Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Positivity of Panel

Panel. A word that sends a shiver through many prospective adopters.  It's where you find out your adoption fate and it feels like the most important day of your life. That might be a bold sentence but it's how I remember feeling about it. These days I'm a panel member and have been for almost 4 years. Every time I think I'm ready to give up all the reading and stand down from my position as 'Adoptive Parent', I go to a panel that pulls me back in.

Today was that panel. It was a long day. We had 7 items and we consider each of them very carefully, which can take some time. Today we had a couple returning to adopt the full sibling of the child they adopted a few years ago. I was there for that panel and again for this one. Hearing about how happy they are to be parents to their little girl and how excited they are to expand their family with her baby brother was incredible. What an amazing thing to witness. We approved several other couples and some matches, all of which made me feel proud to play a very small part in these people's lives. I often sit there with tears in my eyes as the people in front of us tell us how much they want to be parents and why they feel the match is the right child or children for them. Panel can be very powerful.

I know that it can be a terrifying experience for prospective adopters, whether it's to become approved or matched. I know. I've done it. Scroll through my earlier blogs to see how my partner and I had an almighty blazing row just an hour before our approval panel. Because I've been there I always make sure I give adopters an encouraging smile when I say my name in introductions. You get the news of the panel's decision shortly after coming out of the meeting and the people sitting around that table want you to feel relaxed and to do well. Try and remember that.

If you ever get the chance to sit on an adoption panel, I say give it a try. Every month when the massive bundle of papers arrive I curse a bit under my breath. When I start reading and see how many papers I still have to go the curses sometimes get a bit louder. It can be tough and the reading can be very upsetting, but when you see a looked after child matched with their forever family and you just know they're going to have a wonderful life together you feel so darn good.

So, just as I was about to say to the Chair that I think I've done a good 4 years and I would like to bow out, now I might just do it for another few months. It's hard work and there is a LOT of reading but you just can't measure how brilliant it feels when a couple or single adopter walks out of the room knowing they are soon going to be a parent. That bit, I love. The reading? Not so much.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Shameless, 'It's not about adoption but I've got a new book out' related blog post

Hello again.

I hope you've enjoyed my blog up to now. I love writing them. I'm a writer by profession, actually, so I want to take this opportunity to tell you about my new children's book. Even though it's not based on my adoption experiences, it was inspired by my son who we've discovered is mildly dyslexic.

I wrote it because we discovered there is a leap in children’s books where they go from cute picture books straight into chunky reads like Mr Gum and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. These books are brilliant, but the fact they're a full pages of text makes that leap a bit too much for some children. Children like my son who used to throw books across the room in frustration because he couldn’t keep up with his peers. He needed something in between. I was trying to think about what I could do to help him and this is when I had a light bulb moment.

After having my bright idea, I took my laptop to a local cafĂ©, J.K. Rowling style, and started to write a story. By day, I’m a freelance advertising copywriter, so I’m used to working with words. I wrote the story as if it were a play, the idea being that you choose characters and only read their lines as they come up with the more confident reader taking the part of the narrator. This way, you share the reading with your children so it’s altogether less intimidating for them. You can put on funny voices if you like and have a bit of fun with it.
The stories are written so that they take around 15 minutes to read from start to finish and they can enjoy a satisfying conclusion before their head hits the pillow. This stops the need to turn the corner of the book down and the next night pick up again where you left off, if your son or daughter hasn’t hidden the book. I doubt we’ll ever know what happens at the end of The Machine Gunner in our house, it’s long gone.
Anyway, The Spaceship Saga and Other Stories is out soon. It sits perfectly next to Horrid Henry, Mr Gum, Mr Stink and Harry Potter on the shelf and it has five short stories suitable for boys and girls alike. Reading this way is much more fun and a lot less scary for struggling readers. All the stories are tried and tested on my own two children and they’ve assured me they love them, and I don’t think it’s just so they got their pocket money, at least that’s what they tell me. Buy the book and see for yourself. I hope you like it.
You can buy it from Amazon here or, if you prefer, from Waterstones here. If you want to find out more about it or contact me, go to my little website here, Read a Play
If you like it, please spread the word. Thanks for reading!