Monday, 26 October 2009

support networks

We had our second homestudy visit last week, the themes of which were support networks and health and safety.

The health and safety check was not as bad as feared, with the vagaries of our old house taken into consideration. We have a checklist which needs completing by approval, so ages to get things done. Many of them will be dependent on the age of the child: socket covers, door and drawer locks won't be needed for an older child for example. But we do have to get a fire extinguisher and blanket, our smoke alarms work but we don't know how to test them so we're going to replace them. And we will need to show our insurance and MOT certs for the car to prove it is roadworthy. The one thing I need to think about is my kitchen. I am a keen cook and have my knives in a block next to the cooker where I can reach them . I am a bit precious about keeping them sharp and for that reason don't relish them being chucked in a drawer. Having raised one child with no incident this is one of those 'common sense' areas for me, but of course if the SW wants it, I am sure I will comply!

Bonnie questioned us in detail about our support networks and especially the 'grandparent' generation. We are lucky to have our parents fit and healthy with mine living nearby, but my dad especially is very set in his ways and perhaps is going to take some time to understand the needs of an adopted child. Let's just say his bark is worse than his bite, but he can bark very loudly at times!!

Had a brilliant day out at NFL London yesterday and we formed part of the USA flag during the national anthems. Game went as expected with the patriots outplaying the bucs. Also had a good result from the Packers again this weekend.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I pity poor Bonnie. She gave us some homework to do which was to write about significant life events which have contributed to us developing as the people we are today. I got quite carried away, and have ended up writing nearly 7000 words, or about 15 pages of A4 word processed in Arial font size 12. What I tried to do was to describe each event, reflect on what impact it had at the time and explain how it shaped the current me. Flash is not surprised at the length as he reckons that I am as gobby on paper as I am in real life ha ha! His is a mere 5000 words - not that it is a competition or anything! I have to add here that this is just what we did and is not expected at all by the sw. I think it is the academic background that makes the words pour out of us, but short lists of info are fine.

Having read each other's musings, it is interesting to note the different styles. Flash has concentrated very much on events, with a little detail about the people involved whereas I have briefly described the event and focussed much more on the people and emotions involved. I don't know whether this is a male/female thing, or whether it reflects our personalities. A couple of reminiscences regarding bereavement still have the power to bring me to tears and writing about them was very emotional. Reflecting on the breakdown of my first marriage was also interesting as I have read such a lot on theories of attachment and trauma in preparation for our adoption, that I can now see certain behaviours in a different light. I now wonder whether a lot of the issues my ex husband had with relationships (and still has to my observation) have their roots in the way his mother treated him as a child.

The other task we were set was to watch children playing. This is something that I will have to admit did not get done as I had the mother of all common colds last week which kept me in bed for 3 days and not feeling up to a trip visiting Flash's brother to observe their younger children. And of course, the weather was not great over the weekend which meant that the neighbours kids were all firmly in front of the telly rather than running around their (and our!!) garden as usual.

We had a lovely meal out with my mum and dad last night to celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary. To me they just don't look old or decrepit enough to have been married so long - mum must have been a child bride and mother lol!!

So we have our next visit from Bonnie tomorrow, the first to the house and I think we will be going through the health and safety checklist. I was debating on whether to offer cake or biscuits, but my conscience got the better of me. At our first meeting she had admitted to being a fellow weightwatcher, so at the meeting last night I bought a box of Rich Toffee bars and another of Peanut bars - only 1.5 points per bar! Was happy to have only put on a pound this week, despite all the cough sweets and comfort eating. Back on the wagon today!

Elsewhere, another good win for the Packers this week and I got 89 points for my fantasy team - the best of the season so far. It is NFL London on Sunday where I will be rooting for my second favourite team, the New England Patriots, not that I think they will have much of a problem beating Tampa Bay given current form!

I think Maggie has gone through the menopause - yes, my little ginger chicken has stopped laying and can look forward to living out her days in relaxed retirement.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

another hurdle successfully cleared

Today is a day I have been putting off and dreading for a couple of weeks. I work in a predominantly female environment, but with a male boss. Out of a staff of 23 (of which 4 are men) we have 3 on maternity leave, one due to go off in a months time, one just starting 3 weeks paternity leave for adoption and one literally just back from maternity leave. We have also had redundancies, staff leaving and not being replaced and so working up the courage to tell my boss about our adoption plans has been something I have not looked forward to. Anyway, I have just come back from meeting with him and he seemed genuinely pleased at our news. All that stress for nothing!! It seems silly, but I really feel that I can throw my heart and soul into the preparation work without feeling guilty for being yet another person to abandon the team. I tried to talk to him about time off for meetings and prep course and he was very laid back and said, whatever, so long as we know. This is such a different response to what I know other adopters have had (not with him, with their own managers elsewhere in the uk!!!), and it gives me confidence that I will be well supported throughout the approval process.

I have now ordered a couple of books from Amazon regarding attachment and parenting and will be going to the library later this week to get out a couple more - one of the benefits of being on the staff at a university is that you get to keep your book loans for about 8 months unless someone else requests them!

I have a really bad cold at the moment, passed on by my mum and dad who have just returned from visiting family in Ireland so will be going home early to get wrapped in a duvet and sip a lempsip or hot toddy, whichever feels most beneficial. I know which is better for me physically, but mentally the hot toddy might just nose ahead!!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

First home study appointment

Yesterday we had our first appointment with our new social worker. Am going to call her Bonnie. She is a lovely lady with about 15 years experience in adoption work and made us feel very comfortable straight away. We didn't really know what to expect of the meeting, but in the end it was very relaxed. She spoke to us a lot about our reasons for wanting to adopt, why we had decided not to try for our own baby and a short exploration of our parenting experience and general experience with children. This took about 2 hours at the end of which we did our CRB forms and made our appointments for 6 more visits. Oh, and we found out that our prep course starts in early November and that Bonnie is trying to get us to approval panel in April!! OMG, it is really starting to happen now!

We have also been given some 'homework'. We have to write quite a long piece on the story of our lives (individually) from birth, including any life events, major or minor that shaped us into the people we are today. We also have to put together a family tree, do a diagram representing our social network, a chronology of where we have lived since birth, a chronology of education since birth and we also have to observe some children of the age we want to adopt to get an insight on how they interact with each other and the adults around them (how they play, how long they spend on a task, what attitude they have to a task etc....). Well, how will we fit in work?? Which brings me on to the next topic. Bonnie questioned us quite carefully regarding the adoption leave and what we thought we would have to take and whether we thought that we would need to go back to work following the leave period. We are in a stable position financially, but wouldn't be able to have one of us as a stay at home parent, so we have a bit of thinking to do as to how to manage that. But nothing that has made us feel worried or anxious. We also got our first look at the publications Children Who Wait and Be My Parent. It is hard to stay objective when you see page after page of lovely smiling children and it is hard to imagine what they have been through that has meant they have ended up in the care system. You feel like you want to take them all home, but of course that is unrealistic.

Six years ago we adopted a pair of cats (since sadly deceased) from our local animal sanctuary, and looking at CWW and BMP brought back memories of walking around the cattery, looking at the profiles of each moggie and trying to decide which ones we might like. A decision that was taken away from us as soon as we set eyes on Winston and Meggie - we just knew they were the ones for us. And I am sure, that once we seriously start looking, it will be the same for our child. He or she is out there somewhere.

Our day finished up with a wonderful evening in the pub, taking part in the send off for my colleague and his wife who start the introductions to their new daughter on Monday. They are so excited, but nervous and anxious and so full of emotion it is unbeleiveable to think we might be in the same position in the not too distant future. One of my hobbies is card making so I tried to get the creative juices going and made a card for them (pictured above). They were so thrilled to get one specifically related to adoption it was really sweet.

So today I was going to start on some of the homework, but Flash has taken all the paperwork to work with him, so I guess he must be keen to get started.

Elsewhere, lost 2lb this week, the packers lost to minnesota and the chickens aren't eating very well cos they don't like autumn.

Friday, 2 October 2009

busy bee

It is the weekend at last thank goodness. I work at a university and this last week has been induction week. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE meeting the new students and welcoming back the old ones but it is a frantic week where even a quick trip to get a coffee takes ten minutes if you are wearing your ID badge, due to all the "where do I find ..." interruptions.

Last weekend we threw a dinner party for 12 as friends of my parents are over from America. We haven't seen them since we went to Myrtle Beach 3 years ago so it was fantastic to catch up in person rather than by facebook or email. We really need to learn Skype!

Seven days from now we will officially start home study with our new social worker. Suddenly I am feeling nervous, what will she ask, will we get on with her, will she like us! The only other thing I can compare to how I am feeling is getting up the courage to get to Boots for a pregnancy testing kit. What if it is positive - will I be able to cope, what changes will it bring to my life and am I ready for them? And if negative - how will I feel, will I be able to carry on and try again? Only time will tell and I really should not get into the bad habit of predicting how the meeting will go. One of our friends should be coming to stay that weekend, so we have planned to meet her off the train after the visit, then straight to the pub for a meal, a pint and a debrief.

This coming week is also a very special one as a friend and colleague of mine has been matched with his new daughter and starts his paternity leave next Friday! It will be fantastic to watch his new family bond and of course I will be prying as much information out of him as possible regarding the adoption process as ours proceeds. I know he and his wife were particularly commended on the quality of their PAR so will be interested to find out what made it stand out.

Here's to a good weekend of painting, gardening and a new haricut!