I finally got round to watching the first 3 episodes of the new Nicky Campbell series on ITV Wanted – A Family of My Own. It brought back memories of my own approval and matching journey; some positive, some not so.
Approval: Within 2 hours of my approval panel at the adoption agency children’s profiles had begun to arrive by email via my social worker. I had been approved for 1 or 2 children aged 2 – 6 years old. Due to the fact I was in rather a ‘niche market’, I was sent huge numbers of profiles. To say it was overwhelming is an understatement. But it was also exciting. I went from doubting I would ever be a mummy to realising that it really was going to happen and quickly too.
Then I received a profile of 2 little girls aged 2 and 4.
Linking: My girls love this next bit of our story. They had been in care for a long time. A meeting was held in which it was decided that they were going to change the plan for the girls to long term fostering. The family finder was disappointed because she had been determined to find an adoptive family for them. She went back to her office, logged on to her computer and the first email she opened had my profile attached. Apparently she shouted ‘I’ve found her’ resulting in the whole office grinding to a standstill as everyone wanted to know what had happened. She simply said ‘I’ve done it, I’ve found the girls’ mum’. And that of course was me!
The next step after being officially linked was to meet the foster carers. Sadly from here on in things deteriorated. I won’t go through all the details of that meeting but the foster carer pretty much refused to answer any questions. Her husband was asked how he felt. He said ‘That woman shouldn’t be allowed to adopt the girls. They’ll never be happy with anyone but us.’
Matching: On the day of my matching panel, before going in, the chairperson spoke to me at length about the issues with the FCs and said that intros were a major concern for everyone. After that I had to go in to the panel and give a good account of myself whilst wondering what I was getting myself into. To compound the issue, straight after panel the children’s previous SW walked into the waiting room and disclosed several significant facts about the girls and their birth family which had never been mentioned before. To say I and my social worker were shocked would be an understatement. Despite all this I still felt convinced that the girls were the right match for me and I for them.
Introductions: Fast forward to the day my introductions to the girls began. My SW and I drove over to the FC’s house for my first meeting with my children. I was nervous but excited. We pulled up and saw the girls’ SW on the doorstep.
The FC was nowhere to be seen!
No-one knew where she and the girls were. It was a long tense wait whilst the SWs tried to work out was happening. Not quite the same picture as the wonderful experiences of those adopters on the recent TV documentaries. Ironically I had been approached by a television production company to have my panel and intros filmed for a BBC documentary. In retrospect it was a good job I had decided to say no.
Despite desperate efforts on my part the intros were dreadful, with me being prevented from taking over any care for the girls, never being left alone with them, a constant stream of visitors coming to watch and critique every move I made, and some other very unpleasant incidents which I can’t include here. An emergency meeting was called to keep the intros going and we struggled along for the next few days. A final distressing event was on our moving in day, when a member of the FC’s family prevented the girls being removed from their house. There was a standoff for an hour before we were able to leave.
Here and now: I watched Wanted – A Family Of My Own feeling happy for those adopters featured, but a bit sad and I’m ashamed to admit a little jealous of their experiences. I didn’t have that chance and I would have loved it. I have spent hours wondering whether I did anything to cause the problems and if I could have changed what happened.
Having said all that, though I rarely have positive things to say about myself, I honestly believe that many people would have walked away mid intros and I didn’t. Looking back now it seems unbelievable even to me how bad those 10 days were. I am proud of the fact I stuck it out on my own, that I didn’t walk away and that I did the best I could for the girls at that time. And perhaps after all it was good preparation for the life with my girls that has followed.