10. Preparation round 2 and the Bates Motel

Monday was curry night and Tuesday saw us heading to London for two consecutive days of prep course. Off we trundled at the crack of dawn with our suitcase and (on my part, I can’t speak for Cara) a general sense of meh. I’d fallen into a training funk: dreading hackneyed team building activities and slow delivery. When did I get so cynical? In all of the blogs we’d read, adopters had extolled the virtues of these courses – perhaps I was expecting too much? being too judgmental? Whatever the case, I was absolutely delighted to be proven wrong.

Over the next couple of days we examined the relationship between birth families and adoptive children and the importance of maintaining that contact (if appropriate); legalities and court procedures; different methods of adoption – including fostering to adopt, which we had discounted initially; neurological development and responses; post adoption support offered by FACTS, with integrated models of complex trauma/attachment perspective including Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

Our take homes: acceptance is key; seeking help isn’t failure.

These kids are broken, damaged by adults, themselves damaged by a failing system. Our role isn’t traditional ‘parenting’ as the majority recognise it, but long term therapeutic support. Adoptive children don’t just have an absence of parents, but a history of abuse. It’s a minefield, one to which we are wholly committed, but will change our lives beyond recognition.

Then we did what people faced with challenges do and headed to the pub. This proved an excellent space to build on existing relationships with other adopters, and it transpired that they are all bloody marvellous. Whatsapp group created to keep in touch and finally everything I’d been hoping for!

Before heading to the hotel on the first night, we met with some London based friends (including a lovely dog 🙂 ) and cushioned ourselves with suitable quotas of wine. There were no towels or soap, and a questionable (blood-like) stain on the wall, but it was cheap and we survived. Needless to say, we didn’t stay for breakfast.

The final hour of training involved meeting the manager of the Matching team, who are responsible for matching families with children. This was a real eye opener. She explained that before approval, her team are already identifying potential matches. Following Panel, sometimes in a matter of minutes, sheaf’s of children’s profiles will be thrust upon you. She highlighted the necessity of a strong PAR (Prospective Adopter Report), as you may be pitted against other families vying for the same child. If this is the case, the children’s social workers will visit potential adopters at home. She encouraged us to make them lunch; fill the house with fresh flowers; bake bread (and pray they don’t eat it, my bread can famously sink a swan at a hundred yards) and generally fawn over them. I hadn’t considered a competitive level of adopting and whilst I’m pretty cut-throat when it comes to Trivial Pursuit, it sits a little uncomfortably when it comes to the lives of children.

We were then shown live profiles of children currently waiting for adoption. Gulp. I’ve so many thoughts about these, they warrant a post of their own.

Then, as soon as it began, the Preparation Course was over and we’re another step closer to small people systematically destroying our home and terrorizing the cat.

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