Thursday, 26 November 2009

Final prep course day

Do you know I quite got used to being the student for a change and I will miss the prep group sessions, not least because of the lovely people we met on them. I sent them all the address for this blog so if you are reading guys - you know who you are and hope you are well and things are progressing with home study.

This last day concentrated very much on the types of contact arrangements that we can expect between an adopted child and their birth family. This can range from no contact at all (very rare) through letter box contact (common) to direct contact with siblings/grandparents (reasonably common) and direct contact with birth parent (very rare). Each adoptive and birth family is assessed on their likely ability to manage the different types of contact but of paramount importance is that whatever is decided has got to be in the best interests of the child. The likelihood of the birth family keeping their end of the arrangements is also considered as even if only one letter a year is to be exchanged, an adopted child could be further traumatised if they are expecting a letter that is not received. An adoptive parent came in to explain her arrangements - a combination of letter and direct contact - and it was really interesting to see how it worked and to hear reports of how her daughter dealt with the process. This is an area that we will be considering very carefully and I am sure will be disussed further in our home study visits with Bonnie.

In addition the approval and matching process was explained and we had a little flick through the Be My Parent and Children Who Wait publications. Because we are with a voluntary agency our child is likely to come from out of the area and so these publications are really useful for family finders. But we have a long way to go before we start looking - I think we will wait until Bonnie has finished her home study visits and while she is writing up the PAR, we can busy ourselves with the mags and websites.

Normally at this time of year we would be planning our next year's summer holiday, but we don't quite know what to do. If we go to approval panel as planned in April we could be matched within weeks or it could take months. So do we book a holiday with brother and sis in law like last year (Flash is very keen on this) and take a chance that we will either be matched early perfect (!) child will move in and come with us, or that we won't be matched until after the holiday? The realistic view is that if we are matched in the summer any holiday is likely to be too stressful for a newly adopted child so we shouldn't plan anything. But I do love the sun......!

Christmas plans continue and it feels strange that this could be our last as a family of 3. I try not to think too far ahead however as there are no guarantees of a quick match.

The next task for us to do is to finish off the prep group homework ready for our next meeting with Bonnie - a life story book to do for a hypothetical case, a few more bits on support networks etc.

But for now, I am off to do a bit more internet shopping for Christmas, with the Thanksgiving NFL matches playing in the background - packers currently winning against detroit but we still have the second half to go.

Friday, 20 November 2009

a funny week

It will be our last day of prep course tomorrow and I have been thinking a lot about what we have learned so far and how it will finish off tomorrow. Flash has finally calmed down after his individual interview with the SW, during which he pointed out what he perceived as weaknesses in the prep course.

With Children in Need on tonight, it has made me think how lucky most children are in this country and how much society in general tends to try not to think about the darker side of life. At lunch today a colleague was talking about a session she had just taught on child abuse. She teaches on an allied health programme and the students need to know about how to spot the signs of abuse in the children they see and what causes the types of injuries. To do this she used a lifesized baby doll and demonstrated the force with which babies can be shaken, how twisting of limbs (like chinese burns) can cause spiral fractures, not to mention the general beatings they can suffer. She also talked to them about sexual abuse and at the end of the session several students complained aboput the graphic nature of the images and examples she used and that upsetting stuff like that should not be taught on the course. Very wisely she understood that some of them may have encountered abuse themselves and has referred them on for support, but for several it was genuine shock that kids could be dealt with like that. So should we not teach about cancer becuase it might be upsettiung for some families? And should we not teach them about death, dying and bereavement in case they get upset - let alone think about the patients who may get upset! I have been teaching and working in my field for over 20 years now and even with increased media coverage of such issues, it seems as if some young people today have a very sanitised view of the world. 20 years ago I learned to take it in my stride that such things could happen and it was my job to learn how to deal with the victims of the abuse, not shy away from dealing with it. I hope that they take on board their lecture from today and view the Children in Need appeal in a different light, and also deal more empathetically with their patients in the future.

Anyway to round off a morbid post on a lighter note, I am off to see New Moon with my teenage nieces and nephews tonight. Oh, and my sisters also have to come along to chaperone - nothing to do with the muscle bound bare chests we are expecting to see in th movie.......!!!!

Have given up on keeping the Packers scores - seem to be disappointing me too often!:(

Monday, 16 November 2009

prep course day 2

For the second day of the prep course we looked in more detail at the types of abuse that children suffer. A couple of horrendous case studies illustrated exactly what a lot of these children go through. There was some more group work and we also learned the fundamentals of Theraplay. This was useful up until the point we were asked to try out theraplay on each other. It just doesn't work between 2 adults and so turned into a weird session. One of the things that was disappointing was that we were told self esteem and understanding why looked after children have so little of it is one of the fundamental things we will have to address with a new child. But we only spent 10 minutes on it. I am wondering whether it was genuinely a time issue or whether it was glossed over on purpose so that we didn't think about it too much and back away from the process.

Flash is not finding the prep course useful - not enough theory and too many 'silly games' for his liking, and I tend to agree that some of the content could have been delivered in a more constructive way.

A busy week all round - took part in a fundariser for the Willow foundation which raised over £900 went shopping, visited the in laws. I have come back to work for a rest!

Friday, 6 November 2009

start of prep course

Today we started prep course, which has made it a busy week as I had my individual homestudy appointment yesterday as well. I will start with that one first. We went into my childhood in a lot of detail; talking about my earliest memories, what sort of parents had mum & dad been, what sort of things they did with me and my sisters. We talked about how that has influenced the adult I am today and what impact some of the losses in my life had had. It got quite emotional at times, but apparently that is a good thing, becuase it shows that you can let your emotions out, rather than hold them in, which could be quite damaging if, when a child is placed with you you start to internalise the emotions they bring out in you.

The 1st day of prep course today was starting to learn about the issues that affect the adopted child. We covered attachment theory, family dynamics, child development stages and the highlight of the day was when an adoptive mum came in to talk about her experience of the adoption journey. This was particularly useful for Flash - he said that taught him more than the rest of the day put together. We have both come away buzzing with ideas, thoughts, fears, emotions - you name it I think we have felt it today. So we rounded off the day with a bit of retail therapy to calm us down, of course in the toy department of our local big store. Whether it was as a result of today I don't know but I think our nieces and nephews are going to find that Santa has been very generous this year!!

Between this post and the last we have also been busy with our 'homework'. we have now done our family tree and I have done my individual career and education histories, and my family networks as a child. Not that it stops there. We now also have homework from prep group, all of which goes toward the prospective adopters report (PAR).

The other adopters on our prep course are fantastic people, all with different backgrounds and reasons for wanting to adopt, and yet we all felt like we recognised each other from somewhere. I actually think we recognise the same place in each other, something in the background that binds us together on this journey towards parenthood, but who knows? We are all looking forward to next week!

So the packers lost last weekend, but then so did Flash and Flip's teams so we commiserated together! Tonight we are staying in out of the rain and tomorrow will be a day in the garden followed by an evening with fireworks. At least this year I have convinced flash that we don't need to do our own, so it's off to an organised display in big wellies and woolly hats!