More Ways to Care

Having had a wee break from blogging over June and into July, it occurs to me that I never really wrote about the second day of our adoption workshop, so here’s an update on what happened on day two.

The second, and last, day of our ‘Ways to Care’ workshop was slightly less daunting than the first. We knew somewhat what to expect and had been assured by the facilitators the week before that day two was an easier, less emotional, ride. Well, it was and it wasn’t. It was definitely easier in the sense that there was less talk about the often-abused and troubled children that were out there needing care, less heartache at not being able to help more, but it was much harder in the sense that the focus was on us and we had to explore ourselves and our past in order to proceed with our future.

I’m not going to lie, overall I had a very happy and privileged childhood, but I found parts of the day emotionally challenging and a little confronting. Let’s face it, regardless of how you grew up we all have issues as adults, though the range and scope of those issues vary greatly from person to person. So we work through our attachment style/s, how our family showed love, praise, discipline, and I find myself delving into long buried thoughts and feelings, questioning why I now behave the way that I do.

I realise I don’t know enough about myself as a child, I can remember certain events more so than I remember how I felt or behaved, and it strikes me that I remember much less about my childhood before my parent’s separation than after it. Although this may primarily be due to my age at the time (I was roughly two weeks shy of my ninth birthday when they split), I sometimes wonder if the trauma of their separation – yep, I took it hard – has somehow made me block my earlier childhood. In later conversations with my husband we manage to pry some more memories to the surface, but they certainly take a lot of coaxing.

It’s not like their split completely ruined my childhood or anything, I did find it really hard & it wasn’t a pretty divorce by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t feel like it permanently destroyed my happiness. Yes, it impacted me greatly and yes it changed the way I behave but there were many moments of joy amongst the despair, and I certainly don’t look back on that time as all bad.

I was always a shy child and remember needing Mum or Dad to stay with me when starting any new activities. Changing schools was always traumatic and although I was never without friends, I found the prospect of being essentially alone and needing to meet new people daunting. As we work to assign attachment styles to our earlier selves I struggle to categorise myself, feeling like I fall somewhere between ambivalent and secure depending on the situation and era of my childhood.

It’s strange because I feel like I should fit more into the ambivalent attachment style but at the same time I don’t feel, other than perhaps through my parent’s separation, that I was lacking in parental attention. It’s hard to know how much of my insecurity was due to attachment and how much was just me being shy (a seemingly genetic trait in my family). It makes sense that it could be attachment, I was a premature baby due to the fact that my Mum was ill with a virus, so it’s possible I didn’t have that bonding time when born. However as I say I never felt like I had to hold tight to my parents to retain their attention, more because I was scared of the unknown world outside, and when upset by the outside world I was consoled again upon seeing my parents. I decide to park the thought and ask Mum about it later.

After exploring our own early lives, a panel of women come in to talk to us, each of them experienced one way or another in caring for a child that is not genetically their own. One is a transitional caregiver, caring for a child between placements/homes, who could look after a child from as little as a few days to as much as many years; another is a ‘Home for Life’ parent, essentially like adoption only the birth parents retain legal guardianship of the child as well; and the final one is a woman who has adopted children into her home as babies. This ends up being the best part of the day, or even the entire two day workshop, and I feel I learn a great deal from their experiences and views…..I think I could probably talk to them all day given half the chance. It was great.

After the panel discussion there’s a brief section on the organisation and the process from here, and then we’re free to go. We register our interest in domestic adoption, are told we’re now on the list to be assigned a social worker for home visits, and head home to reflect on the day and fill in the copious amounts of homework in our workbooks.

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