The end of the road - by Katie

How do you decide it's time to stop?

When I last posted an update on here we were planning to start the adoption process. Which we did. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking that was easy and without trauma.

When people find out you can't have children, they ask the regular questions about "why don't you just...." insert one of very many things here. The most popular of which, is usually "why don't you just adopt". Like it's the easiest thing in the world. That you just fill in a form and walk home with a child to finalise your perfect family.

Adopting is not the easy option

When we found out we couldn't have children naturally we very quickly decided that we didn't want to do IVF. My husband make it clear that he couldn't watch me go through IVF, I didn't understand that sentiment to start with but I soon realised that he loved me more than I loved myself at that point. I felt like my body had let me down, let us down, had stopped doing what it most naturally should do, bare children. But this is old news, we've known this a while.

Once we ruled out IVF we decided Adoption was the route for us.

We started the process by going to an open evening, speaking to our local authority and decided if we wanted to go ahead with them. They seemed lovely so we decided to proceed. This was right at the beginning of the coronavirus. It was mostly just filling in forms and waiting to see if we were going to be accepted onto stage one.

Stage one mostly consisted of filling in forms and doing paperwork, but also required references. We picked our references carefully. Who had children of different ages that we spent time with? Who did we know well enough that they could answer questions about how we were with their children, but also how we were together? The list was small but mighty!

Once all the paperwork was filled in and references were sent back we joined Adoption UK and started our research and learning. We arranged to spend time with friends and hang out with their children. All our friends were so supportive and encouraging. We knew instantly that we had an amazing support network around us.

Once we were approved on Stage One we moved onto Stage Two, this consisted of being assigned with a social worker. When people say that bonding with your social worker is so important, they are so right. Finding the right social worker for you is so important. Unfortunately we didn't hit the jackpot there. This is where our story takes a different turn.

The first couple of meetings with the social worker felt very formal, but maybe that was just how it was meant to be.

Maybe it wasn't meant to be nice and cuddly!

Maybe we'd assumed we'd have a great relationship with our social worker but that wasn't what happened in real life!

We went through multiple sessions of being asked questions then defending our answers, it felt like everything we said was wrong. We are a good couple, we live in a nice house, with good jobs and a great support network. What were we doing wrong? Things that we didn't think would be an issue soon became an issue. Andrew works from home, apparently this wasn't acceptable, he would have to rent an office somewhere locally. We have dogs that have free roam of the house, this also wasn't acceptable, we have to lock them downstairs.

It was then time to start our individual sessions as well as our assessment with children. This was an hour session with the social worker and a friends children, so the social worker could assess how we were with children.

I was up first! I was really excited about my session, I had a wonderful childhood. I literally have the perfect family, my parents are still together, my sister is married, we all get on brilliantly, what could there possibly be wrong with my individual session... Well thats where my social worker came in with a "challenge accepted" attitude. She picked holes in EVERYTHING... She asked about a specific experience at the park, I had said about going with my sister, she then picked apart why I went with my sister not my parents. I had pointed out my sister was 5 years older so I loved hanging out with her. She then followed a questioning line along the lines of.... "Did your parent fob you off with your sister often?" Like this wasn't something either of us wanted to do.

She then started to question things like:

What if our hypothetical child didn't like our dogs, would we get rid of the dogs?

What if a family member upset our hypothetical child, would we cut off the family member?

What was my favourite holiday? Christmas? What if our hypothetical child hated Christmas? Would we be willing to stop celebrating it?

She then moved on to heavily highlighting that every child in care has been through trauma, therefore would likely have learning difficulties, or behavioural issues. She went over this point a lot. I know that every potential parent needs to be prepared but the more she went over the more terrified i became and started to question if this was right for us. She made out that we were letting ourselves in for this horrific life.

I'm not 100% sure if she knew that's what she was doing but thats how it came across.

We finished our session and my friend arrived with her children, our only brief was that we needed to play with them. Andrew had made this huge board with a target cut into it, we were going to make paper aeroplanes and fly them through the target. It was all going great, our friends kids were loving it. Then she suddenly asked us to change what we were doing, so we picked a different game with the paper aeroplanes. She then very abruptly told us she meant a different type of activity, this threw us and we didn't know what to do. We had bought some lego for the boys to say thank you, so we started playing with that. During that she asked us to switch again. There was clearly something she wanted us to show her that we didn't know. We got the boys to read to us and we got a smile from the social worker that said "thats better". If that's the case then why didn't she just say? We don't have children, how would we know what they wanted from us when they said that they were going to access us playing with children?

As soon as the social worker left and my friend arrived to pick up her children, I burst out crying and told my friend and husband that I didn't want to adopt. I didn't want the horrible life the social worker implied we would have, I didn't want to give up the dogs or my family or Christmas.

I felt such a fraud...

Everyone told us how we were amazing people to be adopting. Our wonderful friends gave us such incredible references and said such nice things about us.

Were we the worst people in the world to decide we didn't want that life?

Had we just been put off because our social worker wasn't personable?

We will never know! We decided on that day that we didn't want to go ahead, the social worker put us off. Maybe that was her job. We'll never know. But either way we asked if we could pause our application to take some time, the social worker said no. We either proceeded or stopped and if we stopped we'd have to justify our actions should we wish to apply again, so you can probably guess we withdrew our application and decided we would carry on our lives childless.

Whilst it was a really hard decision, I think it was more because this seemed like our last chance, this decision meant that we weren't ever going to be parents. We had to work out what our life, childless would look like.

Whilst it's often hard and I can't tell you how i'll feel in my 50's and 60's with no children, currently in my late 30's, i can tell you that it's ok. We have a beautiful niece and some wonderful children in our friendship circle. I'm sometimes really sad but life went on and we have a really good life!

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