Its now official

Hey guys! So just over a week ago, November 15th, it was our the initial court hearing to finalise our adoption of L. We had been told by our social worker that this was the initial hearing and that it could be likely that it would be more than one hearing, meaning that we probably wouldn’t get the adoption court order until the new year. Obviously we would have loved to get this in before Christmas, so that our first Christmas together would be as an official family.

So on the Friday as we were sat in our local hospitals peads outpatient department waiting for little man to see his asthma consultant, our social workers were sat in court putting forward the case for us to adopt L officially. We had been told that we would get a phone-call to let us know the outcome of the case, as we were driving home I just happened to check my emails to see one from our social worker. Part of me didn’t want to open the email that just had the subject heading “Adoption Hearing”, I just remember thinking “what if it was bad news?…..what would would we do next?”. Anxiety was sky high, I felt that my chest was going to explode because of palpitations. I took a huge deep breath and opened the email, followed by a high pitch oh my god. Ricky and L both were going “what, what, what” I told them that the judge has said yes, I turned around and said to L the judge has said you can live with us forever and ever. L just looked at me, his. face started to go red and he let out a huge scream and shouted yes and goes “so I don’t have to move home again” This has been something that he has been worried about incase this wasn’t his forever home and his forever family, this time of year has always been the time he would be moved on to a new home and family so naturally its not a time of year where he feels completely safe. I could see a sense of relief in his face amongst every other emotion running through him.
There was a few calls that we made straight away to immediate family members and close friends all of which consists of screams, sighs of relief and shouts of yay! There was just a feeling of being overwhelmed and relived at the same time. The final step will be the celebration hearing where we get our certificate and say our goodbyes to our social workers.

Although I am so happy that L is now officially our little boy and that we are not sharing parental responsibility with his local authority and his mother (although this is honorary parental responsibility) there is this feeling of worry. We have had such great support from social workers especially our social worker and L’s previous social worker but in a couple of weeks this will go. We wont have them at the end of the phone or be able to drop them an email for help and support, instead we will have to go through the process of post adoption support. Having heard of peoples experiences with this there is such a wait for support and this is what worries me. I get so anxious about things like this, and our social worker knows this and has always been able to support me with this so the idea of not having her at the end of the phone is a scary thought. But on the other hand this means no more visits, having to make sure that they are up to date with the smallest of details such as informing his social worker of medical appointments etc, and having to say he has a social worker on those A&E visits (which L has made us attend on so many occasions over the past 10 months!!) followed by those suspicious looks from health professionals, this will be no longer. For now we can move forward on our own path without the need of including those extra professionals.

This is now the end of those formalities of our adoption journey, we have our little guy and can now begin building our lives as a family, it’s a scary but super exciting time. I suppose this is the start of our family live.

Top tips to get through the adoption process

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!