Our Social Worker was lovely. Let’s call her Lovely Social Worker. She was very experienced, had humour, a no-nonsense approach, and offered penetrating insight. She was also extremely skilled in assessment, particularly in proffering follow up questions to wishy-washy first answers. Most importantly, she was supportive and positive about our application. We both liked her. Thank goodness we did. She is the person who knows more about either of us than anyone else in the world. It was our relationship with her that helped us get through the assessment and matching processes, the intro week, and the first few months of placement.
Sadly, our first experience of adoption Social Workers wasn’t so positive. H and I had just made the telephone referral, huddled in my Mazda mx5 (now long gone, sadly swopped for a family-friendly tractor) in a car park outside H’s work. We were so excited. Our adoption journey was beginning.
The very next day I received a telephone call from an adoption team manager. Let’s call her Ranting Manager. I spent the next 20 minutes standing in pouring rain outside my office listening to the woman talk at me. Why had I asked if it was legal for both of us to adopt? Were we not committed? Was H a lodger or a partner? On and on, a tirade of insults. And all because the local authority’s website had quoted old legislation about gay couples not being able to adopt together. We had therefore asked the worker taking our referral if one of us had to be the named person. Ranting Manager did not listen, she talked over me, and even suggested that we needed counselling to decide if we wanted to adopt!
The next morning H rang Ranting Manager, pointed out the exact location of the inaccurate web page, and finally convinced the woman to send us out the application forms.
Months later, having been steered through the assessment process by our Lovely Social Worker, we met our girls’ Social Worker. She was visiting to assess whether we would be a good match. We immediately took to her. She was direct and warm. ‘What do you want to know about them?’ she asked. ‘Everything!’ We replied. It was nearly 90 minutes later that she stopped talking. We felt as if we had met them!
We met Ranting Manager again at the information sharing meeting. She was there to chair it. My heart sank. H squeezed my hand. Be calm, the squeeze conveyed. 20 minutes later all was going well. Information was flowing. Then Ranting Manager looked at us and said: ‘if you want to know the effects of abuse, look on the internet’.
Time stopped. I looked at H. She was stunned. I looked at Lovely Social Worker. She raised her eyes heavenwards. Ranting Manager had, supposedly, read the reports on our application. She therefore knew that between us we had over 25 years experience working in the ‘caring professions’. My thought processes ran through a number of fairly unpleasant scenarios. Just then, beautiful, brilliant H asked the foster carer another question from our list, and the moment passed.
It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice. If ever there was a woman in the right job, its Lovely Social Worker. Sadly, she’s retired. If ever there was a woman in the wrong job, it’s Ranting Manager. Sadly, she’s still working.