While we were going through the adoption process it was perfectly timed as a programme was also being shown at the same time of families going through adoption, this meant that a lot of our friends watched it so knew each stage we were going through. They all commented on how stressful the panel stage looked and it was.
We received our panel date and although we were excited we were extremely nervous, it was at 10.30 in the morning and we were due to meet our social worker first for a coffee to have a chat and calm our nerves. Unfortunately, we both woke up with a stomach bug which was a bit of a nightmare but we had no choice but to take Imodium and go!
We met the very lovely J at a cute coffee shop opposite the Shire Hall sat making general chit chat and going through what was going to happen I just felt sick but we went in and met the lovey T the Social Services Manager who like J was very lovely and shared my taste in clothes so that helped break the ice.
We were put in the waiting room and were told we would be called when they were ready. A very friendly gentleman came in explained the how the panel process would work and said that they were ready for us. We went into a large room with a large oval table, seated around it were 8 panellists……. some looked quite friendly and some not so! We were given a seat each and our social workers sat either side and the questions begun. It was a cross between a job interview and what I imagine a court appearance to be like!
I actually can’t remember all of the questions as we were both so nervous but we both seemed to do a lot of talking! One of the panellists we had met at the adoption course so we thought he would be nice but his questioning was quite negative and it was suggested that with birth children our lives would have been to hectic for an adopted child. A couple of the others were very lovely and very supportive. The only negative that came about was us having a dog, and we were asked what we would do if the adopted child didn’t get on with the dog or vice versa, of course we said that we would consider getting rid of him but knowing full well how good he was with children and adults. In fact one of the adoption team said that if there was a problem she’d happily have Stanley (the dog) as she’d met him and he was lovely!
This took about 20 minutes and we were them taken back into the waiting room to await their decision, this was awful and seemed like forever even though our social workers were so happy as they both said we had done so well and done so much talking which was great.
The head panellist came in 15 minutes later to say we had passed we were ecstatic! we were just told that they would like us to visit some couples that had adopted with birth children and maybe narrow down the age range we were prepared to adopt, as they thought 2-5 was too bigger difference.
We went home and went to the pub to celebrate.
Now it was all about matching!
When you are unable to have biological children of your own, you seem to have no control on the decisions of whether or not you are going to be able or allowed to adopt. I totally understand that the process has to be intrusive and every part of your life needs to be investigated, it’s just when the decision is controlled by bitter ex-wives and controlling bitter family members it just doesn’t seem fair.
However, the interviews were done and our social worker made an appointment to come back and discuss the outcome. Luckily social services are used to situations like ours and knew exactly what questions to ask. After the interviews they explained that they didn’t believe their negative comments and there was no evidence to back any of them up so we were still allowed to carry on with the process, we were so happy.
Well it’s been a busy couple of weeks, GCSE results done, phew that was stressful! Even though I will have to do it all again in two years’ time! We have also started Year 1! I can’t believe he has already done his reception year, times flown by.
I also managed to book tickets to see Emma Bridgewater at the literature festival which I’m very excited about.
As well as family members and ex partners we were asked to give them the names of friends of ours that would be able to give character references. This is when I realised just how lucky in life I am thanks to some very lovely friends we were given so may positive and lovely references. Some were interviewed and some were emails but they were all so positive and so supportive of what we were doing. I was overwhelmed and can never thank them all enough.
We were also lucky enough to have a Grandma (mother in law) who also gave us a positive and lovely reference.
Unfortunately, social services then received a family members and my husband’s ex-wife’s reference. I remember getting this news in Tesco’s while I was walking round doing my shopping and bursting in to tears it was just awful.
I can get anger and I can get being bitter but I don’t understand the need to destroy someone’s life and not just our lives, the chance of another little person in the care system getting the chance to be part of a loving family.
Of course at this stage we thought that all the negative things that we said about us would now ruin our chances of being accepted as adopters.
Luckily for us or lovely social worker who does this all the time actually believed us and the positive people in our lives.
To me this was actually life changing. A lot of my past was spent with people saying very negative things about me, that I’m attention seeking! if only people knew what I was really like! To actually have a professional person say, no matter how close those people were to me that they were wrong and I am actually a nice person was just lovely. Of course my husband, daughters and friends have been telling me that for a long time so now I’m actually beginning to believe I’m ok.
With regard to the negative references our social worker then made appointments to actually meet up with them to discuss their comments.
Sorry I haven’t posted for a while just been on our amazing first holiday as a 5 to Disneyworld, a very special 2 weeks making the best memories.
“The lovely J”
We were both nervous about meeting her for the first time as we knew she would play a key part in our adoption process so it was important she liked us and we could get on with her.
Luckily for us she was just lovely and we both clicked with her straight away it helped that she loved my house and my love of Emma Bridgewater mugs!
She started by asking us about our lives from birth until present day, luckily for us we are both quite open people and don’t mind discussing quite difficult and personal things, sadly another couple that was on our adoption course couldn’t cope with how intrusive the questioning was and called us to let us know that they had pulled out of the process, we had been told that this was quite common and a high percentage or prospective adopters drop out at this stage.
We were then told that we had to write our life stories in our own words from childhood to present day. Although we found this quite therapeutic we also found this quite difficult and emotional as not only did we have to visit some happy memories we also had to write about some very difficult times we had been through.
This took a while to do but on the plus side we got to know a lot about each other that we had never found out before.
I think this meeting was possibly one of the most difficult we had. Just to explain a little my husband had a really difficult split from his ex-wife which involved his own daughters being turned against him and after 5 years he was still struggling to even see them let alone have a relationship with them. It brought back all the emotions and guilt that he had been through over the past 5 years. He was torn between more rejection once they knew he was trying to adopt, the guilt of wanting to adopt and have the chance at being a dad again. I just kept trying to reassure him that he had always been a good dad, he hadn’t left his girls he had left an unhappy marriage and he deserved a chance at being a dad to another little person that needed one.
After this was done our next job was to give them some people that would be prepared to give us references, this also meant that they had to obtain references from ex partners.
We had left mentioning this to my birth daughters until after the course as we wanted to be sure that this was for us. We had heard that a high percentage of prospective adopters dropped out after completing the course.
We sat the girls down and told them what we were going to do, my eldest was fine my youngest burst into tears and ran into her bedroom!
Just to explain a little background a year previously their father had a daughter and since that time he has treated the girls very differently and they struggled with it.
After a chat and after she had calmed down we explained that things would change but we would still treat them and love them the same.
We asked their opinion on what they would like a brother or a sister and what sort of age?
They said they would like a brother as they already had sisters and they didn’t want a baby. We took this on board and when filling out the paperwork we said we would like to be considered for a boy aged between 2 and 5 years old my only condition was I wanted to take him for his first day at school.
Our first step in the adoption journey we were asked to attend a 4-day adoption course. We arrived at the village hall quite nervous but signed in and we were given name tags and offered tea and coffee. There were 5 other couples on the course all from different set ups, a single mum who was a foster carer and looking to adopt the child and already had a birth son, a couple with no children, a couple that were foster carers and wanting the adopt the baby in their care and another two couple with grown up birth children.
We did an ice breaker and introduced ourselves. Over the course we met parents that had already adopted and listened to their stories, adults that had been adopted as children and their stories and a number of different social workers that talked us through each stage.
The most difficult and traumatic day for us was the talk on abuse physical, emotional and sexual, we knew we would have to hear this but found I very difficult to comprehend and take in. On the journey home that day I felt like I’d been hit by a bus, I remember going straight to Tesco’s and buying a bottle of wine and drinking it when we got in. We did the feedback form and talked it through but still agreed that this was what we wanted to do. The next day had a more positive approach with previous adopters telling us about how they felt when they passed panel and then got to meet their children it was so lovely to hear.
We then exchanged numbers and email addresses with the other prospective adopters
One of the questions I did ask was is there any literature on the affect adoption of a new child would have on our older birth children of which there was a lack of hence why I wanted to write this blog.
Myself and Mr G both have two daughters mine of which live with us when we started the journey they were 13 and 11. Coming from both difficult and complicated marriages we decided that we would like to bring a child up together in a happy loving relationship. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to have a child together, we considered both adoption and IVF. We decided to try IVF first, we found this whole process really impersonal and clinical and neither of us felt it was right so after one attempt that was unsuccessful we decided to look into adoption.
We rang our local social services and were invited to go to an adoption information evening. It was pouring with rain and we sat nervously in the car park eyeing up all the other adopters as they arrived. We walked in and it was an informal chat with social workers and an adopted parent that told his story. We sat and listened, all the time I was wondering what Mr G was thinking not sure if he would be prepared to follow this through while I was worrying if we would be at a disadvantage as we already had birth children.
At the end of the chat we waited to speak to the social worker, we told her about our situation and asked if we would still be considered, she was lovely and said yes of course there just needed to be at least a 7 year age gap and as we had girls the recommendation would be a boy!
In the car we had a chat and agreed that the whole evening just seemed right and we both wanted to go ahead, and neither of us had considered a boy as we had presumed having girls would mean they would recommend a girl we were both really excited.
So the whole adoption process roller coaster started!
Two years ago we adopted a little boy. Many times over the last two years I have felt that I wanted to share how much this little man has brought to our family. When we were going through the adoption process we were told the largest group of children that weren’t adopted was 3 – 5-year-old boys, so I thought if I could share our story maybe it would persuade another loving family to give another little boy in care a chance. We also both have birth children and when going through the process I was looking for information on birth families adopting and the affect positive and negative adopting another sibling would have on them of which there was very little of, at the time our social worker said that maybe is something I could do! so here we go……………