Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A toast to celebrate!

Surrounded by our family and closest friends we popped open a bottle of champagne and toasted panel’s decision to match us with the children we longed for.

 My husband and I wanted to mark the occasion, as a couple, as a family, we wanted to share this moment and to celebrate. We decided to do an alternative to a baby shower and hold an ‘adoption party’.

We shared a picture of our daughters, it was such a proud moment. We were given presents and cards for our new family and we were touched by people’s kindness, generosity and warmth.

I am glad we took this opportunity to share what was happening in our lives, a time for fun, laughter, to pause and be thankful.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

To be or not to be ... Part 2!

Not being able to contain our excitement any longer we bought and built the white wooden beds for our soon-to-be daughters. A Peppa Pig toy was bought for us by my father in-law and sat proudly on the top bunk, waiting to be owned and loved. Walking past the bedroom door made my stomach flip each time. I couldn't wait to walk past and see my little girls all tucked up, warm and safe.

Yes, we were the mad couple that decided to start buying items before the girls were officially matched with us. We preferred to think of it as being positive, a quiet confidence, a trust that God's plan was coming together. 

A couple of weeks following panel we got the call that we had been waiting for since being approved. Our Social Worker had arranged for us to officially meet the girls allocated worker along with the family finder, to discuss the possible adoption in detail. Feeling a mixture of emotions, my husband and I shared why we thought we would be a good match for the children and answered numerous questions including how we would cope with three children all moving in at once and how we would cope with three teenage girls?! Everyone seemed happy with our responses and at the end of the meeting the girls worker let her excitement slip as she believed that we were a good match. I can remember feeling so pleased and relieved. The family finder, however, was not going to share her initial thoughts with us and appeared happy to make us wait just a little longer.

A few days later our Social Worker phoned to say that everyone felt as though we were a good match and that they wanted to proceed with the formalities. To say we were happy would have been an understatement. After meeting with numerous people involved in the girls lives, and reading and signing various pieces of paperwork, we were still confident that we wanted to move forward with the adoption.

As the date for our matching panel arrived I couldn't help but feel as though this was it, the final major hurdle, the final tick in the box before we could begin introductions and start life as a family. The nerves and excitement twisted and turned through my stomach. The anxiety was based around panel not agreeing that we were capable of parenting three children. Finally. after a long wait and a couple of strangely phrased questions, it was agreed that we could be approved for the girls.

We had done it!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

To be or not to be?!

Trying not to burn my fingers I bounce my tea bag up and down in my paper cup, whilst a mixture of nerves and excitement swirl around my stomach.
‘Do you think they will approve us for a sibling group of three?’ I ask my hubby who is deconstructing his chicken burger. He nods and says, ‘I hope so.’

Whilst I am quietly confident we will be approved, I’m not so confident as to whether the panel members will think we are capable, suitable or experienced enough for three. Panel day has arrived and we are trying settle our nerves before walking in front of a bunch of strangers who will make one of the biggest decisions of our lives. 

We were kept waiting in a side room whilst we could hear muffled voices in the next room deciding other people’s fates. The nerves were growing and growing, what was taking them so long? I think our Social Worker was aware of the tensions as she tried to distract me by talking about food (a subject we often found ourselves talking about) to help occupy my mind and keep me calm.

Eventually, we were greeted by the Chair and the Adoption manager who reminded us of the itinerary before we were lead into the large, serious looking, boardroom. I could feel my legs wobbling like jelly as I tried to focus on which chair I should sit on and trying hard not to fall over and look stupid in front of all these strangers. I can recall panel members introducing themselves and feeling calmer once I knew that previous adopters were on the panel. They knew what it was like to sit in those lonely two chairs and would, therefore, hopefully go easy on us. Questions were asked from various directions and I remember feeling as though hubby and I had answered in the best way we could. We were then excused and again my legs were quivering, as I had to make my way back out of the room without tripping over.

Sitting back in the small side room our Social Worker reassured us that our answers were thought through and we had done just fine. It was then time to re-face the panel and to hear the verdict. It felt like we were on trial, all eyes on us. Once back inside the serious looking board room the Chair did not beat around the bush and came straight out with, ‘We have all agreed that you should be approved’, I let out a little relief sigh, but we were still waiting on the criteria. She continued ‘…for a sibling group of three…’ another sigh but bigger this time. The room chuckled in support, as they must have been able to see the relief on our faces. Finally, the Chair said ‘good luck, you’re going to need it.’ And again everyone laughed.

Our Social Worker took us to another side room and congratulated us. We couldn’t believe we had done it. Hubby gave me a massive hug and tears welled in my eyes. Our Social Worker then asked if we would like to meet the Social Worker for the children we hoped to be matched with. We excitedly said yes! We felt fortunate to be able to sit down for five minutes and talk with her. We were asked a few questions and told they would be in touch, congratulated again and then we left.

Driving home we felt so happy, our dream of becoming parents to these three children was coming together. These were our two blue lines. We excitedly called close family and friends who were eagerly awaiting our call to share the good news.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Birthday DVD Memories

When I saw this weeks #WASO birthday theme I thought that I would not have anything to contribute, as we have not had any birthdays as of yet since the girls arrived.

However, as we were sitting around the living room this morning our eldest daughter bounced in holding her birthday DVD from a couple of years ago. She asked if we could watch it and I felt as excited as her to watch it. I wanted to see a part of her history, to be a part of it, to know what she was wearing, which friends shared this special occasion and how she celebrated it.

As the images flashed up upon the screen I couldn’t believe how young she looked, how short her hair was and how shy she appeared whilst everyone sung happy birthday to her.

Watching the images and seeing the girls getting excited about seeing familiar faces, a lump formed in my throat. I couldn’t help but think how hard it must be for them to no longer see their foster carer, her family and some of their old friends. As the images continued to roll, I could see their faces change, some smiles mixed with some sad emotions.

Although watching the DVD brought a mixture of emotions to us all, I felt happy and proud that together as a family we could share a moment of history, laugh at some of the pictures and openly talk about people they have loved.  

This post was written for the #WASO the theme this week is Birthdays! 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

It all seems so unfair! Or is it?

It all seems so unfair. 

I couldn’t help during periods of our home study to wonder why we have to be quizzed, questioned, analysed, discussed, put under the microscope to be given the permission to become parents. It can be a frustrating time, being assessed. My mind couldn’t help but ponder: Why is it that some people become parents so easily, do not have to answer questions, do not have checks undertaken on them, do not have to provide references, do not have to provide medicals to show you are physically fit enough and attend a preparation course. Of course I knew the answers to all the above questions, I’m a social worker and assess families myself. However, applying to be a mom is going to throw up all sorts of emotions and questions. I do not think I would be human if it didn’t.

Our home study lasted around 5 months, during this time I felt as though my husband and I built a good working relationship with our Assessing Social Worker. I would often bake to keep her sweet in hope it would give the impression of us being a warm and welcoming home – silly I know, but she seemed to enjoy the cake and it gave us a point of conversation to begin our session. 

Towards the end of our assessment our Social Worker commented that she was not sure whether or not she would be supporting our application to adopt a sibling group of three, due to her not being convinced that we would be able to cope with the pressures the placement would bring. It was hard to sit there and take it all in. We were so sure that this was in God’s plan. We spoke to close family and they reminded us of the qualities and strong points that we had as individuals and as a couple. We felt empowered and wrote a piece to our Social Worker evidencing why we would be able to be good parents to a sibling group.

Fortunately, our Social Worker agreed with the points we raised and, following a conversation with her manager, decided that they would support our application. They were going to delay our panel date for a month as the manager wanted to interview us further to add a piece to our assessment, undertake further study and meet a couple that had adopted a sibling group of three.  If I said panel being delayed didn’t disappoint us, I would be lying. However, we agreed to the above. All the above thoughts and emotions couldn’t help but resurface, even if it was for a short while.

Nearly a year on and now having been placed with our beautiful daughters I have a better understanding of why we were asked to jump through additional hoops as adopting a sibling group of three has been the best and hardest thing we have ever done. I also believe this helped us through panel and has also meant that our support network is stronger as a result, as we still keep in touch with the family we met up with prior to being approved.