Then had long wait for questions although did spend time discussing next steps in our potential link - and possible dates to meet his SW. Panel was running a bit late so we got our questions about the time we had to go in and hadn't finished discussing them when chair came down to talk to us.She explained what was going to happen - introductions then questions then a chance for us to add anything further then we would go to other waiting room while panel asked our SW something in references. This was no surprise to us as there is a potential safeguarding issue within the family of one of our referees ( not referee herself) which was in her reference so we had expected something on that. Once we had finished with questions we went down to panel and found ourselves faced by 13 people (seemed to be more observers than we expected & two minute takers).
Back to questions - I kept my list as my memory is like a sieve at times (can remember obscure facts & academic stuff). So what were we asked :
1. Our experience of the process and the agency ... T answered mainly and was basically good but we came in with probably realistic expectations given my sister & BIL adopted through same LA. So nothing surprised us.
2. Question about autism and the fact that as a child I would have been diagnosed with it today (My mother is SEN trained and made comment before Xmas about this) ... I explained this & other thoughts as well as saying I had worked to overcome it.
3. On my dedication to work and potential promotion - what adjustments would I make. I said promotion wouldn't change much as just recognition of work I do and that I had flat out told my senior management I was not going to teach the load I currently have when I came back of leave ( pretty much double what I should have). Also said I am doing best to just be there 8 hrs - sometimes get caught in corridor on way out but if there is a reason for me not to stop I don't. Intend to get a better balance but I do seem to take less time to do things than most. T backed me up by saying it must be 8 months or more since he had to ring me in office when he got home to see where I was.
4. Two parted question on us dealing with a child with less academic success & supporting such a child. We've discussed this a lot as we knew it might come up and both strongly believe if child can get a skill and lead an independent happy life that is all we want for them. T mainly spoke as he could relate to his own experience when at one point it was believed tertiary education would not happen for him and how his parents made sure he had options available.
5. Back to my promotion - what adjustments would we make? we'd made it clear that T would be prepared to give up his current job if it proved necessary for our son to have one of us around at all times and panel wanted to know why and more about this. Easily explained by me having greater long term earning potential and also flexibility in my job at moment. T going to locum would give him the flexibility as well.
6. Question on my shyness and how I would seek support if needed. I said I would talk to sister, and other adopters I know. Also seek counselling again if needed and make use of whatever support I needed.
7. Question on recognising & dealing with attachment issues. I talked a little about my recent research & reading as well as making use of my sister & other adopters who could help us distinguish 'normal' child behaviour from behaviour related to adoption. Also made point we would not be afraid to seek support and fight for what we wanted. Mentioned fact that we were already thinking about Theraplay and indeed had asked our SW about organising a couple of sessions with another SW who has done training in this soon after placement.
8. Last question was about why boy & how we would cope wi one who didn't share our interests. Explained that I related better to teenage boys (won't do Guides+ for that reason although I love my Brownies). Also spent a lot of time since I went to secondary school in mainly male atmosphere so just deal better- T chopped in with his usual comment about me not being a 'girls-girl' at all. On interests, we had both been given chance as children to explore many different activities and would do same for our son - I mentioned the taxi service Mum used to run for us three as we lived in middle of nowhere for quite a while.
After that we didn't add anything more as we felt it was either in report or in answers to questions. Our SW showed us to second waiting room & went back to deal with questions that had arisen from our references. Then she joined us for around 5 mins ( probably less but I wasn't clock watching) before Panel Chair & manager of adoption SW team came in to tell us we were unanimously approved. Panel felt we had a lot of strengths - she said in fact to many to really list, but highlighted our good contact with my (adopted) nephew, positive but realistic outlook and also very good support network (which we thought may been an issue as it was fairly small).
Left the adoption & fostering unit exactly an hour after our official panel start time .... And our SW had a second couple in panel straight after us (new admin person did poor schedule). Indeed third couple were in waiting area at reception as we left .... think panel was running around 30 mins late already...
We hugged outside and I had a flood of happy tears (didn't well up during panel to my amazement), then walked back to train station and got train into town to go for our celebratory meal. As T puts it we are now at position where LA needs us more than we need them in many ways. Just hoping this potential link works as I am already feeling a connection from just a CPR. Rest of our prep course are doing well - all bar one couple (who dropped out) now approved - we were last. One couple started Introductions today, one has matching panel on 2 Sept, and 2 more at similar point to us in finding out more about potential link. Just one couple still waiting for right child profile.