My IVF ended in 2008 after we decided not to continue with any more treatments. To be honest, I thought once we stopped ‘thinking’ about it, that it would just happen. We did stop thinking about it for a while. We had other things to think about…
In 2010 we got a phone call that changed our lives forever. It was early July, a weeknight. My Mam called to say her cousin had been killed. I had never met him. We talked about how it happened and what a shame it was. He was in his 40s and she said he had 2 daughters he would be leaving behind. I did think about them, thinking “poor things”, but I assumed they were older children.
The next week, I talked to my parents again about my Mam’s cousin. They mentioned that the children he had were both 3 years old: one was almost 4 and once had just turned 3. I couldn’t believe how young they were and immediately said, “We’ll take them in“. Obviously, there was more to it than that. They had a birth mother, but had not seen her since being under a year old. They had a stepmother also who, due to complicated matters, couldn’t care for them. They were staying at their dad’s niece’s house but she had children of her own and couldn’t cope.
My husband and I spoke about it. My Mam had already spoken to the girls’ great grandma, who had mentioned us as potential long term carers for the girls. (She knew we had no children of our own.)
The next step was to get in touch with social services. We had a home visit and we arranged to take the youngest out for the day. She had fetal alcohol syndrome and they wanted us to be sure this was something we could do and wanted to do. That day was the most stressful day of my life, but in no way did it put us off. We wanted the girls.
So the ball was rolling with social services and the girls’ cousin was keen to get them out of her house. Things had to move quickly. We had a further meeting with social services. It was then mentioned that we could potentially be long term carers for the girls, but the birth mother and step mother had taken an interest in caring for them. If we took them in, it might not be permanent. We would be classed as family foster carers with no financial help.
This changed everything.
We heard this news on the Thursday – 5th August 2010. The social services representative contacted us the next day after. She needed our decision ASAP. If we said no or didn’t answer, she would have to look for a foster home for the girls. The girls could even be split up. We made a decision that morning.
The girls arrived at our house with a bag of teddy bears and a bag of clothes between them at 5.30pm that same day.
It was a quick turn around to make their teas, give them baths, put them to bed. My hubby had to make a quick trip to supermarket. We needed things we hadn’t anticipated. The youngest, who had tuned 3 a couple of weeks before, was still having milk! 9 bottles a day in fact, and still in nappies!
It wasn’t the best of nights. They didn’t come with PJs and the oldest one wet the bed. We had to change her into the clothes we had. The next day we hit the shops. They needed everything. When you know something is happening you can plan. A baby for instance, gives you so many months to buy things and prepare. We had a few hours.
I took 2 weeks off work. My husband and I both worked full-time. As it was foster care and not adoption we were not entitled to any time off other than annual leave. It was hard. I’m not going to lie. They needed constant attention and they were fragile too. The oldest was very quiet and withdrawn and always wanted to act like a baby. The youngest had behavioural problems and had very testing behavior! She was really hard work. She had also seen her father be killed. At that time, she could remember what had happened and some things affected her more than others.
Within a month of being told that these 2 girls existed, they were living in our house. We had gone from 2 to 4 basically overnight!
Lea is the mother of her 2 adopted daughters, married for 8 years. She lives in Durham, North East England, with her husband, daughters and Labrador. She is unable to conceive naturally due to PCOS, and has had various fertility treatments including IVF. You can find her blogging at LeaTheBlogger or follow her on Twitter.
This post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.