Wednesday, 30 October 2013
And so the big day finally arrived... We had been doing a bit of preparation over the weekend before our panel date. Reading back through reports, checking out what the social workers considered to be our strengths and weaknesses as individuals, as a couple and as prospective parents for an adopted child. We thought through a few possible questions and how we might respond and then discussed how we might try to box and cox between each other when speaking to the panel. We were aware that we should ensure that both of us had a good chance to speak, that we shouldn't cut across each other or hog the conversation... We set out strategies and game plans.
Then it struck us just how odd it was that we were working out such definitive strategies for an experience for which we had absolutely no precedent in our lives to date. Just how would the meeting go? Sure, Denise had talked us through the format. We would arrive at the social services building at the appointed time and Denise would meet us and take us to a waiting room. Once the panel had a short time to discuss our case they would invite Denise in to discuss the case in more detail and to hear her recommendations. This should take around half an hour - give or take... After a further short discussion we would be invited in and the panel would ask us a few questions. After we returned to our waiting room the panel would make a final decision and... that would be that. Maybe.
Thursday, 24 October 2013
Home Study is a pretty intensive process and there is a lot of work to get through. The paperwork which is sent to panel is pretty extensive (I do wonder just how much of it actually gets read - but still, it's there on file to prove that the Social Services have properly covered all the bases should anything go wrong...). But panel is the huge looming target towards which you are inexorably heading. The crunch day...
In good old X-Factor results programme style, therefore, perhaps I should artificially build up the tension a bit before I tell you about the day itself and the outcome. So... (Adopts Ant and Dec Geordie accent). The winner is... Dum dum dum... Dum dum dum...
Well, to fill in the time, perhaps it would be useful to look at just what goes to panel and who, in the case of our Local Authority, they are...
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Our panel date was only a few weeks away and all our discussions with Denise over the time since filling in the matching matrix had concentrated on dotting "T's" and crossing "I's". Or at least that is what it felt like.
Every day or so my wife would get a call or a text, "So, was it your parents who were freedom fighters in the Guatemalan civil war and Derek's who ran away to join the circus?" "No, it's the other way round. Oh, and by the way, my husband's name isn't Derek!" It's the type of detail that you'd think might have stuck... And so it continued. You had to admire Denise's commitment to getting the details and the flavour right.
Still, it wasn't a surprise that when Denise emailed us her report on us to proof read there were still a lot of mix ups and little errors. Still, that is what proof reading is for, I suppose.
Monday, 7 October 2013
Have you ever wanted to feel like a really callous, heartless heel? Ever wanted to prove to yourself that you don't have a shred of compassion and common decency hidden anywhere in the deepest recesses of your soul? Then I suggest that you apply to become an adopter.
"Hang on a minute," I hear you saying, " What about all this therapeutic parenting business and all this playful, accepting, caring, empathic stuff you've been banging on about? What about giving a young life a new start in a forever family? What about all the noble, rewarding stuff?"
Well yes, of course... All that stuff is true and I didn't say you actually were a complete heel. I just asked if you wanted to feel like one.
Thursday, 3 October 2013
In the workplace it is pretty normal to expect to be appraised on a regular basis. The current fashion for 360 degree feedback means that we're regularly asking all and sundry to comment on us as workers and as people. Conducting a 360 degree feedback appraisal among your family and friends is somewhat rarer. Doubly so when you are really not supposed to have any clues about what they have said about you.
And so here we are at this stage of the process. The bit where our family and friends spill the dirt about how rubbish we'll be as parents. Erm... sorry, I mean provide extra colour about us as a couple and how we are likely to be as parents...
I've already talked in a previous chapter of this story about the twists and turns we experienced in choosing our referees. The choosing in itself is a particularly stressful process, full of scope to second guess yourself and indulge in conspiracy theories about that your family and friends really think about you. The most striking thing was, given that the number of family members you could nominate was strictly limited, just how hard it was to think up six or eight nominees to be referees.
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Our first day out at Denise's behest had gone well. Our report had been written, handed in and thoroughly discussed at one of our home study meetings. Now we were out and about again... This time we were off to see some parents who had adopted a little girl a few years previously.
The drive from our suburban surroundings into the equivalent of our area's well heeled stockbroker belt saw the houses we drove past getting larger and larger. Eventually we pulled into a small, countrified cul de sac and knocked on one of the doors. We were ushered in and settled into the living room, admiring a large and well kept garden through the French windows. The obligatory cups of tea were made and we started our chat.
Thursday, 12 September 2013
Didn't we have a luvverly time...
Our home-study with Denise wasn’t all Earl Grey tea and nice biscuits in the living room. No, we even got to go out on school trips! How exciting! Part of the process was to get out there and actually meet some people with first hand experience of what adoption was all about. An opportunity to quiz them on all the stuff that the manuals and the training materials don’t tell you. Denise said that she had arranged three trips out for us. A visit to a foster carer, a visit to a pair of adoptive parents and a special mums and toddlers group for adopted children which was run by a local charity and which worked closely with the Children's Services team in our Local Authority.
It would give us an opportunity to chat to some people who had been through the process before and ask any questions we might have. Our side of the deal was that we would need to write up a report on each visit, setting out what happened and our thoughts about what we discussed. Of course, we also assumed that the flip side was that our hosts would also be writing their own little reports on us. So there was pressure to make a good impression. Some homework was clearly needed in advance of each visit and a long list of deeply insightful questions was drawn up.