Yes folks, it's time once again for my weekly MAPP class re-cap.
Grab your coffee and settle in.
Last night's class began with a re-cap of our previous class, which as you may recall, dealt with the grief/loss that the kids will experience when coming into an adoptive home. Since we're part of the pilot program, our class leaders realized that in following the new format, some things weren't covered as thoroughly as they were in the 'old' format. As a result, Noreen and Krystal (not their real names) wanted to talk a bit more about grief/loss. That discussion tied in nicely to one of this week's major topics, which was trauma and the traumatic events that the kids in the system may have faced before coming into a foster/adoptive home.
We broke up into groups of three people (a total of four groups) and were each assigned a scenario. Each group read the scenario and then had to describe the 'traumatic events' of the scenario, who was affected by the trauma, what the response to the trauma might be, and how the 'caregivers' in the scenario should deal with the traumatized children.
Our scenario dealt with a father who got drunk on Christmas, verbally and physically abused his wife in front of the children, and as a result, one of the children called the police. The father was then arrested, the mom was taken to the hospital, and the children were sent to stay with the father's parents. According to Noreen, this is a very typical scenario and something that happens way too often. Not only the abuse itself, but the fact that all the children (there were three siblings in this case) witnessed everything. Yikes.
One of the points that came out of this discussion (something I never considered) was that often times, children in the system are very much aware of their trauma anniversaries and tend to 'act out' at these times. For example, using the scenario above - assuming these children were placed in a foster or adoptive home - there is a possibility that these kids would become anxious and/or concerned as Christmas approached. Because to them, Christmas is automatically associated with violence. On a similar level, Noreen brought up an excellent point about alcohol consumption in front of certain kids.
Currently, I would think absolutely NOTHING about sitting around on a Saturday night watching TV and drinking a few beers. However, for a child raised in a home where dad downed a 30-pack and proceeded to beat him and his siblings senseless, my 'casual drinking' could have that child sitting in terror, waiting for the violence to begin. Again - something I never even thought about.
Since Jim and I are hoping to adopt an infant, this may not even be an issue for us, but I'm adding it to the list of stuff that I would never have thought of before taking these classes. :-)
The second half of the class focused on how to handle being placed with a child who had been sexually abused. Again, this is hopefully something that Jim and I won't have to deal with, but it was certainly a very interesting/educational topic of discussion.
The discussion thankfully didn't focus on specific cases, but instead, focused on how to set up 'The Healthy Home', as well as how to 'nurture' and show a child you care, without relying on any kind of physical contact with them. Noreen brought up a great example of how when she was first starting out as a social worker, it was her natural instinct when meeting a child for the first time, to approach the child and give them a hug. Well, it didn't take her long to realize that not all children were receptive to that.
That's just a high level example of something that a lot of people may not even think of.
As far as 'The Healthy Home' exercise, we all had to come up with either three 'rules' of the home that focused on making everyone feel safe and secure; or come up with an activity that encouraged family nurturing, without focusing on physical contact. We had to write our three rules/activities on Post-It notes and place them in the 'room' that the rule/activity would apply to. (There was a floor plan of a house drawn on a flip chart for us to use.)
There were some really great suggestions made, but I have to say that both Noreen and Krystal (ntrn) were fans of both mine and Jim's suggestions....without knowing that we wrote them. For example, I suggested a 'Family Walk' as one of the nurturing, yet non-intrusive behaviors and that was apparently the first time in their experience that anyone has chosen an activity outside of the home. They were also a big fan of Jim's suggestion of saying prayers/reflecting on the day before bedtime with the kids.
Hopefully, our suggestions got us some 'extra points' :-)
Side note: Can I just say that some of the stuff that people say out loud in class really surprises me.?!?!? Clearly they want you to be honest, but typically in a public situation, surrounded by people you don't know all that well, you would think that folks would be a little bit reserved in how they voice their opinions on certain subjects. For example, last night when Noreen started the discussion about sexual abuse, one of the men in the class blurted out - "I think they should all be shot! No question."
Even if you do feel that way - which I'm sure lots of people do - would you really just throw that out there for everyone to hear?? Especially in front of the people who are going to be deciding if you're fit to be a parent or not? I don't know...maybe it's just me.
Well my peeps....this had gone on long enough.
I'm going to grab some coffee and get to work!
Have a GREAT day. :-)