On Wednesday I had my individual assessment meeting with Denise, our social worker. Tom had his session a fortnight ago so I knew the basic outline of what to expect but I was a little nervous nonetheless and, oddly enough, rather looking forward to it.
We were together for three hours and twenty minutes which is a really long time to talk about yourself. But I persevered and we covered the following topics…
As it’s a very good place to start, we started at the very beginning and talked about my childhood. For the most part I had a great childhood. We went on holidays to foreign countries, I had a TV in my own room, I enjoyed school (despite a few bullying issues), and I had my brothers to play with. I’ve talked in previous posts about the less happy parts in my childhood and of course we went into this in great detail as I’d suspected.
We talked a lot about my relationship with my mum and dad and how their very different personalities have clearly had an impact on who I am now. It’s so weird having someone point out the characteristics of your parents so clearly in you. The really difficult task was describing my relationship to my mum and dad in five words. I found that virtually impossible but really insightful. We also talked about my brothers and our relationships with each other and why the strength of those relationships is one of the reason we’d like to adopt a sibling group.
We then moved on to the relatively easy task of discussing education and work. The only sticking point in this discussion was, as always, being self-employed. In fact, Denise’s supervisor has requested we devote a whole session to finally sorting out whether two self-employed creative types can be financially stable enough to adopt. When will they accept the answer is yes?!
We then moved on to past relationships. It felt weird talking about people who were, in one way or another, really important in my life, but I haven’t seen, or in some cases even thought about, in years. But it was interesting to re-visit these relationships and think about how they had influenced who I am today.
The final two questions were easy to answer. The first was whether there was anything that I wanted to tell Denise that I didn’t want Tom to know. It was a very simple – no. I can’t believe there’s anything that someone would tell their social worker that they wouldn’t tell their partner.
The second was whether Tom and I were in total agreement about wanting to adopt. Although Tom took longer to come round to the idea of adopting, I knew he was completely on board when we were house-hunting and he rejected one of the houses because the garden was too small and he couldn’t envisage our children running around in it.
All in all it was a really positive session and I know that Denise is totally behind us as we enter the final phase before panel.
Last week we had our third assessment meeting with Denise. When we arrived I was slightly taken aback to find out that due to a booking mishap we were to have our meeting in a room at the front of the building that is sometimes used as an entrance. Thankfully we were only disturbed once but it wasn’t ideal. Tom was absolutely fine about it so I figured I should be too.
We started off with the boring stuff. Firstly, there were our employment referees which, both being self-employed, have caused all kinds of confusion. Plus, Tom worked in France for a while and I’ve worked with children on a regular basis so all those employers have had to be contacted as well. Amazingly, the French version of DBS only took a week to come through, so that was a relief. Secondly, we talked a little more about our finances. I’ve noticed as the sessions have gone on, Denise has seemed less worried about our self-employed status – I hope that’s a good sign. Thirdly, Denise gave us the obligatory warning about what we were letting ourselves in for. And asked again if we were ready. And again we told her we are.
The main topic for discussion today, however, was our relationship. Denise asked about how we met, how we dated, how our relationship developed and how we came to be in a place where we’re wanting to adopt. It was lovely reminiscing about both events that took place nearly thirteen years ago (where has the time gone?) and more recent conversations about adoption. It was funny which bits we both remembered exactly the same and which bits had altered in our minds over time.
Denise asked us about what we love and what niggles us about each other. It was relatively easy to find minor niggles – apparently I leave my shoes all over the place, Tom always seems to want to talk to me when I’m in a different room and can’t hear him, and… maybe I should stop there. But it was so difficult to put into words what I love about Tom, and he me. It’s simply something we both feel and know.
In previous meetings we talked about times of stress as individuals and this week we talked about times of stress for us as a couple, and importantly how we dealt with them.
As we started talking, Tom and I really struggled to think of any major stresses in our lives together. I was desperately trying to think of some terrible situation that we’d got through in order to prove that we could cope with stress, but there simply weren’t any. Tom then reminded me of when I left my well-paid job to become self-employed - it was worrying but also completely liberating for me. And with further prompting we thought of other instances too… When the sale of our house nearly fell through, which was infuriating, but we persevered and sorted it out. When Tom’s dad was unwell, it was really sad, but we all rallied around to make sure he got better. And when the abusive, alcoholic couple in the flat above ours flooded us after they left the bath on, we rolled our sleeves up and sorted the flat out. At the time each situation felt terrible but the important thing is that on every occasion we looked after and supported each other.
Like at the last meeting, Denise took two hours of discussion and in one line summarised our relationship perfectly. It was lovely hearing someone from the outside talk about what they saw in us together. We left feeling rather loved up and thankful for each other. And I think Denise has seen that we are able to love and support each other and our future children.
My husband and I have adopted two wonderful children. Duckling is 5 and Gosling, her little brother, is 3. I'll be keeping track of our journey here...