Category Archives: Home visits

Panel!

Well, so much has happened since I last blogged. Sandra went quiet for a while and we were a bit worried about that. However, we found out that she was busy getting our case ready for panel. She sent us a copy of our PAR form. She tried to incorporate our previous social worker’s notes (Lucy). However, the form was disjointed and it didn’t make sense. It seems that Lucy didn’t write in whole sentences and we couldn’t really understand it. Poor Sandra did her best. After chatting to Sandra, we made a lot of changes and sent them back to her. Then it seemed that we were going to panel in December after all! Sandra said we would hear from the panel’s secretary about the place and time.

This was great as even though we could have waited another month, we really wanted to get the panel sorted before the end of the year as it seemed as if the approval process was dragging on. So we waited for the panel letter, and we waited… and we waited. It got to the day before the panel and we still didn’t know where we needed to be. I emailed Sandra and she sent us a copy of the letter and we read and reread our form in preparation. Funnily enough, we weren’t nervous at all until that is, we got to the venue on the day.

We met Sandra in the waiting room and the nerves kicked in. Sandra said that the panel chair would come down to say hello and to tell us what kinds of questions the panel may have for us. After what seemed an age, the chair came to say hi and told us the areas of questions the panel had. We followed her up to the room and there were about 10 people sitting around the table. They introduced themselves and it consisted of social workers, medical advisors, adopters and adoptees (who may also be adopters). At first, it was a bit intimidating but they all seemed friendly and the questions weren’t scary or difficult.

After about 10 minutes of talking, we were asked to go outside and we would be called in after a decision had been made. We went outside and after about 5 seconds, we were called back in. We were approved! It was great to hear, especially after everything that has happened. The Chair outlined the reasons why we were approved and we wished them a Merry Christmas and left. We were thrilled and were very relieved.

We chatted Sandra who was very happy for us. I mentioned about a little girl we had seen in ‘Children who wait’ but thought she had been adopted as we hadn’t seen her for a while. Sandra suggested that this was not necessarily the case and that we should email the child’s social worker to see if she is looking for an adopter.

Sandra’s manager was also there and we asked about who was going to be our social worker now as Sandra is independent. The manager said she didn’t know who our social worker was going to be and that it wouldn’t be Sandra. This is tragic as we like Sandra but as she is independent, she wouldn’t necessarily know which children would be available for placing in our agency. It’s a real shame that we now also have to wait for another social worker and hope that it doesn’t take as long as last time.

However, we are thrilled that we have finally been approved and are now waiting for the approval letter from the agency’s decision maker. Christmas is around the corner so we aren’t expecting things to happen until the New Year. Being approved is like getting an extra Christmas present!

Another home visit – rants and race

We met Sandra for another home visit. It was again like another chat rather than a structured interview but I wasn’t complaining!

She went back to the question about what kind of child we would like. This was a question that Lucy had asked us before. This was a difficult question to answer as it’s one of the things you don’t question when you’re pregnant. I understand that it is a big question in adoption as there are many children with many ethnicities and of varying degrees of special needs. We have had a long chat about this as Lucy had pressed us to be more discriminatory. I read someone else’s blog and remember he had this dilemma too. His words stayed in my head, he ‘wanted to be a parent, not a carer’ and it made a lot of sense to me. We feel the same way and after a lengthy discussions, we also wanted a child of an ethnicity that we could adequately represent their culture (through friends, our everyday life and what we know about different cultures). After many, many chats, we realised that we might not be able to adequately represent children from all cultures. We felt quite bad about it as there are lots of children who need homes but we had to think about what would work for us and had to be honest so the adoption doesn’t break down.

In the previous meeting, which was the first time we met Sandra, she mentioned that she had read our conclusions about what child we would like. Sandra said to us that she thought ‘good for us’ for being honest. However, during the second visit, she wanted to play devil’s advocate and pressed us more about asking what kind of child we wanted and why we didn’t want children from all types of cultures. She bought out a copy of ‘children who wait’ (profiles of children who are waiting to be adopted) and like we did before, we went through images of children (it always feels like you are shopping which is horrible) to see what kinds of children we would take. Sandra particularly wanted to show us a child who’s background is very different, he had a varied mix of races. He was very cute and she wanted us to show us that there are many mixes. We know this and we find it very difficult to say yes or no to certain things as its so hypothetical and you can’t rule out anything as each child has such a different mix of cultures and/or special needs. On one hand, Sandra wanted us to be less discriminatory on race (which was the opposite to what Lucy wanted) but then wanted us to categorically say yes to all types of special needs or no to all types. It is so confusing! At the end of the day, it’ll be down to each individual child which is what I think social workers have a difficult time dealing with as they want to place you into specific categories.

It does annoy me that we are getting mixed messages about what we should or should not do. I think Sandra got more of an idea of what kind of child we would like. We are realistic and know that younger children may have an unknown medical history but like pregnant women, we are not actively seeking a child with special needs but if s/he does show developmental problems, we would deal with it as any parent would.

We think Sandra was asking us to think about race again because her L.A has so many boys from certain races in care, looking for a home and wanted to make sure that we have thought about our answer properly which is fine and I think she now has a better idea about it. Depending on what she writes in her report on this section, I imagine we may be asked about this again during panel to which we must have an eloquent, clear answer to this.

To get some further advice, I posted a question on newfamilysocial and a nice parent offered to talk to me on the phone. It was really good talking to someone else who has adopted a child who is from a different race. He certainly gave us a lot to think about and we still came back to our same conclusion.

Finally, what was annoying was that Sandra asked my beloved if she could contact her ex for a reference as they lived together. My beloved and her ex lived together when they were 18 for 2 years. We have been together for nearly 15 years and lived together for most of that time. My beloved is also not in contact with her ex anymore apart from being a Facebook friend. It seems ridiculous that someone from such a long time ago can have a say in your adoption, particularly someone who knew my beloved when she was so young and she is not the same person she was when she was 18. I mean, who is? We could tell that by the way Sandra asked my beloved about this, that she felt the same way but she had to ask the question. Well, we should see if my beloved’s ex will respond.

After ranting in a very long post, I shall hopefully end on a high. We pressed Sandra about how many more visits we will have with her. She thinks that we would only need a couple of more but was quite hesitant to say for certain as she wants us to read her amended PAR first to ensure it adequately represents us. She also needs to see our friend referees as Lucy never got round to this. We may get to panel by the end of the year but it is more likely to be at the beginning of the year. We don’t mind that so much as I have just started another job and need to get my probation out of the way before I go on adoption leave! So we are finally getting somewhere and we believe that Sandra can get us there!

So behind in posts – home study continues!

Well I have neglected my blog as there has been lots going on for once! I’ll try and catch up on my entries rather than providing a very long entry here.

So the last time I blogged in August (sorry), my beloved had emailed the LA service manager to ask what was happening with our case. We heard nothing. A week past and my beloved emailed again, quoting their service charter about how they aim to get the home study done within 8 months from initial enquiry I think (what a joke). Lo and behold, that very same day, the manager emailed back and she was ‘just composing an email’ to us when she got an email from my beloved. What a coincidence!

In the next instant, we receive another email from the social worker, Sandra who apologises as the LA service manager hadn’t sent her our case but had sent her our form just then. I wonder how long our case would have sat in the service manager’s in-tray unless we emailed.

Well, I shouldn’t be too harsh as I was too busy changing jobs anyway. My job was too stressful and being on call at weekends with no room for promotion or wage increases. Obviously these are the things that needed to have changed if we have a little one. I took the plunge and handed in my notice without a job to go to and I was getting more anxious as time ticked on to my leaving date. At the last hour, I had an interview, got the job and started work a week and a half after my leaving date! It was very nerve-racking but the risk paid off!

So we met with Sandra for our first home visit with her. She is very nice and she was a refreshing change from Lucy as she seemed more experienced and gave us her opinions about things. It seems that Lucy didn’t really fill out our PAR properly and just copied and pasted what we had written to her! There seemed to be lots of things that Lucy didn’t do which is frustrating as we have told/sent information to her about three times and she still didn’t put it in the form. What was nice about Sandra was that even though she arrived late, she stayed late to ensure that we had enough time to discuss things! Sandra’s method is very different from Lucy. Lucy stuck to the PAR (the form social workers use to complete during home-visits) and asked questions about a specific topic every week. However, Sandra talks to us as if she is having a chat without any obvious question she is getting at. We know that she does have some points she wants to address but she does it in a very gentle way so you feel more comfortable and your real self comes out.

Sandra wanted to rewrite our form and fortunately, there is enough content to be getting on with. At this stage, she was unsure of when we would get to panel. We are unsure of what is going to happen when we finally get to panel and whether Sandra will be our family finder. She is unsure of that herself at the moment.

At least things are on the move again!

Yet again, a long overdue post

Again it’s been over a month since I last posted and I wish I could say it was because we were so busy with adoption stuff but it isn’t. So the last time I blogged, we were due to see the heavily pregnant Lucy for our last visit before she goes on leave. However, it didn’t happen. She emailed us last minute again saying she is cancelling our appointment as she wanted to meet us with her replacement a week later. That seemed fair enough so we made a provisional date and she said she would contact us… well, you can imagine what happened next. No phone call. Nothing. Nada. We emailed her a week later to see what was going on. After a typically long time, Lucy replied to us to say that her replacement had taken another post last minute and so we didn’t have a social worker when she was going on leave. However, she said that she would have a chat with her manager that day and will let us know… Well, can you see a theme emerging here? Yes, weeks again past and we emailed Lucy again who tells us that it is her last day (beginning of August) and that her colleague, Sandra, will be taking over our case and is very excited to meet us and will be in contact with us…

So three weeks later, we hear nothing. I’m beginning to think that Sandra does not exist. We emailed Lucy’s managers a week ago and haven’t heard anything. No wonder so many children are in care for so long!

Life gets in the way and a rant

Gosh it’s been over a month since I’ve last blogged which is a bit pants of me. Life does sometimes get in the way what with holiday, birthdays, work etc. My beloved and I decided that we needed a holiday, with the thought that this could be our last blow out holiday without the financial pressures and constraints of little ones. Not that we see children as constraints but rather, as different.

Well the last time I blogged, we have had two home visits with Lucy which isn’t a lot. To be honest, it’s not going as well as we first experienced. I was so happy that Lucy didn’t seem like all the other horror social worker stories you can read online etc. However, I think her pregnancy is making her tired, cranky and generally not as efficient or friendly as she used to be.

Since learning our lesson from last time, we have made sure that we get our homework in on time before the next appointment. Consequently, we assume that we are going to talk about our homework as we have had time to think about thesse soul-searching, big questions in life – like we did in the first session. However, our social worker, Lucy decides to talk about something else and drops a big questions about life and choices etc. and then expects us to answer straight away without prior thought or discussion.

Also, we go to her office and have to take annual leave to see her so we can make see her during work time and to make it easier for her. However, she keeps us waiting about 15 minutes everytime (she only has to come down in a lift) and I just think its bloody rude! She also doesn’t respond to our emails anymore (and it’s more like we’re sending her loads).

Finally, she moans about being pregnant and how she can’t wait to finish (which is fair enough as she is probably over-worked and tired) but when you consider she is talking to potential adoptees, it’s pretty insensitive. She also makes jokes about how we ‘inconvenience’ her or that she is sure that our homework will be ‘beautifully written’ (she has made comments before about how efficient we are with our homework).

I know she is still a nice person and wants us to do well but it’s tiring to hear these things and to wait for her to come downstairs when we’ve travelled to see her and really, she’s supposed to come to our home but apparently, we are ‘killing her’ with the journey when it’s really not that far.

Anyway, that is enough of my rant. I think she needs to go on adoption leave. She has decided that she will ‘fact find’ and not do any analysis on our PAR form. We have one more session with her (so not looking forward to it) and then we wait until the local agency have found a replacement for her. I wonder how long this will take and if they have even found a replacement for her. I fear that this will make our approval process even longer and that we may get someone we don’t get on with. Another part of me remains the optimist and that hopefully we will get someone who isn’t pregnant and tired but is lovely. However, whatever voice I listen to, the fact remains that this will hamper our process.

Third home visit, family references & medical forms

Well a lot has happened since I blogged but I haven’t had the time to write until now. We had our third visit the other day which was technically not at home. We went to Lucy’s office as she is heavily pregnant and it’s easier for us to go to her straight from work. The third visit was supposed to be about our childhoods but as we were naughty, we didn’t get our homework to her until late the night before. Instead, we talked about our relationship and how we met, what are we like, what is the other person like, etc. etc. It went well, apart feeling like I repeated what my beloved said (as we had to tell our own version of how we met and what happened from there).

We definitely get the feeling that Lucy is not going to get us to panel before she goes on maternity leave. She was referring to ‘handing us over’ for other sections of the form and saying that she wanted to get some sections ‘complete’ before she leaves. Oh well, it was a very ambitious idea!

It is so strange because after every visit, we pour our hearts out and give so much of ourselves away to effectively a stranger and then the stranger goes, leaving us feeling empty and spent, and not quite knowing what to do with ourselves. The best thing I think is to meet up with friends and talk about something else with a nice glass of wine!

Another thing that happened is that my beloved’s mother and my sister met with Lucy and talked about us. It was quite exciting for the family to be involved and quite a nice feeling to know that the process is going through its motions. I think our family found it quite interesting to find out more and to meet Lucy. It sounded as if both visits went well and now two more references to go! This will be our two close friends who have known us a long time. They both have received the form so I guess we wait to hear when they will meet our SW.  

Another thing that happened (it was a while ago but I forgot to add it) is that we had our medicals done. Well, when I say medicals, I really mean a doctor who went through some notes and asked some questions. We met the same doctor on different days and times and it sounded as though he was having a bad day when she saw him as he was quite rude and inefficient. He didn’t check her weight, height and quite insensitively asked ‘can’t you have children of your own?’. Luckily, my beloved is made of stronger stuff and didn’t feel upset by this. However, this would be quite upsetting for someone who was infertile. So after hearing about her horror story, I was fully prepared to fight my corner. However, he seemed to be in a better mood and his so-called subtle version of asking me if I was infertile was ‘do you have any children of your own?’. After I had said, ‘no, not yet’, he looked at me for a moment, pondering whether he should push it any further but wisely, chose not to. He did some ridiulous medical check on me by bending and flexing my arms and legs. It’s quite astonishing that such a lack lustre approach could warrant him getting paid by our LA to write this report. I suppose it has to be doe but really, the doctor could have had more of a sensitive approach. I’m glad it’s done and over but waiting to hear back if the medical advisor from the LA wants to discuss anything further, which wouldn’t be surprising as the form is shoddily completed.

So now we are left with the question: who will we get when Lucy goes on maternity leave and will they be as nice as Lucy? I hope so!

Second home visit – we are family…

Well it’s been a while since I’ve written. We have had our second visit. It was quite insightful as we each took turns to talk about our families and went through each member of the family, starting with the grandparents. My beloved took a very long time as she has loads of family members so by the time it got round to me, Lucy (our SW) was quite tired and easily confused. This clearly was not a good start for me and my family, particularly as my family history is blurry and difficult to explain as I do not know much about it myself. It has however, given me the impetus to delicately try and find out more from my parents. An annoying thing that happened was that my beloved kept interrupting, thinking she was being helpful, but actually just made Lucy more confused as she was giving incorrect tit-bits of information! It made me realise how important it is for couples to give each other the silence needed when they are telling their story! Something I hope my beloved will take on for next time.

It was very intense 2.5 hours and we were all shattered by the end of it. I imagine it would be very difficult and intrusive for people who don’t like to think or talk about the past as Lucy did an excellent bit of probing! I can see how some potential adopters start therapy before they go on any further!

When we were talking about ourselves, it is very easy to be indulgent and go on for hours but we need to remember that this is still an interview of sorts and that Lucy will write down what we say for a panel of people to judge our parenting skills. Something we need to keep in our heads, particularly for our homework. We have to write about our childhood experiences which is quite difficult to do in a succinct way. I’m going to choose good examples (good and bad) to highlight what I have learnt from it and how I would apply these experiences to my parenting style.

After the flurry of activity from having a social worker talk to us about adoption, prep group and two visits from Lucy, the process has slowed down. Our next visit won’t be for a little while yet. Maybe Lucy purposely waits a while after this visit as it brings up a lot about family dynamics etc. or maybe she just didn’t have any space in her diary. I am concerned that we haven’t got all the visits booked (she said a minimum of 8 is needed before panel). I’m wondering if she is still planning to get us to panel in the summer as she has not responded to us asking if she wanted to book more in. Hmmm…. we shall wait and see.