Our lives are marked by the seasons of our own cultures, and for me – as for many in Britain – Christmas each year has the feel of a milestone, a time when, whether we like it or not, we observe (and possibly even judge ourselves) on our lives.
Just now I am – with a degree of advance planning that amuses my family no end – trying to think ahead to Christmas this year. As a result – anything to procrastinate – I have also been thinking back.
Two Christmases ago I was in one of the many waiting phases that so many of us experience during our time as prospective adopters. I’d been working through my portfolio, done my medical but as yet no Social Worker was assigned and that sense of limbo was already deepening.
Inside me, deep inside, I had long been wondering and thinking of a future shared with a child or children. Yet my life was following a different trajectory, and the hurdles seemed many – money, singledom, needing to work, the age-old “would I be good enough question”, simple practicality. So I had kept my thoughts hidden deep inside. Outwardly I’d smile when the odd enquiry arose that “I couldn’t see it happening”. I remained grateful for my close friendships with family and friends and their children; I met regularly with a lad in care who I was lucky enough to have been brought together as an Independent Visitor (his story is here); I continued to learn about the many challenges faced by all involved in children’s services – from professionals to parents and academics to children; I worked; I played; I campaigned; I had a full and interesting life. Inside that tiny voice still called out for something more.
Earlier in the year though something had finally changed. During a late night conversation with a close friend I said it out loud. Yes. I wanted children in my life.
Others managed it, so why not me? I dabbled briefly in researching other options but from that moment, that opening up of my own inner thoughts, adoption was the road ahead.
Within months I had booked myself into a welcome event. I’d filled in forms. I’d filled in more forms. I’d started reading, rapidly amassing a small adoption library that amused and possibly slightly bewildered visiting Social Workers. Family, friends, work: everyone knew the way my thinking was going.
The road ahead was uncertain – but new and exciting – and it felt right.
But now it was Christmas, and I was waiting.
Last Christmas was the endpoint of a turbulent year.
I had learnt much and experienced more. At one point I had imagined I would be in a very different place already; but it was not to be. Sometimes life is painful.
But also sometimes life is joyful. For this Christmas I was linked. The picture was vague, clouded by uncertainty. My previous experience pushed me to be cautious. But I allowed myself too hope and anticipation. My wider family came together and we shared our hope and excitement for a different future that lay ahead for me and for us all. We were happy, and optimistic.
It was again Christmas, and I was still waiting, but it was a different kind of waiting.
Next Christmas is now coming up fast.
I am excited, and apprehensive, and happy, and anxious, and hopeful. So much will be the same – and everything will also be new.
First Christmas for my boy and I together. As with everything in adoption there will be echoes of the excitement that invariably accompanies “Baby’s First Christmas” alongside fears and anxieties and the histories and expectations we both bring with us. Yes I am apprehensive that it may stir up unhappy memories, and there will undoubtedly be times when the loss and grief visit. Yet through it all we are lucky to have had many months together and we will, I am confident, also be visited by joy and happiness.
It will not be his first Christmas or mine.
It will be Our First Christmas.