First aid, audio CDs and other things to keep close by in the Summer

Are your children accident prone?
One of mine is. Sometimes he falls over accidentally – he has hypermobility in his ankles so that doesn’t help, but often he hurts himself in the middle of a meltdown, and sometimes he hurts himself on purpose – yes, he’ll throw himself into a pile of stinging nettles, or headbutt a wall repeatedly, and there are the days where he’ll punch something hard, and end up slicing open his knuckles. We’re having therapy at the moment to help, but in the meantime I have to be prepared for many eventualities when at home, or out and about.

So with Summer approaching and days out planned, I thought I’d share the contents of our first First Aid posteraid kit with you…just in case.

At home, I expect most of you have a first aid kit. I have two more – one I keep in the car at all times, and a smaller one that I chuck in the backpack for days out.

  • Tweezers
  • Lanacane for itching/bites
  • Plasters (various sizes)
  • Calpol
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Safety pins
  • Individual square non-stick dressings
  • Bandage
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Triangular Bandage
  • Micropore
  • Small scissors
  • Piriton/Piriteze syrup

I don’t always take Calpol or Piriton, and when I do, sometimes leave them in the car. Bit bulky to carry around with me.

Of course, use your common sense and judgement. If I had other people’s children with me, I’d make sure I had parent’s permission to administer medicines, and check that plasters are OK too.
In the car, I also keep a few bits that make my life easier, and I know then that wherever we are, even if on the spur of the moment, I have what I need:

  • Change of clothes for the children (several pairs of pants for the serial wetter)
  • Suncream
  • Sunhats
  • Clean towel
  • Picnic blanket/doubles up as a warm blanket for in the car
  • Small box with baby wipes, tissues, plastic cutlery, rubbish bag

The boy is now in just a booster seat, with no back, so nowhere to rest his head – he has a beanbag filled ‘pillow’ for leaning on, else he contorts into weird positions to rest, most of which involve the seat belt no longer being where it should be!

And, in the back between the carseats, I keep clipboards with paper and pens, colouring books, some travel games, children’s binoculars, and sticker books to help keep the kids occupied during travelling – even just 10 minute trips.

I also made a CD that has songs on that EVERYONE in our family likes – this helps stop the bickering.
And we also have a couple of story CDs in the car. They’re a bit young for the boy, but sometimes after a long, tiring day out, a little bit of The Gruffalo is just what’s needed.

Travelling with children is a whole other post, so just thinking about days out – what else do you take other than picnics, buckets/spades for the beach, footballs for the park, or bikes for the woods. Any tips?

Taking Care – The First Open Nest Conference.

Today we bring you full details of the first Open Nest Conference entitled Taking Care, a user led approach to adoption Support.

onlogoThe Conference will take place on Saturday 18th October 11am – 5pm at the beautiful Royal York Hotel in York, Located right next to the train station this venue has been chosen for it’s great rail links and the excellent facilities, it is just over two hours direct from London on the train.

This conference is for adopters, adoptees, prospective adopters and practitioners and hopes to offer plenty of practical support as well as lots of time to socialise and network.

Those presenting at the conference are:-

Amanda Boorman, founder of The Open Nest charity and adopter, will open the day with and introduction of the agenda and will discuss the formation of the charity.

Following on will be the presentation of the hard hitting documentary film, Severance.

Al Coates, an adopter and experienced social worker will then present his own personal and professional adoption experiences.

Fran Proctor, an adoptee, will discuss whether we need to change our perception  and our way of “treating” trauma and offer practical solutions.

Sally Donovan, adopter and writer will suggest how we can be a positive advocate for our children, especially in the school environment.

Then to follow, there will be a screening of our animation “The Lost Children of Trauma” developed by adopters and adoptees.

The Adoption Social will present on how the internet can be used to find support and information.

We Are Family, a user-led support network based in London, will talk about how to organise a support group and natural buddying.

The cost of the day including tea, coffee and lunch, is £25.

This is a non profit making conference, in line with the charity’s aim to offer support and advice which is accessible to all adoptive families.

Although the conference will not formally commence until 11.00am, registration will be open at 9.00am giving people the opportunity to socialise with others.

Bookings can be made by debit/credit card via charity patrons, La Rosa Hotel Tel: 01947606981

By Cheque sent to, The Open Nest, 5 East Terrace, Whitby, YO21 3HB

Via Paypal on the donations page of the website for The Open Nest If you are able to make a donation when booking we would be very grateful.

The Adoption Social, Social

We are finalising ideas for the evening event, hosted by ourselves The Adoption Social. We hope to offer a fun and relaxed event with food, drinks and maybe even a dance floor. There will be an additional cost for the evening event but we will also aim to keep the price as low as possible and we will not be profiting from this event. If you are unable to attend the day time conference but would like to come and socialise in the evening then we would be really happy to see you.


For those staying on to the party, you might need a bed for the night. Here are some options,

The Fort Boutique Hostel prices start at £28

Premier Inn York North West (ring rd) prices start at £74

Other possibilities can be found here Visit York


Memory Box 21/7/14


I love this post that The Family of Five linked up to last week’s #MemoryBox – makes me think of the many funny words and phrases that are now an everyday part of our family’s vocabulary thanks to our children…

Have you got any happy moments to share? Remembering the good times might help your Monday morning go a little smoother… Just add the link to your post below and we’ll share it for you, and give it some love…

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 76

#WASO 76Roll up, roll up, then scroll down, scroll down…

It’s Weekly Adoption Shout Out time and we’re ready for your blog posts.

If you’re a blogger, then below you’ll see the form where you can add your blog posts. No theme this week so add whatever posts you like.

If you’re a reader, then below (hopefully) you’ll see a growing list of links from the best adoption bloggers you’ll find. (So we’re biased, but they are great!).

Read ‘em, comment on ‘em, share ‘em. And why not join ‘em? If you fancy starting a blog and want some help, then just let us know…

Starving the Anxiety Gremlin by Kate Collins-Donnelly – A Review

Sarah from The Puffin Diaries has reviewed Starving the Anxiety Gremlin available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

I have been using this book with both my children over the last couple of months, a boy aged 9 and a boy aged 10.

anxietyGI initially worked with my youngest son, as he was having a great deal of anxiety around going to school. He has always struggled to verbalise his emotions and often hides his feels and emotions. I hoped the book would help use explore some vocabulary and narrative on what he has been experiencing each day in the school environment.

The book aims to offer a cognitive behavioural approach to managing anxiety, suitable for those 10 years and above (I was aware my youngest wasn’t quite the right age but hoped we could pick the bits out that were suitable).

The book suggests that it can be used by the young person to work through or alongside an adult or professional. I think the child would need to be at least a couple of years older than my children to be able to make good use of the book independently.

My 9 year old and I started at the beginning, reading the introduction. By the second page my son was engaged with the content. Here speech bubbles suggesting different ways a child may feel when anxious offered an opportunity to yes or no to how he might be feeling.

BOOK : “Do you feel like you have no control over how you react when you are anxious?”

SON : “Yes”

So a good start.

The book goes on to describe what anxiety is and what different types of anxiety exist. Some of this content, as throughout the book, is aimed at older children. For example self harming, drinking and drug abuse are listed as behaviours that anxiety may induce. However I did find it easy to skirt around these and lots of the other content was very relevant and useful to discuss.

We did the anxiety word search together and also did a really good work sheet on colouring in the physical anxieties attributes which are relevant to you.

In fact the whole chapter on identifying what YOUR own anxiety is, was a good interactive experience which really helped me to understand a lot more about how my son feels.  

It really highlighted his separation anxiety from me, which previously I hadn’t considered to be the real problem. I presumed that the school environment was the problem.

With my 9 year old we are still working our way through the book, choosing the sections that are suitable for his level of emotional maturity, which really is younger than 9. I think he may not be fully able, as yet to grasp the concept of CBT, however we are still reading some sections and doing the bits he’s happy to do, it can’t do any harm. I’m sure we will come back to it all as he develops.

I have also now started working on this book with my soon to be 11 year old son. He is off to high school in September and whilst he is excited now, I know he will develop anxiety over the prospect over the summer. I think the book will be pitched at a level that he is mature enough to understand; he has a greater emotional intelligence than my youngest son. He enjoys the prospect of discussing his emotions and is asking when we can do more work together.

On the whole I think this book is an excellent tool for prompting discussion around anxiety, explaining anxiety to a child and teaching them how to manage this response to situations.

As yet we have not completed the book and therefore can’t vouch for its complete effectiveness. However, I’m a true believer that even if our children take a small amount of what we’ve worked from and translate it into their lives, then we have had a success. As we have already created a greater understanding of this emotion and prompted discussion, I would say this book is a great success for our family.

The Adoption Social gatherings

Meeting other adoptive parents. It’s hard sometimes isn’t it?


Set-ups within local authorities seem to vary and whilst some actively promote opportunities for adoptive parents to meet-up, others aren’t quite so pro-active in facilitating networking. The online community is great – that’s in part why The Adoption Social exists.

We hope to bring you both interesting and informative posts, but also create ways of connecting with other adoptive parents, and also adoptees, birth parents and professionals too. We do that through our linkys, and sharing posts, and hope that we’ve helped bring together Twitter users too.

But, there’s nowt like meeting other folk in real life. We know – we ‘met’ online, but are now friends who’ve met up in real life several times now. And meeting others like @sallydwrites and @boormanamanda at The Open Nest trustee meetings, @adoptingsezz at Britmums Live, and @jayandaitch, @thefamilyoffive and @lauralikestoread (amongst others) at the Adoption UK conference last year makes it all much more real – there really is nothing like a real life hug from someone who understands and knows what you’re going through, and being able to hug them play areaback too!

So with all that in mind, we’ve decided to start facilitating some meet-ups across the country. These will be informal gatherings – perhaps in a coffee shop (if without the kids) or a park/zoo/woods (with the kids), and hope that they could lead to regular meet-ups, which will provide more support, understanding and even friendship for you on a local level. Some of our children don’t know any other adopted children, so these meet-ups could be a great opportunity for them to meet others in the same boat, and hopefully they won’t feel so isolated either.

It won’t be easy to bring everyone together, we’re spaced far and wide all over the country, but to begin with, we’d like to compile a list of all those interested with their locations. We don’t want your full address, just your nearest town. We’ll then create lists of people in the same rough areas, and we’ll need your permission to email those lists of people so we can put you all in touch with each other. Exactly *how* local the meet-ups are will depend on demand in any area.

Although we can’t arrange the meet-ups for you (purely because we’re limited by our own locations and lack of local knowledge in your area), we hope that by letting you know who’s nearby you can meet up with people you’ve been chatting to on Twitter, or received lots of blog comments from. And if these informal sessions work out, then perhaps we can think about hosting some larger formal Adoption Social meet-ups, more like fun-days, camps or special events, which we would arrange for you.
In fact, we’re already arranging a proper formal meet up for adoptive parents – this will take place in York at The Open Nest conference in October. So make sure you come along.

We’d love to begin these meet-ups over the summer, and if you like, you could blog about it and share the post on our Summer Sandpit linky? Security and safety need to be considered of course, so at the moment, we’ll only circulate between people we’ve already had some contact with either by Twitter, in person, through the blog, or via email. Events will not be advertised outside of the area email group.

If you’re interested, just drop us a line
by email:
DM us on Facebook: or
DM us on Twitter: @adoptionsocial


Managing Loss

Today one mum shares a story of loss…..

We adopted our son around a year ago, when he was 11 months old. During the introduction weeks he was the happy, smiley boy we had been promised, securely attached enough to his foster mum that he would happily leave her, knowing that he would be returned safely home to her and his foster brother.

It all changed when he started to realise that he was not going to return home.

Of course, because of his age, there was no way of explaining to him what was happening so we watched ‘our son’ suffer with chronic diarrhoea, become whingey and incredibly upset and it was, for us extraordinarily difficult that he did not want to be settled by us ‘his parents’, what he wanted was his mummy!

It was extremely hard because, we knew, logically, that what had happened to him, being adopted, was for the best, but as a mother I simply wanted to give him back to his foster mum because that was, at the time, what would stop him from being so sad. For a while, people kept telling us that he was so settled with us, because his smiles returned, but I still felt that inside he was suffering.

He became attached to me and would panic when I left him, which broke my heart; because he had been a little boy who was happy to share his time and laughter with others, but he didn’t trust that I would not do what his previous mum had done to him.

This is not, as it seems a sad story though, he settled happily with his new mum, dad, big sister and old dog and settled incredibly well into nursery, when I returned to work, part time. He is, in himself, a great advertisement for adoption as he is a funny, cheeky, almost 2 year old, who people instantly adore.

ManagingLossWe did recently, however, lose our beloved dog. She was aged 14 when we adopted our little boy, but he instantly loved the enormous bundle of fluff that she was. She was a little disturbed when we adopted him, as our 5 year old little girl was beyond crashing into her with her doll and pushchair by that time, but we taught him to treat her gently and with respect. We unfortunately had to have her put to sleep one night, and similarly as with the adoption, we could not explain to him, as we could our little girl.

At first he didn’t really notice, as she was often out for a walk or staying with grandparents. His behaviour then seemed to change. He became whiney and cross and his behaviour deteriorated. I was at the end of my tether, by the end of the week, as I am sure other people with toddlers can understand.

It was only then, however, that I sat back and realised that I had lived through this behaviour before. He was experiencing a painful loss and was again lashing out, through his inability to express and comprehend his grief.

I don’t really know whether he experiences loss in a more dramatic way, due to his memories of his first loss – the adoption (he was taken away from his birth parents immediately). I am hoping that he will not experience any more losses for a while now, although we are moving house this week, which I fear will unsettle him too. Hopefully as he gets older, he will be able to discuss and express his grief and we can support him more easily through any difficult situation. I wanted to share with others that, whilst I am incredibly glad I adopted my son, how difficult watching him suffer was. Other people felt that it would be easy adopting a baby as babies don’t understand what is going on around them, but it was for precisely that reason that it was hard.

Weekly Adoption Shout Out – #WASO week 75

Welcome back to the wonderful Weekly Adoption Shout Out


This is a place where all those blogging about adoption can share their posts. So feel free to join in, even if you’ve not done so before, we all love finding a new blog to read.

Also these blogs are a great source of information and experience about the lives of those who are adopting or being adopted and even those that loose their own child/children to adoption. Some stories can be sad, others funny but the best thing about this resource is the HONESTY.

This week there is an optional theme and that is “Time Keeping”.

So link up or delve in and find a good read and remember share your favourite posts with the Hashtag #WASO

Living but not engaging…

Meet Eddie.boys

Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Delightful smile. Loves nature.

He came to us aged 4, with his two brothers, one older and one younger, after a little over 2 years in foster care. Before that his life was full of trauma, fear and anxiety.

His foster carers treated him as the golden boy. Always delightful. Always getting his own way. A joy in the company of the string of social workers   and other adults that passed through his life. His foster carers doted on him. Meanwhile his elder brother was always getting blamed for things that went wrong.

So, fast forward nearly 6 years, and we’re struggling. We’ve had some support after we pleaded for help. A Safebase training course and a series of 8 Theraplay sessions with him. The conclusions from social workers were that he’s happy. Well adjusted. Attached. Feels like he belongs.

We don’t agree.

Here’s what we observe, day to day:

- He’s happy when in control and organising everyone else. But ask him to do something, anything, he doesn’t want, and there’s a stamp of his foot. His nose goes in the air. His head turns away. And he stomps out of the room.
- His relationships with us and others are really superficial. They have no depth. Cuddles are forced and unnatural. Emotion of any form is lacking.
- He struggles to say how he’s feeling.
- He makes a beeline for the new person in the class and becomes ‘best friends’. For a while.
- He is delightful in other adults’ company, as long as the relationship doesn’t need to be deep.
- He can’t name anyone he’d call a friend and struggles to know who to invite to a birthday party. His peers prefer others’ company over his.
- He finds it very difficult to retain instructions and carry them out.
- He finds it difficult to stay focused on work in school, preferring to organise his group or the teacher. He seems to feel it’s his responsibility to sort out everyone else’s problems.
- He can’t see the mess in his own room – but he can pick out a butterfly across the garden and is happy to point out where other people have fallen short.
- Nothing can ever be his fault. Ever. It’s always someone else.
- He does tasks in a half hearted way, doing the minimum to get things done. He’s not interested in doing the best he can at anything – homework, trumpet, cricket, cubs, packing the dishwasher,… mediocrity rules. But he’s very intelligent.
- He can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction – his recollection of the day’s events often bears no resemblance to what really happened. It almost seems as if he really believes his version and will argue to the death that something happened when clearly it didn’t. But he struggles to think creatively when it comes to writing a story.
- He can’t see the impact something he has done has had on someone else. He will say sorry, but this really seems to be because he thinks it’s what he should say, rather than a heartfelt apology.

It’s like Eddie is going through the motions of day to day living, but not really engaging with anyone or anything at a deep level.

So, what do you think?
Any ideas?
What should we do?

How can we persuade professionals that Eddie needs support?
What kind of thing might help?
Do you know a child like Eddie? I certainly do…
Have you any advice for this adoptive father?