WISE Up! – Walk away, Its private, Share something, Educate Others

WISE Up! – Walk away, Its private, Share something, Educate Others
This fabulous training was run for the first time in 10 years in Canberra at the end of May. One of the many benefits of becoming an AFA member. Learn more from one parent what the day was about and what it meant for his family.

The  W.I.S.E. Up program is a program that provided practical solutions that aided our adoptee children and their parents to better answer uncomfortable questions from peers, teachers and strangers who notice differences about adoptive family. The W.I.S.E Up program had not been run for 10 years in Canberra.  The program is aimed at primary aged school children, teens, and their carers to learn that their adoptive story is unique, personal and theirs to share or not to.   We had 9 active children & 12 parents and grandparents come to participate on the day. The facilities at St John Paul II college were amazing & a big thankyou to Chauntell for making the functions on the day run smoothly.  

For the children, the W.I.S.E. Up program was a terrific chance for them to socialize and relax with other adoptees. An important opportunity some do not get very often. Vivienne Hughes guided the children though the course and created a safe place for our children to express their feelings about being adopted and empowered them with specific tools. Vivienne is a Sydney psychologist and has had 20 years’ experience understanding and nurturing child development.  Vivienne was vastly experienced with the W.I.S.E Up program, having run it several times interstate.  Vivienne was an energetic and brilliant facilitator for the kids, and she was able to give important feedback to parents on how their children experienced the program.   

The parents were facilitated by Liz Williams who is a local Canberran and an experienced social worker in the area.  Liz is an adoptive parent herself and had been an experienced W.I.S.E Up presenter but she had also received the latest training from C.A.S.E to better inform our Canberran adoptive parents of all the latest developments.  The parent program was run concurrently with the children’s program, and it was designed to enlighten parents of what the children were learning and what lessons would come out of their program.  For trans-racial or trans-cultural families, intrusive questions can begin as early as the age three: “Why don’t you look like your mum?”For others, the questions come later: “Why were you adopted?” and “Where are your real parents?”.  During the two and half hour session Liz presented countless typical questions that we as adoptive parents or our children would hear and equally several great responses that would give confidence to the children.  Liz guided us through a range of apt answers that were extremely helpful to deal with inevitable question adoptive families will have to respond to.  Liz’s responses ranged from trying to educate the person who might be enquiring about adoption or abruptly being able to terminate a conversation with grace but more importantly protect our child.  This session was able to provide parents the confidence to protect our children from at times innocent but insensitive questioning.  

At the end of the parent & child separate sessions we were brought together by the facilitators to understand what the children had learnt.  Through role play the children were able to demonstrate 4 basic responses to questions about their adoption.  We were all immensely proud of what the children had mastered and thrilled that they got to act in a positive empowered way to these types of situations.   We were all given a WISE Up handbook to take home to reinforce the approaches that wise-up teach with our children. It was a very positive experience one I am very glad to have been a part of.

Many thanks to Kylie, Chauntell, Karin and Amelia who along with myself made the day possible.

Best regards

Andrew Bartolich

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