SO Sheila wasn’t wrong.
Shortly after we spoke on what will forever be ‘that Wednesday’ the requests for information started. They came thick and fast, relentless and all consuming.
Sheila had forewarned me that she was certain this would be the part I would struggle with. The reason she assumed I would struggle was down to my lack of control and the time frame . We were about to become a mild annoyance to those who we loved and those who we required to be compliant. 6-8 weeks of ‘behind the scenes ‘ paperwork. Like wasps around orange juice in the summer sun. Wasps that just don’t get the message. Persistent and annoying in their thirst for sugar. Driven so heavily by their own agenda. We’re repeatedly told as children “stop flapping just ignore it and it will go away” only we weren’t going to be ignored and I wasn’t going to go away, much like those dam wasps never went away when ignored. They were persistent and selfless in their plight. Undeterred by my involuntarily thrashing limbs!
Within a week we were asked to provide 3 referees each:
1 family member
2 friends who knew us collectively and or individually
We also recieved our ‘formal registration of interest’ our legally binding document joining us and our charity together on this crazy journey.
I had been warned about the level of paperwork that we would be faced with, Two words featured regularly in everything I had read and they were:
tending to spread very quickly and undesirably or harmfully:
“patients suffering from invasive cancer”
synonyms: virulent · infectious · invasive · uncontrollable · [More]
tending to intrude on a person’s thoughts or privacy:
“the sound of the piano was invasive”
synonyms: intruding · invasive · obtrusive · interrupting · [More]
(of medical procedures) involving the introduction of instruments or other objects into the body or body cavities:
“minimally invasive surgery”
causing disruption or annoyance through being unwelcome or uninvited:
“that was an intrusive question” · [More]
synonyms: intruding · invasive · obtrusive · interrupting · [More]
(of a sound) pronounced between words or syllables to facilitate pronunciation, such as an r in saw a film.
relating to or formed by intrusion.
These were words I had so far been unable to attach to our experience. Until now.
Then it came. Fast and Furious. Every email ended with a please return by date, normally within the week. I became swamped with free post envelopes, scanned and copied documents.
So I set about completing what was asked promptly. I provided our six referees. All of our referees informed us as soon as they had received the forms, all bar two.
I was comforted by everyones enthusiasm, their desire to keep us abreast with how things were going I was asked to go and read through what was being asked as they were eager not to get it wrong. During this time we laughed and cried, reflected and fought our child like urge to respond to the questions with hugely innapropriate answers. A desperate bid to cast a sense of light and humour over what was infront of us. The gravity of the words that were being written laid heavy with those who we had asked.
Days went by and I realised I had not heard from mum, she was my family referee. I knew mum was busy, beyond busy infact with work but I needed confirmation she had received the same paperwork everyone else had.
She had got the paperwork but hadn’t had time look over it and certainly didn’t want to get it wrong. I told mum that there was no ‘wrong answer’. This is assuming she wasn’t going to say she considered us to be a complete car crash of parents. This was purely means to give our social worker an insight into my mums interpretation of our parenting abilities.
A week had gone by, everyone had retuned their references. I asked that everyone didn’t use the kindly provided free post envelopes and send them back recorded delivery instead. This provided me with a sense of comfort in a situation I had no control over whilst removing the potential for things to get lost in the post delaying the process.
Everyone had met my demands for recored delivery except 1. She wanted so desperately to get this right for me, for us, so right it went wrong.
We had agreed mum was going to come up for dinner that Thursday evening, namely because my other referees ( the Italians mum had fallen in love with and commandeered as her own ) were also coming for dinner. The Italians had completed their reference so could help mum whilst I prepared dinner. We agreed to meet at 7pm after we had finished work.
7:30 “hi mum are you coming we were expecting you at seven ”
Mum informed me she had taken the opportunity to spend the afternoon and evening with my niece and had gone to the local soft play area, only leaving at 7pm. The same 7pm she had agreed to come and complete her reference. She had not only lost track of time but also her purse containng all of her cards and cash.
In an instant I was filled with a rainbow of emotions. Anger, frustration, jealousy, disappointment, hurt, upset, worry and concern. I suggested that maybe tonight wasn’t the best of times now and I would touch base in the week re another time.
Was this what Sheila meant?
I felt cheated. I need at 7pm on that Thursday for our children’s paperwork to take priority and it hadn’t. I realised at that point that this WAS different.
not the same as another or each other; unlike in nature, form, or quality:
“you can play this game in different ways” · [More]
synonyms: dissimilar · unalike · unlike · non-identical · contrasting · [More]
“on two different occasions”
synonyms: distinct · separate · individual · discrete · non-identical · [More]
I understood our niece, her granddaughter is ‘here’ she’s present, but so were our children. Our children were/are out there, potentially not being prioritised, not being taken to soft play, but instead waiting, waiting for us, waiting to be held, loved, cherished, waiting to feel safe and secure. We and them alike were waiting for everyone else to prioritise us and all the paperwork that seemed to now embody us to, and in doing so, them. Our children.
We met later that week and I saw the huge pressure she was under. She was faced with an unenviable task, alone. It made sense, I understood. So we sat down surrounded by rows and rows of crystal cut glass and piles of boxes. Boxes filled and boxes waiting to be filled. We completed the form. It was sent reordered delivery.
The paperwork became overwhelming. It seemed relentless, every day more and more and more information. Our entire chronology from when we were born, to the month and the year!
- every address
- every school
- every country we have lived in
- every relationship
- every course
- every qauilfication
- every place of work and a referee to match
eco maps, 4 generation family trees, DBS checks, Accountancy references and checks, Local authority checks. All of this information had to correlate with each other, No gaps allowed. Then once we had completed this we had to repeat the task all over again as the BAAF required the same information. This information of course had its own format meaning every part of our chronology had to be manually re entered. I at times was reduced to tears as I fought to place years and months, home and schools, employers and relationships, dates and places of work together in some intricate puzzle, a puzzle with no sides! The puzzle that was our life our chronology.
the arrangement of events or dates in the order of their occurrence.
“the novel abandons the conventions of normal chronology”
a list which has a chronological arrangement.
the study of historical records to establish the dates of past events.
“his book transformed prehistoric chronology by applying the results of carbon dating”
I was tired of our own story.
Then came the straw that broke the proverbial back!
So a little background:
Neither myself or Jack have regularly frequented the doctors surgery. In fact we had only been twice. Once when I ended up with an infected leg after a spider had ever so kindly bitten me in Bali. The second time was after i took the bottom of my thumb clean off on a mandolin whilst dutifully preparing our indonesian feast, needless to say this mandolin was not the musical type.
I call the surgery…. ” hi there i need to book a medical please, myself and my husband are registered here but have never been seen by a doctor but we need a medical for our adoption profile”
“ok whats the name”
I give the surname I registered with! “SHIT no sorry we married in September and double barrelled out name” This newly acquired married name is something we’ve struggled to adopt but features on all of our adoption paperwork including the forms the doctor needs to complete.
The response I got was short and sharp ” oh I can see this is going to be complicated” Little did I realise. She not so kindly informed me she wouldn’t be able to make me an appoitment until I had completed a name change. I suggested that i could drop in the necessary documents on my way to work so we could book and appointment now. I gave her our married name. She barked back ” how have you double barrelled that the names don’t match” I explain, once engaged I didn’t want to be married under my estranged fathers name, so had changed to my mothers made name via deed pole and we had now merged the two, quite simple, so i thought! I explained I could provide a passport in my birth surname, my deed pole certificate to show my legal name change and then our marriage certificate. This should cross all your t’s and dot all you i’s.
Now in my somewhat limited interaction with GP receptionists I seem to have had the same experience each time, thats one of incompetence and distinct lack of compassion or empathy and an auto response likened to ‘computer says no’
Once she had digested the name change saga she relayed our previous address, another problem. We had not only married and changed our name, but we had moved, another ‘significant life event’
She barked back and told me we were now ‘out of area’ and would need to register at our local GP surgery.
” I’m going to assume you are not and have not adopted, on the assumption I’m correct you have no fucking idea just how much paperwork I’ve had to complete to get this far a large part of which this doctors surgery features on. Im not asking to register, we are already registered I would just like an appointment, an appointment your going to charge me for, PLEASE”
Once again she barked back “I’m going to have to speak to the practise manager about this and call you back” in a second the line goes dead. The repressed receptionist has hung up on me
Im furious, so I google:
I find out she’s wrong, misinformed and incorrect
I have rights! The right to be seen by a GP at a surgery i am already registered at, in the town I work and the town we will school our children in. Moments later the phone burst into chorus.
” right I’ve spoken to the practise manager”
Its at this point I cease my moment, ” oh great well , I’m going to stop you there I don’t know if you are aware the laws changed in January 2015 and based on where I work or where I school my children I am able to register outside of my ‘locality’ on the ground of convenience. So should I get through this bloody process my children will be educated within this town and I also occupy a commercial property so have a tenancy here so given this, and the fact I am already registered. I am not looking to register I am simply looking for an appointment, PLEASE, THANK-YOU”
Im quickly bitten back with “I will have to call you back”
She hangs up again and I wait again, feeling drained and exhausted, but ever so slightly victorious.
The phone jumps to life, ” Ive spoke to the practise manager and you are JUST and by just I mean only just within our area so we can see you this Thursday!”
I feel like I’ve won a battle, I’ve beaten the system, this painfully bureaucratic system. I will continue to fight another day.
Now lets hope we are indeed ‘FIT’ for purpose
I now understand why this process is made so unnecessarily complex. Its all a test. A test to check our commitment to the cause. Are we devoted enough to see it through. Can we stick with something thats is so laborious and repetitive, demanding and all consuming and relentless in its nature? Sound familiar?