Weekly Adoption Shout Out – #WASO week 110

Back by popular demand…..It’s #WASO

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 How are you all? With one week until Easter it feels like spring is finally on it’s way. Does this bring more optimism for you? I much prefer the longer days and warming weather, it encourages me to get outside more. How about you? What has this week brought for you? Please do tell.

We are on a theme free week this week but for an Easter special we are asking you next Friday for your best chocolate recipe, I can’t wait to read those. 

 

But for now here’s this weeks linky, so go on, link up…



The Adoption Social Times

Read all about it, read all about it, it’s time for The Adoption Social Times

#WASO
As always, the Weekly Adoption Shout Out remains popular. We’ve had several themed weeks BADGE7recently, and seen many non-themed posts link up too.
#WASO is for you, so if you ever have an idea for a theme, or something topical has come up and you think we should do a #WASO special, then please do let us know. But for now, here are our forthcoming themes:

3 April – My best chocolate recipe
24 April – A sense of relief (change to our usual schedule)
8 May – Where I Walk – to help celebrate Get Walking Week

#WASO Special
During the week beginning 13th April we’ll be launching a #WASO special. I can’t tell you anymore than that at the moment, but we’ll bring you news as and when we can. As a result, we’ve moved our usual themed weekend (17th to 19th April) to the following weekend, and future themed weeks will be every fortnight from then.

New animation from The Open Nest
Amanda from The Open Nest and Sarah from The Puffin Diaries & The Adoption Social recently launched the new animation – Brighter Thinking – based on research provided by the Twitter community. The animation shows examples of poor support and good support that can come from friends and family.
The animation is also available to view here, so if you haven’t seen or shared it yet, please do.

World Autism Awareness Week
From 27th March to 2nd April, it’s World Autism Awareness Week. To support this, we’ll be bringing you a number of posts next week around Autism, including the results of our recent questionnaire.

Posts you might have missed:

We published a review of a course delivered by Kate Cairns.

Our Frontline Mum asked for you to share your exclusion experiences.

We gave you a ‘how to’ post on sharing your favourite posts.

Eastenders got this mum a little worked up. What do you think of the way they’ve covered the recent adoption storyline?

Adoption lingo glossary

I was speaking to a friend last week, and as we were talking about the Pupil Premium Plus, I referred to my ex-LAC child. Despite her connection with adoption, she’d never heard of ‘LAC’.

This got me thinking, do we use these acronyms a lot? Do we use them without really thinking about whether everyone understands? Would it be easier to use social media if these acronyms were better understood?

So today, I’m bringing you a post full of acronyms and will aim to provide a kind of glossary. If you know of others I’ve missed, please do add them in the comments.acronyms post

AD – Adoptive daughter

AFC – Adoption Focused Counselling

AO – Adoption Order

AS – Adoptive son

ASD – Autistic spectrum disorder

AP – Adoptive parent

BF – Birth family/birth father

BM – Birth Mother

CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

CP – Child protection

CPV – Child to parent violence

DC – Direct contact

DH – Dear/Darling husband

DLA – Disability Living Allowance

DP – Dear/Darling partner

DW – Dear/Darling wife

EP – Educational Psychologist

FAS – Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

FC – Foster carer

FF – Family finder

HS – Homestudy

HV – Health visitor

IRO – Independent reviewing officer

LAC – Looked After Child

LB – Letterbox

LO – Little one

MP – Matching panel

OT – Occupational therapist

PAP – Prospective adoptive parent

PAR – Prospective Adopters Report

PAS – Post adoption support

PPP/PP+ – Pupil Premium Plus

S20 – Section 20

SEN – Special educational needs

SW – Social Worker

SS – Social Services

VA – Voluntary agency

SALT – Speech and language therapist

and a couple more in terms of Tweeting and social media -

DM – Direct message

FB – Facebook

FF – Follow Friday

IM – Instant messenger

PM – Private message

RT – Retweet

WP – WordPress

Can you add any more? Please include them in the comments below…

The Adoption Support Fund

ASF

Today Sarah from The Puffin Diaries introduces the new Adoption Support Fund,tells you how you go about accessing it and gives you her initial thought.

So have you heard about the Adoption Support Fund (ASF)?

From May this year, 2015, adopters will be able to access government funding for post adoption support services, a pot of money reported to be £19.3 million when the ASF was first launched in September 2013. In the press release on the DfE website this fund is described by the Prime Minister as,

“a lifeline for many adoptive families, helping them to access specialist services when their family needs them most.”

And Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, highlighted the governments understanding of the need for this fund when saying:

“We know that children adopted from care have often lived through terrible experiences which do not just simply disappear once they have settled with their new families.”

So how do YOU go about accessing this funding?

You need to speak to either your local authority, or your placing authority. The authority from which your child/children originated are responsible for providing this services in the first three years of the adoption, after that your local authority takes on the responsibility.

You need to request an assessment of your families’ adoption support needs.

Providing this assessment for you is a legal obligation of all local authorities, so they can NOT refuse to carry out the assessment. However this does NOT mean that you will necessarily be eligible for funding.

Here you can download the BAAF Guidance for the Assessment Framework for Adoption Support. This lengthy document details how your needs will be assessed.

Your social worker is able to start these assessments now, so make your phone call or send that email, NOW.

If, once your assessment is complete, you are recognised to be in need of additional support, your social worker will apply, on your behalf, for funding. Your social worker will also be responsible for discussing with you where the support you require may be accessed.

More information on what type of support is available and NOT available, and also who is able to supply your support, can be found HERE

Also Hugh Thornbery CEO of @AdoptionUK, Chair of the #AdoptionSupportFund is on twitter as @TalkAdoptSupp and invites your questions and shared experiences of the Adoption support Fund. So if you have queries this is a good place to direct them.

So what do I Think About the ASF?

We are, Sarah from The Puffin Diaries and family, about to embark on our own assessment, commencing this week. I will aim to keep everyone up to date on how things progress and share our experience of the process.

Personally, right now, I have mixed feelings about the funding and the assessment. On one side,  I am relieved that we may finally be able to access some much needed support for our family. However another part of my brain is sceptical, as we have been in this position before, needing support, and what we’ve been offered has been completely inadequate. I fear that insufficient funding will be allocated to really make the difference or we will not be deemed eligible for any funding at all.

The bigger picture is that this pot is surely not big enough to help all those families out there in need and there is no firm commitment, at the moment to provide further funding once this amount is spent. I posed this question to @TalkADoptSupp earlier.

 

 

So with that thought in mind, I urge anyone out there who feels they need some additional adoption support, to ask for an assessment NOW. Firstly because this money is here now and might not be here later and secondly, the best way to show the government the enormity of this demand is to make our needs known.

It will be interesting to see how many families request an assessment, then just how much funding is applied for and also just how much is actually allocated.

Life on the Frontline – week 25

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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.

Well Mothers Day ended with Tall dismantling his bedroom, pushing all his furniture against his bedroom door and refusing to come out for food. To be honest, after trying really hard to micro manage the whole day and following the week we’d had, I just left him to it. I knew I might need to keep my strength up for the week ahead and boy was I right.

Monday morning and Tall had still not settled and it was decided that school would not be an option on this day. However, logistically this caused me a number of problems. Daddy, after having lost a number of working hours the previous week as a result of ever changing family’s needs, had left early to actually do some work. I was due in the primary school for 9’ o’clock to attend a progress meeting on Small and now had a volatile adolescent in tow. I wondered about the possibility of this going smoothly.

So it was with a smidgen of smugness I delivered Small to school on time and sat a compliant older boy in primary school reception with his book, so I could attend the meeting. First obstacle overcome.

The meeting was full of positivity for Small’s progress in school and headed by his very enthusiastic PRU teacher, lots of talk of the local high school and mainstream environment. I left the meeting feeling sick, now more confused than ever over where Small would be at the beginning of year seven. However my mind didn’t have time to linger, as I had Tall to care for and my next logistical challenge to contemplate. How to get Small to the PRU for his afternoon session with a antagonistic and very sensitive older brother along for the ride?

I often find being on my own in the car with both boys difficult. At times they bicker, poke, agitate and generally press each other’s buttons and there is no escape from it. It has even become dangerous at times as punches and kicks fly. So for the second time on that day there was a hint of smugness, as I parked the car at the PRU School, both boys in the car and our journey had actually been quite pleasant, jovial even.

As the enthusiastic teacher flung open the door and waited for his pupils to enter, Small looked me dead in the eye and said “I’m not going in”.

My smugness quickly washed away as a very determined boy insisted over and over he would not leave the car. The more we, Tall and I and enthusiastic teacher, tried to persuade and encourage, the more distressed he became. His logic being why should he go to school when he’s been doing so well and yet his brother, who had been badly behaved in school, didn’t need to go. The level of distress climaxed and his brain switched a gear, flight, he ran off over the car park and out the gate.

Some twenty minutes later I persuade him back into the car and all three of us returned home for a quite healing afternoon together.

So this was the start of a week that has seen one or other or both my children not in school for a full day. I’ve had phone calls for both to be collected early at some point and Tall is still on a slow integration back into school, which involves me handing him over and collecting him on a daily bases.

So it was with some, no great delight that we set off on Thursday evening for a much needed break by the sea. No thoughts of school for three whole day’s hooray.

In Other News

Both boys have managed brilliantly whilst away for the weekend, especially as we shared a house with some friends, often hard for Small.

Whilst everyone was positive in the meeting Monday about Small, I can see the fear in the eyes of the high school staff at the thought of supporting both our boys.

I manage a run this week in the sunshine and I loved it, roll on spring.

 

 

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 109

Welcome to another week of #WASO…

waso109

This week our theme is ‘Introducing Change’ which I know is something that many of us have to do, but many of our children struggle with. Have you a top tip to share? Have you found a way that works? Or do we just have to do it, and hope that it builds resilience rather than rocking foundations?

Of course, as always our theme is optional, so if you have another post you want to link up then please do.

Don’t forget to share your favourite posts, add posts that you come across, and let everyone know that you take part in the Weekly Adoption Shout Out!



Course review – Caring for Others, Caring for Ourselves

Today’s review is of a bespoke course for a local authority, delivered by Kate Cairns – our very own Vicki, also of The Boy’s Behaviour attended and this is what she thought…

Since The Open Nest’s #Taking Care conference in October, there has been an emphasis on self care in many of the social media channels that I use as an adoptive mum. This is great and shows that we are beginning to believe that looking after ourselves is key to parenting our children as best we can. It’s wonderful and encouraging to see the photos, and hear the ways in which adoptive parents are taking time to care for themselves.

I was thrilled to be offered a free place on ‘Caring for Others, Caring for Ourselves’, a short course that aimed to provide an understanding of ‘Secondary Trauma’, and would be delivered by none other than Kate Cairns – formerly of BAAF, and well known author.

Surrounded by 6 other adoptive parents and 33 foster carers, I attended the course, led by Kate and her husband and immediately felt like this was someone who truly understood. Kate and Brian have parented a number of children and have experienced pretty much every behaviour and challenge that you would expect to have. And beyond that, Kate herself developed secondary trauma – although of course at the time, couldn’t see that.

The course whizzed by, but Kate gave enough information on each short section to ensure that an understanding was gained. There were plentiful opportunities throughout the day to ask questions and clarify any issues.

So we covered trauma, toxic stress and the nervous system.
We used our hands to see exactly what it looks like when the connections between our frontal cortex and the rest of our brain are broken – flipping one’s lid. (Based on a hand model by Dan Siegel).
We thought about survival versus safety, escalation and de-escalation, and something called Five to Thrive – respond, cuddle, relax, play and talk.
And then we looked at the impact of trauma, recovery and resilience and secondary trauma.

I found it interesting to thinking about secondary trauma in terms of my support network – it doesn’t just affect my husband and I, or ever our wider family network, but can also affect teachers, doctors, therapists and social workers, each of whom generally work in those fields because they have compassion and they care. When they seemingly don’t care and lose that compassion, it’s not necessarily because they’re working against you (although it often feels like that) but it could be because they are suffering from secondary trauma too, and they just can’t see it.

The day ended by talking about training, support, therapy and self-care, and confirmed everything I know about looking after myself. I found Kate’s term PIES a good way to think about self-care: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual factors all play a part in personal resilience.

I found this short course so useful and informative. I met other adoptive parents in my area, I chatted to foster carers about their expectations and experiences, I talked to Kate Cairns about The Adoption Social, and I know have access through Kate Cairns Associates to connected learning opportunities, including an online learning module on Secondary Trauma. If your local authority can commission a similar course then I’d highly recommend attending.

How Twitter Changed my Life.

Today Sarah from The Puffin Diaries tells us how her life has changed since joining twitter.

Last week I attended a conference. I stood on stage next to my friend, fellow adopter and founder of The Open Nest Charity, Amanda Boorman, and talked, all be it briefly, about how The Adoption Social came to be. We then went on to introduce and show, for the very first time, the new animation commissioned by The Open Nest and based on information that The Adoption Social had collated from the on-line community. At that moment, I couldn’t have felt prouder of being part of the adoption on-line community.

Throughout the day I also spoke to many people about the support they could find on line, about the fantastic friendships I’d forged with people I’d met through Twitter and how wonderful it is to read so many amazing adoption blogs.

Even as I write this, it all seems a little surreal.

Nearly three years ago I joined twitter and I didn’t really know what was going to happen. Many people I know had said “oh I can’t get along with that twitter” or “I don’t get it”.Tweeting

I think it is a little bit of an odd space if you don’t really know why you’re there. Especially if you already do Facebook where the majority of your friends hang out. But if you have a cause or are looking for some like minded folk,, then it can be a really positive place to be.

My first twitter name was @adoptionbliss, slightly tongue in cheek because life was far from bliss. We were experiencing regular violent out bursts and I think it was around the time of fire starting, running away and stealing too.

Something strange happened; maybe I tweeted something or said “hello” to another adopter on twitter, but suddenly lots of people were saying “hello back” and suggesting people for me to follow.

I must confess that from that point on I became massively addicted to twitter.

So nearly three years ago I took the plunge to join a social media thingy. One that often gets bad press for bullying, bitching and general hating of others. In my three years I’ve only ever had a couple of bad experiences on twitter and they were quickly dealt with by blocking.

Instead what I’ve found is the most INCREDIBLE source of support, love, empathy, compassion, understanding and a sense of belonging. I have friends who understand my life. I have friends who are there online but are also at the end of the telephone. I have friends that I can make plans to see all of whom I met on twitter.

I am a co-founder of The Adoption Social a site which aims to support the on-line community because of twitter.

I have my own blog The Puffin Diaries, where I write, all though not that often recently, about adoption because of twitter.

I am a trustee for a progressive and creative thinking adoption support charity The Open Nest because of twitter..

And I’m talking at conferences because of twitter.

But most of all and most importantly, for me, is I am now no longer ever alone because of twitter.

Three years on my life has changed quite dramatically because one day I decided to joined twitter.

So if you read this site but have not yet taken the plunge to join twitter, why not give it a go today.

Here’s our post on how to set up an account safely.

Oh and don’t forget, once you’ve joined to come and say hello find us @adoptionsocial.

Mother’s Day

So in the UK this weekend it was Mother’s Day. How was it in your house?

Did you enjoy a lazy morning with breakfast in bed? Bunches of flowers and constant cups of tea?

or

Did the children forget and expect life to be exactly as usual?

or

Was it a complete washout with rejection, violence and challenges aplenty?

Maybe, you experienced something completely different? Maybe your not a mum yourself yet but saw your own mum? Perhaps your relationship with your own mum is strained?

I was very lucky – we’d got the ‘wave a knife around in front of mummy’s face’ bit out of the way a day or two before, and both father and child worked hard to ensure a surprise for mummy was pulled off.
And I actually enjoyed a really nice day. Of course, we made sure it wasn’t really about me, but in a round a bout way:
The ‘surprise’ breakfast was at child’s favourite restaurant.
Next came a walk around the woods where we ‘stumbled’ across amazing, never seen before play equipment.
A visit to a nearby village (with lovely craft centre for mummy) had a castle and a quay – great for inquisitive and adventurous children.

How do you handle ‘celebrations’ and occasions like this in your family? Have you had to change your expectations over the years? Has Mother’s Day given you some insight in how to celebrate (or not?!) Father’s Day?

Life on the Frontline – week 24

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.

I’m going to keep it brief, it’s Mothers Day and whilst I’m hopeful we are going to have a fun day out, I’m also aware that micro management is required to ensure we don’t experience the hell like disasters previous Mother’s Days have produced. I’ve made a resolution not to cry this year.

On Monday Tall was removed from school by the police. Following his two day exclusion from school at the end of last week, he returned to school Monday morning, into an integration meeting and fairly quickly after into class. In the meeting, three school adults relayed their commitments to him but also their expectations of him and I could see from his darting eyes and fidgeting fingers he was not taking it all in. As he left the room he didn’t seem happy but I trusted that with support he could get back into the routine of school.

My main contribution to the meeting was that I really didn’t want Tall excluded again and any concerns about his ability to cope and the school should call me straight away and he can come home. Everyone seemed in agreement.

At 2.30pm I received a call “Tall is not coping”

I rushed into school, in my head I’d scoop him up and head up to the PRU to collect Small. Never did I expect that he would refuse to come, so far imbedded into the reptilian part of his brain that I was even seen as untrustworthy and a threat.

We found him wandering the corridors of school swearing at anyone and everything, grabbing at posters on walls determined to “trash this s***hole”

Eventually we ended up in a stairwell and there we remained for two hours, staff and myself trying to encourage, persuade, entice him to come home. At points he came at me in, threatening and wild, at other times he placed himself in huge danger hanging off the banister and leaning provocatively down a flight of stairs. The narrative was constantly foul mouthed and abusive.

At one point it was discussed “could we physically place him in your car?”

The fear from everyone was that he would be dangerous whilst I was driving. Not long after that the decision was made, by school and against my desire, to call the police.

Even once this was explained to Tall, he still would not be moved. He wrapped his arms around the stairway banister, determined in not being prised away.

When they arrived the police were calm, polite and of course professional, taking notes and asking questions.

When it came to the removal it went very calmly, my boy I think finally overpowered by another controlling force. He gave very little resistance as he was marched to the police car, one arm twisted up his back and his neck in a firm grip. I cried to see him bundled into the back of that car as straggling school students stopped and stared.

Once home he ran to his room and rearranged his furniture, blocking his door with everything. I wondered as I stood at his door, “how will you eat?”

Half an hour later he was in the kitchen eating his dinner, he had a bath and was asleep soon after.

So since that first disastrous day of the week we’ve been gradually taking small steps back into school. Tomorrow, Monday we will be up to three lessons. Also tomorrow we have another big meeting over Small and his progress in school. It’s going to be an all go week…again.

 

In Other News

I enjoyed a lovely day at an art gallery with my mum this Saturday.

Whilst Tall has been calmer since his Monday outburst his attitude and back chat is driving me mad.

Thank goodness, this week Small has been having a great time in school and had two full days in main stream this week.