I’m trying to find sense in all that we have been through in the past week. It has not been easy. I have struggled, I’ve been sad and I’ve been angry but slowly as my emotions have started to settle, I’m starting to find some sense in the haze of the grief, sadness and crushing disappointments we have experienced.

Mostly, I’m realizing that there have been some valuable lesson’s learned in the past week.

The Value Of The 60 Day Consent Period:

The South African Child Act is not well written, there are many grey area’s and loop holes which leaves it’s interpretation & implementation wide open. One of the grey area’s in the act states that the child placed for adoption should go into a place of safety for the 60 days. It does, however, not state that the  potential adoptive parents cannot be the child’s place of safety. It is for this reason that some social workers choose to place children in kangaroo care for the period of the 60 days, while others choose to place the child directly with his/her intended adoptive parents. There are pro’s and con’s to both. Having your baby immediately means that you can start the bonding process straight away and there is less confusion for the child as they are not past from one set of caregivers to another. Being present at Ava’s birth was a huge part of my bonding experience with her. It is the reason, in my opinion, why I felt such an immediate and intense connection with her, while other adoptive parents often feel that connection grow over time as they weren’t there during such a defining moment in their child’s life.

It’s also risky because it means that at any time during the 60 days the birth parents can retract consent and the adoptive parents have no legal recourse but to return the child to his/her parents.

My feelings about the 60 days placement have always been ambiguous, until now. I can never place my heart on the line like that ever again, even more so, I can never put Ava at such risk for hurt like that ever again.

While Baby K’s placement with us was fully legal and we received a freeing order from the courts to take him from his place of safety and to return home to Jozi immediately, coping with the fallout after consent was retracted was painful, especially because we already have a child to consider and I’m not sure I’d be willing to put myself or my family through that again.

Ava will make an amazing big sister:

From the second we walked through the door carrying baby K, she was completely taken with him. The look on her precious little face was priceless. She could not believe that this was her little brother. As soon as he was out of the baby carrier, she went to fetch all her toys for him to play with, talking animatedly to him and explaining how each of the toys worked. She kissed his chubby cheeks constantly, stroked his hair and kept commenting on how cute he was and how much she loved him. She stroked his face, made him laugh with her circus Charlie antics, she held him and she loved him for the short time that he was with us. She wanted him to bath with her and when I said I was going to change his nappy, she ran to fetch one of her night time nappies for him to wear. I was touched but the unconditional and pure love she showed towards him from the moment he arrived with us.

And I was confused when he left. She kept asking where we were taking her baby brother and the following morning she wanted to know where he was. It broke my heart. I’m not sure what has been the worst part of this experience, loosing Baby K or exposing Ava to the situation and seeing her confusion when it ended so abruptly and quickly.

Walter & I are an amazing match:

While I’m all emotion and determination, he is the voice of reason and together that makes us the perfect match. While my determination is often what gets us what we want, it’s Walter’s reasoning that keeps us out of trouble. When things started falling apart this week and there were other big decisions to be made surrounding a potential placement of a another baby, he was the one who was able to reign me in and get me to see reason.

We have also together made a decision that going forward, our SW’s will need to make THE CALL to him and not to me, I forget all reason and get swept up too quickly in the emotion of the situation while he is capable of being reasonable and finding out all the facts and making an informed decision for us both.

We want an ethical adoption:

This is a fact we’ve known since before Ava’s placement and it was reaffirmed for us again this week. Neither of us wants to enter into an adoption agreement where the birth parents have been coerced or are acting against their will. We do not want to keep a child from their natural parents, no matter what we stand to loose. When we got the call stating that Baby K’s birth mother wanted him back, neither of us thought for one second about trying to fight it, our immediate reaction was to prepare to return him. I cannot, on good conscience, raise a child knowing that I’d fought against their birth parents to take them. I cannot bare the thought of raising a child that way and knowing that one day they may well find out that I was the reason they were not raised by their birth parents.

We want another adoption like we had with Ava’s birth mother. One that is based on mutual love and respect and one where we can be confident that the birth parents are acting in what they feel is the best interests of their child and NOT because they feel forced or pressured to place their child.

We want a loving adoption triad. Ava’s placement was all about love. Her birth mother made her choice and her only motivator was love for her unborn child, we loved her and she loved us, our adoption was love and not one of regret, coercion or fighting, I want that again.  And while I know every adoption experience is different and I don’t expect to experience the same the second time around, the fundamentals need to be the same.

There are so many blog postings bumping around in my head after this past week and slowly as I start to find sense in it all, I’ll be blogging about our experience. But for now, while this week has been horrible and one I never wish to repeat, I have to admit that there have been many valuable lessons learned too.