Down to only us and one other couple...the other one didn't show! Don't know if they will be back or not. Found out tonight that usually these trainings have about 10 couples in attendance. Good thing is that classes will not take as long since there are a lot of group activities they usually do. Bad thing is that we won't get the benefit of the interactions with other couples and seeing others' perspectives during the discussion questions.
Got our notebook tonight with all of the training materials in it...and homework assignments. Its about two inches thick. We each have to complete a homework assignment after each session which involves answering questions--self reflection-type questions that go along with what we talked about. These will become a part of our home study file.
The main goal of the first session was for us to gain an understanding of the children from the system. We listened to a speaker (on video) who was in the foster system from the age of 4 with his little brother. They were bounced around from foster home to failed adoptive home, back to foster home, to group home, to another failed adoptive home. He ran away to live with his father at 16, where he was exposed to drug dealing and murder and went back to his social worker after realizing he didn't want that kind of life where he was placed back into a group home. He was never adopted, but managed to get his grades up, graduate from high school, and go to college. He's now a social worker, himself and has adopted four boys, in addition to his three birth daughters. His story was amazing! But the reality of his childhood was eye opening. His thoughts on being adopted:
"Wanted to be adopted so badly"
"My last name will be the same as theirs" (when found out they were being adopted the first time, after
7 years living with a different foster family.)
"feelings of rejection, scared, lonely" (because his foster family "didn't want to" adopt him)
"we have to be on our best behavior so they will want us"
"before I let myself be rejected again, I was going to do the rejecting" (second adoption attempt)
The last one really made me think. He wanted so badly to have a permanent home, but because of distrust and feelings of rejection, he sabotaged the situation.
The biggest things I took away from this session were:
- Don't expect warm & fuzzy feelings right away
- They will have difficulty trusting you
- Expect to be rejected--many have a "reject them before they reject me" attitude
- Be prepared to delay parental gratification
- Know the challenges you may face and take advantage of the resources to help you deal with them
- Again the importance of the role of the birth parent in the child's life.
- Always be respectful of the child's birth parent and find positive things to say about them when talking to the child
- The birth parent can help answer a lot of questions the child may have, such as "why am I in this situation?"
- Let the child look at and display pictures of his/her birth family
- Understand the child's cultural background and attempt to incorporate the culture into his/her life with you
- Share the child's artwork, etc. with the birth parents.
- Tolerance for ambivalence and negative feelings
- advocating and assertive qualities
- flexible expectations
- tolerance for rejection
- sense of humor
- ability to meet personal needs
- ability to use resources
- flexible family roles
- ability to delay parental gratification
I will go through these training sessions again with Todd on Tuesday. Maybe Todd can blog his perspective and thoughts then.