It was a very ordinary Friday in mid December . I came home after a brain-numbing day at work, collected the children from school and they settled down in front of the TV and I snuggled on the sofa and got out our I pad.
We had been approved as adopters just over a month before. We had created a profile of ourselves for a site called Adoption Link. It included some pictures of us and our house, a paragraph about us and the child we were looking for, we had to put ticks and crosses in little boxes regarding the sorts of problems we might be able to manage in a child, looking for a forever home.
You can view stats on the site. Such as how many people had viewed our profile. How many children we were linked with and how many links each child had.
For the first few days I had logged on obsessively, looking for a child to fit our criteria – a girl aged less than 3. And while there were lots of children on the site, not many who met this criteria. Many said they were looking for this child to be the only child in the family. Several had significant long term or life limiting illnesses.
I can still see some of their faces when I close my eyes.
After a week or so hardly anyone had viewed our profile. I had to tell myself to be a grown up. We have each other and our 2 lovely children. What about the children, with no family and no one enquiring or wanting them. My DH, ever practical said it did not matter that there weren’t many children who we could realistically offer a home to, there only needed to be one.
You make an enquiry to the social workers , often this goes weeks without being answered. And you wait, wondering whether this child might be yours one day. And then you get an e mail, saying the social workers have progressed the link with someone else and the child’s picture is gone.
So I stopped logging on for a bit. It was just too hard. Too painful. Too many faces of children’s lives blighted by drugs, alcohol, neglect and disease. Too many that we couldn’t help.
But on this day I decided to log on again.
And then I saw her face..
Twinkling eyes, huge smile, hair standing on end as she knelt on a trampoline. Another photo.. Face alive with mischief as she wore a pair of shorts on her head. I read the words: “Star is bright, chatty, full of energy and mischief. ” “Star has Down syndrome.” More photos: playing in the sand pit, walking on the trampoline, climbing into her Foster carers boots. However I didn’t see a diagnosis, I saw a little girl, full of life, who needed a home. A beautiful little girl, who needed a forever home.
I sent a “link request” and a little note:
” we have experience of children who have lots of energy and mischief.. Would like to find out more.”
I pressed send. Closed my I pad. I wondered if that had been too flippant.
And then the phone rang…
Her social worker, talkative and excited…painting a picture in my mind and adding to the colour of the words I had read: a child, who loves her trampoline, is chatty, affectionate, and when excited she jumps up and down. Her birth family background, why she is in care, why she needs an adoptive family.
And then, we spoke to our SW and sent our report.
And waited, and waited, hours turned into days, and the numbers of families linked to little Star on Adoption Link grew.
“They have found somebody better than us,” I told my Mum.
Our SW couldn’t get through to hers. And then the computer systems wouldn’t connect to send the reports, and then they would. They set a linking meeting to discuss which family to go forward with, then it was postponed.
A sensible person probably would have waited patiently, prayerfully and calmly.
The problem is that love is not sensible .. Not at all.
I logged in every day, just to see her face. I imagined, I researched. I wrote Christmas cards and wondered if her name would be on them next year. I wrote out our family calendar with important dates for the coming year and left the 5th column blank.
Between Christmas and New Year our social worker came round with her CPR. (Child permanence report.) This was the report presented to court for her adoption hearing. It told the tale of her story, and that of her birth parents. A tale of loss, and of grief and hope. The conclusion: “Star needs a forever family of her own.”
And as we waited and hoped, discussed and planned. It occurred to me that God also made a plan to bring children into his family. A plan that was costly, because for God, before adoption, came the cross.