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We are sitting here watching “Room on the Broom”. And it’s just lovely. Not just the movie, but the experience of sitting here with our daughter, whilst our tiny 9 month old is down for his snooze. And this is an unimaginable dream. Correction, this is in fact better than a dream, as dreams just fade when you wake. No one should miss out on this chapter of life. And there is no reason to. Fertility is just one path to have children. It wasn’t for us. We chose the path of adoption.
It began like it does for most couples. We tried IVF, and having spent our life’s savings we were finally told by the doctors to call it a day. It was then we were able to journey upon the more fruitful path, that of adoption.
For new comers like us, it seemed an awful tangle. How do you even get your foot in the door. Being of an ethnic minority background, our chances of being matched with a baby in this country were calculated by most authorities to be low, so we looked to international adoption, Pakistan, more specifically. We started by applying to an agency that specialised in adoption abroad. We attended three training days. And they were brilliant. The insight into adopting was amazing, and indeed even parenting. These courses should be available to all parents, or rather all parents to be should go on these! They got us understanding a child’s psychology and made us realise the child centric nature of parenting.
The next stage was the home study. This made us a little nervous. Thankfully we had a great social worker, she was very experienced in her field, had a friendly and unassuming approach. We worked through the 2 hour sessions every other week really well. It was a good chance to explore our own ideas and work out what issues could arise. This gave us a chance to prepare ourselves for what the future would hold. All this however was very much a paper pushing exercise. No sign of a baby. This was the bit that felt unreal, almost like nothing really was going to happen. And then every now and then my heart would skip a beat when the vision of a baby in our arms hit me.
The home study was then compiled into a report numbering 32 pages. This was presented to panel. An eclectic group of panellists included social workers, adopters, adoptees, council representatives and more. At first it was quite daunting to enter a room spread with 14 pairs of eyes watching you, but the opening words of the panel interview were very encouraging and relaxed us. They weren’t there to deny us of this opportunity.
After the department for education received the approval papers from panel, we were notified of the issuing of the certificate of eligibility. Meanwhile we applied to the adoption agency in Pakistan. There are a number of agencies but the longest running one is called the Edhi foundation. This is named after a couple who set up probably most of the welfare services in Pakistan. More specifically Mrs Edhi runs the children’s centres and takes in orphans and abandoned children. The unfortunate socioeconomic situation in Pakistan means that many children are relinquished at birth. With this in mind, Mr and Mrs Edhi have placed cradles throughout Pakistan given women the chance to leave the child so it may be found and safe rather than left in a ditch or the road side.
The application is simple, one page in fact, but Mrs Edhi does require supporting documents which are easily put together. Having spoken to friends who had adopted from Edhi foundation we kept close contact by telephone with Mrs Edhi’s right hand woman. The response from the foundation was far from encouraging, but we know this was their filtering mechanism, so we swallowed our pride and kept our eye on the ball.
On touch down we were greeted by a melting inferno of heat, as August was the peak of summer in Karachi. We had arranged to stay with relatives, which took the financial and psychological burden of relocating away a bit. The first opportunity we got we contacted the Edhi office to notify them of our arrival. They set up a meeting with us and Mrs Edhi. This was interesting to say the least.
The Edhi offices were rudimentary. The secretary found our file she called for Mrs Edhi. She was direct and firm. Much of the conversation was an attempt to dissuade us, to make us feel uneasy at our chances. We didn’t say much. And thankfully Mrs Edhi operates wholly on altruistic basis, which takes out ethical questions that money exchanges might raise. After what seemed like a gruelling 30 minutes we were asked to leave and keep in touch. The post mortem of the conversation on the way home concluded that this was a positive outcome. We were full of hope, but at the same time flogging ourselves in case we had said anything wrong.
The next day we got that all important phone call. So soon?! The voice said “would you like to come and collect your baby doll?” is a translation of the Urdu. “You have two hours”. OMG. We set off, baby bag ready and hearts in our throats at bursting point. We were both somewhat dizzy.
The Edhi assistant led us up to the back office. As we entered the stairwell there was an empty cradle. We were seated on a bench and within minutes our angel was in our arms. Our hearts swelled immediately from love, she was ours, finally ours. She was so peaceful, so comfortable and so serene. The chaos of Karachi was obliterated by her sheer serenity. She was our glimpse of heaven.
After that, the process required a medical examination at the hospital, collecting documents, from birth certificates, to court orders of guardianship to the passport to the visa. But more importantly the baby was in our arms and ours. And nothing rivals that. The stay in Pakistan was 4 months, a record compared to the usual 6. But despite the load shedding (i.e. no electricity in the blistering Karachi heat for hours on end) the lack of mod cons we were used to and the restricted movements (owing to security) didn’t matter. We were now complete.
On returning to the UK we had to have a social worker visit us intermittently until our court order was complete…and then we were ready for our second!