It's been a while since I updated this blog, but I thought I had better give a few updates on what is happening.
Since my last post we have had heard from a number of local authorities who won't even consider us as we live outside of their area. I'm going to talk about the implications of that in a second post, linked to all of todays media coverage. We have finally heard from a local authority we approached in mid-November, inviting us to an information evening in a few weeks time.
More importantly we have had two intial interviews, one with the LA we live in and one with a VA who cover our region.
The LA meeting took place about a month ago - the social worker came round to our house, discussed our situation and what would happen if we went forward with them. One the whole it was a positive interview - we were worried that our flat wouldn't be deemed suitable for a child as we don't have a garden, but that didn't seem to be an issue. The SW was worried about some aspects of my wife's medical history and felt they may want a medical report before we went on a preperation course. Patchwork was a bit upset by this, but I think it is just a reflection of the SW lack of knowledge of the condition in question - I can't imagine that the medical report will flag up any problems. The other issue we have is that as the LA covers a very small geographic area, we have been told that they can be reluctant to take on prospective adopters from within the area. I understand the reasons for that - it makes it less likely that the child will run into the birth family whilst going to the shops/park etc. However when we asked the SW about the issue, and whether the LA would be able to take us on, the answer we got was a convoluted "No because...but yes because...but no because...however yes because..although no because...etc etc" leaving us with no better idea of whether or not they would take us on.
The interview with the VA just after Christmas was much more useful - we went to their office and spent a few hours talking through how they work and answering questions about ourselves. I think its fair to say that Patchwork and I both found the process much more pleasent and helpful, and got the impression that they were enthusiastic about taking us on.
That left us with a decision to make about whihc agency to go ahead with - although we had a more positive experiance with the VA than the LA, we will be working with different SW to the ones who interviewed us, so we've had to try and discount our impressions of the two people. The disadvantage of the VA is that it limits the pool of children that we could potentially adopt - basically the children that are easy to place are placed with parents working with the LAs. It is only when a child can't be placed within an LA that they look to other LAs and VAs for suitable placements.
After much discussion we have decided to approach the LA first, if they will take us. However, we left the SW a message 2 weeks ago, saying we would like to move the process forward - since then we have heard nothing from them, not even an acknowledgement that the message has been passed on. I know that LAs are underfunded, understaffed and overworked, but the delays we have had in following up contact strikes me as very unproffesional. As a teacher, I often struggle to find time to chase up issues, phone parents etc. but there is an expectation that all the staff respond to parental contact within 2 working days, even if it is jsut a holding response along the lines of 'I'm looking into this and will get back to you in a week" Is it unreasonable to expect a similar timescale of response from the LAs?