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Mathilde's Story

Today is the day.

One morning I decided it was time to carry on with my idea of adoption. It was time to turn an idea, a wish into something real. So not knowing really where to start I contacted the Jhb Child Welfare. It was the end of 2005 and all social workers were very busy, so I could only have my first interview and the real beginning of this adventure end of January next year. From there things went pretty quickly. A few afternoons dedicated to more interviews, medical checks, home visits, it was all done within 3 months and beginning of June I got a call telling me that there was a little girl waiting for me in Soweto; would I like to meet her? For me this phone call was the real start of Chlo and Is journey.

I have always thought that one day I would adopt a child. Why? Im not sure but Ive always said to myself that if I wasnt married and on my way to have a child by 28, I would adopt. Then 28 came so quickly I still had loads of things to do before being ready for a child so I postponed my idea for 2 more years. Then 30 came even faster and it was still too early. Till one morning, now just about 35 I realised that this was the right time. I had a job, I was settled in life and ready to have a child. Still single and still no husband in view I gave that call that changed my life. This was an easy call; I was just calling to get information, to know what to do to adopt a child. Being a foreigner and single I first wanted to know if I could adopt. After my first interview all my doubts were lifted. I carried on with the process, still thinking that I was not committing to anything but checking if this was possible. In my mind this was a very long process that could be stopped by the social workers at any time for any reason. May be they would not see me as a suitable mother? May be my salary was not enough? May be my house was too small? May be may be? I only found after that actually nearly all potential parents are accepted and can adopt a child in South Africa. There are only very few cases of potential parents rejected.

Around this time I informed my close family. This new was very much welcomed and I had a lot of support from every one. After my last form was filled in, my last interviewed completed the wait started. I thought I would wait for a few months if I were lucky. I waited for not even a week! I had never though it would go that quick so I was not ready at all. I still had lots of practical things to organise: from a room and clothes for the baby to some maternity leave at work. So when the social worker called me, I told her that no, I could not see a child now, and that I needed a couple of more months to make that last jump. Up to now it was very easy, I was just filling in form, answering questions and discussing an idea. After that call, this child was a real person. I needed to stop the wheel and think about all this. 2 months later I was ready and I called the social worker. That little girl was still waiting for me in Soweto. I went to the home where she had been since her birth. When I first saw her it was a mix filling of joy, fear, uncertainty. As I took her in my arms my brain kept asking: What am I doing? Chlo (called at that time Dino) was 13.5 months. She was covered by chickenpox marks, slightly smaller than average and half asleep. I came the next morning to meet her again and to know her better. I came every day for 10 days till the social worker organised the necessary documents to get her to our home.

From there its just been total happiness. Chlo is the easiest child Ive ever met. Shes always happy, never complains, very sociable, but shes got her own character. She grew up in size and weight. She learned to walk within 3 months and caught up on her development very quickly. She will turn 2 in a couple of weeks and no one could guess that she has lived more than half of her life in an institution.

What to think about all that?

For Chlo and I, adoption was the right thing to do. It thought about it for a very long time till I decided to actually act. I though about how I would be perceived, what my friends would think, how my family would react. What would I say when people ask me where is Chlos mother? Im glad I decided that I would cross these bridges when I come to them.

The irony of all this? Chlo physically looks like me