My Two Dads: The Adoption Podcast

Pre-Stage 1: Let's Talk About Adoption!

September 12, 2023 Sam, Paul and Andi Season 1 Episode 3
Pre-Stage 1: Let's Talk About Adoption!
My Two Dads: The Adoption Podcast
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My Two Dads: The Adoption Podcast
Pre-Stage 1: Let's Talk About Adoption!
Sep 12, 2023 Season 1 Episode 3
Sam, Paul and Andi
In this episode we discuss the adoption process, focusing on Pre-Stage One with the wonderful Andi from Dadda_n_Daddy on Instagram.

What subscription did Paul have that he was worried about? What brought us to adoption?

In this Episode we discussed the following accounts:

New Family Social New Family Social - Home

Instagram for Dadda_n_Daddy Dadda n Daddy (by Andi) 🧑🏼‍🦰 (@dadda_n_daddy) • Instagram photos and videos

Instagram for SEND Reform Sarah Williams (@sendreformengland) • Instagram photos and videos

And our Instagram: My 2 Dads Podcast (@my.2.dads.and.me) • Instagram photos and videos

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

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Show Notes Transcript
In this episode we discuss the adoption process, focusing on Pre-Stage One with the wonderful Andi from Dadda_n_Daddy on Instagram.

What subscription did Paul have that he was worried about? What brought us to adoption?

In this Episode we discussed the following accounts:

New Family Social New Family Social - Home

Instagram for Dadda_n_Daddy Dadda n Daddy (by Andi) 🧑🏼‍🦰 (@dadda_n_daddy) • Instagram photos and videos

Instagram for SEND Reform Sarah Williams (@sendreformengland) • Instagram photos and videos

And our Instagram: My 2 Dads Podcast (@my.2.dads.and.me) • Instagram photos and videos

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

 We had love. We had a spare room, we had a garden big enough for a few plant, and we had no idea about the adoption process. We opened an online form and hit submit. Should be easy, right? I'm Sam. And I'm Paul. And welcome to the My two Dads podcast, where we bring everything about adoption to you before

we start. We just wanted to say that we'll be covering the adoption process as we experienced it in England. The process may differ slightly in other areas of the UK and other countries. Your choice of adoption agency will have their stages outlined on their websites in most cases. Okay, now that's out of the way, let's get going!

Hello, this is it. This is our first episode. Uh, we are joined by the incredible Andy from Dada and Daddy on Instagram. Would you like to tell us a little 

bit about yourself? Hi guys. Thank you. Thank you. Firstly, thank you so much for having me here. I really, really appreciate being your first guest. Very honored.

Um, but to all of your listeners, hello, my name's Andy. Um, I am, as the guys say, from the Dada and Daddy page on Instagram. I am an adoptive parent. Um, I am married to Darren, who, uh, is the daddy of Dada and Daddy. And we have two children. We have a five year old daughter and a two year old son. Um, our five year old daughter has been with us actually for five years.

Um, and then our son has been with us for, ooh, and just into two years, to think about that. Time flies. But yes, I am a full time, uh, parent carer. And as you guys know, I do a lot of advocacy work for adoption and SEN. And for your listeners who don't know what SEM means, that's special educational needs.

Absolutely. 

Um, so we'll probably just give a little bit of more information about us because throughout the bonus episode and the teaser episode, we didn't give too much away about ourselves. So I'm Sam and I'm Paul. Absolutely. And we adopted our little boy, um, who came home to us in March of this year.

I'm a stay at home dad and I'm a deputy headteacher of a primary school. So it's quite, quite similar, but lots of parallels. 

Yeah, very much so. Yeah, I don't think I actually searched. My husband is a headteacher of a primary school. So yeah, very similar. Yes. And I think it's pretty. Good to tell our listeners that we've known each other for a little while, but this is the first time we've actually spoken properly, isn't it?

Yeah, except for the odd voice note on WhatsApp. Yeah, absolutely. So Andy was kind enough to be one of the people that helped us. In fact, probably the main person that gave us guidance when we very first started the adoption process. Which we so desperately needed, didn't we? Because Oh, absolutely. We were so green going into this and I think there'll be a few of you out there listening and probably feeling the same way.

Um, and reaching out. You'll see how helpful and warm and supportive the community is and it feels very, we know now, so close knit and Yeah, absolutely. So Andy helped us a lot with, uh, just understanding what was to come. And it's just, it's an honor to have you here because it's, we, we were messaging you all that time ago and now here we are sort of doing an adoption podcast.

It's really kind of you to say that and I'm just happy to have helped you guys. Um, and you're doing a fantastic job. Your little boy is thriving in your, in your care. He really is. And I know we haven't met. personally yet, but hopefully we can make that happen in the future. Oh, I really hope 

so when you're not such a busy person.

You guys too, you guys too. 

Um, so how's your week been? Because we're recording this currently, um, in a heatwave and we can't have any fans on, we're all a bit sweaty. During the first week back after the summer holidays as well, so big 

moments. Yeah, so the summer came and went, the summer holidays came and went and then summer decided to arrive, didn't it?

So, um, yeah, as the guys say, we are doing this through a heat wave. Uh, my children have gone back to school and nursery this week, but yeah, it's going okay. So far, so good. A few wobbles, um, from the children. Myself. Um, but yeah, we're getting there, it's slow and steady, you know, it's very, uh, very early days in the school year, but we'll get there.

I was 

taken back because it was my first school holiday experience, um, being a stay at home dad really because of Paul's job, obviously everything changes when there's a school holiday because he's here, um, and this was such a long time for summer holidays that. I was so taken back at the beginning of the week, I sort of had to remind myself of, you know, that I'm here on my own with him and that I need to do these 

things.

Hard, isn't it? When you have that routine of being a stay at home parent, then you have your partner home for a chunk of time and then they go back and leave you. 

Yeah, and all of a sudden you're picking up your phone and thinking, right, I haven't looked at my phone in an hour, there will be something on there.

You pick it up and it's just a blank screen and you're like, oh no, somebody talk to me. 

And that's where we message. 

Um, so what I was hoping that we could do is, um, just break down what the adoption process Looks like, um, because I remember when we first went into it and, and I'm one of those people that kind of needs to know what, what's coming, you know, what, what's happening next.

That's when we were messaging you and asking. So I just wanted to break it down and go and go through the stages, um, and give like an idea of what is to come for us. We had pre stage one, um, which was. us sort of doing research and choosing the adoption agency that we would go for, um, attending information sessions and filling out the registration of interest.

Um, then we had stage one, uh, stage two, then we had approval panel, family finding, matching panel, and then transitions. So how does that sort of... Does that mirror yours? Is it slightly 

different? Very similar. Um, so we, we didn't have anything called pre stage one, although from our conversations, I think it's just the terminology that's slightly slightly different.

Um, so for us, we, we did go to a, an information session and it was with our local authority, just basically giving you a bit of an overview about what adoption is really. Um, and you can go to as many. As you want, you can go to ones that are by local authorities, you can go ones that are with private agencies, um, and pick who you kind of like, really.

We went with our local authority. I had a few, um, concerns at first about going with the local authority, only because I used to work there, and that's nothing against the local authority, it's just the fact that I think when you've worked somewhere, obviously, you know the people. Um. And it's quite an intrusive process, as you, you guys will know, and no doubt get into that.

We will get into that throughout the series of the podcast, I'm sure. But yeah, that all went, that was absolutely fine. So we went with the local authority, and then we had a couple of meetings with a social worker at home. Kind of talking about why we wanted to adopt, um, and why we thought we were suitable, those kinds of things, um, and then we went into stage one, uh, which for us stage one was things like, um, personal references, um, DBS checks, medical checks, um, local authority checks, um, lots of different kind of paperwork, really.

Yeah, I remember that. They even did, um, they came to the house and did an assessment on the house um, obviously a health and safety assessment, but also they did an assessment on our cat to see if she would be any danger to any child. If we happened to. Yeah, exactly, and I get it so, you know, obviously if you've got a dog that's not particularly good around certain children Obviously, it's very necessary, um, but they also did things like finance checks, um, to make sure that we could afford going into being a parent, which I don't think anyone can, can they?

Let's be honest, I don't think anyone can, much money you earn, you can 

never earn enough. Paul, that was the one bit Paul worried about was that finance check because he had a subscription to get underwear delivered monthly. I remember how scary that was, um, just the name of the company. And he said, oh, he said, it's just underwear, it's nothing, nothing naughty, it's just underwear.

I mean, I think that is great, probably jumping ahead here, but actually that's really great that you were open with your social worker. Because that just shows, although it was quite a minor thing, really, let's be honest, it's, it shows transparency. And I'm sure the social worker would have loved that and probably gone back and told her colleagues that would have loved the fact that you were so transparent with her.

So that's really good. But we also had to do something called as part of stage one called a learning log. So, um, I don't know about you guys, but our social worker just hammered home to us, even though, you know, we both worked in education and social services, um, do you research on like adoption, um, all kinds of medical things.

So like attachment disorder, neglect, all those sorts of things. Um. So lots of reading and make sure you're recording what you're, you're reading. So your learning log kind of formed then part of your profile going forward. And also, um, the other part of stage one, we had to list kind of our experiences with children.

So, um, obviously for us, we had quite a lot in terms of our work as I'm sure Paul does as well. You know, those kinds of things. Yeah. No safe. you know, um, have you babysat for your friend's child or do you have nieces and nephews and what, what have you done with those? Um, so that was stage one for us. So that, that, that's quite a lot of information.

Then going into stage two was the training. Um, I think it was two trade, two days of training. Um, And then obviously you're preparing for panel, um, and I can't remember what else is included in stage two. I've got 

a bit blank actually. Stage two for, stage two for us was, um, in want of a better term, it was the most invasive part, uh, sort of personally.

So, um, we, for stage two for us, we had. social worker visits sort of every week, sometimes twice a week. Um, that would go over everything. Yeah, how could you forget that? It would go over everything that we, um, that was on, that they sort of pulled up in stage one, but in much, much more detail. Um, But not Paul's Pants subscription.

They didn't go over that in more detail. You guys might be getting into spoiler territory here in stage two. If you're listening and you're thinking, oh my goodness, this is such a long process. It is, but that's why we're here. We're, we're going to try and break things down. piece by piece just so that you can get a flavor for what the process is all about really.

Um, should we cast our minds back then to that first moment, um, when we were thinking, um, let's do this. What, what led us to that moment to submit that online form? I think for us it was watching our nieces and nephews grow up and to see my brothers having children, um, in a same sex relationship. You do then sort of have to think, if I want to get there, How am I going to get there?

Um, and it was that, wasn't it? We just had this desire to be dads. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's unfortunate, um, but true that we're, we're kind of limited with options, aren't we? And the one thing that really sat well with us from the start was that when we first began to touch on, you know, would you ever want children?

Um, both of us were in the mind of adoption. It was never, there wasn't another option for us personally. Um, so that kind of helped, helped us through the process quite a lot, but yeah, being around our nieces and nephews, um, it did begin to feel like something was a little bit missing. Um, and what about, what about you, Andy, was there 

any different?

Yes, so we had. We had always wanted to be dads, um, Darren always says to me that when we first got together, I didn't want children. And I think, I think he's probably right. I think I was saying I didn't want children, but I think that was more self preservation. Um, because I have always wanted children.

And like you say, as two gay men, your options are very limited. Um, if you think of the traditional route to parenthood, , um, and so we had talked about, um, surrogacy and in the UK the laws are very wooly on surrogacy for, yeah. For gay men. Um, the, the, they are changing. There's some organizations that are doing a fantastic job in changing the laws, but it's.

It's, it's very difficult, I would say, um, and we just felt with our jobs, working in schools, social care, we felt that we could offer a child or children a loving home. And we had that skill set of, you know, knowing a bit about, um, about neglect and all those kinds of things that you hear about in the, um.

In your adoption train that actually we would be in a really good position to, to take a child on who is going to possibly come from a very troubled background. So yeah, adoption was just the right thing for us. Definitely. 

Absolutely. We've, we echo that statement completely and talking about education, obviously with my background, being around children, having that day in day out and then stepping away from it at the end of the day.

Um, There was a part of me that craved it. Absolutely. It's strange to talk about now, isn't it? But thinking about it at the time. Do you know, I can hardly remember what it was like when he wasn't here with us. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I, I, to pick up on something you mentioned earlier, actually, we, um, you said about the child experience that you, um, childcare experience that you need.

Um, in stage one, and I didn't actually have sort of any, you know, I've looked after our nieces and nephews, but that was kind of it, and there wasn't much else that I could put down. Um, so I, it might just be useful for listeners to know that you can contact nurseries, um, sometimes a DBS may need to be carried out, um, but you can contact nurseries and schools so that you can go in and volunteer for a few days.

And that's exactly what I did. I took a week off work and I, um. When it worked at Paul's school, um, but it, that was a game changer for me because it suddenly made me realize that I can build a connection so quickly, um, with a child in that sort of situation that it's. It just made me feel very confident about what was to come.

That's amazing. I didn't know that you'd done that. I think that's, that's great. And like you say to, to people listening, that is a really good thing to do. Um, I've got, um, friends who are adopters who like yourself, didn't have, um, much experience around children. In fact, I don't think, um, they even have nieces and nephews or didn't at the time.

So didn't even have that, um, you know, to go on. And I know they went to volunteer at a LGBT adopter. Uh, camp that is held yearly. Um, it's a charity called New Family Social, which, um, are a charity that help, um, LGBT adopters and foster carers. And they went and volunteered at their annual camp. And that was a great thing for them to then be able to put down on their, you know, on their application to be adopters, that they'd worked with vulnerable children.

So I think what 

I'll do actually is put a, uh, a link to new family social in the show notes, um, just because we've, we've also found them really helpful. So that could be a good thing to pass 

on. Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And some, it's worth mentioning that some local authorities and some adoption agencies actually pay your membership for you if you wanted to join that.

So that's a good, uh, place for people to look at. Absolutely. 

And that's a nice segue to talking about support and help in general, because I think when we started the process and even before, um, you can find some things online. There are some general bits and pieces, blogs, threads that we sort of picked up on, but reaching out to the community was the best thing that we did.

Um, and yourselves on Instagram, I have to say that you are our biggest form of support and help and guidance at that stage. And it really did help us and sort of set our minds clear on this is the right process for us. This is the way we want to go. Um, so a massive thank you from 

us. Oh, that's really kind of you to say that.

I'm really, it's true. Thank 

you. We can't restate that enough. Um, and so my question to you then would be, um, what made you decide to take on that role of, um, mentor? 

Yeah, I suppose that's a good word. Thank you guys. I can't thank you enough for, I can't thank you enough for your thanks. So when, when we went through the process, um, I found once I was on adoption leave, Everything was mum based and that isn't to mum shame any anything.

But I started to feel quite isolated. And I think being a parent is hard, being an adoptive parent is extra hard. And when you've got a child that you think is then gonna have additional needs, it's even harder. And there wasn't really anyone to speak to. Um, support just wasn't out there at all. And we did kind of meet.

Um, as we went through the process, our social worker put us in touch with, um, another same sex couple who we met and they had their children and they were great and we still speak to them now. But I remember thinking, where is the support for people? There isn't anything. There is absolutely nothing. And we're now kind of six years down the line from that.

And I think services have just gone. There isn't anybody. And I think. There needs, someone needs to fill that gap and I'm so passionate about. Not letting other people feel the way that I felt that I'm just doing something about it. Well, you do 

a great job because I felt having our little one come home was the most magical experience and it kind of, you forget everything you've been through to get there.

You do, you do. And you've got, you've got each other, you've got yourself and in our cases, our husbands, um, there for the first two weeks, um, or whatever the, the period of time is, but then all of a sudden you're just on your own and you're, you're expected to. You know, with elite, it's just difficult. I think you're on your own in a sense that all of a sudden you're the person that's got all of the answers.

Yeah. So I think having somebody to reach out and just say like, Hey, have you got two minutes for a quick voice? No. Or a phone call. It made a huge, 

huge difference. I have 

to say that social workers were great in the process and we were lucky to have just an exceptional social worker. Yeah. Um, but as much as they can guide you and give their take on things, it's definitely from that side of the veil.

Um, being the other side and being the people that want to adopt and want to bring home a little one to complete their family, having similar people to reach out to, to take their experience was just, it was pivotal for us. 

A hundred percent. And I think I was going to say this actually before, um, I don't know about you guys, but when you do the training, the two days mandatory adoption training, it was great.

You know, you learn so much, particularly if you're not from a educational, social care background, you will learn a lot about neglect and, um, you know, sadly abuse and all those things that children are in the care system for. But actually. best part for me was when the, uh, the guest speakers came in who were adopters.

Um, and it just brought it to life. You know, these were people living it day in, day out. Um, and I just remember being quite inspired by that actually. And I can remember saying to our social worker, who again, our first social worker was amazing. Um, she was really good. Social workers do get bad rep most of the time.

But our social worker, the first time around, she was great. Um, and I remember saying to her, I want to do that when, when we've got our child, I want to come and do that. And then six weeks after our daughter moved in, we were both there talking to a group of people with this tiny little baby. So yeah, and I, I just feel so passionately about it and as, um, I'm sure we'll talk about another time, um, My, my daughter's got very complex needs, so I've kind of, whilst I still do so much adoption stuff, I also do a lot, kind of, in the SEN world as well, and helping parents with SEN needs.

I am 

curious, was your, was the process, did you find it different the first time that you went through it to the second time? Was there any noticeable differences? 

Yeah, so that there was differences, um, it didn't help that we decided we wanted to adopt our second child in 2020, which we obviously were all in lockdown.

That's also, um, that's also when we did it. 

We, um, so, uh, for the first few months of lockdown, I had to shield with, um, with my daughter because she has had a Oh, she has a heart condition. Obviously, things were so unknowed about the pandemic. Um, so I was at home shielding with a two year old, um, and we went, oh yeah, let's, let's adopt a second child.

I mean, what were we thinking? What were we thinking? Nothing else to do with our time. Um, so yes, we did notice a difference. Obviously, meetings were slightly different. Obviously, it was over Zoom. or any other video conferencing that is available. Other video call platforms are 

available. That's 

the word I was looking for.

Or we would have them in the garden, two meters apart. Um, and obviously that was... bizarre because we would let the social worker in through the back gate and we would sit either end of the garden talking about personal things in the garden. Luckily we have very nice neighbours. But, um, so yeah, there was slight differences.

Um, we didn't go have to do any of the training. Um, some social workers send their people on the training again. Um, When we were in the process the first time around, we actually did have second time adopters in the training with us, which was great for us as first timers. Obviously going, when you adopt in the second time around, you don't just have the two of you to think about, you've got a third person, you know, and as I said, you know, my daughter's got very complex needs.

We, we had to take all of that into account. The, the, the match had to be, the match always has to be. perfect. It had to be even more perfect than perfect, if that makes sense, you know, to bring a fourth member into the house, you know, they didn't just have to be right for, for Darren and I, they had to be right for our daughter as well.

Um, so we had a slightly longer wait, which was absolutely fine. But then there were things. We haven't really discussed it publicly on Instagram as much as we share our story, but things went wrong quite a lot throughout the process and decisions were made that shouldn't have been made. And as I said, we haven't really discussed it.

As open as we are about our adoption journey, we have to be mindful that it's their journey. And we're trying to find a way to put it, because people do need to know the good and the bad side of adoption. But it's, it's, you know, it's finding that happy balance, isn't it? You know, you don't want to tell someone else's story.

So actually, the second time around, um, We didn't have the best time. And I think it was a number of things. It was, uh, as I say, the times we were in with COVID. Um, but also the agency we were in had joined a regional adoption agency, which was quite new at the time, but apart that aside, um, we had a few ups and downs on our journey to actually adopt our son.

Um, and there was decisions that were being made that maybe shouldn't have been made. In a nutshell, uh, there were differences. The process is the same, but the journey that we were on, they were very different. Yeah, 

and I'd imagine, um, every journey is different for everybody and, and it's lovely that you've touched upon there that it's, it's our journey as prospective adopters and then adopters, but the children's journey that the child's at the heart of everything.

Absolutely. That is, is key, isn't it? And, and that again, talking about social workers, we were really fortunate with the social workers that we, although we have had a few Yeah. , um, that that was their, one of their central core messages was that child comes first. This is the, it's in the right, it has to be right for the child.

And, and I'm sure that we all agree. And if you are sat here listening right now, you would agree with that too, if you are thinking about going through the process yourselves. 

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that is, And that's why anyone should want to go into adoption is it's for that child, you know, to make a difference to someone's life.

Um, and unfortunately, what people may find, um, going down the process and what is really frustrating, um, is sometimes decisions are made. By social workers, you can see are not in the best interest of the child. And actually there's external factors around why those decisions are being made. And that's really hard as an adopter because your primary focus is on that child and getting that child to you as soon as possible in the best, in the best way possible.

And sometimes it doesn't always happen like that. I think we could run a whole episode on. Yeah, I think we could. And I think, I think we could. And I think we should. I 

mean, it would be a very interesting discussion because like you say, the whole realm is ever changing. The landscape changes on a, I'm, I'm sat here with my education hat on maybe, but.

Um, I'll tell you what, should we switch lanes a bit? Let's go in for a, we promised, didn't we, that we try to give people some nuggets and some, some advice and guidance. So let's go with this one. Then if you could tell any prospective adopters, um, just one thing to prepare for as they're thinking about going into the adoption process, what would that be?

I think I'm going to kick things off by saying you have to be open. I don't think there's any other way. Um, If it's there, um, be prepared to talk about it. Um, and it is difficult laying yourself bare like that, I think. Um, and even early in the process, pre stage one, stage one, you're going to be asked things that might.

be a little uncomfortable, um, might bring up quite tricky memories for you, even as an adult, um, you're asked to reflect on your own childhood. Again, I'm probably skipping a little ahead. Yeah, I think all of that is in place because There is a high possibility that, you know, once you have brought your child home, that what we touched on earlier, that sort of loneliness that sometimes some people can feel it.

If you haven't dealt with things that are in the past, to a point where you're comfortable, then they could. Elevate somewhat, I think, and I think that's why all those conversations and I don't like the word intrusive because it's not intentionally intrusive, but it feels that way. Yeah. And I think. That it needs to be that way because then you're dealing with things and expressing things and, you know, not leaving any stone 

unturned.

Yeah, and let's face it, you know, adoption now is very different to the show you see on ITV, you know, where, you know, um, long lost families. You know, adoption is different now. It's very rare, although it does happen, it's very rare that children are relinquished at birth. The majority of these children come from very challenging backgrounds.

Um, you know, and as a lot of people know, thresholds for children's social care is very, very high. So these are the most vulnerable children in our country that we're dealing with. And if you've gone through trauma in your life, It doesn't, please don't let that put you off, that actually stands you in better stead to become an adopter because you can be more empathetic to that child and Give all of your life experiences and you can totally, they can totally relate to you.

Um, so yeah, I totally agree with you, Paul. Open, you've got to be so open with your social worker. Absolutely. You can't see us nodding, 

but we're nodding because everything you've just said, just echo. Yeah, I think we'll go into it further down the line, maybe in a few more episodes, but. Um, yeah, there was just a lot of things that came up that, um, actually I thought were going to be barriers and it turned out that they were really useful experiences that Yeah, 

100%.

And we were both the same. And I don't know about you guys, um, I'm quite happy to say this, but I cried so much in front of our social worker. And actually. Darren did too, we both did. 

We had a lot of biscuit tea and tissues. 

Yeah. Yeah. And yeah, we definitely did. And it did feel like a bit of a therapy session.

Um, you've got you, yes, you're absolutely right. You've got to be 100 percent open. Um, the other thing I would add. Um, to prepare, obviously the first thing would be to listen to this podcast, obviously. Um, the second one I would say is to do your research. Um, so research on adoption, there's lots of books out there.

Um, but also medical conditions, attachment disorder. As I said earlier, parenting. Yeah, therapeutic parenting, very important Also, um, at, um, so attachment but neglect, um, all kinds of different abuse. There's lots of books that you'll be able to find on, on, um, the internet. But the other thing I would say, um, uh, if for someone considering going down this route is, Um, in, in a place in your life that you're able to give a hundred percent to, to this process because it absolutely will take over your life.



could not agree more. And then my one, um, is much less meaningful and buy lots and lots of folders and pocket sleeves because the amount of paperwork that you're about to get. Wow. You are not ready for. Do not let that put you off. I think like we joke about paperwork all the time. I don't know how many times I've said that to people who've said, so what's been something that's really tricky about this process, but we know why it's there.

And I think if you see it for what it is, and it is an important part of that, um, readying you, essentially it gets you into the position where you're ready to find the right little one for you, isn't it? So yes, paperwork, dull. But the upshot is what will eventually happen in the future. Absolutely. Um, so obviously in this episode the intention was to cover pre stage one and I think we've done that really well.

Um, we've touched on lots of spoilers for the next few episodes and that's totally fine. Um, but what I was, um, hoping to sort of a bit of a group discussion on if there's anything that we would change about pre stage one. I know that it was slightly different for yourself, but going into it, is there anything we would change?

Sort of more information available, a better outline of the stages that's come? Um, yeah. Is there anything that you would, that you would change? 

Um, for once I'm actually going to say no, not that I can think of. Um, I, I, I think people just, don't need to be scared about going into it. I think that's, um, one thing I would say, and just to do their research, but I don't, I think I can see why everything's there.

in terms of the pre stage one and the stage one. Um, so no, not for me. 

Yeah. And we're exactly the same. There's, there's nothing that we would change. Got a listener question, um, which we will quickly go over, um, before we give you the spotlight and we hand the microphone over to you to talk about what's special to you.

Um, but first off, Adam from Instagram messaged the other day and said, just wondering if you had any advice for the first assessment meeting with a social worker? 

Oh, that's a good question. Um, I would say, um, hi Adam, by the way, if you're listening, um, I would say just be as open, um, as you can be. Really?

Um, yeah, that's, that's, that's just my best advice really is just be open and honest with the social worker. 

Exactly the same. And I remember like running around with the Hoover and making sure that everything was spotless. And then they came in and said there was no need to do that because it's not going to look like that when you've got a child at home.

So, um, 

yeah. We used to have so many lovely ornaments in our house and loads, so many lovely pictures. And now we've just got. Soft toys. 

And everything's up on a really high shelf that's valuable. Very 

high. Our five year old's very tall. 

Like, my advice would just be, you're sat across from this person who's, if you're lucky, you're going to have them as part of your process from beginning to end.

And I know that's not everyone's experience and it hasn't been ours, but you will develop a sort of bond and rapport with them. And you mentioned that word therapy. I feel like if you go into it knowing that this person's going to be holding up a mirror for you to reflect on yourself, your past, your present, um, they are there for you.

And I think realizing that soon. makes you more open. I think as soon as I, that clicked for me and I thought, yeah, you're going to be delving into every part of my life, asking me some quite difficult questions. Um, so to try and put yourself at ease with them as soon as you can. And I've got to say like ours did that.

Beautifully, and I really hope that's everyone's experience. She used to wear glittery shoes just because she knew she was coming into our household. So, um, as we're a new podcast, we should probably explain the next section. And that is that we are going to have a guest spotlight segment. So Andy is going to be very much like a Loose Women panelist and will be a recurring guest, hopefully.

Um, but what we're going to do now is just hand the mic over to you to talk about anything that is particularly special or meaningful to you or that you've got coming up. So the stage is yours. 

Thanks guys. So something that is really dear to, or very close to my heart at the moment is, um, a campaign that's going on, um, in the UK at the moment.

And it's about a SEND reform. So as I mentioned earlier, our daughter has really complex needs. She's in a mainstream school. She's heavily supported with an education healthcare plan and a one to one TA at all times. But I'm acutely aware that we are really, really lucky to have this and many SEN children don't even have a school place in this country.

So as I said, there's a campaign set up by a group of parents who want to change the system. They have a website, they have a petition, they have some regional protest dates, um, so I'm, would love it if you guys could share this in the, in the, uh, in the notes, but it's Send Reform England, and this really affects every.

child in the country. So please, please, please get behind it and support it. 

Absolutely. Like, of course, we'll put it in the show notes. It goes without question. Something very near and dear to me too, um, in seeing obviously in my work in education. And I think Even if it's something that doesn't, you don't believe touches your life at the moment, um, it's, it's, it's around you, people that you love and respect.

It's going to touch their lives and who's to say what's in the future. And I think it is something we need to rally behind and like you say, make known to people. 

That's great. Thank you guys so much for that. You are so 

welcome. And that's it. We're at the end of episode one. We made it. And congratulations to us.

We didn't swear once. I was thinking that. No beeping required. 

I am so relieved. I would have been in a lot of trouble. Obviously, I don't swear. But I had.

If I had said a naughty word. Well, just 

thank you so much for being part of this for the first episode. We can't wait to do more with you. So yeah, just thank you. And thank you to everyone who's listening for all of the wonderful messages we've had about the teaser episode and then the bonus episode, which I recorded because I was bored and little one was having a nap.

So just thank you to everybody. a really exciting journey we're about to embark on definitely 

well done guys and as again as i say thank you so much for inviting me to be your first guest i'm really looking forward to doing more of these with you i can't wait it 

was an honor well we'll see you all in a fortnight then Thank you so much.

Bye. Bye. Bye. My Two Dads is produced by Sam and Paul. The show is edited by me, Sam, and you can find links to all social media accounts mentioned within the podcast in our show notes. Thank you very much for listening.