Matching Panel was very similar to Adoption Panel in the way it was organised. This time it started on time, probably just because we were the first of the day.

As we got in the meeting room, I remember thinking back to the time we spent outside last time we were there 2 months before, waiting impatiently for somebody else’s Matching Panel to finish. The wait took forever. I wondered if there was anyone in the waiting room in the same situation we were in, and how long our Matching Panel was going to last.

Diego and I were as nervous as the first time around, if not more. As an added bonus, I was also terrified of mixing up the names Benedict and Benjamin. I decided to play it safe and stick with “Ben”.

Both Dominique and Katriona (our and Ben’s social workers) were present this time, and they both introduced us to Panel, explaining why they thought of us as a good match for Ben. Panel only had a couple of questions for us, and they were mostly related to how we were planning to deal with Ben’s birth family history, and how we would have explained the reasons for his adoption once old enough.

We also discuss contact with Harvey, Ben’s older brother. There wasn’t much we could say really, as Harvey’s adoptive family refused face to face contact, and pictures exchange (and still do). For our part, we reassured everyone that we would have been ready to meet with him and his family, should they change their mind.

Matching Panel had a very different feel to Adoption Panel. Everything was much more real this time around. This panel wasn’t about whether we were fit to be parents of some child. This time the child had a face and a name (that I had to get right), and he was already the topic of most of our conversations. The stakes were much higher this time, because in a sense, by the time we got to panel, Ben was already part of our life.

Despite our worries, Matching Panel was less of an interrogation, and much more of a chit-chat about Ben, and how best we would have met his needs. The conversation was natural and relaxed; it took very little time. Their recommendation was quick to arrive too, and less than 5 minutes after we left the room, we were informed of their unanimous yes.

If someone was waiting outside for our meeting to end, they didn’t have to wait for too long. Not that I had the time to worry about anyone else in that moment. We were going to become Ben’s parents, and that’s all that mattered.

It is strange how the excitement of getting what we wanted for such a long time quickly made space for all the worries that came with it. We were keenly aware that just because a bunch of people on a Panel thought we could look after Ben, it didn’t necessarily mean it was true. You can play up your strengths in front of a Panel, even bend reality a little to help your case (don’t everybody do that?), but at some point, you need to prove that you can do what you claimed you could. Not to a Panel, but to your child.

I have to prove that to Ben today, and the day next, and the next, and the next…

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2 Comments

  1. claire potter 29th April 2016 Reply
    • Laura Boccaleone 29th April 2016 Reply

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