I have been on Adoption Preparation training this week. I was supposed to have spent two full days there, but due to OB throwing up in spectacular fashion five minutes after I left him with the minder on Thursday, I only made it to Friday's session.
It was rather a strange day. The 15 participants are an odd mix of foster carers (two couples and me), one couple with a child, and four childless couples. This makes for a very wide range of preparation needs when it comes to adoption when some of the attendees already have their child living with them, and others have never even changed a child's nappy.
Early on there was a challenge on child development - we were given a list of milestones and asked (in groups of course!) to write down when we thought these should take place for the average child. Massive advantage to those with children! Lots of arguing between those who consider themselves experienced and lots of silence from those without children.
And so it went on in the same vein. Every time one of the two social workers who were, nominally at least, leading the course mentioned something about what adopted children might have experienced before their adoptions, the foster carers couldn't help chiming in with their lengthy stories. I am delighted to say that, despite my natural inclination to tell tales at length, I managed to keep quiet on this subject!
The couple who already had a child treated us to a long description of pretty much every aspect of their child's life, as well as regular installments of an incredibly complex tale of their friends' adoption of a little girl to go with their adopted son. I think I must have missed the introductory chapters of this the previous day as I couldn't make head or tale of the story!
All this made me feel very uncomfortable on behalf of the childless couples. After having spent my adult life as a childless woman I know only two well how difficult, upsetting and downright annoying it can sometimes be listening to people's endless stories about their children. Now I have children in my life, I also understand how much pleasure, frustration and joy they bring and how sometimes you just have to share it (and sometimes you literally have nothing else to talk about!). Nonetheless, monopolising an adoption prep course with stories about your kids, whether your own or fostered, seems just a tad insensitive considering the company we were keeping.
There were a few scheduled activities which were predictably touchy-feely, but at other times the sessions seemed to veer from one subject to another based mostly on which participant was talking the most. The course leaders weren't brilliant at managing the discussion, allowing some to dominate and others to spend the whole day in total silence. This wouldn't matter so much except that notes on the level and quality of our participation will form part of our portfolios, so it is really important that everybody gets the chance to join in.
I've got to be honest, I'm a bit of a killjoy about these things anyway. I'm not interested in 'bonding' through 'shared experiences' with people I'll never meet again. I don't enjoy ice breaker activities and can become quite attached to my ice when forced to participate. I particularly dislike groupwork when the task is vague and there are no designated roles. I won't fight my corner, even if I know I'm right, when the outcome is irrelevant or purposeless, because I simply don't need to be right that much. (Some people who know me well might raise their eyebrows at that one, but context is everything!)
Actually, I should re-word that. I do need to be right quite a lot, but I don't always need everybody to see that I'm right - sometimes it's enough just for me to know it!
Anyway, I have two more days of this next week. I might take something good to read next time!