The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on all of our lives this year, from holidays cancelled to shopping with a mask to toilet roll shortages. Imagine trying to get approval to become first-time adoptive parents at the same time?

New beginnings and unforeseen challenges

Our journey started on New Years Eve, a life-changing decision in the spirit of “new year, new start” but the culmination of five years trying to expand our family beyond husband, wife and two daft cats. After a miscarriage in 2019, we’d long considered adoption as an avenue we wanted to follow so we started 2020 by contacting Western Bay Adoption Service.

Then a pandemic swept the world and we feared the worse. As flights were grounded and our NHS heroes were applauded, we were busy starting the Approval process. That was nine months ago and we still haven’t even met our Social Worker face-to-face!

But despite our fears that the process would be affected by the pandemic, we were relieved with how the adoption service adapted to these challenging times. While many social care services were impacted, we were able to continue meetings via videoconferencing. We spent hours documenting evidence while attending webinars and online training. It wasn’t the same as meeting people in person but we were able to move forward.

Lessons learnt

We learned so much about the adoption process during this challenging time. We built a small library of textbooks on the subject and joined a regional support group with other prospective adopters, many of whom were going through the same journeys as us. We even started embracing the social media side and created our own ‘adoption journey’ accounts on Twitter and Instagram under the label #AdoptionAtNo33.

We worried when it came to the requirement for physicals as doctors were (understandably) prioritising COVID-19 responses. Fortunately, our local GP happened to be an adoptive parent himself and was able to arrange for our medicals under strict social distancing guidelines. While other prospective adopters were frustrated for months, we made it to Approval Panel by August.

Adoption panel

When the morning of the panel dawned, we were nervous as months of hard work came down to one meeting with a group of strangers who held our hopes and dreams in their collective hands. Fortunately, the panel went fantastically well. We were asked one question in relation to our Prospective Adopters Report (PAR) and the call – which only lasted ten minutes – ended with a very happy “Yes”. The recommendation was made to approve us to be adoptive parents for up to two children, up to the age of 3 years old.

It was everything we had worked for, with thanks to our amazing Social Worker.

Ongoing journey

This was just the first phase on our journey to become adoptive parents and our experience was very enlightening. For this year’s Adoption Week, we took part in Western Bay Adoption Service’s first online Profile Event. This was an opportunity to find out more about some of the children looking for an adoption placement, featuring videos of the children and hearing details from Social Workers and Foster Carers. It was really useful to get a sense of the children’s personalities, which is such an important consideration when you are looking at someone who could be a part of your family for the rest of their lives.

This process has been a wonderful experience for us and we are so happy that we made the decision on a cold New Year’s Eve to follow this path. Although so much has already happened – even against the uncertainty of a global pandemic – our journey is far from over.

Inspired by this blog and the National Adoption Week content?  Click here to find out more about the adoption process.

National Adoption Week 2020!Our Family – Video Series