I am a 40 something adopter of a wonderful 7 year old boy. He was placed with my husband and I nearly 6 years ago and my goodness has it been a rollercoaster ride of wonderful highs and some absolutely dreadful lows.
Currently after a traumatic house move to a new area we are experiencing a new kind of low and there have been moments when I didn’t think we could ever move forwards and upwards again. To be brutally honest there were times I wanted off the ride altogether. In desperation we sought help from our Local Authority.
I have now experienced attempts to gain Post Adoption Support from 2 Local Authorities but what I have found is that both services are woefully inadequate and barely fit for purpose. My son has survived the most appalling abuse and neglect, he has suffered greatly in the hands of an education system that didn’t want to understand him (but that’s a whole different story) and it seems he is to be failed by Post Adoption Services that don’t have the experience, resources or it seems desire to support him. Aside from a few training courses of mixed quality and an occasional newsletter we have received no input at all, financial, therapeutic or otherwise.
What I need from Post Adoption Support is really very simple and I summarised it in a series of Twitter posts to get it off my very angry chest:
What I need from Post Adoption Support:
1. Clear contact details. An email address that works and a phone line available daily that is actually answered.
2. A helpline answered by someone knowledgeable about and sympathetic to adoption issues. No criticism please and no being passed around the system.
3. Absolute transparency about what support is available and how long I have to wait to access it. I can’t ask for it if I don’t know it exists!
4. Acceptance that I am the expert on my child and that I might actually have a valid opinion on what he might need.
5. Phone calls that are returned and emails answered within a reasonable time frame. Days, not weeks or longer please!
6. Clear signposting to adoption allowances, benefits and grants etc.
7. Full disclosure of background information pertaining to my child.
8. A later life letter. This was due 10 days after the adoption order but 6 years later I still find myself waiting for it.
9. Timely support. When at crisis point people can’t wait for weeks for a meeting and then months for assessments to get help, they need input fast.
10. Up to date signposting of organisations, groups and individuals that can help.
11. Please Post Adoption Support when you know people are really struggling and even though you may not be able to help quickly, give follow up calls to check on the situation and show that you care.
12. Help to meet other adopters. Support groups, social events, buddy systems and coffee groups. The most valuable help I have had has come from fellow adopters but PAS should be able to either facilitate adopter groups or at least put me in touch with people in a similar situation.
13. A programme of regular events for children, not just under 5’s. Something for every school holiday would be wonderful, not necessarily free but affordable or subsidised in some way.
14. Regular training on a wide range of issues. I know good speakers are costly so I would be prepared to contribute to costs sometimes.
15. Respite. Just a few hours occasionally at a weekend so I can spend some time with my husband while my son has fun in a nurturing and understanding environment with other adoptees.
16. No judgement of the fact that we have previously sought private support for our son. We did so with the best of intentions; to get timely appropriate help. Our financial circumstances have now changed and we can’t afford to privately fund support but the fact we did in the past should not be held against us.
17. “You will have to keep badgering us.” No Post Adoption Support I shouldn’t have to “keep badgering” you for help, you need to offer a professional service. Picking up the phone admitting we needed serious help was incredibly difficult for us to do. We are currently at our lowest ever point in the adoption process and struggling through every hour of every day with our son. “Badgering” the very people who should be at the forefront of helping us shouldn’t be something I have to add to my list of stresses.
My list could go on (and on) but the points above are the key ones. Post adoption Support Services are under immense strain, I get that, I really do but some of the above cost little or nothing. They are courtesy’s to families who have embraced fantastic but very damaged and traumatised children. My quirky, funny, intelligent but deeply troubled little boy deserves better. So much better!
Thanks so much to @CrusoePoll for sharing these tweets as a full post – I know many of us would want the same from post adoption support teams across the country. What would you add to your wishlist?