Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Adoption Session 4

Last Friday we had our fourth interview with the assessor. This session focused on safety of children, in particular from physical and sexual abuse, but also about appropriate discipline strategies, and developmental milestones. It was a full-on session, talking about how we would manage a situation if we felt uneasy about a coach or neighbour spending time with our child, and what we would do if our child ever told us about abuse.

We were given a number of vignettes or case studies which we then had to respond to. A basic example is of a 4 year old boy who refuses to sit in his car seat and you have to go somewhere in your car - What would you do? It sounds simple, but each case study escalates until we are discussing very serious consequences.

We also had homework to do for our session next week. We have to provide short answers to questions like What sort of things might make it difficult for an adopted child to bond with you, and for you to bond with an adopted child?, and What role or importance do you think and adopted child's extended birth family has in his or her life?   Lots of questions which really make you think about what we are doing and constantly asking ourselves if this is the right path to follow. And the end of each session, no matter how exhausting, Murray and I are excited about what we are doing, which I think means this is right for us.

I've been reading Deborah Gray's book Attaching in Adoption- Practical Tools for Today's Parents, which has been really helpful. It has case studies all the way through and talks about different ways of building attachments with an adopted child. Hopefully I will get to put some of these things into practice one day!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Adoption, house progress, my new job and more!

The last few weeks have been quite intense with the adoption process going full steam ahead, as well as doing a lot of things around the house and I haven't had a chance to update on where we are up to! This probably should be a couple of separate posts but hey - who has time for that!

Let's start with the house stuff - as you know, part of the adoption process involves an assessment of the physical location where the child will be brought up. We held a working bee at our house last weekend, and our friends really came through for us. With the help of mates, we were able to get a whole bunch of stuff done - removing the cubby house and dog kennel that had been eaten out by termites, installing a laundry overhead cupboard to store chemicals (and also has a built in airer/washing line!), garden beds cleaned up, cracks sealed up in the lounge room, side gate fixed, floating shelf put up in the bathroom, garage door lock replaced, a new chain lock installed on the front door, and our mirror attached to our dressing table securely. On top of that we had a new toilet installed a month or two back, our meals area has been painted with a new light fitting and new table and storage unit. And I have spent this afternoon painting the toilet walls and ceiling to make it all fresh and shiny!

The house is really starting to take shape, not just for our assessment, but as something for us to be proud of. We have been spending every last dollar on improving it and making it a nice place to live and it is paying off in spades. It is so nice to come home to a house that you love.

My new job is going great. I am really enjoying the variety of work and the people I work with are fabulous - friendly, well-mannered and very inclusive. I feel right at home there and hopefully I will be there for a long time to come! Career-wise it is very satisfying and gives me more responsibility and ownership over the programs that I develop which is exactly what I wanted. It's nice to be the senior person and able to delve into the strategic side of things rather than being lumped with whatever decisions are made higher up the chain.

Onto the adoption stuff. Well that has been intense, it's fair to say. So far we have had three sessions, each lasting between two and three hours long. The first session was a little disheartening if I'm honest. The assessor was very clear that her role was not only to assess us but to prepare us for worst case scenarios, which meant that she wasn't going to be the happy, positive, optimistic person, but push us for what we do if the worst case scenario actually happened. That was really challenging for us, but it has also been a prompt for us to consider things that we perhaps hadn't thought of before, or verbalise and think through things that we hadn;t fully worked out yet.

Our first session was more of an intro and discussing our reasons for wanting to adopt. For the second session, we had to complete a lot of worksheets for homework. These included a genogram or basically a family tree for each of us; a life line which showed the major events in each of our lives up until we met and then together from when we started our relationship. Then we prepared a social circle diagram which showed the people closest to us and who we have relationships with, like family, best friends, work mates etc (basically your support network). The last one also identified stressful connections in your life. During the second session, we talked through each of these worksheets to work through our lives and how we have come to be at this point.

The third session last week was more about how we were parented when we were growing up, and which things we would do the same, while also identifying what we would do differently. It also covered a lot about Murray and I as a couple - how we deal with conflict, things we like to do together, our relationship style, as well as how we have dealt with our infertility and our miscarriage a few years ago. This part was very intense and I didn't expect to bring up so many emotions, particularly the miscarriage. The assessor was really impressed that we had made a memory box for our baby, and thought it was a great way to deal with the grief.

So that brings us to this weeks session. It has been pushed back until Friday night which is a blessing in itself as it gives me time to clean out the spare room and tidy the games room, but otherwise we are pretty much ready to go with it. Part of the assessment involves assessing the temperament of our dogs and making sure they don't pose a danger to a child, so I am praying that they behave well!

It's a big week ahead but we are so happy to be on this path. It feels so right.