The hardest decision I will ever make

This is a hard one to write, and I almost didn’t post this, but decided that if I’m going to document my adoption journey, then it’s helpful to others if I include as much of it as I can.

After exploring my potential match a bit more, I decided not to pursue it any further. It was an impossibly hard decision, and I had to call up friends, family and colleagues to talk it over again and again. I am someone who needs to talk through things out loud to sort things out in my head – I do my thinking out loud, and I need to bounce ideas off other people to help me form opinions and consolidate my feelings.

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Matching

So, it’s all a little scary, and exciting, and daunting, and exhilirating, and terrifying. In a nutshell.

There is a little boy they suggested putting my name forward for, but the social worker wasn’t terribly enthused about whether or not it was a match – she seemed a bit vague, like she wasn’t really sure. She also said there will be quite a few other adopters so I might not get picked, and seemed to clearly want to manage my expectations that it may not come to anything.

So, on her recommendation, they put my name forward, and after waiting for a few weeks and hearing nothing, I had resigned myself to the idea that I probably won’t be matched until after Christmas.

But then they contacted me, and said that they were going to send me his full report to read and think about. I had a look through it, and then set up a meeting with my social worker, who told me that both his social worker and the family finder thought it was a good match, and they have picked me over all the other potential adopters!

So I’m now waiting to meet with the other social worker and family finder, and explore if this is the right match for me! Not too clear on the timeframe yet, but my lodger has just moved out, and I have got the bedroom all ready, and started buying a few toys and books and things. I have even started an amazon wish list, and am planning to ask my family this year to get me something for my kid this year for Christmas instead of something for me.

So it’s exciting! Watch this space….

Finding a family

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. Continue reading

Podcast: The Adoption

For those of you following my adoption journey, or for friends and family who want to know a little more about how it all works, there is an EXCELLENT podcast which I highly recommend.

I have had several podcasts recommended to me since starting this journey, some I found too trite, some too religious, and some were based on the American adoption system which is very different from the UK and therefore not all that helpful for me.

However, there is a podcast series by BBC Radio 4 called “The Adoption” from their World at One series. It has 17 episodes, each about 8-10 minutes long, and it is a documentary, following the story of two real children in the UK on their road to adoption.

The names have been changed, and certain elements of their stories have been redacted, to protect them, but it gives a fascinating and real insight into the process, and the experience from the point of view of the children, their social worker, their birth parents and birth grandparents, and the adoptive family. Obviously they have had to remove certain parts, such as the real reasons the children were taken away from their birth family, so some parts are a little confusing or vague, but it’s clear they had good reasons and you won’t hear anything harrowing in terms of abuse or neglect.

I have found it extremely gripping, useful, and informative, and it has given me a lot of insight into the process from the child’s perspective, and from the birth family, and I think it’s really worth a listen for anyone who is interested in adoption in the UK, or who wants to know more about what it might have been like for my child, once they come along.

You can listen online here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05k3wsq

or you can find it on your usual podcast place, but I highly recommend giving it a go.

Panel, introductions and more

So, time to check in on where we are in the adoption process. So far I have completed the following stages (started officially in November 2017, so approx 9 months so far, although I went to the information day originally in summer 2016)

  1. Information Day
  2. Pre-Stage One suitability meeting
  3. Stage One (paperwork, volunteering, book-reading, more paperwork, criminal records checks in 4 or 5 countries)
  4. Stage Two / Homestudy (intense discussions about my childhood and suitability to be a parent, more paperwork, health and safety review, financial checks, more paperwork, training courses)

Today I went to my Adoption Panel, which is the culmination of all of the above stages, and I am happy to report I have been recommended for approval!

I will have to wait 10 days for the official letter, as the panel can only make the recommendation but the LEA has to officially confirm the approval in writing. But usually if the panel approves you, you are approved!

So it’s a big milestone for me, 9 months into the process, and I am very happy! Continue reading

Waterboarding, and other childhood memories…

So, as part of my Stage 2 / Homestudy, I have been taken on a long trip down memory lane, and asked to delve deep into the childhood of Maya. My social worker asks very specific questions such as “How was discipline administered in our family” and “what were the most traumatic moments of my childhood”, “what were your relationships like with key family and non-family members growing up”, and so on…

What is fascinating is that I have dredged up quite a few memories which I had totally forgotten about, and looking at them with fresh eyes, I see things now that I didn’t as a child.  Continue reading

Rollercoaster

Well this has been quite a week. I should point out before we start that I’m an emotional being, and tend to wear my heart on my sleeve so my emotions are often BIG, whatever they are.

Monday was filled with immense joy, because I ADORE my pottery classes and all my mugs came out perfectly for once and it was so wonderful and fun that I came home bouncing around the house trying to sprinkle my flatmate with all my excess pottery joy. (A separate mug post will probably be imminent because I’ve very proud and I love my mugs…)

Tuesday I woke up feeling queasy, then threw up, and then continued to throw up for about 6 hours or so. But by afternoon I was feeling much better, so whatever it was, it arrived fast and left just as quickly. It was a strange and unexpected but thankfully brief interlude of unwellness.

Wednesday I felt fine again. Perfectly normal day all round.

Thursday started off ok, then a sense of impending doom overwhelmed me and I spent the afternoon weeping sporadically while descending into a pretty epic panic spiral, which only I can truly pull off with flair. But my friends and colleagues cheered me up and by the end of the day there was wine and skittles so it was all ok in the end.

Friday has so far been extremely average and now I’m quite tired after an exhausting week of emotional drama, but looking forward to some fun and hanging out with some fab people this weekend and basically not thinking about any of it!

I’ve done a handy chart for your reference:

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Homestudy

So here’s the thing.

Homestudies are hard work.

I mean, they have to be, because ultimately, the social workers have a finite period of time to figure out whether or not you are a suitable person to care for a child, and at the end of this process a child’s life is at stake. So they have to be SURE. And they have to be thorough.

But that doesn’t make it easy.

In fact, parts of it are pretty excruciating.

Imagine a total stranger coming to your home, and digging deep into your childhood, your formative moments, your most traumatic moments, the things that made you who you are today. Then imagine that same person plucking out all of your flaws with a pair of tweezers, picking over them, discussing them in excruciating detail, and trying to find weak points, and reasons why you might turn out to be a crappy parent.

It’s a little nerve-wracking.

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Level up…

Well, it took 4 months instead of 2 months, but I have finally finished Stage 1 of the adoption process! I received my official letter, (it was back in March, but I’ve been busy) and have said goodbye to my Stage 1 social worker and met my new Stage 2 social worker.

My new social worker is nice, but very no-nonsense. She’s extremely experienced, and clearly doesn’t waste any time. She was a little bit scary and intimidating, but obviously keen to crack on with things, and so we had a planning meeting to put lots of dates in the diary when we could meet. Usually in Stage 2 you would have 8 meetings over 4 months (roughly once every 2 weeks) but she said as I’m a single adopter we probably won’t need that many meetings, so we have scheduled 6 for now, from now until the end of June.

During that time I have some homework to do, some financial info to pull together, and various other bits and bobs to do. After the last meeting, we will have around 4-6 weeks for her to write up the report, for me to have a chance to review it and make any comments, and then it will be submitted to the Adoption Panel, which sits approx 3 times a month.

My new social worker has even proposed a possible date for me to go to the panel in late July, though this hasn’t been confirmed yet.

All very exciting, and things are getting a bit real now!

They have also told me that they have never approved a single adopter for siblings before, and it is very unlikely that would be possible, so I am most likely to be matched with a single child, which is fine with me. So finally moving up to the next stage!

Watch this space for more news on the parent front!

Adoption prep part 2 and 3

I have now finished my adoption prep training, and I must say there was a lot of useful stuff in there. I mean, don’t get me wrong, not all of the social workers were natural facilitators, and one of them in particular had a tendency to read aloud the text on every single powerpoint screen, and speak in a very patronising tone (I suspect she is so used to speaking in a cheery, slow voice to children that she’s forgotten how to address functional adults).

However, I got some real insight into the adopted child’s perspective of the world, and how I might need to adapt my parenting style to their needs. Continue reading