Updated: Oct 26, 2018
Here it is folks; the final part of our adoption application process and the prequel to the very beginning of the Daddy & Dad story almost five years ago.
Here, we talk about what was, for us, the most difficult and uncertain part of the adoption process. It consumed around six or seven months after we were matched with Lyall and Rich but before we actually met them. At the risk of revealing a little too much and endangering the kids' privacy, I'll keep the timeline and detail here quite vague but please do get in touch via our Contact us page if you'd like to find out more about the problems we faced.
Ordinarily, after an adopter has been matched with their offspring, a series of administrative exchanges take place between the adopter's social worker and the children's local authority, behind the scenes. During this time, the adopters prepare their house, make arrangements for school, nursery, doctors, dentists and childcare and talk to their employers about adoption leave. It usually takes about a month or two. It's a little like preparing to sell and buy a house; two estate agents exchanging contracts behind the scenes while the buyer prepares to move.
Tom and I unfortunately weren't so lucky. This, usually rudimentary part of the process for us was littered with uncertainty, lost paperwork, delays and crisis meetings. Almost every single 'worst case' scenario we'd been warned about, happened. To be honest, if it hadn't been for our well organised and diplomatic social worker I don't believe we would be where we are today, at least not with our perfect boys.
I mentioned the boys' social worker was disorganised in part four, didn't I? Well. It quickly transpired the whole local authority (a huge city in the North of England) was in total disarray and we became embroiled in the mess. They were 'reshuffling' the department responsible for our boys' care and misplaced their paperwork in the move to a new office. All of it. Medical records, legal papers, everything.
Not wanting to draw attention to their ('scuse my French) tremendous fuck up, the authority kept very quiet about the situation, during which time they forgot to approve the boys for adoption.
So, there we were, preparing for school, doctors, nursery, the house and everything when we found out the boys might be withdrawn at any moment. On several occasions we were told to expect to meet the boys at the weekend, only for the big day to be postponed indefinitely. But, we'd committed emotionally to the kids so we decided to stick to our guns and wait it out. The delays continued, for months.
Several crisis meetings and six months later, Tom and I were almost ready to completely give up, not only on the adoption process but on each other. Our resilience can only stand up to so much doubt. The situation meant the boys could be approved for adoption at any moment, but equally might not be.
We were in limbo.
If the boys were given the proverbial nod, we would be expected to drop everything and meet them the following day. My employer was also in a strange limbo - six months prior I'd received a huge bunch of flowers, kisses and goodbye hugs from everybody. I was back the following Monday looking very disappointed. I handed over management of my three teams to supervisors in anticipation of adoption leave and even stepped down into a temporary 'office assistant' position that should only have lasted a couple of weeks at most. Six months later I was still there.
To make matters worse, to prepare the boys for their new dads, we'd sent videos, photograph books and letters to Lyall and Richard - we were starting to question how ethical it was to keep the boys in a state of perpetual anticipation. They desperately wanted to join their forever family.
Eventually, around seven months after our matching panel, on a Friday afternoon our social worker called me with good news. She'd been given a firm go-ahead by the local authority to proceed with the boys' introductions the following day. I called Tom to give him the good news. We were so relieved the uncertainty was finally over.
That evening, we prepared the house for our new arrivals. The nerves were building overnight, but, the overriding emotion was relief.
The following morning, we set off early toward the boys' foster home. The Daddy & Dad story continues here...
Our adoption process was turbulent compared to most, but Tom and I have no regrets and we're glad we persevered during the final stage. It was a stressful, difficult time but despite all the uncertainty we still wholeheartedly recommend adoption as the most magical way to start a family.
If you're considering adoption, research adoption agencies. They're impartial, Ofsted inspected, well organised and free to use. For Tom and I, our agency Adoption Focus acted on our behalf throughout the whole process and lifted the proverbial load from our shoulders. The service provided by local authorities varies from one district to another, some are fantastic, some are lazy and disorganised. Also, most LAs are restricted to only the children in their jurisdiction - however in many cases adoption agencies can access children nationally, extending your search.
If you have any questions, please do get in touch.