Monday, 20 January 2014

Chapter 30 - Post Approval: Equipping and filling time

On the learning train

I don't know how common it is across the various adoption agencies in the UK but it seemed like our local authority offered a pretty good programme of courses to equip prospective adopters in the weeks and months between passing through panel and being matched with a child. Of course, we had no benchmark but, still, we were keen to benefit from every bit of advice which we could... 

Not that attending a training course is in any way real preparation for what parenthood, let alone adoption really means. But we were keen to hoover up any nuggets of insight which might come our way. Our academic backgrounds had hard wired us that way. I've already mentioned our keenness to dive into the adoption literature which had been signposted at the Orientation evenings and our surprise that, when we got to Preparation classes, we were the only ones who had done so. What can I say? Overachievers... Besides, we thought, it would be nice to network with other prospective adopters and to catch up with a variety of our fellow Preparation group members. 


Ah, the power of presumption. We were either astonished, or were completely unsurprised (it's hard to work out which), that across all the training courses we attended we only bumped into one of our fellow adoption group. Horses for courses, I suppose. However, since the training was free we were loath to look that gift house in the mouth.

The different courses which were offered covered a wide range of topics and, while of variable quality, were largely helpful. Across the weeks our Tuesday evenings became slowly filed up with training events. Of course, the value we derived and the quality varied from course to course but overall we felt that it was time well spent. Sure, the course on attachment was just a rehash of the things which we had heard on our preparation days covered in rather less detail but the course on the matching process was enlightening and entertaining. A particularly interesting role play and business game session really seemed to bring to life the complexity of the matching process and helped us understand better why (as Denise assured us) we had been close a few times. But more of that anon. The sessions on contact and social media were as worrying as they were valuable. The latter providing some interesting insight on how to screw down the privacy settings on our Facebook accounts as tightly as possible.

But by and far the most valuable post approval training course for us was one we didn't even go on! Again, I have no idea how widely this is matched by other authorities across the UK, but our adoption service offered a free "friends and family" course where our nearest and dearest could go along and learn a little more about what this adoption lark is really all about, the challenges which adoptive parents face and the roles they could play in easing our passage into a nuclear family. In the end my wife's parents and one of our pairs of referees signed up for the day. The training which they received was a microcosm of our preparation courses with an introduction to the challenges of building attachment in a child who has experienced trauma. The trainers helped the attendees gain a real appreciation of why "their" way of parenting might not be appropriate in the context of adoption and how to support their adopting friends/family members. After attending my wife's parents even spontaneously started a conversation with us about how they should never refer to the birth parents as the "real" parents. Gold dust!

Meanwhile we were continuing our charm offensive with Denise. Contacting her on a semi-regular basis to remind her that we still existed and dig for some information on how "it" was going. Repeatedly she reassured us that we had been close to being matched on two or three occasions - in the top two or three candidates. We weren't sure if that made us feel better or worse. Close but no cigar! Great!

So why were we not quite good enough, we asked? Although from the matching training we knew it was rarely such a simple question it felt good to push for a response. The response we got frankly seemed like the biggest of brush offs... "Actually, in pretty much the majority of cases it has just been a matter of geography. We have had a real influx of children from the areas where you and where your wife's parents live. Of course that means that you are excluded from consideration for those children. We still think of you both as one of our most suitable couples." Hmmm... 

"Yeah, as if..." we thought. "There's a patronising pat on the head if we ever heard one!" Turns out that Denise was playing it with a totally straight bat. But that is for a later chapter...







3 comments:

Suddenly Mummy said...

Sounds like a great approach to training - wish my LA had offered half as much!

honeymummy said...

It certainly sounds like you have an LA who have a realistic view of the challenges that APs can face. Our LA were pretty good (and to be fair still are) with providing helpful workshops and where possible I have taken full advantage of it.
As for the 'pat on the head' comment - I know exactly what you mean and in our case our SW (funnily enough same name)was playing it straight too.

Good luck with your journey

3beesandahoney said...

It certainly sounds like you have an LA who have a realistic view of the challenges that APs can face. Our LA were pretty good (and to be fair still are) with providing helpful workshops and where possible I have taken full advantage of it.
As for the 'pat on the head' comment - I know exactly what you mean and in our case our SW (funnily enough same name)was playing it straight too.

Good luck with your journey