Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Adoption Meeting

Yesterday I went along to an information session on adoption, run by our local authority. I had spoken to the lady on the phone a couple of months ago and she was encouraging. She also said that the whole process takes about 2 years, and that most children are 16-18 months by the time the final decision that they are to be adopted is made, and that they like at least 2 years between siblings. This was perfect timing them, BB was 18months at the time of the call, so in 2 years we could potentially adopt a 16 - 18 month old child and the age gap would be ideal.

So, I was hopeful.



Before I went to the meeting I had spoken with several people who have adopted or who have thought about it. Fairly recently a friend and her husband attended a meeting with the same authority. At the end of the meeting they were told that there were lots of people like them, essentially white 30 something married couples, and that they could complete an application form but it wouldn't be processed. Needless to say they didn't bother. She did however think that I would be OK. She was slightly cynical, but thought a single mum might tick another box for their stats!

My friend tried another authority after that and they were well received and encouraged. They didn't adopt though. Apparently they became uncomfortable with the process and the emphasis that is currently being placed on constantly reminding the child of their birth family. They had seen examples of where this wasn't working, and my friend's partner has personal experience of an uncertain heritage. His view was that it is much healthier to focus on what you have, rather than what you have lost. A very valid point.

As someone who carefully researched all options when considering having a child by donor, I have given a lot of thought to the need to know your heritage. From the research I did, I found that the option to know was important. Children who had the option to know were generally happier about the whole thing than those who didn't. I had made the decision that I would chose a donor that was willing to be known to the child at the age of 18. Of course my situation changed when I met DD, and I am very very happy that BB has a Daddy that he can know and grow up with. It is nice to know where his wiggly toes come from and to see other likenesses - BB is so much like his Dad too. But it could have been different.

I understand that this desire to know about yourself and your genetic family is important. If I were to adopt, I would hope for the sake of my child that it would be possible for them to make that connection if they wanted to, when the time was right, and if it was not going to put them at risk. I would help my child navigate their way through that, as you would help any child navigate life's twists and turns. I can not say now how I might do that, for I do not know the child, or his/her family, or their wants, needs, or situation. I also anticipate that the situation may change - that what is right for a 2 year old is not necessarily right for a teenager. The birth parents too could change. A young mum caught up in a situation that makes her unable to care for her child could actually turn her life around, and in 10 years time be quite a different person to the one who had her child removed. On the other hand it could be unsafe to make contact, she could have gotten into a worse situation.

My own gripe with this then, is that fact that if I wish to pursue the adoption enquiry further I need to complete a form, and on that form I need to state what contact I want the child to have with their birth family. I mentioned during the meeting that I wouldn't be able to answer that question until I knew about the child and the family, but that was apparently the wrong answer. I think you need to tick a box so that you can be 'matched' more easily.

Also, although the literature all states that they welcome applications from same sex couples and single people, I really didn't get that impression. In fact, the whole advice for when to start the process was geared around how long you need to wait after your failed fertility treatment before you can begin. I would have thought they might change this slightly to include other scenarios, particularly as there was a gay couple there too, but no.

When I spoke to the woman at the end I asked where the starting point was if you haven't had fertility treatment. She responded with, "well, you said you have a son, so we wouldn't consider your application anyway." Apparently he is too young. Odd, when 2 months ago he was the perfect age. I mentioned that I would also be interested in adopting a child older than BB. She had been talking about how difficult it was to place older children. However, the answer was no. I would only be able to adopt a child older than BB if I was related to that child.

I cried as I left. I feel as though I am an ideal candidate. I have a nice home which is mortgage free, am fairly secure financially, have good health, and seem to be doing OK at this mum thing. I am willing to consider all possibilities as far as age and needs of the child is concerned, I have extended family near by, and BB and DD and PP. I have extensive experience of working with kids at risk, and have ongoing friendships with some of the young people I supported through personal and family crises up to 20 years ago. Yet they wont even look at my application to see any of that. It's infuriating.

As I drove home I started to feel annoyed. I do believe that all the rules they have are based on research, and if statistics show that there is a 10 % higher chance that x will happen if we do y than you have to act on that. But it feels like all humanity has been removed from the process, which is tragic - surely this is a process which requires you to draw upon all that is is to be human, to nurture another being as though they are part of you, to give them love, a home, a family.

I also felt like the woman really didn't want anyone to adopt. It was like the whole two hours was to put you off, and if you still showed an interest by the end they told you not to bother.

By the time I got home and told my mum (who was here looking after BB) about it all, I realised that I was already annoyed by the system, and that maybe this is not for me for that reason.

There are two other local authorities to try though - perhaps they will be different.

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8 comments:

  1. Ugh. I think this is exactly the attitude that the powers that be are talking about addressing - with all the children who desperately need homes, it's infuriating! We looked into adoption before R came along, but just couldn't face being up against all of that. Hopefully you will have more luck elsewhere! x

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  2. I'm so sorry the meeting went that way, it must have been bitterly disappointing! I always want to recount stories like this to people who say things like "why don't you JUST adopt?" There's no "just" about it. It's a mountain of red tape and delays and disappointment. Although when fertility treatment offers the same it does make you wonder what's the better choice.

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  3. That was terrible. I cannot believe they would have someone like that presenting at the meetings for parents wanting to adopt. I am sorry you had to experience that. I was disappointed at the information I received at the foster adoption orientation I attended, but they were actually welcoming.

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  4. I'm SO sorry to hear that they were so negative. I would have thought you would be perfect. No, scrap that statement, you ARE perfect, but as with everything, there is no autonomy in the process, just red tape and bureaucrats!
    Don't give up! I can't believe that fertility treatment even has to come into it if you actually read people's backgrounds and histories. It sucks!
    I can't believe either, that there has been SO much on the news recently about needing to improve adoption and increase adopters, speed up the process yadda yadda.

    Can I make a suggestion that you send this blog post as a letter to your local MP or even to (gah can't remember)...the politician who is backing this whole 'need to improve adoption'. You may find that your council is particularly sticky and they need an MP to kick them up the backside for them to review their policies. A public reminder of this could be the way to go?
    I would suggest maybe writing a 'disappointed' letter to CCC as well explaining your circumstances in exactly this way, but keeping it low key and not accusatory (yet ;-) ) just so that maybe it bypasses this particular jobsworthy who came to the talk.

    OF COURSE it all needs to be in the best interest of the child first, no one is disputing that, BUT that means that humanity and real life need to be taken into account.

    Sending you a MASSIVE hug as I feel how disappointed you are. But don't give up. You could have given up before you found DD but you didn't and look what happened...there was a lovely miracle waiting for you. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  5. Thanks everyone for your comments and support. Thanks too to a friend (who has adopted) who read this at 3am and sent me a PM! Maybe I should write a letter of concern. I kind of feel that is best left a while though, so that I can write it from a rational balanced perspective, rather than as someone who has just ben kicked in the face!

    I should probably add too that there was another person there. A guy, much younger, a student who has only been there for 6 months. He seemed much more human and did give me a little hope for the future. Maybe the system just jades you with time.

    My assumption re the fertility treatment is that they don't want to start the process with people who might get pregnant. Having said that I know plenty of people personally for whom fertility treatment failed and then they got pregnant. This is why I asked. Afterall, if I decided to go down the adoption route I am not in a position to be getting pregnant by accident am I? Nor are the gay couple! What I wanted to know was if there was a certain time after trying to get pregnant that you should wait, or if it was possible to actually "choose" adoption without trying fertility treatments. I didn't get an answer.

    The more I think about it though the more they were against everybody, Apparently the next step is to do a course. The next course is in June, but there are no spaces, and they couldn't be sure when the next one might be.

    Grrrr!

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  6. I'm annoyed with the adoption process. If there are many children needing homes, the priority should get them into loving families who want them. This is ridiculous. I feel for you as you are going through this. And for single women fertility shouldn't be an option. You don't need to justify using donor sperm. You are single and want to provide a loving home to a child b

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  7. Surely you'd think there'll be women out there who want to be mums but even don't want to be pregnant too? Considering all the 'we need more adoptive families', they're really making it hard.
    Stick to your guns lovely, be who you are and stand strong.x

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  8. seriously that just sux!!! I get so annoyed with authorities who presume to know what kind of parent you will be by some pre-set criteria on a piece of paper.

    Here in NZ adoption is something that is exceptionally rare, and all adoptions need to be open with contact with the birth family. What they have instead is Home for Life. The birth family still has contact however the new parents have guardianship of the child. Friends who have a HFL child say it is difficult when their toddler has visits with his birth father (the mother is not interested) however in the long run it is better for their son to understand where he comes from.

    And as a single parent myself here whilst you can get approved to adopt or to HFL it is highly unlikely a baby/child would be placed with you.

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