It’s that time of year again. It can be a bittersweet experience for many of us. Nationally and locally the rhetoric will be unrelenting. Adoption is a GOOD thing. Do YOU have the love to give a child? Etc. and turgid so forth.
Those of us who are affected by adoption all have a different and individual story to tell.
I love Bubble and Squeak. Sometimes my heart feels as if it will burst for them. I have cried tears of joy. I look at my partner loving them and I feel deep love for our family.
We are lucky. We have a good, no a great, Adoption Social Worker. She gets ‘it’, the Big T. Trauma. She listens. She observes. She supports. She provides access to psychological assessments. We’re about to start therapy funded by the Adoption Support Fund.
We struggled for over a year to get access to that support. We were initially told by the team manager we were ‘anxious’, that Bubble was a ‘typical’ child. We were not anxious; we were furious. We went to the Head of the service in order to get the support our family needs.
When I went back to work after adoption leave I asked to work flexibly. Managers prevaricated and then rejected my request. I had to go to the Director to get my request approved. I’ve been doing the same hours for 2 years. Now my employers want me to work full time again.
I can’t support Bubble and Squeak and work full time. It is that simple.
I wasn’t offered any other solution. There was no discussion at all. Just a rejection. I have appealed. They have not reached a decision. I have had to submit a grievance. They have not responded. And then there’s the intimidation. I’ve submitted another grievance. They have not responded.
We’re now past the date they told me I have to return to full time hours.
The stress at times feels overwhelming. Luckily I’m an adopter and have learned to be hardy and resilient. I am fighting back. I have the union and Google on my side. My employer has access to lawyers and HR on theirs. It feels like a secular version of David and Goliath.
And whilst all this rages on I still support my adopted children and work as best I can.
My job? I’m a local authority social worker.
So my message in National Adoption Week is simple: listen to all those lovely happy ever after stories if you will. But don’t be fooled. For the government and local authorities it’s about statistics. For those of us in the thick of it, it’s more about survival.