We had a wait of a few days following the phone call saying that we had been approved to proceed on to the first stage. After what felt like a lifetime we got an email from the same social worker who had done our screening call, she told us that she would be our allocated social worker for the first phase. She introduced herself and told us that she wanted to meet us at her office in two weeks to go through the formal checks, ID and DBS checks etc. The DBS forms were posted to us and we had to bring the completed forms with us as well as contact details for both our managers so that our work and employment could be verified.
We met our social worker two weeks after the email, it was a very relaxed and chilled meeting. We had a brief chat about a learning/training group that they wanted us to go on which would be towards the end of the first stage.
Our social worker gave us a folder with information on how the process was going to go including the meeting with another social worker at the end of the process which would determine if we would then proceed on to the second stage. We were also given more paperwork that they wanted us to fill out, such as our childhood chronology, financial information (our income and expenditure, any savings and debts such as credit cards), our family tree and finally a learning diary that they wanted us to fill in through out the process (any reading or learning we did related to adoption).
Following the meeting we were asked to read up on attachment theories which we would discuss during our next meeting. This is where our social worker got a little annoyed! I found that they were more focussed on the old school theories of attachment, such as Bowlby. This was super frustrating as all these theories and based on the ‘traditional’ families such as a mother and father. I found more research that was based on positive parental interaction with a child it enhances a strong attachment. Our social worker was a bit taken aback and put off by this, it was obvious that they were not aware of this research. She asked how I came across by this research and how was this research relevant, I explained that it was more relevant to our situation i.e being two gay men about to bring up a child! I was really having to bite my tongue during this meeting, I was starting to feel that they didn’t want us to be proactive in our learning!.
This stage was very much focussed on paperwork and getting the formal things sorted. We had to sign consent for the councils medical advisor to obtain our medical notes from our GP. We also had a health and safety check done on our apartment, although this didn’t go too well. Our social worker felt that the child’s bedroom was too small despite it being a double bedroom, and that our balcony could be deemed dangerous, because we had Moroccan lanterns. She felt that the child could use the lanterns to climb over the side of the balcony..however she was not reassured that we would obviously not allow the child onto the balcony unsupervised. I was so frustrated with this because these were aspects that shouldn’t cause any problems or be an obstacle with our adoption process. However, it was clear that our social worker felt that our two double bedroom sized apartment was not big enough to raise a child. Following this we decided to sell our apartment following some positive valuations on it. We had always envisaged having a family home but now just seemed to be the best time to do it (this would later be a real pain!!). We listed our apartment the following week.
We attended the learning group in Lewisham that we spoke about during our first meeting with our social worker. Due to the dates that the group was being run on meant that our first stage slightly overran. The day learning group was more of an insight into adoption and learning about how the process is run and what we need to learn to show that we are able to care for adopted children who have had traumatic experiences in their previous lives. It was really great as there were also couples who had previously adopted and decided to go through it again, this was quite nice and reassuring to see that these couples were going through the process the second time. During the learning group breaks both myself and Ricky spoke with them to get advice and to hear their personal stories and experiences of the process. It was reassuring to see and hear that despite all the stress we have been through and the stress that is to come, there is an end and that it is totally worth it.
A week or two following the learning group we had the meeting with our social worker and another social worker to discuss our learning and to answer questions related to us and our family as well as what we could offer our future child. The meeting only laster an hour or so, during which we were both asked questions some of which were quite repetitive as were our answers, such as what have we learnt and how can we implement this. We had to wait for about two weeks for our ‘case’ (as they kept putting it) to be put forward to the rest of the pre-adoption team who would decide whether we would be progressed onto the second stage. This was a crazy long wait, everyday I was checking my emails throughout the day to see if our social worker had emailed us. The waiting is the worst, there is a complete feeling of being out of control, something that I am not used to and hate feeling.
Finally I got an email from our social worker asking me to call her when I was free. Both myself and Ricky had a random, very rare day off together, so we called her and put her on loudspeaker. It was great news. We were progressing on to the next stage of the adoption process. YAY!!!! The call was very composed and we were told that there would be a short wait whilst we wait to have a new social worker allocated to us. Once we put the phone down there was loads of jumping and shouting going on. It was such a great feeling. After so much paperwork, unnecesary reading and learning we were moving forward and going to be parents!!!
For now it was just another wait…..something we soon learn to deal with as it would happen very frequently.