Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO week 85

WASO85

Welcome back to #WASO our weekly link up for all blog posts adoption related. As some of us are well and truly into the swing of the new school term we thought we’d go with the theme “a typical school morning”. Now for some this might not apply or you might just want to write about something completely different and that is ok. We add a theme to spark ideas for those who want to use it but it is totally optional.

So we look forward to read and sharing your posts as I’m sure you will enjoy reading and sharing your favourites too. Remember it is always kind to leave comments and give people feedback and support. And don’t forget the hashtag #WASO. 


Review: ‘Kids Need…’ Cards

Today’s review comes from Sophie*, a single adoptive parent to 6 year old Lucy*. Lucy and Sophie have been a family for 3 years. Their review is of ‘Kids Need…’ cards.

I must first point out that these wonderful cards published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers are a tool for families and professionals to use together. I am not a professional, but have used these with my 6 year old daughter to assess her understanding and inform my parenting a little.

CYMERA_20140917_201240

This set of 52 cards comes boxed, with instructions for us, and immediately both me and my daughter were drawn to the image on the box – A very child friendly illustration of a girl with  a halo, and an adult. “That’s me mummy isn’t it?” she beamed.

According to the instructions, the cards have been designed for use by practitioners who assess parenting or work with parents and carers to increase their parenting capacity.

The cards come with three headers – Kids Need…, Kids Sometimes Need… and Kids Don’t Need… and we laid them on the floor next to each other. The other cards are about things that might or might not be important. One at a time, we looked at each card and Lucy had to decide which of the header cards to put it with. We had a little chat about each decision she made, but a professional could explore this further. And indeed the instructions come with some suggestions of ways to develop discussions.

For us, this gentle exploration was enough, and Lucy has since asked to use them again and we’ve chatted about the difference between needing and wanting. It also helped me see what things were important to her, and gave me a clearer view of her needs and desires. I’ve become a little more reflective of how I respond to her now. I skipped some of the cards for now, and as she becomes older I’ll swap those in.

Examples of the needs/wants include:
To be believed and listened to
Television
To feel special
To make their own decisions
A stable home life
To be criticized
To be responsible for looking after their siblings
To be smacked
A clean dry bed of their own

Some of these will be difficult for some children to deal with, you know your child best, and know what is inappropriate to discuss given their histories.

For professionals, it might be useful to know that these cards have been designed for those assessing parenting capacity, especially those using the Assessment Framework. And Mark Hamer, who developed them is a solution focused social worker/therapist based in Cardiff. There is a reasonable amount of information in the instructions but this is aimed more at professionals.
We are having family therapy at the moment, and I’ll be asking our therapist to take a look at these cards. I might even suggest to the SENCO at school that they might like them.

Sophie received these cards in exchange for an honest review. They are available online through Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
*Name changed to protect identities.

Meet The Blogger – Love in the Clouds

Today’s we meet Love in the Clouds a blog and adoption gift shop.
Quick 5 – In my life at the moment….
love in trhe cloudBook – No time to read at the moment though I do scan the blogs on my BlogLovin App each night when I get into bed.
Music- Ellie Goulding, Your Song. It was our wedding song as I walked down the aisle and as fate would have it, our sons favourite song.
TV programme- Made In Chelsea NYC (yep  know its not real but its funny!)
Food- Jacket potatoes as they are quick to heat up when my baby goes down for a quick nap!
Pastime- Setting up my Adoption Gifts shop Love In The Clouds
  1. What is your biggest challenge as an adoptive parent? To not give myself a hard time about not being the “perfect mum”. I have to constantly remind myself its ok to be a “normal mum” with up, downs and just do my best.
  1. What do you wish you had known before you adopted your children? Firslty that though love can be instant for some, feeling like a “mum” takes time to grow. Thats normal and nothing to feel bad about. Secondly that the process is long and can surprise you at any times by not working out how you expected. I would tell my old self to go out more during that time and enjoy just being a couple.
  1. Why did you start blogging about adoption? At first it was therapeutic, sharing my thoughts. It meant so so much getting messages from people saying they felt the same, giving advice or just saying they found it interesting. Online support is an amazing thing. As the subscribers grew I realised it could become “something” so started working on my Adoption Gift shop which people seem excited about which has given me the confidence to go for it!
 Where do you get your blogging inspiration from? Daily life! I usually get an idea at awkward times like when shipmate is asleep on me and I cant reach a pen, or at 3am after his feed when I cant get back to sleep. My Twitter followers are great for inspiring me with their chats. The WordPress App has been a godsend as I can write on the go.
  1. Tea/Gin? Tea. A hint of alcohol and I’m sick! Wish that wasnt the case!
  1. What do you think is your biggest source of support? My husband for persuading me to be positive when I am doubting myself and my son. When he looks in my eyes I think about how much I want to be able to continue to look after him at home, so I really need the blog and shop to work out to be able to afford to! I dont want to miss out on a minute of him!
  1. Reward charts yes/no? I have used them in the past as a nanny with success. I really think it depends on the individual child though so cant say yet if I would use one with Shipmate.
  1. My perfect adoption support would include… I really think Adoption Agencies should provide a welcome pack after matching panel with your local and national support orgnisaions. I am now in touch with a local adoption toddler group but I found out about it by chance. I would really have benefited from it earlier on in the placement when I needed to hear from peers that how I was feeling was normal!
  1. When I look into the eyes of my child I see.. cheekiness!
  1. The best thing we did this week was…. Our first swimming lesson. Shipmate loves the water. He was he splashiest baby there. There was a part where he had to lay on his back and he kept reaching to touch my face and giggling. It was so touching.
  1. If you could take your children anywhere in the world to see something where would you go? Not exotic sorry but I can’t wait to take him to Ripleys Believe It or Not. We went when I was a child and I remember being totally amazed by these weird and wonderful things from around the world! It was like magic!
  1. What I hope I can give to my child/Children? Confidence to be exactly who he is. A feeling deep inside of being loved totally and unconditionally. The ability to find something to giggle at in any situation.
  1. What makes you and/or your family laugh? Pretty much anything! And if nothing funny is happening, there tends to be spontaneous dancing, silly faces and play fights!

 

Adopters doing it for themselves

Today Andy Leary-May,CEO of Adoption Link, tells us how adoptive parents are shaking-up family-finding.

adoptionlink300My partner and I decided in 2007 that the time was right to grow our family, and that adoption was how we wanted to do it. As a gay couple, at that time, we were relatively unusual in this. We really wanted to know others in the same situation, and I started a support group called New Family Social.

Over the next few years adoption became an increasingly large part of my life. NFS grew into a national charity that now helps hundreds of families, and each year hold an annual camp that is the biggest event for adoptive and foster families in the UK.

As the charity grew so did my family, and our second son joined us last year. They are both beautiful, bonkers, amazing forces of nature.

Through running an adoption charity, and having been through the process twice myself, I knew how frustrating matching could be. There were various options available to help bring families together, all of which served an important purpose, but all with their own limitations. The charity was lucky to have a talented volunteer called Craig working on its online systems, and together we mused about how matching could work better.

The problem is fairly straightforward. People from two groups (children and parents) need to find each other so that the needs and criteria of each are met as well as possible, and with a healthy chunk of ‘chemistry’ playing a part.

Surely, in this day in age, this should be possible without lots of delay, out of date information, or expense? We set to work.

Early in 2013 an opportunity came up to tender for the Government contract to run the Adoption Register for England. We put together a joint bid with Adoption UK using our system, but we weren’t successful. Undaunted, Craig, myself, and a developer called Will finished building our system and in April 2014 we launched ‘Adoption Link’.

The system was simple, but very different to anything the adoption sector had seen before. Both adopters and social workers add their profiles directly online and start looking for each other straight away. OK, if you insist on using the analogy, it works a bit like a dating site – it really isn’t rocket science.

Since April we have been overwhelmed by the support and positive feedback we have received from both adopters and social workers.

Adopters are happy  to finally gain some control in a process that can otherwise leave them feeling confused and forgotten. Social workers, meanwhile, are for the first time able to access hundreds of approved adopters across the UK directly, and be more proactive in searching for new families for their children.

The beauty of having a ‘system’ like this is that any available resources can go into refining it, and adding more features. We are preparing to add a document-sharing feature that will make exchanging PARs and CPRs quicker, and far more secure. Soon we will add new social functions, so that any adopters can find others near them to chat, and find play-dates with adopted children of similar ages. Our biggest development, due next year, will introduce fostering and residential placement finding.

Our dream is for Local Authorities to be able to create a profile for any child and instantly see the most suitable placements, whether adoptive, fostering or residential.

We want each placement to be commissioned because it meets the individual needs of a child best, not because it appears cheapest in the short term. We are pleased to be working with national leads in fostering and residential care on this, and hope that as a result children will more often find the right placement first time, with fewer moves that we all know do so much harm.

For the time being we are excited to see so many new adoptive families coming together, and I will leave you with a message we received last week from a social worker:

“Hi there – just wanted to let you know the great news that I have just submitted panel papers for a match which got off the ground thanks to Adoption Link! … I’ve also had a great response for a sibling pair I added last week and it looks like I’ll be visiting one of the couples who have enquired about them – so another Adoption Link match. Keep up the good work – really pleased we subscribed!”

You can find out more about Adoption Link at www.adoptionlink.co.uk

Life on the Frontline – week 1

lotfA 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. 

I’ve discovered today that school is a scary and confusing place.  I did already know that this is how Small, my youngest boy, finds school but he was expressing it himself for the first time, sort of. This is how I actually found out.

Setting the Scene: A boy, about ten years of age, has flatly, most ardently refused to go to school. Several attempts to coax him from the house have been met with, “I’m not going. I hate it”. After getting very upset boy is now sat on sofa with a silk scarf draped across his face. Mum sits on the other sofa.

Small: I’m not going. I don’t trust anyone, not even YOU.

Me: soft sing song voice – That must be so awful for you, to live in a world where you can’t trust anyone, not even your mum. It must be especially difficult in school if there is no one to trust, in fact, I would say that would be very frightening.

Small:(still hiding under scarf)tiny voice –  It is frightening.

Me: And now you have a new teacher, a new classroom, a new head teacher, that’s a lots of new things and new rules. That must be very hard, it must seem confusing.

Small:(still hiding under scarf)tiny voice –  It is confusing.

I did get him to school, about half an hour late but I didn’t feel triumphant. I left him in the foyer of the school, with a teaching assistant, him hiding behind a door and still flatly refusing “I’m not going in”.  No, definitely not triumphant. Hopeless, mean, lost and utter anguish for the little boy I love so much.  Cue sobbing in car, whilst driving home. Not advisable for safety reasons.

School and I are working on a number of things to help Small with school and I’ll spill the beans on these  as we go, but, for now, just know, that my head is constantly buzzing around the topic of Small and the dilemma which is his education.

So here we are, I’m an adoptive parent, married to the MR and we have two boys who came to us as a sibling pair, Small you’ve met and there is also Tall. Tall has just started high school. Thankfully so far it has been with a hop and a skip of joy. Little cracks are starting to show, there were those two snapped pencils that fell from his bag this morning. He also openly confessed (honesty praise was given) to having walked out of a class room yesterday.

I so admire the approach of his form tutor (note the sarcasm here) who informed me during our first phone conversation,

“I don’t like to read the files on the children, that I receive from their previous school, until we are a few weeks in. I don’t like to have preconceived ideas on how they might behave and judge them on this information.”

Do you mean that file that will inform you of some of the challenges my son faces in school and the behaviours you may see because of them. So how will you handle it when he destroys his work, swears at you and storms out?

I hastily sent her an email, detailing some of my concerns, hoping she would read it and rethink her strategy. Don’t worry, I won’t be leaving it at that but my suspicions are that they might be contacting me soon; I’m not sure high school will get a very long honeymoon period. And to all those saying, “Don’t be pessimistic “. I’m not, I’m just being realistic.

So we are finally back into the swing of it all, the routine, a sort of yay,  some free hours for me during the day, a definite yay, the anxious, stressful mornings, not a yay,  and the dread of home time, a big fat BOO.

So with our first weekend approaching of the school term, we will attempt to get rested and restored for the coming weeks ahead, with low key family time and some big cuddles. But first, to celebrate the end of one week down, I feel a family film night with popcorn is calling. See you next week.

In Other News

I cried at the video of a gorgeous baby girl. Why does that loss thing still creep up on me so unexpectedly?

I cried ( can you see a pattern emerging) when I took small for a medical to do with the assessment of his special educational needs, when describing the terrible support we’d received from our LA. Yep that still hurts too.

Small really can’t see why it would be inappropriate for him to wear fake tan.

Tall confessed to setting his alarm, for the middle of the night, to belly crawl across my bedroom to retrieve electronic devices. More honesty praise was given but, we quite obviously are not over those impulses yet.

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 84

It’s time for the Weekly Adoption Shout Out once again, welcome back….

WASO 84

As usual, the Weekly Adoption Shout Out or #WASO is open from early Friday to late Sunday, and is ready and waiting for your lovely links. We really do enjoy reading all of your posts and love to share them too. So keep bringing us your posts. And please leave a comment on the blogs you read – it’s always good for a blogger to know you like their writing.

This week we have no theme and can’t wait to see what you’ve been writing about. Perhaps it’s something topical, perhaps a celebration, maybe just a catch up on life. All you need to do is paste the link to your post into the form below and give us your email address (we only use it to contact you directly and never share it).



Back to School Anxiety

This mother would desperately like your help in getting her son to school……

ProblemMy son really dislikes school. He was ok for all of key stage 1, but since he’s been in key stage 2 he has really struggled. I mean really struggled. He doesn’t struggle with the work, although he often refuses to do it, he struggles with the relationships with the staff. He finds it hard to comply and is very sensitive to what he perceives as cross voices.I  am working with school to help support him and he is currently being assessed to be statemented. He has also been diagnosed as ASD.

His dislike of school  has brought about many a difficult morning trying to motivate him to go to school.

I know that some may think that I should consider home schooling him, believe me, I’ve thought about it. However, he is very against the idea and I too don’t believe this is not the answer. He can be very sociable and loves seeing his friends. Also I worry that I wouldn’t be able to access his  full potential, he is extremely bright.

He is now in year 6 and I know it’s going to be tough getting him to go to school. Do any of you have experience of your child really not wanting to go to school? What techniques, rewards, bribes have you used to ease the situation? Having had a bad start to the year I really would love to hear how others manage..

If you feel you can help please leave a comment below..

Snap Happy from The Boy’s Behaviour

Today Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour is bringing you a photograph, and the story behind it…

Leaving home profile

Many readers of The Boy’s Behaviour will know this image. It’s of Mini and Dollop, and was taken in November 2011 when Mini was coming up to 5, and Dollop was about 18 months old.
It was one of those lovely crisp Autumn days, and we were strolling around one of the local parks, with the intention of collecting pine cones – hence the bag in Mini’s hand.

It was once of those moments, completely unplanned, where the children just connected for a moment – happy, companionable, innocent siblings. I quickly snapped it, and it turned out to be THE shot. And not only is it featured on my blog, it’s featured in enormous glory on our living room wall.

It’s a lovely park to walk around, with a couple of good play areas. It holds many memories for us – a picnic to celebrate Grandad’s birthday, the place where Dollop first rode her bike, Mini’s first time on a zip line, and it boasts a fabulous tree that the children enjoying climbing. And this photograph means so much to me, that we now go back to the same spot every now and then, and redo it. We even took Dollop in her wheelchair one time! Below is our latest…taken just a week ago. And we’ll continue to do this, to record the seasons changing and the children growing.

Leaving home september 2014

Memory Box 08/09/2014

Come and Share your magic moments from the summer….

MBbadgeSo the summer holidays have drawn to a close and many of our children are back in school. So do you have a special memory from your summer? If so please share it with us here.

Did you go somewhere special? Maybe the time spent together has built bonds and new progress has been made in your relationship? Was it just a little smile or a something that was said, that made one day very special.

Remember it doesn’t need to be a big post, maybe even just a picture that captures your memory box moment.

So link up below……