The woman in front of me is crying, she’s holding a piece of paper and crying. She’s about to become a mummy, she’s never met her child but I already know that she has committed herself to this child. I already know that she lives in fear that she will not be enough for this child, that she will from this moment forward question every decision she makes and whether it’s the right one. I already know that she is trying to make sense of the questions this child will have in the future and how she will answer them. I know every time this child cries her heart will break, every time this child learns a new skill or new word she will feel pride that makes her heart feel like bursting. The woman in front of me is about to become a mummy but she’s had to fight to get here. Whether she has been through years of trying for a child, various rounds of fertility treatment or just knows this is the route for her, she’s had to prove herself. Interviews, police checks, medical checks, personal and employer references, six months of probing about her understanding of parenting, her beliefs, background, relationships, upbringing, values and social networks and that’s before having to present herself to a panel of professionals. She’s had to prove to everyone that she knows the future is uncertain and that regardless of what this child might throw at her she will stick in there and work through it. Through all of that she has stayed strong, sure in her knowledge that this is what she wants, that she can do this.
Today she is crying. She’s crying because I have just handed her a photograph, it’s of a four year old little girl, the child who is about to become hers. The child she will love for the rest of her life, the child she will sacrifice everything for, the child she will be exasperated with, who she will worry about, love, cry over, laugh about, rant to friends about, watch with pride, awe and be inspired by. It doesn’t matter that she never gave birth to this child, I know already that she loves this child like a mother, that she has claimed this child. Six months later I am visiting a family complete. A little girl full of stories about nursery, her beautiful bedroom, her excitmement about starting school and her love of balloons. A little girl confident and settled in her family, friends and home. I see a couple happy in their exhaustion, surrounded by the chaos that comes with an adventurous pre-schooler. I find a home softened by the chaos of family life. Crayon marks on the wall, dolls and toys peeking out to cause potential injury when stood upon, a fridge adorned with letter and number magnets and swirly toddler drawings. The man talks to me about his daughter with pride and love. She is their life.
Parenting is a choice that brings with it challenges. Adoption is a choice that means accepting the unknown. The unknown impact of genetics, the impact of another parents choices and actions, the reality of starting your parenting journey without those newborn opportunities that allow us to learn our childrens rhythms, cries, needs. Whether we give birth naturally, take all the drugs available during labour, have a section, have fertility treatment, enter parenthood through marriage, relationships, accidentally or through adoption we all share a journey. Parenting is a challenge but ultimately our children all need care, love and safety. As a social Worker I see the best and worst of parenting, as a parent I understand the highs and lows of trying to care for children.
I have never met a parent who didn’t want the best for their child, I have never met a parent who didn’t love their child. I have however met some exceptional parents who have gone above and beyond for their children regardless of how they got there.