Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 63

WASO Week 63Easter already? How did that happen when Christmas feels just a few short weeks ago? Good Friday already – hope it’s good for you.

So who has the Easter Bunny visiting? Perhaps you’ll share a great Hot Cross Bun recipe? Maybe your tips on a successful egg hunt? Or some great ways of coping with an extended bank holiday weekend and a change in the normal routine? Our optional theme this week is Professional Support – have you had some? was it useful? was it professional? are you still seeking it?
Whatever your blog posts are about this week, come along and link them up below in the Weekly Adoption Shout Out.

We love a bit of seasonal fun here on The Adoption Social, so instead of a bunny hop, we’re making this week’s shout out a blog hop. What’s that I hear you ask…another hairbrained idea from those two mad mums? No, it’s just like our normal link up, except that you can also copy and paste the link code into your own blog post. And that means anyone visiting your blog can join in without stepping cyber foot onto The Adoption Social…they can join in via your site.

The important, and vaguely technical bit…every linky list we create is stored centrally on our linky host. All we’re really posting is code which appears as a link to that list. If we share the code with you, then the list can appear on your on blog too. It’ll update automatically when a new person links to WASO, so all you have to do is copy and paste it perhaps at the bottom of whatever post you choose to add to WASO. If you use WordPress, just make sure you create/edit your post in Text mode, not visual. Blogger user? Create/edit your post in html, not compose. That means the code will appear and convert properly. To get the code, just hit the link down there below the actual linky, and if you want to know more about blog hops, well there’s a link to an explanation there too…

The good news is that anyone who visits your blog will see the Weekly Adoption Shout Out, can even join in directly from your blog and it’ll help bring new and more readers to all of our blogs – that’s gotta be a good thing right? If you have ANY problems doing this, then please let us know and we’ll do our best to help you as quick as we can.

Otherwise, go forth and link up – and help us host the Weekly Adoption Shout Out this time too…

How can we support our children and their children?

Carol’s daughter and son in law decided to adopt, but Carol needs your advice…

I didn’t know how difficult things would be when my daughter told me she and her husband were going to adopt a child. It was about 5 years ago, that their now 6 year old son moved in. I don’t know all the details about why he was removed, but I know it wasn’t the best start for him, despite a great foster carer.

He obviously has some difficulties, and understandably so, but I thought that after so long he’d feel settled. My daughter recalls awful events to me – when her son is violent, having meltdowns, refusing to do things, generally being naughty…but I can’t reconcile this with the child I see.
I don’t see him that often because of the physical distance between us, but when I do see him he’s mostly polite, well behaved – a little contrary on occasions, but pretty much like a typical child of his age.
In fact, sometimes I feel they don’t give him enough freedom, and keep him too close, but she tells me it’s important to help make him feel secure, the boundaries are there for a reason.

grandmotherBut I know she’s telling me the truth – I’ve seen how depressed and down my daughter is, I’ve seen the bruises she bears, I’ve heard the weariness in her voice, and I’ve seen the damage in the house.

I really want to support them all, but how can I have empathy for my daughter when I don’t see the behaviour she tells me of? Can I support my grandson in anyway to help him with coping with the issues? Should I consider some training so I can better understand? Is there anything out there for adoptive grandparents?”

Meet The Blogger – Travels with my son

Today we meet Isobel - the blogger behind ‘Travels with my son’ – read on to find out photo (5)more…
Quick 5 – In my life at the moment
 
Music-
I sing in a choir and we have a concert at the weekend, so Mozart’s Requiem is on endlessly at the moment until I’ve got all the notes. It’s the first piece of choral music I ever sang, and one of my favourites. It’s in competition with J’s choices though… which are much louder and less classical, shall we say. I go to live music events when I can and I like all sorts – recently opera and folk – and I’m just about to book to see the Unthanks in concert in the autumn. 
 
TV programme-
I don’t watch much TV at all, and only really turn it on for the news, QI and Antiques Roadshow. Oh, and I quite like a few of the cookery programmes. 
 
Food-
We love our food! Cooking is one of my ways of winding down at the end of the day. My mother was French and we grew up with delicious food, and my father’s sister ran her own catering company, where I used to help out sometimes at weekends. So food has always had an important place in our family. J is starting to build up his own repertoire in the kitchen too. I think how to cook and how to eat well are two of the most important things we can teach our children. We go camping every summer with our local Woodcraft Folk group, and my role there is KP … or Keeper of the Provender (or as the kids call it, the kitchen person). It’s the best job, as I get to be in charge of all the food for 60 or 70 of us for the week, and watch over the young people while they do the cooking. Everyone except me has to take their turn at washing up. Perfect!
 
Book-
My time for reading is on the tube on the way in to work. Just started Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which everyone says is great. 
 
Pastime-
The singing is important for me and what I missed terribly when J first came to me and I stopped going out. It took me years to get back into being able to make a regular weekly commitment again, and I wish it hadn’t taken so long. I do Pilates once a week now while J is at one of his things, and swim once a week. In the early days of adoption I found it very hard getting out. Without a partner I could leave J with, and with the sheer cost of regular babysitters, quite apart from finding someone with enough experience to look after my anxious child, it was hard. It’s one huge advantage of their getting older. Nowadays I am free to go to films, plays and music pretty often really. My darling sister and friends were always offering to help but I didn’t want to lean on others too much. Too independent for my own good!
 
What do you think is your biggest source of support?
My number one supporter has been my sister Camilla and I’m not sure now that I could have done all of this without her. She lives up the road with her husband and three daughters. The children have all gone to the same schools, and get on well, so they have been a fantastic support for J too. We shared a childminder when they were younger (what would I have done without them too?). My sis is amazingly strong and a fantastic mother, and I suppose our shared upbringing means we have a particular understanding of why we parent in the ways that we each do. 
I have some amazingly lovely friends. Four years ago, I had long and hard treatment for cancer, and they carried me through that with such kindness and generosity of spirit. 
I’ve written already about how my parents have taken care of J during school holidays while I worked… And employers don’t often get much appreciation, but I’ve had some good bosses. I continued working full time when J came to me, but two days each week I left work early so I could pick him up from school, and I made the hours up at home in the evenings. It might have been easier for them to say no to this arrangement, but they didn’t. Later on, when I wanted to go part-time, they helped with that too. 
 
What is the best or most memorable piece of advice you have ever received?
That thing about faking it till you make it has sometimes resonated with me. In the first year in particular, I had some very low times. My friend who works in the adoption field, told me if necessary, and for J’s welfare, I just had to fake it. I didn’t always manage though. 
 
If you could take your child anywhere in the world to see something where would you go?
J and I are good travellers, and there are so many places I’d like to go with him. I’m very conscious though that the time might come quite soon when he doesn’t want to go away with his old mum! So in the next two years we have to visit Mexico and Peru, travel overland to Australia, and walk several long distance trails in the UK. In my dreams! 
 
What I hope I can give to my child?
I met J’s birthmother once and one of the things I asked her was what she hoped for for his future. She said she just wanted him to be happy and lead a normal life. I think all parents the world over want the same thing really for their children. I hope that I can help J with his life skills, and ensure he has choices in the future. Having choices is important. 
 
At the weekend I can mostly be found…
At the edge of a rugby pitch I’m afraid at this time of the year. In our little London garden when it warms up a bit. Trying to persuade J to do his homework (our biggest battles have always been fought over this). Eating and drinking with family and friends. 
 
What makes you laugh?
J and his jokes. He cracks me up. 

What is Foster Care? – A Post in Association with the National Fostering Agency

Today we feature a piece on behalf of the National Fostering Agency, answering some of the frequently asked questions about fostering and giving an overview of what fostering is.

NFA2

What is fostering and what do foster carers do?

 Almost everyone has heard the term ‘foster parent’ at some point, either through a personal experience or simply on the television or radio. Yet, it is still something that can cause a degree of confusion. Many people confuse fostering with adoption or aren’t clear about the exact role of a foster parent. While the two are indeed similar they are not the same and so it is often necessary to re-iterate the exact definition of fostering and role of the foster parents.

At its essence, fostering involves caring for a child in your own home when they are unable to live with their birth family. This can take a number of forms and be for any number of reasons. Some children need a foster home for just a few days until they either return home or are moved on elsewhere. Others will need to stay in a foster home for longer periods, some for a number of years.

Foster parents are not the sole focus of support for children, with the parents forming just a small but important part of the network of care around the child. Working with social workers, other professionals and even the birth parents, foster parents will aim to offer support to children at the times when they most need it.

What do foster carers do?

The role of the foster parents is to provide high quality care for the children in their care, for however long that may be. Working in partnership with the local authorities to provide this as best as possible, there are also a number of other healthcare professionals that you may need to be in contact with. These can include but are not limited to, therapists, teachers and doctors.

NFA1

 

 Very often you will be dealing with young people and children who are experiencing very traumatic periods in their lives and you need to be able to provide a stable environment for them. Although there are no hard and fast rules about the best way to do this, as each child is different, there are certain qualities that make some people more suitable to be foster parents than others.

 

 

What qualities do foster parents need?

Communication skills are essential to any foster parent. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with a number of people. First and foremost is the child, where being able to open up lines of communication is very important.

 However, you should also expect to have relationships with other professionals as mentioned. You should also expect to have to communicate with the child’s parents, regardless of any personal feelings, in order to offer ongoing support to the child.

 You should also be prepared to commit time and energy and invest in the young person in your care. Being a foster parent is not an easy job and it’s worth realising this before you go any further. However, the efforts you put in can be rewarded in many ways, some of them very unexpected.

You also need to be able to work as part of a team and be prepared to learn new skills throughout the process. There is no such thing as a complete foster parent, as anyone who has done it will tell you. There is always more to learn and understand about fostering and always room to develop new skills

Who can foster?

Almost anyone can be a foster parent. You don’t need to have kids already and you can be single or married. Your sexuality won’t prevent you from fostering, nor will your religion or cultural background. You can apply from the age of 18 (though some services have higher limits) and can continue to foster as long as you are in good health.

 Financially speaking, you will probably need to have a spare room in your house or flat but you will also be helped out by the local authorities when fostering. People on benefits can also foster.

Types of fostering

Although there are no set definitions for the types of fostering that happen, as most cases are individual, there are some general categories that most cases fall into. Emergency fostering can mean anything from an overnight stay to a few months. Then there is short-term, long-term, leaving care and short-breaks.

 In some specialist cases, specially trained foster carers may take both young parents and their babies in parent and baby care.

For further information on fostering or to ask more questions please contact the National Fostering Agency.

Website: http://www.nfa.co.uk/
Phone:0845 200 4040
Email: info@nfa.co.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NFA_fostering/

The Things We Do – 14/4/2014

What are the ‘things’ your family do? Have you written about them recently?

Is there something you do to overcome difficulties? Perhaps a special place or activity that the whole family enjoys? Maybe you have learnt a technique that particularly works with your children?
If you have, then write a post about it and link up here on The Things We Do – let everyone know about the things that work for you…

white light
Last time, Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour shared a meditation technique she uses to calm, clear her mind and relax herself.

You can read more about it here…

 

 

If you have something to link, then add it below; and if you like you can always add our rather lovely badge to your post or blog…TheThingsWeDo

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#WASO Top 3 – April

top 3It’s Top 3 Time…

Another month of WASO has passed, and we’ve had a ton of wonderful posts. We’re sharing three of the best posts we’ve each read this month – those that have made us smile, made us sad, made us react, or made us nod with understanding and recognition. 

Sarah’s 3

There were a number of good posts written about #15000KiddsandCounting but this one from Amanda Boorman stuck in my mind because she asked the really difficult questions. 15000 million and counting

I remembered this post from the last month because I could really relate to the painful emotions this mother was feeling in Sharing the Hurt

I also loved Fiona Fergusons list if ingredients required for a successful adoption, especially the good sense of humour, in No such Thing as a Perfect Recipe

Vicki’s 3

We Are Family Adoption has written a letter to their birth daughter. I recognise so much of what is written, not because I have a birth daughter too, but because a second child joined our family, and it impacted far greater than I expected on my first child.

A short, but powerful post from Mo and Bro. Sorry is so often the hardest word.

I found myself nodding along to the list of attributes of no-fun mum in this post of Suddenly Mummy’s. I am also no-fun mum at times.

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out – #WASO week 62

WASO62

#WASO is here again…..

Spring is sprung and the Easter holidays have arrived, for some (Some of us break up today). So what are you all blogging about this week? What’s going on for you as the weather becomes milder and a break form school has arrived? Is their hope and positivity in your step or are things weighing you down? We’d like to hear, please share with us here.

As always we hope to read and share but, you can do that too, with the hashtag #WASO.

If you’re new to #WASO then you can always put our badge on your blog and let your readers know you join in.

WASO
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Growing up and Keeping Friends

A problem today about making and keeping friends as a tween or teenager….

Both my children struggle with friendships and social interaction with their peers. We, like many of you have not always had an abundance of tea time invites and children’s party’s to attend. Their awkward, aggressive and uncooperative behaviour in school has ensured other children, and most likely their parents, keep their distance.

As our children get older it  often becomes more evident that their behaviour singles them out as different.  As a parent your heart breaks for them.

I have a 9 and 10 year old, the oldest being in year 6 and soon he will embark on high school. What huge fears that brings to me, about how he will cope in such a highly stimulating and less protective social setting. Older, bigger children and lots and lots of children, teenagers and on the most previously unknown to my boy. The expectations on how to behave, what’s acceptable and what’s not becomes increasingly more under the spot light. How will he cope?

DSC_0053He has one very good friend whom I encourage contact with as much as possible. I’m aware however that I don’t want this child to feel a responsibility for my son, so we had a new friend over for tea this week. My boy spiraled with a mix of anxiety and excitement at having someone different over, and although it went well, I notice a marked difference in the way he behaved and interacted with the other child. He was skittish, loud, jumpy, rude to me and a big show off. I understood and let it go, trying to guide him a little without getting in the way.

After he was left wired and then a bit deflated as he considered “had it gone well?” “what if the other boy had not enjoyed himself/ didn’t like him any more?”. The evening didn’t end particularly well, so caught up in it all, he struggled to come back down.

Anyway it got me thinking. At the moment I can still extend some influence over how he interacts with his peers, with tea invites and play dates of a fashion. But soon he will be spreading his wings and more importantly his peers will be moving on from this type of interaction. I worry because my son is not ready to go off and do things on his own with a group of friends, hang out in the park etc… I know he’s not yet able to make all the sensible choices which would keep him safe.

So here’s the question, how do we continue to help our children with their social interaction and building of friendships, especially as the become tweens and teenagers?

I would love to hear what you’ve done or what you think you might do in the future.

Meet The Blogger – Misadventures of an Adoptive Dad

It’s the turn of Misadventures of an Adoptive Dad today on Meet The Blogger. So read on to find out more about the man himself…

misadventures of an adoptive dad

Quick 5 – In my life at the moment….

Book – Other books have come, been read and passed on but Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning has remained on my bedside table since November 2008. It condenses faith and belief into its essence and faces head on difficult questions that all believers face at some point. Even the title challenges and inspires me.

Music – Through the wonder of 2nd hand CD’s I am working my way through my teen LP collection. So, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple and Ozzy Osbourne. Though, more current I’m mesmerised by Ray Lamontagne’s voice and Lenny Kravitz, who is clearly the coolest and most talented man on the earth.

TV programme - Mrs C watches the usual stuff but I have to confess that I just get wound up by most TV programmes, consequently I follow hardly any. Having said that I watched all seasons of Breaking Bad with Ginger over a three week period, it brought us to the edge of sanity as we were total immersed in that world. He and I also enjoy the mindless gorefest that is the Walking Dead.

Food – Pancakes, no hesitation, they evoke the giddy joy of being 10 again and my mam making them for my brother and me. She would only make them on Pancake Tuesday and even now I insist on rationing them as not to dilute the pleasure, maybe just four or five times a year and I strictly adhere to golden syrup or lemon and sugar. Though I may be fighting a losing battle on that one.

Pastime – Cycling. I take every opportunity to get on my bike; be it taking the girls to school; adventures on the tandem with Flossy; visiting families as part of my social work duties or getting up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning and getting out into the sticks for two or three hours. Any weather any time I’m up for a trip on the velo. Mrs C is happy as she sees it as my therapy.

What is your biggest challenge as an adoptive parent?
Honestly, they’re all so unique. I guess at the moment it is identifying what they need and how best to meet it within the context of a busy life and the other children in the family.

What do you wish you had known before you adopted your children?
I wish I had known how to appreciate the fun stuff and the stuff that is fleeting and cant be captured again. I think I struggled for the first couple of years to adjust from going from 0 children to 3 over 10 days of introductions. Consequently I struggled to enjoy them and just chill out.

It is tempting to say attachment, separation, loss etc. as it wasn’t even mentioned to us until we had five children but hindsight is a pig.

Why did you start blogging about adoption?
I guess it’s something that I feel I know about, feel quite strongly about and everyone else is doing it so I thought I’d join the party.

Where do you get your blogging inspiration from?
I try to marry little stories with broader issues, so it’s news stories, press releases, cunning government plans; the conversations that I find myself party to and the cut and thrust of family life that all light a creative spark.

Who is your favourite adoption blogger?
I really enjoy Suddenly Mummy, from what I read there are a few similarities and that keeps me returning.

Who is your favourite non-adoption blogger?
I cant even think of any non adoption blogs that I’ve read, I’m clearly blinkered.

What made you choose the blogging platform i.e blogger/wordpress that you did?
I chose blogger out of ignorance, simplicity and laziness as I had a gmail account.

Tea/Gin?
Neither, I drink embarrassingly small amounts of alcohol and one of my life’s great regrets is that I don’t like tea, I would love to as it is quintessentially English.

What do you think is your biggest source of support?
I’m resisting the temptation to say my lycra bib cycling shorts, however I don’t think that’s what you mean. Mrs C’s knowledge, training and intuition has carried the whole family through some dark days so it has to be her.

Reward charts yes/no?
No, we’re too lazy and we’ve enough disappointment and shame in each day without making up new ways of adding to it. Other opinions are available and if it works for you and yours knock yourself out.

What is the best or most memorable piece of advice you have ever received?
When we adopted the first three a good friend noted recommended that you should “get your children to behave in your own home as you want them to behave in other people’s homes”. That worked fantastically for the big three and made perfect sense.

However, the next two totally blew that out of the water and we have very few friends who can accommodate us and our “peculiarities” as well as the numerical challenges of having us round As for advice “don’t drink poison”(Vic and Bob) never goes wrong.

My perfect adoption support would include…
Someone who can marry theoretical knowledge with practical experience and common sense advice with a hint of compassion and empathy. I’m still looking.

When I look into the eyes of my child I see…
Each of them has experienced a unique journey into and through the care system. Consequently, when I look in their eyes I see very different things but in all I see shadows of birth parents, good and not so good.

The best thing we did this week was…
The sun shone and we opened the back door and we pottered, played, walked, gardened and we felt a bit normal for a while.

If you could take your children anywhere in the world to see something where would you go?
I would to take them all to Africa where my brother lives. All the usual reasons.

What I hope I can give to my child/Children?
They all need something different, love, belonging, identity, purpose, vision would be a good start, but for some just rest and to find a bit of peace in the world.

At the weekend I can mostly be found…
Child wrangling and thinking of new and inventive ways of getting out on the velo, with or without the wee ones.

What makes you and/or your family laugh?
The Pink Panther films used to make the big ones and I weep with laughter, I’m looking forward to introducing the wee ones to them.

How to make the most of 140 characters

Twitter.

Some of us love it, some of us hate it. However you feel about it, there’s no denying that many use it for support.
For bloggers, it provides a useful way of sharing our posts. Simple – copy and paste a link to your blogpost, tell people a bit about what they can expect from the post, then hit publish right?

Except for some of us the blog post’s URL is so long, there’s not much left of those 140 pesky little characters that Twitter allow us. That’s not something to complain about, because quite frankly if Twitter allowed longer tweets, they wouldn’t be tweets would they? They’d be full on birdsong. However, if you have a blog with a long name, a category name, then a post with a long title, 140 characters is just not going to give you enough space to tease your readers, grab attention or even add a hashtag.

So what to do?
Today, I’m going to tell you about link shortening. There are quite a few websites out there that offer this service and a quick search online will give you lots of results. However, the one that I prefer is Bitly. And that’s because it’s easy, free, and I can see how popular a given link is.

It’s free and simple to shorten a link. Head to Bitly.com, paste in the long version of your link, hit ‘Shorten’ and voila, you’ll have a short link that you can copy and paste, using up less of your precious character allowance.

For statistics, and when I say statistics, I mean you can see exactly how many people have used the shortened link to visit your post, you’ll need to create a free account.
For the purposes of this post I’ve opened a new account for The Adoption Social. To do the same, simply head over to Bitly.com, click on  ’Sign up For Free’.
bitly homepageThen you’ll see a screen like this, where you can register either by email, Facebook or Twitter. I used our Twitter account, because it seemed as easy as any other, and because we’ll mostly be using shortened bitly links on Twitter.

Screenshot 2014-04-04 13.54.57

After following the instructions (i.e allowing access to your Twitter account, and inputting your email address) you’ll go to your Bitly homepage. It’s a bit like a dashboard of all the short links you’ve made. You can search through them here – useful if you create lots.

As with those without accounts, simply paste your long link in, and Bitly will convert it to a short link for you. Just hit copy to copy the link onto your computer’s clipboard, then hit Ctrl+V to paste into your tweet. So simple. (From this dashboard though, you can not only copy, but share and email your Bitly links too).

Under each Bitly link you’ll also see the number of clicks that link has had. See below – I only created these links a couple of minutes ago, and haven’t shared them, so you’ll see they’ve had 0 clicks. This will help you see which of your links have been most popular. Screenshot 2014-04-04 13.58.21Here you can also change the privacy of your links from public to private. You can create bundles of bitly links which you can keep private or share with friends. You can add notes against each link. You can even develop a network of your own.

For me though, just being able to conserve some of my Twitter characters for some interesting text is a good enough reason to use this site.

If you use other link shortening sites, please do share them below – tell us your favourites and why.