Chapter 6 – Here we go again
It’s finally the day that we have been waiting for since we moved back, the day where Gemma is coming round to see us but this time it will be the third house she has visited us in, which we completely know is not ideal but we are settled here and happy. The most worrying part of the move was the boy and what if this whole sudden upheaval completely threw him, as he is so settled and content. We are very much eager to get going with the second adoption now and have sorted the first blip but now we are ready to get going, like always once we are excited about something we cannot really relax until it’s been completed. Obviously in this situation we cannot take the lead and will have to go with the flow, however much we would like to have everything in our control, at least we know Gemma will continue to be our social worker and we already have a great relationship with her. I remember Gemma saying on the first adoption how she finds it funny how the show home standards slip when the children are finally living in the house and family life takes over but that doesn’t stop us from cleaning the house to a very high standard for her visit today. I am sure we will be expected to give her the grand tour of the house, so it won’t hurt to give it a once over. Rich jokes that as standard the kettle will be filled and pre-boiled ready with the speciality tea bags that Gemma normally likes, but it’s been a while so here’s hoping she hasn’t gone off them. We have of course got plenty of the posh biscuits as a backup plan and if required, we will have no problem in eating them if she doesn’t.
I have been completely nervous about this visit, as although Gemma is always supportive, she does have to think of the children as her number one priority and the reality is when she came to us previously the decision was that we were not in a position to proceed. This of course makes me extremely worried that she will still have this opinion and our dreams of becoming parents again will be over before it has even started. Rich today has been trying to act all excited and positive, but I know him too well and can tell he is just hiding his nerves. Unfortunately for me, it’s not as easy to hide my nerves as the amount of times I frequent the bathroom just completely gives it away but, in my mind, this just shows physically how much it all means to me in a really weird way. The boy is completely oblivious to what is happening, as we don’t want him to worry before he has to, so my Mum is looking after him today so we can just concentrate on what Gemma says and what we need to plan.
Everything is set and we have about half an hour before Gemma is due to arrive, so we sit down with a tea and a coffee to chat through how we think it’s going to go today. Rich of course is very confident that we will just pick up from where we left off but I am slightly anxious that she will say we need to wait another few months. This is understandable, but once I know something is happening, I want it to happen straight away, I have to admit that I don’t have much patience when I have an idea or plan in my head it just takes over and becomes all I can think about. Hopefully as we get older and have even more responsibilities, we might not be so spontaneous, but as a couple this would describe us both quite well.
Gemma has just pulled on to the drive and Nutter is going crazy as usual, but luckily, she is a big fan of our crazy little doggie so this is one less thing to worry about and I’m sure he will recognise her straight away and just chillout. We welcome her at the door and Rich jokingly says “welcome to the third house” which Gemma laughs at so it broke the ice, but really this was all in our head as it was already agreed moving back would be the best option for the future. It’s been around four months since we last saw Gemma and had the meeting about starting the second adoption process, so it will be good to just know exactly where we stand. We have a little catch up on things in general and Gemma drops the bombshell that she has been promoted at work and while congratulating her, all I can think in my head is “will she not be allowed to be our social worker now” as this was one of the issues that I thought we wouldn’t have to think about, you can just imagine the state of panic going through my mind while trying to show that I am truly happy for her as she so deserves it. Thankfully she reassures us and confirms she will still be our assessing social worker, “THANK GOD FOR THAT” I say to myself in my head with a sigh of relief.
The dining room table which is normally covered in toys, Richard’s work and random bits and bobs have been conveniently cleared ready to get down to business, but before we sit down Gemma says “right before we get onto proper adoption chat give me the tour, you know I love looking around your houses” with a big smile. It feels very positive that she is clearly in a good mood, which helps me to relax a bit. I am always overthinking things and I just cannot think that Gemma wouldn’t be acting like this if she was really going to crush our hopes when we actually talk about the next steps, but try not to get too ahead of myself I just nod and smile, while Richard says very convincingly “you won’t be seeing any more houses of ours, as we won’t be moving again” which was strange to think that this was now our forever home, right back where we started. In the past two years we have completed a full circle, but it all felt like it was meant to be and I have always gone with my gut instinct.
“Right let’s start upstairs and work our way down” says Rich, who actually sounds like an estate agent and probably thinks he has to sell the house to Gemma in a way to help persuade her, which makes no sense but is funny to watch. The house has four bedrooms and the hopeful new child will have their own room, which is a massive tick box if you want to adopt. The boy’s room is all decorated with Paw Patrol and Marvel superheroes, which is his current favourite shows to watch. As this was a house that we previously rented out, we have quickly painted every room white, neutral and kept it very minimalist before we put our own stamp on it, but did concentrate on the boys room and basically replicated as much as possible to his old room to help with the transition. There isn’t really much Gemma can fault as it tidy, safe and the spare room is a good size for the potential new family member. Downstairs is open plan and the boy has a toy room which again is all white, clean and modern. The garden is a big hit, especially for the area we live in, so the kids will have a great space to play in the summers, ok there isn’t a swimming pool but who really has one of them in London unless you are a millionaire. The first tick is checked off the list as Gemma confirms that the house is more than suitable for another child to live in.
We all sit down at the table and Rich offers Gemma a drink, to which she replies “just some hot water please” and I just cannot help myself and shake my head, as I know how much this answer has pleased Rich so he can reveal the packet of speciality teabags from the cupboard he has bought in readiness for this moment. Rich pops his head round the door frame and says “Gemma, did you want a Caramel Green Tea” to which she laughs and says “oh you know me too well”. I can just imagine Rich’s smug little face while stirring the tea bag in the kitchen, bless him, the smallest of things please him. Teas and coffees made, it’s now time to get down to business and find out where we actually are, as currently we are just ‘on hold’. Quickly putting our minds at ease Gemma is quick to tell us that we are off hold and able to proceed onto stage two of the adoption process and that she is excited to get it all going. Of course, we are both very happy that after the stress of moving that it has all been worth it, the boy was fine and we are ready to become Daddies again. With the excitement still high Gemma pulls out the paperwork and there seems to again be quite a lot of it, which comes as a bit of a shock but it is all necessary and in his own sweet little way, Richard loves a form. Rich then completes the forms we need to at this point, so Gemma can take them back to the office, get us officially off hold and get things moving forward.
Gemma explains the process again for us and in particular focusses on some of the differences of being second time adopters, as although the heavy paperwork from last time still counts there are some new forms specifically related to how we have coped with being parents since adopting first time around. There will also still be the need to get financial, employment and personal references updated, so now was the time to explain any concerns we had but of course we didn’t have any and our referees were all the same as before which hopefully makes it easier. Gemma says that she will have to speak to different people this time, meaning both of our Mother’s will be contacted this time, but I thought who best to ask about how we have transitioned into parenting life than our Mums.
Gemma then asks us to get our diaries out so we can look at planning in the visits. “I cannot believe it is all happening again” said Rich “It only feels like yesterday we were doing this on the first adoption” and as he is saying it, I could feel all of the emotions running through my stomach both good and bad, but this sort of rollercoaster for me just gives me that sickness feeling. Gemma explains that she will need to complete home visits weekly to talk about a range of subjects, so like before we just need to be flexible and just say yes and rearrange anything once she has left, as we don’t want her thinking we are not putting this as first priority. I then ask “Will we need updated DBS checks?” and Gemma confirms “yes you both will, but don’t worry, your previous references from abroad will remain valid” which is a huge weight off my shoulders, as it was hard enough getting the foreign embassies to do this last time and the thought of being delayed due to this would be so gutting.
I have to be honest, I didn’t think we would need to complete as much this time around, as we have already adopted but I am completely wrong, there is still lots to do and rightly so. It’s certainly not as much as before, although still feels like more than enough to be getting on with. I suppose it makes total sense to be as cautious as the first or really be extra cautious this time as we already have a child to think about, whose needs we didn’t even have to consider first time around. The reality of having a sibling might sound fun to him now but is he really ready for the change or not, this is why Gemma will need to visit us and cover absolutely everything as it will be devastating to everyone if it was to break down either our relationship with the boy or cause issues for the potential new child. It’s all so risky and worrying, but I am sure it isn’t just parents through adoption who think like this, any parents considering a second or third child must also go through it.
“So is it still a little girl that you would like to adopt?” sending my heart into a flutter I didn’t know what to say but Rich thankfully saves the day by saying “Yes, the boy always says that he wants a sister and we want him to be involved in the process this time around, as it’s a big change for him and we want him to understand”. Inside I am thinking “YES, a cute little Disney Princess” which I obviously do not say out loud as Richards answer is far more appropriate. Rich carries on being sensible saying “at the same time we don’t want him to be knowing too much and expecting a sister to move in tomorrow, as we know it really isn’t that simple”. It’s better to be completely honest now and in the long run, its good for everyone to be on the same page, so we agreed a girl at least one year younger than the boy so they could actually be siblings and avoid any potential issues for teasing at school if they were obviously so alike in age. Gemma explains that they would only ever really consider a younger child, as not to upset the current dominant child in the household. Gemma being her useful honest self then says “I just need to make you aware again, that sometimes it isn’t easy to find a match so quickly and by specifying you would like to adopt a girl this is only going to make this harder, so are you sure this is what you want me to put down on the form?” and this time I didn’t hesitate, I quickly replied “Yes, we are sure” to which Gemma smiled and wrote those four letters down in capitals G-I-R-L and my heart skipped a beat with excitement.
Gemma’s visit has been really good and felt quite positive all round, it feels like everything has fallen into place, we are back in London, surrounded by our family and friends and now in the best possible position to add to our little family. All feeling in a good place, we end the visit and arrange the next one, with a list of what paperwork can hopefully be completed in this time. We say our goodbyes and Gemma leaves, seemingly quite excited herself that we are again back on track and progressing forward. We close the front door behind Gemma and sit back down at the dining room table and just look at each other as if to say “here we go again”.
I can completely see us bringing up our family in this house and area, knowing that we could stay here and live comfortably until they are completely through primary and secondary school. In my mind I am thinking about all the potential amazing things to come but Rich is now over excited talking about the schools they could go to, the clubs they could join and everything. I actually feel like the calm one for once and say to Rich “lets actually wait for our daughter to move in before we pick her secondary school” which makes Rich stop talking straight away and he says in a very soft voice “You just said daughter” which I didn’t even realise and respond with “well yes, we will hopefully have a daughter if it all goes to plan, I just don’t want to get too excited yet, you know what I am like”. Rich then gets up and gives me a hug and we just enjoy the embrace and feeling that we are once again officially starting the journey. Rich then with a little tear in his eye looks at me while holding both my hands and says “wow babe, we are on route to complete our gorgeous little family and there is no one else I would rather go on this journey with, I love you” and of course I just completely melt and we hug again, before responding to say “now let’s get the boy and celebrate with his favourite ice cream” and we quickly get ourselves in the car, to head to my Mum’s to pick up the boy and give her the good news.