One couples' experience of the adoption process


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A vivid account of adoption delays and frustration: a reminder to all those who still protest that the system didn't need to change...

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One couples' experience of the adoption process

  1. 1. In my opinion the changes to the adoption system cant happen soon enough.Whereas it wont change things for our family I am hoping that it will help many otherpeople have a more positive experience of the adoption process - and hopefullyencourage others to consider adopting. Below is a little about our story, althoughplease appreciate that much has had to be edited in order to protect both ours andour childrens identities.We are a married couple in our 30’s and have been together for seven years. Whenwe met I was already the mother of two children, having adopted them a few yearspreviously. My partner also had a biological child. We both work with children andhave always embraced adoption in the most positive way. It therefore felt verynatural to add another child to our family.In Early 2009 we applied to adopt a child and just a few weeks later we had an initialvisit where we were told we were great candidates and would be through theprocess very quickly. We were told we needed to speak to our current children aboutthis and start preparing them for a new arrival.Just a few weeks later we were hit with the first delay. My husband had given upsmoking two months previously and we were told this was not long enough. We werethen put on hold for 10 months.We finally attended preparation training in 2010 and started our home study sessionssoon after. Things really picked up pace and we were again told to expect things tomove quickly and to keep preparations going with our children.Then came the next delay which was connected to my husband not seeing enoughof his biological daughter. During this time we were put on hold again, this time fortwelve months and also told in no uncertain terms that if my husband did not startseeing more of his biological daughter then we would be dropped by the agency.After jumping through every possible hoop we were finally approved to adopt atpanel in 2011 - two and a half years after first applying. We felt exhausted by theprocess but also immensely positive that we would at long last be having our newaddition.However, our optimism was short lived. Our agency told us straight away that theydid not have any suitable children for us, yet despite this we still had to wait threemonths before looking outside the Local authority for a suitable child. Being a veryproactive couple this was difficult for us, yet as soon as the three months were up webegan searching. Over the next twelve months we did the following:- Attended numerous adoption exchange days (across the UK)- Sent out letters to over 100 Local Authorities- Looked every month in family finding magazines
  2. 2. -Referred ourselves to the National Adoption RegisterThroughout this time we showed serious interest in approximately 25 children.Unfortunately the most common response was for us to be ignored as many SocialWorkers did not even bother to respond to our enquiries. Some Social workers didrequest to see our PAR (Prospective Adopters Report) but then turned us down forthe very reasons it had taken us two and a half years to be approved for.At a time when there seemed to be campaign after campaign on the TV, internet andin newspapers about how many children were looking for families, it washeartbreaking to be told yet again that we were not good enough.Below are just a few example of our experiences in trying to find a match, and whichI think highlight how much change is needed:1) After receiving a letter from us, a local authority emailed a child profile to oursocial worker. We immediately said we were interested, but despite many emailsand phone calls we heard nothing else. Two months later this child appeared in afamily finding magazine, complete with new photos and a video clip. We enquiredagain, we were ignored again.2) At an adoption exchange day I got talking to a social worker who explained shewas family finding for a child and needed to place him as soon as possible. Oursocial worker made immediate enquiries about this child but was then told that theyhad changed their minds and had decided to keep looking for local adopters andwould wait three months before using adopters from out of area. Three months laterwe received an email to say they had not been able to find any local adopters andasking if we were still interested.3) An enquiry via the National Adoption Register saw us receiving details of a child.We exchanged reports and we expressed our wish to be considered for this child.However we were told that they had concerns about our financial stability. Despitebeing utterly confused about this, as we are thankfully very financially stable, we didprovide them with further information in the hope of alleviating their worries. Howeverthey decided not to proceed with us on these grounds.4) As a result of seeing our profile, a local authority sent us details of a child. Wesaid we were interested in hearing more, but received no response. Four monthslater this child appeared on a family finding website.I believe that these examples alone give you some idea of the poor matching thattakes place and the fact that social workers still spend an unsatisfactory amount oftime looking for a perfect match - perfect families with perfect lives and nobaggage. Families that simply do not exist. All of the children I have just mentioned
  3. 3. will have spent unnecessary extra time in care because of this. They are just someof the 4000 children waiting for adoption that social workers say they cannot findfamilies for.Thankfully for us we did get matched in the end. A child from our own agency. Ourdifficult journey did not end there, as we then had to wait five months before we wereable to bring her home - more unnecessary delays, and also had to endure ahorrendous matching panel where we were made to feel more like wannabe childabusers than loving parents. We then had a further wait whilst the agency decisionmaker decided whether to give the final go ahead. From the point of receiving theofficial confirmation of being matched with our child, we had just four days tomentally and emotionally prepare ourselves before we became their parents - andthey wonder why some adoptions break down? Luckily we are a strong family, andluckily six months on we are doing well and couldnt imagine life without our newaddition.Adopting my three beautiful children has been the most difficult, yet amazing thing Ihave ever done. They are all inspirational little people who I could not be without.Each one of them is worth the pain and heartache that it has taken to get them,however the fact remains that it should not have been this way. The changes beingmade by the Government are certainly a step in the right direction, but can theyactually force social workers to change a deep seated attitude? I certainly hope so.