conversations with people I admire


sid and mum 001

We had some good news this week.  “Rashida and Dave”.. have heard that they have been accepted as adoptive parents.  We joke that we have to now treat her as if she is pregnant!

I have known Rashida for many years.  I have seen her through the start of her relationship with Dave. Difficult family times, failed attempts to have a baby, depression and finally the whole process of being accepted for adoption.

 I very much admire how she has coped with all this, how she has kept her marriage together and survived.

Me…………. “Can you tell me something about the adoption process”

Rashida…”It has taken around a year.  I was still having counselling after the failed IVF.  So they said I had to finish that first, which seemed so unfair, but the counsellor said we were at the end anyhow.

“Initially we had to meet in a group with other potential adoptive parents, while they explained about the adoption process, but really they were observing how we interacted with other people.”

me..”How did that make you feel?

Rahsida…” Scary,  I didn’t feel like I could be myself, I felt a bit like I was acting”

Then we were assigned a case worker, Sophie, who told us she was not there to be our friend  but to support us through the process and prepare a report.

She went into all aspects or our life, our  relationship with each other, background and family.  Some of it was very painful and personal.  Our arguments  how did we resolve them?…, Our privacy ” what did we wear in  the house when we got home from work, did we walk around naked?. etc…”

Me…..”is there a right answer to that?

Rashida …” I don’t know.  At first I resented all this probing into our personal lives, some of it seemed irrelevant.   After all when somebody has a baby naturally, nobody makes judgements on their lifestyle as to if they are suitable parents, and who is to say anyway?    but then eventually I turned it round.    Some of the children for adoption have come through some bad times, some are very damaged.  Some have big problems   They have been rejected once, so they have to be very careful it will work this time.   So I suppose they have to be protected and they have to be sure you are going to be the right parents.

You are “matched” to a child, not just physically but they need to be sure you can honestly  really accept a child  who has had problems.  For example we decided that, if we were honest we  probably couldn’t cope with a child who had been sexually abused, but we could cope with a child who had Aspergers, (as Dave works with such children) or a child who had a physical disability.  and we could accept a child of mixed parentage or white or fully Asian

Sophie prepared a report and we had to go in front of a panel of 15 people.  Other adoptive parents, doctors, health visitors, social workers   The worst bit of this was not knowing.  I just wanted a word of “you are doing the right thing” from Sophie, but of course she never gave it.  She was not there to judge, just to report and in the end it was up to the panel.

.me, and they told you straight away?

Rashida.”  Yes, I can’t tell you how joyful I felt, I cried.  I still find it a bit difficult to believe the stress is over”

me……. “what was your worst moments?”

Rashida…..”I suppose it was when the last IVF failed.  When I realised it wasn’t going to happen….I felt such a failure as a woman a complete failure as human being.    Having babies is what women are supposed to do and  even though I thought I had rejected a lot of my cultural conditioning  in Asian culture being infertile is shameful  and I felt shame.

I also felt in some silly way that it was some sort of punishment for the disagreements I had had with my father.  I know that is stupid but you think all sorts of strange things.

“me. can you tell me about the problems with your father”

Rashida……..”“my parents came to England from Pakistan in the 1960’s,  they worked hard in their shop.  My mum was a traditional stay at home mum and my father  ran the business.  I was the youngest of four children, one sister and two brothers,  and they were very ambitious for us.  We were encouraged to work hard at school and better ourselves.

My mum died when I was twelve and we were all devastated    My sister left university to come home and take her place.  She acted as mum in our teens and looked after us till we all went to university.  Then she complied with my fathers wishes and went into a marriage arranged by him.

I came to study in Manchester and here I met Dave and we fell in love .  I could not tell my father about us,  as I knew my father  felt that it was his role to  choose my husband so for eight years I kept it a secret.

By that time both my brothers had become professionals and married white girls, so when Dave started to get impatient with me,  naturally  he wanted to get married and have children,  I decided the time was right.   I expected that my father  would be disappointed but  accept my relationship with Dave and would love him as much as I did when he met him.  Especially as he had accepted my sister-in-laws.

How wrong was I!……eventually when I plucked up the courage to tell him I had a relationship with an English  man he went mad.  He got very angry and told me to  give Dave up or get out of the house.  I was so upset and crying, I went to my brother and told him.  Of course my brothers accepted it but my sister took my fathers side.  This was my sister who had been like a mother to me. She turned against me   She said I had always been spoiled and got my own way and  she  had had to give up her education and have an arranged marriage so I should as well.

It was awful, it split the family and I felt guilty about that.    My father and my sister refused to speak to me and so I had to see my brothers in secret.  They met Dave and really liked him.  But my father never spoke to me again.  I so missed my father.  I never realised how much I needed his approval and love.   My brothers tried to reason with him but it was futile.  He no longer had a daughter.

Dave and I got married with my brothers  there and  some of Dave’s family and our friends    Although it was a happy day, there was an overriding sadness that my father and my sister were absent.

 Then suddenly my father became ill and was dying.  I needed to go and make my peace with him, but when I got to the hospital, my sister was there, she shouted at me that I had no place to be there, I had broken his heart and I was no daughter if his.

You can imagine how awful this was, how upset I was.  She would not speak to me at the funeral and I was very distressed.  Not only did I grieve for my father, but my sister as well.

Then a few months after my father died, my younger brother got ill and died suddenly   It seems he had the same undiagnosed genetic kidney problem that killed  my mother.  

We were all devastated, but suddenly my sister came round.    She said that my brothers death had made her realise that she should not carry grudges and so we made our peace.   So in a strange way my brothers death had a positive result.

me. …..    So have you told her the news?

Rashida…..”yes, she has been supportive thourout the adoption process, as has my brother, who has two adopted children of his own.  They are really looking forward to being Auntie and Uncle.”

Me….  Giving her a hug….I am so pleased for you,  What happens now?.

Rashida….We go on the national register and they will find a suitable child.  We then will spend time visiting him or her and when we know that we can both accept each other we can bring them home.

me…I hope that is soon.  Good luck with everything.

Love Denise

and here what I was up to a year ago.

My first Hamman.



  1. Wow. Thank you for this slice into the adoption process. I heard it was tough but didn’t think they went into such personal details!

    Was it really necessary for Sophie the case worker to clarify that she wasn’t there to be a friend? The process is just as hard on the prospective parents as it is on the children. I hope she warmed up bit at some point as I can imagine they were in contact with her quite regularly.

    Sophie aside, I send a big congratulations to Rashida and Dave on being new parents!

    Denise, are you throwing a baby shower? : )


    • Baby showers are not part of our culture, in fact I did not know what they were until recently. But that is such a good idea! !!
      When Rashida gets contact with a child she likes I might suggest one to my colleagues.
      Thanks for the idea Ella

      Love Denise


  2. Very interesting Denise, I know some stories personally that have been nightmarish to say the least.
    If only they screened parents to be half the way they screen people wanting to adopt, I’m sure there would be many people who would NOT pass!
    I understand how delicate it is to put a child in the hands of strangers but some people are just not fit to be parents and they keep having children while others that are more than qualify and dying to have a baby can’t.
    Oh well…


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