Monday, 27 January 2014

Chapter 31 - Shopping from the baby catalogue

Every little helps

We first came across "Be My Parent" and "Children Who Wait" at one of the pre-preparation orientation evenings. I was browsing along the resources table at the back of the room looking at the Dan Hughes and Caroline Archer books when my eye spied what looked like a couple of women's magazines. Pictures of smiling happy faces beamed from the cover. "Oh well, I thought I'll have a browse and maybe do the adoption equivalent of the Cosmo quiz while I'm waiting." However, instead of an interesting article on Theraplay or facilitating attachment in adoptive placements I was faced by page after page of photos of munchkins. Each had a little write up about how lovely they were, how well they were  developing at their foster placement and how they were looking for a mummy and daddy. Gulp. It was all a bit overwhelming. This was the real face of adoption. The real little lives looking for a transformation and a brighter future...

Once the initial wave of emotion had worn off and I began scanning through the entries a second emotion started to rise up - a slight queasiness. Unconsciously I had found myself thinking "Awwww... He's sweet." "Oh, I'm not sure I'd want to take on three..." "Wouldn't it be nice to have a little brother and sister." However, all of a sudden it all felt a bit too much like flipping through the Argos catalogue. Baby buying.  Sibling shopping. Offspring ordering...

Monday, 20 January 2014

Chapter 30 - Post Approval: Equipping and filling time

On the learning train

I don't know how common it is across the various adoption agencies in the UK but it seemed like our local authority offered a pretty good programme of courses to equip prospective adopters in the weeks and months between passing through panel and being matched with a child. Of course, we had no benchmark but, still, we were keen to benefit from every bit of advice which we could... 

Not that attending a training course is in any way real preparation for what parenthood, let alone adoption really means. But we were keen to hoover up any nuggets of insight which might come our way. Our academic backgrounds had hard wired us that way. I've already mentioned our keenness to dive into the adoption literature which had been signposted at the Orientation evenings and our surprise that, when we got to Preparation classes, we were the only ones who had done so. What can I say? Overachievers... Besides, we thought, it would be nice to network with other prospective adopters and to catch up with a variety of our fellow Preparation group members. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Chapter 29 – Post approval: Setting a direction


Finding a purpose
Having discovered ourselves in limbo it was clear that we needed a game plan. We were the third or fourth couple in our group to be approved into the adoption register and already a number of those were being matched. About a month or two after we had been approved we had another big adoption group get together. Several of the couples were in the throes of the last stages of the approval process - their haggard and concerned look was familiar to us. We'd seen it in the mirror often enough only a month or so before.

Another two couples were proudly sharing their matching experience, preparing for matching panel and thinking forward to introductions. For us it was still seemingly radio silence. Sure we had our ritual of reminding Denise that we still existed. However, despite the frustrations of seeing others ploughing ahead we were set on our patient approach.

Didn't make it any easier to cope with though.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Chapter 28 – Post approval: So what now?

Dancing in limbo

So, the last two years had been leading up to this moment. All our efforts seemed to have been funnelling down into a single hour in the offices of our Local Authority Children's Services department. And now here we were... Officially... legally...declared as being fit to be parents. The last two weeks waiting for the letter from Social services to confirm the Decision Officer's... well, decision... had been interminable. The days dragged by with us looking longingly at the letter box each time we walked past. Now here were were with the confirmation letter in our hands.

But what now? With the release had come a slight sense of emptiness and bewilderment. It was like our overriding purpose in life had been removed. 

There were a few things we did know. Now that we had received the official approval letter from the Authority's Decision Officer Denise would continue to be our social worker (although, of course her time was now focused on other active cases in her portfolio). We would be given temporary membership of Adoption UK. Post approval training courses would be available to us and we would be informed of them as they came up. We should now be considered as potential matches against available children and those who became available. And then it went quiet. Horribly quiet. Scarily quiet.

We started to wonder if it was something we had said...