Chapter 17 – The Final Visit and Preparation Time
It’s been 3 weeks since we last saw Gemma which has felt really weird but also very relaxing knowing we haven’t had to think about any perfect answers to her questions. Following the last several weeks of home visits and workshops she is putting together our PAR (prospective adopters report) in preparation for our adoption approval panel. We haven’t escaped the homework though as Gemma emailed us sections of the PAR, for us to make any changes or correct any mistakes we came across, and of course we wanted to read what she has actually been thinking about us this whole time. We’ve only made some minor comments and mainly just factual stuff, but it’s actually quite overwhelming, reading how positively she has perceived us and to read it in black and white is actually very emotional. This book of papers will determine if we are to become parents, very stressful and somewhat unfair, when you hear about all these other couples out there having children for fun. We have remained determined throughout and I normally have a gut feeling when it comes to big situations and decisions, which has never done me wrong in the past, and my gut was telling me we were going to be alright. We have been out to dinner a lot this week and crammed in a good few fun days, not that we expect to be approached with a potential match the next day but in our heads, this was our ‘nesting’ period.
Gemma is coming to the house today as she needs to go through some final bits, as the assessment has finished and she feels we are now ready to go to panel. She has also prior to today called us with a date booked for six-weeks’ time, I mean an actual date to look forward to as well as dread the possibility that this could be the end of our adoption journey. As much and we like to remain positive, we are never cocky or too sure in anything we put our minds to. We are a great team and together we do accomplish what we want, but this is not under our control and we are relying on a group of people to decide if we are good enough to be parents. It has been a bit of a roller coaster of emotions and also at times we have felt quite vulnerable, as you do have to be extremely honest to a stranger and sometimes to not really know how they may have taken something. Luckily for us Gemma is brilliant and is now more like a friend to us, so we have been relaxed a lot more since the beginning of the home visits and understand why the process is the way it is. Social workers often get a bad reputation but when you think about their job and what they have to do its no wonder people have that opinion. I mean if you get one thing wrong with a case, then the potential outcome for that child does not bear thinking about.
Gemma arrived and we had our general normal chit chat about X Factor and all things reality TV, which maybe today has lasted longer than normal as we all knew this was it, the final report. As things are now much more friendly, we could chat about the process in a much more informal way which was good for me as I like people to be straight up and upfront with me. The house had to look less like a show home than it did in the beginning but never untidy or dirty. It was the comedy from Gemma when she mentioned that swimming pool floats would make great dining table protectors, I mean seriously our house is modern as anything and she thinks we are going to stick multi colours rubber things to our table, maybe she doesn’t yet know us after all. Seriously though, in my head all I heard was “YOU’RE GETTING A CHILD”. This seemed to happen a lot when Gemma drops a little hint of a bombshell, but then retracts it, which makes my ability to worry like a crazy person spike that bit more. I am getting used to this though and Richard does make fun of me that I remember absolutely everything someone says in a conversation and then analyse it with a hundred different outcomes. Richard is probably more upset that he hasn’t written the PAR himself and taken control of the whole admin side of it, for him to sit back and bite his tongue is always fun to watch. A control freak and the worlds worst worrier going up in front of a panel of ten random people to discuss the reasons we should or should not adopt a child, this is surely going to be great fun or NOT.
Gemma starts the session by asking how we are feeling about it all and if we are ready for panel, then continued to ask strangely if we are still 100% up for this, which we excitedly responded with yes of course. As much as this part of the process is hard, getting approved will give us the safety net feeling of we will be parents not we might be parents. We cannot wait to be parents, as much as it feels like it has taken a while, today it feels like only yesterday that we went to our first ever open event about adoption. We know we are nowhere near the finish line but this is an important part of the race and we are still as excited as our first conversation about it over a cheeky Nando’s. We then spent some time going through the PAR in detail, where Gemma mentioned that there are additional sections that we are not to be privy too, such as the employee and personal references, but she assured us that they were all very good. Little did she know that we had basically met and interrogated every single one of our referees the day after her visits and phones calls, so secretly this wasn’t something we was worried about. Gemma then went on to explain how she enjoyed her time talking to and meeting our referees, some whom are relatives as it meant she got to see an insight of us from a different view point, which only re-enforced her feelings that we are going to be more than good enough as parents.
The discussion then moved onto the scary subject of panel and going over some of the questions we may be asked. Gemma explained that she felt a focus point for panel, may be that we have had it quite easy so far in our relationship and how we would manage if things do start to go wrong. She also felt that they may question the length of our relationship and whether we feel that we will last and what would we do if things didn’t work out. Before finally explaining that she things they will certainly ask us about our support network and how we would deal with things if one of us had a problem with attachment or the lifestyle change. I mean wow, these are three quite serious sections and my mind was in a spiral at the second question, let alone the third one, so I quickly told Gemma that I would let Richard do all the talking and just sit there and smile. She started laughing and said not to worry, as all we need to do is bounce off each other like usual and that we will have no problems. Rich being a serious planner actually asked about the parking situation at the offices, for when we get to the panel, to which Gemma replied that we would need to park in a pay and display nearby as there was no parking. Rich was shocked and clearly went into a panic, thinking we would be late or get stuck in traffic, but I know what he is like and we would no doubt be leaving at least three hours before, just to make sure we would not be late. Unfortunately for me, this is just how Rich’s mind works, it had nothing to do with panel, he is like this all the time. On the day I will of course not eat breakfast that morning, as that is just asking for trouble with my IBS situation, but will ensure Rich is fully fed and watered to avoid any risk of him not being able to conduct himself properly. We explained the things we were a little nervous about, which mainly was whether they will be concerned or ask any specific questions about us being two dads and if there was a right or wrong answer to which Gemma simply replied “just be yourselves and you will be fine”.
We then finished up with a general little chat about how it will now be a few weeks before the panel date, but that we could contact Gemma at any time if we were worried about anything. The final session before the big panel day was done and Gemma left, but before she did, she gave us both a massive hug and again told us we will be fine. We waved her off and shut the door. We both again hugged each other, laughed nervously and said “Omg how crazy is this, chillout night and a Chinese tonight yeah” as we now have a few weeks before the big day.