National Adoption Week has come round again – and I look at my life and think what a difference a year makes. The equivalent of today last year was the first evening of our Prep Course. Now we are sat 2 1/2 weeks into placement of Sqk. Mind you under the original plan this would have been the first week of Introductions but if you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that things got moved by 4 weeks as otherwise respite care would have bene needed which would have made Intros a lot harder.
The last evening of the course which was last night. Didn’t start out well for me as I was still chasing out students from lab at 5.50pm and needed to be at unit at 6.30pm – it was raining hard so wasn’t certain how good it would be. In end was fine but did stress me out a little – in fact I was third person to arrive – and T beat some others as well. Main part of evening was an adopted young man (just 18) with his mother coming to talk to us about his experience. He was very open and honest about the issues he had starting around 14 and the help he got from the after adoption support people to do some life work so he could understand where he came from (adopted aged 6 months and no lifebook). He told us that his Mum had talked about adoption for as long as he could really remember and built it up gradually in an age-appropriate way whereas someone he knew at school had it all flung at him at once. He was really good about the way he felt like a part of his adoptive family and for now had no real desire to find out about his birth family His older (adopted) brother has done so but partly because he has a baby on the way and wanted to know more for that reason. He also emphasised how valuable adoption was and how he encouraged us all to move forward with it if we were 100% committed. It was fascinating listening to him I will admit and really struck home about how close he was to his family.
Posting this a few days after the event – been a busy week is my only excuse – oh and the iPad needed charging so didn’t post from that in bed as I have been doing
Today was about the remainder of the process on the whole. We started looking at our ecomaps (support networks) – it was interesting to see how other people had done theirs. We had the only fully computerised one – unsurprisingly for us as we are both very much happy on a computer than handwriting stuff.
An interesting day. Started off, late due to traffic issues, with looking at our significant objects. Talked about them and why they were important. Then we looked at attachment and what a secure base in arousal-relaxation cycle is and why it is important. Then looked at the effect of a non-responsive adult in the cycle and the effect of this in attachment. Talked about attachment issues and what problems they can bring. Then we divided into four groups and each one looked at what needs a child needs from adults in terms of needs: physical, social & emotional. Each group had a different age (0-2, 2-5, 5-10 & 10+). I was in group 2 and we came up with a number of needs fairly easily. It was interesting to note things like love & affection, food etc came up in all groups as we built the wall. Then we discussed what missing bricks would mean to a looked-after or adopted child (see the wall for a good explanation). Talked about how we could help our adopted child to recover those ,issuing bricks and what after adoption support there was. SW emphasised the need for early intervention & not leaving it to crisis point. Then another social worker (who was N & M’s original one who I talked to during their home study) talked with us about ‘Theraplay’ which is a ‘here& now’ therapy based on simple games in a structured way with a child. Very interesting and something I think we would use.
Today was a little emotional at times, but interesting. Started looking at the adoption circle or triangle and the links between adopters child and birth parents. Interesting short discussion before moving onto talk from former community social worker (now an adoption social worker) talking about a family she had worked with and all the steps the eventually led to younger sister being adopted although older sibling remains in children’s home. It was fascinating to hear about all the issues involved and quite how long the process took, in part due to the difficulty in gathering evidence of neglect that we heard a little of last week.
Then we split into 2 groups (male & female) and talked about our path to adoption. It was insightful to hear 4 ladies talk about IVF and their experiences with it including 1 ectopic pregnancy. Our route is somewhat different as we never went down the IVF as we had decided beforehand that it wasn’t for us. Plus we had always seen adoption as an alternative path to being parents. After all I had been thinking about before I even met T. The other 2 couples have birth children – one tragic case of a early birth with severe medical problems which so far has required 20 operations plus a second child who died aged 7 weeks. Second couple have 2 birth children – one with issues, but mother had always thought of adopting so they are exploring to see if it was right or them. She was the one came prepared with tissues which I think we all needed.
Arrived before T as expected given he was coming straight from work. Was met by one social worker who took me down to where we were meeting and introduced me to the other 2 involved in running the course – 2 from the adoption team and 1 from adoption support team. Several people were already in the room and in the end it turned out to be 14 of us. Variety of background – two couples with birth children, and at least two who had attempted IVF as I found out talking to them. Two other couples from the same place as us – and indeed one couple who live a stone’s throw away.
We started off (after toilets, fire exit and introduction to what the course was about) being asked to split into pairs and talk to someone we didn’t know and to find out 4 facts about them. The guy I talked to was a different background from me – married 4 years, been through 3 failed IVF attempts, worked in his family used car business and his wife was a beautician. Then it was onto a short quiz – some of which T & I could answer and some we got wrong – like the number of children in care in England (hadn’t spotted the key word England), and how many were adopted from care last year which we overestimated. Then we went on to talk about our hopes and fears for the course – lots of hopes and a smaller set of fears – many of which we had in common which was reassuring. Things like isolation, finding ourselves at different points as a couple, being rejected.
Well it is National Adoption Week so seeing some stuff around about adoption – as well as from my sister who is posting parts of her blog that she kept as she & M went through the process. Today’s post was appropriately about the preparation course so I have a little idea about what to expect although things could have changed in the nearly 3 years since they did theirs.
We start ours in under 3 hours as I write this – still at work but will be heading home shortly as got a couple of things I want to do before I head out to the unit for 6.30pm. T is of course coming straight from work – and has promised me he will get away as quickly as he can – his shop shuts at 6pm. I suspect he has talked to the social worker already as he was the one to sort out our feedback session -which was awkward given the fact that I stopped one day due to a PhD viva and the second day could only make afternoon as I am lecturing in morning. November has turned into a hectic month what with the prep course, the usual MSc board of examiners for me to chair (that’s tomorrow), 2 PhD vivas where I am internal examiner and a placement student to visit. On top of my usual increased workload due to 2 modules being block taught in weeks 7 – 12. Such is life – hence one of the reasons I was semi-hoping for a prep course after Christmas. But as we said at the time if we were offered November we would make it work so we shall.
Will probably post again tomorrow after first evening. H is arriving tomorrow as well I believe given the alumni event on Friday which is good as T will have company on Thursday while I am other end of the country on visit.
P.S. Got that official application form in soon after we got it – and I took CRB forms + relevant documents to the unit last Friday plus booked our medicals. So that clock has started ticking…..