After last weeks session, we were up early and raring to go. Over the past week we purchased a few books that had been recommended, and we both read a different book and had a few discussions on issues that arose in these books. (Books are reviewed on our reading list page) Heading off excited and confident for what the day will teach us.
We took our seats close to a window as last week it did get rather warm, and knowing where we were going this week we arrived in good time, only being beaten by 1 other couple. Not only is the course there to educate about adoption and the process but it is an excellent time to network, as those in the room will all be going through the process at the same time, give or take a month or two. Who knows when you might need someone else’s help or opinion on something that we might be experiencing. We both come from large families, with several nieces and nephews, but some of the challenges we might face will be totally different from those experienced by birth families and highly likely to be as a result of the trauma our children faced in those first days, weeks and months of being born.
So the day began with 2 health workers coming in to talk about their job roles and that it’s important to register with your local health visitor so that they can be there to support us in the early months of having a Child move in. They don’t only deal with new born babies and they can offer continued advice and support for years to come. A helpful insight into the responsibilities of a health visitor with some examples of situations they have experienced.
Next up was a session focussing in on attachment & the impact on a child’s development, identity and contact issues. Taking a look at what a child in care might have been exposed to in their birth home and what sort of effect this has. Attachment starts right from the beginning, when a baby is in the womb, relying on nourishment from the mother, so if this is restricted or the incorrect nourishment from the misuse of say alcohol or drugs, then this can severely affect the development of the baby and already start to impact on the attachment process. The attachment bond will become stronger throughout infancy and childhood with physical skin on skin contact and comfort, all vital in the development of a strong attachment . These early days in a child’s life are so important for the child to bond and grow an attachment to other humans. Adopted children have often had their attachment bond broken several times, as the child passes from birth parents to social worker and sometimes between multiple foster careers. The bond can be reformed over time with the correct care which includes physical and emotional care but there can always be underlying attachment issues which can result in behavioural issues as a result of neglect, physical & mental abuse including sexual abuse. This is known as Reactive Attachment Disorder.
Children with reactive attachment disorder have had their early lives disrupted so severely that they are unable to form a trusting bond as their basic needs may not have been met as a baby such as being fed when hungry, having their nappy changed, being ignored and not shown any attention, left to cry or even mistreated and abused. It is possible to easily correct if you notice the signs which can be if a child doesn’t smile when stimulated, unable to gain eye contact, rejects efforts made to comfort them or they self comfort themselves by rocking.
This bought us back onto the importance of therapeutic parenting and relationship based play in order to get the right side of the brains neurons firing to stimulate the non verbal responses (movement & sensation). Getting the right side of the brain firing will in turn help to trigger the left had side developing and thus helping verbal and logical communication.
The importance of a child’s identity, do you know your own identity? An adopted child needs to now and understand their own unique identity. The first major identity is their own name, they were given this name by their birth parents, this forms their first major anchor in their own special identity. As such it is important that as adopters we do not change their first name. As their lives develop and they are fed more age related information to help them understand, to then throw into the conversation that their birth name was different to what they are now called all adds to a confused identity. They biologically are different to us and so it’s important to understand that they might not like a particular style of food or clothing for example and this should not just be forced on them to comply. You wouldn’t appreciate being made to eat a type of food that you dispise.
As a child grows older they will be more inquisitive as to their identity, where they came from, what their birth parents are like, why they were unable to care of them, what parts of me are like my Birth parents etc. As they grow they will have fears and anxiety as to who they really are. As adopters it is our duty to provide as much information that we know about their early years and experience, so when they are ready to talk you have the information at hand to be able to drip feed them, being open and honest is the key.
Today was heavy going and we certainly deserved a gin or two when we got home. Not all children in care will have attachment issues and during the day we were often discussing the most severely effected situations, but still very important to fully be aware of what we would face and the commitment and attention we can put in to assist and help a child that we are going to be responsible for.