A full day today, which was a little more over whelming, and I need some time to think and reflect! For the moment - what was talked about...
The Adoption Circle. We talked about how the birth parents, child and adoptive parents are interlinked. We talked about the losses and gains involved in adoption. We looked at those life-long losses for everybody involved. And the fact that there are few (if any) gains for the birth parents in adoption.
We had a chance to share our journey's to adoption with each other, without any social workers present. We broke into two small groups (male and female) and had about 30 mins talking. It was interesting to hear each other's stories - but I'm not going to share, because they are not my stories. Enough to say that no-one has come to adoption without some heartache and major decision making.
After a break we settled down to listen to one of the social workers tell us the story of a family that he was involved with for 10 years. He represented each person in the story with plastic figures - and there was a table full by the time he had finished.
The story was centred about 4 children, who were 6, 5, 3 and 1 when they were taken into care. There were concerns about the family for years before, but only when the youngest was born was it deemed necessary to move the children. The mum had been involved with 3 men, and no-one was particularly sure who had fathered which child. There were suspicions about abuse (both physical and sexual).
The children initially were moved to one foster family, but due to reasons they had to be moved on. At the point they were moved on it had been decided that the younger two could be freed for adoption, so they went to one foster family to be prepared for this. The older two were thought to be too affected by what had happened, so initially were moved together to one foster family, and then separated into two more families.
The younger two children were adopted by a couple with a large number of birth children. They have been supported and are now living independently, with no long term effects. They are a 'success story'.
The elder boy went into a family where education was highly regarded and he was doing really well at school and destined for university. But at 15 he was pushing to move back to his mum's who he had kept up direct contact with. He was allowed to move back, which lasted less than 6 months, he then moved in with a family friend. But his school attendance dropped off, and he left school with virtually no GCSE's.
The second boy was sent to one set of foster carers, then another. Eventually he ended up at a residential school because no one could cope with him. The adoptive parent's of the younger two heard of this and in the end adopted him at 17. Unfortunately he was damaged by what he had been through and isn't capable of living a 'normal' life functioning as an adult.
What was amazing was the number of people that were involved along the way. The social worker did admit that it was a complex case, but to see all those figures standing on the table brought home the people involved dramatically. It was such a powerful way of showing us the story. (there were obviously a lot more details!)
This afternoon we had a birth mother come and speak to us. She was amazing, her story was really emotionally, and she was honest and open.
We finished up the day by looking at letterbox contact letters. We broke into three groups and each group was assigned a person (birth parent, child, adoptive parent) and we had to think about what we would want to receive and what we would write. I was in the birth parent group - which was really hard, it was hard to think what to write, we knew what we wanted to hear, but what to actually write. I understand now how hard birth parents find the task!
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