This week we chatted with Steffan, an LGBT+ adopter in South Wales who took part in our podcast, to discuss his experience of the adoption assessment process and why he was proud to be sharing his story with other adopters.
What first inspired you to want to adopt?
I grew up in a big house in rural north Wales and my parents were foster parents. It was amazing to have lots of children around and to be surrounded by so many friends. From a young age this meant I understood how difficult some children’s backgrounds could be and how important foster carers and adopters were. This has always stayed with me, and I knew that like my parents, I wanted to give a child a great start to life too.
When did you know you were ready to adopt?
With this upbringing, I always knew that I one day I wanted to recreate this loving family unit when the time was right. As I grew older and came to terms with the fact that I was gay, it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t adopt! Thankfully, my husband and I we were on the same page and knew we both wanted to provide a child with a loving and stable environment. I was 30 when I met my husband and he was approaching 40 so we were both ready to settle down and make our dream a reality!
What was the approval process like for you? Did it take long from start to finish?
It felt really long and took around two years overall. We made the initial enquiry in October 2016 and had a visit from a social worker within a couple of weeks. We then got put on the early adoption training course the following April 2017 but things slowed down as my husband and I hadn’t been living together for the required length of time.
From when we could actually start the process properly at the end of July 2018, things went much quicker and we had our adoption panel booked for the end of October 2018. So actually the process was only over three to four months which wasn’t too bad! The waiting at the start was hard, but to have a family at the end of it meant that it was completely worth it and I would do it all again in an instant!
How did you feel before, during and after visits from your social worker?
We always looked forward to our weekly session with our social worker. We were set ‘homework’ between each session so knew what to expect. We were always kept well informed about every session so there was nothing to ever worry about.
The sessions were brilliant and we really enjoyed the elements of soul-searching. It’s not often that you sit down as a couple and ask big questions like ‘how has my life experience impacted me as a person?’ and ‘how will this impact how I parent my own child?’. After each session, I would then sit down and reflect on the session and share my notes with the social worker.
What the most challenging part of the approval process?
The waiting beforehand was tough but once the ball got rolling, I didn’t find things too challenging at all.
What parts did you enjoy?
The entire process was actually quite enjoyable to be honest – which may sound strange. Eventually the visits from our social worker became one of the highlights of our week. Our social workers are fantastic. They’re not there to dig out any old skeletons. They do of course need you to be frank and open, but it’s done in a way that is nice and respectful.
What types of questions were you asked on the adoption panel? How did you feel about being asked these questions?
We were asked eight questions in total which seemed a lot but they varied– from questions about our support network, medical history, future educational choices and personal finances. Even though it can be pretty overwhelming, your social worker will make sure that you’re prepared for all of these questions beforehand and you feel supported every step of the way. Our social worker was brilliant and had our backs!
How did expectation compare to reality with the adoption approval process?
Fortunately, we’d done lots of research into adoption and the approval process beforehand like listening to podcasts and reading lots of books. So we knew the process inside out before starting. For us, we expected the process to be long and challenging but because we were prepared it made it easier to deal with.
Why are you excited to be part of the National Adoption Service’s first-ever podcast?
Since becoming adopters, we’ve been motivated to do as much as we can to champion the process and how important it is. If one person hears the podcast and is inspired to start a family, then we would do it 100 times over. Adopters have a real sense of community and it’s great that we can share stories which people who have adopted can relate to as well.
I’m especially honoured to be involved in the Welsh-language recording so we can make this information as accessible as possible for first-language Welsh speakers! Having conversations during the podcast about Welsh language and adoption showed me there is still a lack of understanding about the importance of the Welsh language in general, so this gave me a real sense of pride about it!
What advice would you give people who are just about to start the adoption approval process?
At the end of every session, our social worker would always say the same thing “be kind to yourselves”. I only understood this properly as we went through the whole process, from the assessment to the matching process and eventually becoming a parent too. It’s okay to feel anxious and concerned by things. After all, becoming a parent is a life-defining moment – so make sure to give yourself some love every now and then! This has really stuck with me and really helped me throughout the process.
To hear more from Steffan and the rest of the group about how they found the adoption assessment process, tune into the second episode of the Truth be told: Adoption stories podcast.