Needless to say that as soon as the application form came, it was completed and sent back the same day. We took Karen literally and got it in as soon as we could, so that we could get our assessment started as soon as we could. Our application went in the week before Christmas 2005, and we were very settled over Christmas. We spent Christmas with our Niece and Nephew and it was a lot of fun. It was going through our head all the time that this could possibly be our last Christmas as just the two of us. It was possible that we could have been parents for Christmas 2006. We'd have to see.
So, with Christmas over for another year, our thoughts turned back to Adoption, and the year ahead. We really did not know what to expect, how long it would take, and as always, what the end result would be. We were nervous about it all, but it was a different kind of nervous. Possibly because we knew that at the least it was going to take us 8 months, as Karen had said, and there was no real point in being nervous for the full 8 months!
It was a good 4 weeks before we started to wonder what was going on. We had heard nothing from Karen, or anyone else from the Authority, and we were starting to worry that we had either been forgotten about or there had been a mistake made! Maybe there was an element of paranoia on our part, but who could blame us after the length of time we had waited!
By the end of January we decided to ring the Authority to find out what was going on, and how long we were going to have to wait! We rang and spoke to Lea, and she said to leave it with her, and she would find out what was going on. A short while later a very apologetic Lea rang to let us know that Karen did have our application, but it had been put at the bottom of a very large pile of papers! Did they not realise how long we had been waiting already!!!!!!!! Grrrrrr!
We were about to get a surprise! (Another one!) Lea rang us a day or so later to let us know the progress with our application. She said that we had been appointed a Social Worker for our assessments, and that she would be calling us in the next day or so to make an appointment to see us. That seemed like an excellent plan to us. Lea said that Karen would put this and the details of the Social Worker in writing to us in the post so that we had it in writing. Excellent. We asked Lea who our Social Worker was, due to the fact that we had started to get to know the Team, and she told us that they had actually contracted an Independent Social Worker, due to the intricacies of our case. The Social Worker appointed had a vast amount of experience in Social Work, and it would certainly benefit us to have her on board. The Social Workers name. . . . . . . . It was Kelly! If you have read the earlier sections, then you will know that we already knew Kelly from our Fostering Enquiries! Wow, how fantastic that we did not have to sit and explain our situation again to her, even though it had been more than a year since we had met her, we were sure that she would remember us. We were now quite pleased.
The letter arrived, with an apology for taking too long, but they had had to organise the funding for the Assessment, to ensure that we would not have any problems in the future. Had it all been explained to us earlier, then we would have been happier with it, however, undeterred, we moved on.
A few days later Kelly rang to make her appointment. She did remember us, but of course, we remembered more about her than she remembered about us, which is no real surprise, she must see hundreds of people each year! Still, we had a good start, as there was not going to be any awkwardness with her, we had done all of that previously. She arranged to come and see us the next week. She told us that she was currently doing a lot of Lecturing, and that she would only be able to come and see us on specific days and at specific times. Of course, we were kind of in the same boat, as we had to still go to work and fulfill our own obligations, however, we still needed to be a little flexible!
At the point Kelly started her assessment with us we started some very intense building work in the house. What a time to start it! The house was constantly dusty, upside down, and the work that we were having done actually meant that half of the house was roofless and wall less! Not the best start for us! It did not worry Kelly though, as she did remember that the house was a bit of a wreck from her last visit.
The first meeting day arrived, and we both had to finish work early to get home and organised. Kelly arrived at 4pm, and it was lovely to see her again. After making the obligatory cup of tea we got down to business. She told us exactly what would happen throughout the assessment process, and some of the areas we would be covering. These included, Our relationship, our childhoods, our finances, our feeling on the types of children we thought we could care for, our support network, etc etc. The list was endless, and seemed to cover everything you could imagine.
However, this was the first meeting, and it was our time to talk about us. It was time to talk about our, then, 8 year relationship, how we had met, when we moved in together, how many arguments we had had, if either of us had ever been unfaithful, our future plans, our relationships with our families, and of course our "in-laws", no end of things, and it was quite nice to be able to talk about us.
As with the smoking issue, there is no point in trying to hide anything from these guys. One thing we caught onto half way through the assessment process was that Kelly had a knack of asking the same questions four times without us realising, to ensure we were giving the same answers! Again, don't try and hide anything or lie, it just won't work. We told Kelly that we had sussed her out, and she openly agreed that she does this, it is part of the process, and it can help her to make her decision on whether she thinks we would be suitable, as she has a say in whether we should go further! She gave us an example:
She once assessed a couple a few years before us. The assessment was going well, and it seemed there was nothing wrong until they got onto the subject of fertility. This is a question that will take a good two sessions to discuss, as it is one of the most important factors that they need to ensure that any Adopter has come to terms with. It was quite obvious to Kelly that this particular lady had not come to terms with, although, the lady was adamant that she had comes to terms with the fact that she could not have her own children. It worried Kelly, she thought that something was not quite right. She referred it to her Manager and they discussed it at great length. The unfortunate thing was that they could not prove anything, and there was nothing else that cropped up that caused any concern.
They had no choice but to let the application got through to the Panel stage, and of course, if there were any problems they would be brought up in the Panel Meeting. Apparently there were a few issues, and the lady in question got rather defensive with the panel, however, this was put down to nerves. The Panel did approve them as Prospective Adopters, and the couple did go onto Adopt two children. With Adoption these days, children may still have contact with their birth family, if it is of benefit to the child/children. In this case "Direct Contact" (face to face meetings with children) was put in place with some of the birth family, the lady in question could not deal with it, and it ended up that after the Adoption Order was granted the couple disappeared with the children - never to be seen again. May not seem like a big deal to some, however Kelly was right, there was something not right, and whilst it was questioned it was not deemed to be too "risky".
Even for a same sex couple, there are lots of questions surrounding your "Infertility" - it may seem obvious that it is impossible, especially for a male same sex couple, but it is still an area that comes with a lot of questions. Obviously, and as I have mentioned before, there are surrogacy options, but Tris and I felt that this option is VERY uncertain, and costly!
Anyway, that area was to be discussed in the future, for now, we had talked for three hours about ourselves, and that was good fun, and brought back a lot of memories we have about our earlier relationship. It was also draining emotionally. We don't know why, but it was! I think because you are literally re-living your past emotions, and coming to terms with any issues you had.
The start of at least 8 months of these meetings, and homework too! Our first bit of homework was to write about our childhood. All of the good, the bad and the ugly! Kelly would be back in two weeks, so she left us to it.
Time to open a bottle of wine, and celebrate the start of the next stage, surely we were on our way now?