Up and Down, and up and down….

The 7th January is the 2 year anniversary of the day my daughter A’s adoption order was granted. It should have been a happy day.

But it was also the day I got some devastating news about my second adoption, so it’s rather bittersweet this year. And since then it has all been VERY up and down quite frankly.

To sum up the journey so far, in April last year, we saw S during our regular visits to A’s foster carer, and I asked her social worker if I could adopt her. Initial feedback was very positive and in June I re-started the approvals process to get approved. At that point I genuinely thought the approvals process would be faster the second time around because I’ve already successfully adopted once before, and this is a known child to me so there is no need for all the anguish of the matching process, waiting to find the right kid for you. I already KNOW she’s the right kid for me.

We started my approvals process (which was SLOW – ended up taking just as long the second time around!) but we agreed we could visit S at the foster carer’s over the summer to get to know her a bit better etc.

By September/October the social workers had agreed that S should be told what was happening, as they wanted her to start having some overnight stays with us, and also she’s old enough to have some agency in the decision-making, so she was told about the plan in early October. My approval panel was in mid-December (I was approved as an adopter again – this time for a 10-year old girl) and our linking / matching panel was booked for mid-February.

Both myself and S (and her social worker) assumed that if the panel was a success, she could move in by the February half term, and that would be that.

However, on the 7th Jan, I was told that our panel had been cancelled, and a new one re-booked in April.

It was a huge and crushing disappointment.

S’s biggest fear is that this isn’t going to work. Nothing has ever worked out for her before and so she assumes nothing will. This pointless delay is going to feed into her biggest fears and I was incensed and enraged on her behalf.

The reason it was postponed, apparently, is that the paperwork can’t be completed in time, Some stupid red tape bureaucracy is putting a spanner in the works and it’s all very easily avoidable. They’ve known about this for months and months, and the panel has been booked for months, and yet there is one social worker (the family finder) putting on the brakes and holding things up. She went ahead and cancelled our panel without asking anyone and then re-booked the next available one in April assuming that was fine to do.

I’m not totally clear why – it may be because she was opposed to S being told about the adoption plans in the first place, even though she was overruled. It may be because she was the one who matched S with her previous adopters and that went wrong, so perhaps she feels nervous about rushing it (though it wouldn’t be rushed if she had engaged with us back in October). It may be that she’s genuinely just too busy to complete the paperwork.

Anyhow, I found myself going through 4 of the 5 stages of grief in quick succession. I was angry and in denial about it, and wrote a very angry email to all of the social workers, the independent review officer and all of their managers refusing to accept this state of affairs, and bargaining desperately with them to reconsider this decision. It is not at all in the child’s best interests and frankly I found it completely unacceptable that they would allow some stupid paperwork to stop this from happening.

Anger, Denial, and Bargaining. Also a tiny bit in Tiger Mum mode, because this ridiculous social worker who I’ve never met and who hasn’t engaged with us at all so far tried to come between me and my daughter. Not on my fucking watch. I tried my hardest to be polite and not too rude, but I also love the shit out of this kid already and I had to fight for her as hard as I could.

Anyhow, a day or so later I received a very calm and measured response from the head manager, pointing out I was only recently approved and they need to carefully consider if this match was right for everyone etc.

That’s when I entered the 4th stage: depression. It appeared as though they haven’t even considered this match properly by now – and if not why the hell would they allow us to have all these visits and tell S what was happening? The idea entered my head, literally for the first time, that they might not approve the match at all, and the idea of losing her now freaked me out completely. So I cried for a bit. I worried that I might have been too strong in my email, perhaps I’d pissed them all off and it would cost me.

There was so much emotional upheaval to work through in the space of a week and it left me feeling wrung out and exhausted.

Then they finally had their senior manager’s meeting, and thankfully my email had caused them to sit up and ask proper questions about it all. They agreed that this wasn’t a normal adoption and therefore it doesn’t need to go through all the normal red tape. They took the family finder off the case and kicked someone else off their panel to move mine up – it’s now in February again but a couple of weeks later than it was.

I still don’t know what this means in terms of when she can move in, but have some meetings with both social workers next week so hoping to clarify when this will all happen. I should be elated that my angry email sparked a reaction and actually got things moving again, but at the moment I am so emotionally drained and I’m just angry they put me through all that extra pain and anguish unneccessarily. All this could have been avoided. I am glad they didn’t tell S it had been delayed as it’s now back on again (I think), so no need to upset her. I am still decompressing from the fight and finding it hard to jump for joy after all this senseless incompetence and bureaucracy.

I know deep down they are following the procedures and doing their jobs because they have to put the child’s safety first and cutting corners is a safeguarding issue, but it’s so infuriating.

It is also very difficult to manage at work at the moment. Partly because I’ve got no headspace left for my actual job so have been really struggling to meet deadlines and engage at work while hanging on by a thread worrying about the adoption and what all these delays mean. I’ve also found my general anger and rage on S’s behalf spilling over into my work and realised last week that I’m being the office dickhead. I probably owe a few colleagues an apology but haven’t the energy for it right now.

Also, for my poor manager, planning for my adoption leave is a nightmare. I had told them it was going to be starting in Feb, then I told them it was delayed to April, now it might be Feb again. They are trying to sort out cover for my adoption leave so obviously it’s annoying it keeps changing and is messing everyone about.

We also don’t yet know how long my leave period will be. I can only afford to take 3 months off this time around, as the disaster house has drained me of savings and I only get 3 months at full pay so can’t afford it once it drops down. However my social worker is trying to see if they can get any funding for me to extend it to 6 months, but I need to let work know pretty soon and I have no idea at this point how long I’ll be off for.

So it’s all a bit chaotic and emotional at the moment (it doesn’t help that I’ve just come down with a horrendous cold too so am tired and feeling awful anyway).

I should be more excited that I might be a mama again officially and have 2 kids in just over a month, but my brain simply can’t whiplash back around from misery and anger to joy that fast.

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