Monday, 26 July 2010

Adoptive parents

Argh - failing badly at ICLW at the moment... with good (or not) reason. I will catch up, later, but I will!

Last week we went to met some adoptive parents that our social worker put us in contact with. For those that are interested (by which I mean Caroline!) they live in the next city to us, but on our side of it! We had made the appointment a couple of weeks previously and had randomly being writing questions down ever since.

They have 2 children, adopted separately but who are full siblings. They initially adopted with our adoption agency, but the second adoption went through next city adoption agency. We share our social worker with them.

We started by talking about panel, and how much our agency wants people to succeed. They backed up what we had been told by our social worker, that we will be given the questions 15/20mins before going into Panel, and that we will sit and talk through them with our social worker.

We talked about their experiences of introductions, of the things that they have learnt. Including that we will not want to think or do anything else during introductions. That we should take notes - and lots of them, not just about routine, but also stories that we are told about the foster parents, so that we can share them with our child in future.

That to start with we need to focus just on the child, that for about 6 weeks, they introduced one new person a week and then only for short periods of time. This is necessary to help the child to bond to us, but also because the child will be grieving. Any adopted child (in the UK) has had at least 2 massive losses - they have lost their birth family and their foster family (and that's if they have only had one set of foster carers).

The trauma of those losses has a massive impact on adopted children. It effects with their behaviour and their capacity to deal with emotions. The trauma rewires their brain, and it cannot by itself right itself. However as adoptive parents there are things that we can do - THERAPEUTIC PARENTING - making sure that we have have contact, baby massage, stroking hair, maintaining eye contact, allowing them to regress as well as providing boundaries and routine. As adoptive parents we need to both nurture and claim our child.

We spoke about loving an adopted child - that it is natural for love not to occur immediately. That it took about 12months for them, both times. That they had an immediate commitment to the child, but it's not the same as love. However they did say 'fake it until you make it' works well in that situation.

They spoke about how they expected to adopt a child, but also got an extended family. Their elder daughter when she was adopted had 2 full siblings, and 4 half siblings. Her parents then went on to have another child - which this couple also adopted.

They advised once we know about a child - once we are preparing for matching panel to start thinking about what we are going to say (and practise it) about our child. That people will have all sorts of questions and make all sorts of comments, and that we need to prepare for them.

They backed up what we already knew, that for 6 weeks after introductions we would see a social worker weekly. That after that, we will see social workers monthly until we go to court for the official adoption. They said that there was no need to rush to get to that formal adoption state - whilst a child is officially 'looked after' there are lots of resources that are available. They also said that it's worthwhile viewing all offered help as support not interference.

Their key points that they wish they had known:
- the report on the child may not be up to date - and go with your gut
- stick to the foster carers routine for a few months
- the more time off work the better
- that there will be grieving, not just the child but us as parents as well
- that the BIG journey starts at placement

We also got to see the photobooks that they made for their families during introductions.


Calliope said...

From your blog I'm getting a real sense of positivity at the moment. I think it is because the adoption process seems to be focusing on what you and M can do. By that I mean offering a child a loving and stable home where they are safe and cared for every day. Whereas the IVF process was about what you couldn't do and the grief associated with that.
It is lovely to see you on such a positive track though I know there is still a long way to go. We are with you all the way.

Angela_F said...

I have just started to read your blog after seeing the link on Mel's blogroll. Thank you so much for writing it. We are considering adoption at the moment, and your posts are invaluable in helping us understand the processes involved (being UK-based also).

You are so close now to getting there. I am really excited for you.