For our Two-day Preparation for Adoption Seminar
. It was held in a conference room at the Do*cs offices in Western Sydney. Smack bang in the heart of our multi-cultural city. A good fit.
Mr. S and I live pretty close to the city centre, and with everything on our doorstep we don’t have much reason to travel too far afield.
With that in mind I got us fully prepared with a printed ‘Whereis’ map and instructions. Our trip out there went pretty smoothly and we arrived within a minute of our 9am start. Thankfully there were 3 other couples that arrived after us, so we had time for a cup of tea, and to check out the ‘others’.
As we all walked in the door we meet the two facilitators who crossed off our names and gave us a name badge with coloured sticker. Being the curious type I scanned the room looking for other couples that might also have the ‘brown’ sticker. Some had pink, some green, some yellow. Only one other couple seemed to have brown. It would turn out that all the other ‘brown’ couples were the late ones. Chortle.
Our facilitators introduced themselves – let’s call them Happiness and Joy, because that’s what they were.
We were given a brief introduction about the ladies and their qualifications (immense) and then talked about what our expectations were of the course and adoption. After that we were told to break up into our ‘colour’ groups. In turned out we were grouped by geographical location. In the event that we go ahead with adoption they encourage parents to socialise with other adoptee parents. They figure that you’re more likely to socialise with people who live in your neighbourhood, so they start that ball rolling straight away.
I think it’s a great idea, but as Mr. S pointed out – we were in fact put in socio-economic groups.
I think it took till, umm let’s see, morning tea time before we all started comparing our infertility stories. How many cycles we’d all been thru, miscarriages, what doctors, which alternative therapists. Guess what? suddenly our story was not unusual. Suddenly we’re talking with people and not feeling like we’re talking in a foreign language.
It was amazing how many of us had had the same doctors. I remember wondering – do I recognise this person from a waiting room?
The rest of the first day we talked about issues around Intercountry adoption - from the child’s perspective. How and when do you tell your child they are adopted, how do you deal with issues of racism, what story do you tell them about their birth mother or ‘Tummy Mummy’, how you actually parent an adoptive child in completely the opposite way to a birth child (ie you want this child to form an attachment to you – so controlled crying is not an option, they also encourage parents to have the baby in bed with you). We finished the day with the staff from Do*cs coming in and advising us on the countries they looked after. This was a chance for everyone to find out about particular countries and the requirements for each.
That night Mr. S and I were going to see a play with his parents, at this point we hadn’t told anyone that we were thinking about adoption. We decided to tell his parents what we’d been up to that day. They were pretty positive. Mr. S’s mother was a little apprehensive, asking why we hadn’t gone to the catholic-run
agency – so we had to tell her that there was pretty much no local adoption anymore. We will have initial issues to deal with if we go ahead, we know that. We will not be telling my family anything at this stage. Since I haven’t had any support throughout our infertility and IVF, we’ll learn from that and work out a time down the track.
The next day we spent watching the doco on ‘Project Airlift’. Stopping at intervals to talk about what was going on. This was the airlift of the Vietnamese orphans/ children during the war, basically it was an exercise in propaganda for the war. You may have seen the doco., it’s the story of a woman called Heidi who was given up by her Vietnamese mother at the age of six (father US soldier), and was adopted by a single woman, who moved her to Tennessee [yikes].
It’s quite a compelling story and is told from both the birth mother and Heidi's perspective. The adoptive mother is glaring absence – they now no longer talk. This isn’t due to the adoption, but because basically this woman was not a fit mother to begin with and rejected Heidi when she became an adult and started dating.
There was a variety of emotions in the room as it was being played – some people crying and some not happy. Not happy because this wasn’t a current story that would relate to our experiences today. The reason we were told for being shown it – because all the emotions are apparently the same – for the adoptee child and the birth mother. This is the point - understanding how your child will feel and how to help them.
Lunchtime that day we had connected with two couples and we all went to the pub (one drink!). It was amazing to hear some people’s stories, seriously I thought 1 miscarriage and 5 failed cycles of IVF was bad enough …
Interesting that all of us had been to the same CFG!! She has the reputation of being the best, word of mouth recommendations (plus a couple of celebrity patients). We all had the same issues – the cost, the waiting, the disgusting taste of the teas and the FACT THAT IT DIDN’T WORK!
We spent the rest of the afternoon wrapping up and talking about some of the requirements. One of the most heated discussions was around the rule of not actively seeking ART while adopting. Most people in the room didn’t think that Do*cs have the right to tell people not to keep trying. While we were talking in groups it seemed that a lot of people had decided that they would try if they wanted to and just not tell. We’re not in the frame of mind to keep going with IVF the way we have, so it really didn’t bother me.
Interestingly, several of the women there were talking about donor eggs.
We wrapped up by having one of the staff from Do*cs go over the application form and all the requirements.
In the medical requirements your GP (who has one of those?) has to check your BMI – this is one of those controversial requirements – and not considered fair. Not an issue for me, but a couple of people in the room were carrying some extra weight.
That night we met some of our friends, and actually asked of them if they’d be our referee, they said they’d be honoured. We felt honoured. We've since asked another couple and been told the same thing. We need three all up.
We haven’t been totally open with a lot of our friends about what we’ve been thru, this course has somehow enabled us to be able to speak about it. I’m not sure why.
One of the things that made me feel good, was seeing a roomful of PEOPLE JUST LIKE ME.
We had been told to expect some very bitter and resentful people, and also to expect there’d be some much older people. Not true for us. Sure people have been thru some pretty heart wrenching experiences, but we didn’t meet anyone bitter and twisted, hey we didn’t even meet any desperados! What you learn when going thru IF is that in it’s most basic sense – it’s pure comedy. Most of us in the room could tell our stories and laugh our heads off.
It was an amazing two days and we’re already organising to catch up for dinner with some of the people we met.Sorry if this is abit long-winded, I just wanted to capture what we went thru.