After another rough week, I've been looking into adoption this week. I had previously read that in the UK, they will only approve people to adopt children who are less than 40 years younger than the older adopter. Since New Man is now 46, this would have meant we couldn't adopt a baby or toddler.
I now find that, at least in our area, the maximum age difference is 50 years. You have no idea what a relief it is to read something like that - it means we still have a good couple of years to work on this.
My oldest and best friend was adopted as a baby. When she got married, she decided she wanted to find her birth family, and her parents supported her in this. She found her birth mother, found out a bit about the circumstances of her birth, met her birth sister and got a bit of medical history which was useful when she had children. And that was it. There has never been any question that the people who brought her up from the age of six weeks are her 'real' parents.
I also have two cousins who are adopted. No secret has ever been made of the fact that my uncle and aunt adopted them as babies, and they are as much part of the family as any of the cousins.
These days, adoption in the UK is a little more complicated. For a start, in the majority of cases the adoptive parents are required to maintain some level of contact between the child and its birth family. I don't see how, if my child was regularly visiting or having contact with its birth mother, I could ever feel as though I was its 'real' mother. I would always feel as though I was answerable to someone else on the way I was bringing the child up. My friend's daughter has schoolfriends who are adopted and have contact with their birth families, and it can cause disruption and confusion in their lives.
Also, thanks to a combination of the prevalence of abortion and the UK social services' obsession with keeping children in the most chaotic and abusive households for as long as possible, there are very few babies and toddlers available for adoption in this country, and many of the children who are put forward for adoption have already suffered deep psychological (and often physical) damage.
Because of my experience of working overseas, I have always been interested in the idea of an overseas adoption, and I think this is the route we would go down. In many ways, I would be happy if we could have a birth child and an adopted child (or even more than one of each). We have plenty of love to go round, and would love to give a home to a child that needed it, and become that child's parents.
Unfortunately, from the stuff I was reading last night it seems that it would not be an option for us to try for both at the same time. For both domestic and overseas adoptions, you need first to be approved for adoption by UK social services. One of the criteria for them even to consider a couple for adoption is that they must have completed all infertility investigations and treatment (and have a note signed by their doctor to that effect) before applying to become adoptive parents.
Armed with the knowledge of everything I have read this week, I think we now have a plan. 2009 will be the Year of Trying For A Baby. We'll give it our best shot, and then we'll see - will 2010 be the Year of The Birth? Or will it the Year of The Adoption? Or even both?