Panel day arrived and I’d hardly slept the night before… Craig was fine, nothing keeps that man from snoring. I remember sitting in the car outside and thinking I was going to throw up, Craig was fine… (really wanted to hate him for being fine but remembered I needed to give the impression to the panel that I loved everything about him haha).
We walked into a room with 12 people sat around a table staring at us (TWELVE!!!), as I sat down I nearly chucked a glass of water all over the place which Craig found hilarious but only sent me into a nervous spin. The chair, a stern looking woman, did some introductions and then the questioning began.
They each took a turn asking us really personal questions, and apart from one or two of them, they were all stoney faced. In hindsight, I feel the questions they asked where far too intrusive and inappropriate as we had covered everything with the Social Worker. I get that they are ratifying the report, but it definitely is a step too far in my opinion.
After the, lets call it an ‘interview’ (which may as well have included water-boarding or some other form of torture), we were taken into a small room and left to wait whilst they discussed us with our Social Worker… ten minutes [lifetime] later the chair came out and told us the good news… the Social Worker leaned in for a hug which took us by surprise, but we happily obliged in the moment.
Time to breathe and relax… guess again. We went straight into matching, our Social Worker had already seen the profile of the boys and was waiting for the go ahead to let us see it. We had prepared ourselves for a long old wait and were dreading having to go to any of the adoption events that we’d heard about and we were not particularly looking forward to trailing through profile after profile and chasing after Social Workers up and down the country like we had heard stories about too.
So, whilst it was scarily quick, it was also a massive relief when we read the boys profiles and fell in love immediately. I was worried that I might just go for the first child I see, due to the broody cloud you’re in and also that every child’s story will melt your heart, so had prepared myself mentally before reading it… but who cares, it felt right, they felt right and I don’t think I have ever been so excited about anything. We felt incredibly lucky being matched with two perfect little boys so quickly as I know others have a much longer and agonising wait to be matched.
Next up… ANOTHER PANEL… this time to check they approve the match. The feeling of dread came back to me, this time having to go back and fight to get my boys (who we still hadn’t met at this point but knew everything about). I went ready for battle with the stoney faced Doctors and Social Workers around the table, I was not going to be taking ‘no’ for an answer.
However, this time we went in and the room couldn’t have been filled with nicer, smiley people. Only nine this time, and they asked us some lovely questions like what we are looking forward to etc. Totally different experience to the last… and I didn’t knock any cups over too which is always a bonus!
One of the people on the panel was a mother who had adopted twins herself…. We bumped into her about 20 minutes after we left in the local supermarket. We had a trolley full of beer and wine (we had people coming over to celebrate that night), she took one look at it and said “you’re going to need that” then she smiled and walked on. Brilliant (was totally still shaking like a sh*tting dog at this point though).
You’d like to think we went through the panel and then got to go meet our boys… alas that was not the case! We had to have meetings with the foster carer and the local authority doctor. We also had a whole day sat in a room with every person who had been part of the boys life to date so that they could tell us how they were involved with the boys… basically so we knew EVERYTHING about them and what they had been through up to that day. It was called a ‘Life Appreciation’ day and it was amazing. Everyone who had met the boys and fell in love with them… and a part of me was screaming inside because they had all met OUR boys and we still hadn’t!!!!
It was only a matter of weeks until we finally got to meet them but it didn’t half drag. It was all consuming, every waking moment thinking about them, looking at pictures and videos that the foster carer was sending to us on whatsapp.
I should at this point talk about the foster carer. She was amazing! She loved those boys and was clearly finding it hard to see them go, but she could not have been more welcoming and supportive to us and the transition ahead. We were incredibly lucky to have her through this process and still in our lives now!
The week or so before we met the boys, the foster carer had shared photos, of us with them, so they could see us, we wore the same clothes in the photos as the ones we met them in too. We had also sent them teddies with our aftershave on, new sleeping bags for them washed in our laundry detergent and also these lovely little Butterfly photo albums that had pictures of us and the dogs under the wings and they had our voices recorded on them- all designed to help introduce us to them… a great idea but it took us ages to record them… and re-record them… about 50 times!
If I’m honest we were sceptical about some of the items we sent, but the Social Worker recommended it and I’m so glad we did. The foster carer took videos of the boys playing with the butterflies and looking at the pictures saying ‘daddy’… it was really overwhelming and we’re so lucky that we’ve got the videos to treasure!
The day finally came, we had a meeting in the morning with the foster carer and all the Social Workers involved (ours, the boys, the foster carers… there seemed to be a Social Worker overload at this point) to plan the introduction of us to the boys and also how the transition would play out… then it was time!
We were both really nervous, what if they didn’t like us, or cried? But the moment we walked in, these two tiny little people were all over us, we played, laughed and cuddled for a few hours and then had to go home which was really tough. We then spent the next 9 days backwards and forwards to the foster carers to learn about their routine, take them out and let them get used to us. Again, we were so fortunate that the foster carer enabled the transition to go so well… all her actions were about letting the boys know that it was OK and transferring that attachment.
The transition was seamless, the boys were so brave and unfazed by it and the day they finally moved into our home they settled immediately. I don’t think we slept for a week jumping at every noise.
That’s not then end of our story but it’s a nice note to leave it on as the legal process that followed, if I’m honest, took a lot out of us emotionally and I will certainly write about it in time to come…
If your considering adoption but apprehensive about anything I’ve written or that you have read elsewhere then all I can say is, don’t be, because the day those little people or little person walk into your life and smile at you, is the day any negative experience you have had leading up to it just disappear! BEST THING EVER!
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