What is it like?? The moment you get the call for an EP baby . . .

As this is the first of our blog posts, it seems fitting to start with the first day for two of our Early Permanence carers.  We begin with Harry and Bridget, who are waiting to hear the latest decision on the plan for the little boy they are hoping will come home with them.

*Names and some details have been changed to protect the identities of the people in this story, the rest is real, written by real adopters about their real life experience of adoption.

The day had arrived….

What would the judge say?  The Friday before, the judge could not make a decision as he needed further time to read through documentation and then he was on holiday for a week…..the anxiety was immense but life had to go on as normal……what would be would be, so off to work we both went. For me (Bridget) it was the strangest feeling as it was possible this could be my last day at work for 12 months, I had the following week off as holiday which was a bonus so in a way it was like I was clearing the decks for holiday…..

Due to the uncertainty of early permanence I had decided not to share things with all my work colleagues as being in a large office, I didn’t want to be the subject of conversation, so in I went, the only people that knew were my line manager and my very close friend, so to everyone else I was just getting ready for my holiday…..

The court hearing was around 10am so I knew I had some time to wait as I start work early…my heart was racing my friend came in and looked at me with a little grin as if to say this is it……. Time seemed to stand still, I kept checking my phone but nothing, maybe it wasn’t working but no it was; still no call. I tried to keep myself busy by getting everything ready for my holiday, but my head really wasn’t in it.

It got to nearly lunchtime and still no call, that’s it I thought he is not coming what shall we do tonight, what shall we have for tea…..then my Moblie rang……I looked and yes it was the social worker…..now you can probably imagine what I am thinking at this point but I don’t think it is appropriate to write it down! This is it! I walked calmly (well ish) out of the open plan office to a quieter place (the back stair well) and nervously said ‘Hello’…..I was then asked……’ you at work’ …’ ummh yes’ …‘welll you need to leave, he is coming to you’……..’ hey pardon? Did you just say…..’ …’Yes I did…we will be with you this afternoon’

OMG or words to that effect (as you can probably imagine) this is it. I rang my husband who said ‘is it not happening then as we haven’t heard?’…’ No I said we are on, he is coming you need to finish work’ the line went a little quiet…..‘ok see you at home’.

I then had to ring my mum and my auntie, my auntie was especially important as we were borrowing a lot of baby things from her grandchildren such as cot etc. so I needed her to get to my house.

I walked back to my desk and started packing up my things, my friend knew what was going on as she could tell from my face….I sent a message to my line manager to say this is it I’m off…I was in shock, was this really happening. A colleague said to me ‘you finishing early for your holiday’ I replied ‘yes got everything sorted so no point hanging around and got the holiday’, little did she know there was a possibility she wouldn’t see me for a year! Not just a week.

It was a very strange feeling walking out of the office thinking this could be the last time for quite some time, emotions were very high as you would expect. My friend walked out with me and walked me to the car, this was it, and we stood for a few minutes with tears streaming down both our faces and a big big hug.

I don’t actually remember how I got home, tears streaming down my face I just couldn’t believe it was actually happening. The next few hours seem to go fast and slow. It was a bit of a whirlwind getting everything set-up; cot, steriliser, milk machine, starting to wash small clothes. I had no idea what I was doing, how to put the bottles in the steriliser what bottles in fact did I need? What size nappies? My husband arrived home again looking shell shocked, I was still crying as in fact I had been most of the afternoon. The next person to arrive was our social worker, she looked so pleased and hugged both myself and my husband. She said ‘it will be ok, don’t worry’… despite everything being a bit of a mad panic, the wait for him to arrive seemed to take forever.

Not long after the phone rang, it was ‘ little man’s’ social worker, she couldn’t find our house and needed some directions, my husband gave her the directions and we realised that she was only a few roads away so he went to meet her. The next minute an unfamiliar car pulled into the drive followed by my husband, little man had arrived. My husband opened the car door and looked at the car seat. He turned and looked at me and grinning from ear to ear…I was still crying (to be fair that continued the rest of the night).

The social worker walked into the house with the car seat and put him down in the lounge, at that point his little face just melted our hearts. He was all wrapped up in a big suit and the social worker said ‘take him out of his suit and I think he needs a change as he been in the nappy a while and his clothes may need a change too’ OMG I thought how do I do that, he is so small how do I take his clothes off so not to hurt him, he’s too small, how do I move his arms how do I move his legs and in fact how do I change a nappy! Arghh….it was the most nerve wracking experience especially with two social workers sat looking at me, what if I did it wrong and then they took him back!

But, after my hands had stopped shaking and I tried to calm down we did it. The little bundle was then all changed and in a new baby grow sat on my husbands lap and all we could do was look and stare at him he just looked so gorgeous. Time seemed to have stopped.

All too soon for everyone to leave, social workers then family and then it was just the two of us left, this was it the start of the new chapter of our lives. The next concern was bed time, how do we get him to sleep? What do we do if he wakes up? How much does he have to eat and how often? What if he won’t settle? What if he doesn’t like us? So many questions.

The night was very eventful and I don’t think you can ever be prepared for that first night. We had about two hours sleep in total and in the early hours the little man eventually fell asleep on my husband so he didn’t sleep a wink as he was scared to move so that he didn’t wake him.  The sun started to rise and it was a new day, our first full day with a new little bundle and all the challenges that it may bring…………

Update: Affectionately known as ‘Little Man’, Bridget and Harry’s little boy was formally adopted in 2019. He continues to and bring joy and new challenges to his new parents every single day.