A positive panel: Choosing Our Baby

We have recently had the wonderful news that some friends of ours have been approved to adopt. This news has been a long time coming, and is truly deserved. After a dedicated couple of years of being in the ‘process’ this result couldn’t make for a better start to 2018. Congratulations guys! So happy for you. You’re going to be bloody amazing Dad’s, a wonderful family.

Reflecting on their news brought back the truly overwhelming feelings (whilst at the same time slightly mind numbing too) of joy, fear, excitement and relief; just a few emotions tearing through our heads when we too received that wonderful first yes! Back in 2012.

Speaking to them about their experience of the adoption panel brought back my own emotions; heart racing fear, body shaking terror, mind-blanking panic….All palatable things that I felt at the time of our panel!

In truth, the panel was warm, inviting, professional and friendly. It’s only hindsight however that allows me to see this. At the time my mind created scholars and judges and fire-breathing dragons, all interviewing us for the dream job we’d spent our whole life training for! Genuinely I don’t think much can prepare you for your panel better than the process put in place by the local authority. The background and insight into yourself they draw out of you. Your life, your thoughts, your beliefs. It truly does give you the groundwork for analysing and creating tangible reasons around why you want to become parents. And how you’ll manage that in reality. At least that was our experience.

The rest was covered by our heartfelt desire and knowledge that we wanted to expand our family….and that we were ready for it. We were thinking maybe we’d be the next Waltons family. More likely we’d end up like the Adams family, but we were willing to take that risk.

Anyway, once we’d received that golden Yes! from the panel we went home slightly dumbstruck. What happened now? What could we expect? We were going to get a new child, our family was growing. It was all becoming very real. Very exciting. Very scary.

We were unaware though of what decisions we yet had to make…We thought that completing our approval panel meant the hard work was done. We couldn’t have been more wrong. After all, what decision could be harder than choosing your own child?

Ivan and I were thrilled with the outcome of our panel. As were our family and friends. It seems ridiculous now, but we’d spent so much time and energy on our panel that we hadn’t thought about how we’d feel actually ‘choosing’ a child, or indeed how that even worked.

As part of the initial process we’d had to complete a really tough questionnaire….deciding on paper what sort of child we wanted; black, white, boy, girl, physically able or not, learning disability or not, deaf, blind…..the list went on. We found it horrible. I get the need for it, I really do. But being given such a choice felt wrong, like we were being unfair ruling certain ‘types’ of child out. Still we had to do it, so we did, to the best of our ability. Unfortunately it came back to bite us on the bum a couple of years later. You see, when we adopted our youngest son they resurrected the initial form we had completed… and decided they were not going to let us adopt him. When we completed the form, many moons before, we’d ticked that we wouldn’t consider a child with cerebral palsy…. only due to the rural location we live in. Thinking that it would be a hard environment for a child with mobility issues to contend with. There was a question mark over our youngests mobility, a possibility that he had CP. The reality was that it didn’t matter to us….Yes we’d ticked that box on paper….but we’d fallen in love with him and we knew that he’d thrive in our family, we wanted to adopt him. It took us sometime to convince the local authority of this but thankfully in the end we did.

But i’ve gotten side tracked. This post is about the decisions we had yet to make and how difficult it was. The feelings around having a successful panel and then the reality of choosing a child.

So, knowing that we had approval to adopt, we made the mistake of looking at the adoption magazines. These magazines basically contain pictures of children needing adoptive parents accompanied by some text with background information on them. To us though they just felt like catalogues. There were so many photos of children, either alone or in sibling groups, all looking at us with pleading eyes. And genuinely if we had the means and it was the right thing to do we would give a home to every one of them. It was heart wrenching. Why hadn’t they already found a home? Generally the kids in the magazines are the ones that are harder to place, haven’t yet found their adoptive family for a number of reasons. Have been in the system for a while. There were so many that we made notes on and intended to speak to our social worker about. Our hearts and heads knowing we could provide a warm and stable environment for them.

When we met with our social worker though he immediately threw a spanner in the works. A very welcome and perfect spanner as it turned out.

Dave, our social worker, came to visit and brought us a profile of the most amazing boy. The research and insight Dave had got into us from the months he’d been working with us had clearly paid off. We knew this boy would fit our family perfectly and hopefully we would be perfect for him. We knew immediately that we wanted to adopt that boy. And the rest, as they say, is history. 5 years later and he is growing into the most amazing young man. I am so proud that I am able to call him Son and for him to call me Dad.

There are so many questions we had and possible barriers to adopting our boys. Unsure about backgrounds, question marks around development, ginger hair. When it boiled down to it, we went with our heart. It hasn’t let us down.

I still think about all those other children though and sincerely hope that they too found their perfect home. If you have ever thought about adopting a child please look into it further. So many of you could offer a wonderful home to a child. And they have so much to give back.

Once again, congratulations to our friends. You’ll know when you’ve found the right match. Go with your heart.

Much love, S x x

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