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Tag Archives: lgbt families

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!

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Our adoption journey – part 1

19 Aug

 As it is exactly a year ago today since my partner and I were approved as adoptive parents I thought it very apt that I make a start on posting all about our adoption journey, how we came to start this long and winding road and reach the point we are at now – 19 months later… 

For this first post about our adoption journey I thought I would plot out the key milestones and the dates / time frame in which we went through the process.

One thing I’m really keen to do, is paint a fair and balanced picture of our experience of the whole process – but with the health warning being that this is just one couple’s experience, in one local authority, with our particular social worker, during the slightly older process/forms for approval etc… so this is by no means how it always is, I’m sure every individual experience for every adoptee is different.

I will try and articulate some of our thoughts, feelings and emotions along the way as honestly and openly as I can – in the hope that this may help dispel some myths/anxiety or worries that other people might have or be going through and if anyone is reading this and would like to ask me a question about anything then I’m happy to answer via comment below or private email. (becomingpappy@hotmail.com)

So here goes – our timeline through the adoption process.

– Firstly – we had been together as a couple since 2003.

– We had our civil partnership celebration in 2010.

– We had always discussed having a family and adoption was always our first and only option, as I refused to go down the surrogacy route (but that discussion is for a seperate post in the future I think.)

– We actually registered our interest in adopting back in 2008, but then decided not to go through with it, as we felt we were too young, not prepared and still had things we wanted to do with our lives first, before becoming parents.

So then something dramatic changed for us, it was a big overwhelming emotional desire to ‘do it’ – over the Christmas and New Year holidays of 2012 in to 2013 we couldn’t stop talking about having our own family and by the time we started back at work in the January we had set our sights on having kids by the following Christmas.

– I registered our interest with our local adoption team at the local authority in the second week of January.

– We were invited to an information evening to find out more about what would be in store for us. I think this is designed to put off as many people as possible at the earliest stage, to make sure no timewaster or people on the fence get through to the next stage – they don’t mince their words at this session and paint a very vivid picture of what can go right and wrong! It certainly didn’t put us off though… But you really do have to be 100% sure you really want it before going on to the next stage…

– Following this meeting we were matched up with a social worker who came out to see us for an initial visit at our house – this was a couple of hours in early February where we were told more about the finer detail of the process and how it would all pan out from here on in. We were given the opportunity to ask as many questions as we wanted. The social worker that came out for this visit was really lovely and did a great job at easing our worries, answering our questions appropriately and helping us feel ready to proceed.

– Next came the prep group training, in our local authority this was three days of training (one day a week, across three weeks) which we completed in March. The training was really interesting, in-depth about every aspect of adoption and the kind of children that are waiting for a forever family and all of the different situations that adoptive parents can find themselves in and need to be prepared for.

– Following the succesful completion of prep groups we were assigned our social worker – this is the social worker that will then stay with you as adoptees for as long as is needed (well in our local authority that is the case, although I think in others it might be slightly different!) We were over the moon – because we had been matched with the lovely social worker who did our initial visit, we’d been hoping this was the case! From start to finish she has been unbelievably brilliant!

– Then comes the assessment period. This started for us in early April and is meant to be (or it was when we did it) for about 10 sessions – 8 as a couple and then 1 each as a one to one. These sessions cover everything about everything to do with your lives, your relationship, your past, your home, your friendship network, family etc… But I’ll write in more detail about this specific part of the process in a seperate post. We finished the assessment period towards the end of June.

– Following the assessment period our social worker prepared ‘the report’ about us as prospective adopters. This report is a very important document, which is sent to the approval panel, as well as being forwarded later in the process to any social workers of prospective matches and then on to matching panel. 

– We had to wait a little bit of time for our Approval panel date, which finally happened on 19th August 2013. So by this time we were already 7 months in to the process… Our approval panel went extremely well and we had a unanimous decision to approve us to adopt a sibling group of 2 children.

– After 19th August approval panel it started to get a little bit tougher in our journey… the waters becoming a little bit more restless/stressful and tense. It is fair to say that the 6 months that followed this date were some of the darkest, most stressful and upsetting that my partner and I have endured. I will write in more detail about the whole matching process and our experience in a seperate post – but the following will highlight the timeline we went through…

– After being approved, the local authority we were with asked us to wait for three months for them to find us a match with children only from within their county area. Which we agreed to at first, but after two months it was clear that there were no sibling groups that were a suitable match for us coming through the system in their area.

– In late October/early November we were placed on to the national adoption register, which meant that our profile as adoptive parents was sent out to all local authroities across the UK, for us to be considered as potential matches for sibling groups everywhere. We were also given a large number of profiles for children – which we were asked to read and consider. In addition we registered as users on Be My Parent to look for potential matches too.

– In late November we were visited by social workers from another county about a potential sibling group match, but after the meeting it was deemed we were not the right fit for the children and vice versa.

– In early December we were visited by another group of social workers from another far away local authority about another potential match. This time for a young sibling group who we were very excited and enthusiastic about. After the meeting it was deemed that we were the right fit and could proceed as prospective parents for these children.

– However in February – after an agonising couple of months, poor communication from the children’s social worker team and a number of legal issues – our Matching panel date was pushed back and then subsequently cancelled and we were informed that the match could no longer go ahead. The children we’d be dreaming of for more than two months were no longer going to be part of our family. The photos we’d been looking at everyday had to be returned along with all the paperwork and reports about them and yet again we were back to square one.

– This was the biggest blow and most upsetting part of the whole adoption process for us and I’m sure I will write in more detail about this situation in another post sometime. It is and was an unusual case – this certainly isn’t the norm for matches and our social worker tried to reasure us that she had never seen or experienced such a complex case before – it was just our luck I guess.

– In March 2014, 14 months after starting this whole journey we had picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, rejuvenated our emotions with a good holiday and let fate start to lay more foundations for us…. I truly believe that now, looking back, fate had been leading us along a strange and winding path the whole time. We returned from holiday on the Friday and attended an adoption activity day on the Sunday, which happened to be my partner’s 30th Birthday. I’ll will write a seperate post about Adoption Activity Days and our own experience of them at a later stage.

Anyway at the activity day we met a number of children and their foster carers and social workers… but one sibling group in particular had really stuck out for us.

– We registered interest in the sibling group immediately, and chased it up with a phone call and emails the following day. Within 3 days a meeting had been booked for the following week.

– We were visited by the social workers of this new potential match in late March, the meeting went very well, but we were informed that they were also meeting some other potential parents and we would have to wait until the outcome of that meeting was agreed and they had decided which parents would go forward as the ones…

– After the longest 6 day wait of our lives, in the first week of April we recieced the news that we had been identified as the perfect match for the children. We were over the moon, extactic, emotional, exhausted, but more than anything excited and so eager to get things moving as quickly as possible – now we had found them we didn’t want to be without them for another minute…

– However, as has been the running theme in our adoption journey, patience was the name of the game. The Authority the children were with were extremly busy and the earliest matching panel date they could get us wasn’t until 2 months later – in June.

– During the long two month wait for matching panel we had further meetings with the children’s social worker, foster carer, school etc. We also visited all of the local schools in our area as both children were of school age – I’ll write a seperate post about our experience with school admissions some other time.

– Matching panel happened in early June just a few days before my 32nd Birthday, we were nervous but most of all excited to finally be at this stage of the process. The matching panel meeting went brilliantly and we recieved a unanimous decision from the panel that we should proceed as parents of our two children. It is hard to put in to words the emotions that we felt at that moment when the verdict was given. The news took sometime to sink in, but we certainly made sure we went out and celebrated in style.

– I finished work for adoption leave within 7 days of the matching panel taking place, as I had already given my provisional notice to my employer, so by mid June I was a full time stay at home Pappy (although as yet without children.)

– One week later we started introductions. Which were everything we were expecting and more… I will write a seperate post on introductions in full detail! But if I was to sum it up in just a few words: Holding your children for the first time, getting that first cuddle and hearing them call you Pappy – can never be beaten. There isn’t really an emotion or a word that justifies a description, unbelievably brilliant. But introductions are intense, emotional, exhausting and go by in a flash.

– 9 days later the kids moved in to our house for good, which was about 18 months after we first registered our interest in being adoptive parents. 

The rest is the real stuff, the good stuff, the bad stuff, the highs and the lows of having our children living with us. And that’s another story!

 

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