Today due to a malfunction of the weather, my Mum and I with help from the boy, made a dent on my ‘To do before the new LO comes’ list. The list ranges from painting whole rooms to rearranging some cupboards to chucking out the mountain of clothes I no longer fit into (if you’re a prospective adopter don’t believe all the people who tell you that you lose weight when you adopt…for me it was quite the opposite!). Of course all of this is a physical manifestation of what is going on internally. Preparing for change, making room in our hearts and lives. Preparing. It got me thinking.
When I first felt the time was right to adopt again I tried a bit of research to see what the process might involve this time around and particularly what I might expect for my son. But I could not find much written by UK bloggers about adopting for a second time. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Now I have for the most part been through the actual process, I think I understand why there isn’t much out there. For me the last three months have felt like a total non event regarding the process. Adopting second time around really is a far less demanding thing. Far fewer SW visits over a shorter time frame, no prep group requirement, hardly any probing questions, just a question of updating the PAR. This on the one hand is a good thing – parts of the original process do feel like form filling and repetition for the sake of it – (goodness only knows what it felt like under the old system!). So I’m all in favour of streamlining the process where possible for second timers – no point going over the same things yet again.
But, it has meant any preparation for what this might mean for us really has come from my own soul searching and reflection in my own time rather than during the actual time spent with my SW. Yes, of course my eyes are wide open due to the fact living life as an adopter gives a totally different experience to what you might read in books or even on Twitter. The reality can’t really be captured in case studies or in a snapshot or 140 characters. But still. I am so pleased I asked to do prep group (not a requirement as a second timer) as it was at least an opportunity to take time out from work to think and reflect.
And then there is my son. Eventually I chose to tell him we were adopting again as he isn’t stupid and knew something was going on with all the hushed conversations that were happening. He also sussed straight away that the SW was not a ‘friend’ when I first introduced him to her! But this has all been a judgement call I have had to make as a parent – there is no advice given, or anywhere to find any, on what might be best for him. As an adult all the mixed messages about matching and waiting times are difficult enough but for a child they’re even harder to comprehend. After I’d tried to prepare him for how long the whole thing might take, my SW actually said to him, ‘Well I hope it won’t be long before you have a new brother or sister’! Not helpful! We now regularly have bedtime chats that start, ‘Mummy I hope we don’t have to wait long for my brother or sister!’ We’ve read books about being a big brother, I’ve talked to him about removing some of his special toys from the playroom in case his younger sibling spoils or damages them (Him: Why would they do that? Me: Because they might be little or not understand how to play with them properly. Him: That’s ok, Mummy. I will show them how to play with them), we’ve spoken about jealousy between the dogs and why we treat and love them them exactly the same. And yet I still don’t know if this is all too soon or if I’m over-egging the pudding or if I’m not doing enough. I know whatever I do wont really fully prepare him for what’s coming but I’d like to feel that I’m doing everything I can.
And then there is panel. Less than two weeks away now. Last panel my SW met with me and went through my PAR. We talked about what the panel might focus on. I read through my final copy of the PAR and mentally prepared my answers for the questions I might be asked. This time I have seen a draft of the PAR. I’m not due to see my SW again until the day of panel. No final copy, no preparation from her, no clue what they might ask. I’ll obviously take a guess and think how I might respond, but I am very nervous. Last time my SW knew me inside out by the time panel came round. I knew she would know me well enough to fight my corner if needed. This time I feel more like I am going it alone.
So two weeks til panel. I do feel ready for the reality of adopting again…but in all truth, I’m not sure we’re prepared.