A few weeks ago Tom and I had a visit from two social workers who had contacted our social worker, Denise, after reading our profile (link to 6 weeks). They were caring for a brother and sister and thought we might be the right parents for them.
It so happens that this week coincided with a break in my work where I’d planned to give the house a massive spring clean. I cleared out and re-arranged the cupboards in the kitchen, cleared and sorted the shed, fixed some lights that had been broken since before we’d moved in, and generally put the house in order. I then spent the day before Tanya and Gloria arrived slightly messing it up again so I didn’t look like we lived in a show home. Purely by coincidence, we had also booked in our wonderful handyman to finish all the health and safety requirements left over from our first home visit. So the house was looking great.
In the days before the meeting, Tom and I spent some time re-reading the children’s reports trying to get a clearer idea of who they were. All we had to go on so far was the report and a couple of grainy, black and white photocopies of the children’s pictures. But this also gave us the opportunity to think of any questions we would ask Tanya and Gloria.
Denise arrived about an hour before they were due to arrive to help us get prepared and to come up with our game plan. We decided that Tom and I would sit together on one sofa, Denise on an armchair and Tanya & Gloria on the sofa in-between the three of us. That way Tom and I would look united and we’d be able to keep an eye on Denise for any pointers we might need.
Another tactic from Denise was getting Tom to pick up Tanya and Gloria from the station. We live on a main road with our garage and garden at the rear of the house. By picking them up we were ensuring their first view of our house was the garden and not a busy road.
Up until now I was feeling fine but as soon as Tom returned with them I started to feel a bit (read ‘very’) queasy. The enormity of what we were about to do suddenly hit me.
Tanya came across as being very friendly and warm whereas Gloria had a more stern look that actually worried me a bit. But as we all warmed up to each other over a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit it was clear she was really hoping we were right for the children almost as much as we wanted the children to be right for us.
We started by talking through BG’s report. Tanya was great at making her come alive in our minds and gave us lots of really useful information. BG is really into dancing, singing and being a ‘drama queen’. I decided to view that as a positive, what with my theatrical background, as opposed to it being social worker talk for ‘she has tantrums’. Meanwhile Denise was really needling them both to find out as much as she could so we had as clear a picture as possible.
Tom then showed Tanya and Gloria around the house while I got some lunch ready. I had prepared loads of stuff in the morning so we could make our own sandwiches. This worked out very well as one of them was a vegetarian and the other couldn’t have dairy products. The five of us had a really nice lunch and in a different world I would have suggested opening a bottle of wine…
After lunch we talked through LB’s report. Again, Tanya really helped him come alive in our minds and was able to answer all our questions. He is into anything that his older sister’s into and loves playing with her and doing craft activities. Again, I was delighted to hear this and I was able to show Tanya and Gloria the ‘craft drawer’ that I’m slowly building up.
Tanya had clearly done a lot of work with the children and was very fond of them. As well as the nice stuff she told us, she didn’t pull any punches about what had happened in their past, the impact it’s had on them to date, and its potential impact in the future.
We were then given tonnes of photos to look at and an eight minute video of them playing in the foster carer’s garden. They were really cute, and watching them made a huge smile appear on my face. I was aware that I had reached for Tom’s hand and noticed that he was smiling too.
Having been bombarded with questions, it was now Tanya’s opportunity to ask us a few. As is becoming normal, we were asked about boundaries and how we’d implement them, how we’d support the children and their needs, about female role models that would be able to support the children, and how we’d deal with being gay parents. And finally, if we could see them living with us - we certainly could.
At our final prep meeting, we were told that these initial meetings tend to end in one of three ways… The first is that it’s clear one or both parties don’t want to continue and that’s the end of it. The second is that it might be a goer but some more thought needs to be had. The third is that a diary comes out and plans are made for future meetings. I was delighted when Gloria not only got her diary out but called the office to book us in for a provisional panel date! This was followed by a date for introductions and a moving-in date. WTF?! This was suddenly very real and very quick.
I had taken a bit of a gamble with work and had started to wind down my commitments but these new dates had a massive clash with a project Tom was due to work on. It was a concern, as he would obviously miss out on the money but also the possibility of not getting the job when it comes around next time (the joys of a freelancer).
We discovered that part of the speed was due to Tanya & Gloria discovering that the children’s foster carers were going on holiday and ideally the children should be placed before then rather than going into respite care. I should point out that the holiday was booked before the foster carers took on looking after the children and they had tried to get them a passport so they could go with them but were unable to do so.
Thankfully Denise was there to put the brakes on slightly and said we weren’t to make any kind of decision now but should talk to each other over the weekend. Tanya and Gloria agreed this was a good idea and we agreed to chat again by the middle of the following week.
Tom took them back to the station while Denise and I chatted about how things had gone. She was really pleased and said we’d done a great job. It was such a relief. When Tom returned we had a quick de-brief before Denise left us and we headed to the pub at 4pm on a Friday! We had a lot to talk about…
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...