Monday, September 26, 2011

Adoption Training Class!

I am a big dork - I really like to learn. When people ask what I would do if I won the powerball, I always say that I would go to school forever. I'd take random classes on things I didn't know anything about. I'd soak up the opportunities to learn. This is important because our adoption training classes are starting this week. You need to know that my pencils are sharpened, and I have fresh notebooks that are just waiting to opened. I love any class that is going to teach me something I don't know. In this case, I don't know a lot. Since I have no idea how it will go, I'm going to do half of this post before we go, and half afterwards. That way you can get a fuller range of emotions. I may have no idea how it will go, but I have a lot of preconceived notions. :)

Love school, love apples. Chalk, meh.

BEFORE: It's Wednesday morning, and our first class is tonight.

Things I know:
  • Training will last for 12 weeks
  • The classes are from 6:30pm - 9:30pm (EEEK, I go to bed at 7pm people!)
  • There will be prospective foster parents and adoptive parents in the class
  • Our pre-training paperwork is due on the first night (I finished two days ago, thank you!)
Things I keep thinking about:
  • I've been told that this class could be renamed "1500 reasons why you shouldn't adopt" - which scares me, maybe, just a little bit.
  • I have a hard time believing that everyone will have completed their paperwork. Maybe I just think I'm better than everyone else, but I generally enjoy paperwork, and this was a slog. So, there's a small part of me that hopes no one else finished, and we can go to bed home early.
  • J and I feel strongly about not fostering. For us, it's just not the right choice - and as much as we want to help kids, it has to be something that isn't emotionally devastating for us. Based on the fact that we see Syd approximately 30 days out of 365, fostering just isn't a healthy option for us. That said, I'm feeling kind of like the lone atheist in a crowded room-  based on the situation right now in AZ, I'm worried that there will be a lot of pressure to foster, and I'm going to keep politely and respectfully refusing. Even if/when J succumbs.
I'm the kid raising her hand. J's the kid with the spaced out look in back.

The Temperature: Lukewarm

Right now, we have actively not committed to anything. We want to have a family, but we also still really love our lives together. We've chosen to go through the classes to educate ourselves, and prepare for the possibility if we choose to move forward after the training classes. However, for us, going through 12 weeks of training does not mean that we HAVE to adopt. My choice to write this blog is to capture our thoughts as we go through the steps of the process, but I will not feel obligated to adopt because of it. So, though it's potentially exciting to take the classes - and today could, in retrospect, be a big day for us - it's not a defining day. It's not going to shape the remainder of our lives unless we choose to adopt later down the road.

So the first class went well. I didn't run out of the building screaming madly about the freaks at Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, but I also didn't drive away honking the horn in excitement and waving a banner out the window that we would be adopting. It was a pretty dry, informational meeting, though it sounds like it will perk up after all the initial rules and definitions have been reviewed.

 Happy with books, notebooks, binders, and an apple -

There was an interesting activity that we did as an ice breaker - Some people were given cards of types of children in the foster care system, and the others received cards of different types of parents. There were more kids than parents, and we had to go find a good fit. My card read "I am 9 years old. My biological parents are drug users, and I need to find a forever family who can help me deal with my past." I found a good match - a parent who has helped a family member deal with drug abuse - but even more, I met a really amazing woman who has 5 kids, and a soon-to-be foster daughter. She told me a story about the foster daughter that just rocked me to the core - more than any of the kids that we reviewed in profiles during the course of the night.

One of the things that I really liked were that we reviewing profiles of children who have actually been through the system. We used the profiles to go over things like child strengths/needs, risk and safety assessments, etc. I thought it was more powerful knowing that this child exists, and has been through the program than it would have been with a made-up example. This way, we get a better idea of the kids who would be coming to us.

Things I know:
  • All of the items above are still true
  • There are 34 people in our class, 16 couples, and two singles
  • Most of the other parents have not finished their pre-training paperwork
  • We will not be getting out of class early - ever
  • The classes are well structured, and we get agendas and packets for a binder each week (I love this)
  • There is a TON of info to go through, and we will not get through all of it in class - homework!
  • The trainers were very open to the idea of parents who were only interested in adoption
Things I don't know:
  • How we'll feel at the end of this program
  • How many paper cuts I'll have accumulated by the last packet (current count is 2)
Temperature: Still Lukewarm

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