The meeting went well.
It lasted about an hour and a half and was very intense. We both felt really drained afterwards. It's purpose was to fill us in on any questions we might have, to give us information and to make an initial assessment (very subjective at this stage) of our suitability as adopters.
We thought we knew most of the information - about the children who are looking for adopters, about their background, about the process of being approved, about the legal process. And we did know most of the things that the adoption worker spoke about.
The Borough Council also have a policy about people who are on or who have been on anti-depressants. This is fabulous - the other agency just seemed to be making it up as they went along. The policy is that a prospective adopter must have been off the medication for six months before they are 'picked up' to start the assessment process.
Since we would have to attend preparation groups before that and the earliest round of them is in September, (and more realistically in November, because of staff shortages), there is no issue. The adoption worker was very clued up on depression and used the phrase 'reactive depression' before I could. I feel really comfortable about that side of things.
Two things shocked us. She asked us for our understanding of the things the children would have been through. We listed:
- witnessing violence and abuse, possibly sexual
- being subjected to violence and abuse, possibly sexual
- neglect, starvation, lack of emotional contact
We were quite smug about our level of knowledge.
Then, she said that they had a relatively large number of children in their care who had witnessed the murder of a sibling.
And she asked us whether we would be prepared to get rid of the cats if necessary. Not just because of a potential child with athsma or excema. But because they do have some cases of children being sexually abused using animals, and they are therefore terrified of them.
We thought we were unshockable. We are not unshockable.
She also covered finance. We thought that we would not be eligible for any financial help - but it looks as if we would be able to claim tax credits as well as family allowance and an adoption allowance. This is a big relief, as we have been a bit concerned about that side of things.
Finally, she asked us if we had fully examined our feelings about not having a biological family of our own.
All in all, we were impressed with her thoroughness.
So we are going to fill in the form and send it back. We need two people to be referees for us, who are interviewed pretty rigourously themselves. We have to give permission for CRB-checks and B has to list all the places he was worked abroad in the last x number of years and they do international checks.
It is going to be a long process - but it is a process that we have now started. And I feel the same way about process as my friend Nina from the WI - she loves it. It gives a framework and a structure to follow.
We both feel very tired. But we have started the journey.