So … yes this is linking and matching part 2!
If you’re interested in the basics of what happens during linking and matching – how it works, who does what, where you can go to see which children might meet your criteria – then you probably want to read my previous blog rather than this one.
But if you’re wondering about how it feels to go through the process – then stick around for a few moments and read on.
When I was still in the early days of my Home Study I blogged about the ricochet: in many ways linking and matching felt like even more of the same, possibly with added fuel.
It is a bizarre time when you feel – as so often in the whole Adoption Journey (Adoption Wait!) – that you should be doing things … yet quite a lot of the time there isn’t much actually that you can do. If you’re me that means you spend even more time thinking!
So how was it for me? What did I actually do during linking and matching? How did I feel?
I read profiles and felt … oooh. I read profiles and felt … wretched. I read profiles and felt … maybe. I read profiles and felt I was more like a detective trying to read between the lines than a potential parent or someone trying to reach into the brains and hearts of either happy or hurting children.
I read CPRs (Child Permanence Reports) and felt … pain. I read CPRs and felt … very little. I read CPRs and felt, mostly, if I am honest, a sense of despair and turmoil and hurt that is as much to do with society as any of the children or adults mentioned.
I saw a couple of videos of children and felt – well not much really. I saw other videos and found myself distracted, wondering how anyone ever tells what is right, how you are supposed to “know”.
I talked to my Social Worker, to my friends online, to my family and friends who know me better, probably, than I know myself.
I explored and shared my feelings and hopes and dreams. I asked for input to help me stay sane and keep me true. I explained the process over and over. I shared my criteria (which were very broad, very open, lots of “maybes” and “would discusses”). I speculated on my worry that perhaps the breadth of my criteria was making it harder not easier. I worried and hesitated and generalised in the difficult bid to be open yet confidential, to share my own story yet keep the stories of others their own.
I doubted myself. Often.
I carefully managed expectations: “It could be months … likely to be after Christmas at the earliest … Remember I’m a singly so I don’t know if any of the Social Workers will think I’m a good match … It all depends on – well anything really – that’s the issue, it’s really hard to tell, I just have to wait and see”. Was I truly managing expectations to help everyone else understand? Or was it a strategy shaped as helpful to others but truly aimed at reassuring myself, regulating my own thoughts, managing my own hopes and dreams?
I waited. I wondered. I worried. I hoped. I thought two children, then one, then two, then one … then saw three needing a home together and circled, again, the incompatible reality of having one pair of hands only, all the time, 24/7, measuring that truth against all my instincts to respond to siblings who had always been together and above all just wanted to carry on being together (and who I knew, if truth be told, would probably end up being separated).
I got on with real life – work, friends, family.
I actively worked to manage the flutterings in my heart by focusing on the need to be logical and sensible; I deliberately looked to quieten my over-analytical mind, to set free my inner instincts and dreams, to listen to my soul.
Eventually … the mood changed though.
I was very interested in one child. The child’s social workers were very interested in me. There was much meeting, talking, reading, emailing, visiting, analysing.
I hoped, hoped, hoped.
We were linked. The match was confirmed between the professionals.
We were on our way to Matching Panel.