January Prep Group Blog

A tale from a Single Female Adopter.

If you have read the Preparation Group blog before you might have noticed the previous blogger had a little bit of thing for Jon Bon Jovi. I am not sure if it was his rather nice tousled hair or indeed his songs as rousing rock anthems that did it for her, but sometimes it's music and not money that makes the world go round. Sometimes there's nothing else better than a song to sum up our emotions. So to continue that musical theme, I'm going to take my journey with the fab four, so if any of this hits a chord as you read along, perhaps you'll also sing along too. John Lennon said that "Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans." Well here I am 46 and single and not a parent.  It wasn't quite the fate I had envisaged for myself, maybe I had been too busy working, enjoying all the other pleasures of life and just expecting that somehow or other it would just all change. So today I find myself with various guises, as a god-mum, an auntie and some-one who works with children as part of my job, but what I am not yet is a parent. So this journey is beginning with me being busy making this plan, the plan to begin the journey of parenthood via adoption, because sometimes Mr Lennon you just can't 'Let it Be' and fate needs a little bit of helping hand!  And so begins my long and winding road... let's hope it leads me to where I want to be.

Week 5 (Guest Blogger)

Well it’s the end of our preparation groups and time for reflection on our first step along The Long and Winding Road to adopting a child.

Week 5 was another thought provoking session. The morning focused on child & adult behaviour. We touched on the fact that rebellious behaviour is not necessarily the impact of an adopted child’s unsettled upbringing but instead it is actually a normal stage of growing up. It is also essential to be aware of our own behaviour and how this will impact on an adopted child. Parenting styles need to be assessed to ensure it is suited to the specific child in question. This lesson along with the importance of consistency, boundaries and strong attachment will stay with me throughout our journey.

After adoption support was the topic of conversation in the afternoon with guidance from two members of the specialised team based at Scottish Adoption. I found it reassuring to know that there will always be someone at the end of the phone to advise and support us throughout the process. That Means a Lot. It reiterates that adoption is a life long journey and that Scottish Adoption will be there guide us through, step by step.

It felt like the last day of school and with an atmosphere of nervous anticipation we spent the last hour re-capping the process ahead and having a more detailed look at Forms F. I don’t think that anyone really wanted to say goodbye at the end. All Together Now could have been the theme tune to our preparation classes. It has been a pleasure to meet with others in the same situation as ourselves and I hope to keep in contact with each and every person through their journey into adoption.

Ultimately the preparation groups have highlighted to me that there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child just the perfect match. It’ll be essential to be honest with ourselves and our social worker during the home study and then together We Can Work It Out. In the meantime we have our reading list to keep us going and the hope that It Won't Be Long before we get the chance to make our family complete.

I will miss my Thursday date at Scottish Adoption and having the opportunity to spend time with inspirational social workers who clearly love what they do and other prospective adopters alike.

Thank you all for making the initial step into this daunting process a particularly enjoyable and fulfilling one.   

Week 4

So as I write this this week, I can honestly say "Here comes the sun" as this week's words come from the sun soaked island of Antigua in the Caribbean. Sadly I will miss week five of the preparation group as I have whizzed off to join my folks in sunnier climes and so before I was able to sit down and write this week's blog I felt I needed to do a little bit of post pre-digestion. In part that came from my own feeling that it was my last week with the other members (the guilt of leaving compelled me to bribe them for their friendships and email addresses with Quality Street. But come on, own up now who ate all the purple ones?). 

Week four's discussions had also provided much food for thought. We were joined by two adopters who came and spoke about the process and how they had dealt with a myriad of complications, that even they had not envisaged. They spoke of "Crying, Waiting and Hoping" and yet despite what sounded like a logistical nightmare, the joy that both parents shared when discussing the little girl they had finally succeeded in adopting, counter-balanced all the harsh realities of the legal process. The father described how he had imagined a shadow of a little person by his side in the park and how when they were first told of their match, that image lit up and became picture perfect. The mother talked of knowing the little girl was hers as soon as she heard her name. It was a case of "Baby It's You".

Both stories struck a chord and made my slightly tearful. There have been many times I have imagined my own shadow child; I sit in a darkened room reading to this little dark blur, I cannot see the face, but I know the room is filled with joy (maybe more my own as I get to re-read 'Stig of the Dump' - recommended reading for any youngster!). Luckily the adoptive mother was just as tearful during the telling of her tale, so hopefully didn't see the snivelling wreck on her right hand side through her own tears. Now what was the waterproof mascara we discussed last week again? My tears ebbed then flowed through into the afternoon as we began to explore the issue of children abuse.

As a group we discussed the various ways in which abuse could manifest itself and the repercussions this might have on a child and their behaviour. Conversations that deal with the unspoken are not easy, but as both Alex and Judy approached the subject with a measured and informative tone we shared out thoughts and fears. It was not easy, but the overall mantra for the day was that even through the most difficult stages "We can work it out" . Now I have a week of sunshine and contemplation, a week to ponder if I am brave enough to continue my journey and turn my shadow into a real-live shape, one that will want to fall asleep to the sounds of my words, and the gentle rustle of a book's turning pages.

So you might remember dear reader I started my blog with John Lennon and so to give the man due credit I will let him have the last word (well almost!). He famously said "Count your life by smiles, not tears". I have spent many a "Hard days night" (sorry couldn't resist)fretting over my motherless state, it has certainly not been something that has made me smile. Perhaps the next part of the journey will change that. Fingers crossed and let's start counting!
 
P.S. Look out for next week's guest blogger - on week 5!

Week 3

So here I am at week three and the time is just whizzing by with the same group of smiling faces and social workers but a different agenda; this week, the adoption journey. I was dreading this one as I was feeling a little bit like my journey was a bit Helter Skelter. I was worried I would get emotional and weepy and yes I did a little, but it was all fairly cathartic. We were divided up into two gender based groups to talk about how we had arrived at the adoption process. Given carte blanche to discuss all our worries and niggles, the girls started on waterproof mascara and ended up on kittens in cupboards. Yup, there was even a discussion about the pet-screening process that is required as part of the Form F. I wonder if I am allowed to mention here that the Beatles might have had an insight into the marvels of Form F as they did write a ballad called Leave my Kitten Alone! The boys meantime (we guessed) were huddled around an X-box, talking footie and beer! But seriously gender stereotypes and my own single status aside, the fears I had about childcare, my coping skills and leaving my old unencumbered life behind were not solely mine to fret over. 

Our thoughts took us down into the Magical Mystery Tour of adoption, but as we began to think about how we would use our network of supporters and our own wishes for our future as parents we realised that we would all Get By With A little Help From Our Friends. I do hope the Beatles are right as we are definitely going to need them! The morning session passed super swiftly and before we knew it we had launched into the slightly more worrisome area of contact. The issue of direct and indirect contact between adopters, adoptees and birth parents was discussed, but after the morning’s open discussions we were able to air our feelings very openly about how we would each approach this. Alex and Judy were keen to encourage us to think as widely as possible about this issue, given the impact it has on all associated parties. Scottish Adoption have a wealth of DVD resources which reveal first hand how children and adults cope with the adoption process. Being able to view these, alongside the associated expert comments of Alex and Judy, plus group discussion thereafter, has been invaluable to the learning process. They are food for thought (alongside the biscuits and chocolate éclair sweets – sorry boy’s you got the X-box, we got chocolate!). 

So having arrived at week three feeling a little bit Here, There and Everywhere, I left feeling fine!

Week 2

And so there we all were; the colourful couples (all five of them), the terrible trio of me myself and I and the dynamic duo of Judy and Alex, and all raring to go. Alex managed to tell us one of his outstanding jokes from his 'Best (or did he say worst?) Dad Joke Book', just to get the group laughing ahead of the hard mental work. Judy and Alex are like the double act of social workers; they complement each other perfectly via the perpetual bouncing of ideas and stories, from one to another and back again. It's like having seats at the the final of the Australian Open!  Having never come into contact with social workers before, I feel terribly confident about their knowledge of the trials of adoption and their ability to communicate clearly about the complexities of the process.  We began our second get together discussing names. It feels therefore quite fitting to begin my first Beatle reference, by saying that dear Judy, may now forever after be Jude, though don't think i'll be hollering "Hey Jude!" except in my head. If you have ever wondered what is in a name and just thought it was a parental whim, well week two shatters that simplistic notion. Identity, personality and family history are just some of the factors I've never considered before and consider them I did.  

Exploring the issue of attachment is a theme we've been told we will revisit over the course of the 5 weeks. Ironically though it's an issue most of us would never consider, one I certainly had not, until now. I love my parents, just 'Because'. They have been a consistent part of my life, offering me comfort, security and love as I have grown up. They have encouraged and supported me and never once have I had to consider just why I love them or if they love me.  It's a good two way relationship. Discussing attachment in terms of adoption, opens up a world which does not replicate my own. I am not looking at a mirror image of my own life but through a glass window into a world that can be so dramatically different. This was made all the clearer to myself and the group as we watched a short video about a group of Russian children in an orphanage. The video explored the ways in which attachments form and the complexities of this. This propelled us into a discussion about how security between adults and children develops, as well as how children develop accordingly based on the types of attachment they have experienced. Week two was definitely the week where I was thankful that Scottish Adoption rooms come well equipped with boxed-tissues (could explain the fifty or so boxes stacked upstairs in one of the other rooms!) The session got me thinking more about the types of issues that affect the children who are up for adoption. So week two is: thought provoking, (little) heart-wrenching, informative. It would be nice to think that as potential adopters 'All You Need Is Love' (ah, if only it were that simple), but knowledge and understanding of child development is crucial to the whole process.  Now where was the Scottish Adoption library again? Oh yes, just upstairs, past the kettle and boxes of tissues.   

P.S. If you want to know the joke here it is but it comes with a health warning: be waring of split sides or deep groans 

A boy comes home from school and tells his dad he has a part in the school play.  "What's the part son" asks the dad.  "It's the part of a man who has been married for 25 years to the same woman", says the young boy.  "Oh that's great news", says dad, "Next year if you do well this year, I am sure they will give you a speaking part!"

Week 1

The first week of Preparation Group focused on the group getting to know each other. I didn't realise just how nervous I was until I found myself openly exhaling a few times during the initial welcome and rubbing my sticky little palms against my coat sleeves. Whilst we began as a tentative small group of strangers, by the end of the session the social workers had put us so much at ease that the questions were flowing (ably helped along by plenty of tea breaks, an excess of biscuits - caramel wafer anyone? - and somewhat derailed discussions about Formula One and the Sex Pistols!). By mid morning we had moved on to consider the profiles of adoptive children and how these could be used to gleam information. Each story served as a jumping off point so that the social workers could point out issues and areas that we would have to consider in the future. I hadn't realised how many peoples' viewpoints would need to be considered and just how complex the experience would be for everyone involved; myself, the child and the birth parents. Whilst I had done my reading and research about adoption I realised just how much I still needed to learn and to ask.  Yet despite the intricacies of it all we were guided through this labyrinth by the social workers who shared positive stories and their own personal experiences of adoption and the system. As the afternoon neared its end I realised I wasn't really doing this on my own and that potentially the process was one of commonality, so whilst there were definitely a few 'Help' moments, by the end I felt with Scottish Adoption and my group it would all 'Come Together'.  Now that is music to my ears!