As we had attended an information meeting for Rural adoption agency at the end of 2012, the next step was to speak with a member of the social work team. She called in the middle of the day and asked if I had approximately an hour to complete the viability assessment.
“Doesn’t my husband need to be present?” The administrator had said we would both need to be present for the conversation.
The social worker said no, it wasn’t necessary unless we wanted to both be present. I knew hand-stitched dad would much prefer me to do the talking, so I said it was okay to go ahead. “I’ll do my best to answer for my husband.” And I made an effort to reflect on what we both might answer and shared honestly, even (especially!) when they differed.
My first impression of the social worker was that she had a bright voice and sounded kind and considerate. I wondered if she had counseling training, as she listened well. I felt comfortable talking with her.
She asked about:
- Our names
- Our address
- Our contact details
- How we found out about Rural adoption agency
- When we attended the information meeting
- Our ethnicity
- Our religion
- Our children, if any
Then, she explained about the process of adoption. I listened carefully, but was secretly pleased that I already knew everything she shared. She specifically emphasized the need for contact with birth families. She asked for my thoughts. I said we had no problems with contact, as long as it was in the best interest of the child and “everyone involved agreed to review it as the child develops.” The social worker was impressed by this answer and explained a bit more about how contact was decided.
She then asked about:
- Our expectations of adoption
- Our medical history
- Our reasons for adopting
- Criminal disclosures, if any
- Our knowledge of children in care
- Our support network
- Our work life
- Our finances
She asked if I had any questions. I asked her for advice on timing our house move . She said that the best time is before the child is matched and placed, as any changes will be too disruptive. I was relieved that we wouldn’t be excluded from the process because we were considering moving house. There is no guarantee it will sell!
I had other questions, but the social worker sounded pretty eager to share the results: she was recommending that the Rural adoption agency proceed with our enquiry! She said that she could tell from my answers that I valued transparency and honesty. She said that it was clear we had taken time to gather information and prepare ourselves for the next step. She said it was good that hand-stitched dad and I had different personalities and strengths as we would balance each other. She then asked how I would describe our relationship. I thought immediately of what my counselor said years ago.
“Devoted” I mused. ” ..that’s what others have told us.” I swear, the social worker smiled.
I talked some more. I thought fondly of hand-stitched dad. “We are not everything we want to be, but we are proud of our strengths.”
The social worker explained that her report will be reviewed by the monitoring group, who then decide whether to proceed. They have responsibility for prioritising prospective adopters’ enquiries to meet the needs of children currently in care. The social worker advised us that we would receive a letter with the results of the review. She also hinted that there may be a wait due to the current backlog of enquiries as a result of a recent marketing drive. Again – not a concern for us, as that gives us more time to get the house sold! I told her we were not in a hurry.
The social worker finished the conversation by giving her full name and contact details. She advised us to call her if we had any further queries or wanted an update on the process. We haven’t had a need to call her yet, as we understand the process fairly well. I may give her a call if we do not hear from them in April.
Overall, my experience of the viability assessment phone call was very positive. Despite our increasing knowledge of adoption, hand-stitched dad and I are ‘utter newbies’ and lack the confidence that experience brings. We sometimes feel inadequate as prospective parents, so it is validating to get such a positive response from a social worker regarding what we have to offer. The social worker sounded genuinely excited to meet us. She did her best to reflect our answers and provide feedback. It felt nice to have someone recognise and value our strengths, while keeping in balance our vulnerabilities.
I called hand-stitched dad immediately after the assessment, and he was amused at my excitement: “I can tell; you sound really pleased.” I chattered about every single question the social worker asked, on the phone and again at home. Hand-stitched dad confirmed that I did a good job representing both of us.
Two weeks later, we received the letter from Rural adoption agency. The letter confirmed that they would like to proceed with us and that the next step would be a home visit from a social worker. They said that they would contact us as soon as possible in April to arrange a time.
We look forward to hearing from them!