Mad as a March Hare..
I actually wanted to sit down and write about Katie's lovely birthday party today and make a joke about the fact that Katie had her first ever sleepover last night so it really was a "Silent Sunday" in our house but this needs to be written down first - just to get it out of my system so I have some hope of re-finding my usual positivity about the adoption process and I can then write the other two posts in my usual upbeat manner. I'm also extremely frustrated at having to write this one week after all the positivity of last week's National Adoption Week.
Today we had a visit from our Social Worker. She came down from the north to visit us and some of our referees on this very chilly Sunday, having been ill and still not feeling well (and really should be tucked up at home in bed). I'm feeling a bit guilty about the position she is in today if I'm honest. The reality for her is that she doesn't get paid until we go to panel. The joys of being an agency Social Worker. She shouldn't have to be driving all that way whilst feeling ill - just so she can get paid and also to dig our LA out of the hole they are digging themselves into.
So what has got me all worked up (other than the normal frustrations of trying to get to panel)? Well our Local Authority, it would seem, haven't been doing the bits of our process that they were suppose to do. We signed our CRB checks in March 2012 after attending our prep course. They were supposed to have been collected and sent off by our LA. The LA never sent anyone out to check and collect them. When I chased them they said that our SW could do it all for us. OK that's fine (or so I thought). It transpires that the signatures on our CRB checks were already out of date by the time our SW was allocated. She did all the checks she was supposed to do and passed them to our LA to be sent off. The LA told me recently that they were sent off in June but still weren't back. I commented to them that I thought this was odd and I thought that the problems with the time delays in CRB checks had all been rectified now. I find out today (and I'm sure you already now know where this is going) that they didn't even send the CRB forms off to be approved. Our SW had to bring them back to us to re-check all the information so that they can be sent off. We have panel in December - this is unacceptable! Who knows if they'll be back in time. More importantly the SW at the LA lied to me about it. Not only was I lied to but that lie had a lot of embellishment. That is really unprofessional in my opinion. I am now having to decide at what point this issue is raised with the LA. The fear of adopters is that if you raise issues and complaints whilst going through the process, that this may hinder or even endanger your adoption.
I know that our LA are seriously understaffed due to financial cuts and also due to staff being off work with stress-related illnesses. I am seriously cheesed-off however with the general lack of organisation and leadership. The right hand seems to have no idea whatsoever of where the left hand is, let alone know what it is doing! There seems to be no coordination of information. Departments don't seem to communicate with each other. No-one checking the cases that will be going to panel and whether all the information is present and correct. There are no Social Workers allocated for matching after panel. If I'd known 6 months ago what I know now I would never have used this LA for this adoption. We thought that it made sense to stick with the same agency with used with our last adoption. We were promised an 8 month process (it's been 14 months so far). They already have all our information and we were promised an update of our information but instead we've had to proceed as if we were first time adopters. How ludicrous is that? Thankfully we've had a very supportive Social Worker who has used our Form F from our last adoption and has updated that (although has since had to change the paperwork from the PAR document, back to the Form F and now to a new PAR document). In addition to the concerns about actually getting to panel, I am now starting to have concerns about how much I can trust any permanence reports I may read about any children we are matched with. If the SWs are so overstretched that they are unable to properly coordinate our adoption approval - how on earth are they coping with filling in all the information prospective adopters need on the permanence reports? Can I even trust that sufficient process has gone into a future match? I may be worrying unnecessarily but it is a concern that is slowly taking shape. One thing I do know is that Hubs and I will have to be really on the ball with asking questions when we are matched.
The annoying thing personally is that I watched a friend go through all this with them only recently and we made the decision to stick with the LA instead of moving to another LA. I wish we'd moved at this moment in time. I'm sure that when we get through all this and we're matched I will know that our instinct to stay with our LA was right but today I'm questioning just about everything. Today I don't want to remind myself of my spiritual beliefs about everything happening for a reason and that we'll be exactly where we're supposed to be. I have no doubt that the right child will come and join our family but just for today, I just want to scream with frustration at the ineptitude of our LA. I want to be emotionally mature and understanding about the funding cuts and the enormous pressure that the Social Work team are working under but today, I want to be immature and selfish and ask the universe why, after all the years of pain and heartbreak we've already been through we have to go through yet more waiting?
I'll live. I'll learn and grow and all those other euphemisms we say at times like this but just for today, I just want to pout and feel annoyed and sorry for myself. If I'm honest I'm fed up with being grown-up about it all. I'm fed up with being understanding. I'm probably not just talking about the adoption process anymore so time to stop and hit the "publish" button.
So in keeping with my strongly held Reiki principles of "Just for today".......
Just for today I'm as mad as a March hare.......
Tomorrow I'll be back to being me again and following the Reiki principles as they should be followed......but I'll also be preparing my report of complaint for our LA when this is all over. And I'm going to try and remember this.......