Approval Panel

All prospective adopters attend an approval panel where a group of carefully selected people, all with experience and expertise in adoption, decide if you should be recommended to adopt. Unfortunately, proposed panel dates often get “bumped”. Sometimes at very short notice. Sometimes even on the day. This frustratingly happened to us. Even more frustratingly it was due to incomplete paperwork. Quite commonplace I believe.

Social workers have large caseloads. They are stretched and have to juggle all sorts of very difficult situations. It was a real blow for us though. We tried our best to be patient. Our time would come. I’m not really an “everything happens for a reason” person – the awful things we’d experienced on our journey to parenthood, sucked. No other way to say it. The truth however, is that if we hadn’t experienced that delay, we would not have the wonderful daughter we have today. I just can’t imagine that. Writing it made me shiver. The timings would not have worked out. Her profile would have been given to someone else. I would not have been her mum. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I wish I’d had more faith that it would all work out.

Sometimes matching panels need to take your slot – placement of children is quite rightly a higher priority. Still hard though. You build yourself up to this significant milestone. Unfortunately, as panel dates are often infrequent, it can be months until you get another date. More waiting.

I was unbelievably nervous about panel day. Thinking I would totally mess it up by saying the wrong thing. This was the biggest moment of our lives to date. Our future lay in their hands. What if they said “no”? This was our last chance to become parents. There was no other way in which I could become a mum. It was all down to this day. People we’d never met, holding the key to the rest of our lives.

Walking in was a little daunting. I was surprised at how many there were – probably 12. It was however very relaxed, and they were very welcoming. We’d been fully prepped by our social worker so there was nothing too challenging. Questions were focused around the type of parents we wanted to be, why we thought adoption was for us, how we would deal with introductions and the settling in period.

My worry wasn’t justified and thankfully, we had a unanimous “yes”. Our dream to become “Mummy and Daddy” was finally becoming a reality. This was a fantastic feeling. It was hard not to get too carried away. There was still a long road (and lots of paperwork) ahead. All verbal recommendations must be ratified by an Agency Decision Maker (ADM). On average his takes around 2 weeks. Roll call the “what if they say no?” question again! It can happen, but it is unusual for positive recommendations to be overturned.

The truth was, it didn’t matter one of my referees had said we enjoyed a night out together drinking a fair bit of wine – that was my support and release channel. That I didn’t have a textbook answer to sleep training – no new mum does. That I had no real idea how I would cope if my child rejected me or one day screamed “you’re not my real mum” – I still don’t. I have come to realise that they weren’t looking for perfection. At the time I thought they were. I put a lot of extra pressure on myself as I tried to be “perfect”. What the panel had in us, was belief. They believed we could provide a safe, secure and loving home. Could competently work through the challenges we would face. It was time for me to believe in us too.