Well – the child they have approached me with, (potential match number 6 if you’re keeping count, although 5 didn’t really count) is looking really hopeful.
I mean REALLY hopeful.
First of all, they approached me, (instead of me expressing interest) which is a really good sign. Secondly, reading her profile I felt an immediate connection. It feels right to me in many ways.
I discussed it with my social worker and we both agree it seems like a really strong match for me (for reasons I won’t go into here, if I do, it’ll be much later on down the road when things are a bit more certain).
Today I heard the good news that the child’s family finder and social worker also think it’s a potentially strong match and want to meet with me. Which is a fantastically good sign as it means I’m on the shortlist – it means usually at this point they have narrowed it down to 2 potential matches and will then usually visit them both before deciding on which one to take forward to the panel.
It’s not yet a done deal – far from it! After meeting with me (in a couple of weeks), they will then have to let me know if they are choosing me or not. If they do select me as the best match for this kid, they’ll book in a panel date, where I will need to go before a panel of strangers to try and explain why I am the right parent for this child.
Only if the panel approves the match will it be official and we can start planning introductions to meet each other.
During all this, you’re supposed to stay calm and not get your hopes up (which by the way is physically impossible – my hopes are UP, there is no chance of me bringing them back down). It’s REALLY hard not to run out and start buying buggies and high chairs and stair gates. I am fighting my shopping and nesting urges with everything that is humanly possible (and my shopping and nesting instincts are STRONG).
Also, as this child is slightly younger than I was previously approved for, I have had to do some complex maths and financial mapping to prove to them that I could be a suitable parent for this particular child. Remember back when I started this process, over a year ago now, I wrote a post called “How much does it cost to adopt in the UK?“. Back then, the answer was £375. Right now, that answer has changed rather a lot.
Specifically, my new total is £19,375 (not counting the shopping for buggies and stair-gates etc).
The reason is that when looking at my finances during Stage 2 of the approvals process, the panel had originally agreed that I could not be approved for any child under the age of 3, as I could not afford the childcare costs on my income (childcare starts being subsidised by the UK Government once they are 3 years old, which is much more manageable, as childcare in the UK is extortionately expensive, typically in the range of £800-£1200 per month for one child full time). In addition, in order to take the minimum maternity leave (adoption leave) of 6 months which is required I had to prove that I had at least £3000 in the bank to supplement my income while on leave (as I only get 3 months leave at full pay and then it drops down and I would struggle to pay my mortgage and buy food on a reduced income).
This potential match is a much younger child than I was initially considering, and in order to be considered for this child, they need me to take the full 12 months maternity leave, and after that I’d need to pay for additional childcare costs at a higher rate before the child turns 3.
So now that I know the specific age of the child, I had to sit down and work it out – if I take 12 months’ maternity leave, I’ll need xx ££ to get me through to 12 months (the last 3 months there is no income at all from salary or statutory maternity benefits), and then childcare from age 2 is xxx££ a month for xx months until they are 3 and can transition to the cheaper nursery. My grand total came to £19,000. That’s how much money I need to have in order to reach the 12 months maternity they are asking for, and cover the additional childcare costs after I go back to work. I’m sure I could manage with less, but this estimate is based on my current income, my mortgage, food costs, monthly bills etc.
The truly horrifying part of working this out on paper is that this only covers about 18 months until the child turns 3. No wonder they say having children is expensive.
My friend who is currently pregnant was horrified when I told her this, and of course, most people don’t have to work it out in quite such a stark way – most people have children together as a couple so you can live off the other’s income and manage childcare costs on 2 incomes etc, so most couples who are adopting wouldn’t need to do this. Another friend was equally horrified and pointed out I could go out and get pregnant and no one would ask to see that kind of money. I quite agree, but nevertheless, they need to see evidence of all this. Which means I have to show them where I will get £19,000 from if they are going to seriously consider me as an option for this child.
It’s really quite astonishing when you actually think about it. No-one has £19,000 just kicking about!
Luckily for me (EXTREMELY luckily), my dad recently sold his house and made a lot more money than he was expecting to, and has been able to give me quite a significant gift which will cover these costs. And my mum has also kindly written a letter to promise to underwrite any additional costs should they be required. I am aware that I am in an extraordinarily lucky position, and most single adopters out there would struggle, or would only be eligible for older children as a result.
So there we are, that’s the update for today. I’ve been shortlisted for a really strong potential match, I need to provide evidence that I can get my hands on £19,000, and I’m one step closer to being a mum! 🙂