Ever since Duckling and Gosling have been in the care of the local authority their social worker has explained to them that her job is to ‘find a special family for them to live with’. On the day she told them she had found an ‘extra special family with two daddies’ to be their forever family, she also gave them a bag of goodies that we’d given her at matching panel. In the bag was a book and cuddly toy for each of the children, an audio book of the Gruffalo, and a DVD. What was special about these items was that we had made them ourselves (not the cuddly toys).
The introduction book aims to let the children know about who we are and where they are going to live when they move in with us. Each page had a large picture with a description of the room it was showing. We had great fun putting the cuddly toys into each of the pictures – my favourite is the one of the two of them playing the piano. We also made sure the children’s favourite things were on show. In one picture the rabbit was drawing a princess crown with some glitter spread all over the place, in another there was a huge bowl of fruit that the cuddly toys were tucking into. We did our books in Photoshop and then sent the files to a local copy shop who printed and bound them for us. We also got a spare copy in case they got ruined with the kids looking through them.
The cuddly toys were a rabbit and a dinosaur which we’d been told by the foster carer were the children’s favourites. Being able to actually hold the cuddlies whilst they are reading the books is supposed to help the children understand that the pictures they were seeing were real.
We had also asked the foster carer what the children’s favourite book was. I could have probably guessed as it was the Gruffalo. So Tom and I set up a mini recording studio and read the story with us doing all the voices and narration. Tom then did a bit of editing and added some music at the start and end. It was really easy to do and we were really pleased with the outcome. Thankfully, both kids loved it and we listened to it at both the foster carer’s house and in the car when we were driving with them during introductions. I have to give a huge shout out to Suddenly Mummy who shared this idea on The Adoption Social.
The DVD was a physical embodiment of the book and we hated making it. Tom and I both work in the arts and I think people expected great things from our DVD. However, we both work ‘behind the screen’ as it were and the thought of being on camera made us feel sick. We duly filmed ourselves in each room and Tom did a great job of using some great music and every style of edit in iMovie to make the film more exciting. The end result looked like a cheap and not very interesting edition of Location, Location, Location. As soon as we’d burned a copy and were on our way to the panel I had loads of ideas of how to improve it – songs, costumes, or more interaction with the toys and rooms - but by then it was too late.
We were told by the children’s foster carer that the children loved the toys, books and even the DVD. But the audio book went down an absolute storm and it has become a firm favourite in our house and car ever since.
We were really pleased with the introductory items we created for the children and I think they really helped in the early days of introductions. In fact reading the book together made for an easy way to chat to them and listening to the audio book was lovely when we all snuggled up together for bedtime.
If you’re making a book, DVD or anything else the best advice I can offer is to be yourselves and try to enjoy the process. The more you can show who you are it will really help the children make sense of what’s happening.
I'd love to hear what else people have done...
My husband and I have adopted two wonderful children. Duckling is 5 and Gosling, her little brother, is 3. I'll be keeping track of our journey here...