This week is medicals and adoption training module one (warning: contains middle class snobbery!)
Busy-ish week on the adoption progress this week. Starting with the medical, a pretty uneventful 45 minutes – my gp filled out the form in silence and I watched him in silence. And then paid for the privilege!!
Then the evening was training or as I like to call it adoption school, in a salubrious area. I’d been a bit nervous, and walking into a room of silent couples sat around a plate of custard creams avoiding eye contact didn’t really settle the nerves! I tried to suss out early on who I wanted to make friends with. There was a lady wearing stripes with a paperchase notebook – she’s one option. We call her and her husband ‘Mike’s parents’. They already foster (Mike) and mostly started every sentence with ‘in Mike’s case….’
Turns out all the other women in the group apart from Mike’s mum were mutes – how unusual – you don’t meet any and then 4 come along at once. We’d also been worrying about weight and if we were too fat to adopt – we didn’t have to worry and the custard creams didn’t stand a chance.
We had to pair up with another couple – one wife literally nearly bolted at the panic of having to talk to people she didn’t know. Not being great fans of the awkward silence, husband and I asked a lot of questions, showed an interest and then had to reply to our own questions to avoid any longer silences. We replayed this back in the car nearly crying laughing at how ridiculous we sounded.
We then had to go round in a circle and introduce ourselves – once you know you sound ridiculous and middle class you can’t help but notice it more
Following on in the circle was the agoraphobic dentist who was still clinging to her husband for safety – needless to say – he was the one that spoke.
Then we had CCTV couple. He ate all the custard creams – I was watching! Some weird conversation later on, they told us all their house had cctv.
We then met J and his wife – they had met at work. They were quite old and shy – I’m dying to know how they moved from ‘please pass me the stapler’ to ‘fancy a date’ – they just didn’t seem the type! He was lovely and had been adopted himself. She didn’t speak.
Bob the builder and his wife. She didn’t speak. Actually neither really did he.
The social workers did a good job to manage all the awkward silences – you’ll be glad to know we didn’t feel the need to fill every silence with pointless middle class facts. It was painful. I think I’ve probably made that clear!
It’s not a competition and we are fully aware of this but we awarded ourselves silver, Mike’s parents gold and J alone took the bronze
The actual content of the training was interesting – how did children come into care, what was the process, some of the things to consider but not too much for the first session. We’re back next week for a full day which I think will be a bit more intense.
We did an exercise that involved people in the group holding up a card (birth mother, foster carer 1, 2 & 3, grandparent etc) It was ok – nobody had to speak here! Then a pair of rag dolls that were passed round each time they were moved around. To demonstrate how much children in care can move before they get to adoptive parents. It was a powerful activity and we talked about how the children can often worry about people they’ve left behind, suffer from separation anxiety and even push the adoptive parents away worried that they too will give them away. I did however suffer from the giggles when the social worker reached into the bag to get the dolls for the activity she felt the need to tell us they weren’t using real children!
They talked to us about the process of how children get to adoption, through the social workers deciding the parents can’t look after the child, through a court process to get a care order and then to the adoptive parents through a rigorous matching process. After 10 weeks adoptive parents can apply for full parental responsibility but the birth parents can contest this so it’s a nerve wracking process. The biggest reason for children been taken into care at the moment is neglect (through drugs, domestic abuse and/or alcohol)
There are a couple of routes to adoption. The one described above and then a new route called fostering to adopt where you foster the baby from a newborn with the view that you’ll adopt it. Sounds great to get a newborn but you have to let the baby have direct contact with the birth parent 2-3 times a week and then there’s clearly no guarantee at the end that the courts will approve the adoption. We’ve decided not to go down this route.
We talked a bit about contact but there’s a whole day on this later on – as well as therapeutic parenting (basically the different techniques to parenting a child who’s suffered neglect) So there’s plenty for us to get our heads around.
We finished early (no surprises there given the silences) and we’re back on Wednesday for a full day!