Stage 2 Adoption Assessment: Session 4 – a one on one interview with the social worker.
This was the first session where I felt a bit anxious beforehand. I was fine until OH (who had his the day before mine) told me a couple of the questions that he was asked. My response being “I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to answer those questions”, and I still didn’t when I was inevitably asked them.
The social worker had a set of questions to ask and talk around, but fortunately it was nothing like the interrogation that I feared it would be.
The basics of the discussion were about my childhood and growing up, how I was parented and disciplined, and which people were important to me as a child.
The first few questions were very easy: Where were you born? Who was at the hospital when you were born? (clearly this isn’t something I remember directly, but I gave a good guess based on what my parents have told me and the photos I’ve seen)
We then moved on to questions about who I spent time with when I was younger; grandparents, extended family, family friends etc, and what I remember doing with them all.
A lot of questions were asked about my parents and what they were like when I was a child, how they disciplined me (I was a good boy – honestly! – so I don’t remember being disciplined a great deal), how they’ve changed over time, or more specifically how my interactions with them have changed over time. I was asked to describe them in a few words as I saw them when I was a small child, and again as I see them now. Then provide reasons and examples of why I used specific words to describe them. (I’m sure my parents, upon reading this, will get a bit concerned about what I said but I didn’t have anything bad to say about them so they’re safe!)
That then lead on to whether I thought the way I was parented was effective and if I would carry on some of the things my parents did with my own children. This was easy to answer, I think my parents did an excellent job (I’m not sucking up just because Christmas is around the corner, I promise) at raising me and my siblings, and I saw a lot of positives with the way they did certain things which I will be using myself.
We talked about how I would discipline a child. This is something that the Preparation Group had given us some information on as the usual ‘time out’/’naughty step’ style of discipline that people use DO NOT (apparently) work on many adopted children. This was emphasised a few times during the training, and there is an awful lot of psychology around it, but the reasoning made sense so alternatives need to be found. I outlined a few things which we could do, making sure the social worker knew that I was aware of the differences potentially required.
One last topic that I can remember talking about was dealing with loss with the child and how I would approach it, firstly to do with the initial loss of the foster family, then how to deal with death. Me, not being particularly religious, didn’t go down the “they’re in Heaven looking down on you” route as I don’t really believe it myself and instead talked about how to emphasise the happy memories of the person that is gone.
One of questions I mentioned that I had no idea about how to answer was to do with a particular happy memory regarding my Mum when I was a child. It sounds awful that I couldn’t immediately think of anything, but my Mum was always there, the majority of my memories from childhood have her in them so it was difficult to pick just one out to talk about specifically. I did manage to come up with something in the end after rambling a bit initially giving the synapses time to fire, and this then lead on to another. It’s very easy once a particular part of your memory is active to recall certain things, so I was happy with my response to that in the end.
Something which our social worker keeps telling us is that no question that we get asked is designed to trip us up, there aren’t any right or wrong answers. That’s mostly true, and although there may not be ‘right’ answers there most definitely are ‘wrong’ ones! Ultimately though the whole assessment process is there for the social worker to get to know you as best as they can, so they can write a report on you to help give others an accurate picture of what you’re like, which in turn aids in matching you with a child or children.
We have two more sessions before Christmas, the next one is to be about what has motivated us to adopt and what existing child care experience we have. We’ve also been told that our social worker’s supervisor (who we saw in the initial meeting) is coming to the next one, although that is because she’s a student social worker and being assessed herself. Hopefully that won’t change the dynamic of the session too much, they picked the next one to come to because it is less intrusive and probably shorter than other topics that have been covered.