It feels like an eternity has passed since I last felt able to write an update on our adoption journey. In fact it’s been almost a year since I personally wrote a post and 5 months since James filled you in on our story! For the sake of my sanity and emotional well-being, rather than giving a long, drawn-out account of our rollercoaster experience, I’ll try to update you using a timeline:
July 2016 : I go for an independent psychiatric assessment with a psychiatrist off Harley Street, with James in tow. This was at the request of Mosaic and cost us a whopping £1000! The 15 page report comes back and is balanced but very positive and as good as we could’ve wished for. His conclusion is that there is no reason why we should not be approved to adopt. Surely, now Mosaic will allow us to move forward…?
August 2016: We receive a letter from Mosaic telling us that they will not be proceeding with our application due to my past mental health issues DESPITE being given the all-clear from the psychiatrist!
We enlist the help of the Chief Executive of New Family Social, Beth, who kindly agrees to accompany us to a meeting with Mosaic. The meeting is pretty difficult and frustrating as no one at Mosaic is able to give us any real clarity as to why they’ve flown in the face of the psychiatric assessment they demanded and terminated our journey with them. Furthermore, the real question is, why has it taken them 15 MONTHS to come to this conclusion?????
Beth is instrumental in getting Mosaic to write a balanced, positive reference to enable us to approach new agencies. Beth has also been in contact with PACT (Parents And Children Together), another adoption agency, explaining our situation and they are keen for us to contact them.
We approach a few adoption agencies and are rejected at the first hurdle each time, due to my mental health history but also because, I believe, of the stigma of having already started elsewhere only to be terminated.
We go in for a meeting with PACT and it is a truly refreshing experience. The lady who does our initial assessment is warm, supportive, encouraging and professional. She is also very keen to point out our STRENGTHS as prospective adoptive parents – something that Mosaic seemed to have completely lost sight of…
September 2016: We officially restart our adoption journey having spoken on the phone with the Head of Adoption at PACT, Adam, on 2 occasions. He makes it very clear that they really want to work with us and will do everything within their power to finally get us approved. Shortly after this we are contacted by our assigned social worker who I’ll call Cautious Carol (I’ll explain more on the name later on). Carol also seems warm, efficient and keen to get started.
October 2016: James and I buy our first home and move in. A week later, despite the builders, chaos and unpacked boxes Carol pays us our first home visit and away we go! She informs us that our panel date is pencilled in for January… which seems too good to be true… and it eventually turns out to be….! Over the following weeks we have a series of Home Study sessions in which Carol can’t ever really seem to get away from my mental health. Obviously part of her job is to make a strong case for us and demonstrate that in spite of, and in fact as a result of having overcome my difficulties, James and I will make a robust and capable parenting unit. But she never seems quite convinced. Her stock phrase being ‘I don’t know what Panel will say…’ Carol reassures us that she is duty-bound to protect our feelings and that she applies this level of caution and trepidation to all of her prospective adopters.
November 2016: We get a call from Carol a few days before she is due to visit us for another Home Study session. She informs us that due to questions raised by the medical advisor, things are temporarily up in the air. PANIC! Have we stumbled yet again?!
We have a meeting with Adam and Jane, the heads of adoption at PACT, who want to touch base with us and have a frank discussion with us. My mental health difficulties will be an issue, not just in getting approved to become adopters, but if and when the time comes, matching will present its own difficulties. Children’s social workers may feel that we are too ‘high-risk’ and as a result we may fall to the bottom of the pecking order. It also emerges that PACT use the same medical advisor as Mosaic… the same medical advisor who had requested that we get the independent assessment done! It feels like everything is against us, but Adam and Jane remain committed to formulating a plan of action – providing solutions to our potential problems. They remain very much on our side and are keen to reiterate all the qualities and attributes we have. However, our original panel date in January is postponed until March, sadly.
January 2017: We’ve been in limbo since November as nothing can happen until we know where we stand in terms of the medical side of things. Jane starts to really come into her own, with an efficiency and commitment unlike anything we ever experienced at Mosaic. She is adept at allaying my fears and reassuring me that we are still on track to go to panel in March. Meanwhile, the medical advisor has provided a short list of other medical advisors to give a ‘2nd opinion’ on our case. Unlike Mosaic, PACT handle everything and the report comes back giving us the ‘all clear’ to adopt, yet again, albeit with a couple of caveats. It’s a massive relief as it seems like there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Carol comes round for our final Home Study session and aims to have our PAR (Prospective Adopters’ Report) done promptly.
February 2017: We learn from Jane that Carol has sent the PAR to her, but crucially, Carol has felt unable to give a definitive answer on whether or not she recommends us for approval. She has neither recommended nor not recommended us. This comes as a blow as we’d been hoping that our social worker who has come into our home and learnt about the ins and outs of our personal and collective histories and the inner workings of our relationship would champion us and be on our side. Instead, she is reluctant to do so. I’m left guessing that the mental health is still a sticking point. (Though there could be a whole host of other reasons. Perhaps she was unable to warm to us. Or perhaps we didn’t say enough of the right things.) It feels like a betrayal and a massive kick in the teeth. The plan now is that Carol will not be attending panel with us, but Jane will instead. This has both its positives and negatives but we are confident that Jane has the clout and, more importantly, the belief in us to be a fantastic advocate.
And there we have it readers. You’re now up to date. I’ve tried to give you a breakdown of all the important events that have occurred over the last few months. There may be details that I have left out and things that I could’ve expanded on but hopefully James will come along and fill in the blanks with his next post.
All in all, when we embarked on this journey we knew it could be challenging but nothing could have prepared us for the trials and tribulations that we’ve endured thus far. Should it really be THIS hard to become parents? Nonetheless, we’ve persevered, been patient and tenacious. And now D-Day is a mere few weeks away. Maybe it will all have been worth it. Maybe.