Son number 2 — July 19, 2017

Son number 2

So a little while back we updated you about our second kid.

Today we had our second (and last) contact session prior to the introductions beginning next week. My first relief is that myself, my partner and the foster carers are getting on really well. I have been finding the idea of a second child got a strange concept as we just haven’t had the time to get as excited this time round (I have since spoken to a few couples who have had two or more birth children and have been assured this is very normal). Today though was the first time I looked at this little boy and thought “he is mine”. With all the hubbub of having to still care for our son as well as working and filling out endless mounds of paperwork it was likely it only hit today that this child I was holding was mine and not a friend’s- needless to say I shed a little tear. The big stuff comes next week as we begin official introductions.

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Here we go again… — June 4, 2017

Here we go again…

Oh it’s been a while hasn’t it?

Well since I last checked in last July a lot has happened. Our son came home with us early last August and oh my god what a whirlwind. I am not gonna lie- the start was tough. To have this little 16 month old waiting on you to do everything for him is a shock to the system I have never experienced. You go one day from having no child to having this little two foot human being asking for his bottle. The first few months were so special (but very hard at times) and I look back on them so fondly. It was so amazing to get to know our son. He found it very hard, it was clear he felt some sort of grief for the loss of his foster carer as he was extremely clingy to us for a very long time until he settled and fully bonded with us. It was almost as if he was scared we would leave him too.

Over the past 8 months or so we have had some great times. Our first family Xmas, his first holiday abroad, his second birthday and of course his naming day which we spent with some lovely friends and family. He is now officially our Callum.

We got a wee surprise back in December that our son’s birth Mum was due to give birth and give birth she did back in January. We are now in the process of being approved and assessed to take our son’s brother home. We are hoping to meet him very soon and we are going to matching panel in July- so by August we will have our second little bundle of joy and our wee family will be complete.

As always I will keep you updated on all details here.

Ciao for now.

Matched and approved! — July 19, 2016

Matched and approved!

Hi everybody.

Great news- last week (13th July) we had approval panel for our LO and we were unanimously approved and we begin intros with him next week.

It was a very emotional day all round and it was a really happy day for us but clearly a bittersweet one for the Foster Carer.

So on the 27th we begin intros and we are so excited. It’s strange to think that he is probably being exposed to our pictures and voices by now. I had a phone call from the FC today and I could hear him babbling in the background which was surreal yet lovely. Not long until the real fun begins.

Meeting the Foster Carer — June 23, 2016

Meeting the Foster Carer

Hi everyone. It has been a longgggggggg time since my last update- apologies for that but there has been little to report since my last post.

So today we had our first meeting with our link’s foster carer. The only way I can describe this meeting was overwhelming. It was so amazingly fantastic to meet someone who knows our prospective child inside and out but it was also extremely surreal. We were treated to seeing at least 100 photos over his life since birth right up to this morning and some videos of him playing and toddling around. To see that many photos and his progress since birth was so amazing.

It was at times though a very difficult meeting as it was clearly very difficult for his Foster Carer to approach this stage and to soon have to say goodbye to the child she has raised since birth and it was very difficult to hold your excitement in at the expense of this woman’s sacrifice. I cannot explain the level of gratitude to the fantastic work she has done in raising him and providing him with such a level of stability and love.

My advice for these meetings now would be- go in prepared with as many questions as possible (I had over 130!!) but let the Foster Carer talk freely rather than bombarding him questions. We both found that we got a lot more information about him by talking freely rather than throwing questions at her.

I am so glad this is an opportunity we had at this stage and I am experiencing such a mixture of emotions now- but all positive ones. Or next stage is to meet his Medical Advisor then it is on to Approval Panel.

Matching and linking: update 2 — April 26, 2016

Matching and linking: update 2

So this is a bit of a mixed post. We got some really fantastic news that we were battling against another potential couple for the link with our potential child and that we were choosing as the more suitable potential match over the other couple. As you can imagine we over the moon and this really made it feel so real. We decided it was time to start buying the things we need and do the things we need to do regardless of whether we got this child or another one- you know, stair gates, generic bedroom furniture etc etc, just to give us a bit of a focus and also to spread the cost out a little as we know how quickly it will all go when and if we are approved by matching panel. We had finally received the CPR and it was great to read through even if it was a bit hard to read at times.

Fast forward to just under a week later and in our monthly SW meeting we were informed that the social worker for the child has quit the industry and will not be available to be present at our 4 way meeting and as no-one has stepped in to replace her as of yet we are now in limbo land waiting for a new social worker to be assigned and hopefully then a 4 way panel date can be arranged. We are not too fussed about the length it will take to get the matched finalised as it gives me time to tie up loose ends with work before taking my leave but it is the uncertainty of when the next stage will happen that is hard to manage. If we knew that the 4 way meeting would be a month and then another two months to approval panel we would be okay with that but the reality of waiting an undetermined amount of time for the next stage is frustrating. At this point our next steps are out of both ours and our social worker’s hands which is frustrating for all of us. We have a fantastic social worker and we know she will fight our corner but I wish she didn’t have to and the process would be a little bit smoother for us.

Matching and linking: update — March 19, 2016

Matching and linking: update

So I can happily say that about a week after my last post we received a great update about our potential match.

The child is currently awaiting approval for adoption and the legal seal of approval for this might take a while to come through but our SW has been given the go ahead to start taking us through the process to become matched with the child.

We are extremely excited that we are one step closer to taking this child home and even though there is still a small element of uncertainty about the child’s adoptive status our SW is quietly confident that things are working in their and our favour.

Matching and linking — March 8, 2016

Matching and linking

Even though this has been almost a 2 year process for us we could not believe how quick everything had felt. The prep training now seems a million years ago and so much has so much has happened since then but to think they were only approximately 6 months prior to us being successfully put through approval panel. At this point we were expecting to hear nothing from our SW for months as we knew we were at the bottom of the pile and would essentially be the last resort for any link.

Shockingly though after 2 weeks on from being approved on the 15th February we received our first profile of a child. My partner came bouncing into the room with the hugest smile on his face and simply said “check your emails”.

There it was waiting for me in my inbox. A profile of a child. A real child. Suddenly the whole process was no longer hypothetical. I had in my hands my potential future child. The feeling cannot be explained- I was in love from the minute I saw the face. I knew I had to be realistic and remind myself that having a profile sent to you does not make that child yours but for a few minutes I allowed myself in to the idea of that child being ours.

We immediately said yes to the prospect of this being our child and are currently waiting for any further news about this. We are very aware that there is no guarantees until they are in our home but it is a very exciting feeling. Now it is just a waiting game and hoping that it works how we want.

We attended an adoption evening the following week called ‘These Are Our Children”and saw another profile of a child who we were interested in. We deliberated over whether to register interest in both children but in the end we decided to put our efforts into concentrating on the first profile we saw. We are now waiting to hear more information about our registration of interest. In the meantime we have some training courses coming up focusing on the matching stages and the benefits of play with children to keep us busy.

Hopefully by my next post we will have more information about the child we have registered in.

Approval panel —

Approval panel

Our SW booked our approval panel after our first meeting as there can be quite long waits. It was provisionally booked for January 11th 2016 with the opportunity to move forward or push back if needed. As it turned out it was the perfect date for us and we went into the New Year preparing ourselves for panel.

The day finally came and to say we were nervous was an understatement. This was the moment that the past few months had been leading up to and a lot was riding on this day.

We met our social worker about 30 minutes before our appointment time and we were discussing little bits and bobs we needed to go over before we went into panel. The lady who was overseeing the two panel meetings that day came and joined us about 15 minutes later as were told would happen to bring us up to panel. She sat down along side and asked us how we were and the usual pleasantries. It was at this point that our second bump along the road arrived. For a reason we never really found out the chair of the panel for that day had failed to show up as he had confused his days and was unable to attend at all. As a result of this our panel was cancelled.

To say we were upset was a huge understatement. We had spent the past few days thinking of nothing but this moment and as we had been given an afternoon slot we were pacing the floor all morning and felt like children on Christmas Eve. To be told that we were going to face an unplanned delay was very upsetting and there were a few tears shed. It was unfortunately just one of those things and it happens very rarely but this was not much of a consolation at the time. On a positive we were given a newly arranged panel date at the time of February 1st 2016 so we did not have too long to wait.

So, our rearranged panel date came round and once again we were nervous as hell. We had an early panel meeting this time so we didn’t have as much of a long wait to get nervous. The wait to be called was the worst and I was very conscious of how I was sitting just in case any of the panel members passed me as we waited.

Entering the room was very daunting as we were put in front of around 7 or 8 people. They were a lovely group of people but I would fail to tell you their names as I was concentrating on not being sick from nerves. The next 30 minutes would potentially change the rest of our lives for ever and the decision was solely in these peoples’ hands.

They were thankfully a lovely bunch of people and asked us questions about how we felt about the process so far, about what sort of parents we saw ourselves being, about how our family felt about it all. They also addressed the elephant in the room which was that we had discussed the idea of looking into sibling groups to adopt rather than a single child. This was a sticking point between ourselves and our SW and they wanted to know whether this had caused any issues or ill feeling between us and her. Luckily, they were satisfied that there was no huge disagreement and we moved on from the subject pretty swiftly.

The wait outside was the longest 15 minutes of my life. At this stage I was in desperate need of a change of shirt and did anything to try and distract myself. After about 10 minutes of waiting my partner took himself of to the toilet as he could not wait any longer. As soon as he did so out come the panel chair to give us the result but as my partner was not there I could not be told anything. God bless our SW though, she gave me a smile and a wink from behind the chair’s back to calm me down. When my partner came back we were told that it was a unanimous yes from the panel and that they had recommended for us one child with a maximum age of 5 years old. At this point the fact that we weren’t recommended for two did not matter- we were going to be parents and the feeling is one that cannot be described in words. It was an amazing feeling and I will never forget it.

So that was it. Four months of hard working was completely worth it. All the late night visits, constant forms and we had been told that we were so close to becoming parents. We were extremely excited and were so raring to meet our future child but we knew we had some time still to go before anything came up. Or so we thought…

 

Assessment stage —

Assessment stage

Our assessment stage lasted from September to early December and this was an extremely draining and tiring experience but also very exciting, especially at the beginning. As with the training some elements of the meetings did seem at times pointless and hard to get through but for the first few meetings it was really exciting to be able to talk about the process and what you were hoping for at the end. Towards the end of the process the meetings became niggly and a lot more factually orientated and were not as enjoyable and definitely felt a bit of a slog. At this stage I would say it is very important to keep your eyes on the end game as it could be very easy to get bogged down in the endless questioning and probing of all aspects of your life.

The assessment process workbook covered:

Factual Information

Family Background and Early Experiences

Relationships

Motivation to Adopt

Adult Life, Home and Lifestyle

Parenting Capacity.

At this point the process is very individual and I can only report on our experiences. We found some of the parts of the assessment very difficult. The biggest challenge is worrying about how honest you should be, especially if you have family members who are rooting for you to succeed and don’t want anything to hold you back. I would, however recommend you to be completely honest with your SW. There is no point in holding anything back. First and foremost they are not there to catch you out but to support you. The best thing to remember is that they need and want you as much as you need and want them. You desperately want a family and they desperately they want their children to have a loving family so you need to work together to ensure this happens. We were extremely lucky with our SW (as were our friends) but you do read of situations when this is not this case. I cannot advise too much on what would happen in this situation but I would say our experience much easier by having an SW we knew we could text, email and call at any hour of the day.

The hardest part of the assessment for us was our one to one meetings. All meetings except for one are joint with your partner but for a one off you have a separate meeting with your SW that covers your childhood, past relationships and your current relationship. This was slightly difficult as you delve into memories you have probably put away for quite a while and they aren’t always good ones. I for one had to stop briefly while revisiting the rather recent loss of a close family member. I would like to remind you again at this stage that nothing they ask you is to catch you out but rather to put together a detailed reflection of you as a couple and individually to get you through approval panel successfully and matched up with your future child.

The meetings at times were extremely draining and I would recommend you plan in something nice for your dinner after they leave as you will feel like you have been through the mill. I would also at this stage recommend you book in something nice to do after the meetings finish as you suddenly have a lot of time to wait before the next stage and it is a quite intense process and you will need a break after. We had Christmas coming up so we spent time with family and booked a weekend away in the New Year after panel to relax before starting the next stage of the process.

Assessment was a pretty intense process but not as horrible as everyone makes out. We went in expecting our SW to be looking through our underwear drawer trying to get things on us as this is often the picture painted. Yes, they will turn over every possible stone you can think of and some you can’t think of but considering the importance of what you are about to do this is not much of a surprise.

At this stage we had done everything we could and all we could do was wait for panel in January. While waiting for panel I would recommend keeping yourself busy otherwise you would drive yourself nutty waiting for it to come.

Meeting our Social Worker —

Meeting our Social Worker

On the third day of training we were missing one of the social workers who was delivering our training and a replacement was drafted in. It turned out after our completion of the training course that she was assigned as our Assessing Social Worker. She was an absolutely lovely woman to meet at the training and after our negative experience with our first Social Worker we were very relieved to be assigned someone so nice. It turned that on the last day of training she turned to my partner and said “I am confident that you two are going to do very well at this”.

It was on the 17th September 2015 that she first contacted us to introduce herself via email and we had our first face to face meeting on the 24th September. The first meeting was mainly an opportunity for us to meet our SW and to ask questions about what was happening next.

Prior to meeting our SW we were emailed a copy of a workbook we would be required to complete throughout the assessment process. We also had to sign a bunch of agreement documents and provide evidence of ID and address. Once again it was feeling very formal but as time went on we formed a really positive relationship with our SW-  something which we would say is extremely important to make the process as positive as possible for all involved. It was at this meeting that she mentioned a book that she recommended we read (which has in turn influenced this blog). It was called 2 Dads by Pablo Fernandez and it is well worth a read. It is written as diary entries by one of the couple and some parts of the process seem to have been simplified since then and if you do read it bear in mind that some of the negative experiences they had are rare and others do not happen at all as the process has changed.