Excitement building again for day 3 of the preparation to adopt course. We have found the course so far enjoyable and informative and for us, there have been no nasty surprises. Often they find that potential adopters drop out of the course as the weeks progress for one reason or another. This course is designed to give you as much information as possible, warts and all.
Topics covered on this weeks course were attachment issues and lack of a child’s identity & the highs and lows of an adopters journey.
Attachment is a massive area for adoptive children and rightly so. As a result it was talked about and discussed during every session. This has been covered in previous blogs, so do take a look at the pervious blogs to find out more.
The most powerful exercise we were involved with today was the ‘string exercise’. This is designed to highlight the number of attachments a looked after child has and the affect all the different moves/changes cause for a child. So 1 member of the group is the looked after child and they hold the end of all the lengths of string. Now we had to identify all the people this child knows and the length of string identifies how close they are to the child. So people identified were: Birth parents, social worker, foster careers, health visitor, possible swimming teacher, doctor, pets living with foster family, friends, teachers, shop keeper in the local shop, bus driver etc. (Anyone the child has contact with) To then highlight the effect another move has on that child, the strings are then cut one by one, often leaving just one string. That string is often one of the shortest strings and leads to the child’s social worker. So any move a child has unnecessarily has a major negative affect on attachment.
The second exercise was similar to the string exercise but with blocks. These blocks represent a child’s needs, from the basics such as the need to be fed and need to be clothed suitable, to a need of protection and a need of belonging and encouragement. Then as we identified needs that were not being met from a child’s profile, bricks were removed. After a few needs had been identified the wall was still standing with just some gaps, indicating that with love,empathy, care and nurture, these foundations can easily be healed. Where as for a child with several life changing events and needs not being met the wall could be a crumbled pile of bricks, which can still be rebuilt but it’s about going back and rebuilding the child’s wall, hence why therapeutic parenting is regarded as the most beneficial way of parenting a looked after child.
In the afternoon we heard from an adopter and their journey. It is always interesting to hear a frank and personal journey with the highs and the lows. The process of adopting is a major life changing experience and one that needs to seriously be considered. Of course there will be major highs when your child will take their first steps, or overcome a major hurdle and the highs can seem very insignificant to others, but to you knowing what your child has endured in their life, it can be these small achievements that are serious highs for you. It’s the lows that are important to consider as well, as not every adoption journey is necessarily a smooth and happy one. There will be days where you might not have slept, your child could be having an all day tantrum and your energy levels have hit rock bottom. There could be health issues develop, or eating issues that your pulling your hair out over. These lows are common, you are not alone and the point of highlighting the lows on the preparation course is to remind you that your social workers are there to support you along with your own support network and not to be afraid to reach out to people when you are experiencing ‘a low’.
Day 3 complete and we both really enjoyed today even if the string exercise did really hit a nerve and demonstrate the potential affect on a child’s attachment. Just one more session left before we have to make the decision of carrying on with the process or not (we both know that we really do wish to progress with our application) but have to complete the course and be accepted to proceed first.