy as that sounds, we could not imagine life without him. Gemma is so happy with how the adoption has gone and has again referred to it as a “fairy-tale adoption” and is fast to say that just because the boys process went well, it doesn’t mean we will have the same experience the second time.
Gemma then swiftly says “Is this really what you want to do?” which we both instantly say “yes” to and we of course know it’s a big risk and can potentially cause upset for the boy and our family but on the flipside it could also complete it and make our dreams come true all over again. The facts abouts about adopting for the second time is that we do not have to complete stage one again, so we start the journey at stage two, which means updating our information, attending some refresher workshops and family and friend references. The references are to find out how our family and friends have felt we have adapted to being parents and will focus on our proven parenting skills, this will be interesting to find out what they say and thought, although I am sure we probably aren’t allowed to find out. The main part of the stage two assessment process will be the same as last time, with lots of visits and time spent with the social worker to find out that this next step is actually the right one for us, the boy and of course the potential new child.
Gemma then updates us in more detail about what she knows the current situation is with the birth parents and that a sibling at this time is highly unlikely but she can never rule it out. She confirms if we adopt again, the child would not be a biological sibling of the boy and will come with a completely different background and birth family. All of which are things that we really need to consider, as they will have an impact on the future for all of us, including the boy. We had already decided that as a family we didn’t want a massive age gap between the boy and a second child, so waiting for a sibling which was realistically never going to come is just not the right thing to do. We feel for us this is the right decision and time to start the process of extending our family. Gemma’s only concern was that we live quite far away from our support network and although things are fine now, they weren’t perfect at the beginning and how do we think we would cope if the transition from a family of three to four doesn’t go so smoothly. This was a question we couldn’t really give an answer to, as we didn’t know what was going to happen, so the first feeling of doubt was set in our minds.
The facts and the requirements for starting the adoption process for the second time were laid out and we know where we stood in term of what needed to be done to get through it. The reality is having two children will always be a lot harder as we will need to split our time, which the boy may have a hard time with as he has been getting all of our full attention. Like any adoption, the agencies can never be a hundred percent sure of the medical history of a child, so this may become another lifechanging decision to consider during the process. There will always be pros and cons with any decision you make but you only get one shot at life and having a family is our top priority, so the positives in this situation will always outweigh the negatives. Me and Rich have always said when questioned about the potential medical risks a child may have, that if me and Rich could have conceived a biological child together, then they would have just as much chance of developing a medical problem so it’s the exact same risk. We would always do everything that we can to best care for our children, like any parent out there would do.
With all the information given, Gemma tells us that she feels we would be great parents to another child and as they boy is doing so well, she is confident we will cope with two even though she again explains that two are a lot harder than one, which seems to be becoming a theme with anyone we talk to. At this point in the conversation, then main question is then asked “Do you want to go ahead?” even though I am sure she knew what the answer was going to be, but we follow the due process and quickly reply with a resounding “Yes of course we do”. The decision was final and the feeling of worry quickly turned to excitement, knowing what we will hopefully become parents again and we are so happy at the thought. Gemma at this point confirms that if we do go ahead with things, then she will again be our assessing social worker, which is a huge relied and music to our ears. I’m not sure why she didn’t just tell us that as soon as she got here, but it’s probably not protocol to do this, although we like to think it’s because she was so excited about it herself that she wanted to leave it until the end as a nice way of round it all off. Gemma then gets all of her stuff ready and we all say our goodbyes, which are now way past the awkward handshakes and are at the stage of an excited hug. Gemma left with a smile on her face, as if she was also looking forward to the journey again and as we do all get on really well, we know it’s going to be emotional for everyone. She will be sending us a registration of interest form, which is us formally saying we want to adopt again and once she receives this back, we can work out what the next few months were going to develop into.
After waving her off, we sit back at the dining room table, both happy and it felt just like old times, however Rich did seem like something was on his mind but was to worried to say it. “Babe what’s the matter? Are you sure you want to do this again?”, his face slightly dropping and he replies “if we are going to adopt again and have another child then we need to have everything perfect and I am worried about how far we live from everyone”. Over the past few months, I have noticed Rich’s mood change as the commuting was getting him down, I think he had not wanted to say anything as me and boy were loving life by the seaside. Rich was leaving the house most days at 5am and not getting home till sometimes 7pm and feels like he has been missing out on a lot with the boy. I suppose the dream of living a certain lifestyle compared to the actual reality, is sometimes quite different. The high of this morning, very quickly turned into a bit of a low, as it hit me just how much this has been affecting Rich and he loves us so much that he was just getting on with it, working himself into the ground to give us all our best life.
The rest of the day we went for a walk along the beach and just let it all out about our current situation and how Rich was feeling compared to the way I was feeling, as for me it was different, me and the boy have been able to settle and enjoy this new way of life but realistically Rich could only benefit from family time at the weekends now. We decide to have a think about things while we wait for the paperwork to come through but whatever we decide to do we will do it like we always do, as a team and that way we know it will be the right decision and work out for the best.