Preparation Course Commence

Hello everyone! It’s been a looooong time since our last adoption progress post. In fact, I think it was during the heatwave that lasted approximately 237676473 weeks. Remember that stuff, the sunshine and warmth?

Like the summer, our pre-adoption life now seems to be a distant memory. At the moment our life is pretty much adoption, adoption, adoption. Adoption consumes our thoughts when we’re awake, and adoption consumes our thoughts when we’re asleep. No joke: I (aka Writer Dad) had a horrible dream the other day that we’d adopted a child called Wil and we were bringing him home for the first time, except we left him in the car to bring his stuff in and when we went out to fetch him he was gone. My heart nearly plummeted out of my butt. I can’t believe our dream-selves would do that, tbh. Disgustingly negligent behaviour.

It’s obviously a very anxious time for us, but it’s equally the most exciting period of our lives. All the advice says to keep living your life, not to let adoption take over, but it’s very difficult to stop thinking about our future child 24/7. The uncertainty is all-consuming. You have to think in a completely different way to if you were biologically pregnant. At least then you have a timeframe for when the child will arrive.

With adoption, there is pretty much zero inclination as to how long it could take. Once we’re passed as adopters, we could be matched within weeks or months – or it could take years. As a result, every spare penny is going into our savings for out little one. We won’t know the sex or age of the child until we’re matched, so we know there’s gonna be a mad rush of DIY SOS to get the house child-ready.

So that’s a quick update on where we’re at. We’re half way through our home assessments, and panel will be hopefully take place in December or January. The rest of the post provides a re-cap of the adoption preparation course that we attended back in June.

For those who are unaware of the adoption process, all prospective adopters have to attend an adoption preparation course. The course aims to educate adopters about the type of children who need to be adopted, future challenges that new adoptive families may face, contact issues, and a ton of stuff about attachment. It’s definitely worth researching attachment theory beforehand if you’re considering adoption, otherwise the course itself will be quite daunting and information-heavy.

So, back in June we nervously entered the waiting room for our adoption preparation course whilst sipping on coffee that tasted as though it had been brewed in a drain. We’d spoken in the car journey about what to expect. We’d done a lot of homework, so the biggest question clouding our minds was…. What will the other prospective adopters be like?

We entered the room and immediately another couple caught our attention: a female same sex couple. This was something we’d chatted about before in the car. We didn’t think there would there be another same sex couple on the training as we live in a semi-rural area. Not that gays don’t live in the countryside, just that we thought owing to a smaller population, it would be less likely that there would be other gay couples wanting to adopt at the same time as us. So that brought with it a huge surge of relief. Us gays and lesbians need to stick together!

There were five couples, including us, on the training course. The first day was super heavy and provided a very raw and real account of the types of children who are up for adoption, real-life stories and the horrendous early lives these children face. It was apparent that some couples were shocked with this grim reality and were very quiet throughout the first day, perhaps struggling to digest it all. It’s never an easy thing to hear about, regardless of how much homework you’ve done, but research is vital before starting the adoption process and definitely softens the blow when you attend the preparation course. Rugby Dad has lots of experience working with LAC children and children with attachment issues, and Writer Dad had read up extensively. Still, nothing can prepare you for the real-life horrors of what some children experience.

Even though day one was very heavy and often emotional, we finished the day reassured that adoption was the right path for us. We were also incredibly moved by the variety of perspective adopters and the age ranges they wanted to adopt. If most couples pass then there will be a variety of children going to amazing forever homes.

We attended three preparation days on consecutive Fridays throughout June, and each week we bonded more and more with the other couples. The atmosphere of the course became more relaxed and we really got stuck in with topics such as contact with birth parents, medical issues, therapeutic parenting and so on. Rugby Dad was even asked to prepare a short introduction to ACE’s for the group as he knew more about it that than the social worker. A* for Rugby Dad! He was definitely the Hermione of the group, always putting his hand up and answering questions and just generally being a lovely know-it-all. Five points to Hufflepuff (aye, we’re Hufflepuffs, and if you’re going to judge then you can bugger off).

Even though they tell you they’re not technically assessing you, they definitely are. Now and again you met gazes with a social worker sitting in the corner of the room, analysing every word you say. It sometimes felt as though they were looking into your very soul. Can social workers read minds, I wondered? Is that one of the modules they cover at University? It seemed likely, so I ensured that I filled my head with rosy, over-complimentary thoughts about what the social worker was wearing and how her hair looked nice, just in case.

As well as the all-knowing gaze, there was also the fact that they left a sheet of paper out on day two with each couple’s names on it accompanied by a short description of how we were doing. Writer Dad got a sneaky peak before the paper was swiped away. We were described as knowledgeable, attentive and engaged. So don’t be fooled: your assessment starts from the first contact you make with them.

Day three for us was the most worthwhile. Adopters came in to speak to us; they spoke about the first time they laid eyes on their child, the challenges, the crying, the laughing but there was one message that rang true throughout: it’s all worth it in the end. One adopter gave a fantastic account of their journey. Their perseverance and commitment really hit home with us. Lifebooks, story maps, and all different personalised resources were passed around. The love the adopter had for their child was so strong and really resonated with us. By day three we’d built some great new friendships and as a group we all opened up about our experiences. What shook us was the fact that we were the only couple out of 5 who hadn’t tried IVF – I mean, obviously because we don’t have vaginas, so we couldn’t go down that route. Adoption had always been our first route to building a family. We hadn’t thought about the loss of not being able to give birth naturally and really felt for the other couples on the course.

Our experience from our three-day preparation course was a very positive one. Hell, all parents need to be sent on one before having a child! In all seriousness, after the course it was cemented in our head that adoption is for us.

So this was back in June, and now the next stage was where it started getting real: six-months of intensive home assessment visits from an assigned social worker. We’re now probably about halfway through, but we’ll talk about that in our next post. For now, just imagine us frantically trying to deep-clean the house in readiness… a few people have said your house will never be as clean again as it is during the home assessment period.

Meh. Cleanliness is overrated. We can’t wait to find toys lying around everywhere!

Oh, and of course we rewarded ourselves with a holiday after finishing the courses. Ready for our home assessments!

Until next time… 😁

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The Dreaded 1st Home Visit

Today is Father’s Day, so it’s only apt that we mark what will hopefully be our last Father’s Day without a child with a blog post.

 

Don’t get us wrong – we’ve got a meddlesome pair of furbabies, but we don’t exactly have to change their nappies and read them bedtime stories or anything. Although I’m pretty sure Buzz would be down for that. Beanz has the attention span of a goldfish and probably wouldn’t be interested.

 

Anyway, it’s probably our last Father’s Day being childless and we can’t help but reflect on our adoption journey so far and think of the exciting times ahead. We’re entering a period of last experiences without a child, and that’s making us all sorts of giddy. Our last Father’s Day. Our last summer holiday in July (so help me god, I am going to lounge like a beached whale all week). Our last Halloween, our last Christmas, our last few months of being able to sleep in on the weekends. (All four of us are partial to a weekend lie in, ngl)

 

 

This time next year, we’ll hopefully be doing all of these things with a tiny little human we’ll call our own. And you have no idea how that excited makes us feel!

 

So where are we at with our adoption journey so far?

 

Well, a few weeks ago we had our FIRST HOME VISIT FROM A SOCIAL WORKER. Cue mopping the floors! Cue clearing on top of the fridge! Cue evicting dust bunnies who’ve been basking in the shadows of our home since we moved in! And then, of course, there was the issue of the dogs, who respond to any knock upon the door with all the charm and hospitality of Fluffy the three-headed dog from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, except with one less head and probably triple the attitude. They calm down pretty quickly, but you know what they say about first impressions, eh?

 

Safe to say, we were absolutely bricking it. We knew we had nothing to hide, but nevertheless the big day arrived and we cleaned the whole house from top to bottom and walked the dogs until they were absolutely exhausted, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t be arsed to jump about and bark when the social worker finally knocked.

 

We sat in the living room at 3:59, awaiting the fateful knock. The social worker from our chosen local authority was due at 4.

 

She was late.

 

Not extremely late, but enough that we worked ourselves into a fit of anxiety waiting for her. We must have burnt a thousand calories walking back and forth to the window to check if she was pulling up outside.

 

Anyway, she finally arrived – and the visit went perfectly. The dogs behaved (Buzz, being the aspiring chiropodist that he is, even licked her sandal-clad foot), and nothing burst into flames or fell from the ceiling or sabotaged us in any way.

 

The visit lasted several hours, in which the social worker asked us a ton of questions about us, our work and our lives and why we wanted to adopt. We relaxed pretty quickly, and in the end it just felt like a really lovely chat with somebody who had our best interests at heart. She very kindly said that we could offer a fantastic home for a child and they would love for us to adopt through them.

 

She was extremely complimentary of several things, including Rugby Dad’s experience of working with looked-after children and children with early trauma, and Writer Dad’s experience of being an uncle to a tribe of nieces and nephews (thank you, dearest brother and sister, for spawning and producing such lovely little sprogs!).

 

She also loved our adoption photo album, which we created against Twitter’s advice. We just wanted to put together a sort of picture book of our lives so far, highlighting how we met, the many adventures we’ve been on, our love for the dogs, and so on. She loved the idea of adding to the album when we hopefully pass panel, then through the matching and bridging process. The idea is that eventually, when our child is old enough, we can share our journey with them and show them just how much dads love them and wanted to become a family. It also showed the social worker that we understood how story books work (cue brownie point).

 

It all went really well, and we were beyond happy with how it went. We were invited to attend the next stage of the process, which takes the form of an adoption preparation course. The next course was due to start just a few weeks after our initial visit, but the social worker assured us that she was more than happy to fast track us and book us onto the course. The next day we received confirmation.

 

The course is three days long – three Fridays spanned across three weeks, the first of which is this Friday!

 

We can’t wait to whip out our weirdest stationary (y’all better believe that Writer Dad has quite the collection, including but not limited to feathery unicorn pens) and get started.

 

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Wish us luck!

 

Until next time,

 

Rugby and Writer Dads.

The Journey Begins

Hi everyone, welcome back to our blog! This post was written by both of us (for future reference, all our posts will be a collaborative effort), Rugby Dad and Writer Dad (aka sporty dad and the dad who likes to vegetate on the sofa) – mainly because Rugby Dad played a game of his namesake yesterday, took a few too many knocks to the head, and therefore cannot be trusted alone with the English language for the foreseeable future. Honestly, it’s a silly game. I’ve tried many a time to get him to switch to tiddlywinks or chess or something less brutal – but I guess he wouldn’t be Rugby Dad without it, eh?

This post is all about the beginning of our adoption journey – aka, the research stage. Since we met 6 years ago we’ve always had this grand vision of what we wanted to achieve together, of the amazing life we wanted to build. We knew we wanted to get married, buy a house and have a couple of dogs (the early visions we had of the pooches involved such names as Flump and Doug, and they were infinitely better-behaved in our heads than our actual dogs turned out to be), and – most of all – we yearned to have children. We’d stay up for hours, sharing our dreams with each other.

Since we finished Uni, we’ve worked really hard to make those dreams come true. And most of them have. We’ve got a lovely home and two adorable dogs (I said adorable, not obedient). We’re married (we built two wardrobes together the other day, and we didn’t end up signing for divorce, so I think we’re good) and we’ve both got decent jobs that we enjoy.

The only thing missing is children. To become Daddy and Dada.

But Writer Dad, I hear you say, why don’t you just take some time out now to relax for a bit? Why do you want kids now?

Well, meddlesome reader (nosiness is a most unbecoming quality, by the way), the answer is because we feel ready. We’ve done our share of travelling, exploring and having fun. And we can still do some of that stuff – it’s just that now we want to share it all with our own little human being. We want to start a family.

We agreed that the time would be right once we were married. And, as you probably know, that happened in March 2018. Oh, have we not mentioned that? No, you wouldn’t have seen it online anywhere… we’ve tried to keep it on the down-low, to be quite honest with you.

Fittingly, there was a passage in our beautiful handfasting ceremony that captured our sentiments perfectly:

“These are the hands that will tenderly hold our children; the hands that will join our family as one.”

I would like to take this moment to point out that, by this point in the ceremony, Rugby Dad was sobbing more furiously than Rylan when he got told he was through to the live finals of the X Factor. Don’t let his fiery macho looks deceive you, he’s a softie at heart.

So it was natural after the wedding that we started to put the wheels in motion. We’d been planning and researching for a year, and now it was time to start getting serious. There was so much involved, so many routes of possibility that it was overwhelming. What were the stages involved? What were the different ways of adopting? Where do we even start?

Adoption, like the technical challenges in the Great British Bake-Off, is an absolute minefield. We were advised not to read too much into other people’s experiences, told not to pay attention to the horror stories. Twitter became a fantastic platform for connecting with other same-sex adopters. We’ve been given some amazing advice and support from people all across the globe, and we are extremely grateful for that, but it’s important to remember that everybody’s experience of the adoption journey is different. No two stories are ever the same. It’s difficult sometimes not to be intimidated by the sheer amount of knowledge that people have out there, especially when some people come across as being self-proclaimed experts on the subject. Mostly, however, people have been incredibly supportive and insightful.

You would have thought, after a year of research, that we’d be experts on the subject ourselves. Once we started talking to people online, however, we realised that wasn’t the case. We’d barely scratched the surface. What was all this talk of local authorities and organisations and foster to adopt?!

I felt like I was sitting my GCSE Maths all over again. Clueless.

We didn’t understand the difference between adopting through local authority and adopting through an organisation. Thankfully, there are some amazing people out there who were more than willing to help. Dad Vibes and The Unlikely Dad are some of our favourite blogs (Links below), and they’ve helped us to understand the process and journey so much more.

Once we were a bit more clued up, Rugby Dad set about contacting local authorities and organisations and registering our interest. The response we had was somewhat shocking. With Rugby Dad’s experience of working with children with emotional behavioural disorders and attachment, some of the local authorities were really keen on getting to know us and made us feel really comfortable. One even went as far as saying that they love matching same sex couples with children as adoption is always the first choice to creating a family.

It’s true, obviously, that we cannot conceive biological children – although my sudden cravings for tomato-ketchup sandwiches do seem to be suggesting that my body thinks I’m pregnant.

It wasn’t all positive, though. Whilst contacting one organisation we were pretty much turned down straight away. If you’re not interested in adopting sibling groups, or children who display challenging behaviour, then they’re very upfront about your incompatibility with them.

In the end, I guess we followed everyone’s advice and went with who we felt had made the biggest effort with us. A certain local authority really reassured us and showed in an interest in what we could give as parents. Hell, their expression of interest form was 10x longer than that of other local authorities. It really resonated with us that they wanted to know so much. It assured us that they were doing a thorough job from the very beginning. They even sent us a reading list!

Anyway, Rugby Dad received a phone call a few days after we sent off our expression of interest form. It was our assigned social worker, calling to arrange our first home visit and initial discussion. In his panic he completely forgot the social worker’s name, but did manage to remember the time and date of the visit (personally, I blame the rugby for his lapse in memory retention). He of course asked her if she likes dogs – and, thankfully, she does. Hopefully Buzz and Beanz will be on their best behaviour and make their dads proud!

So, in two days’ time, we have our first visit from a social worker to discuss adoption and officially start the process. Cue screaming! Cue manic flailing of the limbs!

We’ve been very busy since then. We’ve cleared out the spare room (thank you, Twitter, for that useful nugget of advice), and although we were desperate to brandish our paint brushes and start designing murals on the walls, we didn’t jump the gun and start decorating it head-to-toe in baby gear like we really wanted to.

We’ve also put together a photo album of our lives together so far – against the people of Twitter’s advice this time, I’m afraid – just so that the social worker can get a feel of what we’re all about.

But there’s still a lot left for us to do before she arrives, most of which consists of ridding the house of dust and moulted dog hair. I’m pretty sure we’ve got enough moulted dog hair lying around to assemble another two dogs from scratch (we could pretend they’re our real dogs, much better behaved!).

So, wish us luck! Our adoption journey is about to start FOR REAL and we’ve never been readier, or more excited, for anything in our entire lives.

Until next time,

Rugby and Writer Dads.

Links to our favourite adopter blogs:

http://www.theunlikelydad.com/

http://dadvibes.co.uk/about/

The Story So Far

The Story So Far

First of all, welcome to our blog, aptly named because we’re both wannabe dads. One rugby fanatic and one bespectacled wordsmith. We’ve decided to start this because we want to document our journey to becoming fathers through the adoption process, in the hope that other people will find it informative, interesting and enjoyable. This blog will be a collaborative effort, with both contributing our own posts and working together on posts as well.

But first of all, we just want to tell you all the story so far. How we met and what our hopes and dreams are.

Those of you who know me well will know that I am, without a doubt, one of the most forgetful beings ever to have graced the planet. I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, and god forbid if you ask me to remember the details of a conversation we had last month. Playing ‘I went to the shop’ is basically my idea of a nightmare.

But if there’s one thing I DO remember clearly, without any blurry edges, it’s the day that I met a certain ginger-haired chap. It was Thursday, 20th September 2012, and I was four days into my first week of University. I was young, with an increasingly worrisome bank balance, and was deprived of all the nutrients and vitamins required to live a long healthy life after surviving on a diet comprised entirely of takeaways (alas, fresher’s flu soon settled in, the phlegmy rapscallion).

I met Rugby Dad, lo and behold, in a straight bar. I already knew who he was, because a few months previous Rugby Dad had posted a very heartfelt coming-out video to YouTube, which went a bit viral. I watched it, became entirely obsessed with this handsome rugby-playing Welshman, and went on to develop what some people would call cyber-stalking habits, but which I just call friendly curiosity. I commented on his video congratulating him (and called him ‘dude’, a word that I have not used since), informed him that we’d be starting the same Uni in a few months time, and maybe I’d see him around.

I didn’t get a response.

Hmm. Strange, I thought – had I not employed all the socially acceptable methods of going about seeking a mate? It was not meant to be, so it seemed.

Anyway, fast forward to that fateful day on September 20th, when I recognised Rugby Dad in a straight bar and sent my Cornish friend over with that ever-reliable tactic: “My friend really fancies you!”

And so our relationship was born.

Rugby Dad and I clicked instantly, despite our differences. I was bookish and resistant to exercise of any form, whereas Rugby Dad was charismatic and actually partook in regular exercise voluntarily, without being forced to do so (weird, I know). We balanced each other out, and on October 2nd we officially became boyfriends.

We’ve been through a lot together. We went through Uni, travelled to lots of different countries, made lots of friends and had a few different jobs. We’ve laughed, cried and loved together for nearly 6 years now. You always hear people saying that the only constant is change, and that’s true. Our lives are immeasurably different now to how they were when we first got together. We have careers, we have our own home, two amazing dogs (although that adjective changes regularly), and recently tied the knot and became Mr and Mr.

But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the last couple of years, it’s our desire to become dads. To raise a family together. We both had our hearts set on having kids very early on, and we both just knew that we had to do it together. One of the things I’ve always loved about Rugby Dad is how he engages with my nieces and nephews, and they love him in return.

So when we got married in March 2018, we both knew that the next step was to start the adoption process. Adoption has always appealed to us. The idea of giving a child in need a loving forever home really resonates with us both. We’ve given this a lot of thought, and we’re ready to become dads together. We’re ready for the school run and the late nights and the early mornings. We’re ready for the toys and the mess and the nappies and the tantrums. We’re ready for the days out exploring nature and having adventures. We’re ready for cuddles and lazy weekend mornings watching films and making stuff together. We’re ready for story time and supporting our child in whatever path they hope to follow within the world.

We’re ready for it all, the good and the bad.

So that’s us. Dads-to-be. Follow us as we begin our family.

Until next time,

Rugby and Writer Dads