During the adoption process I struggled with constant anxiety and trying to power through the process without really accepting how I was feeling and how it was tough on my mental wellbeing. I knew Ricky was struggling with certain parts of the process, I mean it’s only natural right? The whole of your life including your past is assessed, the social workers dig deep even looking at your relationship. What would have been really helpful is knowing that how we are feeling is ok, and that its natural. Obviously we didn’t want to show ‘weakness’ in front of the social workers as we didn’t want anything to jeopardise our adoption application.
I feel that its important to put my top tips to help those who are going through the process.
Tip number 1 :
Talk! Talk to your partner about how your feeling, it is super likely they are feeling the same amount of stress and pressure that you are feeling. I wish I was more open, I think I would have been less stressed and anxious about everything had I been more open. Also make sure you utilise your support network, friends and family, to help you with how your feeling. I used work friends quite often to talk about my adoption journey which was really helpful, normally it was to vent about social workers!! But talking really helps. Trust me!
Tip number 2:
Find local adoption groups to increase your support network, these groups will be helpful later when a child is placed with you and will help adjust to their new life as these other children are in the same boat as them. We have utilised a group called New Family Social, who are a group of same-sex parents to adopted children. They have groups up and down the country holding regular meet-ups, we went to a pre-pride parade picnic which was fab. These meet-ups are for those who have adopted go with their children but it is also open to those who are going through the adoption process. You register on their website http://www.newfamilysocial.org.uk and you add your social worker details as well as they have to verify that you’re going through the adoption process. This group was so helpful to us for getting advice on certain things and hearing other peoples journeys and finding similarities to ours. It makes you feel a little easier about the stresses of the process and knowing it’s not just us that are feeling super stressed.
There is also other groups such as Adoption UK, Family Lives, After Adoption (for post adoption support), PAC UK, Corum Adoption.
Tip number 3:
Take the time to spend with your other half and significant other as well as seeing friends and family, as once your child is matched with you its all go. We were matched with our little boy in the October and from then until Christmas there was meetings and visits to other professionals. In the January the introductions started, 12 days later he moved in. Time goes super quickly so make time for those date nights, catch up with friends because you will lose all that spare time.
Even after the placement even though you try to make time to spend with your other half when your son/daughter is in bed you just can’t because you’re emotionally wrecked and so tired. Also you are unable to leave them with anyone for too long until the court order is made, you also cant apply for the court order until a minimum of 10 weeks has passed. We made ours this month and our court date is the middle of November. So make time for yourselves before you become a family of 3 or more!
Tip number 4:
Stick to your guns and stand up for yourselves. In the early days I was criticised for some of the learning I did on attachment theories as I was focussed on more recent and more relevant research rather than focussing on the maternal deprivation hypothesis, since we were a gay couple adopting! But this didn’t go down too well but I stood up for this and I seemed to get a little bit of respect for this.
Also push for the support you need following the adoption, you are now a parent and if you need support to help your child fight for it. I utilise any support I could even got his school to arrange support because the child’s agency was being super slow. If you have to fight for the support fight for it, its for you and your child so it is vital you get the support you need.
Tip number 5:
This tip is for the person planning on taking the longer leave period. I strongly suggest for you or them to realise and understand that they will be undertaking a huge amount of stress; financially due to the significant reduction in pay once on statutory adoption pay as well as emotional strain. On top of that you will be the one to mostly endure the behavior issues. I took the brunt of my little boys behavioral issues (all due to previous trauma and changes going on for him) and enforcing the rules. It literally breaks your heart. It is difficult because you know that they are adjusting just as much as you, yet it is really important to ensure that you stick to the rules you make, however the best piece of advice I was given was choose your battles. A piece of advice I wish I had been given earlier!