Martin & Joanna Blog

Day 4 (Final Day)

….and so to the last few hours. As we neared the end of our information days and got ready to say “see you soon”, not goodbye as we now have a network of friends to keep in contact with, we watched some extremely interesting films on the attachment process and how it really can make a difference no matter what stage or age of child it’s applied to.

In the afternoon we got to meet 2 very brave, if not a little nervous, young adopted adults who kindly came along to tell us their different stories about how their lives began and what their perspective on adoption was. They were very frank about their experiences and were very honest when answering questions from the group. They were also very insightful about the areas where they could see the most improvement was needed to make transitions easier and had great tips on what to expect from others outside your new family unit. It was great to hear how loved and secure they felt and that you don’t need to worry, no more than any other parent, about the things that happen – not everything is down to being adopted!

And that’s it, the 4 week roller coaster was over and we had all the information we needed to then decide if we wanted to take the next step and officially apply to be adoptive parents. The group swapped numbers, email addresses etc and we all said goodbye to Colin who was retiring, for a while anyway, then we all left to think about the future and if we could make that so desperately needed difference to a child’s life. Everyone agreed that they left with a far greater understanding of the needs, requirements, process and time scales and that would at least aid their decision.

I don’t know where each of others’ journeys will go from here but I know I’m not scared any more and that’s a great feeling to have as I continue with mine.

Day 3

I‘m not going to lie, this morning was tough! I think from having such a good week last week and meeting the lovely, down to earth Amanda that I’ve been kidding myself on that everything is fine, almost fairy-tale like with a happy ending beckoning on the horizon, but day 3 brings me back to the stark reality that there are children in the system who could possibly have been abused in one or many different ways and we spend the morning delving into that further.

That’s not to say that every child has been inflicted with any or a varying level of these atrocities but again we need to be aware that they might have. From that we need to be emotionally ready to acknowledge that any of them might have happened and not been known, as depending on the severity that might be all we can do until the child is ready, if ever. Just because a child is waiting to be adopted does not mean they are going to turn out with issues the same as a child living with birth parents is not going to always turn out “normal”. We, as parents, just need to make sure anything in the future becomes an obstacle, a strong bond has developed and there is no judgement or shame or disappointment in sharing this, just love to work through it.

Don’t let the morning put you off though – there is a happy ending, lots of them actually, and we get to hear about one in particular from a guest attendee who’s been through the process and come out the other side successfully and happily. We hear first-hand about how the process was, the time scales in their case, what it was really like in front of the panel, how they coped with each visit to the foster parent’s home and then finally, what happened the day they finally collected their daughter and took her home to begin their new lives together. This was a great chance for all of us to hear about the real-life applicable benefits of what we have been learning about during the past 3 weeks, to chat openly and honestly and in some scenarios, find out what really not to do!

Like I said at the beginning, today was by far the toughest day mentally so far but it was also the most rewarding and fruitful in the end…..it made me hopeful about what else might end up being like that….

Day 2

Why did I turn out like this? Believe me, this is a question which has been asked many times by many people! Lol. What I mean is, why do I try new foods or go on holiday to different places or have the confidence to speak up in a crowd? A good proportion of it is because I was lucky to have a loving, caring family around me in my formative years; when I fell, I was picked up, when I hurt myself, there was someone there to treat my wounds and give me a kiss on the head and reassure me that everything will be ok. Imagine for a moment if I did not have those things….there’s a good chance I would turn out a totally different, worse off person.

Actually not having that is not so hard to imagine as day 2 of the preparation course showed us examples of children who are faced with this every day and we learned about what that can do to a child’s development at every stage. Christine, teamed up with Colin this week and showing how equally passionate and experienced she is, showed us a video of what can happen at the various stages of a young child’s development. This prompted a good discussion and helped identify some signs to look out for which indicate where such attention or affection might have been lacking, if present at all.

Although there is definitely a more serious tone to the second day, it was not all doom & gloom and trawling through a check list of behaviours to look for, then worry about. You just need to keep in your mind that children waiting to be adopted have had different experiences and therefore need varying levels of nurturing and attention, at all stages and ages of your lives together. Sometimes this just might take a bit more time, care and attention from the adoptive parents than might be encountered from their non-adopted counterparts in order to bring them out their shell and to feel loved and secure, enabling them to push on and develop.

We also need to remember that an adopted child’s birth parents, although maybe not in the best of circumstances to care for them, could still be important one day and where possible, contact should still be maintained up to a point where the adoptee is secure and confident enough to make the decision on how to proceed for themselves. It’s important for a child’s identity, especially through the difficult teenage years that they can see where they came from; what makes them different, what makes them the same and having a letter once or twice a year, or more if your situation is especially fortunate, could just help them through it. You will always be there for them no matter what their future holds or what level of contact they might end up with.

We all like to know we’re loved and have people there to help us, throughout our whole lives, it’s just some kids need to be shown this a little more….

Day 1

I am scared and feel like I know nothing. I hate role playing and don’t want to pretend to be someone else. My wife works in childcare so this should be a breeze for her - I am the one who’s going to let the side down and ask stupid questions and embarrass myself, I mean this is a competition and we’re getting judged, right?

Of course not! The aim of these groups is not to judge or vet you but to be the start of a support network for those who want it and a place to provide you with information about all aspects of  adoption. By the end of these groups you will get to a point where you can make a decision on the next steps you want to take, no matter what they may be. It gives you a forum to learn more and ask all those niggling questions - no matter how silly you may think they are. As Alex said there’s no such thing as a silly question (although getting a silly answer from them is almost guaranteed lol).

The first few minutes of the prep group with Alex and Colin is more like meeting a couple of mates who seem to like formality and awkwardness even less than all of the other trepidatious faces in the room. They begin with intros and some background in a style which could easily be transferred to a comedy circuit but don’t think for a second that behind their light hearted demeanour is anything other than two honest, caring people who know this job inside out. These guys are determined to help as many children as they can who are unfortunately in the system for one reason or another. These guys are very serious, passionate and informative about what this organisation does to improve the lives of so many children and this becomes more evident as the day progresses, with an infectious enthusiasm and openness which made us feel very welcome and at ease. This journey is going to be interesting but it’s now one I am far less scared to make……

I am not going to go into all the details of what was covered , you just need to sign up and see for yourself, but for me it was a good mix of information, laughing, chatting, videos and activities which has already got me excited about coming back for day two. What I would say is like anything in life you only get out what you put in, so relax and make an effort to join in.

If you have thought about adoption but are not sure where to begin or have decided that this is for you and want to crack on then sign up for these prep groups. I guarantee you’ll be given information and considerations which you had not thought about before and will come away with a better understanding of the process without feeling bombarded or lectured. I almost feel guilty for having such a good day!! I am confident by the fourth day we will be best position possible to move forward and hope we’re lucky enough to find some children who want to have us as their adoptive parents, I mean after all it’s them we’re all doing this for…