Time is a strange creature. I think we all recognise this, however there are definitely experiences that bring it home to you particularly acutely. Going through the new adoption process is one of those experiences.
To recap, the new process involves finding-out about agencies, choosing one, and registering; this can take any amount of time, for the last bit of which you are already, to all intents and purposes, signed up with an agency, but you are not yet “underway”. Then stage 1 kicks in with two months to do paperwork, more paperwork, find out if you’ve forgotten about any mysterious childhood illnesses at your medical, attend a little bit of training and er – well receive, send, or most likely of all chase up on, more paperwork. Then you go into stage two. And the rules seem to be you then have four months to approval panel. In my case that starts with meeting the Social Worker nearish the beginning of month one (or three or whatever, depending on how you count!) but not right at the beginning. You schedule meetings and times. You trog along and pretty soon you are a few weeks in. Great, it’s going fine. Throughout all of this you are probably aware that everyone says it takes forever, becoming an adoptive parent. You may even espouse similar views and, if you’re someone who is feeling able to share the journey with with friends and family, you may sigh meaningfully – or cautiously manage expectations – or bellyache and rant – or encourage them to feel it’s all happening on a distant planet far far away to protect yourself from endless polite enquiries.
Then all of a sudden it is panic stations.
You discover the four months to panel actually means three. Or, er, actually two-and-a-half. Your Prospective Adopters’ Report (PAR) – which might as well be your biography (only most biographies cover the past only, and this one attempts to cover your past, present and future all in one go!) – has to be fully drafted a month before. Plus editing time. So let’s say six weeks before. But at the beginning of this four month period your Social Worker didn’t know you.
So looked at differently, your Social Worker has 8-10 weeks to interview you at length (or both of you for most potential adopters), identify any areas of interest, concern or challenge, put forward any suggestions or ideas that may help you with your learning and training and understanding, and gain a deep insight into your psychological strengths, capacities and potentials. Oh and write a lengthy detailed report that will potentially determine the course of the rest of your life. Incidentally she or he probably does actually have other work to do too. Plus the chances are you probably have the occasional other commitment in your diary (work – family – life, you know all that stuff).
Suddenly that six months you had been telling people about doesn’t feel like much time at all (and there are surely many blogs and articles yet to be written on the professional’s perspective on it all).
Ultimately, though, perhaps this too is all grist to the learning mill. For I suspect this is only the start of my learning. I suspect that over the weeks, months and years my involvement in adoption, plus hopefully my future as a parent in all its vibrant colour, will leave me in no doubt at all of the strangeness of that creature we call Time.