The adoption process can seem slow, but patience often pays off.
“I’m afraid you’re not going to be able to have your own children.”
Almost 25 years ago, those words were going to change our lives more than we could have ever realized.
After three years of marriage, we had decided it was time to begin our own family. The possibility of not having our own children had never been discussed, and we assumed it would just happen at the appropriate time.
Gill’s sisters and brother all had children, and discovering we may have some problems was like a bolt out of the blue. After a battery of the most undignified tests, the news that we could not have our own children was almost too much to comprehend. That day remains something of a blur even after all this time. I do remember many tears, and a feeling of incredulity and disbelief that this could be happening to us.
Considering the options
The next few weeks were spent in almost constant discussion as we wrestled with how to deal with this unwanted news. The thought of living without children was not something that either of us dwelled on for any length of time. We preferred to consider the options open to us.
We now understand that for many in a similar situation, making the decision to move on and consider alternatives is an enormous one. For some, the idea of bringing up children that are “not their own” is just not an option and they choose to remain childless. For others, like Gill and myself, fostering and adoption is the way forward, and we embarked on the process at the earliest opportunity.
Although Gill and I were both social workers, I don’t think we had any real concept of the kind of intense scrutiny our lives would be put under during the next two years. We faced a whole series of interviews with a stream of social workers, asking what sometimes appeared to be the most personal and private information. Sex, church, discipline, punishment, teenagers - on any conceivable life situation, we seemed to be required to have a considered opinion.
I can well remember how we used to decide our “considered” opinions in the moments before the social worker arrived at our home! We must have said the right things, because at last our case was put before a panel for consideration. To much joy and celebration, we finally heard the news that we had been accepted as prospective adoptive parents.
If we thought the worst was over, the next two years of nothingness was much harder to deal with than anything we had experienced from the social workers. Just sitting and waiting was not something we found easy, particularly Gill, whose whole personality was bursting at the seams to pour out all this love she had.
One Monday afternoon when I was lecturing, there was a knock on the door and one of the secretaries told me there was an urgent telephone call for me. This had never happened to me before. When I picked up the phone, Gill was crying at the other end. She had crashed the car but was safe and unhurt. The car was a little damaged, but nobody was injured. Like the kind, caring, concerned husband I am, I told her not to worry and I would see her later!
That evening, after saying all the right things, I suggested it would be best not to disturb me while I was lecturing unless it was an absolute emergency. So I was surprised when, on the very next Monday, the same secretary interrupted the same lecture to tell me my wife was on the phone again. I picked up the phone to hear tears once more. But this time Gill managed to splutter out the words that would bring us such joy: “They’ve got a baby for us!”
A baby at last
Five days later, Rhys Daniel Joseph Williams arrived in our lives. The five days between getting the news and bringing him home was one whirl of buying baby clothes and equipment that most people take nine months to do. It seemed never-ending, and probably the bank manager still remembers the period as a particularly challenging time for all those concerned.
Those early days were not easy for me. I didn’t immediately feel at ease with this six-month-old bundle of humanity. I was later to realize that this was nothing to do with me bonding with my new son, but more to do with me not particularly feeling comfortable with young babies.
The rest, as they say, is history. Rhys is now 23 years of age, and as a post-graduate student touring the world, he is currently emailing us from Cambodia. He has a brother called Owain who arrived in our lives five years later and who, like Rhys, brings us all the highs and lows that come from being a parent. They have brought us great joy, and we could not love them more, whatever the circumstances they came to us.
Being an adoptive parent
Being a parent is tough, and perhaps the most important job that we will ever be asked to do. Being an adoptive parent brings all the normal problems, plus one or two specific ones.
We still have to face the issue of tracing birth parents, but we know that we will stand with them if they want to go through that process and whatever other issues their birth history might bring them.
Like all families, our past and our future will be full of joys and sadness, but a family we will remain. Being an adoptive parent has been a wonderful privilege. Gill and I have not regretted it for a single moment.
For further insight into the subject of adoption, we recommend a visit to our Waiting to Belong website.