As I mentioned in my last post, I was busy with making plans to return to West Africa and deliver my adoption papers until I got an unexpected call from my ICIF, the body in charge of delivering my homestudy certificate, something I had spent the last eight months sweating and spending sleepless nights over. This was a pivotal time; without the homestudy (or CI) my adoption plans were shattered.
Not content with waiting until the day of interview I called ahead and asked what it was all about. My social worker told me that she had come across an objection with the officials at the ICCA (L'Institut Català de l'Acolliment i de l'Adopció), a first for her. They were worried about the fact that I was foreign and concerned that I wouldn’t have the support of family when bringing up my adopted child; a factor so vital to Spanish society, albeit that often the reality is vastly different from the close-knit ideal that Spanish culture is keen to project.
So what to do? The fact that I was single and a foreigner were impossible to deny. So instead I lay my cards on the table.
From the very onset of my decision to become paper pregnant, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I needed my close friends help and support, but one should not assume that it’s just going to be there. So whilst I didn’t really ask them straight out (bar one incident when I asked my best friend if she would be guardian to my child if anything every happened to me) I knew by their reaction that they would be there for me. Most of my close knit circle already have their own children, and they were all delighted that I should be bringing another one to our ‘adopted family’.
Whilst this sort of situation, or the reliance on friends for the sort of love, advice and help that family can give, is fairly common in Anglo-Saxon societies and particularly for misplaced expats, it’s not the norm here. So I spelt it out in black and white. Before the interview, I called my list of closet friends, about 12 names in all, and asked them. They all agreed of course to their unequivocal help and also to be available for verification and any questions my ICIF social worker may have.
I marched into the interview and gave her a piece of paper with their names and telephone numbers. She was impressed, and quickly wrote down all the details into her final report. I also made her annotate a phrase that had been in replay in my head since day one: “without the support of my friends, I wouldn’t have made the decision to adopt.”
Unlike other information I had fed her, this was not a matter of ‘telling her what she wanted to hear’. It was the plain truth.