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Your experience with introductions please!

(27 Posts)
Jimbob1 Sun 18-Sep-16 08:14:39

We start intros a week tomorrow (yayyyyyyy!!!).
I have two dilemmas rolling round my head.
Firstly what did you do when you met your child for the first time? Did you just sit down close by, sit next to them etc. Lo isn't yet mobile so won't approach us and I worried about standing there like an idiot whilst the social workers watch on.
Secondly, introducing lo to family.
It is my sons birthday around 2 weeks after lo arrived so decided that weekend is a good one to introduce her to her grandparents. My parents will happily come to us but my in-laws don't really like coming to ours and will expect us to go to them. I personally feel that her first meeting with strangers should be somewhere familiar and so want to put my foot down and say all visits are in my home. Would you agree or am I being precious?
Many thanks for your input!

Congratulations! Exciting times smile.

We've done intros twice, once with a toddler, once with a baby (DC1 by then at school). First meetings for them both took place at the foster carers house, with no social workers present. Each time it was scheduled for only an hour, mid morning and we just played it by ear. DC1 wouldn't make eye contact but stood holding the talking photo album of us mumbling ma & da, and by the time we left was watching us carefully over the top of his sippy cup. Both times the children sat & played with their toys and we sort of joined in & commented on what they were doing while chatting with the foster carer.

In terms of meeting wide family, again play it by ear but don't be afraid to do it on your terms, so if the in laws won't travel maybe they'll have to wait a bit until you feel your DC is settled enough to go visiting. With our DC1 we followed the social workers advice and 'funnelled' so didn't visit or have people round for several weeks, with DC2 we just carried on as normal, partly because they were more portable & sociable, and partly because we had routines we needed to stick to for DC1, e.g. school run etc so couldn't stay cooped up for long.

PoppyStellar Sun 18-Sep-16 10:29:06

Congratulations and best of luck with it all. Intros are knackering and scary and mentally exhausting but it is definitely all worth it in the end!

Best advice I was given for first meeting was take some bubbles. If LO not old enough to blow themselves then you can do it and it's a great ice breaker. Try not to worry too much (way easier said than done I know) because it may well feel odd and uncomfortable whatever you have planned. That can be the nature of intros and is perfectly normal. Honest. Fwiw I think I'd probably go for sitting next to LO on sofa but I can't honest remember what I did and I possibly (probably) stood there like a gormless idiot. smile

Re the visits at home you are not being precious and you definitely should put your foot down about people coming to you not the other way round. LO needs as much stability as possible to cope with the enormous transition from FC to you, and the feelings of loss this will bring them.

Best of luck with your intros

Jimbob1 Sun 18-Sep-16 10:37:51

Thanks.
In laws only live 15 mins away but they just don't like coming to ours.
I have asked DH and he agrees they should meet her at ours so that should help. I won't look like the mean one!

matimeo Sun 18-Sep-16 11:14:46

Assuming (from your post) little one is still a baby it will be as easy as pie. Bubbles are a great idea, but you can't really do it wrong- do what feels right for you. I held back for a few minutes, but baby will probably be dead interested and may not give you that chance. If there is a bit of crying at first cuddle (you will be nervous, they might be grumpy) don't worry, they will soon come round.

I would introduce in your own home. I think for a baby it isn't a big deal but for the first few weeks you want to keep good routines and do all the care yourselves- judge on how the child is doing. I would make a special effort to invite inlaws more now, but expect them to accommodate your needs about arrangements now you have two kids.

If in-laws actually don't come to grandchild's birthday and meet new grandchild, then a frank conversation probably needs having at some point when things calm down.

I would also be very keen to ensure that your son's birthday is (as much as is possible in circs) about him, not new baby. Make sure he doesn't feel pushed out.

matimeo Sun 18-Sep-16 11:16:49

P.S. Well done! It's going to be a great time, but two kids are knackering :-)

Kr1stina Sun 18-Sep-16 11:36:56

When you meet baby, just act how you woudl if you went to someone else home and they had a baby . There will ony be FC there . Just talk to them , you are guests in their home .

When baby is used to you , you will get to play with or maybe hold her. Remember she doesn't know you are her new parents, you are just strangers.

Re extended family . I would be doing funnelling, so two weeks is WAY too soon for me . DDS welfare is more important that ILs preferences. They are adults and she is a small vulnerable child .

I think you should make sons party only about him and do family introductions another time . Trying to mix the two is a potential for disaster . Baby will get passed around ( very bad ) and DS will have his birthday spoilt .


It's not fair on your son,he will be jealous enough anyway that you have a new baby .

How old is older son and what kind of party is it ? If baby DD will go to your DH, let him hold her and you focus on DS.

Maiyakat Sun 18-Sep-16 15:09:13

I did have a SW there for the start of intros, she didn't stay long. I just sat down on the floor next to DD and talked to her, she is very interactive and loves attention so she made it easy really! I didn't pick her up until foster carer gave me 'permission', more due to my uncertainty and not wanting to do anything wrong than them making me feel like I needed it.

I will second what everyone else has said about introducing others.

Congratulations and good luck! smile

Wow bubbles sounds a great idea.

I would also get a blanket for baby, wash in nice fabric softener and then sleep in the bed with it for a week. Ask the social worker to pass it on to the family for the baby to get used to your smell before you arrive. Whether it really works or not, no idea, but we did it for our son, who was three when we adopted him, (and also for our kitten!).

Re "I have two dilemmas rolling round my head.
Firstly what did you do when you met your child for the first time? Did you just sit down close by, sit next to them etc. Lo isn't yet mobile so won't approach us and I worried about standing there like an idiot whilst the social workers watch on." I think you've had great advice already from Kristina and co. But just remember you are not an idiot, and no one will think you are. Everyone will likely be a bit nervous and hoping all will go well.

Just be friendly to foster carers and ask some polite questions (not too many) always about baby and volunteer whatever information they ask that you are happy to give.

Re "Secondly, introducing lo to family....It is my sons birthday around 2 weeks after lo arrived so decided that weekend is a good one to introduce her to her grandparents. My parents will happily come to us but my in-laws don't really like coming to ours and will expect us to go to them. I personally feel that her first meeting with strangers should be somewhere familiar and so want to put my foot down and say all visits are in my home. Would you agree or am I being precious?"

I totally agree with Kristina, really this is so important... "I think you should make sons party only about him and do family introductions another time . Trying to mix the two is a potential for disaster . Baby will get passed around ( very bad ) and DS will have his birthday spoilt ."

You will not only be managing relationships with your parents and in laws but also with your own son, we adopted with a birth daughter aged 9 and she was very jealous at first, so be very low key about new baby, she will not miss out by things being low key for her, in fact better for her, and your son can be the king of the castle on his own birthday.

And intros generally, your child, your rules. I think two weeks in is way too early, especially if they will expect to pick up the baby. Better to wait and for you to hold baby and they can do the 'goodgey goo' talk and take a few gentle, no flash, photos. Please prepare them now it will not be like when they met your birth son. Both my mum and in laws met dd on her day of birth at the hospital. They met ds several weeks after he arrived.

greenandblackssurvivalkit Sun 18-Sep-16 19:02:09

I had DS's social worker there at first meeting, who had only met DS once before. DS didn't relax until she'd gone. (He's still very different around SWs, HVs, any smiley lady with a large handbag! It's like he has a sensor.) I think this was unhelpful, actually, as it meant the FC was on 'best behaviour' and not relaxed, which DS could sense, and now every time more than one SW-like person arrrives, he gets anxious. (Presumably worrying the other person is another new mummy?)

Bubbles sound like a genius idea, but check with FC before blowing them indoors! I knew DS loves soft toys, so took yet another one with me. (I'd already passed on a few things!)

Sit on the floor, have a cup of tea, have your car keys and phone out (babies love them, and will head of you straight away if it looks like you may be daft enough to let them have them!) and wait for baby to come to you. DS didn't trust me at all on that first meeting, we've come very far!

Jimbob1 Sun 18-Sep-16 19:04:52

Thanks all. We actually had our sons party today. A month early so it was all about him and not traumatising for the new baby.
Them visiting his birthday weekend would be literally grandparents coming up one set saturday, one set sunday and noone else for a few more weeks. I am also restricting those visits to an hour or so.
I did have a few people mention today that they were free that weekend (asked how long we HAD to wait and I said at least two weeks.)
They are going to be disappointed when I say no but oh well!
We will see how she gets on. If she is struggling to adapt, then grandparents can take DS for a birthday treat so they get to see him and just meet her in passing when they pick up/drop off.

Kr1stina Sun 18-Sep-16 19:22:20

Your daughter to be has lost her birth family and she's just about to lose her foster family , who I presume she is also attached to. That's a lot of loss in one short lifetime.

She won't be over it in 2 weeks.

So you need to learn to let the ILs/ parents deal with their own "disappointment " while you deal with a traumatised baby and a jealous little boy.

I know it's tough, because some adults can be very demanding about their own needs and very neglectful of the needs of children. That's why so many children are in care - the adults around them put their own needs first. It was just too hard to do otherwise .

You can't be like that - you will have to put your children first. It's one of the tough parts of being an adoptive parent - getting over the need to have everyone agree with you / like you.

Kr1stina Sun 18-Sep-16 19:24:58

Sorry forgot to say - good call to have the birthday party today . That's why I was asking about how old he was - to see if it was feasible to do it early .

Since he won't actually know it's his birthday weekend, I woudl forget all visits. Neither baby nor DS will know any better .

tinks269 Sun 18-Sep-16 19:34:23

Our son was older when we met him so I do not have advice on what you could do. But we met him with just the foster carers present and we just played. I am sure you will be fine but I know the thoughts and doubts that go running through your head before you knock on the door so good luck.

People visiting you is essential. Your little one needs to stay at their new home and get used to that. Taking them out into different places with all new smells etc is just a no no in my book. We funnelled for a good couple of weeks before we even thought of introducing out son to his grandparents.

We sat both sets down prior to starting introductions and explained that there would be certain things we would do that they may not understand why we were doing it but that things would be different from their previous grand children and that we would be happy to explain what we doing and why if they asked. We have spent hours explaining various things (why we didn't say no for weeks, why if he didn't want to go out we didn't, why we sat on the floor in his room for hours while h sat in the den he had made not really talking to us etc etc). The questions are fewer now which is good.

In the meantime we had 'Lifecake' installed on every grandparents phone and for other family members and close friends. This is an app where you can write about what you have been up to and upload photos and films securely. We still upload photos daily of what he has been doing. It was much easier during introductions just uploading pictures than talking to lots of different people. It is so tiring that conversation was a it beyond me at times. We have shown both social workers this app and they are now encouraging other adopters to use it.

campervancharlie Sun 18-Sep-16 21:03:44

It is a really exciting time smile I hope it goes brilliantly.
Meeting baby will be fine - SWs and FCs know it will feel awkward and will be fine with whatever happens.
I can't urge you strongly enough on two points:
1) I wouldn't mix your son's birthday with introductions at all. Just don't. Not even if you've had the party already. It would be better for grand parents to come over on another day and take son out (ignoring lo) and then grandparents can ask son to be the big brother and to introduce them to his little sister when they get back.
2) over the next few years, you may need to make a lot of decisions based on what is best for lo and it may go against what close family members think. I think you should name it for what it is and make it clear that they cannot always have their way. I would go for a 'Hi (mum) I know you don't like normally coming over but as you can imagine, we need to be here to help the baby settle. We would really feel supported with this adoption if you could come here rather than us come to you.'

MintyLizzy9 Sun 18-Sep-16 21:47:54

Congratulations!

I had similar timescales, within six weeks of intros finishing we had Christmas and his birthday!

DS was turning two so was aware of his surroundings etc. My parents met DS very briefly as part of intros, came to my house for half an hour on the last day (SW suggested it as DS was used to a busy house so they felt it would be good for him as I'm a single Adoptor) to be honest he wasn't that fussed but they didn't fuss him, just drank a cup of tea had a chat and left. They then visited one at a time for 30-60 minutes every few days. Mum during the week, dad at the weekends.

He met my friend after a couple of weeks when we bumped into her when out for lunch so that was brief but she met him properly at his birthday tea. No one else (apart from the revolving door of SW's and HV's) for a few more weeks unless we bumped into anyone out and about.

Christmas was very low key. I had a horrible injury during this time so my parents actually stayed over a few nights to help out as I physically couldn't lift him from his cot or bath, I felt terrified at the time that this would mess it all up but thankfully he took it in his stride and it was the start of a strong bond with his grandparents.

For his birthday my parents, my best mate her husband and their toddler came over to my house for a birthday tea. All low key.

The only planned first meetings we had during the first six months outside of our home was with friends that had young kids, for these meetings we would do park or Softplay so it wasn't so intense and it was still somewhere familiar for him. Just adults would be at home every time. He had his toys, he could crack on and feel relaxed and whoever was meeting him could just watch him play and chat with me and it all felt casual, no pressure.

Staying home for a few weeks just wasnt an option for us, he likes to be out and about so we did lots of trips to the park during school hours so nice and empty and also the dreaded soft play centre! Actually soft play was a life saver, he burned off energy, we interacted closely as I crawled and climbed around with him.

The day I met him his SW was there but only stayed for ten min then left us to it. I just said hello to him and sat on the sofa (after a two minute shuffle about in the hall way with the FC as I had started blubbing the second I saw him - she was just as bad!) and all the adults made small talk whilst DS bumbled around the room. After ten minutes he brought me a brick so I moved to the floor and started building a tower and he just sat next to me passing me bricks and that was that!

Just thinking about it gives me the fuzzies, you're going to be exhausted but it's the. Best. Thing. Ever!!!

MintyLizzy9 Sun 18-Sep-16 21:49:24

Sorry miss read that and thought it was LO's birthday!

greenandblackssurvivalkit Sun 18-Sep-16 22:01:24

Staying home for a few weeks just wasnt an option for us, he likes to be out and about so we did lots of trips to the park during school hours so nice and empty and also the dreaded soft play centre! Actually soft play was a life saver, he burned off energy, we interacted closely as I crawled and climbed around with him.

Thank fuck for that. Here I am feeling awful that I cannot do the whole staying in thing. And neither can DS, who goes and gets his shoes after about a half an hour!

MintyLizzy9 Sun 18-Sep-16 23:10:41

Haha mine is the same! To be honest so long as you're doing something together without the close interaction of others I don't see the issue. We were going stir crazy after two days at home (on the back of two days at home as part of intros). All depends on the child, but I suspect most people (adults and kids) need some change of scene!

We would sometime just have random walks in the local neighbourhood exploring and spending ten minutes staring and pointing at every flipping stick, leaf, dog poo!

OlennasWimple Mon 19-Sep-16 01:52:51

Sometimes it's really useful to fall back on "SW rules"... So you can say (with a roll of your eyes if you wish) that "they" won't let you introduce LO to anyone else yet; go to someone else's house; have visitors for more than an hour etc etc. Well meaning but pushy friends and relatives are more likely to listen to these sorts of rules than if they think you are just being precious.

In terms of what to do, play it by ear! I sat down on the floor and LO came over with her favourite toy, and we went from there. If she wasn't mobile, I'd have sat by her bouncy chair, or by the rug on the floor and passed her a toy and spoken to her.

Good luck! (And look after yourselves)

Kr1stina Mon 19-Sep-16 05:38:39

Funnelling doesn't mean staying in the house . It means making sure that all the care giving is being done by the new parent/s.

In some families that means having to avoid certain relatives for a long time, because they simply will not put the child's needs before their own eg granny insists on cuddling child, constantly argues about giving a bottle etc

Whereas mums best friend might be happy to comply with these requests and direct child to mum.

For lots of kids it also means making sure they are not over stimulated , so that might be just visiting the park at a quiet time rather than on a Saturday morning . Or avoiding lots of TV or some programmes rather than others .

Or doing one on one activities that promote attachment eg finger painting , sitting on the floor playing games

All this can be very hard on mums who are extrovert , who needs lots of contact with others . If that's you then you need a lot of support during the first 6 months.

Some people have spent a long time desperate to go on " maternity leave " and fantasise about Long leisurely lunches with friends while a newborn sleeps peacefully in a buggy . Then when they get a demanding and stroppy toddler who demands all their attention 24 / 7 and needs to be kept in a strict routine , all their plans crumble and they are exhausted at how demanding it is.

And of course it's seems petty to say " this isn't how I imagined it " . Because all adoptive parents are supposed to be grateful all the time . Complaining is a luxury afforded only to biological parents.

TearingDownTheWall Mon 19-Sep-16 11:49:07

We found taking our LO out of the house very difficult. He would become distressed by the uncertainty of all the new experiences. In the end, we stayed home and took turns at nap time to get a change of scene.

In intros, we just played gently with their toys and let them decide to approach us.

I agree with Kr1stina, 2 weeks will still be very early. It may be better to keep visitors at bay much longer than that.

Kr1stina Mon 19-Sep-16 12:19:46

Tearing - one of our LO was like that and was terrified of many ordinary things, they came from very very deprived circumstances .

TearingDownTheWall Mon 19-Sep-16 13:04:08

We had really small trips out - literally round the block to begin with. I can still see the utter confusion on our LO' s face when we sat on some grass in the local park - the space around us was really threatening. It's really hard to remember sometimes how convinced we and everyone was that all was fine then I look at photos and see haunted eyes looking back at me.

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