The Call

So this evening, I was just about to hop in the bath before going off to babysit, when the phone rang. It was a WITHHELD number. Usually I ignore withheld numbers but something told me to answer it. So glad I did as it was a lady from adoption services…finally, yay!

She asked me a series of questions about me, my background, my health and my job/past jobs. And we had, what I think was, a positive conversation. I asked about meeting other single adopters and she reassured me this was possible. In fact it is their policy to partner adopters up, particularly single adopters. And also they try to make sure that during preparation sessions they try to make sure there is always more than one single potential adopter present. She explained that the differences in the process have more effect on the social workers and the way they have to work, than on the people applying to adopt, but there is more emphasis now on potential adopters providing evidence to support their applications.

She said that what would happen now is that I would be put in ‘the system’ to be allocated a home visit. The home visit will be to discuss what I’d told her over the phone in more detail and if it goes ok, then I will be invited to a two day training session about the background of children placed for adoption. I should receive a letter within the next two weeks telling me when the visit will be and outlining some of the things we will discuss. I was told if I don’t hear anything in the next two weeks to give them a call and check up on what’s going on, but that it shouldn’t take that long.

So 40 minutes later and I missed out on the bath, but my nephews haven’t seemed to care!

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Age range? Siblings?

One of the things I have been doing while I have been waiting (apart from waiting for the postman, rushing to the phone everytime it rings and checking my email several times per day) is reflecting and thinking.

As I stated in my first post, I made an initial enquiry almost 4 years ago. Then my life was very different. My bro and SIL had just had their first child who was a baby. I was considering adopting (if as a single person it was allowed) two school age children as that age group was where I had the most experience. Toddlers and small children, quite frankly, were a bit boring. My small nephew though gorgeous, was just a baby, he didn’t do much and I had no real relationship with him. I also wasn’t particularly close to my brother or sister in law.

Now things are very different. I have two young nephews who are part of my life and who I enjoy spending time with. I feel closer to my family and its been partly through my relationship with my nephews as they are growing. I also have friends in the area with similar aged children. It now feels important that the child/children I adopt fit in (as far as they can) with my wider family, nephews included, and friends. I think even my nephews will have their part to play in welcoming and supporting the new addition/s to our family (if I get that far etc etc). I also obviously now have more experience with younger children. This means in my head I am now erring towards considering the younger age range of children, even though I know this may mean a longer wait.

I’m not sure about how many children now – I’m hoping that’s something I can work out with a social worker/through the process. Two younger children still seems more ‘demanding’ than two older children but may be its just a different kind of ‘demanding’, as obviously older children who have been through the care system have complex needs. May be given time I could to apply to adopt another at a later date…but I guess that would depend on how awful I find the process this time round, if indeed I even get as far as applying to adopt!

Waiting game

So its been 17 days since I sent off my ‘initial enquiry’ form.

Surprise, surprise, I have heard nothing back from the agency/organisation which acts for my LA. Considering this is one of the most important decisions a person might make in their lives you’d think an acknowledgement might be in order, even if its a standard letter that says, ‘thanks, we’ve received it, we’ll get back to you’.

The inquiry form itself was very different to the one I filled out last time, apart from wanting every address I’ve lived at over the last ten years (in my case a lot of places) and the name and address of my GP, being a single person without other children that was it. Nothing about who I am or what’s led me down this path and to their door. It all feels very impersonal and sterile. One reason may be due to the recent changes to the adoption process I discovered when I received the ‘pack’ (and then had to research online because there wasn’t any information given in it about what these changes are). Changes, I have discovered, that are supposed to speed up assessment for potential adopters. May be they haven’t quite got up to speed yet, I don’t know. But from this end it all feels mightily frustrating. I joked to a friend earlier in the week that the new process, which requires adopters to be assessed to a 6 month time frame, only comes into effect once you’ve actually filled in an application to adopt (no the form I’ve filled in isn’t it – its one to ask to fill in the other form…I know), so technically they can keep people waiting around for this bit as long as they like and it won’t count in their figures…call me cynical!

No Matter What

A few months ago I discovered a blog by Sally Donovan about adoption. I then started following her on Twitter. A couple of weeks ago her book, No Matter What was published. Having re-read all the adoption books that I have, and being in a place where I am craving information about what might be to come, I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on a copy.

Sally’s book is so compelling, that I literally could not put it down and read it in one sitting this morning. Even though Sally is married and came to adoption through infertility, there was so much in the early part of her story I could identify with. The feeling that all your friends are reproducing and leaving you behind, the grief that is present when you realise its unlikely you will ever give birth to your own child, the endless conversations with friends about what little Johnny is up to now (even from people who swear they’ll never be like that).

From there we follow Sally and her husband Rob on their quest to adopt two children, the process, the matching, the moving in and what happens next. I appreciated her honesty that other books haven’t necessarily given me. The idea that once you adopt a child, what has happened to them in their early years still plays a huge part in who they are as they grow up with you. The romantic ‘Hollywood’ idea that enough love makes all of that go away just simply isn’t true. Particularly moving was the descriptions of Sally’s oldest child, Jamie, letting her in to little bits of his life story that he remembered. Horrific incidents, which obviously led up to him being taken into care.

Refreshing also was the inclusion of the times when Sally and Rob found it difficult to cope, when things did get on top of them, times when they did respond inappropriately or got beyond the ‘end of their tether’ with their children’s behaviours. Not the ‘and we all lived happily ever after’ ending that some of the books on adoption can tend to paint (possibly because they are sponsored by people promoting adoption and trying to recruit adopters and don’t want to scare them away?) But I found this realistic portrayal a bit of a relief, that someone was willing to say, yes its bloody tough and you do get it wrong or react badly at times. To me that’s comforting. It gives me hope that adopters aren’t expected to be these other worldly beings who never have a bad day or who can cope with anything.

The descriptions also about how other people expected after three years for her children to be ‘cured’ of their past lives or no longer be affected was interesting, or that when describing her children’s extreme behaviours to people they would retort, ‘well all children do that’! shows that people often just don’t ‘get’ what its like to parent an adopted child.

It is a wonderful, helpful book, incredibly easy to read and, despite all of the above, quite funny. I’d recommend it to anyone contemplating adoption, or going through the process.