4am. The metallic crackling noise from the baby monitor wakes me up.

Is Ben awake? Is he gonna cry? Do I need to go and check what’s going on?

But Ben, my adoptive son, goes back to sleep, and after few seconds the only noise I can hear is the gentle hum coming from the speaker.

I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep, but I can’t. I can feel my heart beating faster and faster. I can feel my stomach tightening and my throat closing. Feels like an anxious episode, but it’s not. It’s only the feeling caused by not knowing the answer to the question that pops into my head:

When did I become such a bad person?

We were approved as Foster Family about 2 months ago. I imagined we would get a placement not long after panel, but it hasn’t happened yet, and we are just waiting and waiting and waiting. I remember reading about Local Authorities in the UK needing to urgently recruit 9,000 new foster carers to match the growing number of children in need.

Yet there isn’t a child for me?

I’m told that November is typically a slow month for placements. I find the comment rather inappropriate, but if that is true, we might get a placement in December, just before Christmas. And here we go, another bad though is forming in my mind:

Christmas? Really? You kidding me, right!?

I want to be able to give Ben a jolly good time for the Christmas holidays. After all, this will be a magical time for him. He’s almost 3 years old now, and for the first time, he can make sense of Santa, the decorations and presents, and generally what’s going on around him. I don’t want to take it away from him, and I can image a placement close to Christmas been tricky, to say the least.

When did I become so selfish?

I remember having similar feelings during the adoption training, long before we met Ben. The training went on for months, and it was normal to feel anxious towards the end of it. After a while, I started believing “my child” was somewhere out there in the world, alone and scared, and all I wanted was for him to be safe and to be home soon. Not once I told myself that the hypothetical child I was thinking of, was not my child – he still had a family – and he was already at home – with his birth family.

I never really analysed those thoughts before, they are too scary to even consider. I like to think of myself as a compassionate person. I offer my trolley token to people who don’t have coins for the trolley, I ask to carry the shopping of elderly ladies in my small town who struggle with the heavy bags, I always make sure to give way to cars when the traffic is heavy and drivers have to wait forever before been able to pull out from a side road.

But I was eager to adopt and have a family, as I’m now to have a placement, sooner rather than later. I feel like I’m implicitly hoping for some poor child to be neglected so that he can be placed with me. How empathetic is that?

The paradox is that adoption and fostering give us the chance to do something invaluable and good for a child, and for us to become the best parents and carers we can be. But in order to do so, something awful and painful has to happen first.

Does this mean that wanting to do good ultimately makes us bad people?

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