Penultimate Training

We are nearly done with the training – didn’t think I’d be so relieved to see the back of it! This was an evening one and for someone who’s usually in PJs by 9pm this is not a good idea. Especially when coupled with the fact I went to the gym before work (this bears no relevance to anything to be honest just felt the need to brag!)

This evening we were talking about therapeutic parenting and theraplay. Which is why, when we got in to the room, there was (council grade) playdoh on the tables. They have provided us with a make at home recipe that hilariously has an added footnote of ‘we’ve been made aware that this recipe is very harmful to pets please beware’ I’d love to know the backstory there!

Let the fun and games commence. Usual crowd were there – nearly got run over by CCTV guy. Mike’s parents had been to burger king for tea and the know it all club were all settled in for the evening.

The SW leading the session was the same one who a few sessions ago had done the baby drawing on a flipchart with the sick etc on it – think this was the neglect session. At the same session she did a role play and actually put on the voice of a baby – now when she speaks everything I hear is in this voice. I will now refer to her as baby voice social worker (BVSW for shorts)

The evening started with a group of adults having to make a scene out of playdoh to represent what they were looking forward to doing with their child husband took this surprisingly seriously and without discussion commenced his park replica complete with slide – I did whisper to him that if this were a graduate assessment centre he would have failed on his inability to engage the team. Anyway it just so happens the park was a good idea. I rolled green into a flat and we called that grass – my contribution done. husband then ditched his swing masterpiece and we made a roundabout. Everyone elses were fairly similar – baking, parks and a holiday (hold on! Holiday?! Apparently they travel a lot with work – I will investigate further!)*

Next task – coming up with definitions of therapeutic parenting and theraplay. The parenting one in a nutshell is all about not telling your child off, because of their background this could be really unhelpful to their development so its about trying to understand their behaviour, helping them understand it and giving them lots of love. An example would be that you don’t do time out as that will isolate them instead you do time in – which is effectively a big hug. I can imagine there are mixed views on that (see previous supernanny debate update!) Theraplay is all about using play to get the child to talk and open up to you through playing together. One of the know it all club waffled on about hidden emotions being like submarines … (insert potentially better explaining literature here http://fosteringandadoption.rip.org.uk/topics/early-childhood-trauma/)

Then we had to talk about all feelings and behaviours looked after children may have – in a nutshell there are about 25 bad behaviours and 25 bad feelings and surprise surprise they may have all of them. I did highlight that they wouldn’t have them all at the same time to which people in my group laughed in a ‘ha that’s what you think’ tone but this was then reinforced by the teacher/social worker – my smug face

Our next challenge was in table groups but sw wanted to mix the groups up. This was a step too far for her I’m afraid and after about 8 moves – most of us ended up sitting on the same table with the same people – thankfully someone saved the day and did it for her but there’s ten minutes we’ll never get back (I may have looked at my watch and said out loud oh look its 9.15pm already!) The actual activity was ok – we had a scenario then we had to write down how we’d feel, how the child would feel and how we might manage it. So for example

You go to the park and its time to go and the child doesn’t want to.

Or its bedtime and the child demands getting itself ready for bed and you can’t help.

We had to give examples of therapeutic parenting or play to help with the scenario. Someone came up with turning the running away child into a running race which I actually thought was ridiculous. Things to turn bedtime into therapeutic parenting were races to see who can get ready for bed first, toys in the bath, bedtime stories – all things we’ve done with nieces and friends children so either we’re like super awesome at therapeutic parenting or its actually just parenting (good debate topic there)?! I asked about whether or not turning things into fun (the running away one made me think this) reinforces bad behaviour but didn’t really get an answer. I’m not being flippant – I know if we get a child who has been neglected or abused then the simple things may be more challenging and we may need to try really different ways of parenting that seem a little odd to others. Its so hard though to think about this when you don’t know what child you’ll get. One of the ladies there who is a foster carer did say to me that some of it is quite instinctive and that you won’t always get it right. Its also so much information to take in.

Then it was on to theraplay – which is in the same camp as above – is it therapy or not? I expect the really problem children need a different level than what we covered in the session. This is where BVSW comes in to play (no pun intended) she comes and helps you when you have a child placed. She told a few random stories of children blowing crisps into her hair and how she turned that into a game that enabled the child to open up and talk to her (husband whispered – imagine your OCD dad having crisps blown in his hair!) There were 4 elements to tp (I’m sick of not being able to type therapy first time and spell checking it) and after each element the two social workers would demonstrate one of the activities. I am never going to be able to replicate this session in all its actual hilarity – you had to be there I expect (and obviously not many others got the hilarity) First activity – hand stack.

BVSW – we’re going to play a really fun game now called hand stack.

Other SW (in actual baby voice as well!!) – ooh yes that sounds like really good fun

BVSW – I’m going to put my hand here like this. And then lets put your hand on top of mine. Oh wow what a good girl you are for being able to do that. Well done. Now I’m going to out my hand here on top of yours can you see? Do you think you can put your hand on top of mine? Of you can well done you are ever so good at this.

Etc etc until we then had to practice in our couples. No comment.

The two other examples I won’t go into detail about were blowing a feather between two hands and putting a baby on a blanket and swinging it whilst singing about what gorgeous hair and eyes it had (when I say swinging I don’t mean to catapult levels – this is social services remember)

Finally it was punching through a sheet of newspaper. BVSW asked other SW what her favourite icecream flavour was (Pistachio apparently – quite advanced for the 3 year old she was pretending to be) Then BVSW called out all the different flavours and when other SW heard hers she had to punch through the newspaper. (around 18 years of age I have visions of newspaper being substituted for walls and cries of ‘you taught me it’)

Our attempt went a little wrong – husband’s was Neapolitan (roll eyes) I made my way through the icecream flavours, said strawberry and got a punch – turns out Neapolitan does have strawberry in it – hence the punch. However, I was expecting the punch on the actual word Neapolitan so wasn’t prepared. No one was harmed (or as bvsw likes to call it ‘no hurts’)

It was time to go home!

*holiday = butlins. They are dance teachers and travel to holiday camps to dance competitions. Envy over.

Still training FYI

Training update – I think I’ve told you all about the abuse/neglect session. Can’t remember if I’ve told you about the one on contact but know I definitely haven’t told you about the openness in adoption one or fostering to adopt so I’ll start there and if there are gaps you’ll have to shout.

Openness in adoption was Saturday just gone. Neither of us was really in the mood for it, it was at the end of a very long week. I’d started a new job, husband parents had been staying with us as they’d had a house fire (they’re fine) and we had friends arriving on the Saturday afternoon. Yet again we arrived too late to get a Costa and I hadn’t had breakfast. All signs that a trip to training was not ideal.

We were back to the semi circle set up (we’d previously ventured to table groups if you remember) and we were the last ones there so thankfully we didn’t have to mingle and make small talk. Just a few hello murmurs and raised eyebrows across the room.

Usual suspects were in attendance. J and wife(didn’t get chance to ask her about the budgie) the CCTV couple, Mike’s parents and few people I probably haven’t introduced you to. You’re not missing anything. This is another reason I think I found Saturday hard work as I haven’t made any connections with anyone on the training and I do like to meet new people and make friends. I literally cannot wait to get out of there when its over.

First activity was about loss – so that really lifted my mood! NOT. We had to write a list of what loss children might experience and then what adult’s might experience and then listed all of the possible reactions to loss. Basically the adult list was like a miserable predictor of all the bad stuff still to come in life (things on the list like loss of family, friends, your mind, your health etc – just so you can feel as miserable as we did) but don’t worry we then had a video of a woman who was a birth parent talking about what it was like to lose your child to adoption. As with all council videos it was old – she had her hair in a scrunchie and had shoulder pads. So relatable…….

Don’t I sound grumpy!! I had 3 jaffa cakes at break time. That helped. We then had a box of toys and everyone had to take a toy and explain how you could use everyday playing as a way to introduce talking about adoption with your child. Well – this was hilarious. There were so many tenuous links. Some good ones – a funny faces sticker book where you could talk about colour of eyes etc of the child and why yours might be different. We got a pack of funny face stickers so we said you could get the child to point at which one it felt like to help talk about feelings. One couple had a toy butterfly and I’m not sure I can do it justice but I feel the need to so get comfy.

Each wing had something on it. A mirror so you can spend time reflecting and looking at what you look like and talk about that and one with a picture of a bug where you can talk about things that bug you. There were two more but I was thinking about having another jaffa cake so missed it (but hopefully you get the gist). Anyway, talking about each thing on each wing together would enable the child to fly and soar like a butterfly! For goodness sake!!

We talked about life story books – which is the book you make about you and your family to give to the child before you meet them so they get a feel for their new family. Here I had to fess up to husband that I’d already bought the stationery required to create this book. He wasn’t surprised. My addiction to pintrest also means we’ll have a similar conversation when it comes to decorating the bedrooms – I’ve already decided colour schemes (and maybe bought a couple of prints for the wall)

The child also has a life story book that they come with and you continue for them as they grow up. A bit similar to those when it tells you when you got your first tooth, what your first word was etc only this one will also tell you that your mum took drugs and your dad is in prison. Well the example one we handed around did (the picture of the dad was also Andre Agassi so suppose you’ve got to use your imagination) Its these books that help you ensure the child has as much information about its past as you can possibly get. There was a quiz asking us some fairly basic questions like who named you, where did your name come from, how many times had you moved before you were 18. It was quite thought provoking to think about them and also knowing that if you didn’t know the answer you knew where to go to get it. Which isn’t always the case for adopted children so the more info you have the better.

We then had a lady come along and talk about her experience adopting. Which I think should have ended the session on a high. Only it was a bit like pulling teeth, her experience hadn’t been the standard experience so they kept saying ‘that shouldn’t happen, that won’t happen to you’ etc etc But I don’t want to sound like a total misery and actually she made some really interesting points. She had adopted an 18 month little girl who we saw photos of and she was absolutely gorgeous. It was interesting to hear that because she had spent the first 18 months of her life with random strangers that she had no awareness of making attachments with her new mum and would easily go off with anyone if she was told to or not. Something we hear quite a bit actually that children that are adopted have no stranger danger and new parents have to work really hard at creating attachments. She also told us that the little girl didn’t cry for about a year and again this was because she’d been left in her pushchair all the time (she’d never slept anywhere else) and they think nobody came if she did ever cry so she learnt to not bother (although apparently now she’s making up for lost time and cries at everything ) she also now doesn’t sleep anywhere but her cot and will not go to sleep in her pushchair, again because of the neglect. She also said school had been brilliant at helping her with the attachments with new school friends. She’d got close to one girl who was often late for school and so the adopted little girl would get really worried and anxious – so the teachers made a picture of two houses and the school to show how her and the other little girl went home to different houses but always came back to school just sometimes at different times. She said choosing a school is quite tough but it also depends very much on the needs of the child.

So there you are. We are still hurtling along with everything. I think 6 months in I’m probably just struggling with information overload which is all difficult to retain and really think about until you have your child and can put it into practice. Training wise we have two more sessions to attend but these will be in the new year now which I’m really grateful for. We now just carry on with the home study sessions.

New Year Update

It was a weird feeling to have Xmas knowing that its highly likely (with everything crossed) that next Xmas we could have children. It’s also nice to welcome in new year that doesn’t have clinics, injections and huge great crushing disappointment (again everything crossed for the last point)

The next few weeks are pretty hectic. Panel is a few months away so this means by then we have had to have done all our training (2 sessions left to do) and all of our stage 2 interviews (18 hours of these left) SW needs to write up all our interviews into our report and we then need to review and agree that we’re all happy with it.

There’s been a month where we haven’t seen her so again this next week is going to seem like a bit of a shock to the system. I know she wants to slow the pace down so that I can settle in my new job and that is helpful but there’s something to be said for cracking on and keeping in the zone!

Last time we met with her was to finish off our individual meetings, there were some things she wanted to go back over and get more detail on. Husband is way more into these sessions than I am so I let him go first as I knew it would last longer and my time would be shorter. I was right and then my session was even shorter as her laptop froze!

I thought the session ended in quite a tense conversation about childcare – what would we do? I said I’d go back 4 days and the child would go to nursey – which literally went down like a lead balloon – 4 days is too much apparently so we had to rethink. To be honest how the hell would I know what our plans are? We don’t know if we’re going to get one or two children, how old they’ll be, what their needs will be, if family can help, what we can afford etc etc so pinning ourselves to something now just seems ridiculous. Thankfully husband can play the game a little better than me so we agreed to come up with a couple of plans to talk about next time we’re together. By the time I need to go back to work it’ll be 2018 and hopefully the social workers will have left us alone by then. SW did say panel would need to see we’d really considered our options. Play it cool , play it cool. (just to be clear – we’ve got a week and we’ve made no further progress)

I was also a bit frustrated with the session as the schedule said we’d be talking about our support networks and thoughts on the homework (which was to read an article on post-adoption depression – joy!). I like to stick to the schedule!!

As we’re not seeing her for ages, she completely piled on the homework (which we’ve just done today – last minute!) We have had to detail all past relationships – again I got a bit grumpy here – what the hell has this got to do with my ability to be a good parent. Also a bit awkward trying to remember surnames!

We had to do a timeline of everything we’ve been through that led us to adoption – cue my powerpoint skills.

Next, answer a ton of questions on diversity and identity – then come to the conclusion we don’t have very diverse lives (we do have 4 gay friends) , I did get to harp on about how important I think it is and how passionately I feel about some stuff (just ask poor niece about my continued Instagram crusade with her about her recognising its important to be smart as well as pretty!).

Then more questions on lifestyle and routine and how this will have to change (for example – I will have to get better in the mornings, lie ins will be gone – remind me again why we’re doing this) How do we feel about noise and mess, how do we celebrate special occasions (I go big is that ok?), what do we do for holidays and will we be able to cope with all of this changing. I guess we will (apart from maybe the lie ins. Will I get less chance to read? What about my hour long baths? Can I still drink mid week wine???)

We got a handout about dealing with attachment disordered children at Xmas which I was ready to dismiss as ridiculous. Point 7 reads ‘keep everything low key and as dull as possible. Put the decorations up as late as possible. Sometimes the 24th.’ The other points were just as relevant for all children (accept things may be broken by 2pm. Recognise they may not be as excited about the gift they really wanted as you hoped. Buy batteries!) The article was redeemed by point 10 – Have a large glass of wine as frequently as possible!

Anyway next week we have training on Tuesday night and then the following week training Thursday night and SW meeting on Friday. So I’ll let you know if we stick to the schedule or not.

 

FFA

There just aren’t enough decisions to make in this whole adoption process so they threw another one in the mix for us. Last week we went to hear all about fostering for adoption (FFA). Try and get your head around this and whether or not you’d do it……

This is a new thing that they offer where if they think its likely that a child will be adopted and they are pretty certain of this before its born then they will look for parents who have said that they would be interested in FFA. So you get a call and say there’s a baby due in a month – would you be interested, You say yes and then the day after the baby is born it arrives at your house and you become its carers. So the heart strings go and you think how amazing it would be to have a newborn baby (without the pain and gore of actual labour!) and how amazing it would be for that baby to come straight into a loving stable home. From this information alone then you’d say sign me up now!

But obviously there are a few downsides. Firstly that you are only a foster carer so this brings a few extra social worker visits – still nothing to worry about, just buy extra teabags. Being a foster carer also means you have no parental responsibility for the child so you couldn’t take it to the doctors, or make any decisions regarding its healthcare and you couldn’t leave it with anyone, not even for an hour unless they were DBS checked. Still sounds like a small price.

Now let me hit you with the tough stuff. It hasn’t been agreed yet by the courts that the child will be adopted so it may end up that they think its in the best interests for the child to go back to its birth parents. You may have to give the baby back! Also because they’re still deciding you will have to make sure the baby attends contact sessions with the birth parents – sometimes three times a week. Which means taking your (technically not yours at all) baby to a supermarket car park, handing it over and getting it back an hour or so later (I did point out to husband I’d get some great reading time)

In this city they’ve had 16 FFA cases, all have gone on to be fine and means the children have just lived in one home in their most important formative years. You won’t have as much information about their medical records as they’ll be tiny but on the otherhand they won’t have suffered neglect or abuse.

Its such a difficult thing to make a decision on. We haven’t. What we’ve said is put our names down as potentially being interested…..

 

 

The Nursery Test

 Well things are moving pretty quickly at the moment so apologies for the slower updates. I’ve got lots to update you on – our day at the nursery where husband got to be a celebrity for a day, our first stage 2 interrogation, our first homework, fostering to adopt meeting and a couple more training sessions thrown in for good mix! (oh and a new job – but I can’t complain at this otherwise it’ll be a ‘told you so’ situation from the SW)

Right then – nursery day. I really didn’t want to go. My rationale being I wasn’t sure I had the patience to spend all day with kids, then husband pointed out that given the end result of this whole process is an actual child I really should suck it up. So I tied my hair back and on the advice of the nursery manager I didn’t put on any nice clothes! I took some chocolates as a thank you for having us but left them until then end in case they thought it was bribery.

We rocked up on time and walked through the school to get to the nursery. Manager sat us down and told us stories of the kids, the parents, her life story and then we signed a form. The nursery was in a slightly deprived area and some of the children were under care orders, some had never sat at a table or used a knife and fork before they came to the nursery so it was really clear they were doing great work. Manager told us to go and play and so we did. For FOUR HOURS! We went into different rooms, manager had told us what she was observing (oh yes this wasn’t just for fun!) and that she’d do it discreetly rather than following us round with a clipboard. I went in the 2 – 3 year old room where snack time was in full flow – crackers, cheese and red wine (no no sorry – milk!) There were about 6 kids in this room and we moved from the table to the play area where we played with sticklebricks. All of them shoving pieces in front of me and asking me to make stuff with wheels. Thankfully they didn’t have high engineering expectations. I stuck a load of the long thin ones on a big flat square one and called it a corn on the cob field – they seemed pretty impressed!

Then tiny girl arrived, a tiny little girl with a gorgeous pink fur coat and massive big pink bow in her hair – making the most god awful noise and she screamed and held on to her mother for dear life (cue time check)

A bell rang. This meant tidy up time. husband thought about introducing this at home. It was a short lived idea.

Anyway, after we’d tidied up we were supposed to be practicing Xmas carols but it took a while to get organised so the kids I had were jumping on to a cushion and I was pretending to catch their knees. Which was all fine until one bounced backwards and landed head first in the bookcase. More screaming .

Xmas carol practice was hilarious. All the kids came together to sing when santa got stuck up the chimney and other similar Xmas songs, with actions. (cue time check)

Then it was playing out time. You may be forgiven for thinking we’d been here hours. We hadn’t. It was while we were getting ready to go out that I noticed husband had collected a swarm of small children around him. It appeared he was a bit on an unusual sight in a lot of the kids lives they don’t often see men. A little boy came up to him and said ‘have you got a ladder? My dads got a ladder’ and ran off! Husband may have chased him had he not been surgically attached to second tiny child. A tiny little girl in a big red coat and fairly thick glasses. She loved him.

I spent a large amount of time putting small children in large emergency service fancy dress, only for them to want to get out of it the second I’d rolled up the final cuff. We played on the slide and we hoola hooped

At this point first tiny girl had managed to stop crying and she had surgically attached herself to me. Which was lovely, only nobody else was allowed to play with me. Which was unfortunate because another girl was determined I should get on all fours and be a kitten. This was a dilemma I was not expecting to find myself in! It rained so we went in. I had to put the coats on the right hooks.

Lunch for the kids and husband and I sat with a coffee on the floor and had a rest.

After lunch it had stopped raining so we went back out (if only I’d put the right coats on the right hooks) Tiny girl one and cat imitator were both attached to me. Husband and I instigated a huge game of hide and seek which resulted in my and every child in the nursery stuck inside a little tikes house. Thankfully some of them could hang out of the rear window and not be seen. Ever wondered how many people you could get in one of those houses?? A lot!

We went back in for snack – which was pear and milk (can’t remember all the kids names but I can remember the food) Pear didn’t go down so well. I had a lot of mashed pear on me. This made me decide we should probably go home.

Manager got us in the office to see how the day had gone. She gave us the most amazing report, she cried, I cried, even James got a bit emotional. One task ticked off the list!

 

Social Worker Visit Sept

Social Worker Visit

I think in saving my emails to family I have lost a few – so you join us here in stage one home visits!

This is the visit where SW needed to look at our finances and verify everything, do the house risk assessment, pet assessment and see our documents for the criminal record check. That sounds straight forward – let me just say those words again ‘look at our finances’!!! This is the topic that shall not be named in our relationship, the one thing guaranteed to warrant at least one slammed door – the topic where I say ‘spend you might get run over by a bus tomorrow’ and husband says ‘save. the bus might only mame you and therefore you’ll need money to fund your last uncomfortable days on earth!’

As you can tell we had a fun evening preparing for the visit, not just the finance conversation (actually the second time this year I have had to state how much a month I spend on clothes thanks to the mortgage meeting also) My personal sleepless nights were caused by the fact I had yet to change my passport to my married name, my driving licence was in my maiden name and parents address (don’t report me) and my birth certificate is AWOL (hey maybe I’m adopted?) I did however have a council tax statement, in the car, with a lipstick blot on it (don’t ask) so all was ok with the world.

SW arrived early (slightly annoying) so I had to rush to feed the cat before she turned into some feral unfed creature and we failed the pet assessment. SW was seated, cup of tea made and then we commenced the interrogation meeting.

We had to explain how our very final IVF meeting had gone and how we felt afterwards. I was pretty honest and said a little emotional but mostly ok. We had to talk to her about how we found the training days and did we make any friends (no ! We did not!) Our medicals were back, some of our background checks were ok and references were all ok (thanks friends who did these!)

Then it was right into the detail of the checks – first off the criminal record checks. Have I got a passport, erm yes but…… husband the swot (for now – he loses a point later) had everything he needed. I think we were ok with my documents but for the next stage we need to get them sorted (by we I clearly mean me)

Then the house assessment – this was mostly annoying! Apparently bleach bottles on the back of the toilet aren’t ok. Cords at toddler throttle height not ok. Razors and medicines that can be accessed without the lock security of Coutts bank not ok, but – wait for it – our dining table has round edges so that’s ok. husband had to prove his car information here and through pure husband and wife telepathy we agreed he’d pay his overdue car tax online whilst I showed SW around the house!! Ta da – here you are SW – car insurance! (told you he wasn’t perfect!)

Where cat eats, sleeps and sh*ts was under great scrutiny – I promise we told the whole truth……

Next – finances! We had to show her our P60’s (pleased to report no lipstick smudges here) and then confirm every outgoing we had put on the sheet for the last three months, mortgage, water, gas, electric, council tax, insurance, phones, savings, holidays, food, clothing, going out, gym etc etc Lets all be thankful there wasn’t a line for Amazon.

Then we booked in the next meeting, sw left and I opened Prosecco!

Literally exhausted!

SW back on 26th September, we’ve got to have completed more homework – family trees, support network diagrams, description of our house, our chronologies before and after 18, notes on our local community, our experience with children noted down and a description of husband and I and why we want to adopt. 26th September should bring us to the end of stage one. Stage two then commences, this is 4 months, they’ll meet our referees, we have two more training courses and we have to go and experience a nursery for the day and then SW visits us every week for 8 weeks to talk to us about allsorts of things before we then prepare our report for panel!

Did someone say holiday in 8 days…….

 

Training 2

Day two – spilt drinks, burst balloons and tears

This was our first full day of training – following the evening session last week with the mutes we weren’t leaping out of bed to meet our new ‘friends’ but were quite looking forward to learning new things.

First drama – the aggrophbic couple from last week – the one with the wife too afraid to speak –they didn’t even turn up!! Mike’s parents forgot their homework (they arrived with a McDonalds coffee – we think they’d not just been for coffee!) and the CCTV couple (who also ‘let slip’ they drive a convertible ) were there 30 minutes early! Still the same fight for biscuits (2 plates this time) I brought us fruit (I hope I got extra points for this!)

The competition is hotting up! This sh*t just got serious!

The first thing on the agenda was ‘weather report’ – I couldn’t understand it- the room had windows – it was sunny – why did we need to talk about the weather?! Well – picture this! 12 people (adults) stood in a circle with their hands on each others shoulders (husband was behind me) and then the social workers would say ‘its raining’ and we’d have to lightly pitter patter our fingers on the person in fronts shoulders, then ‘its lightening’ and we had to draw lightening strikes on the shoulders, then thunder where we had to bang each others shoulders like thunder (husband took this literally and I will blatantly get bruises from his hands like shovels) Well I tried and tried not to laugh but the combo of husband whacking me with force, uncomfortable drawing zigzags on a strangers back and the social worker saying seriously ‘it’s raining in Glasgow’ – I laughed! it was the strangest most uncomfortable thing! Then she explained that this is a therapy play activity. You may get children that have been physically abused and don’t like being touched and through activities like this you can help to heal them and get them to trust you (that stopped me laughing I can tell you!!)

We then went through the homework (apart from Mike’s parents!) and I got a little competitive – CCTV couple got 11 out of 11 and we only got 10. Apparently there were no prizes (I nearly said yes there are!!! Children!!!)

Then the ‘are you a heartless bitch or not activity’ here are some profiles of children and you have to decide if you would or wouldn’t adopt them. So Jo Bloggs, cerebral palsy fed through a tube – yes or no? This little girl 6 – yes or no. These twins whose mum was a drug addict – yes or no? Then we had to explain why? It was pretty tough! The good news was there was a happy ending for every child but some of them continued to have challenges! It was to get us thinking about what we could and couldn’t cope with.

We then watched a DVD from adoptive parents – how it feels in those first two weeks when you get the children. How difficult it can be getting to bond with them, how the children might feel, what you might need to do to form an attachment.

Then just before lunch we had to talk about what we’d do if we got children that were siblings, or had a different cultural background or had disability. What would we have to consider with all of these – we got siblings which was quite good as this is something we are thinking about. Things like the extra financial implications, how much space we had for 2, how much space our friends and family have for two, how different their needs might be etc

Lunch – a really beige buffet – quiche, sausage roll, nachos, sarnies (all with tomato!) we did a bit of small talk and then went for a walk – around town – ROUGH!

After lunch we watched another DVD about children who were older that had been adopted and how they felt about it. Again it was pretty emotional, they all talked about their experiences in a really matter of fact way and some of them had been through really tough times – makes you realise how lucky you are. I then spilt my can of Fanta – any points I won bringing fruit I lost spilling my drink!

The next activity was the hardest – we had to put the process we go through as adopters into the right order – there were about 35 pieces of paper with each step from making the initial enquiry to going to court and getting full responsibility for the child you adopt (you do this after the child has been living with you 10 weeks and if there’s been no issues) The stage we’re currently at was probably about piece of paper number 3 – only 32 more to go! This bit really hit me –patience isn’t a thing of mine and this was going to need bloody loads of it! I would have had a swig of Fanta to calm me down – had I not already spilt it!

Final activity we all got a balloon to blow up – just as the social worker was explaining the activity husband decided it was the perfect time to turn his balloon into an animal – see earlier reference to hands like shovels and it’s no surprise the balloon popped, we lost another adopter point. Mike’s dad had to stand up and we all had to give him a balloon and say what we’d need support with (imagine a fully grown rather fat man stood holding 12 balloons – 2 in his mouth) Then we all had to say what support was available and take a balloon off him – thankfully I didn’t take the one that he’d had in his mouth! The point being yes its going to be challenging and you’ll have your hands full but that the Council provide lots of support. (so will the wine aisle of Morrisons – although clearly I kept this to myself)

Then we got handouts and homework and we’re back on 28th October. Our social worker is coming to see us on 1st September so I’ll have more of an update then!