Something that’s always slightly fascinated me since bringing Nemo home is the sheer look of shock on peoples faces when they realise he’s exactly what it says on the tin . . . A child. The gasps of “but he’s so beautiful” ” but he’s so clever” and the good old fashioned “I just can’t believe he was up for adoption” never ceases to amaze me. What were you expecting an extra head? Third eye? A sodding tail??
What does an adopted child look like exactly? What ‘Type’ of child did you expect to be ‘up for adoption’ * I hate that phrase ‘ He’s not a bloody e-bay listing. Can we just STOP saying that please. Thank you. Whilst I’m on the topic; What does an abused child look like? SCENE; A beautiful summers day, Nemo’s on a very strict bug hunting schedule. ENTER; The Gossip Hunter. “He looks so happy! Nothing serious must have happened to him. He can’t have been abused or anything?” * I hope you all feel as sick as I did right now.
Someone crippled with anxiety, depression, infertile? What do they all look like? Is there some art gallery somewhere I’m unaware of? It’s 2020, I thought we didn’t do labels? Yet I’ve found as soon as some people discover he’s adopted they start looking for one. He’s just a child. Like any other, he loves dinosaurs, jumping in puddles and eating cereal out of the box. He’s. Just. A. Child. A bloody wonderful one at that.
Top Tip; Start thinking of some spectacularly good comeback answers to these questions now. There’s nothing more infuriating than pacing up and down your kitchen afterwards imagining all the brilliantly eloquent, passively aggressive things you should have said. You want to be able to suck it to them right there and then. If I had my time again I would have said something along the lines of; ” Seen as you’re open to such personal conversation starters, do tell me about your latest bowel movement. Did you wipe from front to back?”
What everyone fails to mention when you adopt is; not only will you have to deal with the significant life change of becoming a mother, you also take on the role of working for the sodding FBI!
Thats right, alongside spending your life picking Pom Bears out of your hair, there’s the sideline role of secret agent. I wasn’t quite prepared for the lies I would have to tell.
I mean, some of them have been great, really, really great. “Oh my goodness, you look AMAZING you would NEVER believe you’ve had a baby?!”
AWKWARD AS F*CK RIGHT?
May I just say, you DO NOT have to turn round to every Tom, Dick and Fanny sharing “oh, he’s actually adopted.” You just don’t. However, I would urge you to take a quick moment of reflection before you reply. Think…all the crap you’ve been through, the insensitive comments, the treatment induced changes to your body (no one recognises that). Would it be the biggest crime in the world if you basked in this short moment? Responding with something along the lines of . . . *but not exclusive too; “I just stuck to a really strict exercise regime and only ate kale.” They will hate you and you will be fine with that.
Then there’s the ones that really test your on the spot lying ability;
Tom- “Was that his birth name? ”
Dick- “Where was he born?”
Fanny-“What actually happened to him then?”
Tom again – (He loves it) “Has he got any siblings?
. . . . . . . So it continues.
If you’ve gone through fertility treatment you will no doubt be used to having to disclose your personal life .
” Erm, I’m going to need next wed off work for egg collection …. is that ok?” By that afternoon the entire office knows you’re trying for a baby but old Penelope Perfect across the way ( just back from the tropics) she’s been at it all weekend! No ones suspecting a thing. *Please be aware the possibility of you attending PP Junior’s 4th birthday party before you become a mother is likely.
And don’t be fooled into thinking you’re going to be able to maintain any family planning anonymity via the adoption process either. Your boss will most definitely catch you writing your PAR at work. *Do not do it at work, I’ve courageously taken the wrap for all of us.
The reality is, when you adopt a child their identity security takes precedence above all else. Our family and closest friends don’t even know the whole truth. That’s fine. Ultimately, it’s Nemo’s truth to share. Then there’s social media, a difficult decision for all parents! How safe is the web these days? With an adopted child, if you decided to share a picture, even a vague picture before the court order is made, you could potentially put the placement at risk. Even after, you still worry about giving birth family scope to track him down *highly, highly unlikely but still.
Heavy shit. Right?
Got to go, Mr NFD’s asking If I like my Coffee shaken or stirred . . . .
A- “You know that couple? The one that live on Disneyland way? Come on, you know the ones. She sounds really posh, he’s really tall?”
B- “You mean the really good looking, super fit guy who’s married to the athletic woman with the amazing hair?” (its my blog. I can use whatever descriptives I choose.)
A- “yes, you’ve got them. You’ll never believe it . . . they can’t have kids.”
B-” Nooooooooooo. “
*Swigs on coffee whilst scrolling through Facebook*
“who’s got the problem then. . . him or her? “
Look, I won’t ever know if conversations like this ever actually took place but I can count on both hands the amount of times myself and Mr NFD have been asked which one of us has ‘the problem’. I’m not talking about family members or close friends who ask in a ‘we have a sincerely vested interested in your wellbeing kind of way‘ I’m alluding to the ‘we don’t know you from Adam but I’m Nosey kind of way’ the ‘ I’m just going to pop my head over the garden fence. Ask some really personal questions, then get back to pruning my rose bush‘ sort of folk.
Yes, the world is full of really wonderful, supportive people. I’m not completely bitter (I have a good counsellor.) This doesn’t however, mean that these people don’t exist. I know they do and you know it too.
Why would a stranger want to know such intricate details of your life? It’s fucking weird. It would be like me casually paying for my goods, then asking the cashier what her last dump was like. Odd right? Also, what difference is this information going to make to their lives? Is knowing if Mr NFD is firing blanks or Mrs NFM having no Ovaries going to mean they can sleep better at night?
Because I can tell you how these questions made me feel;
Like shit. Exposed. In-human. fictional.
We’ve been asked these questions like we weren’t even there. Like our feelings didn’t actually exist.
What does it matter who it is with the problem? The point is, we met, fell madly in love and can’t have a baby. If you think about it we both have ‘the problem’ a pretty fucking big one.
It’s exactly the same when you adopt. People deem it ok to ask about the child’s background; were they abused? where are the ‘real parents’ now? How are you going to feel when they want to find them? etc. etc .
Let me ask you; What would happen if an adult asked another adult someone they hardly knew, if they’d been abused? They would say something along the lines of . . . .Mind your own pissing business. Aside from the fact, it’s the child’s story to share. It’s insensitive, rude and unnecessary. Why is it suddenly ok to ask this about a toddler? Is it because he doesn’t have his own voice yet?
I came in today, headed straight for the nursery department. I’m an expectant mum you see. He’s due home any day now but, you didn’t see me. I don’t have a bump. I can’t have a bump so I guess my profile doesn’t quite fit into the ‘how to nab the perfect sale‘ manual.
I was hoping to buy a keepsake. Something for him to treasure. He’s coming hime at twenty one months, all your record books are from birth. First curl, first tooth. I could stick two of your footprint sets together to cater for the ‘larger toddler foot’ I suppose.
I wanted to buy my pram, your shop assistant was lovely . Had that quintessential sales smile, very chatty. Asked me; “When’s the mother due . . . ?”
I’ve waited five years for this moment. Had Dr Chandurum rummaging around my lady insides, two womb scrapes (yep, does exactly what is says on the tin) and social workers (rightfully) nosing through my private life and you’ve got sod all for me to buy.
I felt like shit. Had a little cry. Took myself to Krispy Kreme. Treated myself to a pink, iced doughnut and a soya, decaf latte (Extra hot). Cost me £2.45, I really hope you miss your sales target by that amount this week.
“Get a baby, just get a kid as young as you possibly can, they won’t remember all the crap that went on before” You may hear this (or variations of) from well meaning associates during your journey. But, how young is young enough? My son was just 21 months old when he came home, I would say thats pretty bloody young. So, if this theory is true. why, after watching this Walt Disney classic was he sat there with tears streaming down his face aged two and a half asking “why Mummy Daddy lost me?” *Thanks Pixar. (before we pass any judgement, its a G rating and he loves sharks)
He’d been silently battling, trying to piece together the missing pieces of his puzzle from a much earlier age than we’d ever anticipated. (Mind you, we are talking about some kind of toddler genius here. I’m convinced he’s doing Guardian crosswords up there of an eve then shouting “Mummy, dum dum” for shits and gigs.) I was hit with the startling realisation and understanding of why he was so fraught with anxiety when I said I was popping to the shop or just nipping out to the tumble dryer. He thought we were going to loose him. He’d come to the conclusion that the reason he had to go and live with “The other people” * Foster carers was because Mummy and Daddy had lost him. I write this to you with every single hair on the back of my neck on edge. He finishes Nursery in an hour, he’s come so far. My little Nemo.
*My advice, (if you want it) would be to think less about ‘the baby’ and more about the connection you may have found during family finding with a child of any age.
You will hear this phrase from well meaning friends and family members almost immediately after you’ve had your infertility confirmation.By way of offering some kind of solution to your heartache, very similar to the John Lewis money back guarantee ‘if your first product hasn’t worked out, just come on down and bring it back, swap it for something similar.’
I’m going to be brutally honest here. ‘Just’ adopting a child will not replace the loss of a biological child.
They are their own person, they will arrive in your lives at whatever age with all of their rightful history. Of course, it goes without saying they become your child, they enrich your lives and you theirs the same way any other family would. But you must take the time to grieve for the life you assumed you would have before you embark on this journey.
I look back now just under a year into placement and can honestly say, I wouldn’t have things any other way. What you come to realise is, we have chosen to love our son.
“Issac, wow thats a lovely name sooooo unusual. Did his real mum call him that?”
“So, what happened with his other mum and Dad then? Drug dealers?” *Note the busybody is usually salivating at the mouth by this point.
“Would you share an ice-lolly or a drink with him? Because you know, he didn’t come out of you so, is that not weird?” * A great response here would be; “Did you come out of your partners genitalia then?” (i’ve never had the confidence to say that.)
Its so, so amazing what you guys have done. We’ve often thought about adopting haven’t we babe… ? * This is usually being said by a pregnant friend whilst pushing a pram.
None of the above scenarios have been fabricated. Ive been asked all of them and we claim to live in an understanding society.
To shower, or not to shower? That is the question. The answer my friends is YES!!! You’ve had to jump through so many hoops to get to this moment, with no sex involved. So you’re going to have god damn partay!!! Let’s not forget ladies, you’re not actually preggers, so you could wear a ‘mum to be‘ sash, swig on a bottle of Bolly whilst zero judgement is passed.
If you find yourself in a situation (like myself) You will most likely be sending your shower invites with 72 hours notice…..yippee. You need someone in your corner, ready to emotionally blackmail all friends and family into cancelling all other plans, attending ladened with gifts and good-wishes . Enter my sister, she was simply fantastic. You won’t have time for insta perfect shower prep. You will be in the Aldi que stockpiling nappies, wipes and those cute mini bottles of Prosecco. *Note you will get so many more gifts then your average mum to be, people just love a good news story.
When it comes to gifts and decorations, a little more thought will be required. UK retailers are hardly fit to burst with adoption goodies.
“Hi, it’s 2020. Just Wondered if you wanted to start selling helium Balloons for ALL KINDS OF FAMILIES?!” (Thats me, shouting at all the retailers)
I did find a great Tee I wore on the day (see above) (although I had to get this shipped over form America) I also wore this for my social media adoption announcement. We received a beautiful adoption record book @littlepicklememories which meant the world to me, I was sick of scurrying past the good old ‘my first year‘ books which seem to miraculously grow legs and start chasing you round the shop when you can’t have a child. It’s full of gorgeous pages for you to complete such as 1st month in your forever home & 1st Birthday with us. Another beautiful gift idea is to find a bear or fictional children’s character that has also been adopted and has a relatable story for your child, Nemo loves his precious Paddington bear.
Theres still so much scope for games, I loved the advice for parenthood cards, @gingerrayuk they apply to any aged child. *You will find yourself frantically flicking through these whilst on your third, mini Aldi Prosecco bottle.
When it comes to a cake ‘welcome to the world’ or ‘congratulations on your baby boy’ might not suit the situation, Nemo was 21 months old when he came home, I’d like to think he’d seen a bit of the world by then. We went for ‘together as one’ because thats how we felt about our new unit. We were now one.
Evolution of the adoption shower
It’s been seven months since I first started my blog, this post was one of my first pieces. I’ve been on a relentless mission ever since to raise awareness and provoke a change in mindsets so what’ changed?
Well I’ve, ah hem started my own clothing and accessories range meaning you can get an adoption shower or announcement tee without having to spend hours searching the world wide web because it really shouldn’t be that hard. http://www.shopnotafictionalmum.com
I’ve kicked up enough of a stink to get the UK’s leading online greeting card destination to listen and have worked on a selection of adoption cards the aim being that cards are more readily available and accesible. http://www.thortful.com
Small business’s want to advocate for inclusivity;
Right, hold the phone. I was gifted a box of these adoption shower iced biscuits from I opened the box and was blown away! They are utterly gorgeous, just visually they would look beautiful, I’m not exaggerating they taste like how I imagine the first drop of morning dew on a blade of grass in early spring would taste. * Tad dramtic, seriously good biccis though. Little Bakely is run by a gin lovin muma called Lucy, a business owner who wanted to make sure she was recognising all routes to parenthood.
As soon as I found Nikki’s beautiful business page I had to message her, this exceptionally talented lady creates bears, quilts and cushions to hold onto special memories, made from clothing. I actually remember letting out a little squeal in my kitchen, I wanted to find something special for Nemo during introductions, something he would treasure forever, something that might help him during one of the toughest times in his little life, leaving the security of his foster carers and coming home. Sadly, I didn’t actually find this bear when I really needed it but I have now. Nikki made Nemo the most beautiful bear made from the youngest clothes I ever got to see him in. “I missed so much of his life, I wasn’t prepared for just how much I would struggle to come to terms with that.” She can even personalise these gorgeous little fellas with the date you were matched or met, she even added the exact time. “I remember taking his sheet from his cot at his foster carers, placing it on his new bed so he had the comfort of their smell.”
That’s why I released that squeal;
These bears can be made from bedding, clothes any keepsake material she even managed to add some of Nemo’s little knitted jumper he was wearing whilst filling up his paddling pool the very first time he saw his new home.
This beautiful business have launched an entire range dedicated to adoption celebrations! The ‘adoption party box’ is ideal for celebrations at any stage of your journey including; Approval panel, matching panel or family celebration day among lots of other lovely pieces this includes adoption balloons, cake topper and banner. Just gorgeous!
There’s also a ‘they said yes box’ such a thoughtful idea and thinking about it ….. why the hec shouldn’t we be throwing the Mother/Daddy of all parties * Excuse the pun on the day we’ve just been told we’re going to become just that! This box is perfect for approval or matching panel celebrations.