Thursday, 26 June 2014

Dad's having a tough time

The NC and I went to see our counsellor a while ago. It was our first joint session in a while. We talked about something quite difficult to our normal sessions...

Before we discovered our inability to conceive naturally, the NC and I had lighthearted discussions about what our future child would look like - curly like me? slim like him? And what skills they might have - musical like me? sporty like him?
Once we found out that we couldn't have children, we had to put aside those pictures and thoughts, and instead were given a tick list of attributes, abilities and disabilities to consider. Some we could cope with, some we felt we couldn't, some we needed guidance on, some we did a bit of research on, and in the end although we hadn't created a picture of our future child, we had established some things that we felt we would be able to deal with.
It sounds callous and heartless, because after all, if we had given birth, we would have coped with whatever illnesses or disabilities our child would have had, but this is the way it is in adoption - there is an element of choice, or at the very least elimination. But still, there is always an element of risk, more so than a birth child would bring because often family background is unknown, or chaotic circumstances have led to the removal of the child in the first place.

And now we find ourselves in a position where we are facing some of those things we ticked as 'couldn't cope with', or at least the NC is.

Connected to this is the frustration and anger that the NC feels towards Social Services and towards
himself. There are many things that weren't disclosed that could have affected our decision to adopt Mini. We'll never know, but for the NC those questions still linger, he's unable to move on and just accept what has been, and look forward.
And now, he feels trapped, unable to lead a 'normal' family life, because everything revolves around Mini. Even Dollop's birthday party was carefully thought about and booked to ensure that Mini would have a good time and would not disrupt everyone else, and he was the eldest there so could feel useful and important.

And of course there are thoughts about how our family and Mini are perceived. It's hard because, if we were parents to an obviously disabled child - physically disabled, a wheelchair user, or visually impaired, then people could see, would maybe understand, could accept the many doctors appointments and justified time off work. But with Mini, he doesn't have those obvious signs - he is emotionally disabled, but no-one can see that. And these appointments that we have - we'll they're with softies like therapists and counsellors - not *proper* medically trained people...aren't they?

Because of this, the NC feels under pressure at work, unjustified in taking time off when much needed, unable to commit to the same level as others - like not being able to travel overseas easily because we need some time to prepare Mini, not being able to cover the on-call shift at short notice, because that will mean having to change Mini's routine. Don't get me wrong, the NC has a great boss, and a lovely team but he can't help thinking that if they could just see Mini 'in action', they'd understand that bit more and realise that he's not just being bloody-minded by saying no to certain things - it's just that they have a massive impact on Mini and then in turn on the rest of us.

Way back, the NC correctly identified he'd struggle to cope with some of the things that Mini now displays, and now he's working really hard on trying to support Mini as best he possibly can, but with all that worry about work, he's not having the easiest time. I need to be emotionally available to the NC, but I'm not sure I can do that so well at the moment, so luckily we have Ada the counsellor, and for now she's helping us through.

We never expected this to be so hard, we'd engaged well in our home study and thought our heads, hearts and minds were ready to parent. But now, I really wish we'd done more to get our heads ready.


  1. Goodness me, I could have written this one! With you all the way and back. So good you are getting (or giving yourselves) some counselling time. And just by writing this you are thinking about your partner, which can only be positive. Good luck to you both. It IS hard and you could never have done enough beforehand to prepare. You are doing just great.

  2. As a prospective adopter in matching, I think this is a really interesting extra insight onto all the many things I have swimming around in my head all the time. Thank you for sharing. And good luck - to you both/all four.

  3. I imagine this was a very hard post to write. There is so much about adoption that isn't what you're prepared for by the SWs. So many new things to take on board. With any child you never really know what you'll get. Katie controls a lot of our lives and needs a lot of attention and sometimes it makes me wonder was a second child best for her? It must be very hard for you to juggle Mini's needs plus those of NC too. I think I'd find it difficult not to feel frustrated and that I was trying to back everyone at the same time. Sending a hug your way because I imagine it's all very stressful for you xxx