Last week we posted a great piece from Suddenly Mummy on Preparing to Meet Your Child, specifically on Meeting the Foster Carer. This week’s follow up focusses on Preparing the Introductory Materials…
Part II – Preparing Introductory Materials
Once your match has been approved at Matching Panel, you will be able to send introductory materials that your child’s foster carer can use to introduce you to your child before the big first meeting takes place.
These can take a number of forms but are most often photo albums, home-made DVDs, audio recordings, etc. These don’t have to be created to professional standards, so don’t feel under too much pressure. The idea is to allow your child to see and hear you, and to see your home, garden, local area (local park, etc.) and maybe a selection of special people so that they can build some familiarity with their new life before it actually happens. You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg!
I recently worked with an adoptive parent who produced some really well-thought-out introductory materials for the three-year-old boy she was adopting. Here are some of her great ideas:
1. She sent a photo album, DVD and audio recording. I was able to introduce these items gradually so that he didn’t get too bored with looking at the same thing for weeks.
2. Prior to creating the materials, she bought a soft toy (a bunny) that featured heavily in the photos and DVD. This bunny came to first meeting and stayed with the little boy at my house throughout introductions (it was a big success!)
3. The DVD was very simply created but started at the front door and then toured the important rooms in the house, including his new bedroom, as well as the local park. The bunny featured throughout, sitting in the bed, peeping out of the toybox, going down the slide.
4. The photo album showed many of the scenes that were in the DVD which was great reinforcement and gave me chance to talk about what we were seeing in more depth than with the film. She had created it as a sort of ‘Where’s Wally?’ with the bunny hidden on each picture for the little boy to find and he really enjoyed that game.
5. This parent had clearly paid a lot of attention to what I had said during our meeting and to the photos I had shown her. For instance, I mentioned that he was very interested in whether his new Mummy would have a car, so she ensured that the DVD showed her driving her car. One of the photos I had shown her showed the little boy having huge fun with a garden hose. One of the photos in her album showed Bunny in a very similar pose with the hose. There were several other photos that mirrored pictures I had shown her, as well as attention paid to the little boy’s interests at the time (mainly trains and planes).
6. The photo album included a couple of photographs of special people who would go on to play a big part in the little boy’s life. As a single adopter, this lady was then able to bring one of these special people along to support her during the introductions (it was long-distance involving hotel stays) and the little boy was able to meet her.
7. The audio recording was of the adoptive parent reading a book which I had told her was one of the little boy’s favourites so she knew he would be familiar with it.
This lady’s approach is just one way of doing things. She had some great ideas, but the materials you create will need to reflect you and your family and your lifestyle. If you remember back to a time when you went somewhere new – first day at big school or first day in a new job for instance – it will help you to imagine just how disorientating the big move is going to be for your child. Anything you can do in your introductory materials to make the unknown seem more familiar to your child will help to smooth the process of introductions and transition considerably.
And finally – enjoy yourself! Don’t be nervous – your child isn’t an art or film critic. Just have fun making the materials, let your personalities shine through, and be prepared to have them as keepsakes forever!
Many thanks to Suddenly Mummy for this great two-part series. If you’d like to contribute to our Handy Tips and Advice section, please do contact us.