I’ve been silent here for many months. This process, trying to adopt my relative’s son because his mother cannot care for him, has been heart-wrenching for everyone involved.
The last time you heard from me, I was hopeful that Alan would leave the UK to join our family in the US before too long. Sadly, that didn’t come to pass.
My viability assessment described me as having “strong parenting skills,” but next to my history of depression, a major concern they raised was that my “strong financial position” was “dependent on [my] being able to work.” Every American I’ve spoken to about this statement has expressed disbelief. Of course my income is dependent on my working!
Things just work differently across the Atlantic. In the US, we can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave for a birth or adoption, and then need to head back to work. Even more limiting, in two-parent families where both parents work for the same employer, the 12 weeks must be shared. In the UK, new mothers can take a full year of paid statutory adoption leave. I can imagine that if one lives in a place where every mom takes the first year of her child’s time in her family off work, it would be hard for people within that society to understand that we can bond with our children and provide for them while also going to work full-time.
My already having children was also held against me. “It is likely,” the social worker’s official letter of rejection said, “that when the Authority are considering Alan’s placement needs, a placement in which he is the only child will be prioritized.” That blew my mind. I completely understand the need for parents who have the time and energy to care for a child, especially to nurse an abused and neglected child to physical and emotional health. To deny experienced parents because they have children makes no sense to me. What about the benefits of loving older sisters and fantastic role models?
I very seriously considered petitioning to have my evaluation reviewed, but elected not to. Ultimately, my goal is for Alan to end up in a stable, nurturing forever home as soon as possible. If my petition would delay that, it’s not worth it. I can only hope that the British child welfare system’s standards are so high as to ensure that he will end up in a stable home.
Alan’s social worker assured me that he would advocate for an ongoing open relationship with me and my daughters after his final placement. He should always have the right to know where he came from and that he was loved and wanted, whoever his parents ultimately turn out to be.
And now, I’m waiting in silence. Alan’s final placement hearing was over a month ago, but I haven’t been able to get a response as to its outcome from his new social worker.
I just want to know that he’s okay.