Well, after a brief break to go to Yemen for my work trip, and for my social worker to go on holiday, I have now been given a login to the database called “Link Maker” which is where prospective adopters and prospective children can be matched.
I have filled in a profile, which includes photos, information about myself, my hobbies and interests, what type of things I like to do, and what type of child I am interested in being matched with (age preferences, gender preferences, disabilities etc). That profile has now gone live, and the professional social workers or “Family Finders” will start trying to match me with the right child.
It’s hard to know how long this might take. I know one couple who were approved last September and were only matched in June this year (9 or 10 months waiting), but I also know of 2 different couples who were approved in the same week as me in late July, and both have already been matched barely a month later! They won’t confirm their matches for another month, but their child has been identified and they are ready to move forward.
So it’s quite difficult to manage my expectations, although I have been told the average is about 3-6 months in terms of waiting to be matched, so it might be before Christmas or after (that’s about all I’m letting myself think about for now). My social worker has implied that it is unlikely to be before Christmas so I am trying not to think about it constantly!
Part of me is super excited about it – I’ve got through the really tough checks and vetting process and am now onto the best bit, which is to find my kid! I am amazed and slightly in awe of the fact that my kid is out there somewhere, waiting for me to find them.
Part of me is also a little overwhelmed by the next steps – choosing a child that is right for me. Ultimately it has to feel right, and part of that is gut instinct, which is hard to measure without meeting a child in person. And it is such a big decision – this is going to be your child, for the rest of your life, and so it has to be the right choice, Quite a daunting thing to be sure it’s the right one! Thankfully this is why they have professional family finders who are good at knowing which kids are best matched with which parents, and I will have to trust their judgement a bit.
I can now also log into the database and search for myself, flagging the profiles of children I might be interested in, but it’s quite a strange thing. The children’s profiles are brief and don’t give any detailed information, but will often have snippets of why they were removed from care or what kinds of issues they might have. Some are simply too young for them to know if anything might be wrong, and some have noticeable issues. However the profiles are also designed to attract potential adopters and therefore I have not yet learned to de-code the terms often used. Quite a few are listed as “boisterous” or “spirited” with the need for parents with lots of energy, seeming to imply that they might be quite a handful. Others are “shy and quiet” which might mean “withdrawn” or “difficulties with attachment” but I don’t yet feel able to decipher what these things hint at.
I have been told that for the first 3 months, I can only be matched with a child from my own local authority area, as they have paid for all my vetting so far and want to try to match me first with one of the kids on their books. However if that doesn’t work out, after the first 3 months you can widen the search and start looking at other children in the UK.
On the one hand, it’s impossible not to keep logging on and searching the database, knowing that my kid is in there somewhere – it’s so hard not to constantly search the database! On the other hand, it feels weird and uncomfortable, to be “browsing” for a kid, like internet dating or online shopping. My social worker said it may be a few months, but it’s worth waiting for the right match, and they are currently going through adopters like hotcakes, so she thinks it won’t take so long for the right kid to come along!
In the meantime, I’m busy nesting. My lodger is moving out in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be ready to get the new bed and re-arrange all the furniture! It’s also very hard being in limbo – I can’t really plan any holidays or work trips, as I don’t know when I will be disappearing on maternity leave, however am doing my best to manage this strange period of limbo without being impatient (I really hate uncertainty and not knowing things!).
The wait begins….