A tough one today. Mrs D and I are totally drained emotionally…
We had four sessions.
The first was lead by a lady from CAMHS, talking about separation, grief and loss – we thought about the losses a child has – at a time when we are thinking about a gain (having a new child in our family), the child is experiencing grief and loss – of their foster carers, their bedroom, their friends, etc… We thought about how the child would be feeling, and what their behaviour might be as a result – and the various stages of grief. We also thought about other losses the child might have experienced in their short life – many moves, places where they’ve stayed and people looking after them – and the effects on them.
The second session was all about health issues – it was lead by a community paediatrician. We thought about health issues for the children who are currently being looked after – effects of neglect, alchohol and drugs during pregnancy, possible inherited conditions from birth family. We also thought about our health and things which could affect our ability to adopt – and the effects on our health post-adoption!
After lunch, we looked at issues relating to the children who are waiting to be adopted – what kinds of experiences they might have been through to mean they are in the position they are… we had to think about different types of abuse – neglect, emotional, physical and sexual – and what kind of things these children may have experienced under each heading… this was particularly difficult to do – some things really don’t bear thinking about… And then we had to start to think about what kinds of problems / issues we would be able to manage – would we consider a child with mild learning difficulties? What about a child whose mother has schizophrenia? Or a child with hearing problems? Or a child with ADHD? Or autism?
Then we looked at what kinds of behaviour a child may exhibit, having been through these experiences – and how things we may do and think are totally normal may set off reactions we don’t expect in children… We finished off looking at ‘safe care’ and what that means – making sure that we care for the child in a sensitive way – sensitive to their previous experiences. And also that we are safe as we look after the child – particularly thinking about the possibility of a child making allegations against you – and ways to make this less likely.
All in all a really difficult day – lots of difficult issues to think about. It would be easy to let it all become overwhelming… but we need to keep it in focus – these are all the worst possible things / experiences / issues / behaviours – and no child is going to have all of these!
We now have the rest of the week to reflect and think about what we’ve learned and discussed – so a bit of breathing space before next Monday / Tuesday when we have the rest of the preparation.