I am not sure any amount of training can prepare you for that first time you read a child’s profile and must consider if you wish to explore further or say no.
As we read through this little boy’s limited profile (we couldn’t see the full profile till Agency Decision Maker – ADM- approval had come through after panel) we were filled with all sorts of emotions, and you start questioning if you are being honest about how you feel or just feeling that way because you want your family to grow as soon as possible. In total we must have read the limited profile about eight times each and discussed it over several conversations before we agreed that we would like to see his full profile, just to ensure we were thinking everything through. We were very lucky that within six days we had the ADM written confirmation that we had been approved by panel, this usually can take around 10 days for most agencies, and this meant we then got the little boy’s full profile too.
The full profile was 60 pages long and covered everything you could think of, the only issue was the profile had been written when the boy was 8 months old and now he was 16 months old so we had to remember some of the information was very likely to be out of date. Just like when we had the limited version, we took time to read through it separately and make notes to then discuss and see how we both felt. It took us about four days of reading and discussing the profile for us to decide we would like to explore things further.
We informed our social worker of our decision, and she passed our profile onto the Family Finding team to consider. The Family Finding team works with the child’s social worker to find potential matches and then decide who they would like to visit for a meeting and then take forward to their team to consider for selection for Matching Panel. We were informed they were looking at four other profiles alongside ours and we would hear shortly, and by this point in the journey we knew when someone said we would hear shortly that this could be anything from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks. Whilst we waited for news our social worker showed us three other profiles, but when we read them they just didn’t feel right to us and it just made us feel the little boy in the initial profile was the child we wanted to move forward with.
A few days later we received an email advising us the family finder and the little boy’s social worker would like to visit us at home in a couple of days’ time to talk further. Cue manic cleaning of the flat and writing list of questions we want to ask!
Everything was moving so much quicker than we had expected when we were preparing for approval panel, but we felt so ready for it. The family finder, child’s social worker and our social worker arrived at our flat as agreed and we spent just under two hours discussing the little boy and asking questions we had and answering questions they had about us. Once everyone was happy we gave them a tour of the flat to show them what we had done to prepare for a little one joining us, and then I asked the one question I wasn’t sure I actually wanted an answer to.
“How many families are you meeting with and considering taking forward to the selection meeting?”
The family finder was very honest and informed us they had met another family earlier that day, but from the five profiles they considered it was only that family and us that they were meeting in person. She said the team had their meeting the following week and then we would be informed after that if we had been selected or not. They then left and our social worker stayed around for a cup of tea and a chat about how we felt and the next steps if we are successful. This chat was very much needed I feel as it helped us relax and really analyse the meeting with a 3rd party. Knowing we could be waiting potentially seven days for an answer was never going to be easy, but we focused on work and tried to keep ourselves as busy as possible.
Two days later our social worker called my phone whilst I was at work and I started to panic. Was she calling this soon with good or bad news? Did I want to have this conversation at work whilst my partner was not with me?
“They have decided to only pick you and your partner to take forward to the selection meeting, congratulations!”
A wave of emotions washed over me and I had to ask her to repeat what she said just to be clear I had heard it right. After seeing the preparation we had done around the flat, and the experience we had with a child of the same age as the little boy, they decided we were the best match to take forward to the team meeting. Obviously, just like every step in this journey, nothing is 100% confirmed until the meeting but things were looking very positive. I got off the phone from the social worker and rang my husband straight away as I knew he was about to head to work, after squealing down the phone in excitement I gave him the full update and we both just fell silent not knowing what to do or say.
A really big thing with this journey is knowing your good news calls is potentially a bad news call for someone else, and I do feel sorry for the other families not getting the answer I am sure they were hoping for. The adoption community is an amazing pool of support and the connections we have made in particular with the Instagram adoption community during this journey have been vital to keeping us going through the highs and lows.
So now we wait for the team meeting to take place shortly and hope they agree with the family finder and child’s social worker.
To be continued…