Our Adoption Journey Part 5
It’s been a hot minute since I last updated you guys on the adoption process (well a hot 3 or so months actually) the last time I checked in with you we just finished our final assessment meeting with our social worker and had our panel date penciled in, but everything didn’t go quite according to plan.
Our panel was scheduled for the end of November which was a date we given 6 months before hand so we had always been working towards that date. However due to circumstances out of our control the panel had to be postponed which was heartbreaking. I got the call from our social worker on a Tuesday whilst I was at work. I answered happily assuming that they just wanted to go over a few minor details before panel which at this point was only a couple of days away. However the call was to tell us that unfortunately we would have to push the panel back. I didn’t know how to respond but could tell that my social worker was also incredibly upset about having to move our panel back. I called sam immediately afterwords and knew he would be just as devastated as I was. We’re both incredibly positive people, you know those annoying glass half full types but this just left us feeling empty. A big part of it was because we had always been thinking about this date since the beginning and couldn’t wait to get to panel, be approved and hopefully quickly matched with our perfect child. The next couple of week were incredibly difficult, we didn’t have another panel date in place and knew that there wasn’t one in December so it wouldn’t be until the new year that we would be able to continue our adoption journey. It was the first time I just wanted Christmas to be done. As much as it was our last Christmas together we just wanted it to be 2019 and start the next chapter of our lives as a family.
Thankfully we got the call before Christmas to let us know our new panel date, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I knew we were pushed back for reasons beyond our control however you can’t help but feel that you’ve done something wrong and that you’re to blame. Sam & I were elated and although it wasn’t until the beginning of February we had something to work towards. We used the time to get everything done around that house that needed to be done. Painted all the rooms, decorated the nursery (as much as we can without knowing the age of the child) and ordered stair-gates and child locks. It felt good to be doing something for the adoption, because by this point we had been assessed by our social worker, they had given their recommendation for us to be approved as adopters and all we had to do now was sit and wait. Just after Christmas we received our finalised PAR (the report that your social worker writes about you throughout your entire assessment period of stage 2. It’s made up of all of your details, family tree, medical, references, social worker observations and finally whether they do or don’t recommend you to become prospective adopters). We then had the time to read it, ensure everything is factual and that we agree with what has been written and send it back for it then to be sent to the panel. The panel members receive a copy prior to panel to ensure they have time to read it and prepare any questions they want to ask you based on your PAR. One assuring thing to know is that panel won’t ask you anything that isn’t in your PAR.
The prospect of panel has always been terrifying, the idea that a group of strangers have the power to decided whether you will or wont be approved as adopters kept me up at night but it honestly shouldn't have. We arrived at panel 30 minutes early dressed in our best ‘I’m ready to be a responsible parent’ clothing. Our social worker met us in the foyer and took us to a room opposite the room where panel would be held. We spoke over the potential questions that panel might ask and she assured us we wouldn’t have gotten to this point if everyone in that room didn’t want you to succeed. The chair of the panel came to introduce herself and took us into the panel room. The room itself was set out in a horseshoe shape with panel members sat around the entire horseshoe then in the middle were three chairs for myself, Sam & our social worker. It started with each of them introducing themselves to us. The panel was made up of 8 people on the day (but that isn’t always the same for everyone, sometimes its bigger, sometimes smaller) our panel was made up of the panel chair and vice chair, the medical examiner, a barrister, two independent social workers, someone that has adopted and someone who has been adopted. They were all very friendly and smiling at us when we came in but it did feel a bit like the apprentice with everyones eyes on you. I was never nervous about going to panel because talking is what I do and I knew I would be fine once I was in their but I can’t deny a part of me wanted to run home and dive straight back under the covers.
Next the panel chair asked our social worker why they have recommended for us to be approved. This part was lovely, our social worker listed off the reasons she thinks we would make great parents and how lovely it’s been getting to know us over the past year. She also mentioned all the extra training we’ve attended to prepare us as well as volunteering at our local nursery for the past 6 months. Then begins the onslaught of questions aimed towards us either as a couple of individually. We had quite a few questions on the day but it all happened in such a blur I can only remember a couple. There was a questions around what we think the benefits of adopting whilst we’re still young are. How will I cope with Sam being out of the house most of the day & what did we learn from volunteering at our local nursery. The questions are very informal and if you get stuck or don’t say quite what they’re looking for they will probe or your social worker will step in to jog your memory.
Once the questioning was finishes all of the panel members were beaming back at us as we were asked to leave whilst they had a chat with our social worker. We then went back to the room we started in. Sam & I instantly hugged and were elated at how well it went. We both thought we answered all the questions in full and that the panel responded to us well. We only waited a couple of minutes before our social worker came back in to tell us we did really well and how proud they were of us. Normally you would wait a little while for the panel to confer then the chair and vice chair come in to give the panels recommendations. In this case we only waited about a minute before they came back in to tell us that all panel members had voted for us to be approved as adopters. I can’t begin to describe how it felt to be told after all this time that we did it, that we’ve been approved and that we are going to be parents. The chair of the panel then lists off the reason why you’ve been approved but honestly I can’t remember much I was too busy thinking about how I’m going to be a dad!
We went out to celebrate with some cocktails, although not too many as it was before 12 on a school night when our social worker called to let us know that panel were so pleased with us and that she would call us next week once we have the official decision. After the panel its then down to the ADM (agency decision maker) to make the finale to decision. This happens a week after panel and thankfully last Wednesday we got the call to let us know we have been officially approved and that our social worker will be in touch when they have the perfect match for us. It’s all been al ittle surreal, but incredibly relieving to know we will be dads its just a case of when our perfect match is found for us.