Sunday, January 31, 2010

Random thought

One thing I'm slightly grateful for... as adoption in the UK, of children who are in foster care, is almost completely free (some families have the odd expense association with, for example, introductions for a child who is the other end of the country), most of the people we talk to do not realise, and therefore do not feel it is their business to comment on, the cost of our adoption.

Everything else, of course, is fair game.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

That London

Down for the weekend - we have a small flat that is often rented out but happens to be empty, so are spending a couple of days here. Mr Spouse always finds at least one or two things that need mending every time we come - he re-fixed the coat hook to the wall last night and is mending the bathroom lights today. But we'll have time to think about some shopping and to catch up with a friend or two, maybe see a film.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If it's Thursday...

... it must be another social work appointment. Yesterday was Mr Spouse on his own, today me on my own, weekend in London, another appointment on Monday. We had an interesting discussion, touching on quilting, loopholes, Victoria Climbie and the demonisation of social workers, as well as things we were supposed to be talking about.

Tell me, in fact: do you feel society has become more affectionate over the last, say, 20-25 years? I certainly notice that the friends I made when I was 16 or 18 or 20 don't kiss or hug me, because we never have; the friends I made when I was 25/28/33 do.

Anyway, it'll be over soon!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Do I look like a lawyer?

No, I didn't think so.

Why is it then that I've had to tell a) agency M that they are potentially causing some UK-resident couples to do illegal adoptions, while needlessly restricting the options of others and b) agency T that they are very behind on regulations that might therefore be costing them business?

I'm not bothered about agency M but agency T was beginning to sound like they might work for us. Agency N is the one that has been successful but seems to have really really long waiting times (they claim to have one post-Hague couple but given the waiting times they quote, I'm not sure if they can - though perhaps this was an extremely flexible and lucky couple). Agency P hasn't been successful yet but we are in contact with a couple working with them. And Agency C which we used to love, hasn't answered any emails recently; agency O also looked promising and is having a think about whether they could work with us.

(Update later: Agency T is looking like they would do this for us but our SW is sounding more pessimistic as she can't find anyone who has done any successful US adoptions to the UK yet. I guess the fact that we know the couple who are with Agency P and they are at least 6 months ahead of us is promising. Agency P probably wouldn't work for us for a few different reasons though. And Lawyer Y hasn't replied to my query about how exactly working with him and an agency - which would be necessary in the cases of T, O and C - would work in practice for us).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Well that's a relief...

Must be about my 75th CRB clearance in the last 10 years. Roll on Independent Safeguarding Authority.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Guider type meetings usually involve biscuits and admin. Today's involved cake and a bit of a rant. A slightly tricky situation as I happen to completely disagree with the rant-er, but she is a very nice woman who is also my mentor for my Guider training. I kept quiet in the meeting but the disagreement is one based somewhat on religion which we both feel strongly about - in some ways similarly - I didn't want to spend too much time talking loudly in the meeting but think I should get together with her and explain my view.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I'm reading a UK adoption classic - Adoption, a Second Chance, by Barbara Tizard, one of the very first books on "modern" adoption - adoption of children who were fostered (in this case, in residential nurseries) before being placed for adoption between the ages of 2 and 7. The research for the book took place in the late 60s and early 70s, but plus ca change... Some of the problems are just sooo familiar - agencies taking forever to make a permanency plan, to find out medical information, etc. etc.

Thankfully neither residential nurseries nor the laws that meant birth parents could hem and haw for years while their child languished in care still exist. Some of the adoptive families sound lovely, too - especially those who had children placed around 5 to 7 years old and who seem to love spending time playing with their children - something that, as the authors comment, in that era even middle-class birth children and earlier-adopted children would not really do when they were 8 - it was a time of "play on your own", in the street if you were working-class and in your room or the garden if you were middle-class.

Several of the children were relinquished but deemed "difficult to place" because of medical issues (including a broken leg!) and race. The chapter on race makes me very grateful to live in today's world. Only one parent out of the 10 or so trans-racial placements made an effort to promote her child's heritage (Indian in her case). About half of the families, at the age of 8, said their child "hadn't yet noticed they were coloured"!!!!! Some of the adoptive families (perhaps 3 out of the 10?) had at least one family member (father, I think, in all cases) who was actively racist, or at least would be termed so today.

But as Mr Spouse said, one mother at least said one thing that was right. "I don't think he realises he's coloured, he comes home and he's been teasing other children at school, and I tell him it's not nice, it's not good to be calling other children 'darkie' and 'w*g''". Too right.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

And so it begins

Why is it that it already feels like we are in the middle of an interminable wait to be matched - even though in fact we are in the middle of a busy, busy home study with new facts and decisions being thrown at us every minute?

Without making it out too much to be "his" versus "my" decision, Mr. Spouse feels that he doesn't really want to raise a child of a different ethnicity (birth father uncertainty notwithstanding - we won't break a match after birth in the same way we wouldn't "send back" a child who turned out later to have new information about their background). I feel I could - no, we could - and now even feel a little sad that probably won't have the chance. I think this is likely because I have so many links and friends who are African or African American and I would love to have that link within our family.

It doesn't seem like it would make us that much more "matchable" (I have a whole other post in my head about my thoughts on overseas placement of African American infants, so bear with me) although our wait time might be a little shorter. And that's the bit that's depressing me. So far the only agency that we really feel comfortable with AND that has unequivocally said yes to us, is quoting 2 years wait on average. Two years. It would be maybe 6 months shorter on average for "mixed" heritage.

I just hate that a piece of good, go-for-it news is followed by finding the next stage is so drawn-out. We have other agencies to approach but I am finding repeatedly they don't reply to my emails. I'm not sure if this is a big spam problem (I have had one or two actual failures of emails), that adopters aren't priority, my incomprehensible writing style, or that most agencies just don't really communicate except by phone.
I think we'd fill our wait productively, but we are not getting younger, and I am so hoping we'd be able to adopt a second child before we get impossibly old.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A product recommendation

Boots waterproof mascara. Doesn't run when watching an episode of Ugly Betty (the series that is on in the US at the moment - the latest episode I think - won't spoil it for those who haven't watched it/are in the UK). But Mr Spouse said it was very real and they should show more real things.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh yeah. Minor piece of news.

We have a date for panel. 6th April (the day after Easter Monday). Yes, I know, we were shocked too. In an impressive display of forward thinking (which is not to say that she does not normally display this) our social worker calculated that if there's an unavoidable delay we can still fit in a May date before she herself takes a 6 week break and therefore in time to get round the DCSF's imposition of a Very Large Fee for their part of the paperwork, coming in in September.

Sooo... we have three or four more sessions and more homework. This week's homework:
  • thinking about some of the circumstances of origin we would and wouldn't be prepared to accept (current answer between the two of us - we need to do a bit more thinking, but I am probably more comfortable with the kinds of conversations this might take and Mr Spouse also needs to think about what he's comfortable with - and I have just thought perhaps we could even - doh - ask our SW for advice on how this kind of thing can be brought up with a child)
  • thinking about what would be our long-term plans if we had a child who needed significant care in adult life (they do assume that we'll both be around until a child turns 18 but I'm guessing they need to show we've thought about the worst - current answer between the two of us - make sure we plan properly financially for a child in this circumstance).
  • some research we need to do on what difference it would make with the possible agencies we've chosen were we to say we'd only accept a Caucasian child versus a child of mixed race - again I think our SW needs to show we've considered the implications of raising a child of a different race.
It all seems very soon - we'll probably have quite a bit more homework as the full report on us will need to be checked as well as minor discussion points like this.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Well that's good news

We discussed this with our social worker, briefly, today - there seems to be a separate movement around non-matched orphans being fostered in the US and a "surge" in interest in Haitian orphans - but these children were all matched and in some cases were already legally adopted by US families.

So this is very good news.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One track mind? me?

I have no desire to watch most of the current or previous crop of vampire movies (or read the books) but I really enjoy Being Human. It's an everyday story of a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost who settle down to share a house in Bristol; two of them work in the local hospital as a cleaner and a porter and the third serves behind the bar in the local pub.

Of course various relationships ensue and the werewolf (well, the original werewolf - there is now another, if you are going to watch this series I won't spoil it for you) has a steady girlfriend, but in his wild lunar moments has a quick fling, the vampire being more or less permanently flitting from one Goth girl to another. The ghost also finds herself what she thinks is a nice young man, which is a cue for the werewolf (who is sensible today) sitting her down for a Friendly Chat about Being Careful.

So now I'm wondering: Vampires, presumably, being undead and all that don't need contraception, though turning people into vampires is pretty much the ultimate STD; but what about the werewolves? Is the werewolf running around creating lots of baby half-wolves in his mad moments, or are werewolves also infertile?

The ghost, as she points out, is "much too old and much too dead to need contraception". Although her back story turns out to include a really evil ex, she does mourn the fact that she is still stuck in the house that she was hoping would be the house she and he raised a family in, and now she'll never have kids.

But they still have Noddy wallpaper.

Monday, January 18, 2010

You know...

I'm getting the hang of this not posting anything about fertility, miscarriage, or adoption lark.

I imagine I will write something again at some point but today I'm going to write about makeup.

I am absolutely rubbish at makeup. I just feel overwhelmed with the idea of what to wear, how to put it on, and having to cart it around all day to reapply. I have however recently been given permission not to reapply in the daytime and some tips on what might suit me.

So... for the first time ever I let someone today in a well known very pricey department store in a well known Northern city actually put makeup on me. That is the only time anyone has ever done that, except perhaps my mum, and on my wedding day. And the woman who put it on did not look totally orange. And neither did I when I'd finished.

I think I should go and lie down now.

(my back is a lot better, but the painkillers are helping too. We have five kinds in the house, two prescribed for me, two for Mr Spouse, as well as paracetamol (and not counting GIN). We actually have no ibuprofen. I've taken two at least of each of them over the last 24 hours. But no GIN).

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Have done something to my back, exacerbated by sitting on the floor reading a story to the Brownies. That is all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tell me why

when I want to wear something it is in the wash basket?

I have a closet full of clean lovely clothes. And drawers full, and a huge blanket chest full of jumpers.

I expect it is that I look through the wash basket when putting a wash on, and the clothes I've put back as they are the wrong colour for the wash I'm doing, are now at the front of my mind as Must Wear.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain

It is my birthday next month and I'm just planning the weekend - it's on a Friday - on the Saturday I have an all day Guiding event (joy - it's very near Thinking Day) and then on Saturday night we are for I think the third? fourth? time going to see this very fabulous group.

This is one of my favourites:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aaaand breathe...

We had what was in some ways an interesting computer training session this afternoon. The most interesting thing about it was that it was even more strikingly obvious than normal that the guy running it has at least the "social communication" aspect of the autism triad (we already knew he had some problems with interaction, but I can't speak to the imaginative deficits). This guy claims that the reason he is such a pain to work with is because of being on the spectrum - but though I know it sounds harsh, if he hasn't got a proper diagnosis, he hasn't got the disability - but it's perfectly possible to have "features" without being on the "spectrum".

Anyway, leaving that aside, someone who doesn't know when he's losing his audience, thinks it's possible to turn all the lights off and not have everyone go to sleep, has no clue about layout, thinks it's a good idea to repeat all the things you can do with every single feature (you can start a new document here... and here... and here...) is NOT best placed to train anyone in anything, let alone a bunch of academics in using a new communication system that doesn't have the features we need, because no-one asked us.

I will stop now. I just wanted to get that off my chest.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I was going to write about our social work visit today. Except, for some bizarre reason, I had put a non-existent visit in the diary.

Anyway, what have I done that's interesting?
Nothing much.
I worked from home (because I thought the SW was coming) and went for a run just as it was getting dark (which wasn't a problem except I don't like to use my ipod in the dark - by the way - running ipod music PLEASE!) on the slush (which made it slightly tricky in places), my first outdoor run since about November and my first proper exercise since mid-December. I can't remember if I've said Mr Spouse and I have joined the gym at work - as he is a student we get a base membership pretty cheaply, and classes are £1.70 - I went to Pilates yesterday and managed most of it with my arm only protesting slightly at some over the head stretches. Using the "machines" is only £2.20 now I am Spouse Of Student!

Right - most important thing today. Go and give May a hug.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reading matter

As part of my push to do more reading, less telly, I've now moved to an "upstairs book, downstairs book" strategy - so I won't just switch on the telly automatically and may actually read something!


Upstairs - Where did it All Go Right - Andrew Collins
Downstairs - A Sea of Troubles - Donna Leon

In other news, it is now raining here. All that effort to clear the pavement yesterday.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Busy busy

The cardigan I finished the other day, the sheep is a prototype for a Brownies craft.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Forget National Service

I think all British teenagers should be sent to live abroad for a year after leaving school. Six months of that should be in a place where it snows properly in the winter - they'll learn how to dress properly, how to walk on snow/ice, how to clean off the pavement in front of their house (though we are guilty too), and how to keep the house warm.

The other 6 months should be in a place that is properly warm and hopefully they'll learn how to avoid sunstroke, sunburn, and discover the existence of fans (which is all you need here really in the summer).

And one of those places should be somewhere they don't speak English. Might teach them a little compassion for new immigrants who don't.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Out for a chilly night's pub crawl with friends. It's recalling my student drinking days in Chilly Scottish City. I've not yet ordered a Whisky Mac (whisky & ginger wine) or Rusty Nail (whisky & Drambuie) but only because I don't think anywhere will have the ingredients.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I would be having another snow day...

except I'm having a sick day instead. Horrible cough kept me (and Mr Spouse) awake a lot of last night, it's marginally better today, just irritating rather than chesty. I have been mainly being very silly and sitting in front of the computer not working, frankly I would have been better off sitting in front of the computer working.

I've been ordering some crafty bits and pieces - my brother made a slightly cheeky and in fact unreasonable request for a present - he wanted it for Christmas - a quilt with a world map on to make a record of where they have been as a family - now there was no way I could have sewn it for Christmas given the state of my shoulder at the time and the point at which he asked, but his 40th birthday is later this month and I've managed some reasonable sewing projects recently, so I'm going to give it a go. I was ordering wadding, binding and backing today.

I also suspect he really wants a crafty handmade appliqued map - but he is in fact getting this:

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Spare Oom

(Shamelessly nicked from a comment on a colleague's FB page...)

Yes indeed, even here in the coastal, rainy NW of England, we are blanketed in snow. I am wondering when the Faun and the Beavers are going to come traipsing down our street. Our SW visit was cancelled (we were due to go to their offices on the train but she couldn't get out of her road).

Mr Spouse has discovered a new fascinating hobby - genealogy. We needed to do our family trees but although his is small, it is also blank - so he's signed up for a couple of free trials on ancestry websites. My dad is particularly good at this and has given some hints and a nice book for Christmas, too. Mr Spouse's maternal grandmother has a rather unusual surname, only found in areas of the NW (not even as far north as us), with a very strange spelling. There only appears to be one family that migrated to where he comes from (only 20 miles from the core of the name) but they appear to have been single-handedly responsible for populating his home town. The grandmother was the youngest of 5 and her father was one of 11; he's only looked up the youngest great-great-uncle's family so far and he had 8 children. No wonder the parents of the great-grandfather died in their early 40s. They were exhausted.

We think they needed a telly.

If I ever needed any extensive family trees doing, I would just have to go to my mum's Mormon cousin. I'm all set.

Monday, January 04, 2010


If I've spelled that right!

I tried driving again yesterday for the second time since I broke my shoulder. It was less painful than last time although strangely while 2nd and 4th are not really painful to reach any more, 1st is. I think I've gained range of movement backwards but am currently working quite hard on range of movement forwards/upwards and it takes a bit of force to get our car into 1st, plus it's the furthest gear from your body. I think I'll be fine to drive round town, though wouldn't relish an hour or so of city driving, but motorway driving should now be no problem.

However given how freezing and icy it is here I decided to take the chauffer driven 56-seat taxi (aka the bus) to work today. I was the only passenger for the first 15 minutes of the journey...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Today I am mainly...

doing paperwork for the Brownies. I've just printed out the activities for tonight's meeting, letters to parents about subs, and letters ditto about the bring-a-friend party in 2 weeks' time.

Yesterday was spent trawling all the pound shops and toy shops in town in search of materials for some games: the only Fail was marbles, which don't seem to be available any more. Thankfully our local equivalent to Freecycle came up trumps and I have a box on loan.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

So that's why... mother appeared not to blink any eyelids when we asked for some information we need for adoption paperwork, and told her why. She didn't think we were serious.

Her birthday falls just after Christmas so I had given her this book (blink and you've finished reading it, frankly). First she said "oh, but I'll know everything in it" and then she said "how likely is it I'll actually need to read it?"

What do you mean "how likely"? We are adopting. We are not just doing paperwork for the hell of it.

Trouble is, if we tell her every single thing that happens - and I know we are indecisive - then it would just confuse her. But we did tell her we had dropped our previous attempt and she knew we'd had two miscarriages at that point. And she does know the difference between adoption and fostering - she seemed to be under the impression we'd finished the process but weren't bothering with the actual adoption part - so clearly she doesn't know as much about the approval process as she'd like to imagine.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year

A huge cheat as I am actually writing this on Sunday but using Blogger's handy backdating feature.

I have decided for a change to make some New Year's resolutions - if I do make them normally, it is on my birthday in February. They are mainly of the self-improvement variety.

I'm hoping to do more exercise (we actually joined the gym in December, which is not normally my preferred locale for exercise, as I prefer the great, and free, outdoors, but Mr Spouse likes the gym, and a gym buddy is what I need).

I'm also hoping to read more and hence watch less TV. My first step is to try and read a little while warming up my shoulder for exercise (the exercises have been a big TV inducement - I have 10-15 mins of warming followed by the same of exercise, at least 3 times a day). I have a huge pile of novels and am not ashamed to top it up with chick lit and other easy reads - I didn't say I was going to read more quality.

I'm also hoping to read a bit more spiritual/religious stuff - just daily readings kind of thing - I'm reading some Henri Nouwen at the moment who is a long time love of mine. Again nothing requiring brain.

And finally I'm hoping to blog more. I am foolishly going to attempt to blog 365 times (note I didn't say every day!) but will be making liberal use of twitter-length posts (can you automatically feed twitter onto blogger?) and probably email posting too. I know I post on Facebook almost every day so should manage something here, you think? A lot more on general life and less soul searching, which may or may not be to everyone's taste.