early stages of the adoption process

(43 Posts)
andie123 Sat 04-May-13 20:41:50

Hi
My partner and I (we are a female same sex couple) are just at the start of the adoption process. We have had our first visit from a social worker and are just waiting to go on an adoption course. I guess I'm just looking for some advice/support/encouragement. We really don't know what to expect, what kind of questions we'll be asked, so any heads up that anyone has would be welcome. We know that it will be a very intense and testing time, and while our families are very supportive it would be nice to talk to some people who have been through or are going through similar experiences. Hope to hear from some of you soon.

KristinaM Sat 04-May-13 21:05:26

Hi andie, there's a thread here with lots of mumsnetters who are the early stages of the adoption process

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/adoptions/1562171-Newbies

Do pop in and say hello, they are very friendly smile

KristinaM Sat 04-May-13 21:06:27

Forgot to say,don't believe anything they tell you about biscuits

Hi Andie. Just wanted to wish you good luck. We're just adopting for the second time. I hope you have a speedy journey though the process. Do pop over to my blog if you want to read a bit about our lives as adopters. I've got loads of other blogs listed there as well that you might find useful. Http://www.lifewithkatie.co.uk

Devora Sun 05-May-13 23:57:10

Hi andie, nice to see you here. There's a couple of lesbian adopters here (including me) and everyone is very friendly, so do plunge in and ask any questions.

Yeah, don't let them worry you about the biscuits. Most social workers like Garibaldis.

Happiestinwellybobs Mon 06-May-13 08:25:15

Hi Andie and welcome smile Lots of really useful advice on these pages from some very experienced people.

I only found MN once I'd brought DD home (a year ago) so never even knew about the biscuits! Thankfully our SW forgave the oversight and matched us with DD grin.

It is a roller coaster (cliche I know but true) and it can be frustrating, exhilarating, nail biting and draining - but so so worth it. Good luck

andie123 Mon 06-May-13 11:19:19

Thank you everyone for all your lovely messages, it's made me feel very welcome. So social workers are partial to biscuits? Well that's fortunate because my partner is a pastry chef smile. I will definitely check out your blog threebecomefour. For those of you who now have children how long did the whole process take? I know it can vary a lot but just trying to get a general idea. Devora did you face any difficulties being a lesbian adopter? Our friend and his husband adopted their daughter about a year ago and recently became her legal guardians. Unfortunately when they went to court they got a really homophobic judge who said some really shocking things to them. I'm sure that kind of thing doesn't usually happen but it's made me wonder?

Happiestinwellybobs Mon 06-May-13 11:31:45

It took us 12 months from the first enquiry to the phone call advising us of a match. Then another 2 months until we brought DD home. I have to say that I think DH and I were exceptionally lucky for it to be that quick as we were specific about we could and could not deal with and wanted a very young child.

We didn't seem to have to wait very long at any stage, although the 4 months from approval panel to that phone call advising us of a match felt like a lifetime smile.

I understand from others that this isn't the case for many adopters, and others wait a lot longer than us.

Devora Mon 06-May-13 23:22:23

Hi andie, we had absolutely no problem getting approved - we were the only gay couple with our local authority at that time, but they were very welcoming and supportive (and now they run an annual recruitment evening specifically for lesbian and gay potential adopters). However, we definitely had some problems getting matched when we were looking out of area.

In the end it came right, though, as we were matched with a fantastic 10 month old baby girl, who has been home for nearly 3 years now.

Have you joined newfamilysocial?

ThreeBecomeFour looked at your blog, very good.

Andie all the best with your journey, I am not sure what they will ask you but I think thy may ask stuff like...

Have you dealt with any issues relating to not having a biological child (assuming you do not)?

Have you got a good support network around you etc?

We have a birth child (now 8) and tried for about 6 and half years to have another (unsuccesfully). I did come to terms with all the fertility stuff and the end of it, and I kind of felt the social workers would need some convincing! But it must have really showed on my face when I talked about it that I was over that stage and ready to move on.

They might also ask you about having experience with kids etc.

My social worker has asked me about my being overweight so we no longer out biscuits for her! That ship has sailed! She gets the fruit bowl now!

Good luck.

Kewcumber Tue 07-May-13 11:55:59

and if your pastry chef partner you would like to meet up for dinner in London later this month then feel free to bring some eclairs come

KristinaM Wed 08-May-13 09:39:08

LOL @ kew

andie123 Wed 08-May-13 09:51:36

Italiangreyhound thanks for the list of possible questions. We haven't had an kind of fertility treatment or anything. Adoption is our first choice, my partner has always planned on adopting because she was adopted herself. I wanted my own at first, but the more we talked about the more we realised it was the right way for us. The only sticking point I have really is letting go of being able to name out child. I know this sounds silly and minor, and it's not something I'm losing sleep over. I guess it's just picking a name is so intrinsically linked to have a child, can anyone relate?

Kewcumber we would love to meet up for dinner, unfortunately we aren't off work at the same time until the end of June. Being with a chef is not as good as you would think, however her eclairs are awesome and I'm sure she'd bring some if we could meet up later in the year!

Kewcumber Wed 08-May-13 12:09:45

look through the adoptions threads - there's a meet in a couple of weeks - you don't have to both come! In fact we all ditch partners for the night (I ditched mine about 10 years ago but to be fair that wasn't so I could go unaccompanied to an MN adoption night out).

Kew had to smile at the ditching comment!

Andie hope you can make it to London.

Andie I can relate to the name thing. I had 6 and a half years of fertility treatment and a list of potential names with about 20 or 30 names on it! I guess they will come with a name and that name will be them. I tend to make up nick names for most of my friends! Maybe they will end up with a name that I sometimes call them that is special to me and them! But it won't detract from who they are (I hope!).

Moomoomie Sun 12-May-13 13:20:22

Andie..... I know exactly how you feel re the child's name. DH and I used to come up with the most outrageous names that our children could be called.
Dd2 name is still a bit of a sticking point with me, at school she is known as a shortened version and at home she has a nick name, which is nothing like her real name.
Good luck with your process and keep posting on here.

Happiestinwellybobs Sun 12-May-13 14:15:36

Us too Moomoomie smile. We had been prepared on our training course and it was something I was a bit worried about. We decided to give DD a "far out" name (before we were even approved); actually it caught on with our friends and family!

When we finally got the call, I waited until the end of the call, holding my breath to find out what her name was. And it is lovely - not what I would have chosen, and we do get the occasional comment that it is not a common name (which I'm glad about actually), but it suits her.

Also we gave her middle names, which link her to our family history too.

Andie, are you going to be in London? Talk to Kew if you are cos she is organising a get together and it looks like a lot of fun!

Devora Mon 13-May-13 23:14:50

Andie, I doubt there's many adopters who don't get hung up about names. It's almost a primal thing, the need to name your own, and particularly acute when it feels like the only thing you can have any control over.

I think its importance recedes once your child is with you, though. Very quickly you get used to their name, and then you get quite fond of it because it is THEIR name and you are beginning to love them.

Now, can't we tempt you do our little rendez-vous next week? Offer you a little light entertainment while your girl is having fun with puff pastry or whatnot?

andie123 Tue 14-May-13 10:11:18

Hi everyone sorry for not posting for a while, been crazy busy at work. Glad to hear that others have experienced similar feelings with the name thing. As well as not being able to pick the child's name, I suppose it's the worry that certain names have bad associations. I remember reading an article a while back about teachers being able to identify trouble makers just by their first name before they've even met the child. I think that's completely unfair and suspect it becomes a self fufilling prophecy for the child. I like the idea of giving them a middle name or a nickname though. When is the meet up next week Devora? I have to go on a statistics course next week (I'm so rock and roll!) so if it doesn't clash I will try and make it. If I can't I don't suppose there is anyone here who is based up north who would be open to meeting up at some point?
We got back in touch with the sw yesterday to confirm that we still wanted to proceed after our initial meeting a couple of weeks ago, so we're just waiting to hear back now. Our agency are also helping my dp obtain her adoption file. She was adopted when she was 2 and has decided that she needs to know more about her own history before we have our own child. It's quite a nervous time for her as from what her dad has said her early years were quite horrific. I'm scared for her but obviously support her decision.

Andie hi, the adoption meet is Wednesday next week...

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/adoptions/1718333-Adoption-night-out-be-there-or-be-square

The name thing.... I think any teacher who could predict a child would be difficult because of their name sounds like a teacher I would not want teaching my child! I find people in the UK (HUGE generalisation here) a bit 'snobby' about names! My friend from South Africa told me names are much more varied there. And I have noticed have a mass of friends whose daughters all have one of about half a dozen names. I think in places like the USA it is much more usual to have an unusual name and so no one makes a snap judgement about someone based on a name... or do they! Any Americans reading this may disagree. I think my bench mark would probably be is this name embarressing, are they likely to be teased because of it. Etc. I would want to do what is best for the child.

I had quite strong views on names myself when I started this process but to be honest as I have gone through it I havfe seen that the child came with a name and like I say if that name is going to plague them through life with a totally weird spelling or a potentially rude/embarressing meaning then I would want to talk to social worker, but that would be when we were matched. I must emphasise we are not yet adoptive parents so maybe someone wiser can advise. If there are protection issues then of course that is another matter altogether and again I would want to do what is best for the child.

Sorry - future tense comes with a name.

PS Andie re your DP's own adoption. I think that is totally the right thing to do. Much better to explore all that and get any feelings to do with that out in the open and 'dealt' with, or at least expressed and aware of before getting too far down the line. adoption is going to challenge you and your partner and it is going to throw up stuff so you need to be in a strong position and if there are issues that you are not aware of yet that will not help you guys and most of all the child will not be helped.

As the thought of our potential approval this summer or autumn looms I am (in equal measure) excited and TERRIFIED!

I am so eternally grateful that issues in my own life have been dealt with (I had problems with overeating which Christian prayer ministry has helped to expose and process for me) and I am really pleased not to have that burden! I mean it is quite likely a child coming to us might have food issues etc so it is so much better that I feel I have been through mine and am free of it. To be honest when we first looked into adoption I did not even really know I had food issues I just thought I was greedy and ate too much!

Kewcumber Wed 15-May-13 11:17:30

I have pm'd andi but she may not be in teh habit of checking her messages yet.

andie123 Wed 15-May-13 18:20:35

Hey kew thanks for the pm. I have my statistics course Wednesday-Thursday so won't be able to make it, thanks though. Had a bit of rubbish news this afternoon, because dp is in the process of getting her adoption file the agency decided they want us to wait 6 months before taking up our application. I know it's probably the sensible thing to do, but we both still feel a bit disappointed. I think if we wanted to we could go to another agency? We were going through adoption matters north west not our local authority. They said they will book us into a prep course in December if we want. I know 6 months is nothing really, just feel a bit deflated.

6 Months is not so lon, hang on in there. I am not sure but think any other agency or council would also want you to wait until she/you have explored your DPs adoption story. But others may have advice.

Moomoomie Thu 16-May-13 11:44:24

I know six months seems an eternity when you want to get moving. But, I think the agency have a point. There may be some issues that arise from your dp adoption paperwork that will need thought and time to work through.
Prep course in December sounds good. Once the ball is rolling it will be very quick.
Best wishes.

andie123 Sat 18-May-13 00:52:45

Thanks everyone, this place is so supportive! We've had a bit more time to think about things now and agree that the 6 months is needed. I spoke to our sw today and she reassured me that is was nothing we'd done wrong and it's just a case of dp having sufficient time to deal with whatever issues her own adoption throws up. She actually said she was really impressed by our enthusiasm and all the research we'd done prior to her visit, which was great to hear. We're both so busy at the moment I'm sure the 6 months will fly by!

Moomoomie Sat 18-May-13 14:19:00

The six months will fly by. If you can afford it, treat yourselves to a good holiday, somewhere you would never go with children.
Get all the silly little jobs that need doing at home sorted.
And....... Sleep .... Sleep and sleeeeeeeeeep!
Can you tell I've not had a decent nights sleep in nearly six years? grin

andie123 Sun 19-May-13 20:10:08

6 years?! Wow! How do you cope? That's good advice. We're going to Glastonbury next month, something we wouldn't really want to do with kids. And we're hoping to buy a house in a few months. So we have plenty to keep us busy in the meantime!
I was wondering what view sw take on both parents working full time? I plan to take about 6 months out when we get out child, and dp will take whatever adoption leave is available, but eventually we'll both have to work full time. Hopefully in a couple of years dp will start working part time, as we've both agreed that working the hours she does both the child and herself will miss out. I just don't know if the sw will see this as a problem?

KristinaM Sun 19-May-13 20:33:13

Yes I think you will find that it is a problem. Not with getting approved, but with getting a child placed. Unless one of you is black or you want to adopt a hard to place child, you will always be competeing with couples where one parent is stay at home or at least part time.

Also many adopted child don't settle with substitute carers. They have had so much upheaval alreday in their lives.

Happiestinwellybobs Sun 19-May-13 21:04:51

Our SW put a lot of emphasis on me going back to work part time. Whilst I knew of my rights to request flexible working, I didn't know whether work would agree or whether we could afford it. I did ask the SW change the paperwork to reflect that. I felt there was a lot of importance placed on the issue.

As it was once DD arrived there was no way I could envisage leaving her all week so made the decision to go back on reduced hours.

Andie I think these 6 months (and incidentily we had to wait 6 months after our fertility treatment so it might be six months is a kind of standard 'let the dust settle time'...) could also be a time to explore the 'issue' for you both with regard to work. When I first started this journey getting approved was the big hurdle! Now I see parenting this child (once we are matched with a child!) to be the real hurdle!

As mum to an 8 year old daughter I can certainly say that juggling a job and a child can be hard. My husband is supportive and certainly wants me to work but basically working out who will look after our daughter during school holidays such as inset days, half term, Christmas and Easter holidays and most of all the summer holidays, and when she is ill, has largely fallen to me. Because I work part-time I can juggle stuff around and it works out. I am also there to drop her off and collect her 4 days out of 5. When she was very small and at nursery it was not such a big deal and nursery was VERY flexible, although school is not. I've also found as she has got older that it has become increasingly important to me that she has the chance to go on play dates etc after school and also that we have the chance to do stuff together once school is over.

I totally understand that money can be tight and that is the reason why I work and why many people do, and it might be worth working out how much you will pay in childcare costs etc verses the money you will make in work. If you are thinking of adopting two children then of course your child care costs would be more!

I think it is worth working all this out in terms of finances and logistics before you start the process. You may find as you go along the process that your thoughts on things do change to some degree and when your little one comes home you may again feel things are not necessarily going to go the way you had planned!

I think this 6 months could actually be a great time to save up, work things out and talk things through.

Do you and DP have experience of being around kids? Again this time could be a great time to get some experience of being around kids.

All the very best.... hope you don't mind me suggesting these things. I had lots of stuff worked out in my mind before I became a parent and I must admit as things have gone along there have been a few surprises! wink

andie123 Mon 20-May-13 13:27:20

Thanks everyone. Kristina my partner is mixed race and we are hoping to adopt a mixed race child so I don't know if that will make a difference. We have a lot to think about! Before our sw visited we did sit down and do some calculations, and we could manage on my partner's salary alone, along with the help we'd get from the state. Being reliant on the state is something we've never done though, and it makes us both feel a bit uncomfortable. I have a higher earning potential than my dp, however we both feel I would cope better with the stay at home mum role. Half way into my phd I decided academia wasn't for me, and what I really want to do is be a primary school teacher. I'm going to look into whether or not it's possible to do a pgce part time. Although it's not my main motivation for going into teaching, obviously it would also mean I would have school holidays off to spend with our child.
Italiangreyhound all your suggestions are gratefully received! We have quite a bit of experience of being around kids. My little brother is 12 and he frequently stays with us at weekends and school holidays, and had done since he was about 8 years old. Also my dp has two nephews (aged 4) and a niece aged 7 who we see fairly regularly. We're going to try and get some more experience though, however that might be a bit difficult as only a few of our friends have kids.

KristinaM Mon 20-May-13 22:15:54

Andie, it will make a huge difference being a mixed race family.it also might influence which authority you apply to, as you want to go with one which has children of the " right " ethnicity. I'm not suggesting that you are wishing to only adopt a child of your partners background, but ethnic matching is a really REALLY big deal to SWs. There are other mixed heritage families here who will be able to advise you better.

Devora Mon 20-May-13 23:18:41

Hi Andie, yes having a mixed race partner will be a huge asset to you in the marketplace that is adoption. My partner is black, and frankly it made our journey far easier in all sorts of ways. I doubt women of our age would have been able to adopt a baby under 1 if we were both white. And dual heritage children are the hardest place - so your wait is usually shorter.

I'm not defending this, necessarily. Just stating it as fact. But as Kristina says, do try to make sure you adopt with an agency that has plenty of mixed heritage children on its books.

Kewcumber Tue 21-May-13 10:07:21

ethnic matching is a really REALLY big deal to SWs though the prevailing wind is that they're unlikely to admit this these days! Transracial adoption is now deemed officially to be a Good Thing, will be interesting to see any change in numbers coming through to back that up!

andie123 Tue 21-May-13 11:20:50

How do we go about finding which agencies have lots of mixed race children needing adoption? Just ask them? We live in Liverpool which is quite a diverse city (obviously not on the scale of London) so we were hoping there would be plenty of mixed race children looking for a home, will definitely ask our sw about their agency specifically though. We did tell out sw that we were interested in a mixed race child and she was very happy about this. As far as matching my dp's ethnicity she said it wouldn't matter that that they were exactly the same race, as she said that would be nearly impossible as many children are a mix of several different races. It's extra complicated for us as my dp doesn't yet know what her ethnicity is exactly. She thinks she's Asian and white, but has never really been told explicitly. Obviously that will be cleared up when she gets her file. Her adoptive parents are both white, so I'm guessing back then it didn't really matter about the ethnicity of the child and the parents. It's really sad that there are lots of mixed race children waiting for a family and lots of excellent white families waiting for a child, and just because their ethnicities don't match they can't adopt them.

KristinaM Tue 21-May-13 13:04:14

Just a warning about your partners file-often it doesn't contain a lot of information about the birth father. So if her bio mother was white and her dad black, you might not get a clear answer.

Although the lack of certainty may be distressing for your DP, it might play into your hands on the adoption issue. It's all politics.......

andie123 Sat 25-May-13 13:05:58

Hi everyone, so looks like my dp will be getting her file on Friday, she's just waiting for confirmation regarding the appointment. She's quite nervous about the whole thing and wants me to go with her, but I've made sure she knows if she changes her mind about me being there, even at the last minute I'm absolutely fine with it. I think it's important that she does this whole thing on her terms. I'm really scared for her, but I know this is something she has to do.
Kristina, she's pretty sure it was her birth mum that wasn't white so hopefully it should answer her questions regarding her racial background. She isn't expecting much information regarding her birth father. He apparently died before she was born. From what she has said to me though she isn't really bothered about finding out about him. She's really close to her dad, he's a really amazing person. However her adoptive mum passed away when she was 8, and while she has no desire to replace her mum, I think she really wants to know more about her birth mum.
Fingers crossed it all goes well!

KristinaM Sat 25-May-13 13:55:09

Hope it goes well for her andie. It can be surprisingly emotional, even when you think you are prepared. Sometimes the language in the files can be very upsetting in itself -my file had a heading " how disposed of" which referred to how the baby was " disposed of" ,which made me feel like a used nappy :-(

I also saw a file which used language which blamed a teenaged girl for the breakdown of her parents marriage, and another which discussed what most people would think of as sexual abuse as if it were a consenting relationship between adults. I'm reminded of this when I think how young your Partners birth mother was sad

Lilka Sat 25-May-13 19:35:46

I hope it goes well for your partner Andie

I'm another of the lesbian adopters round here, although I'm single. I'm also in the North, but a couple of hours from you as I'm way up East. And this lot keep meeting up in bloody London! grin <a bit annoyed>

Good luck to you both smile - the 6 months really will go by quickly and then it will be pretty quick from there. As the others said, being a mixed race couple should be helpful to you

Kristina, that's awful sad

andie123 Thu 30-May-13 19:51:27

Kristina, that's an awful use of language. So you were adopted yourself? (Sorry if that's a stupid question, just wasn't sure). We met with my dp's social worker today. They haven't been able to locate her file yet, I think she was disappointed but a bit relieved at the same time. She has got her original birth certificate now though. The father section just had lines through it, so I think you were right about her not finding out much information about her birth dad. Since you have been through it yourself do you have any advice of how I can best support her? I'm really careful not to say anything like I understand what you're going through, because the reality is I don't have a clue. I know it's never black and white but the thought of her birth mum giving her away just makes me really sad because she's such a beautiful person (does that sound silly?). In the last week she's found out bits and pieces from her family about her adoption. She was given up pretty much at birth and was in foster care for two years. When her mum and dad got her she couldn't walk or talk because her foster carer had neglected her so badly. Her mum and dad were actually told that she would probably never walk or talk and that she had special needs, turned out there's was absolutely nothing wrong with her. It broke my heart hearing that, and made me wonder what would have happened had she not ended up with such fantastic, loving parents. My dp hasn't wanted to talk about it with me much since finding all that out, so I'm just trying to be patient and be here for her when she's ready to talk.
Lilka thank you for your kind words. Always great to hear from another lesbian adopter! How many children do you have and what age are they? Where in the NE are you? My dp's family is from Cumbria (not the NE I know but closer than here), we visit quite a bit so maybe next time we're up there we could try and meet up somewhere if you like?

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