Thursday 20 November 2014

Preparation is key

I've just re-read some of my blog posts from our first few months with Missy. It wasn't a good time. What really strikes me is just how little prepared we were to deal with her trauma and how little we really understood about attachment.

As a prospective adopter we had a two day training, we had regular visits from our SW during home study and we had some brief reading to do.  We were given a file of photocopied articles  and a particular book by Margot Sunderland was recommended. But that was it.  It wasn't insisted by anyone that we read a whole load of books and I don't think we even got a reading list. We didn't meet any adopters other than a chap who came to talk on our 2 day course.  No wonder we were so naive in the early days.  What I've learnt about attachment, trauma and being an adoptive parent has been since Missy came home and has come from reading other adopters blogs, meeting up with other adopters,  chatting and getting advice on Twitter and FB, and reading loads including Dan Hughes, Louise Bomber, Holly van Gulden, Bryan Post and Sally Donovan. We also had some excellent training from PAC earlier this year.

I don't know what the stage 1 and 2 training consists of now (it wasn't known as stage 1 and 2 when we did it).  I only hope prospective adopters do have a greater understanding of attachment and trauma than we did before their children come home. Via Twitter I gather that some prospective adopters have a three line whip as far as their reading list is concerned, whilst others do not. Some are talking about attachment and regulation, others are not. One friend is attending a training on PACE which I think is brill.  Once again, processes seem to vary hugely among LAs or even SWs. Of course, things can look very different in practice from how it's described in a book, but one hopes at least adopters will be more prepared than we were.

If we'd understood more back in the early days I don't think we'd have started Missy at school until after Christmas, we would have done a lot more nurturing and done more to help regulate Missy (and me).  Hopefully we would have had a better insight to her behaviour. I cringe when I read about going to her Christmas school play, just five weeks after placement.

In other news, I am being very prepared for Christmas for once.  I've nearly finished the present buying and written most of the cards! I think I deserve a Baileys later.


  1. I completely agree - on our training there was little mention of the problems we were going to face. Just last week I spoke to an adoption prep group and there was a lady with me who had a 'more positive' experience of adoption to share as well. I was there to balance it out and give an insight into 'when things go wrong'. Forewarned is forearmed I guess...

    Presents already - wow, you're organised..

  2. Although we had been a family for a long time before I joined the social media adoption set, I know my learning and understanding has been greatly accelerated in this circle. Like yourself we had some handouts to read, but we definitely did not receive a reading list although I did buy one book which was mostly theory and aimed at practitioners and was heavy going. I know what you mean about decisions you made too, my boys attended my mum's 60th birthday party six weeks in! But we didn't know, because we weren't as well informed and thankfully our children are still doing ok.
    Thanks for sharing on #WASO

  3. I have just included a link from my fostering blog to yours - I hope you might link to mine!

  4. I was with a very good voluntary agency which taught me about and prepared me well for attachment issues. They also provided a reading list and made sure I joined Adoption UK and attended meetings. That way I met adopters and was able to hear first hand what the challenges would be. It was excellent preparation and I do wish all potential adopters had this same advice. Of course, nothing does prepare you for the reality.... But at least you know you're not going mad if you do have problems.

  5. It really is staggering, the difference from agency to agency. We had no reading list, little introduction to attachment and trauma other than the usual activities during the prep course. My adoption social worker skated over many things with me, assuming I'd have learned about them as part of fostering training - amazingly, most of it wasn't covered there either! Virtually everything I have learned about attachment (apart from the basic 'cycle' diagram) I have learned myself on the job, from social media peeps and from articles and (a few) books.


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