Thursday, 8 May 2014

Chapter 40 - Matching: Under Scrutiny

Well, wheels were being properly set in motion. Denise phoned us the following day with a firm date to meet our little boy's social workers. It would be an opportunity for us to ask more detailed questions about him but also for them to scrutinise us. They would dig into us as individuals and as a couple (we were used to that by now). They would examine our motives for becoming parents and to parent this child in particular. They would look at the emotional environment in which a child would grow up and consider whether they considered the match to be a suitable one.

No pressure then.

Rather than the usual one social worker we would have the pleasure of being scrutinised by two. His case was in the process of being handed over from one part of Child Protection Services to another. Because this little boy's at risk status had been flagged while his birth mother was still pregnant his case had, up until now, been handled by a social worker in the unit concerned with vulnerable and at risk young people while they worked to see whether he could be placed back with his mother or elsewhere in the extended family. Now that the court had confirmed that the plan for this child was adoption he was being handed over to the team who looked after younger children who had been taken into care.

And so, there we were sitting on two dining room chairs dragged through to the lounge while Denise sat in an armchair and Lorraine and Sue occupied the sofa. A pot of Earl Grey tea, a cafetière of coffee and a plate of Duchy Originals had been strategically deployed on the coffee table and we sat looking on nervously. Once again it was one of those unaccountably tense and draining meetings. But, I suppose that we had more or less got used to that by now. Lots of questions were asked on both sides but, of the social workers, it was mostly Lorraine who did the talking. Sue, as a newcomer to the case, seemed to be in a quiet "info-sponge" mode; drinking in information about the little boy and us. 

As Lorraine talked about the little boy, his history and how he seemed to be thriving in his foster care placement it became clear just how attached she had become to him. There seemed to be a level of emotional attachment in her voice and her comments which went beyond a purely professional appraisal of the options. I was clear that this little boy had the ability to win the hearts of those around him. That seemed to us to be a good sign. Not a game changer; not a deciding factor... But it was something which added to that level of confidence which we felt when thinking about what the future might hold. Something to quell the turmoil of butterflies which erupted in the tummy every time we thought about what the next few months might lead to.

For us the meeting was the perfect opportunity to dig behind the words on the page in the CPR form. It was a chance to colour in some of the pen pictures of two young people who, for whatever reason, were unable to be parents to this little boy. A chance to get a better feeling for the circumstances which, from way back in their own childhoods, had brought them to that place. Finally they became people rather than ciphers for poor parenting. People deserving, in equal measure, empathy and sympathy. 

It was also a chance to understand more about the make up and experience of this little boy who might just become OUR little boy. It became abundantly clear that what Denise had said the previous week was true - the entire foster family doted upon him. No mention was made of bitterly disappointed adult foster siblings or anything from the foster carers than a commitment to see this little boy through to the best possible outcome for this little boy given the circumstances he found himself in.

A few minutes after Lorraine and Sue had left Denise also stood up and started to make her excuses. The looks on our faces were clearly yelling, "WELL?" She smiled and said, "That seemed to go very well. I think that they really liked you." We asked what was next. Denise reassured us that, after discussions had taken place with their managers, Lorraine and Sue would let her know if they were content that the match should proceed. Th tone of voice didn't exactly say "Done Deal" but it seemed very confident.

Naturally the next few days were completely excruciating. We resisted the temptation to phone Denise on the hour every hour until she heard some news. On Friday morning Denise finally phoned. The news couldn't be better. Both Lorraine and Sue had been delighted with the match. Denise, once again peeled away the professional veneer, "I just spoke to Lorraine. She said that after they left your place they just sat in the car for about ten minutes grinning at each other. She thought that the fit with you both was pretty much perfect. She said that she was amazed just how much the atmosphere in your house reflected the feel when you visit the foster carers - real sense of peace and calm. She reckoned that you and they were just so similar in your outlook and characters and that would be perfect for this little boy. Her recommendation to her managers was that it simply couldn't be a much better match."

It was going to be a good weekend!


Sarah PuffinDiaries said...

I came over all giddy reading the last part. I felt such happiness for you mixed with my own recollection of the moment we knew who our children were going to be. You recall everything with such detail, it a fantastic resource for ours.

Thank you for linking up with #WASO

Suddenly Mummy said...

I've only ever been on the other side of this - the foster carer waiting for the SW to come back and say whether we've found someone's forever family - such an emotional ride for everybody!