Stage 2 session 3

Today I had my third meeting with my SW for Stage 2. After having several distressing dreams about matching (after watching ‘Wanted: A Family of my Own’) we started today by talking about how matching works and the nuts and bolts of who I would meet, what information I would be given and just how much opportunity there is to say no. I think I needed that reassurance.

Our proper discussion was mainly talking about how my lifestyle will change after a child comes along. She asked me questions about different parts of my job and my working week and how I would manage things. Then support networks also came into play and I was asked who I would call on in emergencies or if I needed emotional support. Again nothing came up that I didn’t expect and because I’ve done no end of thinking about it – even down to what I would do with the dogs during introductions – I did have ready formulated answers, all of which she seemed to react positively to.

We had the siblings conversation again, and the questions this time were a lot more pointed about how I would cope with two children by myself. Some questions I couldn’t answer because I don’t know the child or potential children I am going to adopt or what their needs will be. Also some questions I didn’t see the point in – ‘So you’ll have two children one will be at school and one possibly at nursery so how will you get them ready to get to where they need to be?’ Well again that depends on the routines they already have in place and again if they have issues getting up and dressed – otherwise surely its simply that – up, dressed and breakfast (and all the cajoling, encouraging, fussing and organising that goes along with that), and then driving them to where they need to be. Same as if you have one child but with a whole lot more arguing? I really didn’t understand what she was getting at. She talked again about not having a break and how parenting is relentless and how adopters often don’t realise just how demanding being a parent is…doubly demanding with two children. I tried to point out the positives in having siblings but she quickly brought it back round by asking me to list the negatives in having two children – again I struggled because these are ‘invented’/’made up’ children. Do they get on well? Do they happily play together? Are they the same gender? Do they enjoy similar activities? How old are they? There are endless scenarios that would come into play in listing the negatives.

She also said that the chances of finding a sibling group where one of the children didn’t have significant needs were slim and so if I had my heart set on two it was likely to be a longer wait for matching as she wouldn’t want to place two ‘difficult’ (her description) children with a single adopter. She pointed out again that the process is much easier second time around and that there is also possibility that the birth mum, of any child placed with me, may also go on to have another child and I would be contacted to see if I wanted to adopt the sibling in that instance – but of course that’s not a given that it will happen.

I pointed out that I could be approved to adopt ‘up to two children’ which would mean that if a single child came along who was a match I would consider them, but equally if two children came along who were a suitable match then I would also be able to consider them. I said that I know in my heart of hearts I want more than one child so even if she recommends that I only go forward to adopt one child then I would definitely want to adopt again in the future.

I’m not actually sure where we left the discussion to be honest as we talked around so much within this that I’m not sure we drew any final conclusions. I strongly feel she is not supportive of single people – any single person, not just me – adopting more than a single child in one go. I’m not sure whether its just because it isn’t the norm, or because being a parent is difficult so the idea of a single person suddenly being overwhelmed by having two children without the support of a partner is more of a concern…or what. .

I must admit there are also postives about adopting two children separately – the main one being you can focus on developing a strong attachment with the first child before the next child comes along because they are able to be your sole priority. So I still have mixed feelings. I don’t feel like I was given a fair hearing on this topic as I felt she has a set view, but then conversely I also don’t want to be too fixed either. I said all along its about the right match and I need to trust her judgment.

Next time we move more into discussing the children and a more in depth look at the different needs the children have and what I think I could and couldn’t cope with, and also what level of uncertainty about a child’s future I could and couldn’t cope with.

Stage 2 meeting 2

Well I’ve just had my second stage two meeting with my social worker. I am now a mixture of extreme excitement and nervousness, topped off with quite a lot of relief!

My Social Worker, having not seen anyone through the new process before didn’t realise that she was meant to physically take my portfolio nor that she was supposed to get me to sign the new agreement. I asked her about what I’d read on Twitter about other people saying that I had to have a panel date 4 months from the agreement date and she said it wasn’t the case. She had wanted to put me on the June(!!) panel but having checked the folder to put in the date it was already full up with matchings, so with my agreement, we’re going for July instead. This is earlier than I’d thought, I had in my head August (4 months from the agreement date) and I would have been happy with that.

We talked a lot about the TV program 15,000 kids and counting and all the bits that I’d found helpful…and not so helpful too. She was able to give me some insider knowledge on some of it which I found quite helpful and reasurring.

We then spoke at great length about my teenage years, my Christian faith and my occupation. Lots of questions surrounding what I might do and how I might feel if a child didn’t want to share my faith. And lots of questions surrounding my beliefs.

(Boast alert!) She told me a couple of things about my portfolio that stood out to her and she said that she would like to include a section of it (about strategies I’d used as a teacher to discipline children) as an addition to her report to panel because she thought it was ‘just brilliant’ and totally what they advocate with adopters.

I asked some questions surrounding single adopters wanting more than one child. She said that we would now start to explore what it would mean to adopt more than one child and what that might look and feel like and what impact that would have on lifestyle and routine. She was careful to emphasise how many adopters talk about not getting a break and that’s the hardest thing they struggle with. She also talked a lot about coming back to adopt and how it was so much easier now. From this, I suspect she’s not that keen on the idea but she’s promised that we will look at it from now on. I’d also need to speak to my oldest nephew and try to gauge how he would react, in that instance about having a child closer to his age than we orignially anticipated. We had the small baby conversation again and I think this time she was reassured that I really do not want a tiny baby – anyone over 18 months is fine!

So all in all a really great visit. I finally feel properly excited – a panel date has really made a difference.

Adopter ‘entitlement’

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog entitled ‘Siblings? Age ranges?’ inspired by WASO, the Weekly Adoption Shout Out. This, for people who don’t know, is a support network of people who blog about adoption. Along with a lot of helpful comments (for which I’m thankful) I discovered that someone had linked my blog post to two of their own blogs. Being new to the blogging world I was intrigued. It didn’t take a lot to work out from the tags they had included it under that they had perceived a single sentence I had written negatively (‘adoptee socialisation’,  ‘adoptees need to fit in’, ‘adopter entitlement’, ‘adoptee abuse’). From one of these blogs I discovered this person also took this one sentence and then tweeted it out of context and encouraged others to retweet it, obviously to invite negative comment – which of course they got – including the opinion that I should never be allowed to adopt at all.

More shockingly after reading other posts attached to WASO over the last couple of weeks it became evident that the blogger is actually someone who posts regularly, albeit with a different blog name, as part of WASO. This has upset me greatly as I thought the whole point of WASO was support, not to use what is written there to try to run people down, even if you use a blog you don’t connect up with WASO to do it.

People who are thinking about adopting have so many thoughts and emotions going through their heads. Will I be able to cope? Will the social workers think I have a chance in hell of being a good parent? Will the children I adopt, if I’m allowed, be happy? Do I have the skills needed to help them feel secure? Will I give be able to give them a good future? Will I be able to help them flourish and succeed at life? Will the adoption break down? Will I break down? And so on and so on to fade. Yes, because they don’t know the child/ren yet a lot of the thoughts are about themselves, but not exclusively, and more often than not with the future child’s interests at heart. The over-riding questions for me right now though is ‘am I good enough?’ and ‘do I really think I can do this?’

To take one sentence I’ve written and use it to imply how people who want to adopt see themselves as ‘entitled’ or who want perfect children to ‘fit in’ with their lives – and therefore should never be allowed to adopt a child – is unfair and upsetting. Particularly, as I stated, I thought WASO, which is where the blogger found the post, was a place to find but also to offer support and help.

The sentence that seems so dreadful out of context was this: ‘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’. But my point, if you read the sentence in the context of the blog, was actually this – far from thinking I’m entitled or thinking just of myself, or expecting my adopted child/children to be pressurised to toe-the-line, quite the reverse was going on. As the next sentence stated actually I was thinking of the child/ren and what a welcome they would receive by my family – what support they would get – even from my nephews who are currently only 4 and 2 years old. The way my nephews would relate to a ten year old cousin, for example, would be very different from how they might relate to one of a similar age who they would essentially grow up with and might be able to support along the way. The point was that I want my whole wider family and friends and their children, to play a part in making the child/ren feel welcomed, loved and secure. And that actually ages and how many children would play a part in how that might work. Thinking these things through won’t ensure a child will feel welcomed, loved and secure, but it might just be a place to start. Just agreeing to any age group or any amount of children with any given needs certainly won’t give a child the family they deserve. It wasn’t at all about the child playing a part, or expecting them to be someone they aren’t, or to just slot in and play happy families. It was actually the reverse: what part my family will play and what we as a whole can offer. May be ‘feel they fit in’, ‘gel with’, ‘feel a part of’, ‘attach to’ would have all been an attempt at a more accurate description of the meaning behind what I was trying to say than ‘fit in (as far as they can)’ but that is the problem with the written word – it never truly conveys everything we want it to.

Adoption doesn’t work out for everyone. I know this. I saw it play out growing up. Adoptions do break down. Children/young people can be left more wounded and traumatised than before. But for some they do work out. And if I’m allowed to adopt, I want to do everything I can to make sure that adoption is the most positive experience it can be for the child/ren placed in my care. So that they have the potential of a good future and are allowed to be themselves (whoever that turns out to be), in the most secure, loving and supportive environment that it is possible for me to provide. And no, I’m not expecting their adoption to wipe away their past, or heal their past trauma or hurts or make them into the perfect child but I do want it to have the best possible outcome for them. Thinking through issues such as these and working out what I and my wider family and friends can offer a child or children, to me, is an important part of this.

So don’t judge me, or my intentions, or my heart from just one sentence. I am going to carry on blogging and sharing my thoughts and experiences, however ill written or incomplete, even if some people who come across my blog do find the odd sentence here or there offensive, but it has made me think about linking up in the future and inviting comment if not everyone else linking up there has the same intention.

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!