During our adoption journey, our first social worker (Helen) recommended we take a break. Helen felt that there were area’s that needed to be improved on before moving onto the stage two. The recommendations Helen put forward were as follows:
- I needed to gain more child care experience.
- A year of saving would put us in better stead, financially.
- Since I had been depressed in the past (7 years ago), Kirklees medical advisers felt it would be better to have another year without depression.
Child Care Experience – I have two wonderful little nephews that I get to see fairly frequently (on my side of the family). They live in Sweden with my older sister (Kirsty) but we try not to let the distance be an issue. We visit them in Sweden three or four time per year and my nephews visit England a couple of times per year.
Helen’s opinion was that this wasn’t enough child care experience for me. I understood Helen’s opinion, however, when we visited each other, it was usually for around a week at a time. We also shared each others homes for the whole time. Jonny & I fit in around their routine and become as much apart of their lives as possible without causing too much disruption.
We still spend our visits like this.
When my sister and nephews visit England, I usually take the whole time off work, to spend as much time together as possible. I’m certain if you worked out the total hours of quality time spent together, it would be pretty similar to the amount of time many other prospective adopting couples spend with their nieces or nephews.
Jonny & I have been together for 9 years and during that time we have had lots of new additions to the family (on Jonny’s side mainly). I have been just as involved with each of them as Jonny. So why I alone was the one who needed more child care experience baffled me. It still does to this day.
As you can imagine the ‘child care experience’ reason for a break was extremely frustrating for us both. Nevertheless I agreed to gain more experience, I’d be daft not to want to gain as much experience as possible.
To gain further child care experience both myself and Jonny volunteered at Cubs in our local area for 4 months. Although it was great to gain some further experience, the age group (8 – 10 years old) was quite a bit older than the age range of a child we would like to be matched with, 0 – 4 years old.
I later signed up with Highburton Play group as a volunteer for 6 months. The children were aged between 2 and 4 years, so this matched wonderfully. I worked every Friday morning taking on different duties. These included; reading books, providing snacks, joining in play & supervision. There was little structure, in terms of how the day was planned, other than matt time (children sat on a matt, reading, singing nursery rimes etc) at 10:30am and an activities table (painting, drawing etc) that changed daily.
The time spent here was great. I learned quite a lot about children of this age.I remember how strange it initially felt being around children I knew very little about and other than in a voluntary capacity, had no attachment too. It gave me a real incite into how I might feel when we start introductions with our child/ren, how I would initially start to connect with him/her and he/she may behave around us.
Financials – Prior to our adoption journey, Jonny & I had already planned to get married in March 2015. This sat nicely within the ‘break’ period. Once our wedding was paid off, this freed up more money from our monthly outgoings, which in turn enabled us to save more. Since we started saving we have been able to save enough money to see us comfortable; should we need to rely on savings at any point in the future. If we don’t need to use this money when we are matched with a child, then these savings will be used as a deposit for our first home.
Given the length of time our adoption journey has taken, I’m not sure we needed to take the ‘break’ for financial reasons. I have spoken with other prospective adopters who haven’t had to make sure they have large savings.
Depression – In the UK there is currently campaigning going on at the moment (TV, radio etc) around reducing the stigmatisation associated with mental health, including depression. However, it is clear that there is still a lot more work to be done in this area.
I understand that if your are placing a child with a new family, then you would ideally want the situation to be as perfect & settled as possible. I also understand that if you have suffered from depression then you are more likely to become depressed again in the future (nhs.co.uk). However, the reasons I suffered from depression were quite unique and unlikely to repeat themselves in the future. Needless to say, I didn’t become depressed again.
Looking back I don’t feel that it was entirely justified that we were told to take a ‘break’. From all the other prospective adopters that I know of, there has only been one that has taken this break. If we had known that our journey was going to take so long I would have fought against the decision for us to take a break. Certainly if I had known back in January 2015 how our life stories were been portrayed by Helen.
Looking at this positively – we are in a much better position financially & the more child care experience the better.