some of the key things I really found helpful from the Preparation Group Training Days , apart from the amazing WALL experience I loved meeting the other adopters who came to share their stories and to tell it how it is, with their adoption experiences.
First up we had a newly made family who talked about building their support network and how it worked in reality. This was helpful for me, as they were a same sex couple and I was able to ask them about how they built in some role models of the opposite sex into their children's lives. I was curious as I was embarking on adoption as a single female adopter, so having some good male role models around for my child was an important consideration. They talked openly about how some of the female role models had been really helpful practically and others in reality it hadn't worked so well for them. I guess the difference between being a friend for you as an adult and those friend's who are great with your children. It isn't always the same, or naturally flow. I found all this very helpful and reassuring that I am OK as a person, whole and complete and that I have a great support network of fabulous friends that I have built up over many years. The tried and tested. The ones that have survived along with me this far.
We then we met their children. Very cute. They rolled around the floor, in their look at me aren't I a great performer mode, lapping up the encouragement, the affirmation and the attention we all gave to them. All this was going on in the middle of the floor of the room as each child took it in turns to show their Introductions book - the book the adoptive parents made for each child before they met them. I loved the creativity in the scrapbook style photo albums and it brought it all to life, again for me. It got my creative juices going and I wanted to go home and start on my Introductions book - straightaway! (too bad the course was continuing to 4.30pm)
Here, in the Introduction book we were being shown, were photos showing the 2x Dads, their house, the park, the school, the doctors and some family photos with messages saying things like "we are excited to be seeing you soon". They also had brought in the cuddly toys they gave to each child - they had taken photos of these toys around the house - a bit like a hide and seek - and the toys had little voice recordings in them, so the Dads could each record their voices in the toys - and the children could then hear their voices before they met them - I simply just loved this idea - and definitely wanted to copy that idea.
The other significant and key for me from the Preparation Group Training Days was one of the Mum's who came to talk about her support network. She shared about how her family - on both hers and her husbands sides of the family had been very anti them adopting and had written to local authorities and adoption agencies expressing their concerns, negative feelings towards adoption and particularly their opinions on them adopting and the shame and negative infiltration adopting would bring on the wider family. This for me, was both interesting and encouraging. I had some family and friends who had expressed concerns and opinions around adoption and me adopting, which I had found hard to work through and worried might affect my ability to be accepted to adopt. I had carried this fear with me into the Preparation Group Training - The urban myth that said everyone has to be in agreement for you to be able to adopt. This woman talked about how she had a fabulous group of girl friends with whom she laughed, cried, drank coffee and wine with regularly and that she had shared stories of how things had gine well and not well at all with family members for her and her husband since they had now successfully adopted their child. She shared how, since their adoption, things have been tense with their families and that whilst some headway had been made, she needed to still be protective of their child, so that if things weren't going well, or if further let downs occured or if negative thigs were said, they removed themselves from the situation. She made it clear that the needs of their child came first and if the other grown up members of the family were not able to behave like grown ups and acceopt their child, then they as parents would behave like grown ups and put their child first and the other family members would miss out.
The most profoud comment she made was this: If any of you here today have friends or family who are not in complete support of your plans to adopt or who have negative opinions of adoption, I would encourage you to surround yourself with those family and friends who are supportive. Protect yourself, laugh with them, cry with them and think of yourself and use your friends like a cushion to comfort you. They are your support network. Forget about the others who are not supportive at this time. They may or may not come round but your friends who support you are and will be with you along the way.
Another urban myth shattered.
A significant key to hold onto, right there.
A lifeline to grab hold of with both hands.
My support network have laughed and cried with me and the tea, coffe, cake, shared food, wine, their company and their freindship have been a strong tower of support.