It was the beginning of April 2014, 8 months after our first phone call to the Adoption Office. Nothing had happened for a few months, and now the adoption wheels were in motion again.

We were finally meeting our new social worker Dominique. It was literally 16 hours before Panel. We were excited about meeting her, but also worried about going to Panel the following day. We had millions of questions, and we wanted to make sure that Dominique was up to speed with our assessment.

She started talking about herself as soon as we met. We initially thought was her way to introduce herself, and make us feel at ease and break the ice, but she just carried on, and on, and on: her husband and her kids, her job, her exercise routine. Everything but us! We tried few times to redirect the conversation to the most pressing topic, the Adoption Panel, but she just wouldn’t listen. She was like a train travelling at full power towards the land of “me me me”.

We were missing our previous social worker Lisa, she was so different from Dominique. Lisa was kind and humble, while Dominique was loud and opinionated. She marched into our home like she owned it, and she lacked the sensibly to notice we were feeling uncomfortable in our own living room. We were getting increasingly frustrated.

Dominique told us about her lengthy career as social worker, she was often praises herself, and she was giving us details about other couples adoption journey. She never mentioned any name, that needs to be said, but I found these stories to be both unnecessary and fundamentally wrong for her to tell, and for us to know. I wonder if she would have talk about us to other prospective adopters, and I was sure she would.

By the end of the home visit, we managed to catch her attention, and she briefly acknowledged our questions, or at least one of them: one child, or siblings. Our previous social worker recommendation was for one child under the age of 3, or two siblings under 5. We felt comfortable with that choice, we were under the impression we could, later, review profiles of possible matches, and take a final decision.

Dominique expressed straight away her disapproval, she used the words I feel uncomfortable, about recommending us for siblings. In time we came to understand that she had 3 different ways to say NO: I feel uncomfortable, it’s not our recommendation, the agency suggests. And we heard those words countless times from that day onwards.

Dominique insisted she wouldn’t have given us her support at Panel, which is normally inclined to follow the social worker recommendation. Somehow, worried we could had been turned down by Panel, and a bit bullied into the idea, we went with the flow and agreed to one child.

Adopting a second child at a later date turned out to be harder said than done. Our application for a second adoption has so far been turned down by 15 Local Authorities, mainly because the children in care are older than our son, or because they are siblings groups.

After such a long wait to meet Dominique, the visit was over as quickly as it started. We were left speechless and incredulous: did she even had a look at our file?

The countdown started, and with her presenting us to Panel in only 16 hours, we were sure we were doomed to fail!

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