In this second instalment of our new blog, our adoptive mum shares with us her experiences of discussing adoption plans with her birth children, meeting the social worker for the first time, and officially starting the adoption process.
After the Initial Visit (IV) from a social worker at our home, it was time to introduce the idea of adoption to our two younger children – we hadn’t done this sooner as we wanted to gauge the council’s initial response to us first.
So, I hastily put together a little booklet for them to read through and fill in to give them the chance to respond individually. The really important thing for us at this point was to allow them each to respond honestly without the pressure of trying to fit in with the responses and desires of the other members of the family.
Our daughter (the eldest and 13 at the time) had been in on it from the start – opening the whole idea by suggesting that we foster – so she was, as expected, delighted that we were getting the ball rolling and we felt it was vital the boys had a chance to have their own initial responses before we talked about it all together.
My husband sat with our middle child (11) and I sat with our youngest (9) in different rooms to give them each the space and attention the suggestion required! When my husband and I chatted with each other later we found that their reactions had been a perfect case study of their different characters. Our middle child likes to take time to reflect and thinks things through, so he didn’t say much during that initial conversation, but our youngest child swung from total elation to fear and back again in the course of 5 minutes – ending by announcing that we should go and get a baby tomorrow!
We let the idea sink in and float around for a few days; waiting for them to initiate any further conversation. When our quieter, more cautious middle child came out with – “so when do we get to meet the social worker?” – we felt we had the whole family go-ahead and we needed to ask if she could come and meet the children.
Well, as you can imagine that was a meeting with quite a mixture of excitement and nerves – let me try and paint a picture for you.
Our (then) youngest child loves meeting new people and went into his normal overdrive mode heightened on this occasion by the emotions riding on the situation. I was on my way home with the older two when the social worker arrived and so I came into the situation with the youngest in full on hosting mode – introducing her to all his cuddly toys.
My eldest likes meeting new people but can feel overshadowed by her exuberant little brother and frustrated not to be able to get a word in edgeways. My middle one is not at ease in those kinds of situations. So I am picking up on all these tensions and trying to look after and manage it while keeping my own nerves in check.
Of course, the social worker was not fazed by any of this – or if she was, she didn’t let on. She spoke really appropriately and clearly about the sort of situations that lead to children needing an adoptive family and also explored with the children the impacts that a new baby might make on their lives as well as introducing them to the various stages of the process that lay ahead of us. All these were topics that we then carried on with them throughout the coming months.
We tried to get the balance between having it as an open topic of conversation that they could feel free to raise at any time with any question or feeling, but also just getting on with normal life and not letting it dominate everything. So, we might all be in the car going on holiday and then throw in a question like: “What would be different on this trip if we had a baby?” making it very clear that negatives/challenges were welcome as well as positives.
We listened to the BBC podcast on adoption together and that was a good conversation starter and I tried to share some of what I was reading with them – particularly those books written to read with adopted children as they put some of the more complex ideas very simply. We got them involved with the training we went on by chatting at the end of the day about what we had learnt, but also by each of them entrusting a precious item to us to take in for the exercise that involved us all putting special things in a bag and having to give them to a virtual stranger to look after.
Quite regularly as the process went on, I had to give them an idea of where we were in the process and talk through the timings – both those we knew with relative accuracy and those that were less predictable/set.
After our Initial Visit from the social worker there was a bit of a break. This gave us time over the summer to get started on some of the recommended reading, to do some more knitting and to chat things through with trusted family and friends.
Once back from holidays we got in touch to inquire about progressing to Stage 1 and submitting our Registration of Interest form (ROI). Once those forms hit the ‘mat’ at their offices and we are considered suitable to proceed, a clock starts ticking and they are on a deadline. Stage 1 needs to be completed within 8 weeks/2 months of forms being received.
Now we were really on the way!
In our next blog our adoptive mum will be looking at starting Stage 1 training, references and checks.
A note from Adopt Coast to Coast
A huge thank you to our adopter for sharing their own experiences of adoption. Please note no two adoption stories are the same and experiences and timescales will vary for each family.
If you want to find out more why not come along to an information event or one-to-one appointment?
Alternatively you could make an enquiry and one of our friendly team will give you a call to discuss your own circumstances and answer any questions you might have.