Wednesday, 8 January 2014
Chapter 28 – Post approval: So what now?
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...
I guess that the timing didn't help either. It was that mellow time when autumn turns into winter and, of course, the world was winding down towards the Christmas break. There were no more training courses to tell us about so why send us any circulars? The admin folk hadn't yet added us to all the mailing lists and circulars. Everything was preparing to shut up shop until the New Year.
We hadn't even thought about Christmas. At least we would only need to wait until the New Year for the system to spring back into action. Speaking to friends who had been approved in June or July, they experienced the same thing but across the long hot summer holiday. Truly frustrating. At least we how had Christmas preparations to occupy our minds.
We had just recently had an adoption group get together when we could catch up on each other's progress. Of our group of eight couples three had already been approved as we approached our panel date. One those, one couple was already rushing to squeeze in intros before Christmas. Intros with the baby they had been matched with before they had been approved. Hmm... The other two announced, just before Christmas, that they had been matched with respectively a little girl and a pair of little girls.
As the radio silence seemed to continue through January we realised that we needed a game plan. If we were to maintain our sanity then we would need to, somehow, fool ourselves into thinking that we were making progress... that somehow we had a hand on our own destinies. A facade it might be but it was a necessary one to maintain our peace of mind. We weren't used to being passive recipients. We needed to impose some sense of action and direction on our lives. We drew up a long list of questions which we wanted to ask Denise. It wasn't hard. We did genuinely have a pretty long list of questions to ask or things to check up on.
And then we started a concerted (but subtle) campaign of reminding her that we still existed. Every other week or so we would drop her a text or give her a phone call with a question or an enquiry on how matching was progressing... It was a delicate balance to strike - staying on her radar without becoming a nag or an annoyance. When we asked whether we were being considered for all the children coming up for adoption Denise assured us that, yes indeed, we were in the mix.
Still, it didn't feel like we were getting any further forward. Very soon it became clear that we needed to settle on an over arching strategy...