The main set of paperwork that was to go to the panel of people that would make the decision about our adoption future is called a PAR (Prospective Adopters Report). This includes a huge amount of information that is supposed to give anyone that reads it a really clear picture of who we are as a family and as individuals. Over a series of interviews, lasting anywhere from 1-3 hours, our social worker questioned us on every aspect of our lives, from babyhood to now. We had to describe how we celebrated, how we mourned, what our work ethic was, what our parents’ work ethic was, what our parents’ parents’ work ethic was (they really like the work ethic thing).
There was a definite need throughout the assessment process to establish not just who we are as people and parents, but what experiences we might have had that would help us empathise with any children we may adopt. I’d had various things happen through my teenage years that meant I could show a clear understanding and empathy (although on a very different scale) of some of the issues an adopted child may struggle with. Once she’d been reassured that I’d had a period of counselling (10 years earlier) to work through any issues I’d had, our SW was happy to not discuss them further. Simon’s childhood and teenage years were pretty uneventful and it was almost amusing (in a slightly sad way) how relieved our SW was when Simon mentioned his brother had suffered with leukaemia as a teenager. Our SW hung on to this one event as being monumental in Simon’s development as an emotionally rounded adult and seemed slightly disappointed when he told her that his brother has been well for years now and, although it was obviously difficult at the time, Simon didn’t have any lasting trauma from that time in his life despite never having received counselling.
Emotional stability is of course hugely vital for the whole family, and particularly for any children who’ve experienced any kind of trauma – I do wonder if a more formal assessment of mental health would be helpful although I’ve no idea what that could look like and I’d hate to make the process any longer than it already was. I also suggested at the time that counselling could be offered for all people going through the adoption process alongside the assessment as, although not necessary for all, there were times it felt extremely strange talking so deeply and intimately with a SW rather than someone qualified as a counsellor!
Before our PAR could be completed, each of our birth children needed to be interviewed – but that’s for next time.