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We are now 11 months along from attending our first information meeting and the time has come to meet our new social worker. For those that have been following the journey you will know this is our 3rd social worker since starting our journey. We were advised that due to staffing issues we would be given an Independent Social Worker, which means she doesn’t work for a specific agency but helps across various ones as and when needed.

Everyone who has been through the process will tell you that you don’t need to do a mass clean of every inch of your house before the social worker arrives, but we did because it just felt like something that should be done. The social worker is not there to inspect how clean everything is, they are there to get to know you and check the house is safe.

We were very nervous to meet a new social worker who we had only spoken to via email and only knew us based off our Stage 1 workbook they had been given, but within a few minutes of her arriving and talking to us it felt like she had been part of our journey for ages. After introductions, and a cup of tea, one of the first things we were told was the date our Approval Panel would be… everything just got very real!

Stage 2 will usually be around 4 months so we kind of had a rough idea for when we may go to panel, but we didn’t realise we would be told at the first meeting. We put it in big bold writing on our calendar and then the social worker explained how all the meetings would work, what we would cover and the dates we would be meeting with her all the way up to panel date. It is important to note that every agency will likely do things slightly differently so our journey and meetings may not necessarily be exactly how other peoples would be.

Session 1 – Plan for Stage 2, Accommodation & the area you live in, Motivations & Expectations

Session 2 – Lifestyle & Finances, Support Network, Experience of Caring for Children

Session 3 & 4 (1-2-1 sessions) – Childhood, Education, Adult Life, Relationship

Session 5 – Pet Assessment, Understanding the nature & impact of adoption

Session 6 – Understanding concurrent planning, Anticipated changes, Adopted children’s needs, Home Health & Safety check

Session 7 – Round up of any bits still needing to be covered

Session 8 – Panel prep!

Each session lasted between 1.5 – 2 hours and at the end of every session we were given homework to do before the next session, which usually involved some reading about a specific area of adoption or writing about things we had learned on our journey so far. We both enjoyed the sessions and agreed the 1-2-1 sessions were the hardest as it was the only time through this journey that we didn’t have the other one there to support us if needed.

All the books we read and podcasts we listened to over the last 11 months really helped with these sessions as we had some good background knowledge already, so we would highly recommend anyone considering starting their adoption journey starts on the books and podcasts as early as possible. One of the main resources I found to be most useful for our learning was joining the huge adoption community on Instagram. There are lots of amazing families sharing their experiences and recommendations and a lot of the time learning from people that have been through it themselves in real life can teach you things that a book never will.

Just under 4 months after starting Stage 2 we had completed all our sessions and we had 2 weeks till we were going to approval panel, or so we thought. Whilst I was at work we had arranged to speak to our Social Worker individually over the phone for some last minute information she needed for our report that she gives to panel, so at the agreed time I ventured into a private room at the office to await her call.

“I am very sorry, but I have just got a call to tell me they have moved your panel date due to an emergency”

This wasn’t how I expected our chat to begin, or news I had hoped to hear with only 2 weeks to go, but for those who have followed the journey you will be very aware that we are used to delays by now. Luckily, we had only been delayed by an extra 2 weeks so it could have been much worse.

Our PAR (Prospective Adopters Report) was complete and sent to panel, our panel prep was done with our social worker, and now we just wait for our panel date to come round and see if they say yes to us adopting.

To be continued…

Podcasts:
Adoption Shared – We Are Family/Adopt London
The Adoption – BBC Radio
Truth Be Told: Adoption Stories – National Adoption Service
Books:
Fostering For Adoption – Alice Hill
What every parent needs to know – Margot Sunderland

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