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Twas the night before the big day…

“When all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The rooms all prepared with love and with care, in hopes and wishes that the boys will soon be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of their new forever family danced in their heads”

This is it.  Everything we have hoped for, dreamt of and planned for is about to become a reality like a freight train flying on the tracks.  Both our dreams and those of the boys are about to meet as one and we can’t wait.  Yes we are nervous, yes we keep having reality check moments and yes we are anxious but ultimately we can’t wait to see the boys again tomorrow.  It has been a long long wait not being able to see them since the 1st of October and suddenly the day is nearly upon us when our lives and their lives will change and enhance forever.

The last month has been exhausting, fun, exciting, stressful and one of the longest months waiting for this special day.  Not only have we been working all hours that are free on the house, sorting rooms, cupboards, safe-proofing, trying to make this a home we hope the boys will love, I have also been working hard to transition everything at work allowing me to go on adoption leave knowing and resting in the faith that all is in good hands.  In between all of this we have had the emotional and tough times, feeling so ready for this but at the same time so far from being ready.  We have tried to build into the preparation time some key ‘us’ time and have ensured we have seen friends, family and those people who are so important to us and who we know we can’t see for a while as the boys settle in.

So here are 7 things I didn’t think would be so important as they have ended up being as we entered this final month before introductions start:

  1. Sleep – everyone has been saying get lots of sleep.  It’s proven impossible as when I have not been working we have been working hard on the house.  When we have slept I am then waking early and ping, my mind wakes up and all I can think about is the boys. Sleep has not been as easy as I thought it would be.

  1. Lists – I am a man who likes a good list.  I love the sense of achieving things and getting stuff done. Little did I know that the list of preparatory work we had for the boy’s arrival would go on, and on and on.  My idea of having two columns, “things to buy” and “things to do” just meant that the “to do” list kept growing as things to buy were purchased and needed action , installing, building and so forth.  We have attacked it all with true gusto.  Not only getting their rooms finalised but making sure the house is ready to function and work for them and us as our new family unit.  To name a few things: all areas child-proofed, car seats, car seat protectors, kick back seat protectors on the car, arts and craft box filled and ready for action, clothes that we have been gifted by close friends, washed, sorted and bagged up.  New bikes prepped and ready, furniture secured to the walls, stair gate fitted but with Mr F working his magic to ensure there was a gap allowing the cats to still squeeze through, and so on……  We have seemed to have a never-ending and ever growing list.  Only now with less than 12 hours to go can I feel like we are almost complete.

  1. Patience – patience has been key. Patience has been tested.  Not purely due to us wanting this process to move faster and having to sit back and accept and realise the important steps that need to take place in this last month but also taking deep breaths on silly things.  One area of frustration has been our bloody magnetic blackboard wall.  I have to share this with you simply to get it off my chest. We had this idea to creat one in the kitchen to help with boys with their visual aids and timetables of reach day, helping to reduce anxiety and allowing them to visualise their day.  Well – my patience was tested as it soon dawned on me that the 4 coats suggested by Dulux actually meant the wall was not magnetic and didn’t resemble and blackboard!!  Having called their paint advice line, ( yes I called a paint advice line!?!,) and being told “yes we stopped that paint some months back as customers had problems and we have heard it can take 9 coats”!  9 coats!!! I am currently on 7 and need to take a break for a day or so.  So my advice, don’t get one, instead buy a sheet of magnetised metal and simply paint a layer of blackboard paint on it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

  1. Preparation – the amount of work, detail and preparation put into these final stages of the process by the professionals, social workers etc… had been unbelievable.  Their commitment and detail has been unquestionable and we can totally see why this is needed.  The approach we now have planned for introductions really gives us great confidence in why it must work this way and why we must follow these guidelines.  Every hour and meeting over the coming 10 days is mapped out to precise detail and it totally makes sense. It’s 100% about making this transition as smooth as possible for the boys who have had a life of upheaveal.

  2. Welcome books & video – We spent a long time creating the welcome books for the boys as well as filming a welcome video to help them with this transition.  Both took a lot longer than we had envisaged but knowing now how they went down with the boys that time was so worth it and time well spent.

The boys were told about us on Wednesday of last week.  We were naturally anxious to hear how it went.  Would they remember us from October?  What if they had a bad reaction?  What if they were upset and didn’t want to see us?  We had tonnes of thoughts flying through our heads that day.  Fortunately, quite the opposite was true.  They recognised us right away from the Activity Day in  October and were very excited of the news.  They loved their books and really went into detail studying them.  The DVD was a great success – they watched it around 12 times on the first night according to the foster carers, who must be sick of that video by now!  The social worker shared with us some videos of them watching our video and reading the books and WOW our hearts melted, tears flowed and we were in awe of these little boys and their ability to understand all of this. They were already calling us Dad and Daddy! The effort on the books and video was so worthwhile  and builds another part of their life-story work as well as being a key tool in helping them with yet more change.

  1. The importance of fun – In making the videos I tried to put myself in the shoes of a 4 and 6 year old and wanted to make it fun.  What then transpired is me making a fool of myself on the video and as some people have said, including the social workers who have had an office viewing!, that I have missed my vocation in life and should be a children’s TV presenter!  I am not sure about that but we had fun run making them and seeing their eyes light up due to this fun approach really reminded me that we need to inject fun into the simplest of things.  These boys need to be allowed to be boys. Whilst I say it’s not me, if CBBC want a new Justin I will gladly share his millions to help fund the boys futures.

  1. The strength of our relationship – in this last year and notably in this last month I have fallen back in love again with Mr F.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t mean I had fallen out of love with him but in fact it has grown stronger, if that’s possible.   We have got on with things, achieved some great things and have really shared some special, scary, exciting and great times.  Making sure we are there for each other in this process as well as when the other just needs you to be there.  We have just spent a wonderful night away in our favourite Hotel Du Vin, finding some us time before all this craziness starts. The  sparkle in his eyes, his focus on getting stuff done and his excitement building has been amazing to share and experience and I know we will need this even more when the times are good, bad or challenging in the future. He is going to make an amazing Daddy.

So here we are the night before the big day.  This time tomorrow we would have had 3 hours meeting our boys again and our world and their lives will be changed forever, for the better and the family unit enriched.  The next 10 days are not going to be easy, they are not going to fly by without issue. or incident but ultimately we are jumping on the biggest roller-coaster ride tomorrow and we can’t wait!  I just hope I don’t show any tears when we first all meet again.  I don’t want the boys to see my tears and to think them sad tears as they are totally the opposite. Watch this space.  For now it’s time to try and get some sleep, somehow before the new day of the rest of of lives starts.

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