Lyndsey and Simon

Lyndsey's Story

Judy, Gillian and Louise from Scottish Adoption greeted us and we couldn’t have been made more welcome, we were soon settled with a nice cuppa analysing the baked Alaska scandal surrounding the Great British Bake Off.  Gradually all other members of the group arrived and we exchanged polite chitchat.  This was all soon to change though, with the dreaded icebreaker that goes along with all groups these days.  There was nothing to worry about however as this was just a simple chat with our neighbour to get to know a bit about them.  Unfortunately Nick & I got sidetracked talking about our respective dogs and didn’t get much further so our descriptions about each other ended up pretty limited. 

The relaxed atmosphere quickly established the tone for the rest of the day and those to follow.  Throughout the first couple of days we were introduced to the themes and issues surrounding adoption that we would focus on over the coming days.  There were some difficult and challenging topics presented to us such as identity and contact with birth families, along with the gains and losses for all parties involved in adoption.  Many of us hadn’t considered these issues previously and where we had we were not aware of all the contributing factors.  The team from Scottish Adoption introduced these topics in quite fun and relaxed ways but they always had us challenging our views and considering things from every angle. 

We had a weekend free before we went back for day 3.  I have to say this was the most rewarding of the 4 days for me as were privileged to meet 2 teenage adoptees who told us about adoption from their perspective.  Wow. What fantastic girls they were; enlightening us to the fact that schools can sometimes not be in tune with adoption and also talking about their relationships with their families, echoing the experiences we all had when growing up!  We also met an adoptive parent who described her family’s journey through adoption, detailing all of the highs and lows they experienced.  She also showed us pictures of her gorgeous children.  What was so wonderful about this day was that we could see the reality of adoption (rather than just the theory) and what a great opportunity it is.

Our final day was a bit more sobering as we examined some more difficult issues such as the impact of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy and how we personally react to challenges in our lives.  That was really interesting to see if our partners agreed with our own assessments!  Finally we wrapped up discussing in more detail the home study and legal process. 

I have to say I have found these preparation groups invaluable in ensuring we are ready to take the next step. There is only so much that can be garnered from reading a book and this experience has left me much better informed, with a network of support in the rest of the people we came to know in group. 

Simon's Story

I’m writing this a little differently than the rest so please refer to the previous blogs for information on the preparation group itself.  So lets begin, my name is Simon and I have just finished prep group alongside my wife Lyndsey.  I’m an engineer from a wide variety of backgrounds, commercial, Royal Air Force and Police.  I feel this is relevant because they are traditionally areas where we struggle to talk about issues and gloss over them with humour.  So if you’re going to prep group and you’re like me then it’s time to grasp your inner demons so you can communicate with the rest of the group.

Most likely you’ll be nervous, you may worried that this is some kind of secret assessment, worry not and put your suit back in the cupboard.  Dress comfortably; you’re in for some long but very encouraging days in a place where they dream of air conditioning!   Remember everyone in the group will be in the same boat, so first thing is get yourself a brew and introduce yourself to everyone.  If you’re worried about getting sea sick don’t worry, it’s not really a boat it’s a lovely old building!

This group of people around you could be a very important part of your support network going forward so get to know them.  Make sure you all go to lunch together, for speed may I recommend Rocksalt, down Constitution Street on the left hand side.  There’s something to be said about eating together as a group.  Think of it as practice for bonding with you future child/children over meal times.  Do it the first day then come day four you’ll all be swapping emails and looking forward to your next lunch meeting.

So next point is the preparation group staff, yes they are all social workers.  Before I met any of them I had this badly portrayed image of social workers but worry not my adoption amigos, they are indeed some of the most pleasant and professional people I have had the fortune to deal with.  They will put you at ease and answer your questions in a personable and thorough manner.  Remember they are people too!

So I guess the most important part of preparation group is to release the grip a little on any cast iron beliefs you have about going forward.  With my group I was able to challenge and at times defend my own ideas of adoption.  To think about the hard start our future children may have had and how we can best support them to become flourishing adults is indeed difficult.  So take your hands away from your ears and sculpt your ideas into something more effective for going forward.  You’re going to meet real adopters and adoptees, ask them questions, empathise and reflect on their situations.  Think of this like a warm up before the main event, get all the information you can, so you can confidently stroll into the home study.

So finally be prepared for a thought provoking, emotional but overwhelmingly positive experience.  Good luck and see you on the other side!  (I mean the other side of adoption not some weird time travel experiment)