Chapter 21 – The new important person in our lives
The most important day of our lives was finally here, the day we had to be at our best and impress the social worker of the boy we have shown an interest in. It is hard not to get carried away, but in our minds, we have already claimed him as ours even before the poor woman had set foot through our front door. The truth is though, that it is very hard not to get carried away, especially when the child we have basically been describing throughout the whole process is placed in front of you. Gemma did say a few weeks before that she didn’t have a child in mind and when this profile was shown to her, she thought of us straight away, like it was meant to be. As you can imagine the thought of being declined would be devastating, so those feelings need to stay at bay until we know what is happening. For now, we just need to be ourselves and show what an amazing life we could give him and hope his social worker is going to be happy to proceed. Annoyingly though, we have been told that we may not even find out today, as they usually go back to discuss further at the office, meaning that the stress may not even last just for today. We didn’t sleep well last night at all for obvious reasons and I found myself popping into the empty nursery, unsure what I was expecting to find or see, as it was basically left untouched since the rushed but cute decoration. Knowing the boy’s name and thinking it could be a complete jinx if I used it, I called Rich and said “the boy is awake and wants a cuddle from Dad”, to which Rich replied “you’re crazy Lew, you will drive yourself mad thinking about it, I think it’s best to just get back in bed”.
The boy’s social worker and Gemma were due late morning, so we decided to go out for breakfast so we didn’t mess up anything in the house and to take our minds off the situation, if that was even possible. Richard ordered his normal fussy breakfast while the waitressed looked at him strangely as he asks her “can you make sure my sausages and onions are well done, like a bit burnt”. Slightly worried about eating anything risky, I just asked for an omelette and she left with a confused look to put the order in and I am only guessing that she was thinking about how she could ask the chef to burn the food. These pre-meeting conversations are always fun and we try to look on the positive side, so we just chatted about the boy and what we think he might like and if he is crawling yet. My gut feeling was telling me this was going to happen and all workout, which usually doesn’t let me down when it comes to these big situations. The breakfast was perfect and just as we ordered, a lovely omelette and burnt sausages, to which we made sure we asked the waitress to feedback to the cook as it was so good. We headed back home to get ready for the social worker to arrive and as Gemma had previously tipped us that she was a bit of a dog lover, we made sure we had treats at the ready, so she could hand him one on arrival and let Nutter’s charm do the talking and break the ice.
Gemma arrived on her own which was great as she had become our adoption comfort blanket and would step in on any awkward questions, as she has now become an expert at sensing when we may need a bit of support to answer or a nudge in the right direction. She encouraged us to ask as many questions as we want about the family history and birth parents’ situation, as well as bring up any further information that we would like her to find out from the profile. Richard started to pour Gemma a mug of hot water for her tea bag just as the doorbell rings and we give each other a wide-eyed look. “She is here Rich, but there’s two of them” which made the panic stations set in, but Gemma quickly reassured us that it was normal for someone from the family finding team to come with the boy’s social worker. Luckily it was Trisha from the adoption team, who we have met once before and spoken to a couple of times on the phone. Somehow Rich just didn’t seem phased by the thought of an extra person, but I on the other hand couldn’t bear the thought of another person to now have to consider in this stressful situation. Even Gemma rushed into the front room ready for them both to come in, which I was a little odd, I wouldn’t say that Gemma was nervous, but it was clear that she only knew of the social worker and obviously wanted to make a good lasting impression herself on our behalf. Richard opens the door and I am ready and waiting to offer them a hundred M&S biscuits and a long choice of beverages and in walks Dawn, the boys social worker a short haired, older lady with glasses and an unreadable face, with Trisha following in behind with her notepad looking much more relaxed to the stern looking Dawn. The first words out of her mouth were “the parking is terrible in this street” nervously laughing I agreed, but I was actually so angry at myself inside, as we had 3 cars on the front drive and none of us had thought to move one and ensure she has a smooth arrival. I try to distract from the not so great start by pushing the biscuit plate towards her asking, “cup of Tea and a digestive?”. Thankfully this switched her mood and I noticed she took two biscuits and I was thinking in my head “you can have the whole pack love if you are giving us a baby”.
We then moved the from the kitchen and settled in the front room, myself and Richard sitting on the floor and Gemma, Dawn and Trisha are occupying the two-seater sofa and armchair. Dawn pulls out a massive binder and rested it on her lap, I cannot say she looked grumpy or happy but let’s just say she didn’t show any emotion at all, which was probably more worrying for me. Looking at Richard with my worried face, he did so well and kicked things of with the small talk about how long we have been together, why we wanted to adopt and why we feel we will make great parents for the boy. Dawn then explained in detail the circumstances around the birth family and how he and his already adopted siblings came to be put for adoption. The workshops we have really helped us understand this but Dawn was making it so much more realistic, as this is a real baby boy who maybe ours that she is talking about, this wasn’t a textbook example or make believe, this was real and it felt so different hearing it like this. Dawn then went on to let us know about the birth parents’ medical backgrounds and the extended family, so we are aware of any potential health problems that may occur and any risks we needed to be aware of before proceeding. We are lucky that they know the birth father’s history, as in many cases this is unknown and can be even more worrying when adopting a baby without any biological background. She then told us how the boy is currently doing health wise and that he is meeting all of the milestones and is flourishing in his foster carers home. It is a strange feeling to be told all of this information about a child who may one day call you Dad, but this part was all new to us and while quite nerve wracking, it was also very exciting. Gemma then asked Dawn some social worker type questions, which was really helpful for us as it probably wasn’t the sort of things, we would have thought of asking ourselves.
It already feels like she has been here for ages, but when checking my watch, it has only been about twenty minutes but I cannot help but worry, as I just cannot read Dawn and do not know if she likes us, is unsure about us or totally hates us already. I mean this is not normal for me, I can normally tell within a few minutes but Dawn is a tough one to crack. Trisha is basically a bystander in this meeting, she is only really there I think for support of the family finding and matching process, but it is us and the social workers who need to talk and work it all out. Dawn then grabbed her bag and said “so do you want to see some pictures of him” as she pulled a DVD out. Immediately my heart sank and I felt like I was going to pass out and I could tell by how white Rich was, that he was feeling the same, as we had only seen the one profile picture so far. We both nodded and tried to play it cool, but I think it was obvious that we were both jumping out of our seats fighting to get the DVD remote with excitement. Deep down inside I cannot quite contain my emotions, I know I can handle it but Rich on the other hand may struggle, as I know his shell will crack when he starts to see any pictures and he may shed a tear, so I make sure we are sat close together on the carpet once Rich has sorted the DVD player.
Dawn then says “go ahead, push that play button” and on screen came a really chubby blonde boy with the most beautiful eyes you could ever imagine. We both looked at each other with the biggest smiles and as each photo swiped past, I felt my heart thumping and my eyes tearing up but worried crying maybe the wrong thing to do at this stage in front of Dawn, I hold myself together and I could tell that Rich was doing the same. He looked so different to his profile picture which caught us by surprise, but it makes sense when you know how fast babies do change. The photos seemed to finish so quickly, but in a weird way it was the perfect number of photos to give us that glimpse of him. I don’t know how to explain it, but it must be something like seeing your child’s scan photo for the first time. You know they’re yours and it feels great, but you don’t know anything else other than what the little photo looks like and your imagination starts to run wild. I took the DVD out and gave it back to Dawn, but secretly wanted to run off upstairs to make a copy of it for us to watch on repeat for the next week. It now all made sense why the social workers advise you to learn all you can about a potential child before you see a photo, as that could be a complete game changer, your heart blocks your head and I know that we are both already even more in love with him already.
It was at this moment that Dawn asks to go to the toilet, so Rich shows her where it is and we get about thirty seconds to talk about how we think it is going. I couldn’t help myself but say out loud to Gemma, in front of Trisha “can you believe it, she just doesn’t like us does she”. Gemma didn’t really respond to the question, instead said “Lewis, calm down, you know you always get anxious and worried about these things, it’s going fine, just keep being yourselves”. Dawn returns to the lounge area and says “so now you have heard all the information I have and seen a few photos, how do you feel about proceeding” bursting to say yes, Rich got in there first obviously knowing my answer, saying “yes he is ours, I know that sounds risky but he is ours and we want to proceed”. Dawn did not give anything away facially but I suppose being a social worker for many years this had been perfected, she said “ok I will call you hopefully tomorrow, to let you know if we are all agreed to go ahead”. My heart sank a little, as that was not the answer, I wanted but by now understood this is a process and it had to be done correctly. Dawn got their things together and Trisha confirmed the formalities around this stage of the process, explained when they will be in touch and we said our goodbyes. As soon as the door closed, I said to Gemma “see she doesn’t like us, she now needs to speak to people back at the office, what if they don’t want to proceed”. I was clearly just a bit upset not to have found out this afternoon, as it’s been such a huge build up and his lovely little face on the screen was everything we could wish for. Gemma remained the professional and explained that Dawn is just following due process and needs to speak to her team, she can’t make the decision on her own which made sense. Gemma knew we were a little deflated and explained that we needed to relax, as sometimes if it’s meant to be, then it’s meant to be and started to pack her stuff to head back to the office herself.
The sound of the doorbell rings, so we quickly check to see if they have left anything in the lounge, which they haven’t and so Rich answers the door. A rather excited Trisha is standing there with her notepad and says “we couldn’t drive off and leave you worried, so we called the office together while outside and wanted to let you know that we are recommending the match but do need to formalise the process when we are back in the office and will contact you tomorrow”. I overheard her conversation from the lounge and run to the front door with a tear in my eye and explained “I actually thought you didn’t like us, I cannot believe it, thank you so much”. Dawn remained in the car for all of this, probably just to remain outside of the emotions as you have to remember that she has to think about the boy who is her number one priority and we totally respect her for that. Trisha says her second goodbye from the doorstep and heads off. Gemma then says “see I told you, nothing to worry about” and with us both feeling quite stunned, we hugged each other and Gemma in excitement. I have never been to a cup final at Wembley, but I am sure Rich would have compared this moment to the winning goal being score and us three behaving like the crowd going crazy in celebrations. Gemma then did get her things ready quite quickly, as she explained she wanted us to be able to enjoy this very important moment together and to get on the phones to our parents and explain the good news. We waved her off, literally until we couldn’t see her car anymore at the end of the road as we were just so excited at the thought of what just happened, this beautiful boy is going to be ours.
As we go back indoors, Rich starts to make a drink and for some reason that I cannot really explain it seemed to all feel ever so real and I break down in tears in Rich’s arms. It wasn’t unhappy tears, it was like all of the pent-up anxious feeling and thought of never being able to become a parent because I was gay, had all just been taken away. It was a day that I thought only ever truly existed in my dreams and today, yes today, this has become a reality. I have just been told by the social worker to a gorgeous little boy, that they think we are the perfect match and I have never felt so good about myself and like I am actually really worth something now, as we are going to be fully responsible for a child of our own. I have waited such a long time for this moment and there have been so many times where I genuinely thought it would never happen, but me and Rich were clearly always destined to find each other and live this life together, so bring on the next steps and get us our beautiful boy.