Sunday, 18 April 2010

Two is a family too.

Two may be a very small number but it still counts as a family –at least I think it does. X and I still have the same things ‘we do’ and things ‘we don’t do’ as any other family. We also have habits of talking, eating and arguing, just as big families do. And we try to have a regular lifestyle, just like other families.

But, according to an old friend, couples with one child don’t really even themselves as a family. ‘Not at all, she said, 'Family is something only for, at least, a foursome. Up till then you’re just a couple with a kid. Totally different dynamic.’

 I asked another friend. “Funny you should say that,’ he said, ‘I was at a party the other day and we all agreed that it’s not until the second one came along that we really felt like a family,’ he said,  ‘when you get to the second the whole way of life changes and you have to act as a family with everyone’s interests spread in a totally different way. ’

Maybe it’s a question of aspiration; lots of couples aspire to keep their young coupledom life, whereas my old singleton desire was for family life. However, it’s not exactly surprising that, when it comes to arrangements, X and I never seem to have the same say as, say ‘the Smiths’, or ’ the Browns’.  The Smith parents and the Brown parents apparently don’t even think X and I are even another family at all! I suppose,to them, X and I are just a random mismatched couple. 

You know that ‘the?’ As in,‘the Browns’ or ‘the Smiths’? I’d love X and I to have a ‘the’ before our surname too. Forget a family car or a family holiday, that little ‘the’ is an article that this tiny family really aspires towards.


Thursday, 15 April 2010

What do you say when you have to leave work on time?

A friend of mine said that when she has leave work to collect her child before everyone else has finished their coffee and chat she says that she’s off to pick up her car from the garage. Men understand that, she says.  I say sod that. Be truthful, or how will things ever change?

Monday, 12 April 2010

The go-between

When  I picked up X today her minder chortled that the children in her care regularly give away more than  their parents might want them to about the impolite habits at home. For a moment I was really worried about what she was going to say, given that last night X (totally unfairly, I might add ) accused me of doing a poo in the bath.  X is obsessed with me pooing and insists on standing behind me and watching when it comes out. This, I suppose, is her anal phase, as described by Freud, and is therefore probably entirely healthy and normal but it puts me off a bit, especially when she jumps up and down excitedly and shouts 'it's coming out now!' and gives me updates on length and colour.  Anyway, I was relieved when the minder's accusation was teaching our children the impolite habit of talking on our mobiles at the table, imitating their parents nattering in imaginary phones while they have their tea. I have a feeling this accusation is being directed entirely at me. X does a great imitation of me on the phone-it's scary how well she gets my snappy tone: 'yup?' and 'bye, bye, bye, bye' why do I do this- isn't one bye enough? It probably adds at least a quid to my bill each month. Note to self:  must stop talking on the mobile on the loo as this may also be copied and judged by the minder.  

On the way home X started singing. She's just discovered how enjoyable singing can be and, since sunday, has started making up her own little songs.  I've have much hope that, one day, they may become tuneful. Today however she was back to her old favourite: twinkle twinkle, except this time the words have been changed , in a way which I know is way beyond X's rhyming abilities:' twinkle twinkle little star, 
                               mummy drives a rusty car.' 

Hmmm, Mrs Minder, this giving thing away thing is a two way street. And ok, it's not a smart people carrier like your car and it might be twenty years old and (what with childcare costs) doesn't look like being replaced anytime soon- but there isn't a scrap of rust on it!

Hey X, lets learn a new song together: 'Old mother hubbard lived in a shoe 
                                                                    She had so many children 
                                                                    She got herself a brand new people carrier in blue'

Saturday, 10 April 2010



Here’s a story from the news today:

A US nurse put a seven-year-old Siberian boy she had adopted from a Russian orphanage on a one-way flight to Moscow with a note saying "I no longer wish to parent this child", when she found she could no longer cope with him.

A confused and upset-looking Artem Saveliev arrived unaccompanied in Moscow on a flight from Tennessee via Washington, on Thursday. He had with him a rucksack containing colouring pens, sweets and biscuits, which had been packed for the journey.

On his arrival, he gave immigration officials a typed note from his adoptive mother, Torry Ann Hansen, a nurse from Shelbyville, Tennessee, explaining in two succinct paragraphs why she no longer wanted a boy she adopted in September last year.

The case has sparked widespread anger in Russia and the foreign minister has called for a freeze on adoptions by Americans.

In the letter, addressed to the Russian education ministry and headed simply "To whom it may concern", Miss Hansen said the boy was mentally unstable, violent and had "severe psychopathic issues/behaviours".

She claimed that the Vladivostok orphanage staff had lied about his "mental stability" in order to "get him out of their orphanage".

Miss Hansen, 34, said she had "given my best to this child" but was "sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child".

She added: "As he is a Russian national, I am returning him to your guardianship and would like the adoption disannulled."

Nancy Hansen, Miss Hansen’s mother, said yesterday that Artem had been violent and angry with her daughter, a single mother. She said that she put the child on a plane to Russia with a note from her daughter. She also paid a Russian man, called Artur, $200 to meet the boy at the airport and take him to the Russian education ministry.

She said the boy, known as Justin to his adoptive family, was sent to the ministry because the family believed officials there could take care of him. She insisted they had not abandoned the boy because a flight attendant was watching the boy on the flight and a reputable person picked him up in Moscow.

Officials said the man handed over the boy and his papers, and then left.

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said he was angry that the child had been treated "as a parcel".

He said his department would recommend suspending further US adoptions until the two countries had reached agreement on "the conditions for adoptions and the obligations of host families".

John Beyrle, the US ambassador to Moscow, said he was "deeply shocked by the news" and "very angry that any family would act so callously toward a child that they had legally adopted".

Russian officials said that 1,600 children were adopted by Americans last year. Russian children are the third most popular among US citizens seeking to adopt after Chinese and Guatemalans.

However, there has been growing concern in Russia that US adoptions are inadequately policed after a number of children were murdered by their new parents.

In 2006, Peggy Hilt of Manassas, Virginia, beat to death a two-year-old Siberian girl she had adopted only months earlier.

Anna Orlova, of the Kremlin’s children rights commission, said Artem had told her adoptive mother was "bad", "did not love him" and used to pull his hair.


This story made me so sad. It also made me remember that, during the time that it took me to be approved to adopt, I used to get angry about how quickly and easily Madonna seemed to be able to pick up foreign babies and when I spoke to US friends it appeared that the process was much quicker and simpler there. I used to envy this on a personal basis and get frustrated when US friends seemed to be assuming that the delays I faced were down to me.


Now I’m glad that the UK system requires such rigorous approval, even for overseas adoptions.


Adoption is an imperfect thing and sometimes breakdowns will happen in the placement stage but in the UK there has been much examination  before this happens, and the match is  examined carefully and the adopter is counselled hard on what they might be taking on.  In my case this happened to the point that I was scared that I might not cope and this delayed things for me. But it meant that when  finally got my daughter on placement I was fully prepared for the challenge. And there was support for both the child and the adopter during the placement and legal adoption would not have happened until it is clear that all was settled. If only this had been the case here.


It is terrible to feel that a placement fails- but this is a total failure of a system as well as a parent .