Monday, 14 April 2014

This journey ends, a new one begins

Well, it's been 10 months since my last post but I always knew that my next post would be the finale for this blog.
When I started writing it was for two reason:
1) To document the process we were going through due to my memory not being the greatest.  I tend to remember things but not in any particular order or in great detail, so this was going to be reminder of all the ups and downs; and
2) As a keep sake for the child that we hoped would one day be ours.

As the writing process continued it became clear that people enjoyed reading my blog and following our journey and for that I am very grateful.  It also brought a sense of hope and of different understanding to many people and it was great to see that my ramblings about our journey were helping others in a similar situation.

We were very lucky to be placed with such an amazing child who brings us joy, laughter, fun, frustration, worry and cuddles in equal measure.  It was partly due to her nature that we settled down to being a family so quickly and that is where, for me, this blog seemed to become less relevant.  Thankfully we were no longer on a journey to becoming two Dads, we WERE / ARE two dads.
I started to feel that the things we were experiencing were the things that all families faced.  I would discuss  things with my friends and they would have had the same experiences.  And then following the momentous day when we no longer had Social Worker involvement, we really were a 'proper' family.

So I thought I'd just do a quick round up of the last 10 months since my last post.

July 2013 - Quite a big month.  Not only did we move away from our friends to an area where we would be totally starting a fresh, but we also had out court hearing where Little One became official adopted.  To see the adoption papers with our names as parents and her full new name was quite something.

August 2013 - I went back to work and became a 'working parent'.  It was great to see that excitement when I got home which I'd only ever really seem Little One give to Daddy.  It's lovely having those little arms flung around you as you come home from a tiring day at the office.

September 2013 - After the long school Summer Holiday break, Little One started a new nursery instantly claiming it as her own and ruling the roost.  She has no problems fitting in to new situations which is a great trait to have.  She also has no issue telling every one she had two dads!

October 2013 - Little One's 4th birthday and first with us.  We may have gone a little overboard on presents but I think it was only to be expected!!!  We had a bouncy castle in the gardens and lots of friends and relatives over.  It was such a fun day but I think we were more knackered than she was.

December 2013 - Our first Christmas as a family.  It seemed pretty hard to believe that only a year
ago we'd met her for the first time and that on Christmas 2012 we weren't even together, all we had was a FaceTime phone call.  But this year it was all different.  We were together, in Ireland, with the family and couldn't have wished for more.  We did go overboard on the presents again, but it won't happen again next year!! (I can't confirm I will keep that as a promise)

January 2014 - I was lucky enough to be in yet another show, this time a Pantomime in which I played the King.  My entrance was a dark and quiet moment when I paced the stage looking pensive. The moment was shattered by Little One screaming "That's my Dad" and "Hello Dad!".  I'm pretty sure I even heard "Why is Dad not saying hello?".  Needless to say it was a bit of a scene-stealing and at the end of the show whilst catching up with friend the message was always the same, "You were good, but your daughter was so funny, and she's so gorgeous". I think she'll be stealing many more scenes in years to come.

February 2014 - Finally!!! Her passport has arrived.  I did get emotional just holding it in my hand.  Seeing her little face and new name on this official document made me feel proud.  Is that weird??

March 2014 - Daddy and Little One have their first trip to Ireland without me.  I did think a week by myself would be a relaxing spiritual experience but the silence was deafening.  I missed her (and Daddy) terribly.  It was also Little One's first time on a plane which I missed.  By all accounts she handled it the way she handles everything, so no worries there.  In July we'll be going on our first proper holiday as a family, two weeks in a Cyprus villa with friends.  Can't wait.

And that brings us to the present day and the close of this blog.  Thank you to all those who have read, commented, shared and sent best wishes.  If you're going through the journey yourself I wish you all the joy we had.

And lastly to Little One.  You have made the whole journey worthwhile.  You have surpassed our expectations of the child we would one day call our daughter.  I hope that whenever you read this you will know how much we wanted you and how much we loved you from the moment we first meet on 19th December 2012.  That's one of those dates that I for one will never forget.  I'm sure we'll have our ups and downs, after all, we are a 'normal' family but you'll always be our Little One and we will always be your FOREVER FAMILY. xxx

Friday, 14 June 2013

Where did the time go?

I can't believe that two months have passed since my last post.  In the scheme of things I doesn't seem like a long time but when you think about it lots has happened.  Let me try to recap...

We had our three month review and as expected it went really well.  Everyone involved was more than happy with Little One's progress and with the placement in general so the decision was made (although Daddy and I had long since come to the conclusion without the need of a panel) that we should go ahead and send off our adoption application.  We did so in the first week of May and felt relieved once it had gone off.  However, 3 and a half weeks letter we had a call from the courts saying that information was missing and no payment was included.  This was due to a 'miss-communication' and as we were away at the time we were unable to do anything to fix the situation.  I rectified the issues on our return but what on earth took 3 weeks???  If it takes that long to open an envelope I hate to think how long it will take to get a court date!!

Little one also had her first meeting with her foster carers and their family.  I must say that I went into it filled with fear, resentment and anxiety and probably a few more emotions thrown in.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and as testament to the bonding and attachment that has happened between us and Little One.  I thought that she would be really upset when they left but after causally waving them off we continued to play as a family.  Later on that evening Little One was flicking through a book of photos her foster family had left for her.  She enjoyed the photos and talking us through what she say in each one but she never cried, never got upset and remained her happy little self.  I can't tell you how relieved we both were.  We haven't had any contact since but I'm sure we will at some point.

We also took a trip to Ireland to introduce Little One to her new Irish family.  She is such a sociable child and didn't have any problems interacting with anyone in the family.  She definitely left her mark!!  

She is making some firm friendships both at pre-school and where we live.  We even had an 'at home play-date' recently with one of the girls from pre-school.  For her it was fine, just the chance to play more, for me though it was quite a random experience.  I even baked cupcakes.  I think I becoming one of the pre-school mums!

Little One also had her first theatre experience and amazingly it was to see me on stage.  I was a little unsure that she'd managed to sit through the show but every time I went out on stage I could see her in the distance and every now and then heard "That's my Dad!".  She still talks about it.  I'm currently in rehearsals for another show and whenever I leave to go to rehearsal she says "I wanna come 'hearsals with you".  ALways makes me smile.

We have another visit from our social worker this afternoon and are going to our first 'adopters picnic' tomorrow ahead of our first Father's Day.  Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

We're not really that different after all

So the bonding and learning process continues in all it's glory and in all honest I really don't think we are in a position to complain.  Little One is doing a great job and has met so many people and seems to be taking it all in and in her stride.  In fact, yesterday, quite randomly and out of nowhere she began to reel off a list on names of people she'd met.  It was bizarre to see great to know that she equates these people with her new life.

One of the main concerns when Little One came to stay was about how we'd cope.  Would this be a 'normal' existence for a child?  Would she have problems settling because the balance was wrong? In her previous placement she had a foster mother and father, how would she cope with two dads?
Since she arrived things have always seemed to be going well and we have received great support and compliments from friend but , I suppose, as a new parent you will have that element of doubt until your great epiphany appears.  I don't think my doubt is ready to depart just yet but we did have an epiphany whilst out at lunch today.

A couple with a young girl, probably only slightly younger than Little One, sat at the table next to us.  Their conversation was almost identical to the conversations we have with Little One most days.  The battle to go to the toilet, the sitting correctly in your seat, the 'please don't scream', the excitement when deciding what we're going to eat and the generally funny things they say.  It made us realise that everything is normal.  Ok, we may not be the '2.4 kids' type of family but Little One is loved and happy and growing and developing just like any other 'normal' (I use the word very lightly) child.  What can be better than that. Lots of kids grow up with lots of different circumstance but what is important is that their parents, in whatever form or combination they come in, love, protect and cherish them.  That's what Little One is getting.

In two weeks time we have our 3 month review and will complete our application to legally become Little One's parents.  Onwards and upwards to that happy day.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Frustration and love

I think we were definitely lulled into a false sense of security.  The first few weeks of Little One's placement made us feel like we finally made it, become and family and missed out all of the crap that we were promised.  Doh! Reality check!!!

We're having more strops and tantrums of late.  The current bone of contention is the scooter a friend of ours gave to her.  I always thought those scooters were meant to be a godsend to parents but this one seems to be channeling the devil!  Yesterday I was planning a trip to the park with Little One and the dog but there was a battle of wills when I attempted to put the scooter into the boot of the car.  This led to the biggest screaming match I've ever experienced.  Of course I won, but it was a long noisy battle and one I don't fancy fighting again although I'm sure I will have to.  I had the obligatory "I don't like you" and "I want my other daddy" thrown at me but you have to be the bigger person in those moments.  It's weird, I always though I'd be the fun dad, not the bossy one!

This morning was not a morning of good behaviour either.  I have to confess, I did end up shouting.  Although I didn't like doing it (and neither did she), it had the desired effect and we managed to get ready with minimum fuss and in record time.  Later, while I was doing her hair I felt compelled to apologise to her for shouting, something that my father would never have done to me, and she in return said "I'm sorry Dad".  But then, not more than 10 minutes later as we were about to leave for pre-school we had another tantrum about that blasted scooter.  Full on screaming and full on tears!

This is in no way as 'easy' as I thought it was going to be.  After the initial 'honeymoon' period the roller coaster really picks up pace.  The highs can be high and the lows can be low and you can get between them really quickly.   It's not always as Disney-like as I thought it would be, maybe a little more Simpsons, but that doesn't mean that I'm not enjoying being a father.  It's just really hard work, but any parent will tell you that.  I'm hoping this can all be put down to the fact that she is still settling in and is actually finding her place and testing her boundaries.  We'll get through it and come out the other side stronger.  We do have frustrating  moments but they are all surrounded with love and hugs and laughter.....not to mention a glass of wine once Little One is in bed!!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

So many questions??????

From the moment we meet Little One it was obvious that she was a very inquisitive child.  She'd grab hold of anything that was within her reach and everything belonged to her.  Now we have entered that really annoying stage where every conversation is littered with the word Why? Even things that don't warrant a Why? response have a Why? thrown in.  As much as I love her it is totally annoying.  If she wasn't such an adorable, lovable rouge she would be like that annoying guy at the office that everyone ignores at the Christmas party.

I guess it's just one of the many stages that we will now be privy to first hand but in the meantime, how long does this last!!!!

Friday, 1 March 2013

How things have changed.

Half term week came and went, not without it's hiccups, and we're still here loving, learning and growing together as a family.

While daddy was at work, Little One and I had a very packed social calender.  On Monday we had a play-date with my cousin and her children and Tuesday saw us take a trip into my office.  Little One was the center of attention and seemed to love it. Everyone was amazed at how relaxed she was considering she had all these grown ups looming over her.  And she was noisy but I kind of expected that.  She also feed chocolate cake, how could I say no!!!

On Wednesday afternoon we looked after a friends child.  We played, made cupcakes, took the dog for a walk in the park and all was going well until an incident on the swivel chair in our front room led to lots on crying and a couple of bruises.  I felt so bad.  I think for the first time I thought about how I'd feel, as a parent, if my child had been hurt.  I felt physically sick.  And then a couple of days later when I heard he had a black eye I wanted the earth to swallow me hole!

The rest of the week so saw friends and their babies.  How life has changed!! LOL!!

This week we went to go an see daddy at work, yet again Little One was the center of attention.  That girl seems to get presents everywhere she goes.  On the tube journey home a lady started to talk to Little One, the conversation went something like this:
(Lady) Hello!
(Little One, pointing at daddy) This is my dad!
(Lady) Ooh!
(Little One, pointing at me) And this is my other dad!
(Lady) Oooh! (slightly more prolonged than the first) You're very lucky to have TWO dads!
(Little One) Yes I am!

We had a right laugh but it was funny seeing how the other passengers around us were reacting, some smiling and some looking puzzled.

I was going to wait until the adoption is finally legalised and the court papers were in our hands but I couldn't and yesterday I had a new tattoo inspired by my beautiful daughter.  It is actually a Celtic motherhood knot but I had it slightly adapted, as obviously I am not a mother!! I showed it to her and now when she looks at it she says "That is you and that is me".  Now she's in my heart and on my arm.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Big week ahead!

In the lead up to my adoption leave I could think of nothing better than being home all day, all week, and being the best father I could to Little One.  For the last six weeks Daddy has been off work too, making caring for our new arrival an easier and enjoyable task  The fact that she's been a pre-school three mornings a week has also added to the illusion but tomorrow is Daddy's first day back at work and it is also half term so school is closed!! Eeeek!! That means that I'm left holding the baby!! My dream come true? I thought so, so why do I feel nervous to my core?  How the heck am I supposed to keep an active 3 year old constantly occupied?  Whilst being a very confident little girl Little One does like to have you around all the time and constantly wants to be engaged with you (unless of course she is watching Mr Tumble or the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!).

When I realised it was half term week I called everyone I could that I thought would be free and very quickly filled up my diary with lunches and play dates.  My social calendar has never been so active but hopefully Little One will enjoy all the activities and meets, I know I'll find it a lot easier.

I know it will be fine, I know we'll both have lots of fun.  Maybe it's just the fact that Little One is such an active little soul and (quite frankly) I'm still finding it hard to keep up with her that I enter the half term week with trepidation.  But this will be the first half term of many and I'm pretty sure I won't be feeling this way next half term.  Will I?