November Prep Group Blog

A couples thoughts on Preparation Groups.

Our latest preparation groups have just finished and we asked a couple to write a weekly blog so others can get an idea of what happens during these groups and how emotional they can be. Sit back, relax and enjoy their journey through the five week course.

Our Background

Our adoption story started when we found that we couldn't have children of our own.  We had always intended in trying to adopt a child in addition to having a natural one so we see the situation as being a minor kink in the plan!  We chose Scottish Adoption because of the level of service that they provided (they have been exceptionally quick and professional) as we had also contacted two local authorities and another voluntary agency and received very poor service.  Scottish Adoption have been really friendly and put us at ease. We feel comfortable with them.

The Preparation Groups

Week One

We missed it as we were still on holiday!  Whoops.  When we found out the dates we were terrified that we would not be able to take part in the group and that we would have to wait until the next one in February but the social worker involved was really accommodating and arranged for us to visit the offices to go through the first week's material.  I think the biggest thing that we missed out on was meeting the rest of the group as we thought that it may feel a little awkward in the following weeks.

Week Two

Well we needn't have worried as the rest of the group are lovely!  This week was dealing with attachment and looking at the issues that might arise as a result of a breakdown in this process.  We also talked about the importance of identity to both ourselves and an adopted child and did some work on contact. We were shown a couple of DVD's (spoiler alert!!!) and one in particular was quite harrowing.  It became obvious that each member of the group had quite different starting points in their basic assumptions on the issues that children who enter the adoption system have.  What became immediately apparent was that this is not a training course.  Somehow we (not the group) had assumed that we would be given information and then given ways of addressing any issues arising out of the behaviours etc.  This isn't the case.  The preparation groups are an opportunity for you to gather material on the process and issues arising from adoption and then make a decision on whether you wish to proceed.  That's not a problem and it led to my immediate internet search of all available child psychology courses and the one click purchase of 'Children for Dummies'.  What would have been really useful for us would have been information on courses available if you choose to progress.  All agencies talk about post adoption support but it strikes me that this is reactive.  After all, we have plenty of time to prepare and develop skills for managing the difficulties that 'might' present with our adopted child so why not learn how to prevent or mitigate an issue rather than dealing with consequences? 

Week Three

We were late - Edinburgh traffic is a nightmare!  Do not go the Ferry Road way.  This week we were left to our own devices in gender groups in the morning and we spoke about contact in the afternoon.  The morning was really good as loads of issues were discussed relating to the first two weeks and about how people were feeling about the process.  The bad thing about the morning was that I felt that a balance had not been achieved in tempering the difficulties arising from issues relating to adoption with the positive outcomes that do occur.  My group were genuinely worried and this made me a little sad.  Although we all completely appreciate the need for honesty and to be realistic about 'post adoption' life, in order for us to get to 'post adoption life' we need to be shown the positives as well - our decision to proceed will be based on what's presented at these groups.  It would be really helpful to have a child placement social worker tell us about the preparation that is done with children by social work and foster carers prior to placement in addition to showing the issues which are likely to have led to children being removed in the first place

Week Four

Well we made it despite the horrendous weather this week, a minor miracle in itself!  The morning session this week was about different types of abuse - you might think that this would be really hard going but actually it was my favourite session of the four weeks.  I think in part this was because of the total and obvious dedication to their jobs displayed by two social workers who are taking the group.  The fact that people could routinely put themselves out there to deal with issues like that is remarkable.  It was also a much more personal session because both tutors shared their own experiences and somehow this made the whole session more 'real'.  We also spoke about resilience or 'coping mechanisms' and it dawned on me that I carry rather a lot of baggage around myself.  Maybe I'm not as poorly equipped to parent as I thought I was!  The afternoon session was with a lovely adoptive parent who has recently completed the process. She was amazing and honestly it was like looking in the mirror!  My husband was actually laughing at parts because he could hear me saying all of the same things.  The best bit about speaking to her was that she made me feel normal.  I'm worried that I might not feel like a mum; I'm concerned that the loss of my 'own space' will be overwhelming.  I imagine that these types of feelings are not confined to adoptive parents but apply equally to biological parents however just hearing that someone else had felt and feels the same made me realise that I can actually do this.  It struck me after last week that I was twittering on trying to express feelings and opinions and that there was really no need.  I firmly believe that there is nothing in life that cannot be expressed through reference to Jon Bon Jovi.  With that in mind and if you are looking for a sound track for the prep groups I would respectfully suggest:

Week One - Born to be my Baby

Week Two - Someday I'll be Saturday Night

Week Three - Keep the Faith

Week Four - I'll be there for you

Week Five

Ah ha, we were early today!  We can't believe how quickly five weeks have passed, it's really flown by.  The last week was mainly about eating chocolate and giving out Christmas Cards but I vaguely remember some adoption chat as well.  The morning session was on children and adults behaviours.  We watched and listened to some interviews with Dan Hughes and I'd have to say I find his suggestions and ideas really interesting and practical.  I would definitely recommend getting a hold of his material as the advice that he gives is easy to understand and apply.  He makes dealing with quite significant issues a lot less scary!  The afternoon session was with the after adoption team and again this was particularly insightful.  I personally found the last two weeks to be the most helpful and I think that this was because in each of these sessions the social workers involved shared their direct experiences with us. There are a couple of reasons that I find this way of learning more effective.  Firstly, it appears less likely that there is an agenda simply because the people involved are recounting experience and secondly I'm more likely to accept direct personal experience as an accurate reflection of the true position.

There's a lot in the preparation courses and if you go with an open mind it is possible that some preconceptions you may have will have been changed by the end of your five weeks.  In particular, at the beginning of the course I was horrified by the thought of direct contact. Now I can see that there is the potential that this is absolutely in the best interest of the child.  Without being melodramatic, the easiest way that I can express it is that I now realise I need to be in a place where I can accept that if you love someone you have to set them free which in this case means allowing them to understand who they are.  I will need help to get there, but that's my baggage.  I don't think that I've ever considered myself to be a particularly selfless person (my husband always puts others before himself) but I get it now.  I want to do this and that means that I don't come first.

I wish you the best of luck if you decide to express an interest in adoption.  You couldn't be in better hands than with Scottish Adoption after all they are helping us make our dream of a family a reality. 

PS The Bon Jovi track for this week - easy 'Always'.