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Four months down… Parents evenings, Reviews, social worker visits, PEPs and Medicals…

24 Oct

**Warning – this is a long post… but hopefully intersting/useful and I’ve left a nice bit at the end! 🙂 **

I am so proud of what our kids have achieved in the past four months! New parents, new family, new house, new school, new bedrooms, new friends… just about everything in their lives changed and their world was turned upside down in June and yet, yesterday we were the proudest parents in the world when they both got glowing reports from their teachers at parents evening.  To be honest – Our Kids ROCK!

To top it all off our big little one stood up in assembly at school yesterday – in front of the whole school, all the teachers and the head teacher and read out a piece of writing done in literacy and received an achievers certificate from the Headteacher for the stone age house and model homework we had completed together as a family.

I realise that I have neglected the blog a little over the past 3 weeks or so, but family life kind of took me on a little bit of a whirlwind for a while. Not only have we experienced our first bout of child illness in the house hold – this also spread to both us parents. I can confirm that the delightful Hand, Foot and Mouth virus which many kids pick up from school environments is really not very delightful for children or for the adults they pass it on to! We somehow managed to contain the infection from spreading to big little one, but little one is still showing some signs of spots on the face and mouth, although everything else has cleared up. I was surprised that the Nurse said there was no need to keep them off school and they could go straight back in – considering how contagious it is.

Despite all our household illness and some other difficult news from the wider family – things are going really well in our adoption journey and we genuinely couldn’t ask more of our beautiful children.

We have recently had our formal ‘Review Meeting’ with the social worker team, which all went very well. It is one of those parts of the process of adoption that you don’t think about when you start out on the journey. Everything is focused in the early days, on prep/assessment/approval/matching/approval…. but what about life after the children are placed.

We haven’t found it intrusive or problematic at all – but I have heard adoptive parents getting really frustrated with the schedule of social worker visits and reviews etc… But we have a very positive and strong relationship with the kids social worker, our social worker and the school so it has all been quite a nice opportunity to meet and discuss things with them. I think having a good relationship and using the opportunity to lean on the experienced professionals at the right moments is crucial.

We now have home visits from the social workers every 4 – 5 weeks currently, we’ve had two formal review meetings in 4 months and as we now have a court date set in the diary where our adoption order will hopefully be made… fingers crossed there won’t be any need for further review meetings.

The review meeting is a formal record to discuss every aspect of how the placement has been going (The children are not present for these review meetings) and it is our chance to feed back and record any issues or areas of concern and update how the kids are doing at home, in school, health wise etc.

The more regular social worker visits are at home and with the kids, so the social worker can visibly see how the kids are interacting at home and talk to them about how they are feeling and what they’ve been doing. Our kids enjoy these visits as they feel very important and centre of attention – although it can lead to them getting a little over excited and hyped up.

We also had the kids PEP meeting at the school last week – this is the formal review for education purposes which all school age looked after children should have every term (I think)  – PEP stands for Personal Education Plan and it is a chance for the school to feedback how the child is coping/developing and performing in the school setting and also the outline what they as a school are doing to support that development. Every looked after/adopted child also benefits from the Pupil Premium funding which allows the school to spend additional resource directly on supporting them. It was really interesting to hear what the school were doing directly to ensure our kids transition and future development is safeguarded.

Finally we took the kids for what will hopefully be their last ‘looked after medical.’ This was an interesting experience and one which I appreciate is a necessity but also felt completely pointless.  Having had to drive back to the county where the kids were originally from (ours was an out of county adoption) and to that social services team’s preferred medical advisor and having had to take the kids out of school for the afternoon the nurse said herself “these medicals are pretty pointless now really, but we have to do them…” The kids were weighed, heights measured and a brief examination (superficial if you ask me) was completed we were free to go. The whole thing took 45 minutes between both kids but they missed a whole afternoon of school. I’m still not quite sure why our family doctor couldn’t have done it and forwarded the results? But I try not to do negativity on this blog so I’ll stop that now.

Anyway – this has become a mammoth 1000 word post, so not many people will read this far down I’m sure –  but if you do, then you’ll be excited to hear that my better half, our social worker and I are going along to BAAF’s National Adoption Week Awards the week after next in London and we’re really looking forward to it.

I’ve also written a guest blog post for BAAF which will be published during National Adoption Week and I also did a magazine interview for an LGBT magazine about same sex parenting and 2 dad families which I was honoured to do.

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An adoption activity day made our family

6 Oct

I was recently asked by BAAF to write a piece for their website about being matched through an activity day – so I thought it would be a good idea to share our experience here too.

The first thing I want to say really is that people should consider adoption activity days with an open mind – I have heard a number of people be quite negative about the idea of activity days – suggesting they are like cattle markets, but we found our family at an activity day, we were matched with children that we wouldn’t have considered on paper in normal reports and we just couldn’t be happier.

The best and most important thing about activity days is that prospective adopters and kids get to meet each other in real life, adopters get to really see a prospective child and understand a bit about their personality, talk to them and their foster carer – this is unlike any other way of being matched!

The following is a slightly edited version of the article I wrote for BAAF: 

We attended an Adoption Activity Day in Spring 2014, with some trepidation and exhaustion from an arduous matching process. It turned out that fate was on our side this time – as we met our kids, put the wheels in motion and so our family was formed.

As readers of this blog will know we had a previous match fall through early in 2014 – which was devastating. We were approved as parents in August 2013 and had spent a long and lonely winter trawling through reports from the regional and national adoption register and via Be My Parent. After the match fell through, we considered throwing in the towel, but instead decided to book a holiday, recharge the batteries and pick things up again on our return.

We had two ideas for our holiday: Two weeks in sunny Thailand, or five nights in snowy New York. By choosing New York we’d be home in time for attending the activity day – so that’s what we did.

We prepared ourself for the Activity day, reading all the advice and guidance notes, our social worker was kind enough to come along to the event with us (even though it was on a Sunday!) – which was great moral support.

As we arrived at the venue there was a cue of prospective parents snaking around the building. We felt nervous and excited; it was such an alien environment to be in.

To start the day we were given a book of one page profiles with photos of all the children that would be attending.  We focussed on the sibling groups included in the book and highlighted the children we wanted to try and meet.

Downstairs, in a large and noisy room, all the children were playing on various pieces of equipment, a bouncy castle, soft play area, craft table… It was like a giant fun day and all the children were dressed up ‘jungle theme’ outfits. Walking in to the room was probably the most daunting bit of the day – as much for us as for the kids.

We felt so awkward to begin with – it was like going on a first date but not knowing who your date was in a room full of strangers. We tried to look around the room and find the sibling groups that we had identified in the book. We managed to meet three or four sets of children during the afternoon, playing with them and chatting to their foster carers and social workers. Breaking the ice with each one was the biggest hurdle to get over.

One sibling group in particular really stood out to us, not least because they were both wearing the cutest matching Sheep onesies – but because they looked so happy, cheeky and really enjoyed playing with us. We felt like we had an instant connection with them and felt ourselves dangerously falling for them, gravitating back to where they were playing throughout the afternoon and spending lots of time talking with their lovely foster carer and social worker.

These children were older than we had been previously considering and also weren’t the same gender match that we’d got in our mind. I had wrongly discounted them from our initial look through the profiles in the book – but they really did seem like they could be the perfect match.

At the end of the afternoon we registered interest in the siblings in the sheep onesies… 3 days later we had a meeting in the diary for their social worker to come and meet with us. 10 days after the activity day we had been identified as the preferred match. We had to wait a while for a matching panel date, but three months after the Activity Day we were approved as their parents (the longest three months of my life) and two weeks after that Introductions started, 8 days after that they moved in with us.

My partner and I are 100% pro Adoption Activity Days. For us it was the perfect way to find our match. We are both visual thinkers and found it really difficult to read the paper reports and get beyond that to easily identify a match.

Having the opportunity to meet the children in the flesh changed everything for us. Not only did our gender preferences get thrown out of the window, so too did our age preferences. The children we have ended up starting our family with are as far removed from what we imagined when registering interest in adoption 20 months ago – but we couldn’t be happier or feel more contented and fulfilled!

#PappyBakes – Dino cake with the kids

17 Sep

I’ve been meaning to put this post up for a week or so, but only now getting round to it.

Me and the little ones did some baking in the first week of the school term as they both wanted to treat their new teachers to something nice.

I thought I’d just put a post up about it, as we all had so much fun mixing, cracking eggs, pouring, baking, icing and eating it!

 

The recipe I always use for any sponge cake is based on my own Nan’s recipe that she taught me when I was about 7 – so it seems rather lovely that I’ve now started to pass it on to my own kids! She would be proud.

The basic normal mix is as follows (6663):

– 6oz Self raising flour

– 6oz butter

– 6oz caster sugar

– 3 medium eggs (always free range!)

As this dinosaur mould was rather large I just upped the quantities to – 8884 (probably could have done with 10 10 10 5 to be honest)

Then depending on what sponge type I’m making I just chuck the extra ingredient in – so in this case I just put about 3 to 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder. (You can use the same mix and just add coffee essence and chopped walnuts!)

Anyway – enough waffle – here is some pictures of us baking. . . I’m hoping this might be the first of many #pappybakes or #bakingwithkids posts that I get to do as it was so much fun!

when baking with kids its good to have everything out in seperate containers and get them to help measure everything first before getting messy

getting everything weighed out and ready to mix first!

cream the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs

add the flour and cocoa and mix until all combined and a nice texture

lightly grease the mould and pour the mix in evenly and smooth over

take out of the oven and leave to cool thoroughly

 

Then we decorated it with jelly beans to make it look all spiky and bumpy! one black jelly bean for the eye too!)

We made easy icing from icing sugar, a bit of water and green food colouring and poured it all over! Then we decorated it with jelly beans to make it look all spiky and bumpy! one black jelly bean for the eye too!)

 

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