The Reflections Workshop
The Reflections Training in the end wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.
It was interesting to learn the reasons people adopt, beyond the obvious failed IVF/Infertility. For example, I discovered that some couples had already had a child, and an difficult birth/emergency hysterectomy meant they couldn’t have any more. Some couples had tried surrogacy instead of IVF, and some hadn’t bothered with IVF at all, just tried naturally for a while and then decided to adopt.
I was the only single adopter there, which rather threw off the groups a bit (“get into pairs and….. oh, also one of you will be a three….”), but it was fine. I quickly realised there are things I will have to consider that other people won’t, as all of the couples will have each other in the house for support during a crisis. I’m going to have to get friendlier with my neighbours instead, as I don’t have many close friends or family living nearby for help in an emergency. Most of the couples blew past this, assuming if there is a crisis one of them can support while the other deals with it, etc. It’s making me realise how lucky couples are to have someone else always there to help, to give each other breaks, and how much harder it will be for me, to be on my own all of the time coping with each disaster as it comes along.
I’m lucky that I do have friends and family willing to help and support in holidays or on weekends, but in reality, at 10pm on a weeknight if my kid has a fever, and I’m out of Calpol, I’m going to be pretty much on my own. Or if one kid has to stay home from school because they’re sick, but I have to take the other one to school, I can’t leave the first kid at home alone. That sort of thing. Which is a bit scary. Especially when you throw traumatised children with complex needs into the mix.
But in general, the training was focused on loss and grief, and the 5 stages of denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance etc. I found it a bit odd, and the evaluation forms at the end were focused on whether or not the session had “brought up any difficult feelings for me” and “to reflect on the child I never got to have, the child that might have been, the one you lost or that died, what did he/she look like? What was his/her name?” – I found that all rather bizarre and weird.
I totally understand that the majority of adopters need to go through that process of grieving and acceptance before they can consider adoption, but it didn’t particularly resonate with me – I was left with the overwhelming feeling that adoption is a last resort for most parents, and I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t more people like me, who have chosen it consciously as a first choice?
However, the biggest benefit for me was meeting the other adopters – we will all be in the same trainings over the next few weeks so I imagine we’ll be getting to know each other better and they will probably form part of my support network from here on out, and I’m happy to report they all seemed pretty lovely, so that’s good news!
The Preparation Workshop – Part 1
Today’s workshop was really interesting. We watched some fascinating videos about child brain development, the primal core brain functions, and the development of of the cortex at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks etc. It was really interesting and engaging. We also did some case studies of children with different backgrounds and mapped out their potential needs.
Not all of it was great, some of it was a bit grim. At one point we were in groups writing down on a flipchart the different types of sexual abuse a child might have been exposed to. I was genuinely baffled, as I had assumed there was really only rape, or forms of rape, but it turns out, there is a whole range of uncomfortable words on a list including “mutual masturbation” and “involvement in the production of pornography” etc. Some really unpleasant stuff, and some heavy realisations that my future child may have suffered some pretty awful stuff, or might feature in some pretty horrible porn.
However, overall there were lots of tips on parenting, lots of useful stuff, and as a group we had a chance to gel, and started to feel more relaxed and get along with each other – which is very useful as I suspect they will become part of my support network.
What’s interesting about adoption is that we all have our own unique stories going into it even if some seem similar. I’m married and have gone through years of failed fertility treatments and miscarriage, but unlike a lot of couples, my husband and I don’t have any family and not a lot of close friends as many of them ghosted us during fertility treatments, so well we do have each other we don’t have grandparents to come by and see the baby (my husband’s stepmother lives in Australia where he’s from, both of our fathers are dead and grandparents are long gone), no one interested in babysitting, etc, so we’re really forging our own path as well. There is an awesome single adoptive mom blog that you might like if you haven’t seen it already, she’s really funny and just recently brought home her little one: https://assovertits.wordpress.com/