Michael and Jamie’s story
Two guys, three social workers and two amazing little babies
On one rainy January evening we went for a 'chat' with social services on whether two guys who lived in rural Bedfordshire could perhaps, do something amazing and have our own little one. Have to admit we were nervous, excited and cautious given all the bad press we had heard on the grapevine about the adoption process and we also wondered what social workers would make of a same sex couple that wanted to adopt.
Our social worker was a delight to meet. Warm, knowledgeable, helpful and so positive about same sex couples and adopting. She reassured us, answered our questions and we walked out on cloud nine. Finally, we thought we had a chance to be parents.
Over the next few days, we did a lot of thinking. It's vital you do this, as adoption is something everyone needs to take very seriously. It is a wonderful thing for you and the child and since our little man came in to our family, we know we would do anything for him. Do ask yourself the right things before you go any further.
So we submitted the 'expression of interest' form (yes, you’ll get used to the odd terminology and expressions) and we heard back quickly. We met to discuss whether we would be accepted on to stage one.
Lots of checks and more checks:
lots of forms, which took a good few weeks.
All came back OK and we met to discuss whether the agency would accept us on to stage two. Nerve wracking, but they said yes!
Adoption training was great. Alongside training, our assessment also started; ten weeks of a social worker visiting you and asking all the things you don’t normally discuss with anyone! Daunting! You talk a lot about you but also kids at this stage and your social worker starts to know the kids out there that might be perfect for you and so it’s a tight relationship.
We were readied for panel. We got our letter inviting us and we booked time off and went along looking smart and feeling nervous, nervous, nervous! The panel was lovely, no need to be nervous and thankfully we were approved as adopters! At this point, we had been identified for a little boy and from here we had to wait another 5 weeks to go to the matching panel.
We went to panel and again the people were great. You may or may not know, but you have to wait for the ADM (Agency Decision Maker) approval post-panel and this took nearly three weeks after panel, in which time the desire to get the final stamp was huge. This was the hardest part of the process for us, just waiting! It came through and we were over the moon, definitely champagne that night!
We then had to plan the transition and were told that our little boy would move in before Christmas and his first birthday (overwhelmingly amazing news for us.)
We met his foster carers which was great. We are always going to be friends and they will always be a part of his life. Then, intros started and went on for a week. Sounds short, but this is without doubt the most tiring, emotional and amazing time of the whole 'process' – you meet your new son/daughter, you are between foster carers' house and your own, you’re preparing for the new arrival by decorating, buying furniture etc and you also are wondering whether your little person is going to even like you or not! Tough time!
Despite a baptism of fire with hand foot and mouth, cold after cold (never underestimate how much snot comes out of a 14 month year old) and a lot of emotions we didn’t even know we had, we can honestly say we have a son that we love more than anything in this world and are so proud of him; how he has developed and the true strength he has shown despite a very tough start in life. Take your inspiration from them as they are truly amazing and remember that no parent is perfect; you will learn every day and then they will change again and you re-learn. Enjoy them and on the tough days, just say 'tomorrow is another day' put them to bed, cuddle them, kiss them and all the troubles will just disappear, it is truly magic.
18 months on…
18 months after our little boy joined us and we were nicely settled, we looked at each other one evening and knew what the other was thinking. It’s time to go through the process again in the hope we might be able to adopt again. No sooner had we sat down to complete the registration of interest form, a phone call came with the potential of caring for a full sibling, who was due in 3 months.
We were approved as temporary foster carers and with our second little man, we had lots of health issues to overcome. We had the new challenge of being foster carers with all that brings, but with the support of the social workers we have got through what has been an intense few months of no less than ten hospital visits, four trips in an ambulance, a week in Great Ormond Street Hospital, multiple court processes, panel preparation and approvals, contact visits and many other appointments with different professionals. Not to mention a gorgeous 3 year old to look after who was going through potty training and dealing with all the emotions a toddler goes through, plus having a new brother in the house!
It has been a pleasure once again working with the team. A team who cares about the kids and us as foster parents/prospective adopters.
We now have a 6 month old gorgeous, smiley little chap who has overcome so much in that short time. We truly love him and are proud to have had our match approved now. Hopefully, very soon, we can legally call ourselves his parents.
One final thought: parenting is tough, very tough. But with one smile, one giggle, one cuddle and a good support network, you can and will do anything to make that little person feel loved and get through all that life throws at you. Draw from their strength and that’s enough to push you on, even during those tough times.
What the adoption team does is enable something wonderful: give kids a chance in life and create very proud parents who can truly accomplish anything. Trust me, I never thought we could, but we have and it’s well worth it!