‘Strange’ encounters with social services

This is an exciting week. Tomorrow (TOMORROW!) we’re going to be reading profiles of all the children in our county currently waiting to be matched with a family.

And yet…

Last night we caught up with one of our friends who has provided a reference for us. She’s done a great job. Our social worker met her last week and grilled her about our feelings. Because we’re not coming to adoption having been through infertility, we are ‘very unusual’ (that seems to be social worker speak for ‘just plain weird’) and she (the social worker) seems to have been checking that we are actually in possession of a full range of emotions. The implication seems to be that there’s something wrong with us if we don’t want to conceive. I’m not sure how they reach that conclusion. We have a great relationship and know how to use contraceptives. Isn’t that called being responsible?

We are adopting for what we think are the best possible reasons. Children need families. We do not have children but would quite like to be parents. The world is overpopulated. There are more children than there are available adoptive families (in our county, at least). It makes no difference to us that a child doesn’t share our genetics, and perhaps has a different skin colour or a disability, or both. We are up for welcoming two children into our home and getting on with loving them to bits and being a family. It just makes sense. And yet social services are telling us, our family and friends that we are odd. And you know what? It hurts.

I don’t expect a medal for going through the adoption process (though frankly I think anyone who does it deserves one). I am well aware that adoption is seen as ‘a bit different’ by those who have little knowledge or experience of it. But for the people who are apparently desperately recruiting adopters for children in need of families to tell willing volunteers that they’re strange is just rude. The social worker left our friend with the distinct impression that all the social workers have been talking about us in disbelief in the office, wondering what to make of these strange people who want to adopt without even trying to conceive. She even told our friend she was quite sure we’d want to have birth children once we’d adopted! This is after we’ve done the home study and explained quite thoroughly that we are doing this as a first choice option after thinking about it for four years. Apparently all that will change. Has she really been listening? And how dare she make these pronouncements to our friends?!

*deep breath*

If that was the only transgression, I’d brush it off. I’m a grown-up, I can cope with people thinking I’m strange. But the social worker has been giving information about our adoption process to our referees before giving it to us. And I think that is (a) unprofessional and (b) rude. When we were first told about tomorrow’s profile meeting, I excitedly called my husband to tell him, and then I called my mum. But she already knew, because the social worker had mentioned it at their meeting. Fine. Whatever. But yesterday’s catch-up with our friend revealed more surprises. The social worker had asked our friend how we would feel about fostering with a view to adopting (in a concurrent planning kind of way, I assume). Our friend didn’t know, we hadn’t discussed it with her, because the social worker had never raised the subject with us, as she freely admitted to our friend! Apparently it’s on her list of things to talk to us about, but we’re supposed to have finished the home study!

There are a handful of other issues that we were waiting to hear back about and have heard second-hand through our referees. And the social worker is doing a phone interview with another refereeing friend today. Goodness knows what else we’ll find out through that…


So tomorrow, which we were really looking forward to (we might read the profiles of our children!) is now tinged with a bit of a nasty taste. We feel that we should tell our social worker that we’re disappointed information has been shared inappropriately. It doesn’t bode well for the sensitive handling of our children’s confidential information, and we want to politely but firmly make sure she knows we’re upset.

Are we overreacting? Is this something we should just get used to? I fear, having read plenty of other blogs which tell of local authorities’ ineptness, that it might be normal. But I don’t want it to be! Wise counsel from those who have gone before us would be very welcome. Thanks. 🙂

8 thoughts on “‘Strange’ encounters with social services

  1. Not something we experienced ourselves, but it feels very unprofessional to me, and is not something I would want to let go. You will be encouraged by your SW and child’s SW not to unneccesarily share your child’s background – it is the child’s ‘story’ to tell to whom they want, when they are ready. How dare your social worker talk about your story, especially before she’s talked to you about it all. x

    • Hi Stix, thanks for your comment – much appreciated. It’s so good to hear you think the same way. Now we just have to work out exactly *how* to have that conversation with her. Eeek. All good character-building stuff! 😉

      • Hmm, it will certainly be a ‘difficult’ conversation, and not one that I’m envious of!

        Anyway, hope tomorrow is interesting and useful for you. We never had a profile meeting, as we were lucky that our social worker had a particular little person in mind and approached us about him within a week of approval…but I really hope you find your little ones! x

  2. Social workers need to make their minds up. What they do and what they tell us to do are generally entirely different. One of my references, when being grilled by Social Services told my social worker to ‘stop asking the same question in 100 different ways and concentrate on matching children to parents’! I wish I had been there to see her reaction!
    And on the topic of being rude – the first social worker I met left me with the parting comment of, ‘well, I would rather give a child to a ‘same sex’ couple than a single adopter’ – well, that told me!
    Good Luck – if you’ve got this far, you’ll get through. Keep going, thinking of the end result.

  3. Hi there, first time I’ve read your blog so I’ve lots to go back over to catch up, but I will 🙂
    Just wanted to let you know we adopted for the same reasons as you, first choice, not infertility. So your not alone! x

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