Our journey continued onto the 4 day course organised by the Charity (PACT), which is where we felt it started to get very real (and serious). The course was held over 4 days over 2 weeks and was the first time we met others on the same journey as we were. We both were quite nervous about this course, as we had no real idea what it would entail and we have not overly talked to people about our adoption, so sharing with a room full of strangers felt ‘strange’.
My Tip – There is a great deal of focus on you in this stage, so be prepared and read up beforehand any materials and be happy to share – the more you do, the more you get out of it (even if it feels a little personal)
At our session we joined 14 other people who were on who were on the same journey as us from a variety of back grounds. Our group had, young and old potential adoptions, single, same sex, mixture race as well as a couple with a guide dog (which really stole the show). The mix of backgrounds really did open up the conversations and reminded us just how many people are going through the process.
The first day of the training did start a little awkwardly, as everyone was a little shy in sharing their own stories and providing personal information – we were really talking to a bunch of strangers about topics that we might find difficult to bring up with close family, but through some interactive play, a few open conversations and the odd laugh, everyone relaxed into the process.
My Tip – go for lunch as a group – it gives you a chance to get to know them better and also share any concerns, frustrations or areas that you may not understand with like-minded people. You can also let off some stress about the course.
The 4 days were in all honestly a bit surreal. You spend the time alternating between serious and daunting subjects, such as sexual and mental abuse, and blowing bubbles and playing with Lego. Through the course you get a much better understanding of the entire adoption process – which will be long – and also some of the characteristics of the children who are up for adoption = which did make us quite sad – quite how so many children can be is such a situation is eye opening and does make you think back to how lucky we were with our family and childhood.
Some of the stories are quite disturbing and can feel like everything is insurmountable and depressing (how on earth can we who have little or no real experience with children cope with getting children 24 x 7 that may have additional challenges) but I think are as much about preparing you for the worst, as they are about educating you on methods to help you cope. There is a great deal of focus on therapeutic parenting and how this can help you and the children better connect and also better understand behaviours.
My TIP – Learn about therapeutic parenting early as knowing the basics will help you get more from the meetings.
My TIP – do keep in mind that kids will be kids and all children no matter what background can be challenging….. Remember what you were like ? 🙂
The most thought provoking session (although a tough story to hear) for us was the guest speaker who talked about how she had gave up her child 40 years ago and how she has never stopped missing or loving the child. This was at a time when there was little support and children were taken quickly from parents, and these days she probably would not have had them removed, as with a little support she probably would have been able to provide a secure home. This really brought into focus that there are always 2 sides of the story, and just because the birth family are not able to provide the care and attention the children deserve, it does not mean they do not love or have strong attachments to the children. This is really important to remember when you think about the children you want to adopt and also when you eventually have conversations with your children about birth parents.
Both S and I left the this course, older, wiser and a little bit more nervous about the journey ahead, but we felt we had a much stronger feeling that we could get there in the end and that there was enough support available to help us on our journey.