Monday, 3 February 2014

Chapter 32 - Des Res, could require some restoration

ANGELS AND DEMONS

It was a few days after our phone call with Denise that an envelope containing the locally produced list of children who were still waiting for adoption plopped onto the doormat. We opened it with a surprising amount of trepidation, possibly based on Denise's reluctance to give it to us. The colour photocopied booklet turned out, as we expected, to be a mini version of Be My Parent or Children Who Wait. On each page a couple of profiles of children or sibling groups were laid out with (mostly) a cherub-like photo and a short blurb describing the child or children. Sure, most of the profiles mentioned some level of developmental delay in their subject - the severity varying from child to child - but we were repeatedly told that was pretty much a given when considering kids for adoption.

Keisha is a happy 6 year old. She loves playing with her my little pony and trips to the park...

Daniel and Kimmi are the youngest of 6 siblings and are looking for a permanent home together in an adoption placement...

Jayden is a charming little boy with a bright smile who loves being outdoors. Although he does display some difficulties in responding to physical expressions of affection he has been improving greatly throughout his current foster placement...

However, one thing that the booklet did prove was that Denise had been telling the truth when she told us geography was getting in the way of us being matched... Profile after profile finished with the words "Cannot be placed in Ourtown." or "Cannot be placed in the Inlawsville area." Fair enough, between us and parents we did live in striking distance of two of our county's main population centres. That would have to have an effect on which children could never be placed with us.





A few days after we had received the booklet we were due to meet up with one of our closest friends, Juliet, who also happens to be a foster carer. Of course, the topic of matching and how we were getting on in the adoption process came up. We mentioned the booklet we had just received and Denise's reluctance to send it. As she flicked through looking at the pages she made some comments which echoed Denise's. She looked up at us and added. "You do know that these write ups are just like estate agents' blurb, don't you?" Clearly our puzzled expressions suggested that we didn't so she ploughed on. "Yeah, they are full of innocuous little code words and phrases that you need to know what they mean." Juliet is possessed of a wicked sense of humour. In fact it borders on the gallows humour which several of the foster carers we have met display - we've always ascribed this to being a coping mechanism for the glimpse into the darker sides of life which foster caring can open up. Apologies to any foster carers out there... Maybe that's just the folks we hang around with.

"Let's see... 'Jasmine is beginning to learn how to show affection more appropriately, particularly with strangers...' Hmmm, rampant, raging attachment disorder. She'd probably wander up to any random adult in the supermarket and say, 'Can I come home with you?' What about this one? 'Jayden is a very lively little boy who, his foster carer says, is always full of energy.' Hmm... ADHD!"

Juliet continued flipping through the brochure and suddenly exclaimed, "Ah ha! I'd heard he had been approved for adoption. Can't believe it myself. Listen, 'Aiden would best be placed in a home without other children or pets.' Yeah, I know that particular little boy. Frankly, he just likes tormenting and torturing animals. Jack and Maggie had to get rid of their cat. Properly aggressive too. He'd probably try exactly the same on any other kids in the household. He's three and a half now. God knows what he'll be like when he's bigger and stronger." We sat there slack jawed staring at Juliet. "What?" She said innocently as she handed the brochure back. "Hey, as far as I can see there are only a couple of those kids in there I would even consider looking at."

Sitting back in her chair she repeated Denise's sentiment to us that the children who are placed easily first are those who carry with them the fewest problems or issues. I flipped through the pages again, a little shell shocked. Sure some issues were obvious from the write-ups. Some were just a matter of a mis-match between two sets of demographics. We were aware that sibling groups were always considered more difficult to place as the pool of adopters willing to take on two or more children was more limited than those looking for just one. Similarly, older children were also considered more difficult to place, particularly when over 5 or 6 years old. The preference in the majority of prospective adopters was younger rather than older children. In our prep course there had been some discussion about the apparently higher statistics on placement breakdown where children are placed at older than this age. 

Then there was the thorny problem of ethnic matching. Our Preparation Group had almost come to blows with the trainers over this issue, with allegations of "political correctness gone mad" being flung at them. However, it was a fact that the statistical make up of the pool of prospective adopters (in our county anyway) was heavily skewed towards white, middle class, heterosexual couples. In a system which placed a particular premium on maximising the ethnic match between children and adoptive parents (and where this could potentially over-ride other considerations), this made placing mixed race children or children from non-white cultures more difficult.  All of this had been covered comprehensively in our Preparation days but it did still seem something of a self imposed restriction on the system.

Then there were the children who already displayed particular medical or behavioural challenges. There were several profiles where these were made explicit in the text. All of those would be more difficult to place. Still, these were all children who needed and had the right to grow up in a loving, caring home with parents who would love them and work with them to bring them the healing (of what ever form) they might need. And we had watched this process in the last two children Juliet had moved on. One had a medical condition which, while needing ongoing management, had not stopped her from eventually  being successfully placed after appearing in our county's "available children list". And now she was thriving with her new "forever family" both medically and emotionally (although in both cases there was, of course, still a way to go). Juliet's next ward had been somewhat different. Badly brain damaged after being shaken as a very young baby he had, at around two years old, only reached the physical capabilities of a barely one year old (in itself testament to the therapeutic care he had received from Juliet and a level of progress which had astounded his doctors). His long term prognosis was not promising, though, and after nearly two years "temporary" foster placement with Juliet he had moved on to a long term, specialist foster caring placement.

The booklet fell open at Aiden's entry. Of all the photos in the magazine his was, perhaps, the most cherubic. His wide, blue eyes stared out of the page with an appealing smile. Heart strings could not help but be tugged. Gosh, this was hard. For a second I was just thankful that we had decided, for now, to side step this part of the process. If we had to look through the brochures at a later date to consider possible matches we wondered how on earth we would come to an informed decision not just driven by emotion. Looking back now, I am only glad that circumstances spared us the need to do so...

4 comments:

the boy's behaviour said...

Gosh the way you describe Juliet reminds me very much of our son's foster carer...same sense of humour!

Thanks as always, for linking up to #WASO :-)

AdoptionJourneyBlog said...

Yeah, she's totally lovely but she does call a spade a spade and rarely pulls a punch (although in a lovely way).

We have been so blessed with the foster carers we have come into contact with. Our little boy's foster carer was lovely too and couldn't have given our little one a better start or preparation for coming to us.

Suddenly Mummy said...

These descriptions are like school reports - there's a euphemistic way of saying just about everything, but you do need to know the code!

onroadtoadopt said...

You certainly do need to know the code. We didn't look at anything like this thanks to being given our prospective link to Sqk before the approval panel.