So we were invited to the second panel session. This was the serious one (gulp), as it was the one that actually decided if we were the right people to adopt these specific children, who we were now invested in….(despite what we may say out loud). Everything rested on this meeting. Our social workers were positive that we had nothing to worry about, but there is no way I could not be nervous (is that a double negative?). Sleep was not my friend the night before… :-O
MY TIP – Try to get some sleep and think of distraction like TV or reading or pub. We went for a walk (and a wee beer – just one, still under the recommended weekly amount 🙂 ) to try and take our mind off the next day.
We drove north and met up with our and the children’s social workers in a small, overly warm room at a local authority building, waiting for the panel to be ready for us. While we waited we made small talk about what would happen, who would be on the panel, what we expected the questions would be and generally trying to find ways to keep us distracted.
Our nerves were already in a ringer. so it did not help our sanity that we had to wait an extra 30 minutes as they were running late (Arrrrrrgggggh). I am not sure what the delay was, but it was not ideal for 2 tired, nervous wrecks (my jokes are bad enough when I am fully awake….btw S agrees too …). You do get a folder that has information about each of the panel members, that you can read. But in reality I am not sure how much use this is. It is not like I can do a background check on each of them to find out what makes them tick and what is the best thing to say to them (I might be watching too much NCIS just now). But I suppose the folder is another distraction while we wait.
MY TIP – try to relax. Have a few questions ready or even bring a book and don’t drink too much tea, coffee or water (nothing worst than being nervous and THEN having to find a toilet)
Finally we were called into the room to be faced by 12 people sitting around a large set of tables. S and I shuffled in and sat down – you first, no you first – are they looking at to see if we are polite and have manners? Will they keep an eye on us in case we do not look into each others eyes. Are we showing enough love to each other to show that we are close enough that kids will be in a loving environment – are we showing too much and they think we are fake. – rather feel we are totally overthinking at this time!!!
MY TIP – just reeeeeeeeeeeelax (a common theme) and be yourself. Once you get to this stage, you will be prepared (or your social workers have not done their job very well)
So the first question came, but it was not to us – HURRAH. It was to the children’s social workers asking them to confirm what the ages of the children actually were and why the details were so wrong in the reports. It was a little awkward for us as it did seem to be a little hostile, but at least we were not the focus of it.
So after this grilling they turned to us and ask about our motivations and how what we have felt about the children. The first questions were fairly standard and ones we had been asked before, so we were able to slowly get into the flow. They then upped the grilling and asked me how, as the primary care giver, I would handle the fact that one of the children had trust issues with men – YIKES. Luckily our social workers had mentioned that they might ask this question so I had a few thoughts on it – ( how I was aware of this and would spend time building trust and understood that they might take a bit longer to bond with me and I would understand that and not take it personally). The answer seems to satisfy as there were a number of head nods from the panel (This is the time I started counting these head nods).
They then asked us if we felt we were prepared for the change in our life having children would bring. For this I answered that we felt we were book ready, but knew that we understood that we were not in fully prepared for whatever the actuality brought, as in reality how could you be (7 head nods – yeah). S then made a joke about our freezer being filled with mini sausages and fish fingers. (6 head nods, 2 laughs and 3 big smiles – go S….. not bad for nervous joking).
MY TIP – Listen to your social worker as they will often have a good idea of the questions the panel will ask, and prepare some answers. But remember they are not trying to trip you up and the questions are not meant to be personal, they are only wanting to ensure you are the right people for the children
MY TIP – Always remember they have the children’s best interest at heart with whatever questions they have.
I am not going to go into all the details as it is different for everyone, suffice to say it is nerve racking but not as bad or long as you fear…. the only slippy moment was when I decided to show my affection to S by unusually touching her knee, but little did I realise that she was feeling very stressed and emotional, and I nearly made her cry in front of everyone when I did – oops, she was not pleased…lol.
The rest of the panel was a bit of a blur, and before we knew it, we were back in the warm room awaiting the verdict. Both S and I found it difficult to sit still, but our social workers said that we had done really well. (but you never know….)
15 (very long) minutes later the chair of the panel came in to tell us the panels recommendation (although she did inform us we would need to wait another 10 (working) days for the official verdict – Boooooo)
They had unanimously endorsed US
PHEW – YEAH – YIPPEE