Carole and Kenny Prep Blog

22nd May 2014- Session 5

Wow, how quick the prep groups have gone. We can't believe we have finished the last day of the prep group. I have had to pinch myself a few times and ask myself is this really happening?

Five weeks ago we started as a room full of strangers, now we are a group who have have bonded through this journey and I am looking forward to hearing how we all get on during the next stage.

The last session focused on our parenting and communication styles, we played a little game which made us think about our default position when we are upset or angry and how we express our feelings to others. I found this exercise to be extremely powerful as it made me think about how we react and how we might need to try to adjust our communication style as it might not be the right way to resolve issues with our children.

During lunch Kenny and I were chatting all things adoption. What struck me was how different our conversation was to that 5 weeks prior. The things you discuss in the prep groups really do go in and help you to understand the adoption process and what's important to each of you.

After lunch we were joined by the after adoption team, throughout the prep groups we had been advised by Judy and Christine of the wealth of resources available to you through the after adoption team, it was great to hear it from them and once again it reassured us that no matter what we might face in the future support will be available to us.

Now it's hopefully onto the home study. Good luck to you wherever you are in your journey.22nd May Session 5

Wow, how quick the prep groups have gone. We can't believe we have finished the last day of the prep group. I have had to pinch myself a few times and ask myself is this really happening?

Five weeks ago we started as a room full of strangers, now we are a group who have have bonded through this journey and I am looking forward to hearing how we all get on during the next stage.

The last session focused on our parenting and communication styles, we played a little game which made us think about our default position when we are upset or angry and how we express our feelings to others. I found this exercise to be extremely powerful as it made me think about how we react and how we might need to try to adjust our communication style as it might not be the right way to resolve issues with our children.

During lunch Kenny and I were chatting all things adoption. What struck me was how different our conversation was to that 5 weeks prior. The things you discuss in the prep groups really do go in and help you to understand the adoption process and what's important to each of you.

After lunch we were joined by the after adoption team, throughout the prep groups we had been advised by Judy and Christine of the wealth of resources available to you through the after adoption team, it was great to hear it from them and once again it reassured us that no matter what we might face in the future support will be available to us.

Now it's hopefully onto the home study. Good luck to you wherever you are in your journey.

 

16th May 2014 - Session 4

It was another sunny morning in Leith, as we parked our car we noticed that the school opposite were having their sports day. We paused to watch and in that moment we gave ourselves a little space to enjoy the prospect of a future with children and sports days.

Session 4 was a day of two halves. Initially we were asked to list what we thought constituted a child's basic needs. This set us up for our second and slightly more unpleasant task of discussing ways that a child could be abused or neglected. As a group we were asked to consider the types of abuse and neglect that affect children and families, I found this exercise a little uncomfortable but the sad reality is that many children that are waiting to be adopted have experienced some level of abuse and or neglect. It therefore goes without saying that these experiences will impact a child's behaviour. Children have different coping mechanisms and therefore some behaviours may manifest in different ways such as a child withdrawing into themselves or at the other end of the spectrum they may display destructive behaviour.

Either way, we are realising that as adoptive parents we will need to prepare ourselves for these behaviours and be able to understand and manage them. If there was anything positive from the morning session, it was the reassurance from Christine that we are not on our own. The Scottish Adoption Agency have a network of resources, the agency as a whole have a wealth of experience and can offer various levels of support which will help us cope with whatever comes our way.

Just before lunch and to lighten the mood a little we were given a list of house rules which we had to answer yes or no. Once we had completed individually we shared our answers with our partners. Kenny and I had a few different views which led to interesting discussions over lunch and made us laugh as I realised that I'm turning into my parents! How did that happen...

The second half of the day was what we had been looking forward to most all week, to meet adoptive parents that had adopted through the agency. The couple were very honest and were able to describe their experiences in a way that made our journey seem more real. For their daughter, her life has completely changed and it was lovely watching them describe the bonds they had formed. I found it particularly touching that they still kept in touch with the foster family as this is important for their daughter. Their experience was clearly a positive one so much so that they are adopting again. Should you be reading this blog we would like to wish you and your family all the very best!

One more week to go!

9th May 2014 - Session 3

It's the little things that we take for granted. That's one of the big things that came out of prep group session 3, I can't believe it's the third session already! We grabbed our first cuppa of the day and joined the others in the meeting room, once we had all said our good mornings it was time to get down to business.

Over hot drinks we were given a list of questions that we worked through with our partners. The questions were what you would call simple questions and covered things like, what do you know about your birth, who told you, what was your earliest memory? I don't want to spoil the exercise by listing all the questions but needless to say that most of us were able to provide an answer. What I gained from the exercise; it's the small things that make up the big picture. Our canvas is made up of all manor of little things that help us to know and understand ourselves, help us build & shape our identity and impacts how we see ourselves in the big wide world.

It goes without saying that many children placed for adoption don't have access to the small titbits of basic information about themselves and therefore they can't always complete the jigsaw of their life.  I'm realising the importance of finding out as much of the small stuff as possible. We were advised to ask lots of questions regarding the past of your adoptive child. If you get the chance to meet the birth family you will have the opportunity to find out the small stuff. Having this information will mean that you can help piece together their past.

Before lunch we split into gender groups and got a chance to just have a good chin wag about all things adoption which was nice.

We then started to look at the gains and losses for the adopters and the birth family.  As we compiled the list of pro's and cons for each group it became more apparent that although there were obvious losses for the birth family that there were also positives which I hadn't considered.

After lunch we focused on contact and had the opportunity to voice our opinions and/or concerns.

As adopters we are encouraged to participate in letterbox contact once a year, this is more of a moral obligation than a legal one,but it means you will always be able to  tell your child that you did everything you could to keep in contact with their birth family. Most group members felt comfortable with letterbox contact, however there was apprehension when it came to direct contact with the birth family.

To close off the session we were shown a series of videos which illustrated contact from the perspective of the adopters,the birth family and the adoptees. This highlighted how contact can be a real positive in the life of your adopted child and how this can keep a dialogue open and provide opportunities if your child wishes to pursue this further down the line.

2nd May 2014 - Session 2

The second session came around quick, Our evenings this week have been filled with lots of chat about adopting and the whole process is starting to feel more natural.

The second session was very good and informative. We kick started the day with teas and coffees and then we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell the group the story behind our first name. We discovered that regardless of where our names came from we all had a story to tell. For some adopted children, their name is the only link they have with their birth family and this is why it's vitally important that their first name remains unchanged. It was nice to learn that you can give your children middle names which means that we can add some of our own family history to their identity.

For the remainder of the day we focused on child development. This part of the day was very insightful and made us realise the importance of attachment, mental stimulation and routine has on a child's development. We watched a couple of videos which really brought this message home. It did make us realise that the bad stuff can be undone with patience, attention and repetition, which gives us more confidence about adopting a child who has suffered neglect.

The day ended on a lighthearted note, we watched another video giving a child's perspective on adoption. The video was made by adopted children from the Scottish adoption agency.  Each of their experiences were different, but all very positive and in particular their was a little eight year old girl who knew how to tell it like it was, out of the mouths of babes...

There was one young woman in the film who made an excellent point, as much as adopting a child provides the child with security and opportunity, the child also enriches the adopters lives! This was a positive thought to end the day on.

25th April 2014 - Session 1

It's funny how a 6am start on a normal working day is such an effort. We didn't have that problem this morning, in fact it was the exact opposite, we were already awake and waiting for the alarm to go off. As we set off for Edinburgh we were both very aware that we were one small step closer to fulfilling our wish to become parents.

Upon arrival we were warmly greeted with smiles and refreshments. It suddenly dawned on me that this would be the first time my partner and I would be participating in a group setting and I started to feel a little anxious for us both!

In a room full of strangers with one thing in common our adoption journey began.

Thankfully the initial introduction wasn't at all what I thought it would be. I had visions of AA style meetings, bearing our souls and sharing our stories. Had I read the previous prep group blogs I would have saved myself from this worry. We were given an overview what the 5 prep groups would entail and given information on the formal adoption application. We were then asked to introduce someone from the group that we didn't know, once we had all introduced each other the atmosphere became more relaxed and I felt ready to begin.

The day consisted of small exercises and discussions and lots of useful information.

The first exercise involved drawing two pictures. The first was the family home you remember growing up in as a child and the second a picture of where you live now.  Each member of the group was then asked to present their drawings with a short description. We were all able to participate in this exercise but were asked to reflect on how it would feel if you didn't have a sense of belonging or have roots or a place that means home. For some children this is the case, and many children in foster care simply have no understanding of what home means.

With this at the fore of our minds we moved on to discuss the process of adoption and the circle of people that are involved and affected. Alex & Judy were able to give the group a real insight into what this means and how the agency can guide & support you and your new family through the process and be there for you throughout the years as adoptive parents. To know how much support is available immediately confirmed within us that we had chosen the right agency for our journey.

After lunch, we were given the task of looking at some case studies, we were advised that the profiles we were looking at would not be to dissimilar to what we would eventually see when the matching process begins. This task for me was really difficult as invariably it threw up more questions than answers. At first glance it would be so easy to dismiss or discount profiles as they were not easy reading. What I got from this exercise is the importance of keeping an open mind, to ask lots of questions and to remember that things are never black and white. Judy and Alex were able to bring the case studies to life by giving us an update of how the children  in the case studies were doing. I was comforted by the fact that all the children were doing well with their new families. Going forward, I will remember the importance of this exercise!!

Throughout the day Alex and Judy made one thing very clear. The prep groups are all about you receiving the right information to allow you to make an informed decision as to whether adoption is right path for you!