I am sure every adoptive parent will have a story about the moment they brought their child or baby home for the first time. We had to bring the baby back by train from London to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The trains were quite slow in those days. This is our story.
We adopted Sam long ago, but I can remember every detail of our emotions, although not the legal details. Technically I suppose we were Sam’s foster parents. It would be a few months before the actual adoption order could be granted.
Once we had signed the legal papers, our social worker bundled us into her car. She was anxious that we should be able to catch the 2 pm train to Newcastle. The traffic was horrendous and we nearly did not make it. She helped us clamber onto the train before the whistle went.
We sank down at a table, where a young couple were seated. The woman had a scarf round her head. I was dismayed to hear that she was suffering from mumps and was going home, to bed. Since baby Sam was delicate, we thought we should search for somewhere else to sit. The train was packed but in the end D. found us somewhere. We had to walk through the train with the baby, the carrycot and all the paraphernalia. After about four carriages we reached the vacant seats.
The next challenge was feeding Sam. The foster mother had given us very careful instructions and notes about his feed. She had provided us with two made-up bottles. I had always breast-fed our babies but I imagined that bottle-feeding would be easy. Not so!
We had been told that Sam would have to be woken up to feed – nothing like the feed on demand routine we had always adopted. Apparently premature babies might need a lot of coaxing to drink and of course they needed the full and correct amount. We woke Sam at the appointed hour but it was disheartening at first, because each time I removed the bottle, the milk was still up to the same mark. How to get the milk from the bottle into the baby? That was the question.
The process took some time but was eventually successful. Phew! I leaned back, exhausted.
Even more imprinted on my memory is when we presented our two daughters with their new baby brother. They approached him with awe and kissed him gently. They were amazed at his tiny dark curls and tiny fingers. They stroked his little brown cheeks.
We were about to be a family of five – a multiracial family. And each one of us was at the start of a new and wonderful chapter in our lives.