Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 106

Well haven’t we all come a long way? – at least judging by some of the posts that joined in with #WASO last week.waso 106It was great to see so many joining in and sharing their stories. Of course, it’s never compulsory to take up our themes…this week there isn’t one, so just link up your favourite, or newest posts.

Of course, we all like a little blog love, so don’t forget to share the posts that you like through your social networks, and be sure to leave a comment on those that you read, let them know you found them through the Weekly Adoption Shout Out!



An Interview with Co-founder of The Cornerstone Partnership

Today we bring you an interview with Helen Keenan, co-founder of new adoption initiative, The Cornerstone Partnership.

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Helen became an adoptive mum five years ago and has two children through adoption Clare Suares, the other founder, is also an adoptive mum, with one child. They met through their local authority, brought together by their social worker.

Prior to becoming a mum, Helen had worked for twelve years in the Public Sector including working for the Mayor of London’s office, she also currently runs a children’s fashion brand, Little Punk London.

Helen told me that the idea for the Cornerstone Partnership was born from a great interest in, and some input she had, into policy change around adoption.

Her involvement with the Department for Education included feeding in ideas ”on what adopters need” and from this work, The Cornerstone initiative grew.

Herself and Clare formalised a plan and applied for funding, which they received a successful confirmation of at the end of December last year. At the beginning of January, this year, they were finally able to set up office and begin work on the initiative.

The pilot for their work is taking place in Berkshire and work has already begun on setting up a buddy system.

This system aims to partner experience adopters with new prospective adopters, the practised adopters will then guide and support their “buddy” through the adoption process and into the early stages of adoption. 

I asked Helen how they had recruited the willing adoption buddies?

The majority of the experienced adopters had already been known to the local agency, working with them on preparation courses and information evenings. Those that volunteered and where unknown to the agency, were interviewed and there suitability assessed on the grounds of their experience, where they were in their own journey and their emotional stability and therefore their ability to maintain support over the required period.

I suggested the reason we had not had much response from our on-line community for questions to ask in the interview, was that the scheme did not seem beneficial to existing adopters. This is despite the press release seeming to  suggest that support would be across the board, quoting,  MP Edward Timpson ‘this innovative programme will support adoptive families – from those who have been adopting for years to those at the beginning of the journey – every step of the way.’

Helen set the record straight immediately stating this observation is correct. The scheme is not for existing adopters, is to help new adopters through the system and during the early days of having a child or children placed. Helen recognised that “it’s a massive shock to your system in your first year”

She went on to explain that the there are three main aims on the Cornerstone Partnership.

Firstly to reduce the waiting time that harder to place children often face before a family is found. The Partnership will actively seek and work with prospective adopters to find a good match for these children.

Secondly, the already mentioned buddy or mentoring scheme.

Thirdly to train prospective adopters, post assessment and pre-placement, to prepare them for becoming a family.   Clinical Psychologist, Kim Golding has devised a three day course, based on the DDP approach called “Beginning Attachment”.

From this three pronged approach, Cornerstone aim to offer adopters approximately two years of support.

The pilot is funded for 15 monthly and during that time the National Children’s Bureau will evaluate its progress. During this time and based on out comes, a plan to expand the initiative will be developed.

I finally posed the thought to Helen that sceptics may see this as another cost cutting exercise for local authorities by recruiting adopters to do the job of social workers.

In response Helen said This isn’t something that LA’s can do and it does exist yet, not formally”(referring to the buddy scheme).

She finished by saying It’s adding not replacing and with huge benefit to the end user”.

 

Interview with an adopted child questions

We’ve published a couple of interviews with adopted children recently. These have proved popular, and we received a request for a list of questions that could be used for those who would like to ‘interview’ their own children.

We must stress that if used in the format below, this is not necessarily a therapeutic way of talking to your children, however you could turn it into something more fun than just sitting down and directly talking to your child. Perhaps dress up as newsreaders? Turn it around and allow your child to ask you? Use a Dictaphone or your phone to record it? Be inventive and use fun ways to make it less formal. Or for some, maybe this frank discussion is more appropriate. You know your child, you do what’s best for you.

If you’d like to send it to us for publication after, then please do, but if we receive interviews for publication, we’ll assume that you have asked your child’s permission to do so. We will keep ALL interviews anonymous to protect those involved, but it would be helpful to know the age of the child.

We’d love to see a variety of techniques – soundcloud, youtube, written, or something different.

So here are the questions our mums used. We only published part of the written interview, and you can read it here, and you can see and hear Sarah and Stig’s interview here:

Do you know what adoption means?

Why do people have to be adopted?

Should birth parents be given help so they could keep their children?

Does adoption make you feel different?

Do your friends know you’re adopted? How does that make you feel?

Do you feel different to your friends?

How does adoption feel for you? Is it a good thing or bad thing?

Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be adopted?

What are the bad things about you being adopted?

What are the difficulties you have in school?

Do you understand in yourself why that is? Why you have those difficulties?

What is it about you that makes you feel or behave differently to other children?

Do you ever think about your birth mum?

Would you like to meet your brothers and sisters?

What would you say to them?

Do you think it’s good that people want to adopt…

Do you think it’s good that you were adopted then?

Would you like to meet some other children who are adopted?

What would you talk about?

Do you think about adoption often?

What makes you who you are?

Do you think children should get to choose their adoptive parents?

Do you think you should have got to choose?

Is there anything you want to say to people who are thinking about adoption?

Is there anything you’d like people to understand about adoption that they don’t really get?

Will you adopt a child when you’re older?

What do you think? Have you interviewed your child with different questions?

The Adoption Social Times

It’s time to shout about all the things we’re doing on The Adoption Social…

#WASO
Ever popular, The Weekly Adoption Shout Out is still strong and still going. One of our recent #WASOs saw 30 posts link up which might well be a record for a standard week! We’ve had some interesting themes – some seem to have really inspired you lovely bloggers, so hopefully well be able to bring you some more inspiration with our next lot of themes:AProblemSharedrequest

6 March – Ways to keep positive
20 March – Introducing change
3 April – My best chocolate recipe

#WASO Top 3
Yes we really did have a request to bring back this monthly post. I think the person suggested that they enjoyed the sense of competition. We don’t do it for that reason, but like to post some of our favourites as a showcase, and to help our readers find posts they might have missed. And I can tell you, that there have been a number of occasions where I’ve wished it was a Top10 as it’s difficult to narrow them down to 3!
P.S We love seeing the ‘whoop, I made the Top 3′ tweets, so keep ‘em coming, and we’ll keep sharing our Top 3.

Interview with an Adopted Child
Never meant as a regular slot, but posts that have provoked some support, our interviews with adopted children have been popular. We’ve published two so far, one as a standard blog post, and the other as a You Tube video. We’ve also had a request for a post with a full set of questions in (you’ll see that this week hopefully). It can be hard to talk to your child about adoption, and most of the advice you’ll find it about wondering and doing it therapeutically, however, this interview style can make it more of a game – dress up as newsreaders? Use a Dictaphone? Let your child question you back? So if you feel like interviewing your own child, and want to share it, then please do let us know and we’ll (anonymously) publish it.
I must stress the children already interviewed have given express permission to share their responses.

Other posts this month:

Ever thought about claiming Disability Living Allowance? This post gives some tips on how to do it.

We gave you a review on a children’s book about adoption.

We brought you news about the new Cornerstone project – a buddy scheme for prospective and new adopters.

Jenny from Inspired Foundations write a brilliant guest post about Pupil Premium Plus.

Life on the Front Line – Week 21

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A weekly blog from a family made by adoption, warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears.

Back to school and back to life feeling like it could give way from beneath us at any moment.

Small, managed three mornings of getting to school on time and a full day on Tuesday in his mainstream setting. However by Thursday the anxiety levels had grown and as school began, he and I were still at home. He lay with his head in my lap and I stroked his hair as he repeated in a breathy voice, “I can’t do it, it’s too hard”.

We got there eventually, he needed a bit of a run up to it all and he managed fairly well once in school.

Having been on our knees at the end of the previous half term, I’d made a decision that we were not going to bring unfinished school work home with us this term. It didn’t go down that well with his teacher at the PRU who suggested we needed to keep up the pressure and not allow Small to “opt out”.

I tried my best, with an emotional croak in my throat, to explain that Small needed down time and the pressure of more work at home was too much for him. Plus it was starting to undermine the trust we are building in our relationship.

I knew that this stress was also too much for all the family. Small, swung between digging his heals and refusing to complete the work, to a meltdown of not being able to do it and then finally an hour or so later, reticently doing the work through sobs. Far too much for all of us.

Tall was on his knees tired on the first day back at school. I was very worried about how he might manage. However , those supporting him in school, report that he has had his best return to school, following holidays. He also completed a full merit card in the first week back, which had him almost bouncing through our front door on Friday afternoon.

Yet again I had that Friday feeling last week. For me on I Friday I look forward to, once we are all home, closing the front door and keeping us all safe for the weekend. We don’t really do very much apart from hang out and home, just the four of us.

I asked Tall this weekend if he ever found our weekends boring. “No I like it being quiet and calm” he said. This is also how I feel; I just want to feel safe and calm.

So now we are revived after a quiet weekend and ready to face another week, let’s just hope.

In Other News

We’ve got Tall’s parent’s evening this week although he’s lost our appointment card. Wish us luck.

Had Smalls’s revised EHC back and I’m happy to say that the additional content gives a greater representation of his complex needs.

Rewarding Small for going to school is costing us a fortune, does anyone else almost pay their child to go to school?

Weekly Adoption Shout Out – Week 105

Hey everyone “Look how far we’ve come”

WASO105

 

There it is this weeks theme “look how far we’ve come”. It’s a great opportunity to look back and see the distance you’ve travelled, the steps you’ve taken and the progress you’ve made. Tell us all about it. 

Remember to have a look at some of the other blogs and make some comments, I always say it, but it’s true, share the love. 

So link up below, because it’s #WASO



 

 

A Problem Shared

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Play date nightmare!

When we have a friend over for tea, both my children, age eight and ten, always act up. They wind each other up, argue and try and get the other one into to trouble.

I find the whole experience very stressful and often end up telling one or other of them off whilst the friend is there, which makes me feel terrible. I have tried to arrange for the one without the friend to be elsewhere, at a friend’s house, but it’s not always possible, or I have an activity for me to do with the other child, but they still get drawn towards the child with a friend. I’ve also tried having a friend for both children at the same time but that is even more disastrous.

After the friend has gone home we also often have some sort of a meltdown. Sometimes I wonder whether the whole thing is worth it. 

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to manage play dates with siblings?

An Interview with an Adoptee – Youtube video

Today I bring you a conversation between myself, Sarah from The Puffin Diaries, and my eleven year old son, Stig. 

We talk a little about how he feels about adoption and the things he struggles with.

If you would like to interview someone you know who is involved in adoption, we would love to hear from you. It doesn’t need to be in the style of a video, it can be presented as a post or a sound cloud or any other creative way.

#WASO Top Three – January

Back by popular demand, well we had one request for it’s return, it’s our monthly Top 3 #WASO posts.

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 As always we enjoy reading as many posts from #WASO as we possibly can each week. It’s not always possible to get to everyone but we do try to read and share what we can. So based on our reading in January, Vicki and I have selected three of our favourite posts to feature in our Top 3.

 

SARAH

1. My First post is one from our 100th #WASO Celebrations. I love the way Lindsey from Grey St writes, I can relate to her honest and the raw emotion of her style. This post about the First 1000 Seconds of meeting her son, had me in tears.

2. My second choice, touched me deeply and got me thinking too. A post about a mum, Suddenly Mummy, exploring here expectations of being a parent, Re-framing Expectations.

3. My final choice is simply because the voice of the adoptee is so important to how we learn and grow as parents. Jazz is so brave in baring her all in her posts and they always make my hairs stand on end. So here it is My Name is Jazz

VICKI

1. My first post is about name changing – something that we had to consider when Mini joined our family, in fact not only consider; we did change his name as advised by social services. This post talks about the impact of a name on a child…

2. Sarah hasn’t yet seen my half of this post, I hope she doesn’t mind me adding one of The Puffin Diaries posts as my second #WASO Top 3. This is from our 100 WASO celebrations, and in it, Sarah talks about the first 100 kisses. I love this post, and I love how it shows the progress Sarah’s made with her boys.

3. In our first #WASO of the year, our theme was Expectations, and I identified with a great deal of those posts. In this post, from Five Go On An Adventure, I found hope and inspiration.

Life on The Frontline – Week 20

lotf

A weekly blog from a family made by adoption, warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears.

We’ve been on half term this week, which has been at odds with most of the country, which is just about to start their holiday. However, for us it was very well timed, as the hard slog of school had beaten us all. We needed to rest and indulge in activities that make us feel good.

So we booked Tall on a rock climbing and abseiling day, which he very happily went off to with his BFF and Small and I set about the activity he, well we both, love. It’s become a bit of a holiday ritual now and Dad rolls his eyes and worries for his bank balance as we set off shopping.

The whole day has a ritual to it, we know what we like to do and the order we like to do it in. We have a favourite parking spot, at this big out of town shopping centre, its right by the entrance to Selfridges. We always go into Selfridges first to use the facilities; we don’t want our shopping interrupted by the need to spend a penny.

Then we head towards Build a Bear and the Disney shop, two of Small’s very favourite shops. On this occasion he had managed to accrue a little sum of money, pocket money and a little from his bank, so he was excited to be able to spend. Although he doesn’t spend straight away, he looks and mentally takes notes of what he likes, “we can always come back later” he says.

Decision making can be a big problem for Small, even deciding on what to eat for breakfast has caused much anxiety in the past. To avoid hasty choices and later regrets, he now takes time over his decision making and enjoys browsing everywhere before buying. I must say, much to my husband’s past dismay, he is a boy after my own heart. I too hate to feel I’ve missed something and often end up returning to the first shop visited, after hours of exhausting all other prospects.

We then head to Waterstones, where I always treat him to a book. This is a tactical purchase on my behalf; later if I need to frequent changing rooms Small will have something to do.

From here on it depends what else we are shopping for but we inevitably end up pottering down the long avenues of the shopping centre, popping in and out of shops.

The only other ritual we have is lunch. This time our favourite eating spot is not too busy, no queue and we secure a booth, that’s the charm of half term without the rest of the world. If you’ve not been to Yo Sushi, it’s one of those fun eateries where the dishes go by on a conveyer belt and you choose what you want. It’s great with children, because it’s so instant, however they do need to like the type of food, mostly Japanese, I think.

We nibble, with chop sticks, on a spicy chicken salad which Small loves and he orders a Katsu curry as well. I just dip into this and that, which I select as they pass, offering Small a taste if he fancies. We also mull over possible purchases and plan the rest of our day.

So an hour or so later and after another trip to the conveniences of Selfridges, we head back to the car. We bundle our shopping bags into the car and set off home.

Small is delighted with his purchases of a Marry Poppins doll and some outfits for his bear. In the car he marvels at what excellent choices he’s made and I have to agree with him.

Yes you made some great choices today and you know the best thing about it, is you made them on your own”

“I did didn’t I, I think I’ve done really well”

This time we spend together has become very special to me and I realised on this trip just why. When Small and I wander around the shops together, he is at ease and happy, he chatters freely and is very much himself. I’m aware of the danger of material objects being the thing that fill an emotional hole for Small, but it seems more than the things he buys. He enjoys the whole ritual of the day; it’s the delight of doing something we both enjoy.

When we get home Tall is full of the wonderful adventure he has been on, abseiling from a very high bridge and climbing sheer rock faces. It’s fun sharing stories from our day and Tall is thrilled with the book I bought for him too. Later both boys head to bed without a thought , a new book to read and tiredness in their eyes, after an active day for both.

 

In Other News

Tall has baked a cake this weekend, on his own, from scratch. He loves to cook and I’m happy to encourage him, especially if it’s cake he’s making.

I went out to a gig with a friend on Friday. It was very impromptu, she texted me and asked if I fancied it. My instinct was to say no, but something inside me said “stop saying no to everything”. So I organised everyone and off I went and had a great time.

We had Smalls revise EHC back, after we asked for more content to fully explain Small’s complex needs. I’m delighted that we’ve managed to secure an additional four hours of support. It doesn’t sound much but I had been led to believe it would be like getting blood from a stone, so I’m pleased.