Going nowhere fast

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‘Anything worth having is worth waiting for.’

‘All good things come to those who wait.’

Platitudes like the ones above are all very well and good when one is trying to find the will to keep ploughing through something that is sure to yield rewards eventually. But let me tell you, they offer little to no comfort whatsoever when there simply seems to be no end in sight, no light at the end of a very, very long tunnel.

So here we are, more than 5 months into a process that the government recommends takes no longer than 6 months in total. We’re STILL in stage one, which should take only 2 months to complete. Ha! If only. Things are taking much longer than they should and it’s really disheartening. We feel like we’re playing by all the rules – providing the endless stream of references and documents, reading all the books, doing our homework and networking in order to expand our support system as adoptive parents. They say “Jump” and we chorus enthusiastically, “How high?!” However, recently, we started to feel like we’d been completely abandoned by our adoption agency. We stopped hearing from them altogether and were left wondering what was happening, if anything, behind the scenes.  James called the agency to voice our concerns only to be told that our social worker was currently on holiday. Tentative Trudy hadn’t even bothered to tell us she was out of the country…! Tut. Furthermore, the lady in the office, Vicky, seemed to have the efficiency of a chocolate teapot – she was vague and uncertain and gave the impression of someone who didn’t even know what day of the week it was. Great. These were the people that had our lives in their hands…  She assured James that she would ‘get back to’ him. She didn’t.

The next few weeks became increasingly frustrating. It was time to step things up a notch and make contact with Caroline, the agency manager. James sent an email on a Wednesday. No reply.

This was now the second email that had seemingly been ignored by Caroline.

After 2 days Vicky got in touch to say that she’d been told by Caroline to let us know that she’d be in touch on Monday.

Monday came and by late afternoon it was pretty clear that we weren’t going to be hearing from her.  James called once again, Caroline was unavailable, and so he left yet another message requesting that she call us back.

Tuesday came and went and still nothing.

By this point we were feeling seriously undervalued and furious. How hard could it possibly be to get in touch with people who have selected your agency above all the others out there, to deal with something as important and emotionally charged as adoption?! Emotions aside, it’s worth noting that any agency that has a child placed with their approved adopters gets paid a whopping £30, 000 by the local authority the child came from! From a business point of view it’s important to keep your clients happy – especially when you stand to make a substantial amount of money from them.

It got to the point where we seriously contemplated moving to another agency. I got on the phone to First4Adoption who were fantastic: really listening and giving great advice. They said we should find out exactly what was delaying our progress at Mosaic and explore the possibility of other agencies. Of course, actually pinning down Caroline to get some answers would prove challenging.

In the meantime I got on the phone to other agencies who said that if we were to move we’d essentially have to start from scratch as they’d have to do all their own checks and references. Neither James or I could face the idea of going back to square one. There was only one thing left to do – complain. We spent the best part of an afternoon being transferred from one person to another, then another and another and another, trying to find someone who we could lodge an official complaint with. Eventually I decided to use Twitter, that most effective of PR tools, to call them out publicly: demanding to know what their complaints procedure was. They were quick to get back to us with a specific number we could call. Finally, we spoke to someone who took us very seriously (at last) and spoke to us with genuine concern. She vowed to get the situation sorted and if not would escalate our complaint. And lo and behold, a mere 20 minutes later, James’ phone rang. It was Caroline. She was icy in tone – the kind of cold that made Elsa from ‘Frozen’ look like a heated blanket. It was clear that she didn’t like being complained about. Tough. It had been the only way to get her attention.

James was great with her on the phone – he spoke succinctly and calmly, but firmly too. Through the course of the conversation (we put her on loud-speaker) Caroline thawed gradually and offered the odd, but barely audible, ‘sorry’ through what I can only imagine were gritted teeth. We were able to air our grievances and at one point Caroline even admitted that she’s anticipated that we’d complain… What?! Surely she could have taken 30 seconds to write us a brief email? Even if just to say ‘bear with me: I’ll be in touch’.  Anyway, by the end of the conversation we had a date in the diary for a meeting with Caroline, Trudy and ourselves in a week. Hopefully, some light will be shed on what exactly is going on and why nothing seems to be moving.

In the meantime, I’ve now got to return to the joys of answering a 20 page reflective document that we have to complete as part of the adoption process. Yay for me! It’s boring and time consuming and yet another thing that makes this whole process so frustratingly arduous. Still as Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/Fernandez-Versini (or whatever she calls herself these days!) famously sang, ‘Anything that’s worth having is sure enough worth fighting for’, right?

All being well, in a year’s time this will all be forgotten when we’re sitting at home as a family with our little one. Until then, it’s back to the long, arduous grind.

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