I don’t know if arrogance is the word, perhaps we were simply naïve to think that any adoption agency would be chomping at the bit to have prospective parents like my wife and I on their books.
We could not have been further from the truth.
Upon arrival at our house, the two social workers from our local authority did not share our enthusiasm for our position.
Their peculiar behaviour had me scratching my head for several days after the appointment to try and pin point exactly what about their visit was bothering me.
They seemed somewhat deflated after apparently getting lost within our one-main-street village. They huffed and puffed into our lounge, and almost wistfully took a seat on our settee.
I should have sensed something was awry when my wife noticed the first social worker had her glasses on the outside of her hair, almost as if a quick-release mechanism was missing from the average bifocals.
The meeting went okay, if a little flat. Despite refusing to look around our house, they were in it for going on five hours; neither visited our bathroom once, and this after a determined effort to rid the entire village (let alone our house) of useable teabags.
My wife had kindly made cookies specifically for them, and both refused to eat one. This behaviour I thought somewhat odd, and when they got up to leave, I was in a mind to lock the door until they had at least tried one of the cookies.
I know social workers get a bad rap, but these two were not helping their cause one bit. Their flagrant disregard for our household etiquette put my wife’s heckles up, and we spent several weeks (as it turns out months), wondering what was going on.
We got our answer nearly six months later.
One happy autumn morning, a letter appeared at our doorstep with the familiar logo of our local authority. At last, the letter we had been waiting for.
Dear Mr and Mrs Sanderson
Many thanks for your interest in …
We regret we will not progress your adoption case any further…
I screamed from the top of my lungs. How has this come about?
Suddenly all the fear, uncertainty and feelings of being held in an exit-less maze came flooding back. What happened for us to be rejected? It just didn’t make any sense, unless, the outcome was pre-determined.
This certainly would explain the behaviour of the social workers; guilty in the knowledge we had little chance of progressing.
I am unable to state publically the original reason for them not taking our case, needless to say, it didn’t ring true with me, I simply could not accept the excuse that they provided, so now I had a bee in my bonnet.
I harassed, hassled and hounded the adoption worker manager until she emailed me the real reason of their refusal to progress our application.
As you can imagine, local authorities are under a great deal of pressure to get adopters on their books, and children in care into adopted homes. They have a timescale and targets which must be met.
Our local authority deemed my wife and myself as a case that would take them too long to process, and thus miss their targets, so they decided not to invest the time and money to do so.
This is a sad indictment of social care in the UK, and the under resourced target-driven approach is perhaps the reason that so many children are not given the opportunities they should be.
It was a low point for my wife and I; we were utterly dejected and again, seemingly out of options, but upon pulling myself together, I tried calling a neighbouring city council.
Turns out – attitudes toward adoptive parent selection vary massively between local authorities – our treatment from this second agency was completely different.
Perhaps all was not lost.