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Pre-Stage 1 - advice(21 Posts)
Hi everyone. I'm sorry if this post is quite long - I'm new to Mumsnet and am wondering if I could ask for some advice.
Long story but after 3 years of knowing I have infertility my partner and I have come to the decision that adoption is our first choice and after a very difficult few years have decided to begin the initial process.
I'm quite well read on the general process of adoption having done a lot of research in the early days of my diagnosis and have a realistic understanding of the likely challenges and barriers I may face but feel at a place where we are ready to take these on, although I am under no illusions we have a difficult couple of years or so ahead of us.
Again to avoid giving you too much info, to cut a long story short, my partner feels more comfortable with us adopting a younger child, probably under 3. I know enough to know that this is much less likely given there are far fewer younger children up for adoption and it may be that his views change as we progress, but for now, I think it's important we try to respect each other's positions on things. I'm very willing to consider other age groups though and we are both going into this with an open mind.
I have a few main worries/Qs which I wondered if you may be able to help me with:
- Today I am sending some initial enquiries to 3 or 4 agencies (a mix of LA/voluntary) - I know this is considered pre-stage 1 and we can formally only apply through one agency, but what can I expect to happen following making initial contact in the very early days? And what timeframe can I expect stage 1 to happen in if we proceed?
- For complicated reasons, I no longer have a relationship with my Dad and haven't had any contact with him since 2014. This mostly centres around his abusive behaviour. Although I have no contact with him and would not have him in my child's life whatsoever, he does have a criminal record which relates to harassment of his ex-wife (my ex stepmum) - will this be held against me? I'm concerned that a SW may assume potential harm to the child despite his not being in my life.
-My partner was diagnosed with mild-moderate depression last Winter and is prescribed a low level dose of an anti depressant Fluoxetine. Combined with counselling and a number of other positive changes in his life, he is doing really well, and although still on medication (because he finds it is has hugely helped his mood) he is in such a better place. I am concerned though that his decision to stay on his medication for the moment may be a concern for them (I'm aware of how much stigma there is about mental vs physical health issues even in the health and social care professions)
- When did you tell close family (by close I mean literally say your own parents or siblings rather than extended) about your plans? I would imagine many people like to hold off but am thinking that as family may be involved in the stage 2 process, wouldn't they need to be given a heads up (e.g. if we provided somebody's name for one of the references)?
- Finally, I come from a large extended family and have had lots of younger siblings with large age gaps who I have always been really close with, even helping out with things when they were younger liek nappy changing, feeding etc. There are 2 babies in my extended family and I have a lot of friends with children. My partner comes from a v small family by comparison and has one niece who is 9 who we see often but don't actually babysit on our own as such. So I'm concerned that although we have "exposure" to children/parenting etc, that our lack of formal childcare experience may be a barrier to being approved. What were your experiences with this? What could we do?
I'm sorry for such a long post and all the Qs but as you can imagine I have a million thoughts racing through my head and feeling a bit daunted!
Any help you can provide would be very gratefully received xxx
Congrats on choosing to adopt. The process really isn't that bad- remember people posting online are often looking for advice in hard times.
Where in the UK are you (no need to be specific)?
Hi, sorry I don't have advice but am in the same boat. Just gearing up to register our interest. I'm also on antidepressants due to an unrelated issue (as in not related to our struggles to start a family) and am worried this might be a barrier to our application being taken forward. Just wanted to join the thread to see other people's responses. Hope you don't mind me jumping on too.
Hi both no problem about watching the thread ive been watching a lot of others too! Im broadly in the greater london/essex area im a bit concerned at all the LAs near us being rated as "needs improvement" but have gone for a mix of 4 LAs and voluntary i thought seemed best to approach first. Yes thats v true ppl do post when they are having hard times so i just need to develop a bit of a thicker skin when it comes to the horror stories!
From my experience I don't think anything you have posted would be considered a barrier you'll have to go into detail about your relationship with your dad during Stage 2, including what it has taught you. Same with your partner and his depression. It's all about your life experiences and what you have learnt from them. From what I'm aware the only thing that would prevent an application is if an applicant has a criminal conviction against children.
Good luck with it! We are a week away from our panel and had our initial pre stage 1 visit in March so it does happen really quickly. A few people from our prep group have adopted already so it's happened very quickly for them!!
Also in my experience, at least in my L.A., there is not a "shortage" of under 3s to adopt and you are not frowned upon if that is what you are looking for. Sibling groups are the most difficult to place so there are lots of them, but we have seen profiles for several under 3s.
Hi. I've pm'd you as we have adopted twice in the same broad area as you've said.
My dad was abusive, and we actually still have contact. SWs just wanted to know about how we'd assessed the risks etc, and would minimise the risks to any child. The relationship was explored, and brought up at panel, and it is complex, but they just needed to know about it, and that children will be safe.
Having had a difficult childhood/early adulthood is viewed as a positive, as it can make you more empathetic with birth parents, and with traumatised children.
We went through a VA, expecting to not get a baby- we're potentially going to have 2 under 2! So be open to a younger child, they are out there, especially if your partner would like that baby experience. Foster to adopt can be an option to raise a child from babyhood. Children get older, but they don't get younger, which I know is obvious, but I did have to point that out at a panel for us!
Good luck. I would advise avoiding an LA with a poor OFSTED, they have to be really very bad to get a poor OFSTED for adoption.
To answer your direct questions:
1. It depends on how much of the stage two work they pull into stage one. The target for approval (stage 1+2 and panel) is 6 months in England and Wales. My (not amazing) LA aims for 4. The only valid reason to go over 6 is that something involved needs investigating (e.g. medical reports from consultants) or if you slow the process. Anecdotally many sub-par LAs run over and fudge time scales.
Your approach sounds good. The response to enquiries will tell you a lot about how supportive the agency might be.
2. No barrier at all. Be prepared for them to ask about your past, especially about how it will impact you being a parent. Get your narrative clear, so it can be explained to someone who doesn't know you. Consider how you might do a better job than your parents.
3. Small barrier. I doubt it could stop approval, but you need to market it correctly to make sure it doesn't impact matching; e.g. 'willing to seek support' 'survived hard times as a couple' 'understands MH issues' 'resilient' and you should make sure SW understand the issue is well controlled, and that the address it well in the PAR.
4. Immediately, but we're close to family. Lots of nosey questions from aunts and uncles, but that's good practice for adoption. You certainly need to give a heads up to referees.
5. Sounds like you have enough child care experience. Nothing prepares you for having your own. It's always good to get more to pump up your PAR for matching. SW like to see experience with SN if possible- hubby volunteering for some charity would be nice, but unless you get a nutter LA, not essential.
Some other random thoughts:
You will probably get a baby under 3 if you want one. How easily/quickly depends on: age, wealth, health, childcare experience, house, pot luck, (most importantly) what additional needs you'll consider. My guess is that there is more competition for babies in your region. If, after enquiring, that is the case, you might consider a VA that will look nationally.
Getting the right (competent, supportive) agency is more important than VA/LA. People who've adopted in the area are your best source of info.
Oh, yes, big up your childcare experience. It's ample, but you need to go in with that attitude, and they'll agree. If you ask if it's enough, or say you feel it isn't, you'll have to get more.
One of the best bits of advice on here, I think it was Kew, who said treat it all like one really long, invasive job interview, for the job of 'parent'. Big up your parenting CV, spin things positively, and smile and nod. Lots.
Hi all thank you so much for the encouragement and advice. Really useful especially regarding my dad and partners depression. I have been through a lot of counselling the last few years and so feel i have processed my feelings about the rship well and could articulate this enoughto reassure SWs so thats gd. Im encouraged to hear that we are not being completely unrealistic about our age range and that some have found the process relatively quick. I think its easy to get the impression from looking at sites that you wouldnt stand a chance to find a younger child as understandably the agencies need to highlight older children but maybe it wont be as bad as im anticipating. Im prepared for a long wait but im sure the more invested i become in the process the harder that will be. Thank you for the private msg. Ill reply shortly (sorry not sure how to tag ppl in my posts yet!) in regards to the ofsted issue i have contacted 4 agencies all but 1 of which are rated good or outstanding as i was v put off and disheartened to see almost all local LAs are rated as needs improvement but i did notice that the reports were some years ago so i thought i would give just my immediate LA a chance to see how i feel on initial contact. Even things like the websites and hoe welcoming or informative they are left an impression on me.
How soon to let ppl know is food for thought still. I have told my mum but in my head feel i prob wouldnt mention to anyone else til further down the line. Its hard for me as im usually a fairly open book but my partner is a private person n also because of the infertility angle im extra sensitive to lots of qs all the time which i think we'd find stressful. We'll see.
Does anybody know how involved grandparents are in stage 2? It would be nice to help my mum understand process n give her some books to read etc but if it wont be for a while I'll hold off xxx
Not addressing all your points but some quick thoughts
- it'll be important to be able to show how you've integrated the experience of your abusive dad into your thinking, how you've processed it, worked out and managed its effect on you etc. If you've done all that, then actually it can work in your favour because you'll be able to relate to children with abusive parents.
- I was diagnosed with and received treatment for anxiety (with a bit of depression) about 18 months before we started the process. I was very upfront with our SW about it, and it wasn't held against me at all. Seen as a good sign that I knew how to get help, etc.
- as for telling people, I like to think of anything up to approval panel as being like TTC. Tell with caution.
Good luck. Adopting our little girl is the best thing that's ever happened to us.
Well i have to say im already feelong demoralised. I absolutely get that waiting is going to be something i need to get used to if planning to adopt and i promise i havent got rose tinted glasses on about this but ive barely heard a thing since my enquiries to 5 agencies sunday. One LA has got bk to me n invited for info event. One has called to arrange a phone chat to fill out initial enquiry form together but that ended up being a palaver with work as i was planning to call first thing mon n be 30 mins late to a 3 day training course st work which i didnt think would be a big deal but the frickin h&s ppl at work who organised the course made such a song n dance about it that i ended up having to go bk n forth to LA 3 times (embarassing n also gives me a flavour of how juggling my job at a v irritating company will be witj actually having my own life!) and the other 3 ive still not heard from. One of them i chased today n was told they are being taken over by another agency so to to be "patient" but with no specifics of timeframe. I know its really silly so early on but after years of unhappiness before finally being able to go for it and the anxiety that came with making the first step i just feel a bit...deflated! Doesnt help ive been ill for 3ws either so extra grumpy. Just needed to vent to someone who may understand! I promise im not always like this! Xxx
Oh n i should add the one who called i had to chase after their autoemail said 2 working days n had heard nothing in 4!
Honestly, I understand how frustrating it is but most places are significantly under resourced so waiting is a fact of life. This process is all fits and starts with periods of not much happening in between. It took us four years from first enquiry to approval panel - there were issues with physical and mental health which kept cropping up and slowing things down.
It was then 10 months between approval and our DC moving in with us. I get the desire for things to go quickly but you really need to manage your expectations in this process and accept delay.
Sorry just an apology about my earliest post! Feeling much more calm and in perspective now. Had a bit of a generally difficult week for lots of reasons other than this and i think just let my emotions run away with me. Sorry for the rant and sorry to have been so silly xxx
Learning how to cope with social worker and local authority delays is the first step towards becoming an adopter. Your experience of waiting four days for people to get back to an initial enquiry is the tip of the iceberg in comparison to what most people here have faced throughout the process, as you'll realise if you spend any time at all on these boards.
FWIW I don't think you've been silly...I think you've expressed frustration and disappointment about something that is so important to you that of course you'll be feeling nervy and 'on the edge of your seat' waiting to hear something. I'm right there with you as I think we're at similar stages. I'm sure all the veterans who's children have come home have felt similar frustration and disappointment. Sounds like we need to steel ourselves for this being a recurring theme! X
Thanks alltheusernames. Raimatnight believe me i am not oblivious to that fact at all and absolutely understand the wait ppl have gone through on these boards having read a lot of forums before even joining. Like others i have been through a 3 year journey coping with a life changing infertility and premature ovarian failure/menopause diagnosis so i am very experienced in long waits for support and information, rollercoaster of emotions and impact on life and relationships that comes with it, and processing 2 years of therapy so patience, resilience, and putting in the work short term for long term fulfilment is something im used to. I agree that this is practice for what is to come and im going in with my eye's open having done an awful lot of research on the process to get to this point. But i think its a human reaction to feel a sense of anxiety over something you want so much in life and im probably just verbalising how a lot of ppl feel in those first nerve wracking days when you finally make first contact with agencies. Im sure ill have plenty more wobbles to come and that's just part of our journey, acknowledging how we're feeling at each stage x
Sorry alltheusernames forgot to say yes it does sound as though we are at similar points so if you do need some emotional support or someone to vent to please do feel free to pm me and we'll tackle it together
Nothing to apologise for - it's a slow, frustrating process. Having gone through all you have to get to this point it can be maddening to realise you're right at the start of a process (as far as SW are concerned) when you've been living with the "process" of trying to start a family for years.
That would be fab! Thanks Teekay. Let's keep in touch and compare notes. We're off to an open evening tomorrow. We've been to two others (different towns but within the same consortium...ours have merged countywide which is annoying as I work for the LA children's services so was planning to go to a neighbouring town but can't now they've all merged! The 'mothership' of our consortium is the area I work for so all applications go through them) I've also found out we might be in the catchment area for another authority so going to call them tomorrow too.
Jellycatspyjamas, you just made a little lightbulb go off in my head there! I've been playing a really crappy game of snakes and ladders for the last few years where I keep sliding back down a snake and feeling back at the beginning with each pregnancy loss...planning to start the adoption process feels to me like I've gone up a little ladder whereas actually i'm probably back at square 1 in the eyes of the adoption SWs. Does that make sense?
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