Lift bean cans…
There you go, bet you didn’t have that as an opening line in the adoption blog sweepstake, but this is about the things that I wish I knew when my wife and I started out on our adoption journey. And trust me, this one is important so…
Lift bean cans (or free weights or bags of flour), because if, like me, you live the cerebral life tapping away at a keyboard for a living then going in at the deep end and being handed a fully mobile and wilful nine-month-old is a jump.
Talking of which, practice makes perfect. We found the adoption training days concentrated on adoption-specific parenting skills, but not parenting basics like how to change a nappy or bath time. This makes sense given the range of ages that families could be matched with so it’s super important to grab as much practical parenting experience as possible. This could also help you decide on the age range and the number of children you would consider (and offering to babysit your mates’ kids makes you look like a legend).
We also found that not all social workers eat biscuits, so don’t stock up too much…unless you want a cupboard full of posh biscuits…which we did, so we did.
If you are adopting as a couple, keep talking to each other and once you’ve finished talking, start again. It’s crucial to revisit and revise your thoughts as you go through the process, which will help with the home study sessions and more importantly when you start looking at real profiles of potential matches. Things we found useful to consider were our feelings on nursery and schooling, how we could approach life story work with our future son or daughter, what level of information we wanted to share with our family and friends, how we imagined family life 1, 2, 5, 10 years down the line, etc. All this talking will be especially useful if you’re not used to talking about yourself in depth.
And whilst you’re talking lots, and getting practical experience, you can read lots as well. We did a wide range research including online child psychology courses, and this doesn’t need to be purely academic – pick what works for you (if you commute then podcasts, radio and YouTube are great here, just remember to make a note of what you’ve studied).
Remember, you’re allowed to be selfish and I mean this in a couple of senses. In one way, self-care is an important part of the process especially as it can sometimes feel like it can overtake everything. So make time to do things that aren’t related to adoption, go out for meals or weekends away, help yourself to that biscuit cupboard surplus mentioned earlier. In a more serious way, when it comes to the point you need to put in black and white what sort of child/children you think you could become mum or dad for, be selfish by being truthful about what you could cope with. Your social worker should know you pretty well by this stage, so they will give you valuable insight.
If you are only just starting this journey then it may all seem overwhelming, however I know it was the most amazing and rewarding experience possible.