A Pinch of Salt
Today we had Birdy's long-awaited LAC Review. The Independent Reviewing Officer, Birdy's social worker and I convened the meeting in our playroom while I put the children in front of a DVD with vast quantities of snacks.
I got out the salt.
Today's largest pinch was needed to accompany the words, "I'll get that form sent off straight away." Do I hear hollow laughter from the adoption community?
This was said in relation to a form which I was promised at the start of August, received at the start of September (after chasing it up myself), and returned, in person, almost three weeks ago. Since then, apparently, it has been sitting on the social worker's desk. Nothing else can happen until this form is received by the 'Finance Panel'. As an administratively-challenged person myself, I do have sympathy with others who also suffer, but it's starting to wear a bit thin now.
It's not the first time I've got the salt out. You may remember that the thorny issue of finances raised it head extremely early in the process. I ranted about it here. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I could forget any idea of receiving any adoption allowances. I thought this was a mean-spirited opening shot, and wondered at the time if it was one of those tricksy stumbling blocks they like to throw in the way of prospective adopters to see if you've got what it takes to stay the course. After all, we'd already been through 'open-adoption-gate' with its proposed six direct contacts with birth mum per year. That was a barrel of laughs.
My suspicions were aroused even further when the 'financial assessment form' I had to fill in turned out to actually be an application form for adoption allowances. Shortly after I filled it in and returned it, Birdy's social worker talked about how she would "submit that form and see how much you'll get". This is the same form that hasn't been submitted yet. Of course.
Today, the IRO reassured me that "there's usually a 2-year buffer" for people in my position. This is exactly what I received last time. So much for "no chance of adoption allowances this time around" then. I'm not out to wring every last penny from the LA. I actually think two years is a bit generous. Personally, I'd be happy to settle for financial support to cover the Statutory Adoption Pay I don't get because the LA forces its foster carers to be self-employed. Two years is also fine though!
But I digress. Suffice it to say that I was right to suspect that the whole no adoption allowances scenario needed a little salt on it. I know that many (most?) adopters don't get allowances, but there was just something about the way it was said that made me suspect all was not as it seemed.
Today's LAC Review turned out to be a great opportunity to get a grip on the whole process and get a few things off my chest. The IRO supported me over some of my concerns, and is concerned about "drift" in Birdy's adoption process. She rounded off the meeting by setting out a timescale based on the minimum possible time that each stage could take and decreed that we should be at approval/matching panel by March.
Pass the salt!