Our journey from expression of interest to placement wasn’t long by some people’s standards, but each step seemed to take so much longer than we had expected.
Our local authority is part of a consortium. I spent two weeks trying to access their information online, only to find their website consistently down. Having read around a bit and spoken to other adopters on Twitter, we came to understand that generally VAs provide better access to PAS. So we looked at BAAF’s website guide to voluntary agencies and found two that seemed to cover our area.
Our first phone call didn’t go so well. The SW I spoke to was of the impression that we simply couldn’t have any spare capacity, between having three birth children already and home educating them. While she may have had a point, we knew from the off that we didn’t need to be having that battle with an agency that we would need on our side when other people would most likely voice similar concerns further along the road.
The agency that we are with were the second agency that we spoke to. The helpline SW was intrigued by our family and our desire to adopt. She was enthusiastic about the benefits that could be gained through home educating and could see how our family could be a great fit for a specific child. (She actually ended up taking us through Stage One and picked us up again shortly after placement.)
So we asked for an initial visit. We met our lovely SW face to face for the first time in February 2014. We pressed on through acceptance and into Stage One. This time period was from February to July 2014. Having both worked for years in youth and community work, churches, healthcare settings and with vulnerable children, young people and adults, our references requested was rather a lengthy list. Hence the period of time it took us to get through Stage One.
We then had a two month hiatus, as our Social Worker took extended leave and the new Social Worker identified for us was not able to start with us until September. But he was so worth the wait.
Stage Two was actually a really fascinating process for us both. Yes it was intrusive and personal, but we had expected that. At no point did we feel it was pointless probing or too invasive and we actually enjoyed the opportunity to sit back together and talk about our lives and relationship so far. Our SW was fabulous and quickly clued into our personalities and what made us tick.
It was fascinating doing the attachment assessment and the other aspects of the stage two study in the light of our day jobs – leading and pastoring a church and home educating our girls. It helped us to begin to do some preparation for hopefully expanding our family, as well as evaluating ourselves and our relationship as we went along.
We had to wait about six weeks to get an available date for Approval Panel, but the day came in mid December 2014. As is the subject of much debate by those due to go to Panel, we wore smart casual clothes in order to feel comfortable. Jeans and a smarter top with heeled boots for me, jeans and a shirt and smart shoes for Mr Six. For those who know us, that’s smart!
Panel wasn’t as intimidating as I had expected, although they were low on numbers due to sickness and other unavoidable issues, meaning they only just made quorum with five core members. I think we would have been gutted to have had to wait for another panel date. I do remember waiting outside the panel room for what felt like the longest time while our SW was inside discussing our case and answering questions. I think it was actually about forty five minutes. We really had the sense that he was doing battle on our behalf!
When we finally were called in, it felt like a relief to be able to be part of the process, rather than too nerve wracking. I don’t now remember the exact questions we were asked, but there was one from the Social Worker representative who asked about home education and what the legal requirements were, how we managed our home education and what we would do if our future little person wasn’t suited to home edding. We also discussed at length our three birth girls and how we were preparing them for adopting.
After about only half an hour in the room, we were invited to leave and await the Panel’s decision. Fairly soon afterwards, our SW and the Chair of Panel came out to let us know that we had been approved, pending ADM sign off. The Chair wished us the best of luck on our matching journey and we were left to celebrate with our SW.
As it was almost Christmas, we had told our SW that we wished to have a break for now to relax over the holidays and would begin to look at profiles in January. Our SW had been in complete agreement with this, as he understood that it had been a long eleven months journey just to get to approval.
Unbeknown to us, our SW had received an email the night before our Panel that was to change our lives. The road to meeting our Little Legs began as he sat down in the waiting room and pulled a sheet of paper from his bag.
To be continued 😉