Sunday, 1 April 2012

Adoption and babies

 A couple of pieces of writing I've done about children and adoption

August 2008 - the opening to a book I never wrote

"As soon as we walk through the door, I know something is wrong. Not wrong for them of course, but wrong for us. Two bottles, nine tall glasses, and expectant faces as we enter the room.

“Bloody hell, champagne? Are you pregnant again?”

A hesitation, too long, like the clocks have stopped. They’ve already got two children, there’s already a lump in my throat.

“Well, not us,” K breathes, looking meaningfully at T.

I turn my attention to M and T as well: our last childless, but also unmarried, friends. A final ray of hope, perhaps it’s engagement champagne. I look at T, and notice no ring on the finger of her left hand, as it rests protectively across her stomach in that familiar, gut-wrenching way.

She’s pregnant. I want to run out of the door, but we’re not at home, and I wouldn’t know where to go. I do the only other thing I can do. I fling myself at the couple, scrabbling to get past chairs and tables to bury my face into their shoulders, so my congratulations seem genuine.

The champagne is passed around: it’s easy to get plastered when someone has good news, a ready made excuse to celebrate, and the high strength alcohol at hand."

September 2008 - a reaction to a Sun article on adoption

"There's currently an adoption drive by Barnado's in the newspaper because they feel people are forgetting about adoption. Every time I read these articles it mades me sad, and angry, and I pine a little bit.

For anyone that doesn't know, I started trying to lose weight in 2004 because we decided we wanted a child. I was very overweight, because of my own fault, but exacerbated by Mum being ill and then dying in late 2003.

Looking into different options, we decided on adoption, mainly because having a child naturally would mean me being pregnant and not able to look after Ian (this was pre-funding days). I looked into it and knew my BMI needed to be 40. It was 60 at the time, but I was managing to lose weight easily.

Once my BMI got to 41, we decided to apply. We went to the meetings, we had the home visits, and we were told that because Ian is disabled, my BMI would need to be 38. I asked why this was, and it was because if anything happened to me, then only Ian would be bringing up the child. I didn't quite understand this, as single people are being allowed to adopt, and if a single parent died, they'd be in a worse position than we would if Ian died. However, I was willing to do whatever was needed.

Everything was set, I just had to wait until my BMI was 38 and then give them a call and let them know.

I don't work well under pressure. I like to do things at my own pace, and I always get it done in time, because I start early. It was taking me longer to lose those 3 BMI points than it did the 19 previously.

We received a telephone call telling us we had been taken off the list because it was taking too long for us to respond. We'd never been told there was a time limit. My BMI was at 40 at this point.

It broke my heart. We seemed so close, and now we were back at the start. I lost interest in losing weight, and in children altogether. When someone told me they were pregnant, anyone, I couldn't be happy for them. At this moment in time, I don't think we'll be having a child.

What upsets me so much is that no one who can just have a baby gets tested in this way. There are people having babies with a BMI above 40 all over the world. Luckily we don't smoke either, as this goes against you, but even so there are people smoking having babies all over the world.

Leaving aside high profile parents, we see patients in the surgery whose children's teeth are full of cavities because they allow them to drink sugary soft drinks straight from the bottle at the age of 3. I see people in the street chatting on their mobile phones and blowing smoke in their children's faces as they completely ignore them. I've volunteered in schools and sat reading with children whose parents don't bother reading to them at home.

What I'm trying to say is, parents make mistakes. Some parents are fat, some parents smoke, some parents become bankrupt. Even the best parent in the world can have a bad day amongst a thousand good ones.

The fact is, if you can become a parent without assistance, then it's fine. If you need help to become a parent, you're scrutinised in every area of your life, as they try and make you fit a mould at that particular point in your life. If I reached a BMI of 38 and adopted, then put the weight back on, would they take the child away? If I married someone I didn't love and adopted, and then remarried Ian and took the child with me, would that make a difference? Come to think of it, if we managed to adopt, and then I left Ian and married a smoker, would they take my child away?

When my BMI was 40, I was the fittest I've ever been, going to the gym 3 times a week, never drinking, never eating sugar, and feeling the best I've ever felt. If that isn't good enough, I don't think I'm ever going to be good enough by their standards. I think from now on I'll stop reading newspaper articles about how people aren't adopting any more, and carry on living my fat life in a good home with a secure income and loving parents who never were."

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