So the day of our panel hearing is upon us. Our panel is scheduled for 11am in the council offices and we need to arrive 15 minutes earlier to have a quick catch up with Sophie.

We are all set to go and glance at the clock revealed we still had 20 minutes before we need to jump in the car and head off. Lee is sat having a cuppa with the sunshine beaming through the kitchen window making him look very regal, while I seem to be pacing around the kitchen touching and wiping every surface as I go!

Finally in the car we jump and off we head to the office of the adoption service. The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful autumnal day, one of those that starts off with mist lying in the valley which lifts to reveal a gorgeous sunny day. We make good time getting to our destination, so yet another 10 minutes to kill before we head in. Our attention turned to the bouquet and bottle of champagne that we have bought to give Sophie as a thank you for all she has done for us in creating a PAR which truly touched us. Shall we take it in with us or leave it in the car until afterwards and one of us can run back to the car to get the gift. We opt to leave it in the car as we didn’t want anyone from the panel to see in case they feel we are being to personal with Sophie.

We gather our composure and walk over to the office and sign in. We are then met by Sophie who has a coffee for each of us and she leads us down the rabbit warren of corridors to a small room with a table and couple of chairs and tries to reassure us it will all be fine and that the panel are all next door and running to schedule. After our coffee, some finger fidgeting and a dash to the loo for us both, the head of the adoption team heads into the little room we are in to say the panel are just discussing our application and how the meeting will take shape and what to expect, and that we will be called in shortly but first Sophie has to go in and face the panel and their questions. (This was Sophie’s first panel as well but like the true professional she is. She didn’t let on that she was nervous as well). Well the next 10 minutes seemed to take ages to pass and another quick dash to the loo by me, I think Lee and I both sat there in silence, trying to hear what was being said next door, but we couldn’t actually make anything out.

So we get summoned into the panel room, walking in first I immediately felt intimidated by the 12 faces staring at my every move. I shuffled in and sat down next to Sophie and Lee beside me. It felt like I was back at my first ever interview, trying to remember to sit up straight, smile and also try to read everyone’s name card and where they were from.

A quick introduction from everyone and then they were straight into asking us some questions. Being conscious that we didn’t rabble on with our answers, for me it became the opposite and I couldn’t get my words out. Thankfully having Lee next to me we managed to start answering their questions and then I relaxed into it and managed to speak. We only had a couple of questions which ranged from; what is the reason we had put in for siblings, how would we manage to give them both attention, how would we cope if it was just one of us at home, are our grounds (makes us sound like we live in a stately home) safe and do we have a good washing machine! So all fairly basic questions and nothing designed to catch us out. Then I was asked where their tray of brownies/cakes were, due to Sophie saying that she always had a freshly baked cake waiting for her on her visits, so I thought I’d better say that I didn’t want to be seen to bribe the panel! Oops maybe I should have planned ahead and baked a tray for them.

We were then asked to leave the room for a few minutes while the panel make their final decision and the chair of the panel would come and see us and let us know their decision.

Well these couple of minutes seemed to drag on and on, but eventually Sophie, the head of the adoption service and the panel chair came into the little room and gave us the amazing news that the panel have passed us and feel we will offer a very special & loving home to siblings. A quick glance over to Lee and a cheeky wink to each other, we had done it and could now relax and look forward to the next stage.

So we walked out with Sophie and I marched to the car to collect her flowers. We all had a tear of happiness in our eyes and couldn’t contain ourselves but to give Sophie a big hug and show her how grateful we are for all the hard work she had put into our report.

We headed home and spent the journey trying to remember everyone that was on the panel. That evening we had booked a restaurant, to either go and celebrate or commiserate but thankfully it certainly was to celebrate getting that bit closer to being a family.

Stage 2

A few weeks have passed and we receive a call that we’ve been waiting for, it was the head of the adoption service informing us that we have been assigned Sophie as our social worker and that she will be in contact soon to start work on stage 2. We had met Sophie briefly on the preparation course as she had sat in on the course one afternoon and she came across as being lovely and understanding.

So we had heard from Sophie, and she is coming today to meet us at home and to start going through stage 2 and commencing the paperwork. We’ve had time to ensure the house is all in order, we’ve taken Hendricks out for a walk to hopefully burn off some of his energy. In true Welsh style it is pouring down and we see Sophie coming down the drive, the nerves start to kick in, what is she going to think of us and our house, and will Hendricks behave and not jump up!

So Lee being the gentleman he is, grabs an umbrella and goes to meet Sophie and walk her to the house while I’m left trying to control the dog. Hendricks immediately jumps up at Sophie and leaves 2 muddy paw prints on Sophie’s lovely dress, oh that wasn’t the first impression we had wanted to give. Luckily she is a dog lover and was more than happy having Hendricks around. I made a pot of tea for us and had baked some brownies, so we soon sat down at the table and began going through some of the questions.

We had been given a clear timetable of events and this laid out what we needed to cover in every meeting. This stage was likely to take a minimum of 12 visits in order to cover all the areas required to gather enough information to compile our PAR (Prospective Adopters Report)

Sophie’s first visit looked at health and safety of our home and gardens. We had already done some work in the house to make it as child friendly as we can such as removing my odd collection of scissors! A few vases and ornaments have been moved to higher shelves etc. We had thrown the hoover around and cleaned the bathrooms, so we were happy for her to look around. The inspection however went a lot deeper than we had even considered. The spindles in the bannister were measured to make sure they were spaced correctly, so that a child couldn’t get their head stuck between them. That there were no locks on the bathroom doors (so that a child couldn’t lock themselves in there). We were asked questions relating to the services to the property, such as what fuel the boiler used and for a service certificate for the boiler.

The garden and sheds were checked for their safety and to ensure there were no sheer drops in the garden. A general look at the entire set up and to check that it is safe and suitable for a child. Although it was in depth, never did it feel to intrusive or pointless.

Another visit delved into our finances (oh no, we’ve just got married and had a great weekend of celebrating, which certainly hit our savings account). You have to prove that you are financially stable and able to provide for yourselves and have additional finances available to be able to look after a child/children. Sophie needed to see our latest payslips to prove our income and then we had to itemise our monthly outgoings. Mortgage payments, services payments (electricity, oil, water & council tax etc) any other monthly outgoings. We also had to breakdown any other outgoings such as car insurance, monthly spend on groceries all to ensure we had the means to live. A quick glance of our savings account and everyday bank accounts online.

By this stage of the process you should be open enough to understand why they need to check all these details. Their main aim is to ensure the correct placement of any child and that they will be in a safe environment and have all their needs met.

A couple of sessions looked into our families and our own upbringing. The kind of relationships we had with our family along with a chronology of our life’s, listing any key dates such as school, births and deaths within the family, any significant partners, to any major surgery we have had. We also had to have a one on one meeting with Sophie to look into our own life story without any influence from our partner, before hand I was nervous as my personal meeting was first and wasn’t sure what to expect. I did know that due to us being honest through the whole process that I wouldn’t be ‘caught out’ and say the wrong thing, but just didn’t know what we would be discussing. The personal meeting was very straight forward and Sophie just wanted to hear about our own upbringing and what impression it had, my own relationship with my parents, how my school years had been and any relationships I’d had.

These few sessions did seem to go on and go over the same information that we had given in the initial assessment form but this is to ensure Sophie has all the information down correctly so that she is able to write our PAR (prospective adopters report).

Next on the schedule was to look at our support network and who would be there to support us. This is not only to look at support with any childcare we may need but also importantly, who was there to support us as we become a family and to help/reassure us if we ever had a ‘wobble’. Sophie needed a couple of names and contact details for our main support network and she would arrange to meet with our network to gauge their level of support and their opinion on our suitability (make sure you have mentioned this to your support network before just handing out their details).

Throughout stage 2 we were given tasks to undertake in order to provide Sophie with the full picture. One thing we had to provide was a family tree for each of us starting from our grandparents listing any dates of death and the cause. We also had to draw up a list of local amenities such as the distance of the primary school we would like the child/children to attend, play parks in the area, tourist attractions along with a map detailing whereabouts our support network were in relation to us.

One of the latter sessions looked at children and our requirements. This from the outside seems harsh and I do always feel guilty if I ever talk about this area. There is a section where you discuss what child you would be willing to offer a home to. There are a series of questions which you individually answer with a yes, no or maybe. If either of us had answered no, then a no it is and vice versa with a yes. If either of us answered with a maybe, then this would be discussed between the three of us until a decision was made. These consisted of questions such as ‘would you accept a child with a physical disability’, ‘would you accept a child from a family with a history of physiological disorders’, ‘would you accept a child where the parent/s were alcoholics or drug users’, ‘a child with Down’s syndrome’. All serious questions which we had already discussed with each other. We were also asked what age child/children would we like, did we have a preference of the sex of a child.

I think I always feel uneasy around this topic due to the fact if you had a birth child of your own, you wouldn’t be able to select your own child, but under the adoption process the key objective is to ensure the best home for a child and so by matching the correct child will help ensure this is the final move the child would ever have to make.

Sophie was working from a checklist/booklet to ensure all areas were covered. This on the whole was fine although as a same sex couple there were a lot of times where the questions were either not applicable or worded incorrectly. This was annoying and we kept finding we were saying that it was not applicable and often laughing with Sophie how ridiculous some of the question were. (we fully appreciated that it wasn’t her fault or even the local authorities, but that of the adoption authorities and their template). So if you are a same sex couple, just be prepared!

During stage 2 you are encouraged to attend any additional training course that you can. Our local agency were great at laying on courses at regular intervals that we would either attend together (work permitting) or otherwise one of us would attend. All these additional attendances help form the evidence that we are ready and taken the process seriously.

Sophie has now gathered all the information that she required and it was now time for us to wait for our PAR to be written and for us to then check all the information is correct and we would be happy for it to be submitted.

When you do receive your PAR, what we did was to sit down with a copy each and take a few days reading over it and making any notes (if anything isn’t correct) and then to go over it together until you are both happy. Once the changes have been made, it will then be submitted to the panel for their decision on whether you will be passed as prospective adopters and can carry on with the adventure. It is very exciting receiving your PAR and all you really want to do is tell your social worker to go go go, but it is really important to take your time and go through it with a fine tooth comb checking all dates and information is correct as you really don’t want to be quizzed by the panel on something and then to get your answer different to what’s in the report.

We had a few details changed in our report due to Sophie having to take so much information from us, there were just a few crossed wires but nothing major and the report is amazing and totally captures us as individuals and a couple and what we have to offer a child/children.

Just 3 weeks to wait until our panel date. We sense this might be a long 3 week wait but so happy and excited that stage 2 is coming to a close.

Preparation Course – Day 4

Today is the last day of the course and I actually think we will miss our weekly lesson. Last night I baked a tray of brownies and made some sandwiches as we are all taking bits along to have a picnic lunch together, rather than heading into the town to buy a sandwich.

We have covered all the topics of the preparation course, so today is more focused on hearing from the adoption medical doctor and also some adopters are coming along to speak about their journeys. The day will be rounded up with any questions we have and a final talk from the head of the adoption team.

The doctor has come to talk about the kinds of developmental issues, health concerns & general support that is on offer for looked after children. As she was beginning to talk it became very apparent that she was only looking at my partner, who I could sense was starting to feel uncomfortable! The doctor must have realised as she then apologised and said that she has a habit of just looking at one person when she is talking to a group of people. So the next 2 hours were going to be uncomfortable for my partner and he would now have to look totally enthralled in what she had to say.

A large proportion of her talk centred around alcohol and drug misuse and the affect on an unborn child and also the affect they can have on an infant caused from passive reception. One very interesting fact is that the main damage to fetal growth occurs during weeks 6-10 of pregnancy. So a lot of mothers don’t realise they are even pregnant at this stage. The difference for children that end up being removed by social services is often the quantity of alcohol the mother is consuming and the ongoing drinking and/or drug misuse . Whereas most mothers refrain from alcohol & drugs as soon as they know they are pregnant or have stopped drinking long before they started trying for a baby.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is irreversible and the damage caused will be lifelong. Just to list some of the possible affects;

Distinctive facial features such as small eyes, thin upper lip.

Deformities of joints & bones

Vision/hearing difficulties

Heart defects & kidney issues

Poor coordination or balance

Jitteriness or hyperactivity

Poor social skills

Trouble adapting or changing tasks

ADHD, depression, alcohol misuse, aggression, inappropriate social conduct can all be attributed later on in life to a child having fetal alcohol syndrome.

A large portion of her talk was focused on alcohol and drugs as this is due to most children that end up being adopted are from birth parents that frequently participate in drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

Other areas highlighted were the affects caused from neglect or inappropriate behaviour being witnessed by a child whether that is of a sexual nature or physical abuse etc.

One of the key messages the doctor was trying to get across was that with love, nurture and care children are very resilient and can overcome a huge amount of trauma, although the effects can be life long and triggered at any stage in life.

After looking into the health of children, the focus then changed to the health of the adopters and the mental and physical pressure parenting can have. The doctor has an instant dislike to anyone with a high BMI and made it clear that she wouldn’t approve anyone who was obese to be able to adopt and that if you are overweight then you need to take steps to reduce your BMI. If you are a smoker then you also wouldn’t be considered but this is a question asked in your initial enquiry and so you wouldn’t have even made it onto the course. Then a little talk about alcohol, this is allowed when your adopting (obviously in moderation) but they want you to be very conscious on this issue. Some children could have had very negative experiences from their birth parents and also have a memory of what would happen when they drank. So if you are having a glass of wine or beer in the evening, once the child is in bed, then fine but just make sure the evidence is not left out, so when the child is around by day they are not seeing the glass/bottle which could stir up unwanted memories.

Making time for yourself is also incredible important for your own sanity. Both time as a couple but also time on your own. We know this won’t be an issue for us at home. We both have our own interest to do when our child/children would be sleeping and then we can come together and enjoy each other’s company over our evening meal.

The doctor was still only looking at my partner for the whole of her talk so I’m sure he was very grateful when the talk finally came to an end and she apologised and then left the room. Phew

The talk from an adopter was again an interesting insight into their own experiences. The process is going to be completely different for everyone due to our own situations and life experiences. Tips and advice were shared amongst us and their main message was to just enjoy every step of the process no matter how frustrating some elements can be and the end goal will be achieved. Use the time you have now to prepare, because once you are matched and physically start the introductions you’ll have no spare time or motivation and that cupboard you’ve been meaning to sort for years will be left untouched for several years to come!

The day was coming to an end and was rounded up by the head of services having a few words about the next step/stages. We would all leave with a greater knowledge of the process and the trauma that some looked after children could have. We all had to go away and process what we had learnt over the past 4 weeks. They didn’t want us to make a decision for 2 weeks to prove that we are not just ‘jumping’ into the application without thinking through the life long commitment we would be making. After this period, we could then drop them an email if we did wish to continue on our adoption journey.

Preparation course – Day 3

Excitement building again for day 3 of the preparation to adopt course. We have found the course so far enjoyable and informative and for us, there have been no nasty surprises. Often they find that potential adopters drop out of the course as the weeks progress for one reason or another. This course is designed to give you as much information as possible, warts and all.

Topics covered on this weeks course were attachment issues and lack of a child’s identity & the highs and lows of an adopters journey.

Attachment is a massive area for adoptive children and rightly so. As a result it was talked about and discussed during every session. This has been covered in previous blogs, so do take a look at the pervious blogs to find out more.

The most powerful exercise we were involved with today was the ‘string exercise’. This is designed to highlight the number of attachments a looked after child has and the affect all the different moves/changes cause for a child. So 1 member of the group is the looked after child and they hold the end of all the lengths of string. Now we had to identify all the people this child knows and the length of string identifies how close they are to the child. So people identified were: Birth parents, social worker, foster careers, health visitor, possible swimming teacher, doctor, pets living with foster family, friends, teachers, shop keeper in the local shop, bus driver etc. (Anyone the child has contact with) To then highlight the effect another move has on that child, the strings are then cut one by one, often leaving just one string. That string is often one of the shortest strings and leads to the child’s social worker. So any move a child has unnecessarily has a major negative affect on attachment.

The second exercise was similar to the string exercise but with blocks. These blocks represent a child’s needs, from the basics such as the need to be fed and need to be clothed suitable, to a need of protection and a need of belonging and encouragement. Then as we identified needs that were not being met from a child’s profile, bricks were removed. After a few needs had been identified the wall was still standing with just some gaps, indicating that with love,empathy, care and nurture, these foundations can easily be healed. Where as for a child with several life changing events and needs not being met the wall could be a crumbled pile of bricks, which can still be rebuilt but it’s about going back and rebuilding the child’s wall, hence why therapeutic parenting is regarded as the most beneficial way of parenting a looked after child.

The Wall of Needs
source –

In the afternoon we heard from an adopter and their journey. It is always interesting to hear a frank and personal journey with the highs and the lows. The process of adopting is a major life changing experience and one that needs to seriously be considered. Of course there will be major highs when your child will take their first steps, or overcome a major hurdle and the highs can seem very insignificant to others, but to you knowing what your child has endured in their life, it can be these small achievements that are serious highs for you. It’s the lows that are important to consider as well, as not every adoption journey is necessarily a smooth and happy one. There will be days where you might not have slept, your child could be having an all day tantrum and your energy levels have hit rock bottom. There could be health issues develop, or eating issues that your pulling your hair out over. These lows are common, you are not alone and the point of highlighting the lows on the preparation course is to remind you that your social workers are there to support you along with your own support network and not to be afraid to reach out to people when you are experiencing ‘a low’.

Day 3 complete and we both really enjoyed today even if the string exercise did really hit a nerve and demonstrate the potential affect on a child’s attachment. Just one more session left before we have to make the decision of carrying on with the process or not (we both know that we really do wish to progress with our application) but have to complete the course and be accepted to proceed first.

Preparation Course – Day 2

After last weeks session, we were up early and raring to go. Over the past week we purchased a few books that had been recommended, and we both read a different book and had a few discussions on issues that arose in these books. (Books are reviewed on our reading list page) Heading off excited and confident for what the day will teach us.

We took our seats close to a window as last week it did get rather warm, and knowing where we were going this week we arrived in good time, only being beaten by 1 other couple. Not only is the course there to educate about adoption and the process but it is an excellent time to network, as those in the room will all be going through the process at the same time, give or take a month or two. Who knows when you might need someone else’s help or opinion on something that we might be experiencing. We both come from large families, with several nieces and nephews, but some of the challenges we might face will be totally different from those experienced by birth families and highly likely to be as a result of the trauma our children faced in those first days, weeks and months of being born.

So the day began with 2 health workers coming in to talk about their job roles and that it’s important to register with your local health visitor so that they can be there to support us in the early months of having a Child move in. They don’t only deal with new born babies and they can offer continued advice and support for years to come. A helpful insight into the responsibilities of a health visitor with some examples of situations they have experienced.

Next up was a session focussing in on attachment & the impact on a child’s development, identity and contact issues. Taking a look at what a child in care might have been exposed to in their birth home and what sort of effect this has. Attachment starts right from the beginning, when a baby is in the womb, relying on nourishment from the mother, so if this is restricted or the incorrect nourishment from the misuse of say alcohol or drugs, then this can severely affect the development of the baby and already start to impact on the attachment process. The attachment bond will become stronger throughout infancy and childhood with physical skin on skin contact and comfort, all vital in the development of a strong attachment . These early days in a child’s life are so important for the child to bond and grow an attachment to other humans. Adopted children have often had their attachment bond broken several times, as the child passes from birth parents to social worker and sometimes between multiple foster careers. The bond can be reformed over time with the correct care which includes physical and emotional care but there can always be underlying attachment issues which can result in behavioural issues as a result of neglect, physical & mental abuse including sexual abuse. This is known as Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Children with reactive attachment disorder have had their early lives disrupted so severely that they are unable to form a trusting bond as their basic needs may not have been met as a baby such as being fed when hungry, having their nappy changed, being ignored and not shown any attention, left to cry or even mistreated and abused. It is possible to easily correct if you notice the signs which can be if a child doesn’t smile when stimulated, unable to gain eye contact, rejects efforts made to comfort them or they self comfort themselves by rocking.

This bought us back onto the importance of therapeutic parenting and relationship based play in order to get the right side of the brains neurons firing to stimulate the non verbal responses (movement & sensation). Getting the right side of the brain firing will in turn help to trigger the left had side developing and thus helping verbal and logical communication.

The importance of a child’s identity, do you know your own identity? An adopted child needs to now and understand their own unique identity. The first major identity is their own name, they were given this name by their birth parents, this forms their first major anchor in their own special identity. As such it is important that as adopters we do not change their first name. As their lives develop and they are fed more age related information to help them understand, to then throw into the conversation that their birth name was different to what they are now called all adds to a confused identity. They biologically are different to us and so it’s important to understand that they might not like a particular style of food or clothing for example and this should not just be forced on them to comply. You wouldn’t appreciate being made to eat a type of food that you dispise.

As a child grows older they will be more inquisitive as to their identity, where they came from, what their birth parents are like, why they were unable to care of them, what parts of me are like my Birth parents etc. As they grow they will have fears and anxiety as to who they really are. As adopters it is our duty to provide as much information that we know about their early years and experience, so when they are ready to talk you have the information at hand to be able to drip feed them, being open and honest is the key.

Today was heavy going and we certainly deserved a gin or two when we got home. Not all children in care will have attachment issues and during the day we were often discussing the most severely effected situations, but still very important to fully be aware of what we would face and the commitment and attention we can put in to assist and help a child that we are going to be responsible for.

1st Step

Going right back to the moment we decided to adopt goes back a few years. It was after we had been in our relationship for several years already having previously known each other for the past 18years. Looking ahead we both would love a family of our own as we both come from close loving families, but how do we go about making our family? We mentioned adoption and this has always been our primary focus, some friends and family had mentioned surrogacy, but for us this wasn’t a route we wanted to follow. Due to the high numbers of looked after children out there in society we felt we wanted to be able to give a child the best life they deserved.

So as we have already mentioned in previous blogs, we did our research and attended 2 informal evenings where the adoption team spoke about the process and also heard from some adopters. We had now made up our minds that we were ready and wanting to proceed so a phone call was placed with the local adoption team and our interest was logged.

Excitement had built and we eagerly awaited for a welcome pack to arrive in the post. As soon as we had it in our hands we made a coffee and sat down and read through all the information. The form is fairly detailed and requires a lot of chronological events. As we know what we are like filling in forms a quick copy of every form was printed off so that we had spare copies, just in case we made a mistake as we wanted it to be neatly filled in to give a good image. So it asked all the standard questions of name, date of birth and address, health information such as name and address of our doctors, anyone else living at this address, any pets, a chronology of each of our lives including addresses, education and jobs. Then came the hardest part, a question we had to answer. Now is it there to catch us out I asked Lee, or was I reading too much into it. We had to write why we are considering adoption, what we believe our strengths as an adoptive family maybe and what we can offer a child.

So we both put pen to paper, several pieces of paper were scrumpled up and tossed onto the floor and finally we both came up with our own answer. Both feeling exhausted after desperately trying to complete the pack so we could get it back in the post, we decided we would actually take a bit more time and ensure we complied an answer we were both happy with rather than rushing to get something down on the form. After all, what’s one extra day going to do in the grand scheme of things. We are about to sign up to a life changing and life lasting commitment.

The form was fully complied and returned in the post, all we could do now is wait for a reply. This came about a week later with a phone call from the head of the services to say they were happy for us to progress and that we would be assigned a social worker and they will be in touch to arrange a visit. Phew we had passed the first hurdle, now onto the next hurdle to jump.

We had also been given the dates of the next adoption preparation course being run, this would be the start of the new year (February 2019). Four sessions that are run for a whole day, once a week for four consecutive weeks. Luckily for us this was being held 10 miles away (some on the course were having to travel 50+ miles in order to attend).

Spirits were running high between us knowing that we have been accepted onto the programme and that 2019 was going to be fantastic year for us. It would be a year in which we would become married and would be giving the adoption process our full commitment.

Our next blog will be focusing in on the preparation course and what it entails.

Adoption Information Evening

So in late November 2018 another evening was being held by our local authority adoption team. So that we could gather as much information as we could prior to starting our adoption preparation course we went along. We also saw it as a good way to meet members of their team and hopefully this would help us further down the line.

Again this evening was well attended with other couples and also a couple of single adults all looking into the viability of adopting. We sat next to a couple who have a biological child but wanted to get a brother or sister for their child. We did appear to be the only gay couple in the room. We all sat listening to staff members talking through how the process that our local authority follow which consists of the following stages

Registering by completing the relevant registration forms which included a personal write up as to why we wanted to adopt.

Adoption preparation course which requires both of us attending the course which is run for a full day, once a week for 4 consecutive weeks. The course would cover areas such as parenting ++, therapeutic parenting techniques and empathy, age related communications, attachment issues, theraplay, relationship based play, understanding identity and the adoption process, highs and lows of an adopters journey and life story work and its importance. A chance to hear various social and health workers talking about their experience of Looked After Children (LAC)

Social worker visits we would be assigned a social worker from their team to come and visit us at home and run through different elements in order for them to compile our folder which would then in turn enable them to produce our prospective adopters report (PAR) which would be submitted to the adoption panel. This would look into areas such as health & safety of the house/garden, finances, our support network and a session each looking back at our lives. These sessions would also be a chance to express our interests with regards a child.

Training courses we would be encouraged to attend as many training course as we could that would be arranged throughout the year. Course such as therapeutic parenting, later in life letters, birth parents & adopted children with alcohol and substance misuse issues, social media contact and first time parenting.

Adoption Panel this is where our PAR would be seen and interrogated and when we would ultimately be approved or rejected to adopt. Following panel approval we could then move onto the matching process

Matching Process this is when our report will then be handed onto other social workers in the adoption team that deal with the children, who can then look to see if they have any children that match what we have to offer. Our social worker will continue to visit and keep us updated with this progress. Once a match is achieved another report will be drafted and given to the matching panel.

Matching Panel will review the reports and will ultimately give the thumbs up for this to continue or under exceptional circumstances require additional information or reject the proposal

Introductions is where you meet the child(children) and start the process on bonding and taking over responsibilities for them. This is usually over a 2 week period starting in the foster careers house and then progressing onto them coming to our house during the second week. By the end of the introduction period the child (children) will then be in our house and care.

Court Hearing this would then happen a minimum of 6 months after the child has moved into our home. The timescale does vary and can be up to 2 years. The Birth Parents would be informed of this and so long as they do not contest it, and the judge is happy then we would the be granted legal parental rights of the child (children).

Then we heard from a foster career talking about her experience and the highs and lows that she would face with children who came into her care. Then going on to explain their experience of the introduction period.

Next to talk was a lady who had previously adopted through the authority. We listen to her story which clearly wasn’t plain sailing and had hurdles to overcome. In the end they adopted a little boy who has made their world complete. She then went onto talk about attachment issues their boy has faced and some of the complexed needs of their child as a result of the trauma he has experienced.

The evening was rounded off with a question and answer session and the chance to talk to the adoption team.

This was an interesting evening to hear of the personal experiences from both a foster career and adopter, the highs and the lows and gave us plenty to talk about on our car journey home.

Preparation Course – Day 1

Sat nav was programmed and we set off to attend day one of four and get stuck in with the training. Wanting to arrive in good time and not feel pressured, we lift for our short journey giving us 15 minutes extra to find the venue and settle our nerves. This extra time was soon consumed with a frantic drive around the town to find the venue, which clearly we were not being directed to the right venue by the sat nav. Instead it kept trying to send us to an abandoned old warehouse. Turns out the venue we wanted was located on the far side of this abandoned warehouse but was accessed via an entrance off a housing estate up the road.

The car was parked, and we eventually found the entrance and signed in and directed through the corridors to the meeting room. Nervously approaching the door we both gave each other a reassuring glance and entered the room. Looking around the room there were 7 couples sat and a space on a table next to the window with four chairs, luckily we were not the last to arrive which would have been embarrassing as we were the most local couple to the venue. We got settled and another couple joined our table. It turned out this couple lives a few miles up the road from us and we have since become good friends.

So it begins, our chance to get stuck in and absorb as much information as we can. Not knowing what to expect the work sheets were handed out and the team introduced themselves followed by all the prospective adopters. We all came from different backgrounds and all had our own reasons for wanting to adopt. There was 1 other gay couple, others had a biological child of their own but were unable to have any more, others having been unsuccessful through IVF or due to their age.

The first day covered our hopes and fears about adoption and a chance for the team to answer these. Then an insight into the backgrounds and reasons children are taken into social care and looking for their forever homes. This was an eye opener and really emotional as to what these poor little children could have been subjected to. They talked about appalling neglect or abuse and the effect on the individual child, but we were informed that these stories are worst case scenarios and thankfully social services are much more alert these days and step in long before it escalates on the whole.

The afternoon was slightly less harrowing and discussed therapeutic parenting and the importance of using these techniques with looked after children with some practical examples. Therapeutic Parenting is a parenting practice involving deep roots in nurture which is especially beneficial for children who have experienced trauma or attachment difficulties. A technique to enable a child to feel safe and build attachment after experiencing neglect in their first few months/years where their basic needs may not have been met. Therapeutic parenting is particularly effective if a child has experienced trauma as a child’s brain is developing between birth and 3 years of age, so for instance if a baby was crying due to hunger and had been ignored, this development pathway is switched off resulting in them being unable to distinguish if its hunger or not in the future. Therapeutic parenting skills differ from other more traditional parenting methods in that there is never ‘time out’ or punishment of any kind. Instead it focuses very much on the opposite with ‘time in’ and holding the child close to your body for reassurance. A need for age related communication and empathy. With therapeutic parenting, you are encouraged to remember PACE which is a methodology based on how parents interact and bond with a young child.

Playfulness: creating an environment of lightness and interest such as your tone of voice and having fun opposed to sounding stern. Being playful together helps the bond between the two of you grow. It’s about having fun and showing your child that it’s okay to have fun with your parents and also promotes a positive connection between you.

Acceptance: being accepting of a child’s feelings, thoughts and emotions but not the unwanted behaviour. eg. If a child says ‘no one loves me’ or ‘you hate me’ you don’t challenge them as being wrong. Accept these feelings and acknowledge them using curiosity & empathy.

Curiosity: understanding their child’s behaviour, being curious about a child’s feelings and wishes. If a child behaves inappropriately then ask them in a calming voice what they are feeling, or what is going on, in order to understand.

Empathy: feeling compassion and the emotions of a distressed or sad child and actively showing this so your child feels understood. Actively showing your child that their inner self is important to you and that you want to be with your child during the hard times. Parents would offer support, love, comfort and compassion towards their child. Understanding and expressing your own feelings about your child’s experience can often be more effective than praise. For example, if a child says “you don’t care”, you can respond to them by saying something along the lines of “That must be really hard for you. I feel sad that you experience me as not caring”. Being empathetic allows your child to feel safe with you and share their deeper feelings.

We left the first day feeling exhausted after spending the day in the classroom ( it’s been many years since we’ve had to sit all day listening). We had some research to do over the next week before the next session, but also to help our own knowledge of therapeutic parenting. Once home we ordered a book that was recommended, ‘The A-Z of therapeutic parenting’ by Sarah Naish. This is going to be our go to bible for advice and information and we would also recommend you to invest in a copy.

Our emotions were running high and we had certainly got excited about the prospect of continuing the adoption journey and for next weeks session.

If you do have any questions or would like to ask us anything then please do send us a message via the contact page on this blog.


We have only ever considered going down the adoption route rather than surrogacy. The reason this is our chosen route is due to the number of looked after children out there in our society that are just waiting to be adopted and find their forever loving homes. We want to try and make a difference to an existing human life that hasn’t been given the start to life they deserve. Create a strong and stable family life so that they know they are loved and can flourish.

Now was the time to research how we proceed, We started by looking online for our options, the local authority or private adoption agencies? Now living where we do, there nearest private agency was based over 80 miles away. Although going through private agencies can make the process quicker, we decided that we wanted to use our local authority services being closer and also helping children closer to home.

A dear friend of ours is a foster career and we gained a lot of information from her. For us it was seeing the individuals that relied on her and her husband and their family that cemented our desire to adopt rather than explore the surrogacy route. They have had long term placements along with shorter stays but every child has had their unconditional love and attention and stolen everyone’s heart who has met them along the way.

So we saw a post on social media that there was a LGBTQ+ adoption evening being held in a few weeks (September 2018) so we put the date into our diary. The evening arrived and we parked the car and headed off to the venue not knowing what to expect. To our surprise we were not the first there, in fact the small meeting room it was being held in was chokablock. We sat in the doorway (only space left) and the evening started with the adoption team welcoming everyone and informing us of what the process of adoption would take if we wanted to continue. During the course of the evening various people spoke of their experiences of adoption, the highs and the lows, the support and process it took.

We left feeling very positive and the car journey home was spent with us discussing everything we had just heard and what we would have to do next in order to get the ball rolling. The timescale of going through the process and the fact we would be assigned a social worker who would visit us regularly to find out all about our situation, where we lived, our lives, financial situation and our support network around us. No stone was going to be left unturned. We both agreed that it was what we wanted, to become a family and give a child a loving upbringing. We both had the most incredible upbringing and if we could give a child even half of what we had, they would be very loved and spoilt.

So the following day we sent an email off to the local adoption team to express our interest and get our interest logged. We had now put the ball in their court and waited eagerly awaiting a response. This came a week later in the post, a letter with a postal frank from the council. We sat at the kitchen table and opened the letter, the letter welcomed us and contained a form we then had to complete and submit to get us registered, we would then be added onto the next ‘Adoption Preparation Course’ they would run. This would consist of four 1 day courses run once a week for a month.

Around 10 days later we received a reply to say that we had been enrolled onto the next course which would be running from the end of January 2019. We now enjoyed the Christmas period with our families knowing that in the New Year our adoption adventure would commence. Here starts our journey . . .


Thank you for stopping off at our little blog. We are a married male couple who live in the beautiful Welsh countryside. We are not journalists, We are not parents yet but we do have bundles of love to give.

Our adoption process started back in 2018 when we decided to attend an LGBTQ+ adoption evening being arrange by our local authority adoption team. This evening just confirmed our desire to become parents and so the following day we contacted the adoption office to register our interest. We had now got the ball in motion and we were eager to continue.

We will try and document the journey we have been on and keep you updated with posts as often as we can.