Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Home study visit number 7

A slightly surreal visit today. It was our first visit where we start to focus on our parenting potential, up until today it's all been about our pasts. We started off with some great feedback, our social worker is applying for a panel date for the new year, so hopefully late Feb, early March which is sooner that we had thought it would be so fingers crossed.

We came back to the talk about siblings. We started out on this journey saying we would consider siblings, but more recently we've become rather focussed on age, planning on a child under three. We had talked this through last visit, and were told that with siblings, we may get one child under three, but the older child is likely to be over three. At that point we said we would probably stick with our age focus. Today however our social worker said she had been chatting to her manager, and they really feel that we're a very strong and resilient couple, and that we could cope with a more challenging placement, and that whilst most of the couples on their books won't consider siblings because of the obvious extra work involved, she really hoped we would consider it as she felt we had the strength to be able to do so.

We went on to look at a couple of case studies of children, and we had to talk through what we thought our parenting strategies would be, factoring in their emotional and attachment needs based on what we read in their profiles. This was a great exercise, although I instantly realised that despite the hours and hours of reading I've done, when being questioned, it all seemed to go out of the window!

Towards the end of our session, we came back to talking about siblings, and I said that I thought it would be useful if we could see a profile of a sibling group currently waiting for a family group. She told us that we had one on our laps. The case study we had just spent an hour working on turned out to be of two little boys currently waiting. She asked us if we would consider them.

We nearly fell off our chairs. We assumed these were historic cases. To be suddenly faced with a photograph of two little guys starting back at us, was far more emotional than I had anticipated. Especially when we were then told that sibling boys are hardest to place and that potentially these guys might not find a match.

Of course, we're along way off from matching yet, but today was quite a big change - it's really made things very real. It's also made us realise that we've got to start thinking about compromise, and what we are and what we aren't prepared to compromise on. There is of course, no such thing as a perfect match - and that's true on both sides. We have an idea in our minds of what we would like our family to look like, and I am sure social services have an idea of the perfect families. But the reality us, neither party will fit a mould exactly. One of the case studies we had looked at today, was of an 18 month old boy. Very much in our target age group, but his profile was full of uncertainty and he had a family medical history that would really worry me. The two boys however, were pretty much as uncomplicated as we could hope to find, both born full term, no drug or alcohol use during gestation, settled with a foster family, meeting development milestones. However, at 5 and a half and nearly 4, they are older than we've been looking for.

So how do you choose? Where do you compromise? How can you choose your future family from a two page summary and a few cute photographs? How do you know if you're going to make the right decision?

The reality is, that there is no right or wrong answer. This isn't the way families are normally formed. Nature would normally deal you with the hand it chooses, and then you get on and deal with that, and try not to mess it up too much. Choosing your child from a list is something that thankfully, is alien to most families, and I don't think anything can really prepare you for that.

Today has made us realise however, that at some point, we are going to have to do exactly that, and from conversations with our social worker, I can't help but think that that day will come sooner rather than later.

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