Being British, I tend to shy away from discussing my personal finances in public. But today I’m going to make an exception - whilst still being vague enough about the details to protect my bank account and avoiding sounding too vulgar.
At our first assessment meeting last week, Denise, our SW, raised concerns that as two self-employed ‘creative types’ the panel may see us as having a weakness in our application to becoming adoptive parents. Over the last few days I have had a number of Twitter conversations and responded to comments on this page where people have pointed out that Denise is only trying to make sure that any ‘weaknesses’ are resolved so the panel can’t trip us up later on in the process. I’m sure they’re right, but my worry is that even if these are not Denise’s concerns, they are someone’s.
And that ‘someone’ in the adoption approval world has decided that two people who own their own home, have savings, and in most years earn near enough the national average from our ‘creative type’ jobs are at risk of not being able to feed and clothe our children. We’re not rich by any stretch of the imagination but we’re not destitute either. What more do they want?
I accept that the approval process has to be rigorous to ensure that vulnerable children are properly looked after, but some common sense has to be used as well.
I remember when we first started looking into adoption we visited the First4Adoption website and it listed who was eligible to adopt. The list was pretty comprehensive and the final line stated ‘those who were employed or on benefits’ (I went back this week to check I remembered right).
So I ask myself the question: if it’s possible for someone on benefits to adopt, surely we’ll be OK. Or is that line added on the website to be ‘inclusive’? Does that mean that if you are on benefits it would be seen as a weakness and someone’s adoption dream would end there? Surely that can’t be right.
The other big financial issue for us is the fact that self-employed workers are not currently entitled to any form of Statutory Adoption Pay. Whereas a friend of mine who is self-employed and recently gave birth can claim £140 per week, and another friend who is employed and has just adopted a child can claim a similar amount, I can’t. It’s my understanding we all pay the same amount of tax and national insurance so what’s going on?
I’ve written to my constituency MP, who has written to Nick Boles, the Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and I received a letter from him explaining nothing beyond what I already knew. Apparently “nothing can be done”. But I have no intention of leaving it there, I can tell you. It’s so frustrating that this is yet another hoop that Tom and I (and countless others) have to jump through in order to have children.
So where does that leave us? I normally try to end my blogs with some kind of resolution or an uplifting remark. But this week there seem to be more questions than answers and, as is often the way with money matters, there’s nothing uplifting about it. I suppose all we can do is gather together enough evidence to prove that we can afford to look after our children.
And pray HMRC come to their senses before we’re (hopefully) approved to adopt. Now, that would be uplifting…
And lo! Adoption UK spoke and our prayers might be answered after all. On Tuesday, minutes after finishing this week's blog, a report by Julie Deane OBE was released that makes recommendations to the government to offer adoption pay to self-employed adopters. Fingers crossed.
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...