The last week of Pride! I can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly, especially after waiting so long for it to start. From what I understand though, waiting is a HUGE part of this whole adoption journey.
Our session was primarily about considering how to welcome a child into our home, how to keep them safe, and how to help them feel like they really do belong.
We talked about safety (locks on cabinets, medication out of reach, etc) — all of the stuff you’d normally think about as a parent. But we also discussed unique safety considerations for a child who may have suffered abuse in their past. Things like each child having their own spot to sit while watching movies or relaxing in the living room (no sitting on laps or cuddling), taking cues from the child on physical contact (hugs, etc), and even the importance of designating personal spaces for the child that no one else is allowed to access without their permission. We talked about two personal spaces in particular: the child’s bed, and the child’s dresser drawers, where they can keep clothing of course, but also personal belongings.
Some of this was difficult for us to think about. Our family is big on privacy — there are no group showers here and everyone is always clothed when outside of their own bedrooms. We didn’t have a hard time with our instructors pointing out that robes are a necessity, and that children need to use the bathroom individually.
We did have a hard time picturing the other issues though — whenever we watch a family movie, someone is always in Mommy or Daddy’s lap, or one child’s head is on someone else’s shoulder, or they’re doing the “pile on” — seeing how many kids can fit on Daddy’s back at the same time. Wrestling time is also a big deal here, complete with lots of tickling and silliness. Trying to imagine how we would include a child that may have difficulty with some of those things was hard. How would we balance the usual physical contact that we feel is an essential part of bonding, with the sensitivities of a child that may have physical or sexual abuse in their background?
I suppose though, that any kind of activity could be a trigger for a child. One of our instructors related a story where shovelling snow was part of a memory of abuse for one child, and was a trigger for her. My guess is that it’s the kind of thing that is different for each child and it’s our job to figure out our child’s unique perspective on whatever situation comes up.
So, our next step is to start the homestudy with our social worker. From what I’ve heard, that could happen quickly, or it could take quite a long time. It all depends on our worker’s caseload. I plan on blogging our experiences with that as well.
In the meantime, for those that have been following these Pride Training summaries, I’d like to make mention of the fact that while this process takes a long time, it’s really not that hard, and it’s not expensive. If you feel a call to adopt, or even if you’d just like more information about it, give the CAS a call. Our instructors have always made it clear that if at any point we realize that adoption is not for us, all we have to do is say so. You’re not locked in at all once you start the process. It’s all about information-gathering.
Adoption is one of those things about which everyone says “I wish I could do that” or “I’ve always wanted to do that”. If you feel like you could offer a stable, loving home to a child, do it. We only live once — why not make the one life a child has to live better?