Sunday, May 30, 2010

Will not think about it... will not think about it...

My friend whose family emergency prevented us getting together yesterday made it down to see us today. We hadn't seen each other for ages and though we'd been on the phone, it hadn't been for long enough to completely update on the adoption process. We tried to explain as best possible - she is very pragmatic and doesn't faint in horror at the thought of long legal processes nor the thought of becoming parents costing us a lot of money - and Mr Spouse has now become Official Legal Process Explainer and also Official Advocate For Openness in Adoption. Go Mr Spouse!

Anyway, and I think she was going to offer anyway, when she heard how we will have little or no notice of a match and will really not be wanting to buy all our baby stuff months in advance, she offered us her entire loft full of cot/buggy/other baby stuff. I doubt we'll need to buy any newborn clothes either as I gather these all just turn up as gifts left, right and centre. As I mainly have hippy breastfeeding friends, I imagine all we'll need to buy will be a cot mattress, a car seat, and bottles.

But I just said I wasn't going to start thinking about buying baby stuff, didn't I?

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Nothing philosophical... but, with a surname that puts me first or second in pretty much every list below about 100 names, I've realised that my blog name actually puts me last in most lists (or near there).

I didn't do it on purpose, but I don't know if it means I get overlooked on blogrolls (especially long ones where people give up by the time they get that far) or in fact if it means people skim the middle and see my link.

It's not such an interesting blog name, anyway - I was thinking of changing it. Don't know what to yet.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What do you do...

about flaky friends?
Some people do just have complicated lives. One of my friends has just let me down on first an arrangement and then its rearrangement. The first time she had got her work weekends wrong (so really shouldn't have made the arrangement at all) but the second time she's had a family disaster (and it only just happened so she didn't know before I just asked her if she was still on).

I try to be sympathetic to those with kids, especially those with kids and complicated family arrangements (this friend is a single mum, though the disaster is not child-related). And a couple of my most flaky friends do not have children - just an inability to organise their diaries (or in some cases even keep one). And, given a couple of rather unpredictable aspects of our lives in recent years (first dominant theme is of course me being pregnant and then not again, several times, and the more recent dominant theme is the increasing, though perhaps now slowed, decline of mother-in-law's grasp on reality), I sometimes feel a bit grumpy at the implication made by many of my friends and acquaintances with children that they are a get-out-of-jail-free card. Any cancelled arrangements that are to do with children are allowable - any other reason is not.

I hope I am not flaky though I have no real perspective on this. I think I used to be semi-flaky when I lived in London and tried to go out a lot - I always ended up saying I'd go out and then getting home and feeling too exhausted to trek back to central London, or else saying I'd go out straight from work and ending up going home instead.

But perhaps this is what my currently flaky friend, and I in the past, have in common - we are/were single. When you are single, your social life revolves around people who do not live in your house - and who you inconvenience more when you let down. If Mr Spouse and I make firm arrangements involving train tickets or films/shows that are paid for, we know we'll keep to them unless something really dire comes up. If we've said "maybe we'll go to the cinema" but something comes up, we tend not to. We can be spontaneous most of the time because, well, he's right there and I tend to know what he's doing.

Where this leaves me - with friend 1 who has a genuinely complicated life, and other friends, who have an inability to manage their diary - is still feeling frustrated, and lacking in someone to go out and play with (this being an event that Mr Spouse doesn't really want to participate in, and besides, he has exams).

Friday, May 21, 2010

An unintended advantage

I've realised, in my attempt to expand my lingerie wardrobe, that I've been the same bra size exactly for about 2 years.

I seem to be doing OK on the eating-what-I-need-and-exercising front but I'm sure not trying to get pregnant is helping. Both in terms of not expanding/losing weight if I actually am pregnant, and then not again, and in terms of too much "must drink now as won't be able to if I am pregnant" and "not pregnant again, hey ho, let's eat chocolate".

Incidentally I ordered a few bra/knicker sets from Bravissimo and M&S - I'm keeping a purple Bravissimo set.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I actually got my police check back from obscure-African-country no 2. The cost was $25 and there were about $3 in stamps on the envelope. Plus they spent about $3 sending us a letter to tell us the payment format was wrong, a couple of months ago.

Well done, Mr Chief Inspector.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Got our approval from the Decision Maker through the post (a piece of paper, but not one we had to fill in). I see the point in a fair few of the other steps in the process, but this one, erm, NO. If you didn't agree with the decision of the panel, you'd be appealing.

Filled in our form for our Supervising attorney and sent them the first chunk of money (though not by cheque/check). This one was actually electronic but I'll count it as piece of paper no 18.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I must be weird...

...for wanting to wear pretty underwear, but not wanting to wear a thong. All the underwear one seems to be able to buy is either a) boring black, white, or beige cotton, b) has prints or colours that would suit a five-year-old or c) is a thong. Or HUGE. There is a time and a place for power knickers, but I am in the mood for something in a small brief or bikini but in slightly more interesting colours.

And don't even get me started on natural fabrics.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Slightly resolved, but frankly, in what other job do you have to pay for your own travel (or indeed pay for your own travel up front on the off-chance you get funding that you won't hear about till you've done the travel)?

My university has no money, sadly the BBC unit I'll be working for has no money (well, it's radio, what do you expect?), I suspect the organisation sponsoring the media fellowships has no money (though I am asking) and the conference organisers have no money.

And, sadly, I have no research money either as we just heard in the last 2 days we didn't get two rather lovely and essential pieces of research funded.

Now I have to tell the very nice conference organiser that I can't come to the conference even though they've bent over backwards to organise a special session for me.

Monday, May 10, 2010


After what was one of my busiest weeks in recent memory (a day out with our Christian/Muslim women's group on Saturday, a short walk up a hill on Sunday morning and Brownie madness on Sunday night) I spent today having a migraine - and, for the first time, throwing up. On the carpet. And the bathroom floor.

Good practice for Mr Spouse at being a dad, eh?

Friday, May 07, 2010

We have some things...

We have an acceptance on a British Science Association Media Fellowship. I'm going to be spending 6 weeks at the BBC trying to persuade them that psychology is science and that cute recordings of children speaking (courtesy probably of my long-suffering colleagues) make good radio/online clips.

We do not, however, have an MP. We are still waiting to hear.

(Stop press. We do have an MP. A blue one. AGAIN. Gah. Majority of 333 this time. Gah. Why are people silly enough to think that voting Green or Lib Dem - 8,000 of the latter this time - is a good idea in a marginal? Vote Green or Orange, Get Blue).

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Daily Mail Guide to Adoption

I have been hearing some myths around so thought I'd clear a few up... These are things I've heard about adoption in the UK.

(One point to note is that many local authorities ("social services") have very few resources available for assessing adopters. They focus their efforts on front-line child protection and tend to be very slow and look for ways to exclude adopters - because otherwise they'd be looking at 2 years or more in some cases even before prospective adopters can go on a preparation course. But some local authorities place most of their children through charities ("voluntary agencies") and the variety of adopters approved through these agencies is much greater.)

"You can't adopt if you don't own your own home"
Plenty of people who are renting their home adopt children. If you move every 6 months it might not be the most stable situation for a child who has, up till now, moved every 6 weeks.

"Your finances will be scrutinised and you have to earn loads of money".
We had to submit one month's bank statements. They care more about us because we have to be able to afford the fees. You can be on benefits and still adopt.

"You can't adopt if you have a significant health problem".
I think that might be true if you have a life-limiting illness and have little prospect of seeing your child turn 18. Mr Spouse has type 1 diabetes. I have a friend who has an adopted child who has MS. People have adopted post-cancer.

"You can't adopt if you have a history of mental health issues".
As our social worker says, "going to see a therapist is a Good Thing. We like you to get help when you need it". If your mental illness is very very poorly controlled (multiple long stays in hospital) then perhaps not. If you aren't comfortable talking to a professional (the social worker) about your mental illness, it might be better to get more comfortable talking about it to other people before thinking about adopting.

"You can't adopt if you are older".
Some agencies prefer there to be a maximum 45 year gap between the younger partner and any child. From what many second-time adoptive parents have said, this only seems to apply to the first child (I have heard of several situations where a second child, under 5 or even under 2, has been placed with couples of whom the younger was in their 50s). So, if you are in your early 50s (the younger of the partner) you'd be looking at a primary school aged child. Yes, there are situations where you are unlikely to be matched with a preschool child or an under-2.

"Lots of children are given back".
The general rate of disruption for adoptions in the UK is, I think, about 15%. That is not great but most people are on the good side. I've read 30% for adoptions over 5 (most adoptions in the UK are under 5 - the vast majority - the average age is in the 2-4 year age range with about 6 months to a year between placement and adoption - so placement at 12 months to 3y). Our agency's disruption rate is 5% and they mainly place children over 3. Do your homework and find an agency with decent post-adoption support.

"Everyone you have ever met will be police checked, medical checked, and financially checked"
No-one but you and your partner will have any of these checks. The only exception is if you are single and regularly relying on specific family or friends for childcare (and then it's only police checks). I have heard that some social workers ask you not to let your child go on a sleepover if the parents in question haven't been police checked - but I have also heard this has been discontinued even for foster children because otherwise their lives are pretty abnormal. But once your child is adopted, they are YOUR child and you make the decisions.

Social workers do get in touch with former live-in partners and any children not living with you (taking with a pinch of salt anything told them by disgruntled exes). This is because there have been cases of adopters whose former partners could have told them they were violent nutters, had they been asked.

"You can't adopt if you have a criminal record"
You can't adopt if you have a criminal record for offences against children. Doh. Also violence. Doh. Not drugs, speeding, and a huge variety of other things. It is probably better that adopters not be perfect little middle-class couples who've never strayed and have no idea what their child's birth parents' lives could possibly be like. When your child draws a lovely picture of a needle and a syringe it is helpful not to freak out.

"You can't adopt a child of a different ethnicity to yourself and all the children available for adoption are black"
It is true that a disproportionate number of children in care are non-white. But it is not true that no inter-racial adoptions take place in the UK. If you are a white couple who ring up an agency or your local authority and ask about adoption, it will be assumed you want a white child and wouldn't be interested in an inter-racial placement. Some social workers are still a bit iffy about inter-racial placements but they happen and they can be successful if the adopters are properly prepared. Find a different agency or social worker is my advice.

"You can't adopt if your house isn't perfect. You have to spend thousands on renovations before being approved".
Basic safety checks appropriate to the age of the child being placed are needed before placement. It's likely your social worker will run through what might need doing while visiting your home, and that when you are matched with a child their social worker will check you have stair gates/a lock on the liquor cabinet/know a small amount about Facebook (dependent on age).

"You can't adopt if you smoke".
You can't adopt a child who is asthmatic and sensitive to smoke, if you smoke. Doh.

"You can't adopt if you have pets"
Some children ask to be placed with a new mum and dad who have a dog/cat/stick insect. But you have to be prepared for the reaction of the pet to the children and vice versa.

Basically, if you want an under-2-year-old without a significant disability, you will be waiting for ages but you should be able to find an LA that will approve you eventually (though maybe not your local one - in some cases as a matter of policy due to proximity). We didn't want to wait that long. If you are happy to have a 3-year-plus - or a couple of them - you will find VAs are more flexible and quicker. We wanted to have a go at a baby this time - hence our going overseas. We have not been "rejected" by the UK system, though doubtless the Daily Mail would see it that way - we just want to do it differently.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Yes it was today...

...and yes, they said yes. The questions they asked were not quite what we'd been led to expect, and I did have to kind of restrain myself from saying "despite what you've read in the Primal Wound it's not that likely our under-2-month-old will have attachment problems", but they decided super-quickly and the SW rang us almost before we had turned our phones back on.

Obviously she had written in glowing terms about us (because obviously we are super wonderful people) but I do slightly suspect they also feel this might be an "easy" adoption in terms of post-adoption support.

Next up: contacting the lawyer who is likely to oversee the US end, for a rather expensive introductory phone call, and getting lots of documents notarised.