The next matching interview in the series is with Matt and Will who share how they found out about their two boys. You can follow them on Instagram: @thispairandus
Introduce yourself and your family
We are Matt and Will. Matt is an assistant headteacher in a large primary school and Will works as an operations manager in the travel industry. We adopted our two boys, who are now five and two, in December 2018.
At what point in the process did matching / family finding start?
We were given access to Family Finder as we were coming to end of the Stage 2, a few weeks before panel. At this point, we could flag any children we were interested in, but we hadn’t had a proper conversation with our family finder about what it was exactly we were looking for. Prior to panel, I don’t think our family finder looked at our flagged children as we didn’t hear from her.
How did it work? Did your social worker do all of the looking or did you get involved in that part?
We were fully involved in looking. Our social worker didn’t look on our behalf but did look at those we’d flagged and discussed some of the profiles in more detail with us. We got married two weeks before going to panel so it was a crazy few weeks for us!
Did you attend any events such as adoption activity days? If so, what were they like?
No, we didn’t attend any adoption activity days.
How many profiles did you read?
We read a lot of profiles. We knew we wanted siblings so could search for that on Family Finder. Each evening after work we would have a look together. Sometimes we would have looked separately during the day so would share any we were interested with each other.
What was the hardest part about this part of the process?
The hardest part was the sheer number of profiles out there and rejecting some children who had needs that we knew we couldn’t support. It’s also really hard when a child’s social worker approaches you and you have to say no because their needs were too much.
How long did it take to find your match?
Once we were given access to Family Finder, our boys’ profile was one of the first we saw and flagged. Straight after panel, in early September 2018, we had a meeting with our family finder. She had one paper profile to show us which was our boys. Things just seemed to be aligning.
We weren’t officially matched with the boys for a few weeks. This was due to the boys’ Local Authority not wanting to pay our agency a finder’s fee. This ultimately led to a conversation between the boss of our agency and the boss of the Local Authority to try and reach an agreement.
In this time of uncertainty about what was happening, we were encouraged to continue the search. We didn’t find any profiles that shouted out to us as much as our pair. So we found our boys really quickly but weren’t officially matched for a few weeks.
What age and number of children were you matched with? Was this the same as you expected or did it change when you started looking?
We were matched with two children, aged three and one. We knew we wanted siblings and were approved for this. When we first started the whole adoption process, we had one child in mind. Because ultimately we knew we wanted more than one child, we decided partway through that we would look for siblings.
What happened once you were linked? Who did you meet to find out about your children?
Once we were linked, a meeting was set up to meet the boys’ social worker and family finder. They came to our house for lunch and our social worker was also present. That meeting went really well and everyone was positive about the match.
We then attended a life appreciation day for the boys. This was a large meeting attended by us and our social worker with anyone who had been involved with the boys and their birth family. This included, though I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, social workers (current and past), family support workers, foster carers of the boys’ older siblings, health care professionals, nursery school staff who worked with our eldest. It was a lot of people!
On the same visit we also had a ‘bump’ meeting as the foster carer’s house so we could meet the boys. We were introduced as her friends and our eldest had had his hair cut that day so was obsessed with combing our hair. We were invited to our eldest’s nursery school to meet his teacher to hear what he was like at school.
The Local Authority also set up a meeting with a child psychologist to discuss some of our eldest’s unusual traits and behaviours and what could happen with them after placement.
How long was it between being linked and matching panel?
We went to matching panel in the middle of November 2018. The meeting with the boys’ social worker and family finder was in October 2018. Everything happened quickly. We were one of the quickest from Panel to linking to matching Panel our social worker had ever worked with.
Because our boys were not local to us, they arranged for matching Panel and introductions to all be on the same visit. We started introductions two days after matching Panel.
At what stage did you start preparing your child’s room and buying items for them?
We had to prepare the rooms before going to matching Panel as Panel and introductions were together, so when we came home it was very likely we would have two boys with us. We kept the rooms fairly plain, painted the walls but didn’t fill them with lots of personal bits (other than a framed print for each boys’ room with the first letter of their name on). That would come later once we knew they were definitely ours.
We’ve since learnt though, that our eldest found a busy room unsettling and it triggered nightmares and anxious thoughts (for example, we had an A-Z print with animals on, but he then kept talking about having a lion in his bedroom which scared him). His room is very plain and simple now. I would advise not to put too much in the bedroom until they have moved and are settled.
How did you prepare for matching panel? (photo book, video, toy?)
Because matching panel was two days before introductions started, we didn’t prepare a video. It was felt a photo book and transition toy would be sufficient as they would only have a day to look at it before introductions began. We bought each boy a transition toy and took photos of them throughout our house. We made a long photo book for eldest. Youngest was 15 months at the time of introductions so we prepared a few photos for him in a book.
What happened at matching Panel?
We went into matching Panel with ours and the boys’ social workers. It was relatively straightforward. They were a very friendly Panel and we didn’t feel intimidated. Those boys were going to be ours. We had one question about ensuring schools use the pupil premium grant appropriately, but because of Matt’s background in education we were able to answer this easily. Unusually, they didn’t ask us to then leave the room before informing us it was a unanimous yes.