Saturday, 16 July 2011

Day three of the prep course

Yesterday was the third day of our adoption prep group. I would have written about it last night, had it not been for the fact that I was absolutely exhausted by the day!

It was a fab day, with some challenging, emotional but thought provoking exercises. We started the day looking at this issue of identity. Adopted children will often have difficulties coming to terms with identity throughout different parts of their lives. We looked at what identity was, what made our own identities up and we agreed that even a 1 minute old baby has already started to form an identity based on race, sex, genetics, looks etc, and so even the very youngest child taken in to care, is removed from part of what made them, them.

We then had to imagine ourselves as a three year old, and we spent 20 minutes drawing our lives. I saw myself in mum and dad's lounge in Wheel Lane, mum and dad were there, my siblings, grandmothers, uncles and aunts. My budgie was in a cage, my favourite sit on car was there, a dining table, complete with revolting 70's table cloth, probably made by my dad's mum, horrid red and brown swirly carpet.... The whole this was very clear in my mind. Then, without saying anything, the social workers came around the room, picked up our pictures and with a pair of scissors, cut out the picture of us, put it on the floor and took away our family and familiar surroundings. Next they came round with pictures of new adults, explaining to us how excited these people were to be getting a new child. We were left staring at a photo of strangers, being told they were our new mummy and daddy. Finally they came around and ripped off our name badges, replacing them with new names that our new mummy and daddy had chosen.

It may sound silly, as it was only a paper exercise, but this exercise was incredibly emotional. It stirred up feelings of abandonment, loneliness, fear, anger, hatred, confusion, loss, grief to name but a few. We then thought about how we would deal with all those emotions if we were 3 years old, and had just lost the only family we had ever identified with.

What a fantastic way of thinking about just how hard it will be for our potential children.

We met more adopters throughout the day which was once again very positive and really useful. We also spent time looking at the subject of contact. Often when kids are adopted, the adoption order includes a plan for an element of ongoing contact with a member of the birth family. This normally takes the form of a letter once or twice a year, but may include a face to face meeting once a year.

Before the course I think I was quite dubious about contact, but having considered it further, I think I really understand how useful it can be, for helping a child to understand what has gone on in their lives, where they come from and why their birth family couldn't look after them. I am certainly clear in my mind now, that this doesn't mean you are sharing your parenting with them, far from it. In fact, it probably helps to ensure that the child doesn't build up a hero like image of the man or woman they can't remember from their early years.

We had a good Q&A session with one of the social workers at the end, and it was great to get some clarity on timescales as this had been a bit of a concern after one of the speakers yesterday. Turns out, they have social workers already lined up and allocated to us ready to start our assessments, so these should be starting in the next few weeks. They also have lots of children waiting, more than they have adopters for, so matching process shouldn't take forever.

G and I felt quite excited and emotional on the way home, it's feeling more and more real everyday at the moment, and it really seems realistic to think that we will be a family next year!

A night off (well babysitting for friends kids - got to keep the practice up!!) and now a weekend to relax a bit before the fourth and final day on Monday. Tomorrow we have a meeting of the New Family support group, a group of same sex adopters, so we really are on an adoption roll this week!

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