The most dreaded meeting of my life was finally happening. We knew that at one point this meeting might happen, but we were hoping Social Services might deem it unsafe and cancel it. It got postponed a few times, but today we actually had to shake hands with that woman.
I have read a lot about how you guys felt during this super awkward meeting, but it’s like with so many things in our Big Adoption Reality (BAR): knowing it and experiencing it is so very different! When we read the children’s CPR there was no picture of her, but her life was there in great detail. Yes, she was in care herself; yes, she was very unlucky always getting mixed up with the wrong crowd; yes she was in a wrong place at the wrong time; yes, she has made several poor choices. BUT no, none of these justify why she was abusive towards her own children, why she inflicted physical and emotional pain on her little ones; no, none of these are good enough reasons why she constantly refused help from Social Services. I can see her as a victim, too, don’t get me wrong. But sharing a cuppa with her, having a very pleasant conversation with her, chatting and laughing about MY children… well, HER children… well, OUR children – you get the idea that it was very confusing, right?
We got there before she arrived. Oddly nobody thought about the sign in book we had to fill in. What’s the point in being all secretive about names and locations if we put all our details into that book only for her to see it when she arrives a minute later??? So I signed us in as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I doubt anybody noticed… We were sitting in a conference room with our SW and my pre-approved questions. The children’s SW walked in and THE Mother was behind her. To be honest, we had no idea what to expect. Based on the description and the horror she inflicted on her children I did not expect such a meek, polite and pleasant woman, just the opposite. But she looked just like Goofs! I could have picked her from a line of 100 almost identical women! My brain still doesn’t compute that the woman sitting in front of me is the same who caused all that trauma to the boys…
She was very civilised and we went along with it. She had a few questions about the boys and we responded sometimes in greater detail, sometimes in vague terms. She was very pleased to hear I signed up the boys to their respective after-school clubs, because she thought both were gifted in those respective areas. We did talk to her about some of the activities we did with them since they moved in and she said ‘I am so glad they get to experience those with you, sadly I couldn’t offer those opportunities for them.‘ I know I was supposed to feel compassionate about all that, but I kept thinking I spent only 50p on the pumpkin he carved for Halloween, she had spent a lot more on the pan she used to hit him with! We always have choices!
Sitting there listening to her stories felt very weird. She came across as a person, who KNOWS of the birth mother of my boys, not as somebody who IS the birth mother herself. I suppose that is her way of coping with this tragedy of loosing her children. She emotionally distanced herself from everything that happened and created her own new history in which they were a very happy family of X and everything was peachy. I honestly didn’t expect her to say ‘I was a rubbish mother’ or anything along those lines, but I think I could have liked her a bit if she said something like ‘I tried, but…‘ and gave me excuses. Choosing to focus only on the good bits is something I totally get and even admire in my/her/our boys, but for the boys it was the only way to survive those years while she is now conveniently forgets that she was responsible for most of the bad stuff!
Hubby and I managed to keep our cool and ask all the usual questions from the story of their unusual first names to their favourite foods and toys as babies and toddlers. She even talked about the father quite a lot. We did have moments when she shared something about one of the boys and I was smiling and nodding saying ‘yes, he still does that’ and vica versa. I said something funny and she added ‘he was always like that, he got it from X’. The only time I almost lost it was when she admitted ‘they witnessed some bad bits, but I am hopeful they won’t remember any of it’. This was after we had said something about Snoops remembering a ball being kicked over his head when he was younger and BM said that his father had done that when Snoops had been 6 months old.
A few weeks ago after a very upsetting day Snoops decided it was time he shared stuff with me about her. The poor kid was shaking from top to bottom as he struggled to utter the words, he was choking on his own tears as he recalled some of the horror she subjected him to.
I so wanted to scream at her: ‘Bloody hell, woman, did you just listen to your words??? They both remember every tiny detail! Of course they do! Why do you think they both have night terrors every night? Why do you think they are in constant flight/fight mode? Why do you think they have massive anxieties, challenging behaviour or lack of trust towards anyone? Why do they need years of therapy? Why do you think they HATE you? Because they remember! You created this alternate reality where you are all fine, but I have to pick up the pieces every single time! They are nasty to ME, violent towards us because YOU screwed them up!’
But I just sat there quietly looking at her. I thought if I loose it now chances are good she will contest the whole adoption process again. Instead I told her we will make sure the boys won’t forget about her. She said thank you. We took a picture of the 3 of us, shook hands and she left. Hours later the children’s SW called to say she thinks I was brilliant. Apparently BM is very pleased with us and how well the boys are settled. She also thinks we are wonderful and she promised not to contest the adoption order. So, was it worth it? Definitely. Will I be able to explain the boys why she couldn’t keep them safe? I don’t think so…