I have quite a number of friends on Facebook, not a great many, mind you, but all who I know personally, and one whom I have known closely for up to 45 years. Sooner or later the inevitable will start to appear on the main scroll. That is photos of babies, cute infants, giving me the wanting to gently lift and cuddle close to my heart. Friends who are young enough to be my own son or daughter proudly displaying their newborns, often with a slightly older sibling standing nearby, along with my older online pals, nearer to my age, displaying grandchildren at various points of their young lives as they grow up towards school age.
To them I give all my congratulations and blessings. No doubt, if I had young children living at home, we would have done the same thing - posting photos of our offspring at intervals as they grew up. Therefore it was during a discussion with my wife Alex that we fully agree to come clean, just over ten years after what we consider to be the darkest hour of our lives. And by sharing this, I hope it will throw light on why I think and feel the way I do, my dislike of celebrity worship, the problem with forgiveness, our faith in God, our future hopes, and the glory to come. But because this is a public blog, no names will be revealed here, except the first names only of adults involved.
I was 47 years old when I married my wife in 1999, the first ever in my life. This was after 27 years after I was dumped by my last girlfriend in 1972. It was during this period of my life when I started backpacking, the first only a year later when I boarded a train to travel across France and into Italy. It was also during that time when I flew my parents' nest, started up a business, trained and competed in half-marathons to raise funds for a charity, then peaked in fitness by cross-training and competing in Triathlons. Meanwhile, this was also the period I turned to Jesus Christ as Saviour, which began the long process of sanctification and Bible knowledge, which were intertwined with visits to Israel - backpacking there as with other countries visited, eventually circling the Earth.
My first daughter was born February 2001, fifteen months after our wedding. I could say that our unborn had also been to Israel, as I took my wife, then eighteen weeks pregnant, to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in the Holy Land. Here I will admit that Alex was more spiritual than I was. At various Holy sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and at the Garden of Gethsemane, both in Jerusalem, she knelt and gave thanks to the Lord, while I stood by, as these sites were so familiar to me from previous backpacking trips during those 27 years as a committed singleton.
By the time of delivery, the unborn remained in a breech position, therefore a cesarean operation was necessary. At the hospital theatre, I partially buried my face until I heard the first cry. The surgeon held the purple infant high, and as she cried, my legs gave under intense emotion, and two of the staff had to support me while the baby was wrapped in a hospital garment and handed over to me. And I sat there, in a small room just across the corridor from the theatre, I held in my arms my daughter. A father for the first time at 48 years of age. As Alex was transferred to a recovery ward, I saw like a mental video of my life leading to this moment, while also watching her chest rise and fall in rapid breathing, as she slept peacefully.
My firstborn changed my life completely. She was my sheer joy, my treasure. In the months and the first years to come, it was I who got up in the middle of every night as she cried, and cuddled her close. And you know what? I never ever regretted a single moment of this. I was never annoyed, or frustrated at any of these small hours awakening, as I had always considered holding my daughter a sheer joy and privilege. And that presented a problem for Alex. As I devoted myself to my daughter, my wife felt that I could have given more attention to her. And this difficulty was noted by our health visitor, who was near to reporting us to Social Services.
When my second daughter came into the world just over three years after the birth of the first, she too spent the first hour of her life in my arms, while her mother, this time having went through a natural birth, rested nearby. It was after we took her home that unwittingly, I allowed problems to develop at home. How? By devoting myself to my firstborn in expense of the other two. For example, if my wife said we needed to top up the groceries, I always responded with, "Get my firstborn ready." Except for work, wherever I went, my daughter came with me. I always took her shopping, to town, even on train trips to Reading and even for a day trip to London - the two of us - my firstborn and myself. I adored her. I sat and watched her run about at an open yard. I saw her explore and learn about her immediate environment. I fed her. Whenever in a cafe, I took joy in slowly spoon feeding her. You see, throughout all this, I believed that I was doing my wife a favour by allowing her to spent time alone with our second-born, and therefore acting as a de-stressor. It was soon after then that Social Services were contacted, but not by us.
To cut a long story short, we had to attend a conference at the Borough Council, and we were assigned a Social Worker, a female graduate named Wendy who looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties - a lot younger than me. She had already been in trouble with the local authority. The previous family she was working with fled from her to Scotland. She was given us as her last chance to redeem herself, and save her career. In my mind that was a massive mistake, demonstrating a shocking lack of foresight among her superiors who should have heeded the warning signs. After all, we are humans, not a product to be tested or laboratory guinea pigs. Then I suppose her academic credentials were far more important to them than our personal needs.
During the four months that were to follow, she proved to be the nasty-minded individual she was. It was known by us that even in the office, she was disliked by her colleagues, and even the nursery school teachers who taught our daughter, made an effort to stay clear of her whenever we had to attend the weekly meetings (known as Core Groups) chaired by Wendy, after having lost her temper with one of the school teachers. There and then I wanted to physically hit her, but the thought of prison deterred me. Even Alex stayed away on a couple of occasions, inflaming the situation. The things about her that stood out enough for me to take note: Her arrogance. She sometimes appear late at Core Groups, insisting she'll leave her desk when ready. She also kept on reminding us that her income was much higher than ours, along with her level of education and social class. She was also a self proclaimed atheist, but had a fair knowledge of the Bible. She was also patriotic and proud of her Yorkshire upbringing. Taking a peek at her credentials while she was not looking, I found that she attended a privileged school for girls, and then attended University to study Psychology and other subjects related to child care, quoting past famous Psychologists such as atheist Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey as examples.
Then by February 2005, things came to a head when my patience snapped while she was checking our kitchen and criticising our food stock. We ordered her out of our house. Shortly after this, our beloved two daughters were removed from our home at three in the morning, and they were never returned. Instead, they were put up for adoption. By the end of March 2005, the Social Worker cleared her desk, not having her contract renewed, and we never saw her again to this day, and I guess we never will.
During the assessments which followed the removal of our two daughters, I found out two important matters which had escaped Wendy's analysis of us as a couple. First I have an above average I.Q. - which was contrary to Wendy's evaluation of me because she was surprised at my ownership of a cellphone, let alone knowing how to operate one. The second matter was that we both have mild autism. It was this - mild autism - which was the underlying factor to the cause of the breaking of our family. However, I did not feel back then, and I certainly don't feel at present, being mildly autistic as justification for tearing a family apart. Rather, I have heard tales of a mildly autistic parent or couple raising their offspring successfully, and I believe even to this day that we could have raised our daughters with success, especially as they got older.
For many months afterwards, I was held in a grip of fierce anger, not only towards Wendy, but for England as a whole, because not only the State had taken away our two beloved daughters, but I also saw the Social Worker as an embodiment of England in its cultural entirety. In a sense, Wendy was England. Nearly every morning, while making breakfast for my wife in bed upstairs, I had wished that I had inflicted physical harm on that arrogant female, who believed she was so much above us and thus behaved accordingly. But in another way I was glad that I hadn't, or else I could well be inside, and as such, separated from my wife too. But it took a very long time for the anger to calm, until in the state of dormancy, enabling us to live a normal life as a childless married couple.
But what has happened since then? Well our marriage has strengthened in many ways. We have become fully devoted to each other, having learnt to put the other welfare before our own. Also my faith in God through Jesus Christ has grown and strengthened. With Alex, she has a deep distrust in organised religion, and refuses to attend church, as our Elders had sided with the Social Services during and after the conference. But my beloved, encouraged by me, has developed a deep trust "in the Trinity" as she likes in referring to God, even to the point of encouraging me to trust in Jesus when my faith weakens. We used to go out together, and quite a number of occasions, have flown to one of the Greek islands three times, also to Malta, Sicily, and to the Canary Islands. I recall our intimacy on the beach, the night time strolls under the bright stars, as well as exploring ancient history and beautiful countryside arm in arm.
That was until she went down with a psychosomatic illness around July 2013. She became lame in her spine, and lost the ability to walk freely ever since. She had to spend four months as an in-patient at a general hospital. After this, I had to buy her a wheelchair, and she uses it whenever we need to go out together. It breaks my heart to see her this way. And also having to renew her medical prescription every week, including antidepressants, along with required G.P. appointments. Psychosomatic illness. This means "upset mind, sick body." We both agree that this goes back to that awful, dreadful night in 2005 when our two daughters were taken away at three in the morning, leaving my wife screaming hysterically before I was able to calm her down.
But as for our daughters, we have up-to-date photos of them along with letters written by their adoptive parents and sent to us via the Adoption Agency. As such, they are forbidden to tell us their surname or their whereabouts. Although this is very hurtful to us, at least we can gain some satisfaction that first, they are brought up in a better environment than we could have provided. Secondly, there is evidence that they are doing well at school, and the younger one was diagnosed with above average intelligence, and is now University material, if she keeps up with her school work. Thirdly, they are both good at sports, with swimming and athletics being their favourite activity. But still concerning for us, is that I long for them to know the Lord personally. Out of our reach, we can only commit them to God, and trust in Him to break into their hearts as he had done with us. Then I recall the Scripture I read through which I felt God speaking to me personally. It was from Jeremiah 31:15-17, where God himself had encouraged Rachel not to weep over the loss of her children, for he will bring them back to their own border. Another believer in our fellowship had also endorsed this promise as well.
This has been ten years now. As this was written on the 10th anniversary of Wendy's departure, I was reminded last week on Facebook about forgiveness. Forgiving that arrogant woman? A good friend of mine suggested that I should, based on how both Jesus Christ and Stephen forgave their enemies whilst nearing their deaths. But there is a difference between them and myself. With both Jesus and Stephen, they requested their forgiveness out loud, in the presence of their enemies. This most likely resulted in the conversion of some who stood by the Cross, especially among the three thousand who heard Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost. Then Stephen's request for God's forgiveness, according to many scholars, had resulted in Saul's conversion. With the martyr's request pricking the Pharisee's conscience, Saul had covered up his conviction by a fresh anger towards all who followed the Way. When the Lord revealed himself from Heaven, Stephen's request to God was answered.
But in Wendy's case, this is different. She is not around. She would never know whether I forgave her or not. Even if I did, she would not know about it, neither would she care. What is left of her is now just thin air. How I would feel will have no impact on her at all, no matter where she is at present. No address. No phone number. Out of our lives forever. So the best thing I can do is simply let her go, with no part of our lives whatsoever.
And no, I won't try to look for her on Facebook.