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Newbie question - what do the SWs want?(12 Posts)
I have lurked for too long but now I need your help on a specific question on how we should be planning for childcare. My DH and I are in a 'waiting room' before starting the adoption process, trying to prove to the SWs that we have given up all hope of a BC (Long story, but we have).
My DH and I both have work situations which seem permanently in flux - ie there is not much stability for either of us and we are both self employed but in different ways. If we weren't adopting this wouldn't worry us at all as we've managed on one income on and off for a long time (due to career changes and being mature students etc).
We are also both equally keen to adopt (fortunately!) and to do the initial stint of childcare in the early days.
This all means we don't have a very clear story on our childcare plans when talking to SWs. They want to know very clearly which of us would take time off to do full-time childcare. Our answer is currently, "We don't know, it could be either of us". We know this sounds vague, but it's the truth. Depending on timing, and who has more work at the time, it could be either of us, and we are both keen to do it. However we can't predict who will have work in a year's time, although if it was a few months in advance we'd have a much clearer idea.
Actually our "ideal" situation (and this maybe idealistic, please tell me your opinion) would be that we would both take time off initially (for the first month or two), and then we would share the childcare and both work part-time. (Both of us regularly work from home too, so we do have some flexibility). But I'm not sure this is the answer they want to hear, and I'm not sure whether this would be good for the child or not. Are SWs looking for one parent to commit to a full year of childcare?
Does this sound like we are not committed? We are committed, and would change our job situation if necessary (eg to get a full-time job) if we were absolutely sure it would be the right thing, but we don't even know what "the right thing" is, and we can see lots of value in the flexibility that we currently have, which we wouldn't have if one of us worked full-time.
When we spoke to the SW about this, she said we should "go away and have a long think about how we would make it work". But thinking about it doesn't seem to solve anything as our answer remains stubbornly the same. Any words of wisdom?
Btw, I should have said what a lovely forum this is, and how helpful it has been so far! Thank you.
I sympathise with your work situation, and how hard it is to plan incoming work when self-employed. I suspect what the SW is trying to get across is that the adopted child is likely to have difficulty forming bonds and relationships (to a greater or lesser extent) and to need to have a consistent primary care-giver at first, so the child has a chance to bond with you almost one at a time, if that makes any sense?
I could imagine a child struggling to figure things out if there was too much day to day change at first. My child had high anxiety about what was happening each day, and needed to know that (for example) we always went to X on Mondays, and we always saw GPs on Fridays, etc etc. They would have found it hard if the decision about who was looking after them that afternoon was only made at lunchtime, based on who was busier or had a deadline. My child was 2 at placement, btw.
In your situation, I think I would tell the SW that you realise the child will need continuity and familiarity when they are placed, as it could be a very traumatic time for them, and the new world of your family will be very confusing. Although you can't know until a few months before placement who will be the child's primary longer-term carer, you would (based on that timescale) be able to judge things by Matching Panel, and make suitable plans.
I can't speak for the SW in terms of whether that will reassure them, but I think it's probably getting towards the issues they want you to think about. Also bear in mind that "exhausted" doesn't come close to how you will feel in the months after placement, so one of you will absolutely need to stop working for a bit - this period will take ALL your physical and emotional energy at first, trust me!
Oops, and welcome to the board!
I Am afraid you really are going to pin down who is going to do the bulk of the child care adopted children don't do change at the best of times let alone when newly placed
My oh works shifts and even thought tencinaically we could of split the child care because their is not set dates to this is not really possible and she feels much more relaxed getting her primary needs met by one care giver
We were in a roughly similar situation, in that our DD did not have a primary carer, it was much more equal. SW did struggle to get their heads round this prior to placement, but DD has thrived on it.
I guess SW just want to be sure you'll make decisions based on what best meets the needs of your child.
I think what the SW wants to hear is that you are willing and able to put the child's needs first.
That may well mean that one of you needs to be the main carer at least initially. I suspect they want to hear that you understand that this is quite likely, and are willing and financially able to commit to this.
As to who of you two this would be, perhaps you could think about what you would do if all work things were equal. You say you are both keen to be the primary carer; who would sacrifice this and go out to earn the money? You can then tell the SW that all being equal, you (for example) would be the earner and your other half would be the carer; but you were both flexible on this and could adjust if needed.
Of course it would be lovely and in most cases helpful if the 'other' parent could take a good chunk of time off as well. And once the child is 'settled' and you know him or her better than anyone else does, then you will be able to judge what their needs are. If you find that your particular child would be comfortable with any particular care set up you would like, then you can always go for it. As long as it suits the child's needs. So I suppose that is what they want to hear - that you will be guided by the child's needs; and are aware that the likelihood is that they will need consistency and reliability.
Oops x-posted - girls said it much more succinctly than I did!
Most agencies will be looking for 1 person to not work for 6 months at least but also be saying if the child needed longer then they would be off work longer.
Thank you so much for your (remarkably consistent) answers, which are very very useful and constructive, and I'm so glad you 'get' where I'm coming from. Of course we just want what's right for the child, and the SW is looking out for the child's interests, so when I'm asking what the SW wants to hear I'm really asking what's likely to be right for the child too, if you know what I mean. I'm not just asking "what does the SW want to hear?" - I do trust that they're only acting in the best interests of the child.
It's just that it's so difficult to think "what is in the best interests of the child" when "the child" is not a specific child that we know anything about!
I'm sure you're right PelicanBriefs and Jameme that one of us staying home full-time for at least 6 months is more likely to lead to better initial bonding and more stability, familiarity, etc. And that a routine is likely to be a good thing and probably essential for some children to feel settled.
But it's also interesting to hear that joint childcare can also work well for some children too. I'm lucky that my DH is equally keen and that we have got the option of that in the longer term.
So... maybe we should plan on 6 months of one of us doing full-time care-giving, and then "see how it goes" with the option of continuing in the same way beyond 6 months or swapping at that point depending on the child's needs.
It still leaves us with the question of who should do the first 6 months though. When we spoke with the SW about this, we did say perhaps we could work out together with the SWs closer to the time (ie at Matching Panel) which of us would stay home depending on the needs of the individual child. I think she thought we were copping out and being wishy washy and not making a decision.
I was partly thinking, perhaps it'll be obvious from the needs of the child that it has to be me or that it has to be my DH, because of what has gone before in the child's history, or because of who the child would be likely to respond best to in those early months. (My DH and I are quite different from each other, and I'm pretty sure we'll have different parenting styles too, although I'm sure we'll both have to learn a lot before we get that far).
Do you think I'm overanalysing? Has anyone been in the position of having a choice of who does the care-giving, where that choice is influenced by the specific child's needs?
Thanks again for all your help. Great to get such a good well qualified bunch of replies and I do appreciate everyone taking the time.
No you're right Jameme. Getting our story straight is probably best, and I wouldn't dream of lying anyway - I'm a terrible liar and so usually I'm over-honest and just come straight out with whatever's on my mind at the time, which I'm not sure helps my case either.
If truth be told it is my DH who is really itching to be a parent. That's not to say I'm not also keen, but I've spent a lot of my life thinking I wouldn't ever had kids and I know my life would still go on if it didn't happen. I'm afraid to say this to a SW because I'm worried I'll be marked down as "not keen" though. I know plenty of gay men adopt, so the SWs can't think men aren't eager and willing to be parents, but when it's a heterosexual couple and the man's the one who's super keen, I'm worried they'll think we're something other than the "straightforward and normal" option that they're looking for.
And the 'different parenting styles'? Well, it's just that he's more laid back than I am, and finds it easier to be relaxed and calm when we look after other people's kids and relatives. I'm a little bit more like I'm hopping on hot coals and I find it more stressy (most of this is internal but I'm sure it shows through). Probably because I want to be doing things all the time, and he's happy to just chill out. That's not so much parenting styles - it's just our different personalities. And part of it is just not being very experienced at childcare of course.
I'm aware that if/when we go through the process we'll learn a lot about attachment parenting (?) and lots of the things we should and shouldn't do, and I'm sure we'll both take that on and try to offer consistency, as I know that's important. I know children need the same rules from each parent etc, and it would be crazy to be inconsistent. Note to self: must try to use a different phrase as opposed to 'different parenting styles'.
Your challenge is appreciated though.
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