The house is tidy. The paperwork neatly prepared on the table. My Mum and I are making conversation in a kind of slightly tense kind of way – and doing extra bits of tidying away. The kettle is boiling (possibly for the fourth time). A packet of nice biscuits awaits, the crucial importance of which everyone I know has highlighted to me.
Yep, we’re awaiting the very first visit from a social worker from the adoption team to my house.
My Mum wasn’t supposed to be there originally – we hadn’t planned it that way; but recent events (see my last couple of posts) had meant it had been a rather strange 24 hours. And being the wondrous star she is she had dropped everything and come to visit, along with her faithful hound (who also brought her endless capacity to provide comfort to afflicted souls).
We’d agreed that although we might somewhat confuse the social worker on arrival Mum would be there to say hello, we would check that the social worker didn’t want to speak to her, and then Mum would head out for a long walk with the dog. And so it passed. The social worker did, predictably, look slightly bewildered but politeness reigned, the dog’s lead was clicked on, coat and gloves were donned, dog and mother left. The kettle was clicked into action and I found the cafetiere. I forgot about the biscuits.
I explained the somewhat unusual personal context for me of the meeting and asked the social worker if she was happy to go ahead. It still felt right to me to do so, and she asked a few questions then nodded us onwards.
So soon enough we were off: a brisk page-turning look at my portfolio so far; a chat about the introductory course I’d attended; the suggestion to search YouTube for attachment videos; a slight diversion into the demands and uncertainties of the new adoption process; all interspersed with several slightly more insightful discussions around grief and loss than had perhaps originally been on the social worker’s agenda.
It felt good. She seemed happy enough with my reading so far, pleased I’d had a first stab at a family tree, interested in my ecomap, and really positive about my fledgling connections into “RealLife” adoption networking as well as intrigued by my online adoption networking.
We walked around the house and discussed bannisters, sharp edges, steps and stoves. I still didn’t manage to notice the biscuits.
Suddenly, as we chatted wandering around the house, the social worker commented in a way that made it seem just an expected part of the future that at some point I’d have to navigate the complex betwixt and between period straight after matching, when the child/ren are resident yet you are not legally yet able to make the big decisions, and are under scrutiny and observation. A passing comment; but also one of those telling moments that punctuate my adoption journey, as the scared/excited/inspired/anxious/hopeful nexus of emotions all suddenly spin together.
I wasn’t sure how the visit would end or quite what happened next. But just before the social worker left she made it clear: no, it wasn’t her decision (her job was to report back to her manager), but yes, she’d be recommending I went through to stage 2. If that was confirmed I’d also be allocated a specific social worker – “my” social worker.
Despite all the challenges of the previous day, I’d been right to go ahead. Yes, there were times when the discussion had been hard. Yes my concentration had been there – but it had required work for me to maintain it. I reminded myself of the mantra: “Don’t assume, you don’t know anything, there could yet be a problem.” I cautioned myself that even if I did go through, I still had the vast majority of the journey still to travel.
But I also thought of “my lad” and his story. I thought of how this was my story and how pleased he would have been that I was moving my story along. And I thought of how, whatever else he thought about it all, he would have laughed and laughed at me. For it was only as I said my thank yous and my goodbyes that I remembered that one oh so crucial thing.
Yes. Finally I remembered the biscuits.