Saturday, March 07, 2009

So now what?

Several people have asked what happens now that we are approved, so I thought I'd write a post about it. The short answer is "an awful lot of waiting."
The long answer is this:
We are approved to adopt a girl with Down's Syndrome, who is developmentally younger than Philip (this doesn't necessarily mean that she won't be older than him in years.)We don't have a child identified yet; so our Social Worker will take our details and put them on a database that has on it the details of most PAs (Prospective Adopters,) and available children. In theory, this database matches up adopters and children that have the same criteria, and emails the adopters' details to the child's social worker. In practice, this only happens if the social workers have put the child's details on the database, and some LAs (Local Authorities)might not bother to do that if they think they'll be able to place the child in their region reasonably easily. Our Social Worker will also keep an eye out for children that match what we're looking for... Word travels fast.

Any time that we become aware of a child that fits our description, we would contact the child's social worker to express our interest. Most of the time, the child's social worker will probably turn us down; we might not fit exactly what they're looking for, or they might have had interest from other families that they like better. This has already happened with two little girls that we've enquired about in the couple of months leading to Panel. So this stage can take many months.

At some point, hopefully, we will express interest in a child and her social worker will think we have potential. In that case, the following course of events will take place (and the process might fall apart at any one of these stages:)

1. We will send our Home Study to the child's social worker, and they will send us her CPR (Child Permanence Report.) This is the child's equivalent to a home study, it's as thick as a book, and it has in it as much information as is available about this child.

2. If, after reading the respective documents, both us and the child's social worker are still interested, they will arrange to come down and visit us in person. Our social worker must be present for this (and any other) stage, so that might cause delays in finding a date that is good for everyone.

3. After visiting us, the child's social worker will return to the LA. LAs usually want to have "looked at" at least 2-3 prospective adopters before they make a decision, so we will probably have to sit around and wait some more.

4. Eventually, after they have visited everyone they want to visit, the child's LA will have an internal meeting, to decide which prospective adopter they prefer for this child; The "successful applicant" will then be notified.

5. If we were to be the ones chosen at stage4, we would then have to go to Matching Panel. This is similar to Approval Panel, that we've just gone through. Our Home Study, along with the CPR form for the child, will b sent to a group of Panel members -some from the LA and some independent members (adoptive parents, adoptees, medical advisers, educational psychologists etc.) The paperwork must be available to the panel members at the very least 2 weeks before Panel, so that they have time to read it; During Panel, it will be decided if we are matched with this child or not.

6. If we end up being matched, we would then arrange to go and visit our child. The LA will pay our travel costs, and we will stay at a hotel or B&B close to her home... We will spend 1-2 weeks there, visiting daily and getting to know her. After that, we will come home, and a few days later, so will she :)

All of the above, from first identifying the child to going through Matching Panel, can take a good few months. From what I've heard, it's usually 4-5 months... The most I've heard it taking is 8 months, the least is 3 months. A looooot of waiting folks.

The gist of it is that it can easily take another 9-12 months before Sparky comes home. It might be less, but it will certainly be a while. After going through the excitement of Panel, I'm trying to digest this new information now... And I hate waiting :(

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