A 12 Part Adoption Success Story
Part 2: The Adoption Process Continues
This post is being written in response to my being mentioned on a friend’s blog today. I have often agonised over writing about our involvement in the adoption process for fear (quite an irrational fear no doubt) that writing about this subject might reflect unfavorably upon us with the social services team that will be researching us as “adoptive parents”. After thinking about it, and thinking about it some more – in a manner that Pooh bear may have done – I figure there can be no harm in helping inform others of the various machinations of the adoption process, and reflecting on our experiences of it. Here goes…
After spending several years attempting to start a family of our own, and throwing a significant amount of money at a number of IVF attempts – one of which nearly worked – we found ourselves eating dinner one night about a year ago, reflecting on the last failed attempt.
The discussion broke some kind of water between us – the IVF had failed several weeks previously, and while propping each other up, we had not talked about “what to do next” – probably because we both knew what the other was going to suggest, and fearing the reaction a little. Although we had talked about “adoption” before getting married, would considering it as a realistic path now be seen as acknowledgement of failure?
We talked. We cried. We talked some more. We cried some more. Over the following days we both came to terms with our decision a little more, and started finding out what routes were available. You may think us a little closeted in our thinking, but we never considered investigating overseas adoption. In our view there are probably millions of children all over the world who badly need a second chance, and what better place to start than at home?
A few weeks later we found ourselves taking a day off work, and attending an informal meeting run by the local Adoption Services department of the government. We sat, watched a video, were talked through the process towards adoption, and were invited to ask questions. I’m guessing this first step is a “weeding the wheat from the chaff” exercise. I remember being intensely annoyed by a chap who asked pointed questions about the percentages of babies coming into the welfare system, and the chances of “getting” one of them. Why a baby? What had the older children done wrong?
The continued path we have been guided on by Adoption Services has been one of learning, of enlightenment, sometimes of despair, and also of foresight and anticipation.
We have prepared our life history, our family history, submitted friends and relations as character references – who may be interviewed – and we have attended an “Adoption Preparation Course” (4 days in a classroom learning of the horrors that may await, and the tools to deal with them). You get the distinct feeling while “in the thick of it” that you are continually being tested – can you deal with it – and we have no doubts that this is a good thing.
Most of our family and friends who were “in on it” didn’t think it was fair – that we had to jump through so many hoops while so many people out there can “just have children” (I am deliberately being diplomatic here – more than one friend has put the situation of young mothers across rather more colourfully than I might wish to).
After explaining to people that all these measures are to try and make sure that the children will not be failed again, and to arm you with everything possible to help you in looking after them, they usually see the light. The children in the care system are not there by accident. They are quite often scarred by their early experiences, and the effects may not show up for years – if ever. There may often be developmental, social and attachment issues that you as “adoptive parents” will need to help them deal with.
You will also need to educate your own family and close friends in order to help the children. They did not appear by magic – they had a family before. Many members of that family will still exist. They will not dissappear. That family is as much a part of the child (whether you like it or not) as your family might wish to be.
After coming through the process this far, our next step is the run in towards the “Review Panel”. This basically consists of the adoption services compiling an official report on us as people, and our suitability as adoptive parents. This will be presented (along with us should we wish to attend) to a panel of perhaps 12 people covering all aspects of society – doctors, magistrates, police, adoptees, adopters, social services, psychologists… you get the picture. Following that meeting, the decision will be made – we will be informed if we are allowed to adopt a child (or more than one child).
The over-riding feeling at this point is that the process is accelerating. We are perhaps a year in, and after months of wondering “what do we do next”, finally the gears, staff and resources of government feel like they are gathering behind us – to support us. It’s taken a long time, and we have no idea how far we really have left to go until we make an uneasy trip home from a foster carer with little people in the back of the car.
Here’s a strange thought to end on for today – the children we adopt are probably already being cared for by a foster carer. I wonder who they are, where they are from, why they are there, and what they might think of us.
About the Author
Jonathan lives in leafy Buckinghamshire, England with his infinitely better half, children, cats and chickens in a big old house that they fight with continually. They lurch from day to day in a state closely resembling total chaos, but somehow live to tell the tale. After several years trying unsuccessfully to start a family – pouring substantial quantities of money into an IVF hole in the ground en route – they started out down the road to adopting children, and have never regretted it for a second.
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