Yesterday was a day very much about adoption in one form or another.
I contacted our Local Authority yesterday to chase up our application form and had a long conversation with the Social Worker who was reviewing our application. It looks like things might not be quite as straightforward as we had hoped and I was reminded why so many people are put off the adoption process. It wasn't so much the concerns that were being raised, because I can appreciate and even welcome those concerns and insights, but the negative approach that was initially taken without gaining further information and I was reminded of the horror stories we were told about on our preparation course of children killing the family pets or smearing their poo all over the walls and the anxiety that I felt around all this. The Social Worker raised a concern that insufficient time had passed since we adopted Katie and that she might not cope with a new addition and might regress or experience difficulties with her attachment to us. It was pointed out that a larger degree of second time adoptions fail. I do agree with these concerns but I think they are issues that can be addressed in a home study when a full picture of our home situation is investigated, not during an initial phone call, particularly as Katie is a very well settled and well adjusted young lady who spent the first two years of her life in a busy foster home with lots of children.
I have also reflected, since the conversation, of the different approaches taken by different Local Authorities because a friend of mine has recently been approved as a second time adopter and exactly the same amount of time has passed for her since the placement of her first child (bar one month) as us. She and her husband have gone through the process with a neighbouring Local Authority however whose approach is very different.
As my conversation progressed however I felt the discussion became more positive and I felt that the Social Worker I was talking to appreciated that we had thought through a lot of these concerns already and that my answers allayed some of her concerns. I highlighted that part of our reasoning for adopting a 2+ year old were because they could play and interact and build their own relationship together and also a toddler would not be held and cuddled as much as a baby would be, potentially sparking jealousy issues of the baby being held and cuddled more than Katie. I also stressed that we were looking to add to our family around March 2013 when Katie would be nearly 5.5 years old and would have been placed with us over 3 years at that point and would also be, hopefully, completely settled in school by that time. She said to me that they were wanting to start fast tracking people and the adoption process wasn't taking nearly as long as it used to. A close friend of mine who is seeking to adopt again through the same Local Authority was told recently that it was around 8 months from preparation course to panel. I am aware that the next prep course is January and that would still take things from January until September/October 2012. That isn't a world away from our hopes of adopting in March 2013. I was informed that adopters are being approached literally outside the approval panel doors so it sounds like things are moving very quickly but even then it still takes several months before you meet the child. I discussed this with another close friend last night and she reminded me of the amount of emotional investment that goes into adopting a child in those early months and how our energy would be needed to make sure Katie was settling well in school. We do need to keep that in mind but, at the same time, I don't want a huge age gap between Katie and her sister. I have a large age gap between me and my sister and it hasn't always been easy, particularly when we were younger. I don't want Katie to feel like the babysitter, I want them to have a real sister relationship and have similar experiences as much as possible.
The second thing that happened literally 30 minutes after this conversation was another conversation that happened during Katie's gym class. There is another older mum (like me) who has a little Chinese girl with her. I wondered last week whether the lady's husband was Chinese or whether the girl was adopted. It's funny how fate intervenes though. Katie and I were late to gym because of the conversation with the Social Worker and the only chair left for me to sit on was next to this lady. We sat silently for a little while before we started to share a chuckle over the antics of our children and started to chat. I asked her if her husband was Chinese and she said that her daughter was adopted. I admitted that I had asked specifically because Katie is also adopted. We spent the rest of the afternoon, while the children played after gym in the soft play area at the leisure centre, chatting about the process and adopting overseas. Interestingly she and her husband had initially approached the same Local Authority as us but felt very intimidated by their approach and chose to adopt through an agency overseas. I hope a new friendship might blossom from this conversation. We adopters are definitely a growing breed!!!