Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Chapter 41 - Matching: Meetings - Momentous and Mundane...

Well, a good number of the hurdles had been successfully leaped. We were pretty sure that the grumpy little boy staring our of the front page of the CPR form was the one for us. His social workers were pretty sure that we could be the parents for him. There were still things to work out and we would be seeking to dot every "I" and cross every "T" in the paperwork. 

We now felt that we were sufficiently far down the road that we could start telling people. We had, up to this point been pretty protective of ourselves and only confided in a couple of our closest friends - the real inner circle of our support network.  We hadn't even told our families yet. We reckoned that for them, in particular, it would be more difficult for to deal with the potential disappointments if we had decided not to proceed. Given our long history with infertility and first trimester miscarriages it would have felt like running around telling everyone the moment we saw two little blue lines. After a while those little lines had come to fill us with a mixture of dread and foreboding rather than joy...

So, how to tell family and who to tell...? For now we still decided to minimise the number of people who knew. Close family and very close friends. Our inner circle of support. After all, there was still lots of scope for the match not to proceed. Let's minimise the number of painful discussions we would need to have, the number of awkward and probably evasive explanations.

Alongside this we were arranging meeting after meeting. It all started to feel like the run up to our adoption panel. First up was a long chat with the local authority's medical adviser. The CPR had thrown up a number of health issues with both the child and with the extended family which we would need to look into. None of them seemed insurmountable and, indeed, those flagged directly in relation to this little boy turned out to amount to naught. Still, we would check it all out. We had already spoken to our GP about the conditions which had been referenced and her conclusion was that there should be little to be concerned about. A long discussion with the authority medical advisor seemed to confirm this. We were satisfied. The medical box had been well and truly ticked.

There were a few more discussions with Denise and Lorraine, some in person and some on the phone. At the first of those discussions after the initial meeting with Sue and Lorraine we were delighted when Denise pulled some A4 colour printed sheets of paper out of her seemingly bottomless bag. These were the first proper photos we had ever seen of our little boy. We all agreed that the pasty, scowling photo on the from of the CPR form just didn't count. These were shots of the most beautiful little boy. At only 12 months or so old in the photos he was still carrying the disproportionate proportions of a baby transitioning into toddlerdom. He was entirely gorgeous. The only disappointment was that when we asked Denise if we could keep them she said, "Hmm, I don't think so." And stuffed them firmly back into the bottom of her bag. 

What she did have to offer us, however, was much better. A date when we could actually see this little boy in the flesh.

Our local authority was one of the few in the country which, at the time, allowed prospective adopters to actually see the child they were matched with in the flesh before introductions start. This would take the form of what we referred to as a "fly by".  In our case it turned out to be more of a "mid-air collision".

In our Preparation Days we were told how the process worked. It would vary for different ages of child. With older children, the prospective adopters would hang around in some child-friendly public place with their social worker: a play park, a soft play, a cafe... Meanwhile, a few metres away the foster carer would play with the child for a short while - allowing the adopters the chance to watch their soon-to-be child interacting with the foster carer in a real world situation. There would be no interaction with the prospective adopters, though - a case of "look but don't touch". The child would be none the wiser that anything unusual was going on.

It all sounded a bit seedy... Hanging around in the park staring at children.  

For younger children and babies the process was similar but different. The prospective adopters would pop around to the foster carers' house ostensibly for  a nice cup of tea, a biscuit and a chat. All the while the child would be amusing themselves in the same room, playing with their toys or doing whatever a baby or toddler does (drooling, throwing up, being cute, chewing the furniture...). However, the rules of engagement were the same. Look, don't touch. And no interacting, even if the child toddled over to you to show you the old sock or dog toy that was suddenly their new "best thing in the world ever". Smile, nod, no further interaction... Simple.

Fortunately for us it didn't work quite like that...


Sarah PuffinDiaries said...

I have never heard about this "fly by" meetings before. What an amazing opportunity but you're right it does seem a little seedy too. I waited with baited breath to hear what happened.

Thanks for linking with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out.

AdoptionJourneyBlog said...

I think that there were only a very few LAs who did/do sighting visits (I think that is the correct term) - literally only 2 pr 3.

Everyone who has done one says it was a pivotal moment. Similar to what people who decide on a child at an adoption party say, I guess.

Wait till next week, it's an amazing story. You'll love it. Get in some extra Kleenex! :-)