Last night was our first MAPP class...and we survived.
I'll try to keep this brief, but let's be honest...chances are it won't be.
We have two women running our class, Noreen and Krystal (not their real names). Noreen told us that in the class she just finished teaching, there were 11 couples taking part, and in the class before that one there were 10 couples.
As of right now, our class is made up of 5 couples and one single woman.
There is the possibility that there will be one more couple joining us next week, but that seems to be up in the air. Last night there were only 9 people in the class because we were missing one husband, the single woman, and one of the couples. According to the rules of the group - none of those people who were missing last night are allowed to miss any more classes. If they do, they're OUT!
Jim and I were the only gay couple there, and we're pretty sure that we're the youngest couple in the class. It seems like a very nice group of people. I'm not sure that we'll make any life long friends out of the class, but you never know, do you???
I do know that one of the couples has at least three children at home already...they have a 20 year old, an 18 year old, and a 6 year old. Whether they're their biological children or if they're step-children of some sort, I have no idea. One of the other couples has an 8 year old daughter and I think that the remaining 2 couples are childless. Well, put it this way - if they have children, they didn't mention them at all.
They began the class by having everyone introduce themselves and say where they were from and what they did for work. Most of the participants live locally, but there are a two couples who are traveling an hour and a half to get there. They're both from Cape Cod and our class location is the closest option for them. Yikes.
Once the introductions were finished, the class 'leaders' gave a high-level overview of what we can expect from the class, and quickly went through what we'll have to turn in when all is said and done. One of the biggest things is a 'profile' that each couple (or individual) has to complete before the end of the 8 weeks (or in our case - 11 weeks, due to the big break we have in December).
It's a very detailed 40-something page profile that is filled with all sorts of questions that we'll have to answer - some questions will be answered as individuals, some as a couple. It is a HUGE part in helping the social worker with our home study. Our friends who have been through the classes told us all about this, so thankfully we weren't taken by surprise. We haven't seen the profile yet, but it's being emailed to us today or tomorrow. THAT should be fun. The good news is that because of the 'December break' we'll have plenty of time to work on it during the non-class weeks. :-)
Last night we spent a lot of time focusing on the idea of 'permanency' for the children. We talked a lot about each of the people (foster parents, adoptive parents, social workers, birth parents/kin, etc...etc...) that are involved in the children's lives and what role each of them plays in working towards achieving the ultimate goal of permanency for the child. As you can imagine, in such a small group (again, last night there were only 9 of us) there is no hiding!!! Thankfully, both Jim and I have no problems talking in front of other people (shocking, I know). In fact, it seemed that most of the people there were OK with it. One or two of the people seemed rather quiet, but I'm sure they'll come around and start talking eventually.
About halfway through the class we took a break and then when we returned, we watched a video - yes, a video....not a DVD....a video - that, in spite of the horrific wardrobe and hair styles (clearly this was filmed in the late 80s, early 90s) had a very nice message.
It told several stories about people bringing new children into their homes, how they dealt with the initial arrival, how they handled discipline, how they dealt with 'acting out', etc...etc...
One of the more interesting points the video covered was the concept of creating a 'life book' for your child. Essentially, it's a scrap book that contains photos, memorabilia, etc. from the beginning of their life up to and continuing on through the time that they're placed with you. According to Noreen and Krystal, they've found that the birth parents are more than happy to contribute to their child's life book. They've seen birth parents pass on ultrasound photos, the baby's first hospital pictures, as well as other items that will have meaning to the children as they get older. All of the things that make up the life book will help them to better understand where they came from, and what their life was life before they became part of your family. Once the video was over, we had a brief discussion about the video and then class was over.
It was a little overwhelming because they threw SO much information at us, but I'm sure we'll be fine. I should have mentioned this earlier, but they did tell us that part of the reason for us being in a smaller group is that DCF is re-designing and re-configuring some of the MAPP training, and we're going to be piloting parts of the new curriculum. It's always interesting to be part of a newly developing process, so I'm sure that there will be some bumps in the road due to the changes. Even the leaders aren't sure how it's all going to play out, but at least we'll all be figuring it out together!!!
If anyone is still reading this - THANK YOU!!!
I hope it wasn't too tedious to sit through.....but the good thing is, you'll probably only have to suffer through one of these posts once a week.