White Noise

"It's good that she's so young. At least she won't remember."

Baby Girl is very young. She was in danger and she was potentially harmed but she was removed before she was a week old. She has been in one, stable foster placement since that day. She will be moved on to a loving adoptive placement well before her first birthday. I sincerely hope that the fact that she's so young and she won't remember will help her to achieve the most positive outcomes possible from what has been a terrible start.

But I know that adoption does not erase the past. Baby Girl will carry her past with her into her future. In fact her past will become part of her whole adoptive family's future. However young the child, and however little they remember, there is no route into adoption that involves walking off happily into the sunset, leaving the past behind.

Although OB's background is not quite as straightforward (if you can use that word) as BG's, we deal with relatively few adoption and trauma-related issues in our daily life. Sometimes I will wonder about things he does or things he says, or certain behaviours or fears, but in almost every case I find myself reassured by watching his little friends that either he is pretty much normal, or all the children I know have issues!

We have conversations, of course; conversations about adoption, about his family set up, about whose tummy he was in. These are not quite the same conversations that birth children have with their parents, but investigating origins seems to be pretty normal for most kids. Most of what I encounter is what I expected.

It's the white noise that sometimes catches me unaware. The fact of OB's adoption and all that this entails seems to buzz along in the back of my head, mostly only subliminally noticed until something attracts my attention to it. Recently I've been noticing it a lot.

When I get a new foster child, I do a sweep on Facebook, looking for mutual friends of mutual friends and the like. It's not a very big town. Sometimes I think six degrees of separation is a massive exaggeration. I wish it was as many as six! For various reasons I've had to go back and re-do my sweep of BG's family in more detail. I discovered that OB's birth mum is Facebook friends with one of BG's relatives. Small world.

So while I was on there, I had a quick glance at birth mum's profile. Once I'd got over the uncomfortable feeling of seeing my son's face as her profile picture, I quickly saw that she has had another baby. So my son has another half-sibling that we know nothing about. I can't help wondering about this new little one and whether I'll get a phone call from social services some time in the future.

Only a couple of days after this, I had a phone call from the lovely social worker who handled OB's adoption. Paternal birth grandma has requested SS help in writing a letterbox letter. She would be visiting the social worker next week to work something out but, from what she said during the phone call, it doesn't seem as though she knows that I was OB's adopter. Do I want the social worker to tell her?

I was a bit surprised at this as I always assumed she knew. OB's birth mum knows that I adopted him and I supposed that somewhere along the line, paternal grandma, who I have met several times, would also have been told by somebody or other. Apparently not. I told the social worker to go ahead and tell her. I supervised several contacts with paternal grandma and, when it became clear that OB would be adopted, I remember her saying, through tears, that she wished he could just stay with me. I couldn't say anything at the time, but I hope that learning that this is exactly what happened will bring her some comfort.

The social worker felt that grandma would find it easier to write her letter if she had something to reply to, so asked me to do my letterbox early so that they could read it together. I had three days to write it and send it. Deadlines are good for me though, and at least it saved me another month of procrastinating and mithering about it.

The email I was later cc'd into that confirmed this arrangement also informed me that birth dad's latest girlfriend is expecting a baby, bringing the half-sib total up to at least three. If he decides to trace all of his birth family when he is older, it's going to be quite the journey!

Anyway, I processed the information, wrote the letter, filed knowledge away for the future, and tried to distract myself from the white noise again, hoping it would fade into the background once more. But it's not that easy. The white noise is loud and it is insistent. The sound of it makes me want to check Facebook over and over again, even though I know there's nothing new to see. It makes me want to phone social services and ask insistent questions about this new baby. It makes me look over my shoulder when we go to the swimming baths because our swimming lessons have been moved to a place near where OB's birth mum once lived. It makes me scan the crowd for faces I might recognise, in town, in the supermarket, at the park.

One day, if he chooses, OB will probably meet his birth mum. I think I'm about as fine with that as a person can be who is only talking theoretically. What I'm not fine with is this meeting taking place in the near future at the local soft play centre where she has come with her child and I have come with mine.

I met BG's prospective adopters recently. They are terribly excited, and thrilled to have been linked with such a wonderful child, who seems so uncomplicated, relative to many other children. They described themselves as "incredibly lucky". They are on cloud nine, waiting for their little one to come home. She's young, yes. She doesn't remember, yes. But she doesn't need to remember for it still to be real. I didn't need to mention the white noise. Anybody who has been through adoption prep already knows that, from the moment you open your door to your first set of social workers, it'll be buzzing along in the back of your mind for the rest of your days.


  1. Lovely - as ever with your writing. Many things touched me in this blog. Here are just two..
    I live in a much bigger town, and I worry about bumping BM and her family. But as time passes I am no longer as worried. I like your fresh and open outlook of meeting with family. In this new/small world of internet, six degrees is probably often exaggerated. Contact will probably be more and more common.
    Well put ' she doesn't need to remember for it to be real'. Hope you continue to enjoy each others company till she leaves. :)


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