It is a wonderful thing to get to experience, thriving, ‘normal’ families that just happen to be headed by same sex parents. Having been to the NFS family event, the carrot that dangles in front of us is all the more tangible, all the more enticing. The problem is, in order for us to get to taste this carrot there are a number of hoops we have to jump through.
Some readers will remember our first encounter with ‘Tentative Trudy’ didn’t go exactly as we had hoped. But having been reassured by another social worker at the agency we were now looking forward to receiving Trudy at our house for a second Stage 1 meeting. Things got off to a good start – Trudy arrived on time (I was tempted to give her a gold star sticker!) and seemed less flustered than when we’d last met. However James took that at his cue to ‘jump into the shower’… What?! I was gobsmacked. Did he really have to disappear at the very moment that Trudy had arrived? Had he mistaken her for the gas meter reader?! Still very keen to impress I ushered Trudy into the living room and glared at James as he scurried away. I got Trudy a glass of squash and made pleasant small talk until James rejoined us. Once James had settled down, the ‘fun’ began.
When we first started the adoption process we knew that there would be a lot of checks done as part of assessing our suitability to become parents. But neither of us were prepared for just how much information we have to provide. Having medicals and references and DBS checks done seem perfectly sensible. But this time Trudy had come armed with a list of all sorts of other things we were required to present. First thing was our driving licenses, which were easy to locate since we both carry them with us all the time. However, she also needed to see the paper parts of our licenses, an MOT certificate and our insurance details. The reasoning behind this is that, as we have a car, we must prove that any child being driven by us would be safe. We jumped up and set about finding bits of paperwork that were less handy. I disappeared into the bedroom furiously rummaging through files whilst James went about finding other bits and pieces. We managed to find everything and handed them over, relieved. But things didn’t stop there. Next came us having to provide evidence of our earnings and bank balances. Now in this day and age paper bank statements aren’t so common – not only because they create unnecessary clutter but also because they’re bad for the environment (Save the trees y’all!). This saw us both logging onto electronic devices to bring up our online banking details so we could thrust screens in Trudy’s face for approval. With that part over we sat back down thinking we were done. Nope. We weren’t.
In addition to the SIX personal referees we’d already provided between the two of us, we were now asked to provide names of employers over the LAST TEN YEARS – in particular, instances where we’d worked with children. Sigh. I didn’t really know where to begin and imperceptibly shook my head at Trudy, exasperated. In the end James and I promised we’d email her with names and contact details – there was going to be no more digging around tonight! Surely now we were done and could just get back to chatting?
The next thing on Trudy’s list was each of our family trees. Previously, James had tried to save time and had done a fantastic template on his laptop which we both filled out and emailed to Trudy. However, what Trudy produced was a puzzling network of names and ages that were all over the place and with text so small an ant would need glasses to read it! For some reason the whole thing had become warped in cyber space. Great. So now we were faced with having to fill out our family trees more-or-less from scratch. Cue James on the phone to his sister and me on the phone to my mum. What followed was half an hour of trying to remember the names and ages of living relatives: aunts, uncles, grandparents dead and alive, etc (siblings and parents were pretty easy as one might imagine). However the oddest part was having to work out the age at which various deceased relatives had died! Trudy sat patiently whilst myself and James attempted to juggle the ages of dead relatives with the ages of people who were still alive in order to get the answers, all the while still on the phone to my mum and his sister. I tell you, Carol Vorderman would have wept had she witnessed the appalling mental arithmetic taking place! In the end we decided to round ages up or down depending on what was easiest…
I suppose you’re wondering, as were we, why most of this stuff – especially the age at which relatives died, is remotely important. I put the question to Trudy who informed me it was all about creating a clear picture of our backgrounds and our family make up. Ok then…
So as you see, adoption really is no walk in the park. It’s an extremely thorough and at times intrusive process. Absolutely no stone is left unturned… and there’s a LOT more to come!