Tag Archive | adoption

Dream: Lost Girl

On Friday night I dreamt that I was on a train with my mother and my children including a baby who seemed to be about 6 months old. I don’t know the gender of the baby, and I can’t see details like what everybody was wearing, or what age my other children were.

We stopped at a station, and we saw my sister-in-law on a train going the other way (the logic of this doesn’t hold up in the real world of course – why were we going in different directions? how did her carriage exactly match up with where ours was, for example), and I made the baby wave to its aunt and she waved back.

Then the train started going again, and my mother took the baby (again, I can’t be sure of the reasons if there were any, or where they went, perhaps to the bathroom?) but my mother came back without the baby, with no memory of where she had left it, and of course drama and tears ensued. At the end of the dream, we were home (in my childhood home), and I was calling the police.

I woke up shaking with rage and fear and confusion.

So a number of things come to mind. My mother, in the real world, has dementia and of course I would never allow her to look after a child. Perhaps I might allow one of my older children to take care of her instead, but allowing her to take a baby would never happen.

 

I obviously know why I KEEP ON dreaming about babies and loss but what prompted this particular scenario? I wonder if, perhaps it is the sense in which I feel that I am actually losing my mother too?

The next day, I received word that the little girl we had been hoping to adopt from care was actually now going to go back to her mother (pending a court decision, I think), because firstly it had been determined that she was in fact un-adoptable (that is, that in the opinion of the social workers involved, any adoption would fail) because her trauma and damage was so great, and secondly because the mother had apparently sorted herself out, got a job and a flat, and the father was safely in prison.

I cannot put into words how crushingly disappointed I am, and how utterly wrong I believe this decision to be. However, it is what it is.

Even without mentioning names, it probably isn’t appropriate to go into any details about the case, but it really is just incredulous that this course of action is even a possibility on the table.

We obviously weren’t meant to have her, and I’m done now. I wish we had adopted ten or more years ago when my secondary infertility first started, but of course you don’t what’s coming, and we always hoped there would be another baby.

I hate that I am such a misery guts (and well, hopefully I hide it well enough that it doesn’t show elsewhere) and I hate the idea that my whole life seems to be so characterised by loss upon loss. But this is my ranting space, where I pour all my misery, so if you don’t like it, just scroll past. I write mostly for my own benefit, to get it all out, but maybe, hopefully it will help somebody too.

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Time and Again

Quick Summary of the Episode

As Voyager starts to make its way through the Delta Quadrant on its way home to the Alpha Quadrant, they pass a planet which has been decimated by a polaric energy disaster. When the away team go to investigate, Janeway and Paris are pulled back in time to just before the disaster – the explosion had shattered time and space into fractures.

Unable to get back, Janeway and Paris attempt to investigate the cause of the detonation, but (to cut the story short), it transpires that it is Voyager’s own rescue attempt that causes the disaster, and when Janeway acts to counter their beam cutting into the past, the disaster is averted, and the whole incident never happened. We are returned to Voyager before they find the planet, and since it is a pre-warp civilisation, they just move on by without visiting.

Notes

This is the first time we learn about Kes’ special mental abilities – when the civilisation is destroyed, Kes sees the explosion happening.

I really love these time travel episodes, there are so many wild possibilities! I just love time travel!

In My Life

I have been physically out of fundamentalism for six years but it is only this year that I have started facing up to what that means, working through it, ‘deconstructing’.

Recently I have started to be flooded with flashbacks and memories of my years growing up in the church in the 70s and 80s.

The name of this episode always makes me think of Cyndi Lauper’s song ‘Time after Time”, which in turn makes me think of being a teenager in the 80s, in a world of conflicts between what I was seeing at school, in the news, and in ‘real life’ as compared with the worldview inside the bubble of the strict Baptist, evangelical church we were attending at the time.

Now, when I say “attending”, it wasn’t just once on a Sunday. It was 3 times on a Sunday (10.30 morning service, 3 pm Sunday school and 6.30 pm evening service), Bible studies on Wednesday evenings, and ‘Youth Group’ on Fridays, constant dinners and visits with other members – rarely a day would go by without some kind of contact or another. We had effectively exchanged one cult for another.

I regularly search for friends I had in these churches, but their names have zero hits on internet searches. It’s as if they have fallen off the edge of reality, as though I conjured them up out of my imagination. What happened to them? It always amazes me slightly when I search for the churches that there are no hits describing them as horrible, damaging cults. Did nobody experience them in the same way I did?

I’ve already mentioned my friend who was being abused by the Sunday School Superintendent. But I wanted to share another incident that really affected me at the time and which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

One of the older girls got pregnant. It was never discussed openly, only whispered about in quiet corners. This was not long before my mother got ill with her Bipolar, so I don’t know how this affected the church but I do know the girl in question was forced to give up her baby for adoption. I often wondered whether she was given the choice of adoption or marriage. I suspect that she was never even given a choice. I don’t know how this affected her, I only know how it would have affected me. I was and still am heartbroken for her.

I can’t really put into words exactly how evangelical thinking is so toxic – so many other writers are doing so ably elsewhere.

“It seems I’ve found myself on the voyage of the damned.” – the Doctor

What really beats me is how, having got out of it almost completely when my mum got ill, I put myself under the same teaching again later on.

I wonder now, what our lives might have been like if we had never got involved with evangelical fundamentalism? What if, when my parents met the American missionaries, they just said “no thanks, we’re happy where we are”? We wouldn’t have moved on to another toxic church, I wouldn’t have put myself under such toxic teaching again as a young mother.

I am sure that my mother always had bipolar, as she had a breakdown before I was born, but she was stable for most of my childhood. I wonder, though, if she would not have got so ill if she hadn’t been triggered over and over by the toxicity of the church?

But ultimately, it’s probably not very helpful to go over the ‘what if’s’. Sadly we can’t go back and undo what we did and what was done to us. I just need to know how and where we go on from here.

The Best Laid Plans…

I know it couldnt be further from husband’s mind, but after this most recent unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage I had hoped than once we were in our own home finally we would be able to start the adoption process again.

But two weeks before we were due to move house, my mother had an emotional crisis and was showing such severe signs of confusion and possible dementia that it was decided she would have to move in with us.

So there goes our ‘spare’ bedroom. Mum has actually been much better in the six weeks she’s been with us, so the plan is to make this a permanent arrangement.

Maybe it was just never meant to be. Every time our situation was starting to look promising, another hurdle would be thrown up in our way.

And now of course, I’m 45 so even if I could get on top of my health issues (I’m currently being investigated for Cushing’s and Diabetes Insipidus, all relating back to a head injury I had back in 1983) it would be too late for babies.

I keep thinking that I should just give up making plans and just let life wash over me and take it as it comes. Just shrug my shoulders and accept that whatever will be will be.

Years ago (actually straight after I lost my twins), a friend suggested I get myself a puppy. At the time I thought it was a really insensitive thing to say. But now, after 13 years of empty arms, secondary infertility and multiple recurrent miscarriages, I would settle for a teddy bear.

Tearful Reunion

In my dream, I happened to be sitting at a bar in a pub in London (when I worked in London 20 years ago, this was something we did rarely as it was so pricey) and I caught sight of an actor I had seen on the television the previous night.

He had played the ‘baddie’ in something or other. He was tall and slim, with a very stereotypical British-looking thin face. I told him I thought him very dashing in the programme, and he invited me to join the cast on their celebratory drink.

A little while later, I spotted an old friend and waved her over, but then I noticed her amazing resemblance to the man and so I introduced them. There was an immediate recognition.

As is the way in dreams, the pub had the facilities to carry out immediate genetic testing, and the two were able to ascertain not only that they were related but that they were in fact brother and sister.

That same evening, the woman rang her mother and said she would be coming home with a surprise, and took the man home to meet her.

The man was introduced to his mother, who gradually realised that this was her long-lost son that she had been forced to give up so many years before. The circumstances were not discussed at this meeting. It was a joyful, tearful reunion.

The next day, the man contacted me to thank me for helping to reunite him with his family, but he was clearly distressed.

He told me he had not known he was adopted, and during the night he had dreamed of memories of a life with that family, and with that sister, which suggested that he had not been given up at birth but later. Why?

He parked his car, and we arranged to meet there again later, but I did not get my answers as I woke up.

I wonder what prompted this particular dream? Adoption isn’t particularly on my mind at the moment. (Ditto London, genetic testing, or British baddies on television!)

Voluntary adoption (a mother giving up her baby or child) is very rare in the UK now, although this dream adoption might have taken place 40 years ago when the social pressures were quite different.

There are many aspects of adoption that seem cruel. The UK is alone in Europe in allowing involuntary adoption (where children are removed permanently from their parents on the grounds of abuse or neglect), most countries preferring to permanently foster such children without irrevocably severing ties.

Voluntary adoption is something else quite different that I feel unqualified to discuss as I have very little knowledge of it. I am sure there are many reasons why a mother would give up her child, but in most circumstances I think I would tend to be more in favour of supporting the birth mother to keep her child. Adoption in such cases seems to be a poor choice of kindness.

(Although if the only alternative is abortion of course I would always be in favour of adoption. The recent idea that abortion is ‘kinder’ than adoption is beyond bizarre. It is, in any case, a false and illogical dichotomy. If birth mothers were supported, fewer would face such a horrible choice.)

Overall, of course, I still support adoption, but the trauma of a child being divorced from its origins seems so severe that I suspect we ought to look at alternatives.

Out in the cold, dark night

So here we are, almost nine weeks after moving out of our rented house, from which we were being evicted, into the brand spanking new housing association property. Minus the mold and the awful landlord and letting agents, but also minus carpets and curtains, the gardens, the fabulous view and minus the dining room, the built-in wardrobes. (We’re also still waiting for our deposit to bé returned) I could go on, but I’m trying not to dwell on the negatives.

One negative I am really struggling with though is the lack of landline phone and internet. Thank God for my mobile phone, but it is costing me almost as much to run this mobile as our only phone and internet source as it was to run broadband and wifi for the whole house before.

Nine weeks is long enough, don’t you think? If I had a choice not to use BT I would certainly vote with my feet, but of course they rely on your inability to go to anybody else for a landline.

I have been through a few traumatic events in the last few years, so in one way I’m used to it, but in another, I feel battle-worn and weary, traumatised too many times.

I’m basically middle-aged now. I thought that by now we would have a stable, comfortable home with a stable, comfortable network of friends and family around us. Nothing could bé further from the truth.

Needless to say, my health has taken a turn for the worse in the last few weeks, to the extent that – apart from a few necessary errands – I am mostly needing to lay down in bed in my room. Even sitting up is too painful, my neck feels unable to hold my head up for long.

I had a conversation on Saturday morning with a pentecostal friend, and I mentioned my ill health, so she said a prayer online which she asked me to agree to, which I did, but then she said “Now we have done ‘spiritual warfare’ and you are healed. Don’t invite back the spirit of infirmity.”

I have spent some time in pentecostal churches, so it shouldn’t have surprised me but I was taken aback. If only life were that simple!

The problem with having such a simplistic worldview is that it becomes inevitably judgemental – if you don’t get well, if your circumstances don’t improve, you must have failed in some way, failed to adequately wage spiritual warfare, had a lack of faith, spoken negative words to “invite” negativity back into your life! (Remember the ‘Secret’?)

Unfortunately, unless you want a potentially self-defeating argument, you learn to have to watch what you say around people with this kind of thinking. I feel another sense of loss that I can’t trust this friend with my true thoughts and feelings.

Anyway, our big news is that, in view of our circumstances, in view of my health, our finances, my husband’s age (over 50 now), we don’t intend to pursue adoption.

That decision comes with another terrific sense of loss and grief and guilt, but we left it too late I think. I wish we had looked into it ten years ago, but on the other hand it would not have been good to put adopted children through what we have been through in the last few years. It looks like it just wasn’t meant to bé. (Either that, or I didn’t wage enough spiritual warfare. Joke.) 😦

I dreamt last night that there were a bunch of children that weren’t mine out in the shed, out in the wet cold night, and one of them broke into the house and threatened me with a gun. Somehow I knew that they were out there, and I was more shocked that I hadn’t let them in than that this child was standing in front of me with a gun. Dreams are stupid, but I expect that’s the guilt talking. I would let you in, but I don’t think I would bé very much good for you.

Memories of Lidingö

This is probably a bit random and disjointed. It’s largely taken from a series of tweets that I posted, so apologies for anybody who has already seen most of it. Apologies also that there are no photos – I have some, I just can’t figure out how to get them into WordPress.

Earlier in the week, I was unable to sleep. I was worried about the whole business of eviction in general and specifically about meeting with the housing association the next day. As I was tossing and turning, a memory came to me which reminded me that this is actually our third experience of eviction.

Last time, it was quite a different experience – the landlord decided that he wanted to move in to the house we were renting, but because we had only been there a few months, we hadn’t unpacked everything.

I had unpacked too much, but most of it was still in boxes and some of it was still in storage. So although it was unpleasant, I don’t remember it completely flooring me. Somehow, we just got on with it. It didn’t even occur to us to apply for emergency housing because at the time we still had our own house that we were renting out back home.

The first time we were evicted, we were in Sweden. We were renting a tvåa apartment – that is, a two room apartment (one bedroom, one living room) in Hjorthagen in Stockholm.

We were only given one month’s notice to get out, due to the whole apartment block being refurbished.

I had finished my course (Scandinavian Studies) at Stockholm University as part of my degree from UCL in London – the reason we were there in the first place – and since we had felt quite homesick, and it was so hard to survive there on one income, we decided to move back to the UK.

I don’t know what we were thinking. Can you imagine what it is to organise an international move inside of a month?!

To complicate things, Husband’s employer refused to let him go.

I don’t know what the laws surrounding housing or employment are in Sweden. Now, it seems to me that both these demands were unreasonable. Surely one month isn’t sufficient notice of eviction, and it surely isn’t acceptable for an employer to refuse to accept a month’s notice to leave a job! But that was what happened, and not knowing any better, we just did what we were told.

Somehow we packed our stuff, cleared our apartment, bought a big trailer to fit all our furniture and shipped it  all back (actually took it ourselves), with our car, to my mother-in-law’s house and then we flew back to Stockholm.

We had found and arranged a temporary sub-let of a tvåa apartment on Lidingö – the beautiful, big island outside of Stockholm. We were there for around six weeks, and it ought to have been a pretty fabulous summer holiday, except for the fact that I was too stressed to enjoy it.

lidingömap

I remember buying bread (I’m not sure why that’s such a vivid memory) and I remember that the little local library was ‘sommarstängd’ (closed for the summer) the whole time we were there. I had forgotten until I started thinking about it, but the main library in Lidingö Centrum stayed open, and I remember getting the bus there with my son several times.

I have a vivid memory of being on the bus to Stockholm one time when my son needed the potty, and I just had to get it out for him there and then! His dagis (short for ‘daghem’, day home, meaning nursery or kindergarten) hadn’t been willing to potty train him at all, so I had decided it was time and that I would get him trained before the end of the summer. I don’t recall whether or not I was successful. I suppose I must have been.

We had to walk past the library every day to get to the little supermarket and the beach. I remember there were dozens of flying ants all around the pathway through the woods to the library, and that they fascinated my little boy but gave me nightmares, playing to my fears of being powerless I suppose.

I remember spending a lot of time at the tvättstuga – the ‘washing cottage’ which is a communal laundry centre that apartment buildings have. This apartment complex was much more modern than the one that we had lived in all year in Hjorthagen. There, you only needed a key to get into the building (and it seemed to be left open during the day) but on Lidingö you needed two sets of keys just to get into the tvättstuga.

I also remember with envy the fantastic torkskåp clothes driers. You can’t get them in the UK, which is such a shame because, in my opinion, they are much more efficient than tumble driers and since you hang the clothes up to dry inside the cupboard, they come out in a much better condition. Perhaps one day I will be in a position to import one! 🙂

The landlady was a divorced American vegetarian, Sunny I think her name was, with a son named Attila, which is obviously memorable. She was taking her son to the States for the summer, and our enforced holiday perfectly coincided with hers. I have a vague feeling that we may have left meat in her freezer, and I worried for ages that I might have left the toys out, or left the back door unlocked. That’s the sort of thing stress does to you. If you’re reading this, Atilla’s mom, I apologise. Thank-you for letting us use your lovely apartment.

I also remember a fellow Englishman coming to visit and cooking spaghetti bolognese for us! Mike? He was a friend of a friend (Marie Åberg – whatever happened to you?!) that I had met at the Swedish Church in London. Neither of us were religious at the time, but it is a great place to connect with Swedish people when you’re learning the language.

I remember that, on the last day before we went home, Husband was late coming home from work. I remember being super stressed and irritable and worried about making our connections the next day.

While we were waiting for him, we went to the play park behind the apartment building. I remember having a conversation with another foreign mum. I can’t remember whether she was British or American, but she said that she had lived in Holland before moving to Sweden. I asked her how she had found Holland and how it differed from Sweden.

She answered that she found that Swedes were not at all service-orientated. She explained that there was no ‘the customer is always right’ philosophy. Whereas in Holland, or the US or even in the UK to a lesser extent, people will go out of the way to ensure that the customer was happy and would return for more business, but in Sweden, people dealing with the public all seemed a bit grumpy and unhelpful. I confess I had also found that somewhat to be the case myself. I had also found that you get a completely different attitude depending on whether you spoke English or Swedish, but that’s for another post I guess.

I remember that, while we were on Lidingö, Husband caught the ferry to work rather than the bus through Lidingö Centrum and into Stockholm. That was pretty cool actually. I miss the ferry. Cornwall definitely doesn’t have enough ferry boats. Ferry boats are my favourite. After hovercraft. (That shows my age a bit there!)

The last week we were there, my son lost a little ‘kramkanin’, a soft cuddly rabbit. We lost it somewhere in Stockholm, so we had to go back and retrace or steps but we never found it. He had had it since we first went to Sweden when he was 20 months. In fact, I think it was something he had had since he was a little baby and that it was a gift from Grandma. When we left Sweden, he was 3 and a half. So I had gone out to Sweden with a baby, an d was coming home with a big (little) boy.

That little kram-kanin represented him and his lost ‘babyhood’ somehow. I think I was more distressed and emotional than he was. I may have made up the word ‘kramkanin’ by the way. I remember trying to explain to the ferry staff that we had lost this little teddy rabbit, and they looked at me like I was nuts. So I suspect that ‘kramkanin’ probably isn’t a real Swedish word! 🙂

All of that happened 17 years ago now. But it is all very fresh in my mind now. I hadn’t even thought about Lidingö for ages up til now.

It is funny thinking of living so close to the seaside then, since we live by the sea now (although not close enough to walk there). The weather that summer was fabulous if I can trust my memory and I think we went there almost every day.

It was quite a nice beach although I don’t really remember whether it was sandy or stony. Stony, probably. I remember that the great big Silja car ferries came past between Stockholm and Lidingö on their way to Finland, and that as they did they caused a huge rippling wave to crash onto the beach, and that it made all the children scream with delight.

I remember finding an injured bird on the way home from the beach one day, and that all the people I asked to help with it refused, saying that “Things just die. It’s the natural way of things.” I didn’t dare take it back to the apartment as there were lots of cats around, so I just left it. But I remember being a little shocked and stung to find that people could be so hard. Or maybe I’m just a softie?

Anyway, the stress of being evicted and unsettled after Sweden began ten years of insomnia for me. I eventually managed to get on top of the problem but I know I am prone to sleeplessness. I really don’t want to start it up again so I try to be quite strict about bedtimes, and if I can’t sleep I try to avoid getting up and going downstairs.

But now we are so unsettled again I think I may need to learn some kind of meditation techniques or something to protect myself.

We saw the Housing Association yesterday and it all seemed positive in the morning. They pretty much said that the house was ours.

But in the afternoon, there was a flurry of calls from the Housing Association and the Council querying the fact that we used to have a house, and we used to have money a few years ago and now we don’t.

It seems as though they think that we are somehow scamming them or have done this to ourselves on purpose. Because, you know, losing your house and job to rent somebody else’s place is *such* an attractive and tempting prospect. (Really?)

And then to top it all, I finally got a call back from the Adoption Agency this morning, three weeks after telling them that we were having to move house. They have decided to take us off their books and close our file, and they told us that, if we want to go ahead and adopt, we will need to contact them again in a year’s time.

Realistically, having waited all this time after all these losses, I think I am just exhausted physically and emotionally. I also think I will just be too old (45) in a year’s time. Unless my health improves drastically (as opposed to worsening due to stress and disappointment), I don’t think I will have the ability to take on another child, and especially not a deeply traumatised one as I know is inevitable with adoption from foster care. So that is probably the end of our adoption journey, unless God intervenes with blessing and favour, of which – despite everything we have been through – I always remain hopeful.

 

 

 

Twisty-turny Lifey-wifey

2015 is not shaping up to be all I hoped it would be so far.

2015

Firstly, I was not able to go ahead with the next OU module due to a funding error. The same funding error that Student Finance England promised me was sorted out in September. So now I have lost a whole year’s worth of study. I’m beginning to feel that perhaps I’m not destined to study with the OU.

Then the Ministry course that was being run in North Cornwall, for 28 churches, was cancelled because only 3 people (myself and my eldest son included) had signed up for it. Out of 28 churches. Yes, you read that right. Spirit of Apathy, anyone?

And then, this week, just in time for Lent, we have been served with an eviction notice. Our Landlord – the one who has delayed and prevaricated and refused to pay for repairs for the entire time we have lived here – has decided to sell the house, and that it will sell more quickly empty. Charming. (Now that he’s evicted us, he’s decided to actually replace the boiler.)

I wonder whether there are any nice, kind, honourable landlords. And then I remember being a landlord. We thought we were nice, kind and honourable. But we were also appallingly naive.

Because we knew the tenants, and they were down on their luck, we didn’t take a deposit. We set our rent at a level just enough to pay our mortgage so that we could rent elsewhere, not a penny of profit. We left the house in an outstanding condition – better than we had ever had it while we lived there.

But our tenants, when he lost his job, rather than contacting us to let us know they were having trouble, just stopped paying rent. From October to May, we had no rental income. Our actual income was so low that we didn’t have money for food. we literally didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. We were forced to evict our tenants. It felt awful.

Our tenants never contacted us, they just skipped town owing us thousands and thousands of pounds.

When we went back to our house, we were astounded at what they had done to it. They had utterly ruined our family home, short of setting it on fire, they had done everything they possibly could to make it unliveable, and it was covered in thick, black ooze from chain-smoking. Their poor kids. It didn’t get like that overnight – they must have lived like that for months.

As we were penniless by that stage, we had no choice but to sell it, at a loss, barely covering our debts and the deposit for this house.

This time round, we have no savings, no way of raising a deposit for a new house, and strangely we find that landlords and letting agents don’t like people who rely on housing benefit to boost the pay their pitifully low income to pay the rent.

We are in the unenviable position (as so many thousands in this country are) of being totally at the mercy of merciless landlords, in a merciless society.

I wonder what happened to our tenants, where they went, who would possibly have taken them on.

I was angry with our tenants for a long, long time. How could they have been so cruel to us when we were so good to them?

And then I remember that he was an adult adoptee, abandoned in the ’50s with no knowledge of his parentage, and estranged from his adoptive family. I remember that he was depressed already when they moved in. And I wish I had tried harder to help them. (Even though I still wish they hadn’t taken it out on us.)

I’ve been surrounded by rich Christians all my life. In fact, I was one of them. I grew up in a reasonably wealthy family. We owned our own home in a nice neighbourhood, we wanted for nothing, really. But my family’s fortunes changed a long time ago, and it has been downhill ever since.

But not one time in all our crises have we ever been offered financial help, practical assistance, or even emotional reassurance from the Church. If there’s one thing that makes me more angry than anything else it is that. The Church at least should be a haven of mercy.

timey

The title of this post refers, of course, to Doctor Who, and wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey things. Life is so twisty-turny and unpredictable. It seems that nothing is guaranteed, nothing in this life can be relied upon.

If I could go back in time, to a better part of my life – when things were less complicated – when would I go to? If you’ve seen the film ‘About Time’, you’ll know that you can’t go back beyond the birth of your children, so I think I would choose to go back to the day my youngest was born, before everything went wrong.

And I’d do things differently.