Friday, November 13, 2009

A Good Day

Today has been a GOOD day. Not only because it has been one of those fantastic Mediterranean Autumn days, after 8 days of non-stop rain, with a sky so blue, you could slap a paint label on it saying 'Cerulean', & any artist would reach for it to paint their sky, with the purity of its pigment.

Not only because my husband has finally, finally got his NGO's licence application into the National bank after 6 months of sweating over legal documents, burning the midnight oil, adapting, re-doing, re-meeting, adjusting, re-wording & nearly giving up & resiging on several occasions. (I am used to the latter reaction now & am quite impressed that it doesn't phase me in the slightest. It's all part of working in a still-developing country) I know this now & I'm proud of him for persevering as I know he always will.

And not only because my son and daughter both got an award for the 'value of the month' last month, 'Respect' Each month a child from each grade is chosen to be rewarded. My son was rejoicing because he said "At last I have a rewad for something other than 'orderliness' (not quite sure what that entails in a school anyway, & probably neither is he....)
And I was rejoicing because I thought what a great thing that my children show respect to otehrs.

The Award vouchers could be used at a cafe for a hot chocolate etc, & there we bumped into his teacher & we spent half an hour chatting to him. My son was so animated talking to her & she was singing his praises & saying how she loved teaching him, & clearly the feeling is mutual. Once more I mused, "This is a good day" when I thought back to last year & the struggles we had with his teacher who seemed so uninspiring & was doing more to switch him off than switch him on.

But mostly this is a good day because today a child's future has been decided. Today my brother & his wife were accepted by the adoption panel to adopt a child. And I am so very proud of them. They have 2 children already but for health reasons my sister-in-law has been advised not to have any more. My brother always wanted a son, but also they always wanted to foster or adopt to give at least one child a second chance. They have put themselves through the gruelling year long process during which a social worker examines the minutiae of their family & married life, delving into all the nooks & crannies, looking for the wood lice under the stones of their life, inviting them to nail their colours to the mast, to decide what they believe about parenting, what their values are, how they deal with different situations, how they resolve conflict etc.

Yesterday a friend of mine who works with the Roma, had to get emergency services here to remove a baby from its Roma mother because it was failing to thrive, & she didn't want it & was neglecting it. If it is put in an orphanage its chances of adoption are very slim. No one wants to adopt a Roma child. Today a child in Britain will be adopted because a panel deemed my brother & sister-in-law 'suitable parents'. Can you imagine going through that whole process only to be told "Sorry , you don't make the grade"?

In Britain there are 59,500 children in care awaiting fostering or adoption. In 2007 only 3,500 were placed in adoptive families. I agree there have to be precautions & processes but with so many children needing adoption & relatively few coming forward, why do they make the process SO difficult & reject a significant number? After all who is a perfect parent & who can necessarily answer the questions satisisfactorily? Does that prove you can parent well?

My sister-in- law, who is actually training to be a social worker, says she thinks the process is very good & that it is for this reason that successful adoption rates are so high. They match the child to the family. She thinks this way is infinitely preferable to adopting a baby which is an unknown quantity. I guess a lot of it comes down to what you believe about nature & nurture.

So now their search begins. They have to decide what degree of issue, problem, disability or abuse they feel willing & able to accept. It is a sobering truth that in the U.K today almost every child available for adoption has come from a drug dependent/alcoholic or abusive backround. The majority of children awaiting adoption are also from black or Asian backgrounds whilst the majority of adoptive parents are White.

It is amazing how complex family life becomes once it is picked apart & analysed. I can't imagine going through such an intrusive process & having to accept someone else decreeing whether I am fit to be an adoptive parent. How many of us would embark on it if we had to go through this process before having a child normally?

We have often wondered ourselves whether we should adopt as we always wanted a large family. We also wonder if we could. I never quite get my head round the idea of it. How could I love a biological child as much as my own, what if we ruined our existing family with a problem child? What if I showed favouritism? We still return to this issue & mull over it, not least because living in the places we have, you see so many children in desperate straits & realise what a massive difference you could make to even one life.

But for now, I am proud of my brother & his wife, & their two children who were very much part of the process, for taking this huge & selfless decision. I am looking forward to meeting the lucky little boy, who is out there somewhere, who will in due course become part of their family.


Iota said...

That is great.

The whole adoption issue is so riddled with difficulty, isn't it? Here in the US, it's so different. The parents don't have to go through that whole difficult vetting procedure, and there are numerous routes. A friend of mine who is white, with a white husband and daughter, has recently adopted a black baby. That would be unheard of in the UK. There isn't any vetting process (or minimal), and the baby's mother chose the family she wanted her daughter to go into.

My husband and I were referees for a couple in the UK who wanted to adopt, and watching the whole process I saw how agonising it was for them. Seemed so unfair - no biological parent has to go through that grilling, as you say. I do understand that Social Services say they are acting on behalf of the child, so have to do their best for the child not the many prospective parents, but - like all bureaucratic processes - my guess is that often the practice is some way from the theory.

Heather said...

It such a difficult one. on the one hand they want to try to make sure that the parents are suitable etc etc and that is important but at the same time it seems so aggonisingly unfair and painful for the prospective parents. After all, there is no selection process if they were to just get pregnant.

Grit said...

i applaud your family members for adopting - that is an absolute challenge. friends of mine are adopting and the process of testing they have gone through has astonished me. i wonder if it has been quite so necessary at times - the woman seeking to adopt is so transparently a good, kind and capable person who lives a well adjusted life in normal society, i wonder whether the agents couldn't really see that by the third month. but on and on that scrutiny went. it's a testiment to the stamina and determination of the folks who withstand that process.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Can you imagine if all potential parents had to go through such a process? No one would be up to having kids. I'm sure we'd fail miserably. So huge congrats to your brother and his family and I hope that they meet their new little boy so very soon.

PS huge congrats to the husband too. Battling with some Balkan authorities and a victorious outcome. I've never been sure that such an outcome does actually happen!

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