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We're at the start of the process... any thoughts to help us think through things?

11 replies

Meita · 19/06/2013 19:12

Hi everyone,
I haven't been on MN for ages, it feels a bit odd to be posting! Some might vaguely remember me, I posted about two years ago when we were thinking ahead a bit.

This below is very long, I'm sorry! But I feel that in matters of adoption you can't gloss over the complexities of individual situations. So thanks in advance to anyone who reads all this :)

So, our BS is now nearly 3, and we decided we'd look into things again. Just to find out what's what and to see if it was time yet to start putting things into motion; anticipating that all things adoption tend to take a long time.

Our motivation to adopt stems from feeling that we'd really like to be a family for a child who needs someone to give them a chance. Obviously part of it is that we would like to enlarge our family, but given that we don't place any importance on genetic links (I think the links created in lived relationships are much more important), and that we feel that there are probably too many human beings on this planet already, adoption seems like the natural thing to do. We very strongly considered adopting before we had our DBS, but were put off by what appeared to be a very scary process, and a certain lack of confidence too I guess.

Given where we were coming from, we always thought we'd very strongly consider adopting a child who was 'hard to place'. Particularly we thought we'd like to adopt an 'older' child. Then we found out that hard to place due to age is later than we had thought (it's a learning process!) and that age differences between birth children and AC are recommended to be as large as possible, so all of a sudden we found ourselves facing waiting until our son was 10, 11 years old to then adopt a maybe 5 or 6 yo.

That seems like a rather long time, and we thought we might perhaps in the mean time foster. It was through reading up on fostering that we came across 'concurrent planning' (CP). And well, all of a sudden we found ourselves considering adopting a baby, despite that having been the last thing on our minds initially! It's not because we 'want' a baby, but rather because it seems like the best thing from point of view of the child, and whereas it would be very hard for us, it would have the one benefit for us, of not having to wait another x years. Also we feel we would be well placed to do CP as we wouldn't have to worry about complications inherent with CP such as lack of adoption leave during the fostering time.

So we have got in touch with a few local authorities as well as with Coram who apparently have the most experience with CP. Just to say we are aware of the particular complexities involved with CP such as not knowing if the child will go back to birth family or stay with us, and the amount of contact involved, just to name a couple. But, we thought that now might actually be a good time to start things if we were indeed going to go for CP. Just thinking, let's say it's 18 months from starting out until placement, our DBS would be about 4 1/2, at school since 6 months, and the AC, at placement, would most likely be under 1, to as young as newborn, so the age difference would be at least 3 years, up to perhaps 4 1/2 years. Which seems reasonable.

Now the responses we have been getting have been markedly unenthusiastic. One LA won't even talk to us before our DBS is 'settled at school', independent of us going for CP or more traditional adoption. A couple of others have just said that as we have a young BC we should get in touch again later. Ok I was expecting a bit of that so not too disheartening. But what I'm finding a bit strange:
One LA we had a good chat on the phone, then I asked what age BC should be, in their opinion, when considering CP; the SW didn't have any experience, said she would find out and get back to me. That was over a week ago, nothing since. Another LA we had a long talk on the phone where the duty worker took lots of information, then said the manager would be in touch to set up a meeting - nothing since (was a week ago as well). Then, Coram I had high hopes for, they took 2 weeks to even reply to our first inquiry.

Is this normal? I thought agencies were supposed to reply to inquiries rather more quickly. Even if just to point you to an information evening or something. It feels a bit weird that we'd like to adopt and have thought about so many things but all we have managed to achieve until now are vague phone conversations.

Anyway, I would really appreciate any thoughts, pointers, things you think we should consider!

OP posts:
Devora · 19/06/2013 22:57

Never underestimate how long it takes agencies to get back to you! It doesn't necessarily mean they don't want you (though it may mean you don't want them - a big part of why we chose our agency was because they responded quickly and enthusiastically, sent us a fat information pack within a couple of days, and invited us to an information meeting within a couple of weeks). I don't think a week is necessarily significant in this context.

Having a BC is a very mixed blessing in adoption, I think. I first applied to adopt when my BC was 2, we were 'slow tracked' to start home study when she was 3, approved when she turned 4 and finally matched when she was nearly 5. But we are a dual heritage family, which opened doors that might not be available to you.

So I would say: hold your nerve for now, give them another week then chase them up. If you end up with a choice of agencies, don't forget that their efficiency at this stage may be a good pointer to their efficiency throughout!

FamiliesShareGerms · 20/06/2013 06:18

With respect to agencies we learnt:

  • few are truly efficient
  • this is mostly because SW are ridiculously overloaded (even if an admin assistant can pop an info pack in the post, it tends to be SW who would be answering questions such as yours)
  • few have much experience of adopters with BC
  • if they are really slow to respond (a couple of weeks and a chaser, not a week) they probably don't want you and / or you don't want them

Re adopting with birth children, we were advised to wait until DS was about 5 before starting the process. This was mainly because most children to be placed are 2-4yo, they recommend at least a 2 year gap between the youngest child in the family and an adopted child, and the process could take a year to complete. In fact we ended up adopting a much younger DD (she was 15 months), but never mind, their thinking was sound.

I'm not sure if many agencies would do "slow tracking" these days, because they have targets to hit for the amount of time it takes to get from prep group to panel, but others might know for sure.
TeenAndTween · 20/06/2013 14:12

Personally I would be wary of CP with a youngish birth child.

Imagine 'worst case' scenario: baby is placed on CP, lives with you for say 1 year, your birth child gets all attached, birth family turns their life around and baby goes back to birth family.

This if course is good for the baby, but could be potentially devastating for your son.

The thing is, CP is about the baby. It is best for the baby to have as few moves as possible, so placing with someone who will adopt later if needed is best for baby. BUT they will be aiming that the baby goes back to birth family...
You will be choosing to take the risk, but I personally think it would be difficult for a little one to understand and cope with.

NB, this is my gut feel. I have no experience of CP, or adopting with birth children. (Adopted sisters then aged 2 and 8.)

Best wishes whatever you decide

cedar12 · 20/06/2013 15:06

Hi meita
We first enquired when our bc was 4 years old. We didn't get very good response at all. I was only 27 at the time. We were told ddi was to young and so was i!
We ended up adopting when she was 9. We got a really positive response straight away. she was 8 when we approached them 9 when ds was placed.
In hindsight i wasn't ready but was really upset. We went on to have more fertility treatment.
I approached 3 councils. Our local authority wasn't verykeen but the other 2 were.
Maybe try a few more in your area. Within one hours drive i think they consider.
I agree with teen and tween cp is a bit a risk if you have bc. Its such a big change for them anyway and to have a new brother or sister taken could be very damaging for them. Someone on our prep course was doing cp and ended up doing a normal adoption for this reason as they already had 2 bc.
Good luck with it all.

Meita · 20/06/2013 16:40

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Devora and FSG I guess I'm just going to have to be patient. Maybe they will get back to us, and if not, I will try to find out what's up. I'll just have to adjust my expectations! When the one lady said she would find out for me and let me know, I half expected a call within the next hour or so. More fool me ;)

FSG regarding the age gap, we would be aiming at 3 years or more; it's just that with CP the children are always under 2yo, often newborn, so even if we started the process right now we would quite 'easily' achieve that age gap. If we were to do 'traditional' adoption, I think we'd wait for a little while yet.

Teen+Tween, that's exactly the thing we're turning around in our heads over and over. Even for myself, let alone our son, if we had a LO for 12 months or so from birth, thinking it was forever, and then had to give them away, that would be devastating. BUT still the best for the child so I don't want to just discard the idea.
What we've been thinking is that we would have to view it exactly like we would if we were doing standard fostering. Particularly with our DBS, but for ourselves as well, we would have to be consistent that LO's mummy is currently not able to look after LO and we are looking after LO for her until she gets better (or whatever). Like his childminder looks after him when I'm at work. Only once it were certain that LO was not going back to BF would we mention to DBS that LO would stay with us and be his new brother/sister.
Normally in CP that would be after about 4-6 months, but I know there have been a handful of cases where children went back to their BM after 18 months or so and that must be devastating for those families who looked after them for so long. But then again, in standard fostering, 'short-term' fostering is up to 2 years, and 18 months is not so exceptional so it obviously is done and possible, we would just really really have to have a fostering mindset rather than an adoption mindset. We're trying to figure out if we would be able to do that. Or if perhaps we should just do standard fostering instead. And then come back to the idea of adoption in 5 years or so.

cedar I am still hopeful for two of the LA we contacted. With both we had good conversations on the phone and they said they'd call again (one to set up a meeting, the other to find more info about CP). There are a few more we could contact, we seem to live in the middle of a cluster of LAs. But I think we'll wait until these two do get back to us (hopefully). We chose which ones to contact initially by looking at the 'adoption maps' - we went with those who have the lowest number of prospective adopters per waiting child, or rather the highest number of waiting children per prospective adopters, thinking they would be more likely to be recruiting. But I guess they are also more likely to be extremely busy! Hence the waiting...

I had a good, long conversation with someone from Coram today. They said it sounded like we might indeed be suited for CP, and this, coming from someone who specialises on CP, reassures me quite a bit. They also said they couldn't take us on at the moment due to the age of our son, but said we should get in touch again in about a year. They figure from then it would be rather faster than I had been anticipating (due not the least to the new regulations) so that we could end up having a placement when DBS is around 4 1/2 or so, which is actually pretty much what I had been 'aiming' for (but expecting everything to take much more time).

We are by no means sure that CP is for us. But we are more and more convinced that it is worth investigating and exploring, rather than just dismissing out of hand.

OP posts:
FamiliesShareGerms · 20/06/2013 19:22

Absolutely explore CP. You won't know unless you do. Also, you know your DS - mine desperately wanted a little brother or sister, and would have been devastated to get that and then lose it (as, to be honest, would I - I really take my hat off to people who do CP, as I don't think it could)

parasaurolophus · 21/06/2013 17:02

We have just started our process, and it is slow. We expressed an interest to our local authority and barnardos. The LA sent me an information pack right away, (which I had already read on the website) and an inquiry form. I filled out the letter and a week later we had a letter stating that they had started local authority checks on us.

Two weeks later I called them, and was told that our checks were clear. This wasn't checked until I called. Someone would call me soon. One week later a SW called, and she wanted to see us in two days (she was in the area). Five weeks after my first inquiry we had an initial visit. That visit went well. We mostly taked about our BC (who are much older than yours). The next step is that an application will be sent to us, but the woman who sends the application is on holiday for a few weeks so we'll need to wait a bit.

Barnardos took 3 weeks to call back, but then were lovely on the phone.

All this, and we are very good candidates on paper. The system is slow for everyone- I think they must get so many casual enquiries that they can't deal with them that quickly. And, it is the local authority. They aren't swimming in money.

We aren't in a hurry, but is is still maddening.

happyon · 21/06/2013 21:00

Just be prepared for a long wait. It might not be a long wait for you, but we were matched with our dd 8 years after making the first inquiry. We waited 2.5 years from formal approval to her coming home!

Meita · 21/06/2013 22:05

I guess it depends on so many different things - have been lurking on adoption uk a bit and it seems that whereas for some people things go very quickly, for most it's more like what you describe, para and happyon.

I am prepared for a wait. If things were to move too fast, I'd have to slow them down - due to DS age. But we ARE serious about things, have been for a long time, and in a way would just like to be 'in the system' so as to be able to do more of the in-depth reflecting and exploring, and talking to people 'in the know'. I'd also feel more comfortable sharing with friends and family. At the moment we don't even know if any agency will take us on, so I don't want to be announcing to everyone that we are going to adopt. The important people know we plan to at some point, but it somehow seems wrong to tell them we're 'doing it' now before an agency has taken us on.
When did you all tell close friends/family?

I wonder how/if things will change when the new rules are in force - from July 1st I believe?! They are supposed to speed up the process. I'm not sure what to think of that - I do think the focus should be more on speeding things up for the children who are in care, rather than for prospective adopters. Given that 1 in 5 adoption placements disrupt, I'm not convinced that speeding through the assessments is the right approach. Though some sort of change to the process wouldn't be amiss, if they'd manage to recruit more adopters AND reduce the amount of disruptions.

OP posts:
TeenAndTween · 22/06/2013 11:03

The more people you tell, the more people you will have to keep saying "no news yet" "yes it is a slow process" "yes they will be ours" etc etc.

Who would you tell if you were ttc? Maybe those are the ones you tell early. Otherwise it is a slow process. We were about 18months from initial acceptance to approval, and another 18 months approval to matching.

FamiliesShareGerms · 22/06/2013 13:08

Agree, TeenAndTween, re telling people.

Our very closest friends and family knew that we had always thought about adoption. When we started our prep group and home study visits, we told them that the process had started. We didn't tell many others. We were planning on telling many more people that we were approved (sort of the 12 week scan equivalent announcement!), but because we were matched with DD so quickly we held back until we knew what was happening with her. When we did tell people, one of my friends likened it to telling her that I was not only pregnant, but 36 weeks pregnant with twins!

I remember having a bit of a barney with my sister at one point because she said she felt out of touch with what was going on with the adoption process, and a) didn't really understand that the process can be quite intrusive, and not necessarily something to share with others in real time; and b) didn't really believe that there are long periods where nothing much is happening to report. I was glad it was only my sister who I had to have this conversation with, not lots and lots of friends.

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