The most tiring and full on day yet!!

So the day had arrived where we travelled up to have a day of information, we would soon learn that this would be a brain aching amount of information.
We drove 2 hours from our home to meet the agencies medical advisor. Our social worker met us there and told us what to expect. A week or two before this child appreciation day we had gone over the medical report again to prep us for this meeting and to figure out questions. We met the medical advisor and she went through the whole report, explaining his health as well as his mothers health from conception through to the present day. She also explained that they have no health details relating to his father. The medic was really thorough with the information that she gave us, there were some concerns and things to bear in mind relating to his educational development, but these are things to keep and eye on for when he was a bit older. Following the meeting we had a brief chat with our social worker and she wanted to know how we felt. For both of us there were no red flags or concerns at all. We knew that things can crop up over time but the main thing is that he is developing well and with the right support he should be fine in terms of his education. Yes there were naturally concerns given the information we got given about his mums health during pregnancy, the lack of care he got at home with his mum and of course the lack of information on his dads health, but there would be concerns regardless. Health problems can arise at anytime. At this point nothing was off putting for either of us.

We left the medical advisors office and headed to his school. It was another long drive (over an hours drive) to his primary school. I remember thinking that if we got approved to adopt him he’s going to have a huge change in terms of his environment. The schools surroundings were gorgeous, lots of green and huge spaces for the children to run around in. Completely different to West London!
All three social workers were there (ours, L’s social worker, and the family finding social worker), the local authorities virtual school teacher, the schools SENCO and his class teacher for the meeting. We got to hear how well he is performing academically and got to see some of his school work. We were asked about schools that we were looking at for him and explained that we were in the process of finding some local schools and will be visiting them shortly.
The SENCO took us on a tour of the school and the school grounds. Then, there he was!! We saw him! He looked so cute stood there in his school uniform looking back at us really confused, clearly wondering who these two guys were looking back and smiling at him!! I couldn’t believe it, he was gorgeous and watching him being cheeky and running around the playground I knew he was the little boy for us. Such a special moment, one that we still haven’t forgotten.
We asked his teacher for a list of his favourite books which we would get for him so that if/when he moves it they are ready to read to him.

It was time to head to our final part of the child appreciation day, we drove a really short journey to meet L’s foster carers. L wouldn’t be there for the meeting as we were not yet allowed to officially meet him. We met both his foster mum and dad, they were completely lovely. We were welcomed in to their house and shown through to the kitchen, their house was lovely. I remember joking with our social worker that L would have a huge shock!
We spoke with the foster carers and again all three social workers were present for this, although L’s social worker and family finding social worker had to leave early. Our social worker stayed with us for the duration of the meeting. His foster carers told us that he was doing well and was a loving, caring funny little boy. His behavior initially needed some work to improve but it dramatically improved once him and his brother had been separated. We spoke about how he was at school and how his home learning was. They told us about his health and that they had no concerns physically, but psychologically he was still having nightmares related to previous trauma however, this was improving day by day. 

The meeting went well, and we both felt very positive about all the information we were given, nothing was overwhelming, like I had imagined it to be. Yet this may have been because everything was very positive. It was suggested by the family finding social worker that we swap numbers so that we can see photos of L and keep up to date with how he is doing. We could also speak with the foster carers if we had anymore further questions. This sounded really positive, it came across as a slight hint that things were proceeding the right way. We left and had a quick chat with our social worker before we got into our cars and headed for home. She told us to keep open minded and to remember that yes, he might be great now but things can change later on in life, given what went on antenatally. In the car journey home we spoke about the information we had been given but we both had huge headaches from the amount of information we had been given but nothing had really changed our minds, we still wanted to go ahead and continue to the panel meeting which had yet to be decided. Such a great feeling. There was no change in how we felt, we still wanted to proceed with this process with L.

The next step would be the panel, which we were told would take place in the next few weeks. During this time we were advised to get on with finding a potential school, making the introduction book and DVD. Both of these were to introduce us to L, which would be shown to L by his foster carers’. The idea is that they have the DVD on in the background as well so that the child gets used to seeing your faces and hearing your voices. With the book the foster carers’ should be reading and showing the child the book daily. We knew he liked Lego and marvel superhero’s so we made it with bits of Lego and mini-figures of Lego superhero’s. In the book we had pictures of me and Ricky as well as close family members in there so that he knew who was who. Neither of us was sure on what we wanted L to call us, Ricky was keen on being called daddy but wasn’t fully sure, so we decided the best thing to do would be to call ourselves Daddy Chris and Daddy Ricky. This was probably not ideal but it seemed the best option at the time.
The book was great fun to make whereas the DVD was quite cringey. The thing was you’re talking to a child, who is not there and you don’t truly know, you have no idea what their personality is despite knowing everything about their upbringing and health but you’ve never met them.

We were now ready for panel!

It finally happened

Sorry for the delay in uploading this. It’s been a stressful two weeks. The little guy is going through some tough phases because he has now fully settled and feels safe with us, so all of his past traumas have started to resurface and it’s just a case of working through it. But, it’s really difficult to work through because naturally at 5 years of age he has not idea what the emotions that he is feeling are, which makes him very frustrated and he takes it out on himself, through hair pulling and hitting himself. It’s really upsetting to see him going through this. To be honest by the end of the day and once the little dude is in bed I am emotionally and physically exhausted. The joys of adoption! But the positives always outweigh the negatives.

So following on from the first match that ended in such a huge disappointment and a massive feeling of loss, like we had lost our chance of being dads. Our social worker finally approved our link maker account which is amazing, the reason we requested to go on this was because there was no timescale for greenwich to find us a match. Anyone going through the adoption process I would recommend going on to this site. If you have seen a profile that you think is a possible match you are able to directly message any child’s social worker to let them know. The only downfall is that if things progress social workers can message privately between each other, you can see that they are messaging each other but you have no idea what is being sent between them. During our time on link maker, knowing that the social workers were messaging each other and sharing documents had a huge impact on me…..my anxiety was crazy.

Eventually after ‘showing interest’ (as it is called on link maker!) in a few profiles we were messaged by a family finding social worker about a little soon to be 5 year old boy who they thought was a great match for us. They asked us whether we would like to proceed with the potential matching process. I showed the profile to Ricky and literally we both fell in love. It sounds crazy to have these feelings about a profile but everything that was written on the profile and his pictures were perfect. We felt that he is the missing piece to our family. We immediately responded saying we wanted to proceed. This is where the anxiety was off the scale, our social worker and the other two social workers started to send private messages and documents to each other with no messages for us.
Our social worker finally reached out to us and made a suggestion that we started to get his bedroom sorted as if the Childs social workers wanted to visit and meet with us then they would more than likely want to see his potential bedroom. We started to get it redecorated but we realised soon into the renovation that there was issues with the wall structures so we had to have the room re-plastered and the floor boards redone as they were damaged when we had some plumbing sorted. We got the bed ordered, which would have been my ideal bed as a child, a bunk bed in the style of a London bus bed!. We went with a grass style floor, and had the fire place painted yellow to match the radiator we had ordered for his bedroom.

A week or two later we got a message from our social worker saying that the child’s social workers would like to meet us. We arranged that we would meet the following month, we also got sent the child’s report which included his history, why he was removed from his mothers care, how he has progressed since being in care, previous and current medical issues as well as his development.

A month later arrived after what seemed like ages, but a stressful time because of the renovation which meant we were not able to get his room ready in time. Luckily they could see that we had everything ordered ready, just frustratingly not in time for the social workers visit, which made me worry incase this would be seen as a problem, luckily though it was. Our social worker was present for the meeting, thankfully as when the information about the child was being given to us she was picking up on bits that needed to be explained further. The meeting went well, we got a lot of information from the social workers and they had a few questions for us such as our working pattern and how that would work in terms of child care as well as whether we already had plans for adopting future children….which was a very simple answer!!! Contact between the child and family was discussed and luckily the only form of contact allowed following adoption would be a yearly letter and no face-to-face contact. The same would go for contact between him and his brother. This was tough to swallow, Ricky and myself both have another sibling and the idea of only talking to them through a letter once a year was not a nice feeling. But, there is the potential for face-to-face contact between them in the future which would be great.
We were asked to think about whether we wanted to proceed with this match and to let them know via our social worker in a couple of days time. Not that we needed anytime to think about it as we already knew the answer…..but we thought we should think about it before letting them know our decision. We had a brief chat and slept on our decision. I called our social worker the following afternoon and told her that we wanted to proceed with the match. Later that day we had a phone call back from our social worker saying that she had heard back from the child’s social workers, it was the most amazing news, they also wanted to proceed with the match.

Finally we had been matched with the most precious little boy known as L. We were on the final part of the process.
We were told that the next stage is known as a child appreciation day which would be done the following month where we would meet the agencies doctor, L’s teachers and his foster carers.

We had been matched finally!!

The first match

We hadn’t really moved in to our new home for that long before our social worker arranged a visit to assess the house, to make sure it was ‘ok’ to have a child living here as well. She briefly looked around and checked all the rooms but was more than happy with everything. The check was very different than the first assessment we had!

After our social worker had checked over the house and said that she was happy, we all sat down to go over things. She wanted to know how things were and if we had done any additional learning. She said that her team had their matching meeting recently and had a possible match for us. I was desperately trying to hide my excitement but it wasn’t working, I knew I had the most biggest smile on my face as she said this. She went over some information and told us that the child was an 18month old little boy, mixed race. He was doing really well, and explained his background. She handed over his ‘profile’, my excitement went straight to disappointment. From looking at the picture I knew something wasn’t quite right, and all was confirmed when I looked at the health section of his profile. He had a chromosomal disorder.

I straight away questioned this with our social worker. She said the team felt given my work background (working in paediatric nursing) it was a good match as I have experience of this. What was this as a reason? I was fuming. I felt that we had been completely ignored in regards to what our matching requests were. We were looking for a healthy boy not one that was going to have both physical and emotional needs later down the line as well as significant learning difficulties. Granted I would be able to care for this child but I know emotionally I would be drained. It’s one thing to care for a child at work but also to be doing this at home as well is something else.

This match was not fair at all, and their reasoning for this was a load of BS to be honest.

For us it was an immediate no although she wanted us to think on it. Me and Ricky spoke about it between the two of us and I spoke with colleagues at work but our decision wasn’t going to change. I did feel really guilty for saying no. This little boy was in foster care and by saying no I had no idea what was going to happen once we said no. How long would he remain in care for? But it was the right decision.

For now it was back to looking for the right match, for us.