We haven't got long to go now before the Adoption Order will be made. It's a shock to us as we realise it's now several months since the adoption placement when Heather and James became part of our family. Many of these social worker visits are a matter of routine and this far down the line you'll be used to them. They're a great resource, not only from a technical support perspective navigating through the available financial and organisational help but from a human support perspective by being there for you.
I got in from work as Ben was talking to her. The kids were playing and doing that "really frantic" play they normally do when the social worker comes. They've had the same social worker since they were taken into care three years ago so associate her with change. It must be very unsettling for them and I make a mental note to reassure them when she's gone.
The social worker chats to both of our children privately and came back to us beaming as the children have obviously said things that made her happy. As part of her duty she has to ensure the children are safe and happy (as well as us) so exercises diligence during her visits. With so many different types of families it's quite hard to tick a set pattern of boxes but you know she's looking to see if the house is in good condition and remains child friendly, she's looking at the children's interaction with us and she's sensing the general atmosphere always alert to signs of mistreatment but equally ready to hand out praise.
Today we talk mainly about the financial support that may be available for the school. James needs a teaching assistant in Primary School as he's quite demanding and the school can't afford this. Both children came from backgrounds of severe neglect and have high emotional needs that affect both of them in different ways. James needs constant attention or he gets upset so he's not suited to working in groups as you do in a class, he needs one to one support that requires a teaching assistant dedicated to him. At least for now. We give the social worker our input to this and she promises to find out more.
At the end of the meeting, she reiterates to us that even though the children are still classed as being "in care" they are our children and that she is overjoyed with how well they are doing with us. The last six months have been a remarkable journey for all of us and hearing that just made our day. We've come so far in this short time but to have a third party who knows these children well point it out to us makes it all worthwhile. It is indeed.
After tea, I kneel at eye level with James and Heather as they play with Fireman Sam. I gently mention that the social worker wasn't here to take them away and that they are with us, their forever family now. Their eyes and smiles tell me everything and we have a hug. Then it's back to playing with Fireman Sam because he's cool.