Brian and Michelle, Essex Adopters
The journey for Michelle and I began a few years ago, when we began to talk about caring for a child and trying to consider what this would mean to us as a couple.
We decided to attend an open evening which was organised by Essex County Council. There were some presentations by social workers and an ‘adopter Dad’, which covered various aspects of adopting and the kind of backgrounds in which the children may have come from.
Towards the end of the evening, we took the opportunity to talk informally with a social worker about our interest to adopt. The next step was to complete a workbook describing how we see ourselves: significant events and experiences in our lives and what we would hope to offer a child. We found this reflection of our lives very emotional and compelling.
From this workbook and home visits, an allocated social worker generated a Prospective Parents Report (PAR). After our acceptance on to the adoption approval process, we attended a three day training workshop. This was very informative and interactive and involved a series of presentations and group exercises to facilitate learning and understanding in terms of:
- regulations and legal framework of the adoption process;
- understanding the backgrounds of children that come into care, in terms of trauma and loss, along with some of the issues and challenges the children may have; and
- insight and skill development in terms of how adopters can help children to learn to trust and develop to their full potential.
We remember how emotional it was when, during one exercise, participants talked about ‘loss’ in their own lives. It really illustrated how the children may be feeling. Another exercise illustrated the level of detachment and disruption that a child experiences in moving from one area and family to another. It was also insightful to listen to another adopter parent talk about the rewards of providing a loving and caring environment, but also the occasional challenges.
Overall, the training and support provided by Essex County Council social workers and the other adopter parents was exceptional. It helped us build new skills and confidence. Furthermore, the training was sensitive to different learning styles and opinions Later on in the process, talking regularly with our social worker, who we have been very impressed with, at weekly meetings, in our home, over elements of our PAR helped us understand more deeply why we wanted to adopt.
Our social worker also indicated where we may need to develop our resilience, skills set and rely on others in our family and friends support network. Upon reflection, and as a consequence from these discussions, we decided to request approval to adopt one child between the ages of 4 and 9 as opposed to originally considering possibly one or two children.
We look forward to adopting, caring and loving a child and providing a consistent and nurturing environment. We realise the learning process as adopter parents is ongoing and will seek guidance and support from the social workers and the network of adopter parents
Kirstie and Paul, Essex Adopters
We found stage one initially quite daunting. Seeing the workbook for the first time completely threw us as we were not expecting to have to go into so much detail.
However, the first meeting to discuss the workbook helped us a great deal in understanding what information needed to be included. Without this we probably wouldn't have got so far.
After our initial thoughts about the workbook , we really enjoyed completing it, as it was a kind of trip down memory lane helping us think about parts of our lives that we don't go over often.
The Introduction to Adoption meeting helped us to get a better understanding of just what it meant to be an adoptive parent.
Having an adoptive parent at this meeting providing a first hand account of her experiences really helped. Everyone we met along the way in stage one were really helpful and were patient with us.