The Final Adoption: What a ride!

Adoption Day

We wanted to adopt again as soon as possible. Why wait? Plus our older two were only 13 months apart, so we knew we could handle children close in age. It’s ironic that the biggest reason we wanted to adopt again was for our first adoptee to be able to discuss the intricacies with a sibling. We didn’t want her to be the only one in the family who is not a biologically related child. We wanted her to be able to chat about things that she might think we could not relate with.

Also, everybody constantly told us that our eldest two looked like us. To me, it was a constant reminder to HER that she didn’t. And of course, she didn’t, because she didn’t have our genes. Not all children look their bio parents but this is the reason in our case. It wouldn’t be fair for her to be the only one who ‘doesn’t’ look like us.

This was actually quite forcibly brought to my attention -again- when a 21 year old visitor came to our church for the first (and only) time. As my husband held our adopted daughter, he introduced himself to the young man, pointing out the rest of us. The young man asked why our little girl was not like us, why she was built differently to us.

Come to find out he too was adopted! And hoped to adopt too! I loved that he sensed that she was a kindred spirit and was brave enough to ask a stranger.

So, anyway. There we were, adopting through the same wicked people. And at this point, we knew they’d lied about how our child’s arm got fractured, so we found it hard to believe the story they told us about his biological mother. And we found it even harder to believe that she decided not to meet us the day he came out of foster care and into our lives.

But, there was nothing we could do. I did later contact a detective agency in hopes of finding her, just to know if her disappearance was her true choice and she wasn’t despairing and distraught, but the prices they are charging are beyond us. We did the exact same kind of search that found our other child’s birth mom, but this mom is truly poor. She has nothing in her name. Her last known address is in an area I’m terrified to drive into. And to go all the way there to expose someone who is very likely sharing a home with others who might not know her story… She doesn’t even have a phone number. But I did get a photo of her.

Oh! I tried to contact a relative of hers on Facebook. The woman was angry, accusing me of being the baby daddy. And even when she claimed to finally believe I was not, she never did tell me that birth mom is ok. Her answers also didn’t make sense, because she said I (baby daddy) had left my children with THEM to raise. She was asking who I thought was feeding and clothing the children. I don’t know what’s up, because we were told our child had one sibling. A half sibling being raised by his father. A father different to our child’s one. And that he’d disappeared. So if he’s disappeared, how is he making other children?

I don’t know now what to believe. And this information is very important because it keeps coming up with the many professionals I have to deal with. “What was his prenatal history like? What is his biological mother like? Does SHE have intellectual problems? Does he have any siblings? Do they have problems..?”

I can’t answer. And any child related to my child, is a child I want to know! I don’t want my children marrying their siblings! But nope, what I assume is bio aunt refused to answer me. Maybe it’s the language barrier. Maybe she herself is intellectually challenged. I don’t know. She stopped responding. She had said she would talk to birth mom and acted like she didn’t know of any OTHER child. Did I let the cat out the bag? She didn’t act shocked. Just disbelieving. I guess at least I will be able to tell my boy that I tried if he ever asks.

His adoption wasn’t filled with romantic magic. From the beginning something was off. His foster mom ignored one vital question about his ears. If she had answered and agreed that his ear placement was indeed unusual, it might have prepared us for what was to come.

We received his photo and had the requisite 24 hours to decide whether we wanted him or not. We looked at it. We said, “Well… We’ll love him anyway…” We felt pity for him, not immediate excitement. There was a time during the month after we saw the photos while he was still in foster care that I almost wanted to ask them to keep him and choose another child later. I think unlike parents who have a test telling them the child they are carrying has Downs, we didn’t get a chance to prepare ourselves for what was to come. But I knew something was coming.

A few weeks after hearing about him, I had an excuse to refuse. He was still to remain in foster care for a month. Something financial had come up and we could not afford the adoption fee at that time. But then, a stranger on Facebook who loved my writing in the infamous adoption group said she and her female partner felt called to give me money. They did it once a year, giving money… And this year, they were giving us R10 000. She felt like God was telling her to give it to us. And that if we felt offended, to please pass it onto someone who might need it.

The official excuse was gone. I had nothing but misgivings and pity for an innocent little boy. What clinched it and made me erase the email I’d started writing to the social workers, telling them I wanted to postpone the adoption for a later time, asking them to give him to other parents, was that that same day as I was typing, I received a WhatsApp message.

The message was from my daughter’s foster mother-the woman who had fostered our girl before she became ours. She wrote, “I’m visiting M. I’ve just seen your son for the first time. He has very little hair!”

What could I say? He was my son. How could I turn my son away? I erased the email and threw myself and my family into a world I’d never heard of before. Scared of queuing for HIV medication as a reason not to adopt a child when linked to my physical health? Ha! God must have laughed knowing what was about to happen

Again, I believe the social workers lied. They told us they send the children to occupational therapists for evaluation. There is no way a trained therapist would have missed what I realised the very next day after getting him.

“This baby is too floppy. He’s like a newborn, not a four and a half month old.”

An occupational therapist told me what it’s called low muscle tone -hypotonia. I’d never heard of it. I didn’t know the ramifications of it. The fatigue it causes. I didn’t know it would be so bad that a physiotherapist (as we call them here in S Africa) would be so concerned by how he struggles to ‘hold himself up’ that she would say that it looked he actually has cerebral palsy.

We plunged ourselves into a busy world. A world of tears. A world of blood and screams. A world of fears and anxieties. A world with terms of never heard of. A world of therapists and assessments.

Welcome to MY special needs world. A world of neurodiverse children. To be fair, he’s not the only child with extra needs. But he was the first to manifest. Our baptism by fire.

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