We had our first adoption workshop on Wednesday and I found it hugely beneficial. Both of us were pretty apprehensive as we'd seen the agenda and it was all about dealing with loss and grief. I was worried that it would force us to bring up some things that we dealt with and also that it might be a bit touchy feely.
We were even more stressed when we got there as we'd been caught up in traffic and it took us 2 1/2 hours to get there and so we were very late. Not a good start!
There were quite a few other couples there (about 8) and one single woman. As the day progressed it was interesting to hear people's stories about why they want to adopt - some were like us and dealing with infertility in various guises and others already had children and wanted to add to their families. We talked about the relevancy of the workshops to all of us and had various exercises to work through some of the issues.
The first and the one I was nervous about was feeling cards - I was worried that we'd have to talk about emotions and things, but instead it was cards with statements on them such as "I'm not sure this is relevant to me", "will there be other people in my situation" and so on. They described the feelings and scenarios of different types of adopters and we discussed them in small groups. It was interesting to step into other people's shoes and consider how they might be feeling about their situation and adoption.
Then after a cuppa we were split into gender groups and talked about the motivation behind the adoption, about our experiences with infertility, other people's reactions to us and how we felt about it. Again it was great to share with the others about it and realise that in many cases although our circumstances were different our feelings were very similar. We also watched a couple of short dvds which I thought were a bit strange, one was quite 70s and a bit idealised whereas the other was from the man's perspective and was rather blokey - as women we thought it was quite funny.
We had lunch and were able to chat with the others a bit more, then straight back to the workshop.
To combat post lunch fatigue we had to create road maps of our lives, our desire to be parents and so one. This involved some Blue Peter creativity and glue, scissors and coloured pencils - was also interesting to see who could share valuable assets like scissors. It was a lot of fun and had us all sitting on the floor like we were at play group. We were using images of road signs and there was some hilarity at finding where some images would fit!
We also did an exercise where we talked about loss - not necessarily about fertility but other events in our lives that have been significant. This could be anything from loss of a parent, or a job or even identity, and how we felt and dealt with the grief it caused. There are several different stages of dealing with loss - things like anger, grief, denial, acceptance etc. Then we moved on to talking about how a child may be dealing with loss when he or she is adopted - loss of birth parents, loss of foster parents, then being moved away from school and friends and so on. And how loss can come up for adoptive parents and children over the years.
It was a long day and very tiring but I think we both felt pretty positive afterwards. It gave us a lot to think about, and also answered some questions. I also think that it helped me to meet other people who are at exactly the same stage as us and that was reassuring because you hear lots of adoption stories but it's good to have people going through it at the same time as us. Also we all found a lot to laugh about and that was also helpful to break the ice. Some of these people may become friends and others not, but they will be part of our future in a way and it's good that all of us can see the funny side of things.