Throughout the ‘pre-approval’ phase of the adoption process, we were warned about the more difficult aspects of the process:
invasive questions about our relationship,
our parenting skills.
Then we were advised that we might be in for a long wait for a potential link, due to our family being slightly unconventional:
already having three birth children,
being in leadership of a church.
During prep groups, conversations were had with regards to common preconceptions that prospective adopters have about the children waiting for matches. About the numbers of children awaiting adoption from a background of neglect and trauma. About the likely ‘additional issues’ that these children often have. About the birth families that many of the children come from and the often incomplete backgrounds and medical histories that we may have to learn to live with.
All of this preparation was good and helpful for understanding the approval process, but there was one piece of preparation that we felt was missing. At no point was it discussed with us that we may find ourselves in a position of Little Legs’ placement being put in jeopardy at the final hurdle. She is now over four years old and has been living with us, her new family, for over ten months. She now has three amazing big sisters who adore her and have adjusted so bravely to a new life with her. She has only ever known one other family, having lived with her foster carers from a very young age.
And yet, years after her plan for adoption was legally set in stone, her birth parents decided that they wanted her back. They were going to fight for her. The courts gave them the time and space to do this. We knew about Re:B-S and the rulings that allowed them this space. We understand why this happened.
But we were unintentionally put in a position where we jeopardised the emotional well being of our birth children. Don’t get me wrong, our Little One is totally worth every moment of heartbreak.
But our kids should not have been asked to bear the weight of losing a sibling.
Thankfully (for us) it did not come to this.
But in the still,
moments of the night,
it was impossible not to worry.
To worry for our family and how we would ever recover from this. To worry for our birth children and whether they would in the future understand why we took this route. For Little Legs, who would not understand who or why or what is happening to her.
The court ruled in our favour.
Little One is now officially, legally a part of our family. We feel the bittersweet nature of this ruling. Her first Mum has always loved her. She will never forget Little One. I cannot begin to imagine her emotions at this time.