I can remember waking up the next day and feeling absolutely shocked, not shocked that we had been approved, but shocked that we had actually been treated like that by Panel, and that I had not dreamt it.
Regardless, we had to move on. The decision had been made, and we had to accept that some members of the Panel wanted to ask questions, and some didn't.
It was Christmas Eve and I remember decorating our Christmas Tree, and it seemed to dawn on me, actually, this was the most exciting time of our lives. It was just a shame that it had taken this long for me to realise it!
Christmas came and went, as did New Year, and all we could talk about was that this time next year, we may be a family. We were very excited, but at the same time, because of our experience so far, we were expecting to wait a long time. Kelly rung as after New Year to organise a hand over meeting with Sally and her Supervisor, Steve. She would be coming the second week of January to have the meeting, and from then on we would need to contact Sally directly, and Kelly would not longer be involved in our case. It was saddening to hear that officially, but we knew that Kelly had done her job, and it was time for us and her to move on.
Now that we had gone through the Assessment process we were actually pretty relaxed about the next steps! For a change we did not panic about the meeting, and I did not feel the same need to clean the tops of the kitchen cupboards! We just went with the flow.
By the time the meeting arrived, we were actually looking forward to moving on and getting on our family finding way. We knew in our heads what we wanted, a little girl between the age of 3 and 8 - and as such that was panel had approved us for.
Kelly, Sally and Steve arrived to do the handover, and we were very excited about it. We did wonder if they would have anything for us, in terms of details of any children, but alas they did not! It was also not quite a month since Panel, so we were not too disappointed, but we did want to get on! The meeting went smoothly, and Kelly was so upbeat about Sally and Steve being successful in finding us the child that would become a part of our family.
It was soon time to say goodbye to Kelly, and we felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness that she as leaving us. She asked us to do one favour, and that was that when we had children that she could come and meet them. We had obviously made as much of an impression on her as she had on us. We hugged and kissed her, and closed the door on yet another chapter!
Sally's first job was to do our public profile. Due to the fact that Sally was only on a 6 month contract with the Local Authority, they needed to try as quickly as possible to get a match, so that this could be a part of her training. This was good news for us, as it meant that we would be put on the National Adoption Register with immediate effect. Normally, you would only be available to the Local Authority that assessed you for the first three months, understandable, as they had spent a lot of money on you so far, so by rights they have first dibs on you! The profile had to include a photo, and a small description of us.
Tris and I also had to do our own life story book in this time. We had done a very simple one whilst going through the assessment process, but now we had to fill it out a lot more, and include a lot more personal stuff, pictures of family etc. This would then have parts picked out of it and put into our profile. It was very difficult to do this to the age of child we wanted, because we were looking at 3 to 8 years old, and what appeals to a 3 year old will not necessarily appeal to a 8 year old!
We had also agreed with Sally that we would keep in contact via a monthly visit from her, so she could keep us up to date. At the time we thought that this would be sufficient, however, a month past, and we realised that knowing nothing was a nightmare in itself, as we had no clue as to where we were.
From there Sally took away everything and told us that our Profile would be put together for family finding teams on the National Adoption Register. We had also signed ourselves up for three months of Be My Parent, almost like a newspaper with children who are currently looking to be placed into Adoptive Families.
Sally would now go back to the office and put together a short profile about us that would be sent to different agencies, and the National Adoption Register, in the meantime it was another waiting game, and one that was at a new stage. We had done the assessments, we had done the panel, now it was a waiting game to see how long, and if at all we would ever have children placed with us.
As we had agreed to be in monthly contact with Sally, we could only assume that there was no news. Once we had received a draft copy of our profile, and a few minor amendments were made, that was sent to all the relevant people and the profile started to be circulated. Bearing in mind there are thousands of people out there doing the same thing, you think in two different mind sets, the first is that there is a child out there who is perfect for you and your family, and if there is you will find them, and they will find you. The second is that, there may also be a dozen similar families like you out there searching for the same thing, so what are your chances of being the ones that are picked!
Sally came to see us a month later, and we didn't really expect much except some niceties, and perhaps some direction on where we should keep looking. You could have blown us over when she told us that she had been inundated with requests for more information on us for potential children, and she had also been sent profiles on children from their Social Workers for us to look at! She sat and told us about each enquiry, and it was unfortunate, but none of them would really have been suitable. Of course, we were disappointed, as far as we were concerned, we were suitable for them all! I had to keep reminding myself that as I am a great believer in fate, that what would be would be! After a chat with Sally is dawned on us that she had taken us literally on our word that we were happy with a monthly update from her - we were wrong! We wanted to hear about everything as it happened, and so we amended our agreement. Sally would now contact us about each enquiry made on us, and would update us weekly on anything that she has found that may interest us.
Tris and I were also looking through Be My Parent religiously each month. We would wait on it hitting the door matt each month, and tear the envelope open with excitement, thinking our children could be in there!! The first month there were only a few profiles that interested us, but nothing really screamed "Pick Me". We used to take it in turns to look through the paper, and we would write separate lists. If there were names on one of our lists that were not on the other ones then we would discuss it, and if it was the case it had been skimmed over it then we would look at the profile together. If it did not feel right, then we would discount it altogether - harsh, but long term the right thing to do, as there was no point in taking on something that one of us was unsure about.
In the February we were off on a long waited holiday! We were off to Canada and America for ten days. We were going to Canada for the cold and snow, and to Florida for the heat and pool! Before we went Be My Parent dropped on the door matt, and of course we did our usual scour to see if there was anything that interested us, and Sally did the same thing. We emailed her with some possibilities, and left her to it for a few days while we went on holiday.
When on holiday at my Aunt's in Canada I checked my emails. We had a potential link..... it was a serious second request for information from a sibling groups Social Worker. She told us what she could, and said that there was only one problem.......... the children's ethnicity. From the beginning we said that we would have been happy to consider any ethnicity, and we knew that potentially we could only be matched with a child that matched our ethnicity as closely as possible, however, these children were mixed race, and it may have looked very obvious in the town we live that these children were not ours. After a long long discussion Tris and I decided against this link. We were a little disappointed that we had discounted it, but it did not feel right, and if it does not feel right, then it would have more than likely failed. All this while on holiday!!
When we came back we had our final copy of our three month subscription of Be My Parent. I always joke that if they were not in this copy that it was not meant to be as Tris is too tight to pay for any more than a three month subscription!! We did exactly the same as we normally did, went through it separately and then matched our lists. This time there were 4 potential links, and we had them all in the same order of potential. The first seemed the most likely, and the photo drew us into them............ maybe they shouldn't do photos, however, I am not too sure I could have made my decision without it.
That night Sally rang. She had also been looking through Be My Parent, and had made her list. We were shocked, actually we were horrified, to find that our first potential was also the top of her list!!! Wow! Could this be it?