Tag Archives: introductions

3 Top Tips for Introductions

Today @SuddenlyMummy shares her top tips for Introductions, 

It seems as though the Twitter universe is awash with prospective adopters who are about to be matched, already matched, or contemplating introductions very soon. Congratulations all of you! Many of us have been through it already, and we know that there are myriads of little tips that would have made it all oh so much easier if we’d known them in advance!

So, what are your top tips for managing introductions? Do you have some practical advice, something you wish you’d known, or something you did that worked really well for you?

From a foster carer’s point of view, here are three of my top tips:

movng on1.Bring a holdall or suitcase on the first day of intros for the foster carer to pack all your child/children’s stuff in. It’s heartbreaking to have your child arrive with all their belongings in a bin bag, but amazing how often it happens. I always mention this at first meeting with prospective adopters, but if your foster carer doesn’t, then it might be worth asking.

2.Find out whether it would be ok to provide the foster carer with a memory stick on the first day of intros to load up with photos and videos of your little one. I make photobooks and scrapbooks, but these contain only a fraction of the literally hundreds of pictures I take, and are no good for video clips.

3.I always give prospective adopters my email address at the first meeting – I have never asked SS if this is ok, and I never will because I don’t want to hear a negative answer! If you get the foster carer’s email address and you feel comfortable contacting them, do, do, do email them, even if you don’t really have any questions. Once I receive a prospective adopter’s email, then, importantly, I have their email address too and I can start sending updates to help make the endless wait go by just a little faster.

So, now it’s over to you. If you’ve been through it, what are your top tips for introductions? Share any tips you have in the comments below.

Book recommendations for older sibling

Today’s problem comes from an adoptive mum who wants to provide support to a new adoptive family…can you help?

A friend of mine (we met at an activity day where my husband and I found our daughter) has a books7 year old birth son and is currently in the midst of introductions with her 4 year old adopted son.

I want to help reduce the concerns and worries she and her husband have about their birth son and the huge transition this will be for him.

I was just looking for any book recommendations that they could use with their birth son to help explore his feelings and understanding of everything.

I have identified ‘Oh Brother’ already but any further books and/or advice would be great.

Preparing to meet your child – Part 2

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:

New Home

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.new pets

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.

Preparing to meet your child – Part 1

Suddenly Mummy is a single adoptive mum, and also a foster carer. She’s put together these Handy Tips on Preparing to Meet Your Child as a two-part piece. This week you’ll see it’s about meeting the foster carer…

Part I – Meeting the Foster Carer

Although it can be daunting, meeting the foster carer is a vital step in preparing to meet your child or children, so it’s important to approach the meeting positively so that you can get the most out of it.  Here are a few suggestions that might help to make the meeting a success:

1. Make sure you know where you’re going!  It sounds like a simple thing, but the last thing you need on this important day is to be driving round in panic, lost and late!

FC questions
2. Decide on a few questions in advance.
The nature of these will depend on the age of the child or children you are adopting, and also their backgrounds and any issues you are already aware of.  Think about practical things such as routine, feeding, naps, bedtimes, etc. and clothing/shoe size, favourite activities, toys, books and so on.  Ask about washing powder/fabric softener so you can start making your house smell like the foster carer’s house.  You will also want to ask questions about medical needs and/or educational/developmental/behavioural needs, depending on your child’s profile.

3. Allow the conversation to flow freely.  It’s important to ask questions to get the specific information you need, but at the same time you are trying to build up a rounded picture of the child and their life with their carers, so don’t be concerned if conversation strays from your prepared questions as you might be able to learn unexpected and precious details this way.

4. Be aware that the foster carers may not be able to answer all of your questions. Sometimes foster carers simply don’t have the information you are looking for – they may not even have all the information that you have been given.  Sometimes, things that are important to your lifestyle will not figure in the foster carer’s lifestyle, so they may not be able to answer questions about that.  For instance, if you are very outdoorsy, you might want to know whether your child enjoys digging in the mud, but this might never have come up in the foster family.

5. Ask to see plenty of pictures that the carers have taken.  Of course, you want to see pictures of your child, but also take special note of what is happening in the photographs.  Try to see what your child is doing in the pictures (playing with trains, looking at books, playing with the water, etc.) and make a mental note of what you see – this will be useful when you are preparing your introductory materials.

6. Offer the foster carer your email address.  I like to swap email addresses with adoptive parents so that I can email them about things I may have forgotten, and send new photos periodically to keep that contact going while we all wait for matching and introductions.

7. Relax!  Although it can be downright scary meeting the foster carers, remember that they are not your competition.  Foster carers work hard to prepare children for adoption and, although we do get attached, we know that there is great joy mixed with the sadness when we hand our charges over to their forever families.  Of course, the foster carer’s ways of doing things might be different to what you have experienced and planned, but be assured that they will want the adoptive placement to be a success and will aim to work with you to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Part 2 looks at Preparing Introductory Materials, something that many adoptive parents approach with trepidation. Be sure to check back next week.

And, if you have any knowledge to share like this Handy Tips post, please do get in touch.