A week after the adoption order was made we returned to the High Court, this time with Monster in tow. When we left the house that morning we were each dressed in our smartest clothes, with Monster cutting a particularly fine figure in his new shirt, a navy waistcoat and a hot pink tie. By the time we arrived at Liverpool Street train station I had blueberries freshly mashed into my new dress, Small Fry had porridge behind his left ear, and Monster’s shirt was discovered to have toothpaste on its front even though he had never worn it before. Unbelievably, scruff-o-dad Jake was the cleanest and smartest of us all.
Judge Nice-Man seemed not to notice our blots and even complimented Small Fry on his tie (one of Jake’s which he had slung around SF’s neck at the last minute), pointing out the similarities between SF’s tie-and-tshirt combo and the attire of a large number of the people that usually appear in front of his bench. He spent a few pleasant minutes addressing Monster, chatting about the adoption being finished and what it meant for all of us. Monster was cool and calm, a bit like the opposite of his mother. After JNM had presented Monster with a certificate stating that he was now legally bound to Jake and myself, he handed him a gift which he said was from all of the staff at the court. Monster took this literally, sweetly. Lovely Social Worker told him later that children are not usually given gifts at these proceedings, which made Monster feel even more special. JNM invited Monster up to sit in his swivelly chair, and had brought a judge’s horse-hair wig for him to wear. Small Fry felt a bit envious of this and attempted to snatch the wig from Monster’s head, whereupon JNM gave SF the wig off his own head. He was charming and exceedingly attentive throughout and I felt I was floating on air. His asking to be in the photograph was my favourite bit.
Upstairs in the courthouse afterwards I sought the clerk to whom I needed to direct my queries about documents. She found me, remembered my case, SMILED, and informed me that she had already posted my original Tanzanian documents to my lawyer. I debated nipping up to Camden quickly to collect them but decided I should not waste time moving around when what I really wanted to be doing was celebrating, and treating Monster. The entire experience in that courthouse was so smooth and unlike anything I had experienced for a very long time that I just stood around in the hallway waiting for someone to tell me that it was all a mistake and that I would need to complete more forms and submit more documents and wait more and wait more and wait more. No such thing happened, and we tentatively left. I checked over my shoulder several times, but still no one came after us calling for more signatures or documents. It seemed to be truly over. It was truly over!
Unfortunately for me, the next place Monster wanted to go was the brand new, blindingly bright, overwhelmingly expensive capitalist whore, the Lego shop. After the culmination of a nine-year scrap, it was the most perfect anti-climax I could have imagined. Then past Big Ben, past the London Eye, past Downing Street where he asked the police officer on duty which house Theresa May lived in, onto Southbank and into a sushi bar for a celebratory dinner. Monster loves sushi and had been keenly anticipating this, and when he saw the little differently-coloured bowls going round and round on the conveyor belt, ripe for his picking, he pretty much exploded with joy. He couldn’t sit still and gradually made sure he picked the belt clean of pretty bowls.
Throughout this day of utmost importance, his main concern had been whether or not he was getting one over on his friends by bunking off school and spending the day in London. He was a bit gutted when he noticed a couple of other kids knocking about the place, until I told him they were probably in England on holiday from another country. We came home on the evening train and Monster fell asleep in the taxi from the station. Too tired to say goodnight in bed, he murmured something and immediately left my presence. Night fell on the day of days, and on the longest episode of my life, which had lasted all of his.
The loose ends:
I did meet Baroness King at last – when I stayed with some old raving friends of mine who happen to live opposite her. She came round with wine and posh bread and when I opened the door she hugged me tightly and gave me that wide smile. She had just come from Parliament where she had played a large role in managing to get ‘them’ to change the law regarding the Adoption Support Fund to a more fair and just version of itself.
This blog will be taken down soon. The adoption is really Monster’s story and it has been naughty of me to share even the information that I have, although these details have been almost entirely mine, not his, and I have omitted all of the gory bits and everything that he would not want me to tell, because separation from birth families and subsequent adoptions or whatever is in their place are very much the child’s story to tell or to retain as they see fit. It would not have been my place to write about how Monster felt about the things that have happened rather than how I felt about them. These posts will later provide him with a record of events exactly as they happened, so that his history does not suffer gaps and a lack of small details thanks to my poor memory. Thank you for reading the posts. They have been my outlet in a situation where many times I have felt as though I would lose my mind. Writing about all of it stopped that from happening (a bit). I hope that you have at some point been either entertained, or moved, or informed, or… something 🙂
Monster continues to make me laugh and cry all the time with his ridiculous questions (‘Do you like this kind of traffic light?’) and statements (‘Now that’s what you call rain!’ when it’s drizzling slightly). Sometimes I am astounded by this child who is mine and by the things he achieves all by himself. He has this week been selected as one of only ten children who will breakdance to open the Breakin’ Convention 2017 tour in the biggest theatre in Norfolk, and this he shrugs nonchalantly off; while simultaneously working himself up to walking to the corner shop by himself which is apparently a much bigger deal. After nine years and three sets of legal bills that now total a five figure sum in GBP, this boy whose heart is large and freely given is, simply, mine. I can’t remember not having had him. He has always been mine, since the second I saw him on a blanket under the mango tree. Toni Morrison wrote about him and me, without ever having heard of us: ‘The pieces I am, (s)he gather them and give them back to me all in the right order.’ Without him (and his baby brother, who made it into the story at the last minute) I would not be able to breathe. They are my heart. They are my life.
Had I known what a mammoth mission and arduous journey this was going to be, would I still have embarked on it almost a decade ago? Yes! The only other option would have been to have walked away, which was not really an option at all. I hereby thank Robert Frost for writing my final words: I took the [road] less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.