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… 😁