National Adoption Week has come round again – and I look at my life and think what a difference a year makes. The equivalent of today last year was the first evening of our Prep Course. Now we are sat 2 1/2 weeks into placement of Sqk. Mind you under the original plan this would have been the first week of Introductions but if you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that things got moved by 4 weeks as otherwise respite care would have bene needed which would have made Intros a lot harder.
The myths about adoption do abound and many others more experienced than I have blogged about them already. You do not need to be under 40 (ok both DH and I are – although my next birthday I am in work will be that milestone) nor do you need to be a married couple (again we are). Adoption is open to all whatever their background is – married/unmarried couples (of any sexual orientation) and single people. I know several homosexual couples who have adopted as well as single people. All of us just want to give a child a loving home.
We went into our relationship and marriage knowing that I had been told at 27 that the likelihood of me being able to have children would rapidly decrease after I turned 30. So adoption has always been there in the background – as indeed it has been for me since the doctor turned round when I was 27 and told me if I wanted children I should be trying for them very soon. I always intended if I reached 35 with no man in sight that I would look at adopting as a single mother. One of our referees was a referee partly because of the time she and I spent talking about this. We are both highly educated (PhDs) and realised it needed a special man to deal with us. I am lucky – paritally because of her – I found my other half and best friend.
I have really got off topic of adoption which is what this post is about. For us once we made the decision to go with what had been there we did. We are incredibly lucky in having my sister and brother-in-law around to tell us honestly about adoption. Having been told IVF was the only option medicine could give us and already decided that was not a route for us, we went to the Information evening at the LA in December 2011, and had our initial social worker visit in February 2012. An immediate roadblock came up because of the ‘teasing’ in my late primary school and early secondary school years. I had thought I had put all of that behind me but it became apparent I had not. So we put a delay on things as I went for counselling to once and for all be able to resolve that time. Mind you my counsellor and I also talked about not having a birth child and helped me to deal with that as well. I can now talk about the 4 years without ending up in tears and use it as a strength – I was different from ‘normal’ so was a perfect target particularly as I was emotionally immature and burst into tears. At the time it started I wore glasses, two hearing aids, had a different accent (we had moved) and was also very bright. I now see this as a strength which enables me to understand what being different is to a child. T has similar experiences for different reasons and also has experience of SEN as it was so we are both well placed to be advocates for Sqk as needed. Our initial social worker had told us not to give up at the first hurdle as other than my issue we were strong candidates because of our own life experiences.
Well come October 2012 (just over a year ago – it seems longer) we met her again and were recommended forward – by this point I had written a ramble about what I had done in the preceeding 8 months – which in the end formed part of our PAR. At the meeting she told us we would probably be on prep course in January of this year – although she would push for November. Which is what we ended up with – alongside 6 other couples. We are still in contact with the 5 couples who continued – four of us have our children placed and the other 2 are in matching process. We have become a support network in itself in many ways.
Following prep course we were told it would be New Year before we had a social worker – in fact for all of us it was within a fortnight of course ending. We started home study in laet February and actually found it really interesting and although yes it was intrusive in some ways we understood why. We both enjoyed the meetings and the reflecting afterwards. Then again we are a couple who tend to talk a lot and reflect on what happens to us anyway. Plus as our SW has said several times we are not your typical first time adopters given our experience with my sister & brother-in-law and also the fact we got our childcare experience with my (adopted) nephew 🙂 We probably had realistic expectations and also understood the need for the probing to get us a good match. We finished home study in May – well I did as T had finished in April. But my complicated childhood meant it took longer to talk about my life before I met T.
Having finished home study we were shocked at the meeting over report in early July to be asked if we were ready to look at profiles. On 25th July we saw 2 child profiles – the second of which we both had a very positive gut reaction to. That profile was Sqk’s so we went into approval panel on 29th July knowing we had a potential link. That link became official on 27th August and we went to matching panel (with same panel) on 30th September. We first met Sqk a week later on 7th October; he moved in on 19th October and the rest stems from there.
It is worth also saying that the above was all under old process – and from official application to Sqk moving in was just under 12 months – and that was with a longer period to approval panel than expected (9 months). However we found the time good for reflection and also feel blessed to have seen Sqk’s profile and just had such a reaction to it. The best advice I can give for prospective adopters is be honest throughout – many many issues are not as big as you might think. My husband is technically partially disabled and I have a number of chronic health conditions – and other than not being allowed to adopt a sibling group no one has had any concerns. In fact the only slight query was over my autistic tendencies which I have mechanisms to cope with. Also when it comes to profiles wait until the right child appears – you will get a gut reaction I promise to the right child. We certainly did – and Sqk lies napping upstairs. I find it difficult to remember life before he was living here – and it has only been 17 days.
This has turned into a ramble but that is who I am. Just hope that does mean something to people. Adoption has been the best thing that has happened to us since we first met and I encourage anyone thinking about it to truly explore it.