As a senior psychologist at For Our Children Foundation, part of my work includes to train and consult the adoptive applicants who visit our courses. During one of those courses, I met Angelina and her partner, about a year ago. Even back then I was very impressed by them- Angelina was certain that she wants to adopt a child because for years she had dreamed to have a child and to provide him or her with all her love and care.
A year after the end of the course Angelina contacted me, asking for help. She explained that some time ago she had received the opportunity to adopt a two-year-old girl who lived in a home for medical and social care since she was born. However, the first few meetings were stressful both for her and for the little Marina. Angelina could adopt as a single parent because she is not married to the person she lives with. Therefore, the whole story is about her, as according to the law, the second parent has no right to visit the child or to be involved in the process.
During our first meeting, Angelina told me that she felt helpless because she cannot find an appropriate way to approach the child. She told me that during their first meetings the child had not stopped crying and she had not managed to find a way to calm her down.
The team working at the home for medical and social care told her that maybe this is not her child, and maybe she needs to adopt someone else. Moreover, they told her that they have been working at the home for years and nothing similar to that situation had ever happened prior then. They were assuming that the child’s behavior meant that she was refusing the adoptive applicant. These altogether made Angelina hesitate whether or not she should keep meeting the child or she should stop, so they could find more appropriate parents for Marina. However, while walking home after each meeting she realized that she could not stop thinking about the Marina and her big eyes. Angelina and her partner spent a lot of time discussing the child’s behavior and the possible reasons for it. Her intuition told her this is the child she has dreamed of her entire life.
Knowing Angelina, her determination and her strong desire to adopt a child, I realized that this was a crucial moment. The most important thing was to calm Angelina and the person next to her down and bring their courage and strength back. I made it clear that the initial reaction of the child was normal and natural, and that adoption is a process and not a one-off event, and like every other process, it requires time and patience. I made a promise to her that I will stand by her side during the entire period of meeting the child and said “I am 99% sure that this adoption will eventually happen”.
After our first conversation, I started accompanying Angelina to her meeting with the child.
Initially, the levels of pressure were still high, and according to Angelina, this was due to the team at the home. However, we prepared a plan for overcoming the difficult situation. To shorten the distance and find a common language between Marina and Angelina, we started playing with specialized toys during our meetings – the toys we use at the Foundation during the meetings between adoptive applicants and children. I showed Angelina different methods which would make the communication with Marina easier, concrete guidelines on how to play with the child and how to calm her down- this encouraged Angelina and made her more confident.
Shortly after that, she started feeling more comfortable during the meetings. I advised her to visit the child every day and not just on the dates fixed by the home. This was followed by tens of meetings during which Angelina got to know Marina much better. Gradually a strong relationship was developed between the two and the child started feeling more comfortable around Angelina- she began to trust her. Consequently, the second parent managed to participate in several of the meetings- not all of them.
During the meetings, we used to go out. We visited the children’s playgrounds. There the child discovered a whole new and completely unfamiliar world. Marina was curiously examining the surroundings – two years spent in an institution have left a mark on her sensitive mentality. For the first time she saw ants, and the cats and dogs were completely unfamiliar to her but made her eyes shine with happiness and fascination. She had not even felt wind before our meetings and after she stepped on grass for the first time, she started crying. During all these moments Angelina was right next to her which further deepened the relationship between the two. Marina started feeling well in Angelina’s arms, they started laughing together. The result of our efforts was obvious.
Thus, after this continuous period of time, Marina started looking forward to the meetings with Angelina.
It did not take long before she felt very attached to her mother. Because Angelina was no longer an adoptive applicant, she was a mother. The time had come for them to go back to their warm and secure home, so that all three of them, together with the second parent, can be a real family.
Today Marina and Angelina are inseparable, the emotional connection between them is as strong as if they have always been together. And Marina does not even have the smallest memory of the fear that she initially experienced.
A senior psychologist at Community Support Centre “St. Sofia”