At the first home visit Lorraine, our social worker who has since left the agency, gave us some homework to complete. This included writing a family tree and a life chronology for each of us, an Eco-map, and a list of local amenities that will be useful when we have children.
I completed the family trees months ago while I was waiting for Stage One to get started. You can read more about that in an earlier blog.
The life chronology is a list of all the major events in our lives. We had to include where we’ve lived, where we went to school, where we’ve worked, who we’ve been in relationships with, and anything else we could think of that would have an impact on who we might be as a parent. It was like writing a really detailed and overly personalised CV. The chronology is used by the social worker as a basis for the questions in the Stage Two interviews. I know some people would feel strange sharing so much information about themselves with a complete stranger but I’ve never had an issue with talking about how I feel or ‘who I am’ so I rather enjoyed the process of thinking about the big events in my life.
The Eco-map is basically a spider-gram that encourages us to think about who we will rely on, both practically and emotionally, when we’re parents. Mostly it was really obvious. Claire, my best friend, who lives about 15 minutes away, is clearly going to be a big part of all our lives and will be on hand with a lasagne should we find ourselves unable to cook*. Our parents, who are older and live a fair distance away, won’t be around for the day-to-day stuff but will always be on the other end of the phone for advice and guidance.
* For some reason, practically every social worker I have spoken to has referred to us needing a friend who will make us lasagne in times of crisis. Oddly enough, Claire and her family have been staying with us for a few days recently while a burst water main is repaired at their house. She offered to make dinner one night and guess what we had – that’s right, lasagne! I knew we were in safe hands.
What was really interesting were the people we didn’t include and some that we did. I’m not going to write who wasn’t included in case they read it here, but the surprise additions were two of our neighbours, a pair of widows in their 70s with a penchant for a bowl of crisps and a strong G&T, whom we met just over a year ago. After spending a couple of really nice evenings with them and talking about the adoption, we honestly think that they’ll be an enormous emotional support and fount of knowledge in the years to come.
Lorraine pointed out that often the people you expect to be there for you aren’t always the ones who are able to do so and vice versa – we shall wait and see.
When we were looking for the new house we were searching with a family in mind. As a result, I think our list of local amenities is strong - the schools are good, there are plenty of parks and open spaces, the local authority have good play groups and a library service that is thriving, the doctors' surgery is great, we’re close to the Thames and other places of interest, and we have everything we could ever think of to give our children the best possible start in life.
Lorraine had suggested we start looking at schools in the area so we can make some potential choices when the need arises. I contacted three of the local primary schools and made arrangements to visit one of them. I had missed the open days for the other two – though one of which put me in touch with the SENCO for a chat, and I’ll keep in touch with them. The school I did go to was amazing! I had tonnes of questions based mainly on what I had read and heard about from other people. The deputy head talked me through their behaviour policies, how they distribute the pupil premium, and told me that there were other adopted children in the school who were being supported and doing very well. I know the ‘best’ school might not be the right school for our children and lots more research will need to be done but for now I know where I’d like to go if I were a child.
Over the course of a month or two, we pulled together all the information and thankfully we now have someone to send it to – a new social worker. Hurrah! We’ve spoken to Denise a couple of times on the phone and will be meeting her to hopefully start Stage Two next month. I’ll tell you all about that when, and if, it happens.
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...