Approval panel day is the momentous day prospective adopters work towards (the next being matching panel). For us it took us approximately 14 months to reach that day and whilst this is a long time - it felt right for us. We hadn’t felt rushed and it was the perfect amount of time for us to get things right.
Approval Panel day is exactly that - an independent panel that reviews your Prospective Adopters Report (PAR). This being a report your social worker has worked extremely hard over the last few months to collate to make sure it sells you well to the panel. From this report the panel collate questions to ask during your panel. It may be that they may seek further clarity on a particular aspect of your application, or to ask about your intention to adopt. We were told little itself about our panel until the day itself, so that in itself meant we had a few questions beforehand to understand what would happen, when and why.
We arrived at the venue and met our Social Worker. We had a catch up with her as it had been a little while since we had last seen her last. This also gave us the perfect opportunity to ask all the questions we had. How many were on the panel that day? What would they be asking us? How long would panel be? How quick would the decision be given? Our heads were full of questions!
We were told it was just us and another couple being seen that day. We had briefly seen the other couple and they were exactly like us - a friendly but nervous smile on their face before their fate was decided. We watched as they were met by the Chair person of the panel and then taken off to the room where it all happened.
We had known about this day for several months beforehand and had no nerves at all. However we were now ready and waiting and the nerves started to creep in and build. Knowing in a short while a panel would be basing their decision upon our PAR - it was making us rather nervous. It seemed that the other couple had only been away for a short 20 minutes before we saw them walk by - beaming from ear to ear, celebrating a unanimous yes! Brilliant news. Now it was over to us to be called in. So we waited a little while before things started to happen.
Our panel chair introduced herself and briefly explained that there was quite a large panel that day - 11 people from different backgrounds. Some Social Workers, a number of adoptive parents, a medical adviser and a minute taker to name but a few. We made our way to the meeting room and at first glimpse our nerves started to settle a little as we got comfy and were welcomed. Each of the panel introduced themselves so we knew who they were, however we quickly forgot as the nerves took over and in our minds we already began processing what may be asked.
Questions. Questions. Questions. Lots of questions. Over the next 30 minutes we were directed around the panel with the queries they had. It seemed like we were getting more questions that normal, as we were only expecting a small handful. We counted approximately 15 questions - each of them were were able to answer with ease, however some were based on hypothetical situations about how we intended to parent our child - how would we deal with bullying/being bullied? How would we approach regression with the child? How about education? Then questions about us personally - our work/childcare arrangements, our own childhoods and even some about us as young adults. It felt like a lot was being asked when they already had our report in front of them - but we were able to answer every question.
We were ushered out of the room with our social worker and then placed into a waiting room whilst the panel voted about whether we would be approved to adopt. This felt like a lifetime. Would they approve us? Did we do enough? Did we answer the questions sufficiently? Would they think we needed more time? Those pesky nerves were back again but at this point we had done all we could do - it was now over to panel to decide our fate.
Three slow knocks at the door were heard…
The chairperson came into the room and sat down in front of us. “I’m delighted to inform you that the panel have given their approval - you received a unanimous yes” PHEW!! We got the decision we wanted but it took our brains a little while to process what had just happened. That was that, panel over and done with. On our exit we bumped into a panel member who gave their congratulations which felt strange as we had in no way processed the last hour or so, let alone the approval decision! We sat in the car for several minutes and then chose to celebrate our news with - a cup of coffee!
It’s been nearly a week since panel and only now have we begun to understand what happened during panel. We will shortly receive the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) decision which is a formal document confirming their review and outcome.
Many have begun to ask - What happens now?
For a little while we have started to register interest in suitable children profiles and have received their own reports. This is the time in which we see what works best for us and the children profiles that match ours. They are not an easy read. Some have been in excess of 80 pages documenting their life so far. So we are very much in an ‘in-limbo’ period whilst we see what the next few months hold and where this takes us.