So the culmination of our decision in late May came at 1.30pm today. We both have really full lives and whilst we both happily share experiences we have remained independent throughout, including having our own interests, friends etc. It is therefore hardly surprising that I drove from work and Peter from home to the offices of the IFA.

We laughed and hoped that the panel were not watching – as “we wouldn’t want them to think we were not on speaking terms!”

Norman,( names Changed )  the assessing social worker – who had completed our Form F , met us, in the reception foyer, he seemed surprised that we were not nervous. He put us at our ease and explained that although there would be questions to answer this was because the panel needed to check out that our approach with children would be one of nurture and empathy. 

The reality is that we were confident that the panel will reach a decision, relating to our suitability that is right for any children placed in our care, but also for us.

The chair of the Fostering Panel came out to meet us. He introduced himself and told us a little of his professional background. He explained that he felt this was the least he could do, given that he had read our Form F – which by its very nature means there are can be no secrets ( or skeletons !).

We had been forwarded, in advance of today, a who’s who of the individuals that we were about to meet , complete with photographs. The Chairman explained that there was a copy of that on the table in the room for us to refer to. He also explained that he had asked the panel members to sit in the same places as the photographs of them were on the sheet – so that we would know who they were should they wish to ask questions.

I felt that this was a really helpful approach to take and I was certainly put further at ease by his charismatic demeanour and the efficiency.

When we walked into the room I was aware of a sea of faces – but also that they were all smiling at us. I had to hope that as we had been invited to the panel the chances were that we would be successful as I knew that some of our peers from skills to foster had either decided not to go forward to panel until later in the year , or in the case of one ( single ) carer that fostering was not for him.

It was clear from the dialogue that followed that all panel members were very thorough and professional. We were asked to clarify a couple of points in relation to the information that we had given. We were asked to clarify how we had reached a decision as a couple that Peter would be the main carer – which was easy as he had been a “stay at home dad” to our birth children and had then given up his role as a teacher to be full time carer to my dad before his death, as my job at that stage meant that I stayed away from home several nights each week.

As we left the room there were smiles all around . Norman said, he felt that it had gone really well and that although it was ultimately the Agency Decision Maker, who on the advice of the panel would determine our suitability to foster, he was as confident as he had ever been, that we would be approved. We will be informed of the decision they make, after the weekend.

Jayne Robbins – A Blogging Foster Carer.

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