The Adoption UK Conference

 Here Sarah from The Puffin Diaries gives an overview on attending the Adoption UK Conference 2013 


As many of you may be aware, this last weekend was the annual, Adoption UK Conference. We, Vicki and I, were very lucky to attend the event and be part of the exhibitors, sharing a stand with @TheOpenNest.

So it was bit like having two hats on, we were there, as adoptive parents, to learn as much as we could from the all knowing Dan Hughes, but also spread the word about The Adoption Social. 

We travelled up on the Friday so we could set up the stand for the following day Myself, @BoysBehaviour @BoormanAmanda @PSFnick @SallyDWrites and Chrissy , all pitched in to get the stand looking splendid . A number of bloggers and tweeters also arrived on the Friday and so, once we had set up, a few of us went out for a meal. There is something very strange about meeting people you know so much about from their blogs and your on-line chats, but yet you don’t instantly recongnise their faces.

However, we got over the initial hellos and we were able to chat away and share stories and experiences. It is always so reassuring to meet other adopters and not get the look of horror that some people give when you share your parenting tales. For me it was just wonderful to meet in the flesh some of the brilliant and supportive people that I regularly converse with on line. So thanks to those that joined us, including @LauraLikes2Read and @AdoptSuccess, and to all the other bloggers and tweeters we met during the conference,  it was great to meet all of you.

Saturday morning and to the conference we head. With four hundred people in attendance we were hoping the stand would get plenty of interest. We were not disappointed. Plenty of people came over to see us and have a look at our site, which we had projected onto a screen. It was a mixture of professionals and parents but, I feel those who really connected with what we do were the parents. For many it seems finding support and a place to feel included is hard to come by. It was great to offer out a virtual shoulder of support from The Adoption Social, and let people know that our community is here to help.

I found myself repeatedly saying “I have found so much support on-line and we really want to extend and share that support with others who need it”, or something very similar.

And so to the main event, Dan Hughes. I personally have never heard him speak before but have read one of his books. I really didn’t know what to expect, was I about to be enlightened? Or would the intensity of it all be very draining and hard to comprehend. Well I could have listened to him for hours and hours, and had to suppress the desire to ask him to move in. I’d be surprised if any adoptive parent in the audience didn’t feel that he really got what our lives are sometimes like.

These horrors and hardships, which we all experience to some extent, were presented with a healthy dose of humour, creating a sense of knowing and camaraderie between him and the audience.

Through his three sessions he aimed to provide some understanding as to why our children behave the way they do, explaining the workings of the brain and how those with developmental trauma differ from a “healthy child”. He then went on to outline an approach to parenting, based on his PLACE  formula, (Playfulness, Love, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy) which facilitates improved relationships and  therefore helps brain development. The slides were interjected with tales of his clients, children and families he’d met, the extreme behaviours and some moving out comes. All kept me fully focused and enthralled for as long as he spoke, and as each hour passed I was surprised at the amount of time that had elapsed.

Whether it was the fact that the topic was of such interest to me and resonated so greatly with my life, or maybe because he is an excellent and well practiced public speaks, or probably a lot of both, this was a thoroughly informative and up lifting day.

I left with a renewed energy to my parenting and an increased desire to get it right.

However on a final note, what struck me was that for Dan Hughes to have so many examples of how tough it is to parent these hurt children and how often parents don’t know what to do for the best, it was clear to me that my husband and I are not the only ones that get it wrong sometimes.  So I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the day, in Dan Hughes own word…

“The child needs a lot of empathy but so does the parent”.

That’s what we aim to give each other at The Adoption Social, “Empathy”.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank The Open Nest for inviting us to share their  stand at this event and their on going support.

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