Tuesday, 23 February 2010


We had a meeting with a social worker this afternoon, following our prep course.

The comment that has been passed on M and myself is that we are quiet! I prefer to describe us as introverted thinkers... by which I mean that we will listen to hear a whole story rather than keep interrupting to ask pointless questions. If we have something to say, it'll be something relevant and if we have something to ask, it's because we've thought about it.

To be fair to the SW she did understand that not everyone is happy talking in groups. I feel it was particularly aimed at me, because I teach and therefore I am used to talking. I did explain that there is a difference between teaching and talking to fill silences. It's also difficult, because we will listen and then go home and talk about it.

We were told that we will probably be waiting until the end of April (at the earliest) to hear about our allocated social worker.

In the mean while - lots more researching to do... I want to find out more about the effects of alcohol and drugs pre-natally (is that even a word?). I want to do more research about the effects of neglect. I want to research more about the effects of abuse.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

random thoughts

And as a break from adoption talk...

I love that I have a friend who texts me a message on the anniversary of having my miscarriage confirmed. She has done it every year for the past 3. She doesn't forget. And that is such an important thing, that my little beans aren't forgotten.

Most of my friends couldn't tell you what day my miscarriage was confirmed. I think that most of them know that it happened around this time - partially because I was due to have a scan on my 30th birthday. It's a grim awful reminder to me; I can't forget. I remember going into work and bumping into someone who knew that I should have been having a scan and they just looked at me and I burst into tears. It was hard because it was the first day back after a holiday, and I couldn't let anyone know.

I remember that my boss had gone out to celebrate the birth of her first daughter with some people from work. That she had let slip that I'd just had a treatment cycle, and she assumed it hadn't worked. Someone who knew said to her subtly that actually it had, I'd had a positive test. And it ended up with everyone there knowing that I was pregnant. Except I miscarried, and so that someone had to run around everyone who knew and tell them that I wasn't. And to this day I don't know who knew - and I know two people, who had the politeness to come up to me and tell me, but I don't know who else! At this late point it doesn't actually matter.

I am starting to let more people know about our adoption plans. Not lots, not everyone, because I can't bear to be asked how it is going. But the number of people who know is growing. I'm still processing a lot of information, so expect more adoption talk to happen shortly.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Part 5...

We've just got home from our last preparation course session - it was an evening session - so only 3 hours!

We had a talk from an adoptee. She is 23 now, and was totally honest with us. She said that her mum and dad are her mum and dad - she has met her birth mum, and her birth siblings, but the people who brought her up, are her parents.

She described the problems that she had at school with anger, and not being able to trust. She says she still finds it difficult to trust.

She contacted her birth mum when she was 18. She says that she was too young, but even if she'd been told to wait, she wouldn't have. She seems to have a lot of anger towards her birth mum - that she wasn't able to sort her life out in order to keep her. That even now her mum is lying about why she was taken into care. That she would have nothing to do with her birth mum apart from she wants a relationship with her siblings.

She says that her parents were fantastic. That there is nothing that she wishes they had done differently. That she always knew she was adopted, and that her parents were always totally honest with her (in an age appropriate way). That her parents were there for her, and supported her no matter what. In fact, that was her top tip: be honest and be there!

Hearing her story was really really interesting. She was absolutely positive about adoption - even though there were things that she has done wrong, it's not because of the adoption.

After she finished, we had a chance to run through the 'what next' steps. We have an appointment with a social worker next week, as a follow up to the course. We then sit and wait to be assigned a social worker for our home study.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Prep course part 4

I was too tired yesterday to write anything... so I'll do it now, but it may not be as clear in my head as I would like it to me.

Our day started by looking at our support networks - we were given large pieces of paper, and asked to do a diagram of our support networks, including family and friends, but using the thickness of lines to signify the amount of support that would be given. It was an interesting start to the process, although it will need refining and sorting! We were warned that we won't get the support from some people that we think we will, and that others will be added to the mix.

We then had a talk from an adoptive parent. They adopted 2 girls, one aged 20 months and one aged 5 1/2 years. This happened 3 years ago. She talked about the different characters that her girls are, and how hard sometimes it is to judge what behaviours are happening due to adoption. She told us about the issues that they have had, and what problems they have encountered.

In the afternoon we talked about identify - and how important it is. We did two exercises linked to it, but one was a lot more effective than the other. We were asked for memories, from whenever, and whatever. One social worker wrote them all on the board, and whilst someone was speaking the other social worker, ripped them down, and ripped the paper and screwed it up. It was then impossible to smooth out. This was then related to the fact that adopted children will have memories, and that we won't be able to smooth them all out, but how important it is to stay in contact (no matter how little) with the birth family, so we can ask questions. Our memories are built with help of our families, saying 'do you remember when?' adopted children won't have that about their early life.

We also listened to a post adoption support worker, who told us about all the work that our agency do after adoption. Things like a stay and play group for adopted children and parents only. Things like offering phone support. Putting people in contact with CAHMS and other support.

We have finished our last full day - and we do feel generally positive about the experience. We have learnt a lot and have ideas of what else we need to think about, and research more. We have another evening next week, then a meeting with a social worker the week after! It's all moving forward!!!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Prep Course - Part 3

Another full day today, and one full of emotional and negativity.

This morning we had a social worker speak to us about attachment, she is also an adoptive parent, and because of her difficulties she decided she needed to know more about the issue of attachment.

We started off looking at a wall of needs, and how if some of the top bricks are missing a person can cope, but if the needs of an infant are not met how it's impossible to build a proper wall. I think this link - adoption UK the Wall shows it really well.

We looked at the circle of need - how most children have a need, protest, the need is met and then they relax. We talked about how some children have a need, protest, nothing happens, so they protest more and eventually give up - or may have response given in anger. How this can result in a negative view of the world - I am not okay, adults are not okay and the world is not okay.

We discussed the effects of poor attachment, we talked about avoidant, ambivalent and disorganised children. We talked about what we as adoptive parents we can start to do about it to help children. We briefly touched on the need for children to possibly regress and about theraplay and other types of therapy. The importance of trying to get those early missing bricks in place.

This afternoon was about abuse. The different types, what that actually means (examples) and the effects of abuse. The long term effects.

We also had a visit from a foster carer. She talked about the children that she has fostered - both the good and bad. She described how as a family they become attached to foster children, but when she hears that a child has a 'forever family' she starts to detach. She talked about how she prepares a child for adoption. How she takes photo and photo and collects everything to pass on to a child's forever family. How excited she feels when she hears that a child has a new permanent home.

There was a lot to day with today. I have only touched on the issues. I need to think and reflect more. I also need to do more reading!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Preparation course (part 2)

A full day today, which was a little more over whelming, and I need some time to think and reflect! For the moment - what was talked about...

The Adoption Circle. We talked about how the birth parents, child and adoptive parents are interlinked. We talked about the losses and gains involved in adoption. We looked at those life-long losses for everybody involved. And the fact that there are few (if any) gains for the birth parents in adoption.

We had a chance to share our journey's to adoption with each other, without any social workers present. We broke into two small groups (male and female) and had about 30 mins talking. It was interesting to hear each other's stories - but I'm not going to share, because they are not my stories. Enough to say that no-one has come to adoption without some heartache and major decision making.

After a break we settled down to listen to one of the social workers tell us the story of a family that he was involved with for 10 years. He represented each person in the story with plastic figures - and there was a table full by the time he had finished.

The story was centred about 4 children, who were 6, 5, 3 and 1 when they were taken into care. There were concerns about the family for years before, but only when the youngest was born was it deemed necessary to move the children. The mum had been involved with 3 men, and no-one was particularly sure who had fathered which child. There were suspicions about abuse (both physical and sexual).

The children initially were moved to one foster family, but due to reasons they had to be moved on. At the point they were moved on it had been decided that the younger two could be freed for adoption, so they went to one foster family to be prepared for this. The older two were thought to be too affected by what had happened, so initially were moved together to one foster family, and then separated into two more families.

The younger two children were adopted by a couple with a large number of birth children. They have been supported and are now living independently, with no long term effects. They are a 'success story'.

The elder boy went into a family where education was highly regarded and he was doing really well at school and destined for university. But at 15 he was pushing to move back to his mum's who he had kept up direct contact with. He was allowed to move back, which lasted less than 6 months, he then moved in with a family friend. But his school attendance dropped off, and he left school with virtually no GCSE's.

The second boy was sent to one set of foster carers, then another. Eventually he ended up at a residential school because no one could cope with him. The adoptive parent's of the younger two heard of this and in the end adopted him at 17. Unfortunately he was damaged by what he had been through and isn't capable of living a 'normal' life functioning as an adult.

What was amazing was the number of people that were involved along the way. The social worker did admit that it was a complex case, but to see all those figures standing on the table brought home the people involved dramatically. It was such a powerful way of showing us the story. (there were obviously a lot more details!)

This afternoon we had a birth mother come and speak to us. She was amazing, her story was really emotionally, and she was honest and open.

We finished up the day by looking at letterbox contact letters. We broke into three groups and each group was assigned a person (birth parent, child, adoptive parent) and we had to think about what we would want to receive and what we would write. I was in the birth parent group - which was really hard, it was hard to think what to write, we knew what we wanted to hear, but what to actually write. I understand now how hard birth parents find the task!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Adoption Preparation Course (Part 1)

Did it and survived! We spent 2 1/2 hours this evening at our adoption agency, starting our preparation course. And it wasn't as bad as I/we expected.

We turned up at 6.30 to be met by 3 social workers, usually it would only be 2 but one is attending for the experience as she is new to the agency. There are 9 of us on the course - 4 couples (including us) and 1 single women. The single women has a birth child as does one of the couples. I think the other 2 couples are like us - without any birth children. We have been told that we will have the opportunity to learn more about our paths to adoption on Friday.

When we started - following the usual speech about fire escapes, toilets, drinks, and general other stuff - we had to find out 4 facts about someone else, and introduce them to the group. I was paired up with GI - who bizarrely used to teach Maths at my school (he left just before I arrived) - he now works in one of our nearest neighbouring schools! We talked about teaching; our schools; where we live; his birth son. I was then able to introduce him to the rest of the group - although we did get side tracked from the job talking about teaching...

Once everyone had introduced someone else we watched a video about the process of adoption. It was a department of health video, which is about 8 years old. It showed a cross section of people, and they talked about their experience of the process. The preparation course, the home study (and their social workers), approval panel and then matching. I think the key thing I picked up from this - which was more reinforcement than anything else was the fact that your social worker gets to really know you, all the things that you don't normally talk about - you will have to discuss.

We talked as a group about our hopes and fears about adoption. It was reassuring that we all had similar fears - about the process, about the issues an adopted child might have, attachment to an adopted child, but equally similar hopes - to feel complete as a family and learn how to be a 'good enough' parent. M commented that he feels less isolated with worries now.

We discussed the importance of names; how different people got their names; why names mean so much; the fact that often a name is the only thing that an adopted child may get from their birth family and how our names make us individual.

We talked about why children need adopting... not going to repeat that list here at the moment!

We finished with a questionnaire - with lots of facts and figures. In some respects M and I knew enough - but there were things that I didn't know. Things like how many children waiting for adoption are part of sibling groups (55% in the UK).

It was a good evening. I think M and I are both reassured by the smallness of the group - we are both likely to sit back and listen in a large group of people - with only 9 people including us, there is no-where to hide, but also we will get to know these people quickly. I wouldn't go as far to say that I am looking forward to the full day that is happening on Friday - but I'm certainly not dreading it like I was this evening. Although Friday might be more difficult as we are going to meet and have a talk from a birth mother!

And we have some homework reading to do!!! M has already said he will take it to work to read at lunchtime!

Oh and as a final thought - no role plays; just discussion - hurrah!