Our VA holds a ‘Friends and Family Training’ day occasionally, and we were invited. There were approved and (like us) unapproved prospective adopters invovled. Each couple/individual was allowed to bring up to 4 friends and family. We, of course, first asked Hubby’s daughter if she could come, but unfortunately she couldn’t due to work. So we invited two of our referees and two other friends — three women and one man.
The day started fairly early. Hubby picked up one of our friends and headed off to the nearest petrol station that has a Costa coffe machine. Then I picked up two friends, and met the guys at the petrol station. Then back into the car to pick up our other friend — now on the road to the venue, 45 minutes away.
We didn’t quite know what to expect, although our s/w had told us that we’d all be together at the beginning, then the prospective adopters would split off, then we’d be all together after lunch.
When we arrived we recognised several faces from our other training sessions earlier in the year. It did seem that most people *didn’t* bring 4 guests, but I think at least one other couple did, so I didn’t feel too badly!
The first half hour or so was just a brief overview of backgrounds of children who come into care. Then we split up.
We prospective adopters went into a separate room. There were a couple of social workers with us. We really focused on post-placement stress. That is, after prospective adopters have children placed with them, they often experience depression similar to post-natal depression. The idea is that if we’re aware of the potential, we can understand what’s happening rather than being confused about the feelings. We got some hand-outs to read (which I haven’t yet, because I don’t want to learn how to deal with post-adoption depression until we’re approved as prospective adopters…)
The friends and family spent the time we were apart learning more about the backgrounds of children in care.
We broke for lunch for half an hour or so. Afterwards, a woman who had three children placed with her and her husband talked to us. The children were only placed a few months ago, and her husband was home with the children so she brought her dad, brother and sister. I was slightly disappointed, because it seemed like they’re in the ‘honeymoon’ stage, where nothing has gone wrong yet! As I write that, it seems unkind… But I guess I’m trying to say I think it would have been better to have someone who has had their children a bit longer!
One thing that they really helped people to understand is that once the children are placed, the household almost needs to be quarantined for a couple of weeks. It’s so important that the children learn who the parents are, and that it’s the parents who will, well, parent them!
Before we went the friends and family were given a booklet. I plan to ask one of our friends if I can read theirs.