Talking at a prep group(27 Posts)
I got a phone call from the LA, and they would like me to talk at one of their upcoming prep groups. It's an all morning thing with several adopters coming in to talk. They can ask us questions just after we speak, or if they want to talk to us individually or ask something they don't want to in front of everyone, we stick around through lunch as well
I'm definitely happy to do it. So I've been thinking all evening about what to talk about. There's so many things I could mention really! Process itself, introductions, emotional/behavioural issues we deal with, contact, adopting older children, accessing support, school.... I want to be informative and realistic but also positive. Also, I recognise that some people there may now very little about modern adoption, but on the other hand some of them might have done lots of research and know much more. Problem is, i pick any one of those issues, but with three very very different children, it's difficult to know what to focus on! Their issues are so different, their contact, their school experience, girls were older, but DS was a young toddler...everything really!
So, I'd like to ask
- Prospective adopters who haven't yet been on prep course, what are you hoping to learn about from the adopters talk?
- Anybody who's already been to prep and had an adopters talk - was there anything specific you found useful to hear about? Anything that wasn't good? Anything important you think should be covered? What questions did you have afterwards?
- Has anyone here done a talk themselves? What goes down well, or doesn't? Any tips? And what kind of questions do they tend to ask you afterwards?
I am in your first category! I guess I want to know what kind of behaviour to expect and how to handle it, what kind of things to avoid/do more of, how to make daily life work better with a child with challenging behaviour etc.
How to cope with letter box contact or whatever contact is required.
How to usefully use my time before adoptoin. (Ha ha what time!)
The social worker running our prep course was an adopter and she was fab. I most remember her talking about what she would do differently - her DD was very quiet and everyone thought this was a good thing and it was until many years later that she identified attachment problems which could have been addressed so much younger. I was quite taken by her matter of fact way of discussing the issues and how they had dealt with it. It was the first time I'd heard about problems that didn't actually mean disaster! Up until then I'd always been faced with two kinds of adoptions - successful ones and unsuccessful ones and the unsuccessful ones were because the children had some adoption related problem that couldn't be overcome. It made me realise:
a) the majority of adoption related issues are not black or white but shades of grey and many of them just form part of your everyday life
b) you're unlikely to get away with no issues
c) its OK to be clear in your own mind what you will and won't be able to cope with (even if you are subsequently proved wrong!)
When I last spoke at a prep course, the SW asked me to speak about specific topics, I think it was mostly about panel and the first few weeks of placement.
I have also spoken at info evenings where the prospective adopters really want to know the time frame.
The Q and A section is often the best.
I try to be very honest.
Start on a positive, sandwich the negative in between and finish on a positive.
Although saying all that they have not asked me for a while.
Lilka if the organiser knows the demographics of the group it may be worth asking the person who has recruited you to speak for more details of who will be there, so you know more your target audience.
If it is allowed it is also a nice idea to ask parents at the start what they expect to get from your talk so you can tailor it a bit and/or ask for any questions at the end.
It makes your job harder as you need to sandwich in bits to answer all those questions.
With my ex-language-teacher hat on I kind of feel a good way would be for the person leading the session to ask at the start what parents hope to get out of your talk and you could note that down as you wait to be introduced and then when you 'take to the stage' -so to speak- you can address those points mentioned! If you don't know the answer (I can't imagine that scenario) you could point them in the direction of getting more info.
Or does that sound like a headache!
As an wannabe adoptive parent I think I would most like to hear:
An overview of the process you took to becoming a parent.
The issues you thought you may be taking on with your DC and the realities of actual issues.
Some practical advice about how to parent some of the issues our future children may have.
And most importantly - some good stuff! Why you wouldn't go back in time to your prep course and change your mind.
Hi Lilka do you use adoption uk boards at all?
I read AUK, but don't post any more. I posted a little bit quite a few years ago, but totally forgotten my old log in details! I did a search under 'prep', didn't turn anything useful up though
Thank you all! Very helpful I will think a bit more and then run my ideas past you
If anyone else has any ideas please post! And since this isn't until December, if anyone goes on a prep course before then, please update this thread if you have anything to add
I asked the same thing on adoption uk a couple of years ago and ended up printing off the posts and handing them out to the folk on the prep group. I will have a look and bump if I can find it
We had a lovely couple talk at our prep course and they gave a very factual timeline of their process - what had happened when, and also how they were feeling, when they started telling people, buying stuff etc.
It was really interesting at that stage to get an idea of the feelings they had gone through and to try and picture us going through that too.
The adopter who talked at our prep group was very frank about some of the topics that SS rather skirted around - eg it was her who mentioned the issue of changing an awful given name; qualifying for almost any school you want them to attend etc. She was also very upfront about waiting for a little baby, and the pros and cons (eg a significant undiagnosed medical condition) of having a very small child. Also deciding whether to adopt a sibling when offered the opportunity.
So some stuff particular to her experiences, but the real value was in her honesty and ability to sayvthings that aren't necessarily in the script for SS (but they were able to discuss them on the back of her openers - eg on names, they talked about security issues)
Speaking to the adopters was one of the most useful parts of our prep group - we had two couples come in, and were given half an hour or so to speak to them without the social workers there, so they could be really frank with us. I can't remember too much of what we discussed now, but they touched on how they discussed the adoption/birth families with their children; and why they thought they were picked in a competitive matching scenario.
Oh Goodness, yes, those are all topics I would want to hear about:
the issue of changing a given name
qualifying for almost any school you want them to attend
a little baby, and the pros and cons (eg a significant undiagnosed medical condition) of having a very small child
deciding whether to adopt a sibling when offered the opportunity
why they thought they were picked in a competitive matching scenario
Yes, I know I have amalgamated two people's comments! They are all stuff I would love to know about!
Great you are doing this. In addition to all already mentioned I would like to know practical first few day tips, how it felt to be abrand new family, how you helped them settle in, dealt with crying etc, if they got homesick for previous home/foster carer. and something about bonding you have said some great advice before on previous posts about bonding.
Our talk was a warts and all story about the process, meeting, attachment, family dynamics changing and the ongoing issues faced.
The only bit I felt needed changing/altering was that the speaker had a birth child which was great for half the room but for us first time parents I think we needed to hear from someone who didn't have any past parenting experience.
Due to this I have offfered to talk as I feel it is something that needs to be added to the mixture to give an stronger overall introduction to adoption.
I think for most the biggest things were (in no particular order);
How did you know it was a right match for you
What is competitive matching really like
How was the first meeting
How were the first few months
What changed after the 3 month mark (something our SW impresss on us)
How is life now
What support is out there
What was the home study like
Thank you all
Whilst I will talk a little about all 3 of them (it's an hour talk I think) I think for the purposes of attachments/behaviour at least I will focus more on DS. Partly because I think the majority will be going for under 4's (briefly say what I thought the advantages of an older child we when I made that choice twice?) and also because he has had some attachment issues but nothing very challenging or requiring therapeutic input (unlike the girls). I think it may be less challenging for them talking about him, and i can give concrete exaples of things I have done which have made him feel more secure
I will definitely talk about bonding and contact (including with previous FC's). Plus the decision to take on a sibling, and the name change
I want to stress that whilst we as a family deal with many issues other families do not (and all adoptive families will have some extra issues even if it's only contact or life story books and talking about adoption), I adore my children and have no regrets about adoption. That their issues as Kew said, have not spelled disaster, but are things we just work with and do not make us an unhappy family (although I can't deny I have tough days/weeks and it is hard)
I haven't adopted a baby (well DS was 23 months but it's not the same as a 10 month old) nor have I been in a competitive match. I can talk a little about the emotions going through the process, especially after approval, and also tips for introductions
Lilka, you'll be great
"I haven't adopted a baby (well DS was 23 months but it's not the same as a 10 month old) nor have I been in a competitive match." I don't think this really matters - you're never going to get an adoptive parent who fits the scenario of every person in the room. I just wanted to meet someone who had adopted and they were happy and make me believe it was possible.
Wish me luck!
Oh and by the way
this is completely irrelevent to this thread, but my lovely DGD was 7 months old yesterday....how is it 7 months already? She's such a blessing in my life. Spent nearly a whole day with her today. Beautiful and giggly and got me wrapped round her little finger. And everyone else's as well. Although DD2 tried to feed her Dr Pepper when I wasn't looking. Babby did not like it. DD1 has taken to motherhood like a duck to water
There's something happy I can passingly mention to the prospective's...not that they are even remotely thinking about grandparenthood yet! Just getting to the parenthood stage is such a long journey you don't think further than that!
Oh, I was going to ask about her! Really glad she is still beautiful and precious
It went really well!! Thank you everyone who told me what they wanted to know and helped me work out what to focus on
Devora, she gets more beautiful every time I lay eyes on her
What did they ask you about, Lilka?
Their questions after my talk were mostly expanding on what I'd said - I got asked exactly how much information i got about each child before I had to committ to adopting them, and how much 'uncertainty' about development and behaviour issues do most children have. And how long it took for my three from coming home to getting an adoption order. I answered that and in the process mentionned appeals, which generated a worried question about whether the birth parents can still get them back and how long appeals take to sort out. I was reassuring and the social worker also made sure to emphasise the 'no chance of appeal succeeding' point.
Privately, I was asked about post adoption support and how good ss was after the adoptions. Also more about contact, and also about telling a child they are adopted. Mostly questions about social services and social workers, which they didn't feel quite comfortable asking when the sw's could hear
It was this morning and my brain is already fuzzy, I'm struggling to remember much more! It was quite rewarding though, and the lead SW said she thought it was a good talk, which was gratifying. I would be happy to do it again in the future (if they wanted me back that is!)
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