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.