I've sat down at my laptop more times than I care to remember to write a testimonial for South Tyneside Adoption Services but how do I put into words this exhilarating, enriching and sometimes exhausting adventure?!
"It was February 2015, after nearly 18 months of discussion, that my husband and I decided it was either time to take the plunge and enquire about adopting or forget about it altogether! We were already fortunate to have a biological son, who was 8 years old at the time, but despite a strong desire to extend our family, appeared unable to do so naturally. Our biological son was very keen for a younger sibling and we both felt that he was at an age where he was a little more independent, grown up and would have an understanding of what adopting meant and the impact it would initially have on our family unit.
Having researched into the independent adoption agencies and local authorities, South Tyneside, in our opinion, stood out as one of the best. It was therefore decided that we would go ahead and fill in an online adoption enquiry form, after all, what did we have to lose?
From our initial contact with South Tyneside, we were contacted by telephone within 24 hours. This was then followed by a home visit at our convenience within the same week! Although we were both very nervous about the visit, we were quickly made to feel at ease. This initial visit was an ideal opportunity for me, my husband and our son, to ask as many questions as we needed, to explore all of the challenges and opportunities adoption could provide us with. We were left with an adoption pack to peruse in our own time and told that if we wished to proceed, to complete the registration of interest form and return it to South Tyneside. This was done without hesitation and so the process began...
The following 6 months passed so quickly. We were allocated an adoption worker who guided us through two stages. Stage one consisted of references and checks by South Tyneside and an adoption preparation training weekend, all within two months! At the end of this stage, our adoption worker reviewed our assessment to date and with their agreement we moved onto stage two.
Stage two was the more intensive part of the assessment. It involved many visits from our adoption worker - thankfully I spent less and less time tidying the house prior to her visits and actually began to look forward to them; it began to feel more like a friend coming to visit than a social worker. We also attended further training and within four months our worker had completed the assessment and our Prospective Adopters Report was ready for our comments. We were now all set for panel and our big fat YES!!
The next three months appeared to drag; we were visited 6 weekly by our worker, who never seemed to bring us good news! But when we were least expecting it, only a few days before Christmas, the telephone call came that we had been longing for - "we think we have found your little girl", it really was a Christmas story of great tidings! Christmas came and went in a blur and before we knew it, we were meeting with this little girl's social workers, visiting her foster carer, school and medical advisor, while all the time supported by our own adoption worker. Time passed by so quickly, we were at matching panel only a month later and 3 weeks after that we met our gorgeous girl for the very first time; words cannot describe how we felt."