P*ss up in a brewery!

The time came for us to attend our first two training days: we arrived at our Voluntary Agency (suitcase in tow) on day one, hopeful of making new friends with like-minded people. The suitcase gave us a certain ‘jet-setter’ vibe (at least I think it did) so we were looking fresh, exclusive and ready to roll!

We were slightly disappointed at first as our fellow adopters didn’t initially strike us as ‘our kind of people’. There was a heterosexual couple in their forties and a single adopter, also in her forties. Although we may not have a great deal in common, the whole process really brought us all together and helped us to bond.  We may not have made friends for life but we left with  an appreciation and respect for them (well – most of them). Besides, there’s always Robert and Greg!

What started off as humorous but became increasingly irksome was the disorganisation of our hosts: one of which was none-other than Tentative Trudy herself, accompanied by Anne (from our Pre-Stage 1 meeting). Now, perhaps the issues and bumbling were not their fault: perhaps they were given poor tools and resources. What was undeniable, though, was the veritable catalogue, the litany of c*ck-ups!

The laptop didn’t work.

The projector didn’t work.

The television didn’t work.

The video (Video? VHS? In this day and age? SERIOUSLY?) was stretched and the tape kept spooling out: needing to be recoiled.

On the second day, a DVD the course leaders wanted to play couldn’t be played because there was NO REMOTE CONTROL FOR THE DVD PLAYER!

I mean, if you’re doing a training course, wouldn’t you ensure that all the equipment you needed was in place and functioning?

There was much squeezing of knee and pushing of thigh happening under the table between Ethan and I, I can tell you! Still, we fixed our smiles and got on with it, though there may have been a couple of comments on organisation written into our feedback forms!

Naively (and rather lazily) I’d hoped that the training days would be quite a passive affair: death by Powerpoint, so to speak. It wasn’t. It required a lot of both of us and was very emotional at several points.

We covered a lot of material: different kinds of abuse and the legacies they may leave, adopting siblings, contact with birth parents, children’s specific needs and the matching process. Most harrowing, for us at least, were some videos of adopted children, talking about the legacy of their adoption, the pain of contact and the mourning process – ‘letting go’ of birth parents.

Most harrowing though was a video of an eight year old boy (let’s call him Richard) discussing his experience of adoption with a counsellor/therapist. He spoke eloquently and fluently about his love for his adopters and the year or so it took him to really believe that he was staying with them permanently. Most movingly he spoke of a hole; a void within him that remained in spite of his adopters love and care. Something he could not put his finger on. We then cut to a scene of Richard in play therapy, playing with a big dinosaur (representing him) and taking revenge upon a witch (his birth mother), destroying her completely. He and the therapist explored whether destroying his birth mother helped him reach a peace and satisfied the internal void. He wasn’t sure whether it did.

When the film stopped playing Ethan was in tears, I was choked, silent and desperately holding back sobs and everyone else was visibly moved. For me, the fact that our love and care would not be enough to cure our adopted child’s sadness was a bitter pill to swallow. I’d believed (perhaps naively) that we would swoop in and rescue our child with our unconditional love, kindness and understanding. In reality, it’s not going to be that simple. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think that adoption would be easy, or that the child we end up finding would be easy – I just thought that we would be able to help them heal totally: that our care would help them to make a complete recovery from the pain, loss and difficulty of adoption. Although we will, I hope, aid our child’s healing and help him to cope with the loss of his birth family, there may be a legacy of loss that nothing can remove.

Undaunted, we made it through the two days feeling stronger and more prepared for what is certainly going to be a demanding and emotionally exhausting process. Adoption is going to test us both to our limits. Yet if we can make a scared, damaged child feel even a modicum more safe, secure, and loved it’s definitely a trial we’re ready to embrace.



8 thoughts on “P*ss up in a brewery!

  • Thanks for writing this blog. As a teacher with a ‘looked after’ child in my class it’s so interesting and helpful to learn how the adoption process impacts the child, even years after the adoption is final. I hope everything works out for you and good luck. Xxx

  • Enjoy following your journey via adoption. As gay dads, it’s a route that we considered but opted for surrogacy, so great to learn. One thing for sure…..either route is an emotional journey. Wishing you both the best as you continue!

  • A very thought provoking post and concept which has prompted much discussion with my husband and musings on my part. My half sister was adopted out of the family (my dad and ex-wife’s child). We’ve since met but not on a level to discuss how she’s felt about it.
    I also wondered if you’ve learnt if the types of children up for adoption are more likely these days to come from difficult backgrounds vs say 50+ years ago when I assume adoption was more prevalent due to very young mothers? I wonder if that has affected outcomes/experiences of adoption over the years?

    • Well, certainly the difference between historic adoption and the current landscape adoption hasn’t been touched upon (yet). But every agency we come across are at great pains to tell you the potential damage a child in care may have suffered and how it can be difficult to have any certainty on the legacy a difficult start may have had on a child who has been in care (FAS, developmental delay, attachments issues, etc). If you were thinking of adopting they certainly encourage adopters to accept that every child will have some difficulty: be it emotionally, neurologically or developmentally. However, having met several adopted children in the recent weeks and months I can tell you that most of the children I might appear to be totally developmentally ‘normal’ (for want of a better expression). Emotionally, though, it’s harder to ascertain from first impressions.

  • Great blog – as someone who went through a similar course for our fostering it is very tough – the emotions it evokes and the assessment stage can be even worse!

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