Thursday, 22 August 2013

Chapter 19 – Lots of homework and a reunion: Home-study visits continued

Here we are again!

That the home-study was intense and draining was a given. It also seemed a little random as time went on. Denise had pretty much got a handle on what we were like as individuals and as a couple. Once again we continued our over-riding policy of balancing openness with discretion. Cooperation with circumspection.

There were a lot of forms and formulas which needed to be filled in. All of these would be retained to form part of the Adoption Panel’s briefing pack on us. We kept our own copies and they eventually filled an A4 lever arch file pretty much to capacity. They seemed to range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

We spent a happy hour while Denise walked around our house filling in a detailed Health and Safety questionnaire which seemed to run to about a hundred pages. Luckily we’re not affluent enough to have a swimming pool in the back garden and we don’t own any pets which are required to be registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act (not even a slightly tetchy gerbil) so that saved at least three or four pages. We did confirm which way up we put the cutlery in the dishwasher and promised to see to the strings on the Venetian blinds though.

We had already sent in numerous iterations of our “Eco-Map” to ensure that it was in the right format and had drawn out detailed family trees. There were short essays giving our thoughts on various aspects of the adoption journey. We prepared before and after “Day In The Life” diaries. We filled out numerous financial reports and gave detailed accounts of our personal medical histories. There were our life-story ups and down charts – all carefully reduced to one side of A4 paper.

That said, while putting some of the bits together were a chore, it was interesting to sit back and think about all these things. That’s something that normally one never has occasion to do. Then to have the opportunity to discuss them as a couple provided even more insights into ourselves, each other and our relationship.

We wondered how what we were doing compared with the experiences of the other couples who had shared the Preparation Days with us. With our joint, over-achieving attitudes we suspected that we might be more in the teacher’s pet part of the group than the bottom of the class. Still, our first class reunion was fast approaching so there would be the opportunity to find out.

At the end of the Preparation Days we had all swapped contact details and promised to get together for a chin wag after a few weeks. Shoot the breeze, compare notes and see how we were getting on. One couple had volunteered themselves as conveners and organised a table for Sunday lunch at a suitably centrally positioned country pub. We would wine, dine, chat and then take a turn in the countryside to mitigate the effects of the lunch. If the weather turned out to be inclement then there would be a suitably sympathetic snug in which we could while away the afternoon.

It was genuinely great to see the others again. We’d all been through much the same process up to that point and the us-against-the-sytem sense of camaraderie didn’t take long to kick in. Only one couple didn’t make it along – the most closed and stand offish of the group during the Prep Days, it slowly became clear that they weren’t so interested in maintaining links. I don’t think they actually turned up to any of our get-togethers, even the ones where they said they would absolutely and definitely be there.

Although procedurally we were all in much the same place our individual experiences were obviously different. Our delight with having been assigned Denise was mirrored by only a couple of other couples. The social worker previously labelled the “Wicked Witch of the West” was now absolutely Jane and John’s BFF. Another couple just kept repeating,,, “He’s just so lovely. He’s just so lovely...” Others were less generous with their description. Naive, incompetent, bolshy, nightmare, ineffectual... were all bandied around by various of those attending. Each one struggling to find a workable modus operandi for progressing through the system.

A lot of it was bluster and hyperbole but it was interesting to see how each couple’s combined personalities were mapped onto the growing relationships. Over time, all of us did manage to build up effective (for some maybe I wouldn’t go as far as to say “good”) working relationships with the people who would be standing as our advocates at Adoption and Matching panels. Let’s face it, when you’re in a corner it’s a reassuring thing to know that the person standing beside you has your best interests at heart – or at least likes you on some basic level. More and more our appreciation of and trust in Denise grew.


Three Pink Diamonds said...

Enjoyed reading your blog, reminded me of some of the feelings I experienced going through the process!

The Health and safety paperwork makes me laugh as since we have had our children placed no one has re-checked that our cupboards have locks on or that the blinds have safety catches on!

Vicki TBB said...

Reading your post reminded me very much of our own approval process.

Thanks for linking up with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

Gord Cummings said...

Your process sounds much more intense than ours...but I can relate to the home inspection ridiculousness - what way the cutlery goes in the dishwasher?! are you kidding?!
The hoops that adoptive parents must jump through!

Lindsay said...

The last comment about the dishwasher was actually me! Gord is my husband and was signed in on my computer:)

Suddenly Mummy said...

Wow. Maybe it's because I applied to adopt after I'd already been a foster carer but my approvals process seems to have been a lot more laid back than your experience. I mean, I had to provide all the same info, H&S checks and everything but thankfully they didn't seem to make such a meal of it . . . or maybe they did the fact that I'd been through it all before for fostering made me immune!

AdoptionJourneyBlog said...

Suds ( may, I call you "Suds"? ;) ), it may have been Denise's super efficiency that made it seem so formalised. On the other hand we're both like minded (for that read nerdy and OCD) enough to have appreciated her organisational skills and no nonsense approach. :)

Lindsay, I suspect it comes down to a litigation culture thing (this will come up in a blog in a week or so). It's what I refer to as "safety announcements for the hard of thinking"... There are a couple of supermarkets near us with travelators from the car park up to the shop and as you get towards the end there's an announcement... "Pease prepare to push your trolley off the end of the walkway". I always presume that either someone once sued the company when they fell off the end of the travelator. Or worse, a management committee sat around thinking about all the ways they could possibly be sued...

On the knives... Apparently statistically the most common form of dishwasher related death and injury is people falling on upward pointed knives. I presume that at some point in the past an adopted or fosted child has injured themselves in such a way and so it has now been included on the H&S list to avoid any possible culpability if it ever happens again. Incidentally, according to the SW's sheet, there's no problem putting in forks with the pointy bits upwards. For now...