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Well, here we are, after just over a year since our initial meeting with our first Social Worker the time has come to attend approval panel!

Prior to panel we met with our Social Worker to discuss potential questions we might get from the panel. This is a chance for us to ensure we understand the potential questions and the best way to answer them to support our report. This is quite a common thing for pre-panel, but like most things with this journey it can change based on the agency you are signed with.

We were given eight questions to prepare for which were based around our relationship, my history with anxiety, therapeutic parenting and our experiences looking after children. None of these questions took us by surprise or felt hard to answer or talk about so we left the meeting feeling very confident for the actual panel date.

The morning of panel we both woke up super early due to a mix of nerves and excitement for panel, so we took our dogs for a nice long walk and had breakfast and just tried to relax. Our panel was being done virtually, which is the case for most panels post covid restrictions still, and we had to be online for 12:10.

12:00 came and suddenly the realisation of what we were about to do hit, I turned to my husband and just said “I feel like I could actually be sick right now” and then started laughing. We each grabbed a drink, sat down in front of the computer, took a deep breath, and clicked join on the meeting request… here we go!

We were advised that when we joined the meeting we would be put into a ‘break-out room’ with our Social Worker and then called into the main room when the panel members were ready, but to our surprise as soon as we were accepted into the meeting we went straight into the main room and there were nine smiley faces waiting for us.

Our panel was made up of seven individuals with different backgrounds and connections to adoption. Four were social workers with different experiences of adoption and fostering, one was an LGBT adoptive parent, one was a carer with a medical background and one was an adoptee who was also an adoptive parent. Along with these panel members we also had our current Social Worker and the Social Worker who would be taking over once we move to the next stage (yes that is the fourth Social Worker for those counting!)

The panel members introduced themselves individually and then the Panel Chair explained how the meeting was going to work. Panel members had submitted questions, but it would be the Panel Chair who asked us each question, she would then check with the person who submitted the question if they were happy with the response before moving to the next question. Out of the eight questions we had been prepared for we were asked three of these and one that we were not given in advance.

Question 1 – How have you both found the process from beginning to now?

Question 2 – What experience have you got of using Therapeutic Parenting techniques and how did you find this?

Question 3 – Based on your history of anxiety, what have you put in place to deal with the pressure of an Early Permanence Placement (EPP) and the possibility of the child going back to their birth family?

Question 4 – What have you learnt about each other’s parenting skills whilst caring for friends’ children?

We felt very confident about all these questions, and both managed to answer them successfully in our opinion. The Panel Chair then checked if anyone had anything further to ask and due to no further questions, she moved us to the ‘break-out room’ whilst they spoke to our Social Worker.

We were unsure how long we would be waiting for the Social Workers to join us in the other room but we both just took a deep breath and talked about how we found the questions. Within two minutes the Social Workers were moved into the other room with us, apparently the panel had no additional questions for them, and they had no addition information they wanted to provide. Our current Social Worker advised she felt it was very positive and she thought we answered all the questions very well. Less than five minutes after they joined us, we were all called back into the main room for the outcome announcement.

The panel chair welcomed us back and advised us that panel had come to a unanimous decision to approve us and listed a few of the reasons why they had come to this decision. I could have literally cried there and then, but I was determined to hold it in and just said thank you over and over until the meeting finished.

We had only been in the meeting for twenty minutes in total, but it felt so much longer. As we came off the meeting my partner and I just screamed very loudly and gave each other the biggest hug and kiss possible, we were so excited that after all the delays and issues over the last year we had finally been approved! After panel is done you then have to wait for the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) to write to you to officially confirm the decision, but we could not wait to tell all our friends and family the outcome.

Ten minutes after panel finished and we were on the phone to my mum, my husband grabbed my arm and showed me his phone… the new Social Worker had emailed through a child’s profile they wanted us to consider already!

To be continued…


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