Saturday, 2 November 2019

Taking a break....

We have come to a decision that we are going to stop the adoption process for now and wait until after our wedding. We have a year now until we get married so after this, we can then look into starting again with starting a family. It has not been an easy decision and we have both been very angry, upset and hurt which is why it has taken me a while to be able to sit and update this blog. I will tell you all the reasons behind it as we go on as best I can.

We had the visit from the social workers and they read us the feedback that was given to them about us from the 4 preparation days we went on in August. There was mainly 1 lady from our council so it was her feedback that it was taken from. Before the preparation days, we had NEVER met the woman and over the course of the 4 days, we NEVER spoke to her, except to give her our documents so she could start our DBS checks, so she did not know our situation or why we were there. I understand giving feedback on someone is difficult if they aren't known to you, therefore, I believe it is right for her to give general statements on how she saw we got on in the tasks and with interacting and getting involved with everyone else, but NOT personal recommendations or statements. So, with this in mind, I will tell you the feedback we received....

'It was a large group. When the group worked altogether, Sophie and Josh were quite quiet but did have input, and when they broke off into smaller groups, we could see they were involved more. During some of the talks/presentations, they looked bored and uninterested. On day 2, Sophie seemed quiet and got upset. I was made aware it was her transplant anniversary. Josh swore a couple of times during the sessions and Sophie injected herself during the break'.

What are your thoughts on this? Our thoughts? Initially we were quite shocked at the comments so didn't really put our point across to the social workers, but having had time to think about things, and from talking to close friends and family, we are very upset and angry at how we have been made to feel by 1 persons views. I'm not going to rant or go into full detail on here, but, we both feel that some of those comments made were not relevant at all. Everyone at the preparation days found parts of it hard and sitting in a classroom from 9-4 each day was difficult so we weren't the only ones. Josh is also dyslexic and didn't do well in school so he doesn't feel comfortable and cope well in these situations. Day 2 was my 8 year anniversary of my double lung transplant. It is a big deal for us, it would be for anybody, but we don't make a big deal. We always mark the day by doing something to celebrate my life and also as a mark of respect for my donor and their family. Surely, by us being there on that day shows how committed we are to the adoption? Also, everyone has certain days that they find difficult, whether it is losing a family member or marking a certain occasion, if my anniversary fell on a day that we didn't have the training, it wouldn't have been an issue. As for the point of injecting myself, yes I did, I have diabetes!!!! I should have my long acting insulin at the same time everyday - 10.30am - and our break wasn't until 11am. I waited until most people had left the room to get tea and coffee and injected my side quickly and put it away. I wasn't near anyone and was looking after myself and doing my treatments - what do they want me to do??

After briefly discussing and listening to this from the social workers, we were told we could go onto Stage 2 after Christmas, if we looked into getting some counselling. This also got my back up. We don't need counselling. I have been offered many types of counselling since I was about 13 years old but I have never taken it. I have my family and close friends that I can talk to and rely on. When you complete your workbooks for this adoption process, you complete a diagram and questions on who you have supporting you, so the fact I have never needed counselling surely shows that I have very strong support networks so I feel like they are contradicting themselves. Once the social workers left, we had a chat and came to the decision to stop.

We are both not happy with the way we have been treated and made to feel. We have been made to feel like we aren't good people, never mind, good parents. It has upset us because we aren't bad people and if we weren't ready or fit enough, we wouldn't have started the process. I work in education and have done since my part-time job when I was 14 so it's even more upsetting, and embarrassing, for me to feel like they are criticising us so much. They are crying out for adopters and foster carers and now I'm not surprised there aren't enough if this is how they are treated. Other people we have spoken to also aren't happy with the council so at least we aren't alone. The council we have gone with is also under the banner of 'requires improvement' so, before criticising us, maybe they should sort themselves out first (sorry, low blow but I couldn't help it).

I want to end on a positive note as we always try and pull ourselves up from bad situations and experiences. We have lots to look forward over the next year.... in a month's time we will find out if I have passed my Masters and get to graduate, Josh's sister will be having her baby boy in December and we can not wait to be an auntie and uncle, christmas is obviously a fab time, I start a new job in December, and we, of course, have our wedding to plan and get ready for in October. After this, we will contact other councils or adoption agencies, and look into starting the process with them. We didn't look around before and went to our nearest council as most people seem to do, but, you don't look at 1 kitchen when you're shopping around do you? So why would you go with the first adoption agency. All of them are different and some clearly better than others.

So.....for now, we won't be updating this blog as we won't have any news. As soon as we start the process again next year, we will update. Hopefully, it goes smoothly and better than this time. Thank you again for everyone's support and messages. They have really helped us both and it has been lovely to hear from people that haven't spoken to me in years and didn't even know followed our journey.

Speak to you all soon x

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Update on Stage 1 so far...

We are NEARLY there! It has taken abit longer than expected just because of the amount of checks and references that need to be done by people close to us, professionals and the authority.

The adoption workers have everything they need now except 3 things: Josh is still waiting for his DBS to come back, my transplant hospital still haven't completed their reference and the medical advisor has to review our GP medicals to make sure they are happy with them. I am going to have to chase my hospital tomorrow - I know they are busy but they have had it since July and we can't move on until we have it! I am not worried about the reference as it was my transplant hospital who put us forward for the surrogacy - they will just be happy that we are doing every other option rather than me carrying a child. 

We have also been told that we need a final visit from our social worker before we move to Stage 2. This has worried me slightly, and her visit is booked for 8th October, so we have 2 weeks to worry about what it is about. She has said it is nothing to worry about and not to be nervous and they just want to clarify a few things so hopefully it isn't anything too major. 

Since the last blog update, we had our 4 days of preparation training. These were long, hard days of full of lots of information and advice which was interesting, but also alot to take in. We were very nervous to attend but the other group members were lovely and we got on with everyone and it was nice to be able to chat and hear about their situations and general thoughts. A whole range of people were there: couples who have been through IVF, loss of babies, same sex couples, single adopters and couples like us who were there for medical reasons. We now have a 'whatsapp' group which is actually really lovely to have and a bigger source of support than I expected. I love hearing from them all and hearing their updates - we are all, except one couple, still waiting to hear about moving to Stage 2, so we are all in the same boat! Meeting these people was definitely one of the best things to come out of the training and I hope we continue to support each other. 

I am feeling slightly fed up and impatient lately. Not just with the adoption stuff but in general. I suppose you are going to get periods of these feelings. I just didn't realise how difficult and mentally hard this Stage 1 part was. I have been chasing and reading and communicating with different people and departments since we were accepted onto Stage 1 at the end of June - I'm knackered! Of course it will all be worth it but doesn't mean it isn't hard work. 

I would also just like to end on asking a little favour: I am more than happy to talk about anything - whether its about my health journey, adoption journey or anything to do with my life - but when you do ask about the adoption journey, please don't keep saying "people that can get pregnant naturally don't have to go through all this", or "why do you have to do all that, it's alot of work". Trust me I know and I agree, but it has to be done and that's what is needed in order for us to get a child. I can't change that.  Both me and Josh do love the amount of people that are behind us and ask about how we are getting on, those little comments do really help - we need all the help and support we can get. 

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Stage 1...

All our forms we were given during the first meeting (see previous blog) were sent off and on 20th June, we were officially accepted onto Stage 1 of the adoption process. As I write this blog, we are about halfway through. 

At the start of July, all the people we chose and asked to be our referees received their letters. They had to answer a handful of questions about us, basically an in-depth character reference and send it back by the end of July. We each had our employer reference, a family member reference and two friends references. As far as I know, these have all been sent back and completed. Because of my health situation, I also had to get a reference from both hospitals I am under.

We also completed a financial assessment which we will be taking next week when we attend our first training day. We have been signed up to adoption training/preparation days. There are 4 in total over the next 3 weeks and these give more information and preparation for adoption and any situations you might have to handle. We have to attend all 4 to be able to move to the next stage. It was quite handy that they fell during the summer holidays as I am off work and Josh booked a few weeks off so he could spend some time with me. We are both quite nervous but have heard that everyone is very friendly and all couples work together and support each other and you end up making friends for the journey. During these training days, we will be having a DBS check to make sure we have no convictions especially when it comes to children! 

We have also nearly completed a workbook that we have each been emailed. It is about 50 pages and goes through all aspects of our past including childhood, past relationships, family, feelings and our adoption information. It is very repetitive and some of the questions aren't relevant to us (for example, there are 2 pages on if we live with other adults and their thoughts and attitudes to adoption) but we understand that they are trying to build up a picture of us, our family and situation so they have as much information as possible when it goes to court. These workbooks need to be completed during Stage 1 but will be used, if we progress to Stage 2, by the social worker to reference and work from.

The last thing on the list for Stage 1 is getting a medical assessment done from our GP. After waiting a month and constantly contacting them to try and get someone who knows what the procedure is to help, we have finally been booked in for 23rd August. We have to pay £75 each for a 15 minute appointment. 

Then that is Stage 1 complete! From the initial letter about Stage 1, it looks like, as long as everything is completed and they are happy with the outcome and answers, we can move onto Stage 2 around the beginning of September. I am still nervous for this Stage 1 outcome purely because of my medical information. I don't want that to affect anything. If I didn't think I was capable or well enough, we wouldn't have started the journey in the first place. Please keep everything crossed for us and we will update once we have finished Stage 1 in about 3 weeks!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Our First Meeting...

Our first meeting with our social worker happened on Thursday 20 June 2019. We were both nervous as we didn't know what to expect or what would be discussed.  Gemma was lovely and really easy to talk to, laid back and not too formal. 

The meeting lasted 3 hours which went really quickly. During the meeting, we found out lots of information about the process but the main focus was about why we were going for adoption, if we were ready for the journey and the background of our family life, childhood and current situation. 

There are 2 stages to becoming an adoptive parent. We are at stage 1. Gemma said there was no reason at the moment why she didn't believe we could move on to stage 2. She will be dealing with us through stage 1 which is basically the form filling and checking stage. Stage 2 is when we get given our social worker who will conduct the home visits and build up our case to take to court. 

These are the forms we were left with for our first stage. We have forms that include: form to register our interest in continuing with the process, medical information, financial information and previous address information. We also have to choose people to give us personal, character references and they will have to give written recommendation and have a visit from the social worker. We have spent the weekend completing these forms and will post them off tomorrow. 

I can't speak fully for Josh but from what we have spoken about since the meeting, we are both very excited and feeling more positive about the process. I was worried about the medical checks but both my hospitals were happy for me to start the surrogacy process so I have no worries that they will support the adoption process. Since attending the information evening for adoption a few months ago, I have had hospital appointments at both Harefield and Lewisham and had great reports so that will also help!

Once they receive our completed forms, they will contact us and let us know the next steps and next round of checks. We will update you all then!

Saturday, 1 June 2019


We have started a new journey!

It has taken me a little while to get my head, and emotions, together to be able to write this. I don't know why, as it is a really positive move we have made and we are excited for the journey, I think it has just all hit me at once.

We have settled into our new home since the last blog. About a month ago, after a big Ikea trip to buy furniture for the house, we went for a meal and Josh suddenly mentioned that he had been thinking for a while about adoption. This shocked me. We haven't really mentioned adoption, and when I first met Josh, he wasn't too bothered about having children, so I didn't even think he would want to take on someone else's. We spoke more about it over a week or so and then contacted the council to inquire about starting the process. We spoke briefly giving a few details to a social worker over the phone and they sent us some dates to attend an information evening. We went along on the evening of 15 May.

The information was quite alot to take in but was really good and the people there were really friendly. There were all sorts of couples there....different ages, different ethnicities, same sex couples... we didn't get to meet any of them but it was nice that it was quite busy as we didn't feel too alone. The evening was roughly 2 hours and involved giving information on the process from start to finish, being introduced to a few people that worked for the adoption teams and also 2 people who had been through the process and shared their stories.

I have worked in schools and education since leaving college and even I was surprised at how in-depth the process is. It is obviously needed as they need to make sure these children go to a good, loving, appropriate home for their needs and also, they build up such a big case for you to take to court so that they have all the information on you in order for you to be approved as adoptive parents.

We took a few days to fill in the application form and posted it off on Monday 20 May and was contacted by email on Wednesday 22 May by the social worker we have been given, a lady called Gemma. She introduced herself and gave us a few dates over the next few weeks that she could come and have an initial visit to meet us at our home. She is coming on 13th June! Nervous but exciting! The meeting will last 2-3 hours and if we want to continue, she will take our documents to do a DBS check. So.....that's as far as we have got.

As much as we were positive and hopeful about the surrogacy journey, we are unable to afford it at this time. We would need another £6000-£7000 before we can even start the process, then we would need to find and build a relationship with a surrogate and then hope that the embryos take, and if they don't, it is another £2000 each try. Obviously, he journey would have been totally worth it, but we just can't afford it and I do not want to rely on donations and fundraising...I hate asking people for money and would want to save the rest ourselves. This leaves us with a problem as people have donated money to us for the surrogacy journey and I don't want to touch it or use it for anything else as that isn't right. What do people do if they have done fundraising but then been unable to carry out what they hoped? Or if they go over and above their target? So please, if you have donated money to us for the surrogacy, please can you message me so I can transfer the money back or let me know what you want us to do. The money will definitely be used for our baby one way or another but I don't want people to be angry as they donated that money for a reason. Trust me, if we could continue with the surrogacy we would....

This last few weeks have been tough for me mentally. Those who know me, know that I am usually upbeat, positive and determined to do and get what I want, however, these last few weeks I haven't been that way. I hate being negative but that's what I have been. I have been very upset and teary and basically feeling sorry for myself. I am just fed up of having to fight for everything in my life and this is the one thing I can't change no matter what I do. Well, I can get pregnant, my reproductive system is in full working order (unlike the rest of my damn body), but I would be selfish and highly stupid to risk my life in order to carry a child. I would be selfish to my family, friends, my doggies and most of all, my donor. My body has just let me down yet again and I guess I have got tired of fighting and have accepted the situation. It isn't fair at all.

However, Josh has been absolutely amazing. I don't often give him enough credit, mainly because most of the time he is so bloody annoying, but he has been nothing but positive. He has had big talks with me especially the last week, and put no doubt in my mind that he is with me no matter what and we are doing this together. He is amazing. I see how he is with me and our nieces and nephew and he will make a fantastic dad and that's why it upsets me more that I can't give him that. We have been very positive on the actual adoption route though. It is an amazing thing for us to be able to do for a child that has had an awful start to life.

I have written far more than I planned to tonight so I will leave it there for now. I'm sure there are feelings and information that I have missed out but I will include that in our next blog in a few weeks once we have had our first visit. Fingers crossed that goes well x

Monday, 1 April 2019

On Hold...

Just a little update on where we are at the moment with our surrogacy journey seeing as yesterday was Mothers Day...

We have managed with the help of many of you amazing people to raise just over £3500 towards our little baby. We need the same amount on top of that and we will be ready to start making some embryos. We have been talking with family and each other and thinking about fundraising but, to be honest, at the moment we are very busy in our work and home life that it would be too much for us to organise. I also do not wan to rely on other people purely to make this happen for us. It is our aim to save up for the rest of the money ourselves. This hopefully wont take us too long as I don't want to be waiting years for this to happen as the actual process takes long enough.

We have just over the past few weeks finalised and moved into our first home together. We have worked and saved for the last 2 years to be able to get to where we are today and we wanted to make sure we were settled with our own space before making any moves on the baby and wedding front. Now we have our home we can make a start on moving ahead.

I have set up a savings account that is purely for our surrogacy so all the money raised so far is in there. I do this for my own piece of mind so that I can prove we are using all the money raised for what we should be. Once we are settled and on track with our home and bills, me and Josh will be saving and adding to this surrogacy savings fund as much as we can. We have obviously still got the fundraising page open just in case but I dont want to keep pushing it in people's faces. If they want to help and donate, they will, if not, we understand!

Not really much to update as we will just be concentrating on saving for the next few months at least, but yesterday I was thinking about it quite abit and getting abit upset and frustrated about the situation so thought I would do a little blog entry.

Hopefully it wont be too long until I update you all again with good news that we have reached our savings goal. Fingers crossed!

Friday, 25 January 2019

Time to Fundraise...

First of all, we would like to thank absolutely everyone for your messages and donations since our last blog post. We were rather upset to get the decision but by the end of the evening, we were so positive and happy with the massive amount of support that was sent to us. It was the worst time of year to get the news just weeks before Xmas but despite this, people still donated. It didn't matter how much was donated we appreciate everything. It all adds up. We would like to mention a few things that stood out and really overwhelmed us...

First of all, the biggest thank you goes to Liz Leese and Joey's family and friends. Joey was one of my closest friends and passed away from Cystic Fibrosis very suddenly nearly 4 years ago. Her mum set up a Trust in her name. Basically her mum Liz decided to close the Trust and when she read our last blog she asked the Trust members, mainly Joeys family and friends, if they would be happy for us to have the money to help us. They were all so supportive and agreed (I would have totally understood if they had wanted it to go to CF or Joeys hospital) so over the last few weeks, we have received the cheques and a letter. The total added up to roughly £2300. Other amounts for around £200 came from my uncle and Josh's cousin. Despite the donations, the supportive messages have been amazing - people at my work have given me lots of cuddles and always asking how we are getting on, messages from people who I haven't seen since primary school, along with people offering to help fundraise money by offering places to hold events and running in events and offering some of their fundraising amounts. Just thank you.

We had our appointment today. We should have gone between Xmas and New Year but I decided to get pneumonia and get whisked into hospital so we changed it for today. Despite knowing we didn't have the funding we went along to see what our next steps and options could be. I had a letter from my lung consultant which contested the funding decision to take with us for them to send to the council to see if that would help. It didn't. The surrogacy hospital basically said the council were we live don't fund surrogacy even though they agree that we need to take that route. We have one final attempt and little ray of hope for funding though....

We have just got a mortgage and a house together in a different borough to where we live now, therefore, when we move in a few months time, we could apply through my new GP to the new borough to see if they have different rules and criteria and see if we can get the funding. I really don't hold out much hope as I feel the criteria will still be the same but it is definitely worth a try of course!

So we need to raise £7000 altogether for the first part of this journey. This will be to remove my eggs, them to make the embryos and to store them for up to a year. We will worry about the second part once this is done. We asked if they did any payment plans or offered any payment options but it has to be the full amount for them to go ahead. The fact we are now paying for the journey without the help of NHS means we are now private patients. This means we don't have to use the current hospital we are under. 

The hospital has been amazing and we have no issues with them, it's just quite far away and we know there are hospitals that are nearer. Obviously it will be worth the journeys for the end result but if we can cut our travel time down significantly then that is a smart move. Today we left home at 1pm for our 3pm appointment. This appointment, along with our other appointments lasted around 15 minutes and then we made our way home and got home about 6pm. I'm used to hospitals and travelling but it is very tiring. We were given the current surrogacy hospital as that is the one my transplant hospital use when they refer patients. We will be contacting another hospital to see if we can be seen under them purely for ease and time. 

In other news, we shouldn't have any problems making the embryos as all of our results came back good and normal. Josh's sperm is normal and no issues and my ovaries are good, one is within easy reach and my egg amount is good. 

So now, we need to start the fundraising. So far we are looking at planning a football tournament or match along with family activities like a fun day, possibly a quiz night (everyone loves a quiz) and anything else that comes along. Just to also add, a friend has a place in the London Landmarks Half Marathon which takes place on 24 March. She is unable to run due to knee problems and has offered to give someone the chance to run and raise money for us. If anyone fancies it, let me know.

Hopefully the next blog will be a positive update that we have hit our target - We are trying to say positive!!