November is both Diabetes Awareness Month and Adoption Awareness Month.
In other news, it’s sort of sad when you get excited because there are two more comments on your blog, and then realize that you left those comments in response to someone else.
I have to say I have been waiting for this moment for almost a year.
That sounds very dramatic, doesn’t it? I discovered the Open Adoption Bloggers about a year ago, right after last year’s interview project. And I kept reading these really interesting posts and thinking, I want to be a part of this – why am I always late for everything?
So I jumped right on when it was announced this year. I was very curious who I would get matched with – would it be someone I clicked with right away? Or someone with whom I had to reach a little further to find common ground? Once I got my assignment, I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading my partner’s archives and catching up on her story – we’ve both been blogging for a long time! Pili: What are you doing? Me: Um, just reading this blog. Pili: Really, still? Are you aware of the laundry downstairs?
And after my
compulsive thorough perusal of her archives, I really do feel like Dr. Spouse (a fellow pseudonymous blogger) and I would be good friends if we ever had the chance to meet in person. Which is unfortunately, rather unlikely, as she lives an ocean away. So without further ado… (and because I’m too tired to come up with a clever segue, having sat and sat and sat while P’ito studied his lego starwars minifigure encyclopedia to determine which five of the 200-some profiles of little plastic figurines he wanted me to read)… I asked Dr. Spouse:
1) In which you think I’m an idiot: I’ve read large chunks of your blog, and I still don’t understand the UK adoption system. Can you explain what the process looks like for a domestic adoption in the UK? Is there no such thing as a voluntary relinquishment? What would happen if you had a situation like ours, where we were connected with K. through a friend of a friend?
In the UK, parents can voluntarily relinquish, but it’s rare. It’s after 6 weeks I believe (so it’s like a few US states) but there is no private adoption in the sense that you mean. All adoptions are through an agency and I’ve never heard of a relinquishing parent being given any say in who parents his/her child, either. That was one of the reasons we ended up adopting from the US, because although Baby Spouse would have been adopted, we imagine, in the UK too, Nella would have had no choice in where he was placed even if she had relinquished him.
Relinquished children in the UK generally spend some months in foster care (though thankfully this is changing – at least the number of months is reducing!) before a placement is found, too. We knew a couple who had thought of adopting from the US, and were approved to do this, but a relinquished baby who shared their (unusual for the UK) ethnicity needed a family and she was placed with them, but not till she was 9 months old. This shocks me, to be honest.
2) This is nosy, but… You’ve written a bit about NOT being an “obvious” adoptive family – were you/are you open to a child of a different racial background from you? Why or why not?
We originally said that we would be open to a child who could be a child of one of us, but not a child who could not be a child of either of us. We live in a fairly small city, but it is a university city and a child who was not of European background would not be the only one in their class at school like this (though this does slightly depend on the school). For example, one of the children at nursery with Baby Spouse has pictures showing “My summer holiday in Nigeria and my Christmas holiday in Germany”. So “my Easter holiday in the US with my family” of whatever family would not be too strange, either. And we’ll pick his primary school based on diversity, I’m sure.
Broadly, it is more common to be “brown” in our city than it is to be “black”, and there are a lot of blended families with a variety of ethnicities in the same family. We decided we didn’t want people’s first thought on seeing us as a family to be “that child must be adopted”; as we say to people, his adoption is not a secret, but it’s not the first thing we tell people either. International adoption is pretty rare in the UK, which by itself means transracial adoption is less common than in some countries – and there’s still a bit of reluctance among social workers to place black children with white families – which I’m not sure is reflected in the families applying to adopt as much as the social workers think.
I am not sure we’d deliberately opt for a child of mixed ethnicity for a second adoption, though, but there’s a possibility it might turn out that way (and we might find ourselves down the line being surprised too – as, even if you think a child has one birth father, even after they are born, you can sometimes be wrong!)
3) You’ve referred to Mr. Spouse having diabetes. I’m curious to know how it’s impacted your life together – are you involved in his diabetes management, or do you pretty much trust him to manage it himself and figure he’ll let you know if he needs anything? What is diabetes care like in the UK? Does Mr. Spouse have a pump?
He has managed it himself without me for years – so he basically manages it now – except occasionally when I help him by handing him a snack, or reminding him I saw his insulin pen (he has a pen) on the mantelpiece before leaving the house! But he usually tells me it’s fine, that’s the spare! He is pretty well controlled and his doctor says, apart from being a little heavy (which the doctor says is fine – but we both lost weight through carting Baby Spouse around which is not bad at all!) – he’s pretty healthy for any man his age.
They monitor him very well (so they keep his cholesterol down to envious levels, for example), and the gadgets he gets (free on the NHS of course) are pretty neat. He just got a new, lightweight pen today and was showing me how nicely it fits in his work bag. When we lived in the US, he couldn’t have got the insulin and pens he uses on our HMO plan. We are huge fans of “socialised” medicine.
4) What’s your biggest anxiety about having – or not having – a second child?
About having a second child – I think the logistics – both of the adoption itself (applying to adopt, which is much more lengthy here, carting Baby Spouse around as well as another child, while doing all the paperwork, living out of a suitcase for several weeks etc.).
But also the logistics of childcare, timing the nursery pickup with my work, putting them both to bed at the same time. A small amount of anxiety about Baby Spouse taking on a sibling, though he is a very easy going child. But also anxiety about what the future may hold for him (will he manage at school? will his early adversity come back to haunt him?), and whether the same may apply to another child.
I think the anxiety of not having another child is partly loneliness. Baby Spouse’s loneliness as he gets older without a sibling, and possibly as he tries to navigate school without a peer relationship at home to guide him, and as he sees his sibling growing up (at least we hope he will) a long way away. And his loneliness as (let’s face it) an only adult child of older parents. But also my loneliness together with him if we lose Mr Spouse.
5) If you had the luxury of choosing the sex of a second child, what would it be? Why?
I guess a girl for the bizarre reason that I would like to dress her in the same clothes as Baby Spouse and see everyone’s reaction!
I only bought/kept clothes for him that I would put on a girl, and that don’t scream “stereotype”, which means almost no pastel blue, and no cars/trains/”I’m a cheeky monkey”/”I’m so noisy”/”I’m a little monster”/”Here comes Trouble”/robots/spacemen. And when I spotted something pink but not frilly, I bought it. But his clothes are also quite plain and simple, partly because that’s my taste, and partly because we got lots of hand me downs from a friend with a boy. And as a woman, I’m happy to wear plain blue trousers and a plain red shirt – so why not put that on a baby girl too?
Oddly while we’ve been talking about the possibility of a second child Mr Spouse has said several times “he” and only once realised what he was doing and said “he. Or she”.
6) You’ve traveled and lived in lots of different places. If you had to pick one place to revisit today, what would it be? Why?
I’d like to properly explore South Africa. I’ve only spent 24h there. And actually, if I can have a second, I’ve had two short stopovers in Singapore, so the same applies. For different reasons, they seem fascinating – South Africa is so varied and has so much rich culture – yet so much sadness – and while I was living elsewhere in Southern Africa in the 1990s it was emerging as a new nation. I heard about it every day on the news and yet have basically not visited.
Singapore just seems fun (good, clean fun!) – a safe taste of Asia that I’d love to take Mr Spouse and Baby Spouse to – though it is quite small, and quite a long way for a family holiday. Mr Spouse has been to East Africa with me and enjoyed it (he is good at Adventures) but I think he’d enjoy Asia a bit more if we went somewhere more set up for tourists and easier to navigate.
Bonus question: Did you wind up liking Gone Girl?
I did actually! It was quite mindless and I was jetlagged.