Without you

I was travelling back from a nearby city late last night and this song came on my CD player, I’ve heard it hundreds of times now but for some reason this time it made me cry. Some of the lyrics suddenly took on a new/different meaning to me – particularly the bits about ‘from afar I lie awake’ and ‘there is a dream I’ve dreamt about you’. I find it odd to think that my son could be already out there somewhere just waiting for a family. Anyway this is all very sentmental, (or possibly hormonal) but one day I hope I will play this song to a little boy and say I thought about him before we even met.


Because Eddie’s voice (sadly) isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – these are lyrics:

I’ll grow when you grow
Let me loosen up the blindfold
I’ll fly when you cry
Lift us out of this landslide
Wherever you go
Whenever we part

I’ll keep on healing all the scars
That we’ve collected from the start
I’d rather this than live without you
For every wish upon a star
That goes unanswered in the dark
There is a dream, I’ve dreamt about you

And from afar, I lie awake
Close my eyes to find I wouldn’t be the same

I’ll shine when you shine
Painted pictures on my mind
Sun sets on this ocean
Never once on my devotion
However you are
Or far that you’re far

I’ll keep on healing all the scars
That we’ve collected from the start
I’d rather this than live without you
For every wish upon a star
That goes unanswered in the dark
There is a dream, I’ve dreamt about you

And from afar, I lie awake
Close my eyes to find I’d never be the same
Without you, without you


Last stage 2 Social worker visit

Last Friday I had (what was supposed to be) my last social worker visit. We began by talking about the single adopter on the last episode of ‘Wanted: A Family of my Own’. And then we chatted for quite a long time about the adoption activity day she had been on the weekend previously.

Then we got down to the ‘Matching consideration form’ again and discussing various conditions and situations on the form. Of course we went wide off topic several times – but then I couldn’t put it off any longer and needed to knuckle down and make the decisions about what I would consider, would not consider and would be willing to discuss. Once I made those initial decisions my SW said that we needed to put in another visit as we had talked too long and she wanted me to have another think about the decisions on the form.

So on Monday she came and she began by saying that my matching consideration form was the most open she had ever seen in an adopter. That really surprised me as I actually felt I’d been fairly narrow and was feeling a bit guilty about all the ‘would not consider’ boxes I’d ticked. She went through each decision again and got me to talk about the consequences of each one for the future of the child concerned. She managed to shift me from one ‘would consider’ to ‘would discuss’, and one ‘would consider’ to a ‘would not consider’. Even so, she said that my matching was still really open and that I should be prepared as panel would ask me about it and whether I had clearly thought the through the impact of decisions I had made.

I am not going to write here what my decisions were as I don’t think that would be fair on any child I eventually adopt. But I am going to list below the decisions I had to make. My LA has expanded the BAAF form to open out some of the conditions/background issues listed.

So, for each one I had to tick either ‘Would consider’, ‘would not consider’ or ‘willing to discuss’:

Child’s Placement Status

  • Child placed with consent
  • Fostering to adopt
  • Concurrency
  • Placement order

Birth family background

  • Parental schizophrenia (genetic link)
  • Parental bi-polar (genetic link)
  • Parental personality disorder
  • Parental depression
  • Parent/s with severe learning difficulties
  • Parent/s with moderate learning difficulties
  • Parent/s with mild learning difficulties
  • Parental medical condition
  • Parents who misuse drugs
  • Parents who misuse alcohol
  • Issues with incest/parentage
  • Parent unknown
  • Lack of birth family information
  • Domestic violence

Reason for the child coming into care

  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse

Child’s present medical condition/functioning

  • Down’s Syndrome
  • AIDs or HIV
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • ADHD
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Diagnosis of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Child on the FAS spectrum
  • Hepatitis B or C
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Mobility impairment
  • Severe learning disability
  • Moderate learning disability
  • Mild learning difficulties
  • Global developmental delay
  • Developmental delay
  • Speech and language delay

Emotional and behavioural issues

  • Sexualised behaviour
  • Severe emotional needs
  • Significant attachment issues
  • Withdrawn/frightened child
  • overactive child
  • Aggressive child
  • Significant issues around food

Contact considerations

  • Initial meeting with birth parents
  • Initial meeting with wider family
  • Direct contact with birth parents
  • Direct contact with siblings in adoptive placements
  • Direct contact with siblings in long term care
  • Direct contact with siblings placed with birth family
  • Direct contact with wider family
  • In-direct contact with birth parents
  • In-direct contact with siblings
  • In-direct contact with wider family

So there we go. My decisions are all made and now my social worker goes off to write my report for panel and to visit the people who wrote my references. And I have to just sit back and wait for panel…


Stage 2 visit ??? Lost track!

Today was quite hard. We were talking about the matching consideration form. My LA has expanded the generic form which is usually used and its a lot more detailed. It was hard because these are decisions that are ones you hope you never have to make about your child.

I have worked with children who have some of the conditions – many of the conditions – that are listed on the form. I know families personally with children with some of the conditions on the form. I find it hard because in saying, ‘no’ it feels like I’m rejecting those wonderful children or families. I know its about what I can or can’t cope with 24/7 for life, and its about being realistic and honest, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Some things, in this locality, it is impossible to escape – in fact if we said no to them we’d never be placed with a child! But others, it does feel a little like you’ve just wiped out a whole bunch of great kids who may happen to have special needs. And that does make me sad and ashamed that I don’t think I’m up to the task, despite vast experience in that area.

My SW rightly pointed out that with a child under three there is still much that is uncertain about that child’s future. I may say that I don’t want a child with a certain condition to be placed with me…and then in a couple of years they get diagnosed with that very same condition. And in some senses then you are just like any other family coming to terms with that. All the matching form can do is say, I don’t want a child who at the moment is presenting these conditions.

Also some of the conditions are not definite, they are a possibility based on the child’s genetics – lots of the mental health conditions come under this category. There is a risk, because of the medical history of the child’s birthparents they too could go on to develop that condition in their later life. But it is just that, a risk. Environmental factors also come into play which might influence the outcome or there may be a trigger that sets a mental health issue off – say the break up of a relationship – that had the person not gone through they would never have developed the condition.

And some of the issues seem at first glance like non-issues…neglect. If you’ve not forayed into the world of adoption, you may have a kind of benign idea of what neglect is or means. But profound neglect is a massive issue – it affects everything. It can cause food issues, attachment issues, anxiety issues, sleep issues, aggression issues… the list is endless.

And some issues which may not affect their day to day life – if for example they were born as the result of incest – will certainly be a massive issue as they grow up and try to work out who they are and their place in the world.

So all in all I found today difficult. Today we simply discussed, I made no decisions but my SW is getting a feel for what she thinks my answers may be.

As usual we also went off on major tangents -we spoke at considerable length at the ‘claiming’ work my LA does with families – how to claim your adopted child as part of your family. It was fascinating but I have no idea how we go onto it!

I asked about decorating the child’s room and was assured that I really needn’t worry at this stage about decorating (in fact I can’t really repeat what she actually said!).

I also asked about the different ways that VA’s and LA’s seem to be working regarding matching and how proactive I should be and how early on. She told me there are clear guidelines that both VAs and LAs should be working to (again this is a paraphrase, I can’t actually write what she really said!). In this LA even if I was being considered for a match already, I wouldn’t hear about it until my approval had been rubber stamped by the powers that be. She also said that there would be no point in looking myself yet because, unless a child is harder to place, the child’s SW can’t seriously consider anyone who is not approved. They may be able to hold them in mind, but that’s it…if they are following correct procedure.

She also said the process is supposed to help refine the match, she felt if I was thinking about the end too soon then it would prevent me from listening to myself and working through the process properly to come to the right decisions. She said matching is so important that she’d rather we took it slowly and got the match right than I rushed in too early when my own ideas were not fully formed and made a catastrophic error. To be honest I can see where she is coming from and my match has certainly been refined and I already have a clear sense of my little one. I’m hoping it will help when I read those permenance reports to recognise him.

She also went on to explain what happens in this LA with matching. My LA is a bit different in that it is not one LA it is several working together as an organisation (which in the past I have referred to as an agency, thus causing confusion!). In fact she doesn’t even work for the LA I live in. This means that within the organisation, I will be considered for matching with children in three seperate LA’s. The children’s SW’s and LA’s adopters’ SW’s come together regularly for meetings. At these meetings adopters and children are discussed and they see if matches can be made within the pool of adopters they have. As I come towards panel my name will and details will start to be thrown in the ring for potential children. I will not find out anything – even if there is the potential for a match – until its been decided that they think I am the best person to meet that child’s needs, only then will I be approached and told – but I won’t be told anything at all until I have been through panel!

Also it dawned on me later that I am now considering a young child who will not fall into the ‘harder to place’ category. This potentially now means a much longer wait than when I was considering siblings who by definition are ‘harder to place’.



My own thoughts on Wanted: A Family of my Own

There have been an awful lot of programmes on TV about adoption in recent months. Some in the adoption community have had a negative reaction to the sheer amount in such a short period of time and will have their own good reasons for doing so. However, as a prospective adopter, I’ve actually found the programs profoundly helpful.

I watched several interviews with Nicky Campbell about this particular series before it went out. To be honest, when I found out it was made by the same people as ‘Long Lost Families’, I didn’t hold out a lot of hope. But to be fair, Nicky Cambell made it clear from those interviews that the sole purpose of the program was to lift the lid on the adoption process. For those who haven’t been through it, what happens is shrouded in mystery. If, like me, you know you would like to adopt then you may go digging and find a blog like this one…but that’s only a recent thing. The idea was to let people see what happens during the process of being approved and matched so I wasn’t expecting (or at this stage in my journey wanting) any more than that. Obviously seeing this part of the process is helpful to me as its what I am going through right now. It has helped me see a bit of what goes on in panel and what I might expect, even if it has only been edited highlights. Its shown me that even in these early stages things may not always go smoothly. Its shown me that not everyone instantly feels love for their new child…though some people do. Its shown me just how awesome foster carers are and what a debt of gratitude we owe them for the selfless way they open their homes to children.

Its also allowed members of my family to see a little of what is going on behind my closed door. Some of them live too far away to feel like they are going through it with me, so this program has provoked questions and in fact, reassured family members. I watched one of the episodes with a friend and it gave her permission to ask me candid questions that she may not have felt able to ask me otherwise. She also says she finds watching it emotional because she can’t help but think of me – to me that’s great because its preparing her too for what is to come. I have also ‘virtually’ watched it with a friend of mine through the medium of Twitter and I know she has also found it helpful and emotional.

Yes, there are lots of negatives that can be pointed out (I’ve pointed out some of them myself on Twitter) but others have done just that, so I’m not going to bother going over what others have expressed far better than I can. But just to say it has been hinted on a radio interview my Mum listened to, that due to the positive response to the program, the program makers are at this stage planning to return to the families featured in the program to film again and report back about how the children have settled in and progressed. At that point the pleas for ‘why aren’t they showing adoption support or how difficult it is’ may well be addressed. If they follow through on this then as I will then be at that stage too (hopefully), I’m sure I’ll find that just as helpful.

Stage 2, Session 4

Today the SW started by asking if I’d had any more thoughts about siblings since our discussion last week. Over the last couple of days I’ve come to a decision that surprised even me. A couple of bits of advice I’d had stuck with me and so I’ve decided to no longer persue a sibling group. The social worker was extremely pleased as she was hoping I would come to that decision myself. She said she didn’t doubt my capabilities but that it would be very, very difficult and not really very enjoyable! She said she wanted me to have the opportunity to enjoy bonding with one child rather than it always be a struggle to try to bond with two children, with potentially very different needs. She said that if after a year or so I wanted to come back and adopt again then the match chosen would be right for me and my existing child and his needs would be taken into consideration.

I say, ‘his needs’ because that was the other thing we spoke about. As I am now only considering one child, the age range has narrowed down as well. I know some people might think this is selfish, but having thought about it with two chidren 2-5 years, which I was considering, one of the children would have been likely to have been preschool age. I would like to have that opportunity to go to Mother and toddler groups and all the preschool stuff (I’ve got a surestart centre practically next door) and although I’m already talking about the next time around, there is a chance this may be the only time I do this. If so I want to do it right and I don’t want to feel like I missed out, or carry some resentment because I didn’t have the experiences I wanted. So, I’m now considering a boy, 18mths-3years.

Then we spoke about the ways children come into the care system, and the likely route my child will have come into the system. We spoke about birthparents with drug and alcohol issues and what that may have meant for a child in their care. I spoke about experiences I had with alcoholics when on a placement in Notts. I also spoke about experiences I’d had dealing with suspected neglect issues with children from school – reporting issues and recording incidents. Also about two young lads who ended up in one of my classes who had severe behavioural issues – both of whom ended up in a residential educational unit – and some of the issues that had gone on in their backgrounds. The SW spoke about how in this area drugs, alcohol, domestic violence or any combination of the three will be in the background of a child taken into care. Then we discussed what that could mean in terms of the decisions that I have to make about what I would be able to cope with in my child’s past…and the outworking of that for the future.

We moved on to begin to talk about mental health issues and I have homework this week. I have to think of a birthparent who has OCD, bipolar, schizophrenia or depression (and is off medication) and in each case what the impact on a child living with them would be and we’ll be discussing this further next week. My psychology text books have never been so well thumbed through!  I think I also will be shown some sample permanence reports for real children, with names changed.

Pre & Post Adoption Support meeting

This morning I had to attend a meeting about the support available during the adoption process. The morning was split into two halves with an information giving section at the beginning and personal testimony at the end. I’m going to start at the end: the personal testimony came from an adopted person, who very unusually knew all about their adoption from birth. They spoke to us about their upbringing, the reasons why they chose to access their records and what they got from it. I am not going to blog about what that person told us as I feel that is their story to tell. Whilst they were very open and upbeat about their story, I could well misrepresent something they told us and that would be extremely unfair. The one thing I took away from their story, that confirmed what I already knew, was that openess about adoption and life stories is key.

So, as I have been asked by a fellow adopter to fill her in on everything I found out about during the session, that is what I am going to do – it will also be a good record for me to look back on in case I need to draw on any of the support they mentioned! But its important to stress that the information here about the support on offer from my LA, is unique to my LA, so as usual comparisons can’t really be drawn. Where post adoption support is concerned it sounds a little like a postcode lottery – some LA’s will be much better than this, others won’t match up.

Here, adoption support begins as soon as we are approved as adopters. Our information is added to their database and remains there until the child placed with us is 18 (unless we tell them to take our details off it!). As a result of this, adopters are sent newsletters several times per year to keep us up to date with support available. If our contact details change we must let them know so that the database is kept up to date and they can keep in contact with us.

Adoption support includes:

  • Newsletters
  • Social events and meetings
  • Help and advice with behaviour and attatchment
  • Help with contact related issues
  • Adoption related activities
  • Allowances and reimbursements
  • Financial Assessments
  • Help when adoption breaks down


This was the area I was most impressed with. I will be offered training sessions for the following:

  • Talking to my child about adoption
  • Dyadic Developmental Pyschotherapy (an introduction)
  • Attachment theory and brain trauma (this is an advanced session – we already have to have training in this as part of prep)
  • Introduction to Theraplay (I was the only person who knew anything about this – now I understand why my SW says I’m ‘further on’ than most adopters at this stage)
  • 10 week course on Webster Stratton Parenting.

All of this training is voluntary and runs on a rolling program. It doesn’t matter how many times we wish to access the training. In the case of talking to children about adoption, many parents attend right at the beginning of placement and then again as the child grows older. We are invited to attend the Webster Stratton training 3 months after our child is placed. Half the post adoption support team are theraplay trained and there are groups offered for preschool children and 1-2-1 sessions offered for any child who may need it.

My LA prefer to provide support internally rather than buy in providers. They feel they will already have a strong relationship with their adopters and its also cheaper and quicker to provide support this way. They have support workers trained in cognative therapy, play therapy and music therapy.

We were told that if we choose not to come to training we still need to keep them informed of any needs or issues, however small, that may arise. If we don’t keep in contact at all and then suddenly appear asking for help with an enormous range of needs, its more difficult for them than if we’ve maintained a relationship and they have an idea how things are going and flagged up any concerns along the way.

Adoption Support Plan

When a child is placed for adoption with us we will be given a support plan unique to our situation. The younger the child the more basic the plan is likely to be, as (as my social worker keeps emphasising) the younger the child the less we will know about how they are going to grow and develop and what likely needs they could have. However this plan is reviewed and updated. Things like health, finance, social/emotional/developmental needs, contact etc are all covered.

Who provides the support?

The LA the child is from is legally responsible to provide the support needed until the child is 3 years of age. After that it is the responsibility of the LA where you live. However, if I moved house and out of the area but my original LA was already paying for some form of ongoing support or therapy for a particular need, that LA would continue to fund that provision. Its if something new emerged that we would need to turn to the new LA.

Other support

Here I only noted down those things relevant to me – there was also stuff about council houses amongst other things. I also already knew this but, I will be entitled to 15 hours free early education provision for my child from the age of two (a year early than the majority of children). When my child is of school age, I will be able to choose which school best meets my child’s needs and they have to give my child a place.


The government announced £19.3 million to be put towards supporting adoption. Since then they have backtracked. They still haven’t come up with a policy and keep putting the training with social workers back. The extra money at the moment is being filtered through a bit ad hoc. So, for example, some money was given in order to promote adoption but could only be used on that. The extra funding is not as straightforward as the media makes it sound and will take some time to filter through into the system properly.

Pupil Premium

This was the bit I am least happy with and I’m uncertain whether the trainers have correct. We need to make sure we self declare our child’s adoption status when we apply for schools so that the funding can come through. It is up to the school how they decide to spend the money – they are allowed to spend it in a variety of ways, as long as it somehow relates to our childs needs. So, (and this was an example given) if our child is good at music, it could be used to buy the school musical instruments! They did say of our child had very specific needs then it could be used to pay for one-to-one support, but I thought we as parents had more of a say and that the money had to go directly to our child – not to resource the whole school!

Post adoption contact scheme

When a child is placed a contract is drawn up between the adopters and birth family declaring the arrangements between both parties. It is a working document and can be changed and reviewed. There is support on offer for both sides to help write the letters. If letterbox contact arrives that is unsuitable to pass on to the child it will be held on file for the child to access as an adult, we will be informed that is what has happened. Letterbox contact is available for the child until they are 25 years of age. This is so that at no time will the adopted person feel they have to give over more information than they are happy with giving – it remains an unthreatening way to maintain contact. At the age of 25 then an adopted person can choose to access their records if they wish to remain in contact with birth family.

We were given examples of the agreements and appropriate letters from both parties to take away.

Memory boxes, Life Story books and Later Life Letters

When a child is placed with you they are given a memory box. This could contain photographs, hospital tags, first pairs of shoes or first outfits, first cuddly toy etc. This is put together by the Foster Carer and unfortunately they vary in quality. Some FC’s go to town in making lovely books or boxes, others will just hand over a memory stick of photos.

They aim to get the Life Story Book to us around the time of the Celebration Hearing. They tend to be made by the child’s SW. They warned us that the volume of books they have to create means that there is currently a backlog. They also prioritise older children as they are more likely to need access to their Life Story Book earlier than a baby or very young child. We were encouraged to have the LSB available for the child to access at all times as it belongs to the child and we should be using it to tell their story. We were told that if we weren’t happy with the book it could be sent back for alteration – similarly, if there were bits that we felt were not age appropriate we could take those bits out and add them back in at a later date when we felt our child could cope with that level of information. Again we were encouraged that it is important that our children feel we have always been open and honest about their past and foster an openess about questioning their past. Don’t be tempted to tell white lies but be as honest as possible but in an age appropriate way. If we had difficulties with this in practise, the ‘telling your child about adoption’ training will help.

A Later Life Letter is written by the child’s SW to the child and given to us at the time the child is adopted to keep safe for them until they are old enough to read it. It will be a personal letter and will give more detailed information than the LSB about why they were placed into care, how the decision was made and what role the SW played. It is aimed for a child of 13 to read but it will depend on the emotional maturity of the child as to when a parent wants to share that letter with them. There will be a copy of the letter on file, so if it gets lost in a house move they will be able to replace it.

All of these things help to build up layers of information for the child. A child should never be hit with all the information about their adoption at once, but drip fed it throughout their life as they grow up and form part of their identity.

Access to Birth Records

50% of adopted people go on to access their birth records and to contact birth family. There are a number of reasons for this. Curiosity, for background information, to know what their birth family looks like and medical information are all reasons given for this. Over the last 5/6 years there has been a dramatic rise in people applying. This could be down to an increased interest in genealogy with programs such as Who do You Think You Are? and online ancestry records being more readily available. The other is the way reunions have been portrayed on the program Long Lost Family, with an increase in calls every day after the program is shown. Post adoption support workers now have difficult job in counselling people before they make contact so they realise it is not always like they see it on the TV.

Adopted people at the age of 18 have the right to recieve a copy of everything an adoption agency was required to give their adoptive parents at the time they were placed for adoption. We as parents can give them our files or they can request them from the LA.

They also have at this age the right to access everything that is held about them on file by the LA. If they wish to access all the information they will be supported through this by the adoption support team.

In addition…

We were also given several information leaflets produced by the team (that I haven’t had a chance to look through) on:

  • Attending the adoption panel
  • From approval to placement
  • Introducing children to their adoptive family
  • From placement to adoption order
  • Dealing with disclosures of abuse
  • Adoption support services
  • Post Adoption Contact Scheme
  • BAAF advice leaflet on contact