This time six years ago I was waiting.
I had been waiting for nearly 6 years so it seems nicely symetrical to talk a bit about my wait now.
Six years ago, my full dossier which had taken more than two years to prepare, had been submitted and approved by the Ministry of Education of a far away and exotic land. It had then winged its way to a far outpost of that far away land and it had been confirmed that a small city on edge of no-where very much was my destination to meet my long awaited for child. I was told that there would be a letter of invitation issued by the ministry within 7 days which was needed to issue a special adoption visa and then I would need to travel as soon as possible.
Total panic reigned.
In the UK, if you have not been matched with a child within 12 months of being approved as an adoptive parent then your home study needs updating, also my criminal records check needed updating and my employers reference letter needed updating. Poncing around looking at baby shoes and cots (which had been my main occupation for the previous 6 months of waiting) flew out of the window and in flew manically chasing the adoption team, the police and my long-suffering employers.
First to arrive was the social worker to update my home study. I hadn’t met her before, she seemed very nice and all went swimmingly as she checked nothing had changed since my terrifying appearance at panel to be approved. Then came the S-E-X topic.
SW: It’s very important that you don’t get pregnant at this stage you know.
Me (through gritted teeth): Yes I know but as the combined brains of a leading London fertility clinic failed over a number of years to get me pregnant, it doesn’t seem very likely now.
SW: But it does happen.
Me (trying to find a polite way to phrase it to total stranger): Yes, but I’m not in a stable relationship at the moment.
SW (puzzled): But you don’t need to be in a stable relationship to get pregnant.
Me (still trying to find an appropriate response): No but I’m not in ANY kind of relationship.
SW (still puzzled): you don’t need to be in any kind of relationship to get pregnant.
Me (giving up any attempt at polite euphemisms): No but you do need to be having sex. And I’m not. And as I’m expecting to travel within a week or two, unless I get very lucky with the taxi driver on the way to Heathrow, it really isn’t something you need to worry about.
Me, resting my feverish forehead on the cool granite of the kitchen table, wondering at what point my life descended at 41 to being lectured by a random stranger about the mechanics of sex and pregnancy.
SW exits stage left satisfied that her work is done.
Thankfully, my CRB check and employers reference were easily updated, because there is a limit to what even a prospective adoptive parent (notorious for their ability to “smile and nod” at virtually any comment or requirement) can stand.
Then nothing happened. No letter of invitation. No word at all.
I became convinced that the man who approved the letters had broken his finger or his pencil. Or maybe my file had fallen down behind his radiator. Maybe they’d changed their mind. Oh the torture.
In fact no-one had bothered to explain the rules had recently changed and letters of invitation were now issued within 20 working days rather than seven.
So the word came – “Get your arse down to the Embassy and get your visa then onto a plane as fast as possible” (at least that’s what I heard. It may have been phrased a little differently).
Terror reigned instead.
It was real, this bizarre journey was turning into reality. Then I’m sure every prospective adoptive parent’s nightmare scenario came into my mind. What if I just don’t like the child I’m given?
And this afternoon I sat in some lovely Autumn sunshine in the local park with my handsome nearly seven year old son shouting from the top of the climbing frame,
“Look Mum! LOOK MUM! Look at what I can do!”
And the song “Mammy” came into my head.
“I’d walk a million miles for ones of your smiles…” and I thought “yes I very nearly did and every step and every second it took was worth the wait”.