At last, I’ve found half an hour to sit down and write the piece I had intended to write a fortnight ago! Between the pile of marking, the pile of Christmas stuff and the pile of clean clothes to fold and put away I find a little corner on the kitchen table to put into words how life has changed for my wife and I over the past six months. The hardest, most emotional but blessed six months of my life. The six months since Carys, my wife, and I adopted three-year-old twins, Myfi and Begw.
Mind you, we’re both used to a busy life! Eighteen months ago, I had just launched my own catering company and café, Bara Menyn, in Cardiff Bay, and Carys had just returned from competing in the Commonwealth Games in Australia. Carys is a former National and International athlete and a captain of the Wales athletics team. My wife is quite a woman, strong and fierce, yet sensitive and thoughtful of others. By now, she works with the Spectacle theatre company in Porth and also runs her own training company; ‘Hard Core Cymru’, digitally and online, by offering exercise programmes for people to improve their strength, mental health and well-being, as well as training other international athletes nearly every night a week! In short, life has always been busy but, goodness me, I look back at that time with a knowing smile by now… as two Mums, life is now bustling!
We never questioned that we would one day be parents. After years of IVF, it is obvious now that adoption would be our fate from the beginning. It was fate that we and the girls were in the system at the same time; fate that they were fluent Welsh-speakers; and fate was falling in love with these incredible two from the beginning. I believe that our place in this world is to be mums to Myfi and Begw. We fit.
Life has had to change quite a bit, with Carys staying at home to look after the children (a task far harder, she insists, than training athletes on an international stage) and I have decided to sell the lease to the café and step back into the classroom as a Drama and Welsh teacher.
Running a busy business day and night just didn’t fit with our new lives, and to be quite honest, I didn’t want to miss out more than I had to while we were settling the girls in their new life. It was a difficult decision, but without doubt the best one for us as a family. Bara Menyn continues with pop-up evenings, or catering for private clients, but the pressure to make a business succeed is no longer there. I am much happier, and the girls have two parents that are present.
During this busy time of the preparations for our first Christmas as a family, I am reminded of where we were exactly a year ago; on the day of the Adoption Panel interview. The interview was held at the St David’s Children’s Society, opposite the city hall which was full of the noises and smells of the Cardiff Winter Wonderland, as it is today. I remember turning to Carys and saying how incredible it would be to be able to visit again next year… as a family. We went on the opening day of the Winter Wonderland this year, and the girls were delighted.
The adoption process is like nothing else on earth. The initial part is very intrusive, with the social workers questioning and investigating all aspects of your life, relationship, mental state, health, background and childhood amongst other things, AND that’s okay. I realise now that the reward at the end is valuable and delicate. If we weren’t parents to the girls, I would want whoever would be to go through the same thorough process, and it gives us faith that the children in the system are in good hands, because however difficult, or emotional or tough things are for the adults, the children are the priority and it must be ensured that the match is right in everyone’s interests.
At the end of the vetting process, you have to wait for the right ‘match’, which can be a long wait for some, but fortunately for us, the call came more or less immediately. Three-year old twins were waiting for us. Shock, relief, fear, dread! The next step was to prepare to meet the children (along with preparing the house and transforming my beautiful flowery garden into a play area!) before it all became a reality and the big day arrived.
I’ll never forget that first meeting, and that first beautiful touch as Myfi passed a pink unicorn over for a ‘cwtch’. It’s difficult to describe, after waiting and dreaming about our family, at last there they were, and hearing the words Mam and Mami was so special.
By now, we’re known as Mam Brown and Mam Melyn (hair colour), the dream has come true, and reality embraces us with tears and laughter every day. Our first Christmas is around the corner, a Christmas list has already been sent to Santa in the North Pole and the naughty Elf runs rings around us every night.
By now, the ‘middle room’ shelf, which used to be empty, is full of books and toys. The walls are filled with loving, happy faces and the kitchen sink is a messy pile of bright plastic plates. With the immortal words ‘Let it Go’ filling the house the deafening silence has gone, and the emptiness I wasn’t even aware of has now been filled.
Yes, life is different, after such a long wait, but the truth is they’ve always been here. It was just a matter of waiting for them to arrive.
By Catrin Enid, Mam Brown Myfi and Begw.
Mam Cymru would like to thank Mam Brown for her contribution and a Merry Christmas full of joy to the four of you… it’s obvious that the best presents have already arrived at your home! Enjoy! X
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