24 hours

What a lot can happen in 24 hours.
It feels a bit like we’ve been through a full spin cycle in the washing machine!

A few weeks ago, our social worker sent us details of three boys who need to be adopted. They’re aged nearly 5, nearly 4, and 14 months. We expressed an interest, and their SW said she’d speak to our SW when he got back from holiday. They spoke to each other on Tuesday afternoon. Our SW sent the boys’ SW the report about us. Which she read. And then got excited.

Yesterday, the boys’ SW sent our SW the reports about the boys. Our SW came round and gave us copies of the reports last night. I’ve been away in Sussex, and didn’t get back till tonight. So Mrs D spent 2 hours last night on the phone to me reading the reports down the phone! Not easy reading. Lots of difficult stuff to come to terms with about their past.

The boys’ SW wants to come and meet us. She’s coming on Monday afternoon. She’s postponed some of her holiday so she can come.

Our SW is coming round tomorrow to go through the boys’ reports with us. To discuss the issues / points he is unsure of. To discuss what the boys’ SW may ask us on Monday.

We have questions about what we’ve read in the boys’ reports. She most likely has questions about what she’s read in our report. Monday will be for getting some answers.

As I see it there are two outcomes from Monday…
1. We or the boys’ SW (or both of us) don’t feel there’s a match – so nothing more happens and we go on looking for our children.
2. We and the boys’ SW feel there is a match – assuming we’re approved on 10 July, we’d go to the boys’ agency’s matching panel at the end of July, with introductions to the children soon after.

It’s not really supposed to happen like this. We’re supposed to go to our panel and get approved. Then we start to look at details of children. Then a SW might want to come and visit us to talk about a child / children. A few rounds of this – then we come across the ‘right’ ones. Then matching panel. Then introductions. A more leisurely time-frame. Time to take stock. Time to get used to things.

I’m not sure that we really know how we feel.
Terrified? yes.
Excited? yes.
Apprehensive? Anxious? probably.
And how do we know if these are the ones for us? How do we know?
Unfortunately God doesn’t send emails!

Looks like the weekend will be spent praying / tidying / praying / cleaning / praying / gardening…
All help gratefully received!

Three boys on the beach

We had a fantastic time yesterday at Druridge Bay.
The sun shone despite the weather forecast, and the three boys loved it.

Big waves.
Bigger waves.
Wellies overtopped.
Wet now.
Might as well sit down in the water.
Much wetter now!
Much giggling.

Stones were thrown into the waves.
Doglet ran like a thing possessed.
Castles were constructed.
Castles were demolished.
Castles were reconstructed with bigger and better moats.

Picnic lunch.
Cherry tomatoes. Cucumber. Ham. Bread.
Half grapes for doglet.
Chocolate muffins.

Waves getting bigger.
Closer to the castle.
Water in the moat.
Castle destroyed.

Happy days!

Three boys and me

I survived.
More importantly, the three boys survived.
No lasting adverse effects, as far as I know!

It was with some reservation and a certain amount of arm-twisting that I agreed, some months ago, to look after our three god-sons for a day all by myself. My dear wife, Mrs D, would go off to work, I would take a day’s leave, and all would be well. Or so she assured me.

The three boys arrived on Thursday evening, their parents bathing them and putting them to bed, before disappearing back home to pack before their trip to Madrid for a wedding.

We woke on Friday morning to singing and chatting from the middle boy… Mrs D helped get the boys dressed and ensure the appropriate cereals were consumed before heading off to work.

I was alone.
By myself.
Nobody else but me. And the three boys of course!

First task – get the oldest one to school and the middle one to nursery.
We left plenty of time.
We all got into the car.
We arrived at the school.
Far too early. The lollipop lady hadn’t even turned up yet!
Better early than late I thought.

It started to rain.
We had to park 5 minutes walk from the school.
We had no coats.
We got a bit wet.
Lesson number one – remember the coats even if there aren’t any clouds in the sky!

Back to the car with the youngest. Home.
We played train track and cars.

Then back in the car – parents and tots at church.
Played with cars and play-dough.
Then back in the car to get the middle one from nursery.
I took all the coats. It didn’t rain.

Middle one collected.
Back to the car. Home.

Youngest’s nappy changed – not poopy – hurrah!
OK, OK, I gave in – but only for 30 minutes – Iggle piggle is very strange!
More train track and cars.

Then back in the car to get the oldest one from school.
I took all the coats. It didn’t rain.

Oldest one collected.
Back to the car. Home.

More train track and cars.
Mrs D arrives home.
I survived!

Then KidzKlub, for a rest.
(Now I never thought I’d find myself saying that!)

Adoption – the journey continues

This is the text of an email Mrs D and I recently sent to many of our friends and family – as an update on where we’ve got to, and where we might be going over the next few months…

Apologies for another group email, but we thought it was about time we updated you on where we’ve got to so far. It was last May when we emailed you to let you know of the journey we were embarking on – so much has happened, and yet we’re still not there… but we’re heading in the right direction!

If we had to describe the past year in one word, it would be – waiting!
But we know that God is directing all of this – however frustrated we have got with the speed of things (and we have been very frustrated!), we know that His timing is perfect!

July 07
In July we visited our GP for a medical examination – this is standard for people applying for adoption.
No problems there, as far as we know!

August 07
We had a fantastic 4 week trip to western Canada to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary – we found ourselves saying ‘wow’ just about every day – scenery, open spaces, wildlife, and the oh-so friendly people!
A real blessing and an opportunity to leave the waiting behind for a while…

November 07
We waited until the end of November before anything else much happened – we attended a series of four preparation days with 4 other couples, and were taken through the process of adoption, what kinds of things children who need adoption may have gone through, and the special parenting required to help these children deal with their past and enable them to flourish as adults.

Having successfully completed these four days, we then waited some more!

The formal assessment started at the beginning of February, when our social worker (let’s call him SW) came to visit.

February to May
SW then visited us about once every 10 days until the middle of May – in between we’ve had homework to do, writing about our house, the things we like doing and how we get on with each other. At each of the meetings, SW has probed and prodded into just about every area of our lives – to the extent that at times we’ve felt as if we’ve been turned inside out and shaken until everything has fallen out. SW has also met with my sister, two of our friends, and Mrs D’s parents. He’s spoken to Mrs D’s deputy head teacher, and has even visited us at Kidz Klub (SW explained afterwards that it was the most surreal experience of his life – but in a good way!). SW has also visited us when we had our three wonderful god-sons to stay – to see how we interacted with children… thankfully that visit went well!

Right now
The assessment is now complete, and SW is in the process of writing it all up. He’s coming to meet us again on Thursday this week to go through the draft report with us – we’ll then have the opportunity to correct all the mistakes and make sure we’re happy with what it says – it’ll be a bit strange to read a 40 page report all about us!

Thursday 10th July 08
Our application to be adoptive parents will be presented to the adoption panel on 10 July. This panel is a group of up to 12 people, with various experiences of adoption – some social workers, a medical advisor, a legal advisor, and some people who have themselves adopted children. They’ll have all read our report before the day, and will be meeting to discuss us and hopefully approve us as adoptive parents. We’ll be going along too, and they’ll probably want to ask us some questions – but SW will be there to support us and help us answer!

July onwards
Assuming we’re approved on 10th July, we’ll then proceed into what they call the ‘matching’ stage.
Our thinking at this stage is that we will consider adopting two brothers or a brother and a sister, with the oldest being under 6, but hopefully younger.

SW will be on the look-out for children awaiting adoption, and will be speaking to other adoption agencies about us – in fact he’s already started to do this, and has shown us details of some groups of brothers and sisters – although for various reasons, we don’t think they’re the ones for us.

When we think we’ve found a possible match, SW will contact the children’s social worker and request the children’s report – describing the chidren’s background and current situation, including medical reports and evaluations – pretty much everything known about the children, written down in black and white. Once we’ve read that, and still want to proceed, the children’s social worker will probably visit us at home to see where we live and what we’re like – and to ascertain whether or not we’d be suitable to adopt those children. The children’s social worker may be visiting a number of potential adopters at this stage, to find the best ones for those children.

If the children’s social worker decides that we’re right for those children, then we would go forward to a ‘matching panel’ at the children’s adoption agency. Again, we’d probably be asked to attend that, and it could be anywhere in the country, depending on where the children are from. An approval from that panel would mean we were matched with those children. A programme of introductions would then be planned, probably over a period of a few weeks – this would involve us meeting the children for a few hours to start with, slowly increasing the length of time until we were getting them up in the morning and putting them to bed at night. Once everybody is happy with how things are going, we’d take the children home to live with us…!

If everything proceeded well, we’d then look to apply for an adoption order about 6 months after that – but that’s a way off yet!

And so…
We’re really thankful that the assessment has gone well, with many positive comments about us from SW.
We’d value your prayers and support over the next few weeks – as we wait and prepare for Panel on 10th July, and as we start to consider possible matches with children.
One of the most difficult things for us is reading the short profiles of children who are awaiting adoption – and then trying to decide if we want to request more details. Please pray that it would be abundantly clear which children we should enquire about.

If you want to keep up-to-date with how things are going, please have a look at my blog (that’s here!) which I update from time to time with our latest news about adoption and other random things!

Thanks for reading this far – and for your support, love and prayers for us.