As we’re celebrating National Tell A Story Month, I thought I would use the opportunity to share our story about how we came to be adoptive parents.
Being a dad was something I had always dreamed about, and for quite a while adoption was something really on my mind, however it wasn’t on my partner’s. We had brief conversations about having kids over a few years but it became clear that it just wasn’t something Craig wanted to do. So, I finally swallowed that dream and tried to moved on from the idea.
About 6 months later, Craig was working away in India and totally out of the blue sent me a link to the local authorities website. The link was a story about two young boys who were looking for their forever home. The text that came with it from Craggers was “I think we could offer these a great home” and was then followed by another text saying that the organisation was hosting an information day the following week and that we should go.
After I picked myself up off the floor and wiped up the gin that I’d spat across the room, I read the stuff he’d sent over and all those feelings that I’d been trying to supress suddenly came back in full force. I obvs text Pips immediately who’s response was… “I knew he would… he just needed time to come to it himself”.
Anyway, I didn’t question it for fear he’d change his mind, so we hopped, skipped and jumped along to the information event and grabbed an expression of interest form which was posted later that night.
Within weeks we’d had a home visit, where the Social Workers gave us the horror stories, asked us if we would be prepared to give up the dogs if we had to, asked if we were smokers (quite a few times actually… but never a question about alcohol which we thought was odd) and generally, we got the feeling they were testing us.
We weren’t fazed by anything at this stage so signed up to start phase one… which they should rename the ‘Fart… and we’ll know about it!’ phase. They literally check everything! Criminal history, finance, work history, exes (that’s right… if you had a previous significant relationship then they want to talk to them… and I’m guessing you’re as outraged as I was just reading that… exes are exes for a reason after all!) naming your referees etc and it all took about a month to complete.
I should come clean at this point, before Craggers starts posting in the comments. Yes, they did have to come back and do a second ‘first’ visit because they got back to the office and realised that they knew nothing about Craig because I hadn’t stopped talking. He had been under strict instructions to let me do the talking!
We completed a 3-day course while the checks were being carried out. I remember the lovely lady who delivered it… she again provided worse case scenarios [horror stories] followed with lines like… ‘but its not all bad’, meanwhile there were people [Craig] looking ready to faint.
One of the activities we had to do was share a personal memory about a time we had suffered loss. Everyone was talking about grandparents and Craig talked about losing his mum (which I got choked up listening to) but the facilitator didn’t bat an eyelid. I was last up and panicking because I’d lost grandparents at a young age but was very lucky not to have lost anyone else since. So I talked about my dog who had died about 18 months earlier… told a really moving story about how her collar hangs from the bay tree in the garden and how every now and then the sun catches the tag and glistens, and always makes me think of her and how she loved that garden… BOOM I totally won, the facilitator was in bits! I know it wasn’t a contest and distracts from the point of the activity but I just can’t help it sorry.
Part of stage one was also to undergo a medical examination with our own GP. Not sure why but I was pretty nervous going into it as I wasn’t sure how detailed and intrusive the checks where going to be. I had a good shower before I went, just in case, but luckily the worst of it was producing a urine sample on demand. The only negative was my weight, which I knew was likely to be mentioned. I was overweight but nothing a few months of exercise wouldn’t cure, and Craig had high blood pressure, which wasn’t surprising given he was nervous and also running late for a train to London.
Anyway, we passed all the checks, survived the training and moved onto stage 2… the Social Worker bit.
Our Social Worker was really lovely… after a few weeks, but at the beginning came across quite stern… and low and behold didn’t Craig try and crack an inappropriate joke in the first session which she just glared at him. I know it was his nerves but he received a good telling off by me after and hence why he wasn’t allowed to talk in the initial first meeting I mentioned earlier!
We understood it was going to be intense and detailed, but boy was it! I don’t think there was a stone that Social Worker didn’t turn over. She gave our referees a good grilling too, and from conversations with them after, she had really checked us out and what we had been saying but in a really subtle way… I’m sure she was a detective in another life! I wont bore you with all the details but there was a lot of homework (which I did and Craig just passed comment on my spelling) and it took about 10-12 weeks in total.
The only bit that we found rather rude during that stage was that the local authority doctor, a woman who had never met or seen us, had asked our Social Worker to inform us that if we drank less alcohol then we wouldn’t be so fat! I wouldn’t mind but when we did our medical our alcohol intake was within national guidelines… it wasn’t our fault that the guidelines changed a few weeks later or we would have drunk less the week before the medical haha.
Once the report on us was done, it suddenly got pretty scary as we were summoned in front of a panel. Our Social Worker kept reassuring us we’d be fine and that she’d be with us… but in her next breath went through what we could expect and what she thought the panel would ask us… TERRIFYING was the word and every time I even thought about it, I felt sick to my stomach!
We had about a 4 week wait for panel and it DRAGGED… every day we got closer the more nauseous I became. Then the day finally arrived….