A little over 3 years ago my social worker asked if we wanted to meet up with a local adopter who was roughly the same age as us and who had not long adopted their son.
Obviously I jumped at the chance, any real life person that I could meet who had adopted. I wanted all the information and to know that adoption was going to be amazing and not this scary process the course wanted to prepare us for.
So one evening my husband and I popped round to their home. I was super nervous and didn’t know what to expect. What I didn’t know then is that we would be friends for life and share a wonderful bond of trust, understanding, support and acceptance.
When we got there we were so warmly greeted. We asked lots of questions and we talked honestly about the process. It was an amazing evening and I was buzzing when we got home. I said we’d keep in touch and let them know when we were matched.
Fast forward to when cub had been home around 4 months and I was just about getting my life in order. I messaged fearlessandfree and let her know that we had a little boy and would she like to meet up. Not long afterwards I sent an email to all the contacts I had from our adoption course. 2 lovely ladies messaged back with their news. We all have boys! H (who also has become a life long) friend came to meet fearlessandfree and m. That’s when the group officially started.
Not long afterwards the summer hit and the three of us continued to meet up with our little one. We just chatted about adoption, parenting, we swapped advice, asked each other questions and to me it felt like a very special bond. It felt like therapy. And I needed it.
From the start we had mentioned that we needed a Saturday group so the working parents could meet up as well. So we looked up some village halls.
Our first meeting on a Saturday was the three of us, three children and 3 dads. It was great to get everyone together and know that anything said would be confidential, that any photos taken wouldn’t be shared. Any meltdowns from the children would be understood. We were able to talk about our feelings that would have been different to that of a birth family. The torn emotions, behaviours, how to tackle difficult situations.
It was so refreshing going to a group that didn’t ask if you breast fed and why not. How long your labour was. Whether they were a good baby. Etc...
Photo by @markusspiske - Unfold
Looking back I realised I isolated myself from your standard toddler groups, definitely from the early days because I felt I was lying when I tried to answer those innocent awkward questions. I felt I had to tell people I adopted him in case they found out and thought I was a fraud. The weird looks I got when I didn’t know how heavy he was at birth (why I didn’t just make it up I don’t know!) .
Anyway, I digress, the Saturday group was a success, we arranged to do it again in 6 weeks. We had spoken to the hall caretaker and booked it up. We also had a potential new recruit. A family known to fearlessandfree were keen to come to the group....they had just adopted 4 little ones (yes in one go) from them on a few families they knew got in touch. It spiralled from there with friends of friends contacting us, or the social workers contacting us about local adopters. 3 years later we still have new adopters arriving to the group which is amazing.
Photo by @anniespratt - Unfold
Fearlessandfree contacted local supermarkets to see if they would donate any toys to our group. The church very kindly gave us some money to pay for the hall for a year and some toys. This was such amazing support and meant the group was free to access.
The group meets in the morning and provides snack for the children, pastries and coffee for the grown ups (so nice to have a civilised breakfast). There is usually a craft activity and the toys are laid out for the children to play with.
At the end of the session all the children are encouraged to help with tidying up and we all leave at the same time so that no family is left to finish tidying up.
Fearlessandfree set up a closed Facebook group where we could contact each other and arrange the Thursday 2 weekly meet ups and the 6 weekly Saturday meet up. We then also had a summer party and a Christmas party.
To date we now have over 10 families and over 15 children. It’s the most amazing group for everyone.
Pros for the children are priceless. There are other children just like them. It normalises adoption and provides a support network for them too.
Photo @mscheid - Unfold
During our adoption groups we have discussed life story books, what to put in that you have found out or been told. When to talk to them about siblings. About schools, how to make a choice, Pupil Premium money, how they are getting on. Behaviours, I know I’ve chatted endlessly about lack of sleep. We have discussed potential diagnosis’s and shared advice.
This group has been a lifesaver for me. I have got a wonderful group of friends outside of adoption but with all the will in the world, they won’t always understand what you’re going through. It’s not their fault, it’s just how it is.
Sometimes difficulties we may have maybe completely age related normal developmental. But in the back of your mind you’re always thinking ‘is this an adoption related issue?’ Could there have been some trauma related to this behaviour. It’s hard, but having that support makes it so much easier.
I recently spoke to post adoption support and mentioned our group. They thought it was amazing and said if we ever needed them to come and do any training then to let them know.
So if you know just one other adopter who is local, I encourage you to meet up. Let your social worker know your starting a support group and more people will follow. We started at each other’s homes until we found a hall we could book. You could meet at the park. We meet at softplay, the woods etc.
Let me know how you get on and I wish you all the best.
To read about the Adoption Changes course and Therapeutic Parenting follow the link: