Last week roundup results #40

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This week top 5

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Saying Goodbye

Holly, our little foster daughter, moved out a few days ago.

When I look around the house, there is no trace she has ever been here, if not for a picture frame sitting on the window sill.

Holly arrived quickly in our lives, about 5 hours after we even knew she existed, and she left almost as fast. It was just a few days ago that we got a call from her social worker to say Holly would have left in a couple of days.

The news came as a bit of a shock, but not entirely as a surprise. It was in the air, it was the only choice left on the table. Her social worker didn’t really do a good job in representing her best interests, and the outcome just reflected that. I keep trying to remind myself that my role as foster carer it’s not taking decisions on what will happen to a child, or to judge the outcome of the court. But my role includes compassion and hope. So I hope every day that Holly is safe and looked after in her reclaimed life.

In the meantime, the phone already started ringing. We have a boy who needs a placement, would you consider an older girl, what about a siblings group? And every time I say no, every time I answer that we cannot accommodate a child, a little bit of me feels like dying inside.

I think back at Holly, at how she plainly said I made her feel sad, at the many times she told me she didn’t like me, and at how she never kissed me goodnight. My memories are filled with kicks, growls, and shouts. But there is no hostility or resentment from my side.

The day she returned to mum, I went to drop her off together with my son Ben. Holly was first glad to be outside the house, and then excited when she found out we were waiting for mum. And when mum entered the room, nothing else mattered anymore. Certainly, not me, nor Ben.

Ben and I stared at her walking away with mum. Holly didn’t wave goodbye, didn’t kiss us, didn’t hug us. She just looked up at her mum and asked in a joyful voice that I don’t recall she ever used with us Can I sleep in your bed tonight?

I stood there tall and brave for my son. The further away Holly walked, the closer I felt like screaming at mum Please, don’t fuck it up. That was also the moment I realised how much I loved Holly, how much she became part of our family, and how much each of us learnt from her.

My son Ben, my husband Diego and I, we all carry memories of our time with Holly. These memories will be in our hearts forever. Our time with Holly changed us, made us somehow better people, a better family. And our memories are a testament to it.

But I cannot fail to see all the pain that these memories are made of, Holly’s pain and ours. I wonder which of these memories will stay with Holly, if she will think of her life with us from time to time, if one day she will forgive me for all the sadness I caused her, and if she will be able to let go of all the anger she brings with her everywhere.

I sometimes glance at that picture on the window sill. She looks gorgeous, happy and without a worry in the world. And I know that’s exactly how I want to remember her.

Last week roundup results #39

Welcome to this week round-up result page.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who nominated new articles or voted for their favourites. And, of course, congratulations to all the winners of this week roundup.

If you are new to our roundup and want to know more, have a look at this page.

This week top 5

Did you know a new roundup is always on? You can visit this week roundup, or add new article to it.


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A natural born mum

The first thing I learned when I enrolled in the adoption training is that there’s a lot more to learn; the last thing I learnt, is that I should stop being so flipping selfish.

I must admit I initially resented the notion that, as aspiring adopting parents, we need to be taught how to be one. I really took it the wrong way, as if someone was implying that my inability to have children of my own had something to do with my innate ability to look after one. Back then I would use expressions such as children of my own, which goes to show how little I knew about the whole subject.

I remember wondering how much there might be to learn. It seems silly now, but I remember complaining to myself that most people become parents without any formal qualification; they do just fine, why do I need to do this? There are very few things that can make you feel more insecure than parenthood, and the obvious lack of confidence from Social Services didn’t help.

A more rational part of me eventually accepted that I knew almost nothing about adoption. I could guess there was more to it than what can be learnt from the movies. Real-life adoption is obviously very different, and many adopters (like myself back then) need to be told. The training provided during the adoption process begins with doing just that, helping people wake up. It touches topics any aspiring adopter should know about, and many of them are not pleasant.

But there is one more thing that anyone should take away from the training.

When I first started, to me the adoption process was all about me. Adopting a child was simply a mean to get what I wanted: namely having someone calling me mum. I feel a bit shameful to admit it now, but that was then.

Luckily the training and the process changed my perspective. Even someone as self-centred as myself couldn’t fail to notice that adoption has very little to do with yourself. None of the sessions I attended focused on the needs of parents. Parents were rarely even mentioned, if not to illustrate which parent handled a horribly difficult situation correctly and which one didn’t; or to prove that, without guidance, I would have gotten it all wrong.

Adopting a child is all about what the child needs. If you, like me, got into the process with the wrong idea it’s fine, you can still do well. Just make sure that, by the end of it, you understand what every social worker has been trying to teach you all along.

Last week roundup results #38

Welcome to this week round-up result page.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who nominated new articles or voted for their favourites. And, of course, congratulations to all the winners of this week roundup.

If you are new to our roundup and want to know more, have a look at this page.

This week top 5

Did you know a new roundup is always on? You can visit this week roundup, or add new article to it.


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You can now add the roundup badge to your website and make it even easier for your readers to vote for you.

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U-turning

Before we decided to find out more, adoption for me was an obscure and seemingly complicated thing. When we finally decided to give adoption a go, I had to learn more about it, and as it turns out, adoption is indeed complicated.

The process itself is confusing. It involves stages, weird assignments, and all sort of people panels; but we got through it just fine. And not without a good helping of arrogance on my side. I was confident, more than confident, in fact. I knew we would have sailed through the approval process in a breeze because, I thought, we were exactly the kind of family the adoption service was looking for: young (-ish) professionals in a stable relationship, financially safe, and living in two in a house made for a larger family. I’m sure all that helped, but I still think it was the way the selection process changed our thinking about adoption that made us good adoptive parent material.

A few truths helped me make sense of the selection process. There were bad birth parents, and good adoptive families, all children were equally easy to love, and love could conquer it all. Adoption was always good, and how couldn’t it be. We were in the process of adopting a child because we wanted to be the best parents we could be for him or for her. How could that be a bad thing?

But that was four years ago and very much has happened since. As you learn more about adoption you realise that the simplistic views that propped you up in the past aren’t even half the truth. Scratch the surface, and you’ll find that you were right when you knew nothing about it, adoption is complicated.

I have been forced to change my views on adoption at every turn. Four years ago, I wouldn’t have agreed with much of what I believe today. This process is still very much ongoing, but despite all the u-turns I make in the past, I’m still thinking that what I believe today is right. I will disprove myself in a few years, no doubt.

It helps to meet a birth mother before concluding that all birth mothers are bad people. There are some awful people out there willing to do the most appalling things to their children, and that’s what we often read about, but most birth parents are not the monsters we read about. They truly love their children and wish things were different for them, but it’s hard to be a decent parent while dealing with alcoholism and family violence. Their children will always be caught in the crossfire, and that’s why they’re taken away from them. It’s for the best.

But the truth is that often, in foster care and adoption, there are only bad options to chose from and it’s incredibly hard to pick. That’s the case for Holly, our foster daughter. Until not long ago, the options available for her were going back to her mum or go and live with a close relative. When this close relative pulled out, kind of last minute, we were all glad this change of heart happened now rather than later. But till not long ago, the close relative seemed to be the Holly’s best bet too.

We’ll need to make a choice too, because it’s possible Holly will need to remain in care for some time yet, and our supervising social worker is already asking what we’re going to do if that should happen. There are reasons (which I won’t disclose to protect the privacy of everyone involved) that make this choice more difficult that it should be. Soon we’ll have to decide what we think is best for everyone: us, our son, Holly. And again, there isn’t a single good option, what is good for one is bad for at least one other. But we will need to make a choice.

And maybe the best choice is for Holly to live with a new family, although I hate to even consider it. And as we put together a photo album and collect little mementoes for her to keep in her memory box, I worry what it will be of her, and who will be at hand to help her in the future, if not us.

Last week roundup results #37

Welcome to this week round-up result page.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who nominated new articles or voted for their favourites. And, of course, congratulations to all the winners of this week roundup.

If you are new to our roundup and want to know more, have a look at this page.

This week top 5

Did you know a new roundup is always on? You can visit this week roundup, or add new article to it.


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You can now add the roundup badge to your website and make it even easier for your readers to vote for you.

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What makes you sad?

The social worker came to see Holly, our foster daughter, in preparation for the final hearing. She arrived at lunchtime, because trying to follow a routine doesn’t seem to be so important anymore for some.

The social worker wasn’t anyone I already met. She told me she was just doing a one off visit to “get a feeling of the child”. It wasn’t even 5 minutes after she arrived when she asked Holly to follow her in the in the playroom, where they could spend some time together and play some games. Holly followed without any objections. It’s alarming to see a child so small and young to just walk away with a stranger, without even turning around once or show any sign of uncertainty.

I sat in the kitchen with my son Ben, and while we were having our lunch, I listened to what was going on in the playroom.

Holly showed the social worker all her toys to with pride and a touch of malice: my book, my ball, my doll. And then the social worker asked her if she wanted to help her with a drawing. She took out of her bag some colouring pens, and a black and white drawing of a house. Holly got closer to the table to see the picture, and the social worker asked, “what colour would you like to use for the door?”. Holly doesn’t know the names of colours and she just stood there, in silence, waiting for the next questions.

A couple minutes later, I heard the social worker asking, “Who shall we put into the house with you?”. Silence. More silence. And then a soft, “I don’t know”. The social worker was happy to step in, “Your mum?”. Holly said yes, and I could hear a smile in her voice. She is very attached to her mum, and every time she sees her or someone mention her, Holly brighten up with love.

The social worker was asking more questions, but I couldn’t really work out what they were saying. Then she asked her, “What do you like of your mum?”. Holly emitted a funny squeak. She definitely understood the question, that’s why she was giggling, but she couldn’t form an answer. I just thought that there is so much of mum she loves, that she couldn’t pick just one thing and therefore decided to stand there chuckling.

When the social worker asked what she didn’t like about mum, Holly swiftly dodged the ball by asking for one of the stickers that were popping out the social worker’s bag. She momentarily forgot all good manners and just proclaimed, “I want one of those”.

But the social worker wasn’t ready to give up as yet, “What makes you happy?”. I heard Holly saying “bobol” so the social worker repeated the question. Little did she know that bobol is the way Holly pronounces the word bottle, the one she still drinks every night to help her fall in sleep. It’s not that she doesn’t know how to say the word bottle properly, she just likes to talk as a little child and mispronounce words. I saw Holly behave that way with mum, and mum finding it very cute and worth of praises and cuddles. Holly pondered about the question for a little while, as if she was thinking at what happy means. This time she just said, “I don’t know”.

Then the social worker asked, “What makes you sad?”. Holly answered, quickly and concisely, “Laura”. Me.

I sat there on my chair. My heart skipped a bit. I held my breath for few seconds and then I let the gravity of that answer sank in. And that reality hit me harder than any kick Holly has ever thrown at me.

I wondered if she was aware I was listening from the other room, and if she knew how much her answer hurt me. But more importantly, I wondered how many times I unintentionally hurt her, when all I wanted was to offer my help.