Firstly, I want to dedicate this blog to my Aunt Wendy and Uncle Steve. Yesterday, they laid to rest their youngest son.
He was a Daddy to two beautiful children, a brother to 3 amazing siblings and had a huge network of friends and family who all said goodbye! When we say “What A Week” this has been, we honestly mean its been FULL ON! In the space of 5 days, we have driven from Essex to Wales to Newcastle then onto Scarborough… Yes you are reading right, we have done all sides of the UK. So I suppose I should start with last Friday.
It’s October 12th and today I got promoted. I’ve been working in Schuh for 2 years and finally……… I got my own store! WHOOP WHOOP. I’m looking forward to the next challenge in my working life.
The Unanimous YES…
It’s October 15th, the day starts with a super strong coffee, some croissants and a very nervous pair of poofs. Today is the day we go to ‘PANEL’. You hear so many stories of what panel is like throughout Stage 1 and Stage 2. When it finally comes you realise that everyone’s panel is individual to them. So I suppose I should tell you how ours went… Our time for panel was 10:55 (I know such a random time). We drive to Colchester to where our meeting takes place, this is about 50mins away, giving ourselves well over an hour to get there, we had plenty of time……. Oh, how wrong were we! Arriving there we quickly realised there was no parking, ANYWHERE! So we dumped the car, we walked to the venue hand in hand (I’m not one for PDA) and got there dead on 10:55. Ann (SW) is sitting in the waiting area and greets us with a BIG smile and can see we are slightly stressed. We sign in and she lets us know they must be running late….. We sit there for 10 minutes, Tim has a sweat on and all I want to do is pace the corridor. A man comes to take us to our waiting room.
OH. MY. GOD.
Shit just got a whole lot more real and Tim and I are so nervous. Currently sitting in this TINY waiting room. The only way I can describe this room is like an interview room in a police station. It was small, had a round table with 4 chairs around it, a folder with all the profiles of the people on the panel. Thankfully, there was a jug of water and plastic cups which helped with the dry mouth straight away. We all sit there and this is when I realise that Tim is more worried than I am which made me even more nervous than I already am! How is this even possible?! Barbara (Chairwoman of the panel) comes in and introduces herself. She is so warm and friendly and comes across like a mother figure. She lets us know that they are overrunning and they shouldn’t be that long….. she leaves the room. Barbara enters the room and proceeds to tell us how it all works and gives us the questions that will be asked. So we are prepared and aware of what will be asked. Barbara then goes to mention something random as hell……. When completing our SW assessments I spoke to Ann about when I was 12yrs old I got caught watching pornography online. This is how my birthmother and stepfather found out I was gay. Ann obviously wrote this in the PAR as this was important to the story I was telling at the time. SO… Barbara then proceeds to say to Ann “when you introduce Darran and Tim, can you please mention that Darran and Tim do not have gay pornography in the house. We DO NOT allow these round children…………. Tim, Ann and I all look at each other like this is so fucking random and not necessary at all. I mean it’s not like we have stacks of DVDs ready and available.
We Are Going In!!!!!
It’s time to get taken through to ‘THE ROOM’. It’s now 11:30, I mean talk about running late, we could have actually found a decent car parking space *giggles*. Entering the room we are greeted by 8 people to which 6 of them have questions. One was just witnessing the panel and one taking minutes. We go round the room and they introduce themselves and Ann introduce us. She had such a lovely introduction for us then this random statement about gay pornography *eye-roll*.
It’s Question Time…
The questions are varied from:
- How have we found the process?
- Did you enjoy the training and what did you find useful?
- Have you made friendships along the way and will these friendships continue?
They also asked questions about our finances, my driving lessons ( yes I’m 34 and don’t drive) and Tim’s vaping. They continue the questions;
- Why we have thought about EP (early permanence)
- Siblings and the ages we have been approved for (0-6yrs).
Together we didn’t feel that any of the questions asked were difficult and unable to answer. After being in ‘THE ROOM’ for about 30mins it came to an end and we went back to our waiting room. By this point, Tim is asking Ann one thousand questions to why they wouldn’t approve us (I’m now more panicked than ever). We sit in there while they deliberate and after 5 mins she pops her head around the door and says “I come bearing good news, its a unanimous yes”. Tim gets up and comes to hug me, we are beyond words and just crying our eyes out. I couldn’t even speak and Tim was so emotional (literally the 4th time I’ve seen him cry), Tim sits back down and we finally look at Ann and Barbara who are both also teary. We are overwhelmed sitting there just taking it all in. Leaving the room and heading back to our car, we don’t even talk to each other, then Tim says “I feel like we should be really happy, all I feel is a relief”. Both Tim and I thought our reaction would be of joy and happiness but the truth is after a year of this process to get to this stage we both sighed a huge sigh of relief… The Happiness is when we told our family.
Telling The Family…
How do we go about telling the family?… We decided we want to tell them face to face. This involved driving back to where we live to tell Tim’s family over a cup of coffee. We get back in the car and head to South Wales to tell my family which involved lots of wine and gin. Both our parents seem so happy and proud of us and again showing us the love and support we received from them over the past year. The next day we drive to Newcastle to spend time with Wendy & Steve and to see my cousins were some fun and laughter came from during such an emotional week. Being a BIG KID with my cousin’s little ones (videos on Instagram) took me away from everything for a short time and we just enjoyed having some honest fun. After two days of fun-filled madness, we drive over to Scarborough to get ready to say goodbye to another family member. We still feel so overwhelmed by all the love and support from everyone we know and still get teary when we think how far we’ve come. So….. what’s next?