So after our training we started the process of home visits, where we have a deep dive into our lives, the good, the bad, and the slightly awkward. But before that we were given some a nice ‘short’ set of questions for us to complete, that would be the basis of the conversations at the 5 (yes 5) 2-3 hour home visits we have with our new social worker. The questions covered relationships to health and motivations, as well as what our matching considerations for the children we were looking to adopt.
MY TIP – Start early on the questions, as they do take a while to write and you could end up racing to get through them before each meeting.
On top of this, we were give some health and safety forms that we need to complete before the sessions. This included a dog assessment for us to check that our dog was safe – we have never looked at him like that before, so had to take some fresh eyes to our beloved pet to ensure we had considered how he would be with the children (and we did have a word with him to ensure he was on his best behaviour). The forms really are an eye opener on how much your home could be a ‘death trap’ (imagine in a Scottish accent – if you are old enough) and ended up panicking us a bit on how much we needed to do to get up to spec, although I suspect that it highlights all the things that could be a danger and in reality is almost over engineered.
My Tip – Use the forms to start preparing your house, as it gives a good indication of what is needed to be done, but do not panic, not everything in your house is completely dangerous.
So the first visit of our social worker was scheduled. Both S and I were very nervous of the meeting her as our experience of social workers was very limited and we never really have a chatted to them in a professional basis. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our social worker was not only just like a normal person, but also very nice (although she did nearly drink us out of herbal teas :-))
MY Tip – do not be nervous, they are just people too, even if they may have an addiction to herbal tea :-).
These meetings progressed over about a month and really delved into our background, our relationships and also why we want to adopt. It also discussed exactly what we are looking for in the children, and our fears and hopes for our expanding family. This did open up some emotions and over a few tears and some frank conversations we clarified in our own minds the types of children we felt we would be able to provide a safe and caring home for. Our social worker helped us along with the process and encouraged us to expand around topics. Each of our sessions lasted the full time (or more) as both S and I like to chat, and I am not sure our social worker stayed because she liked our chat, or if she wanted to stay for another cup of tea.
My Tip – have plenty of choices of tea in – and stock up especially on the melted fudge one – that was her favourite (in hindsight this might just be our social worker…).
To our surprise our initial thought at the very start of the adoption process had changed quite radically. We had thought we would like to have one child around 2, but at the end of the visits and discussions, we opened up our criteria to 1 or 2 children, up to the age of 6 (we did manage to resist the temptation to consider 3, even though our social worker was very convincing that we would be great parents to 3 (or even more) AND S’s mum, who suddenly thought that we should ‘rack and stack them’ in our little house and 3 would be the perfect number of grandchildren.)
My TIP – Open up as much as possible, it helps the process and can actually end up as a good theory session for you to work out some of your own family issues 🙂
This was all written into a comprehensive report by our new social worker friend in a document called a PAR, which becomes a fascinating look back at our own childhood through the lens (and probing) of another person’s take on what we remember. It summaries how we felt we were parented, how it shaped us and how things that were considered normal then have changed beyond recognition. We did sometimes wonder if you should tell the bad bits of our childhood as well as the good, as we feared it might be perceived as negative in the process – (we told it all – sorry parents if you are reading this).
My Tip – tell it warts and all. Even if you have some concerns on how you were parented, it is ok to say that, but focus on how you have learnt from it – no-one is ever perfect
This is then used to help the authorities decide if you are ‘appropriate to adopt’ and is referred to at a panel at the end of the process. The actual panel is an interview with around 10 people to decide if you should be allowed to adopt. We were quite nervous about it, but it was ended up quite straight forward, as the majority of the questions were covered in the PAR. In fact the most difficult question ended up about if we were only looking for kids called Ralph, as me, my dad and Granddad were all called Ralph? – I had to concede that I might have expand my search a little bit.
We were delighted when we were told that we had been accepted and moved onto the next stage, and yes we used up some of our weekly unit limit on a bottle of fizz.
My Tip – Take time to celebrate the steps, even the small ones, as this is a long process and without a little celebration, could become overwhelming.