Sunday 2 March 2014

Nine to Five

Following the trials and tribulations of prospective adopters this week in the twiterverse I was reminded that as adopters we've given our lives to a system that for most of us is an alien world.

Social workers, panels, health and safety inspections, DBS, NSPCC and Local Authority checks, references, personal and professional, the list goes on.

Until we stepped into this world we'd been the masters of our own destiny, captains of our own ships, as it were.
But we give ourselves to a behemoth of a system that sets us on slow, hopeful course for children.

This wedding of ourselves to the system does not end at approval we move to waiting for matching (the worst bit), then pre adoption order. If things work out then that may be the end, but perhaps not, adoption support workers, CAHMS, Educational Psychologist etc. all may become an integral part of our lives.

Fundamentally, we are undertaking major works in our lives, choices and decisions that will echo through future generations. For our Social Workers it is a job, they may be passionate and compassionate but it is ultimately their 9 to 5, and rightly so in the interests of their wellbeing.

This, necessary,  imbalance lies at the heart of frustrations that I'm sure all adopters and prospective adopters have experienced.

We live our lives in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this is in contrast to Social workers, who run at about 8 hours a day Monday to Friday.

Our week lasts 168 hours and social workers about 40, give or take.

When the Social Worker says "So, if we arrange to see you next week" for them that is 40 hours away, and they have lots of other people to see and cases to run.

We are just waiting while the process moves on, 168 hours waiting. The system holds the power and we are mere cogs in a big machine.

But the waiting is loaded with all kinds of silent obstacles:

Why did the SW ask that question?

Is the house not clean enough/too clean?

Why did they not ring me back?

If I leave another voicemail message will they think I'm too needy?

If I don't ring will they think I'm not bothered?

Mrs C and I have passed through that trial, and I assure you the first time was the worst. But the system is woven into the fabric of our lives.

We remain at the whim of secretaries making appointments for Flossy.
For Gracie we leave a message on a social workers phone on a Thursday but no answer by Friday tea time means a certainty of no word til Monday at best.

It is a circle that cannot be squared and we have accepted the inevitability of some aspects of it.

What have we learned?

To make friends with everyone we meet.

Push nicely.

Where possible only ask questions that we know the answer to.

And lastly write a letter to the head of the Local Authorities Children's Services and kick up a biddy great big fuss, ha ha.

(That's another story)


  1. Do you think this is it or is it gonna get even more scary in the future?

    1. It will always be the way.
      Individual Social Workers can elevate it to a degree but it is the nature of the beast.

  2. Adrian, your brevity veils the profound insight I know you have

  3. Such a great, balanced perspective that takes those differing views into account - love the 40 hours v 168 hours comparison. As a foster carer I have to constantly remind myself that what seems important, nay urgent to me and must be dealt with RIGHT NOW is just one of a number of things on a list for the many SWs I deal with, and their lists might contain things that are actually more urgent, more important than my thing. Thanks for today's reminder :)

  4. As always you're too kind.
    We felt the tension so acutely as foster carers, more so than as adopters. Being responsible 24/7 but often having to seek advice or permission was a peculiar feeling that we never reconciled.
    We have no plans to get re approved as FC's anytime soon, ha ha. I say that but yo never know.