What I need from Post Adoption Support

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?



5 thoughts on “What I need from Post Adoption Support

  1. Debbie

    Sorry I haven’t read all the post, the few few passages I though you were writing about us! Fortunately although it doesn’t feel like it most of the time we have had support but it’s made little difference. Our daughter had therapy for a year and we turned up one day, therapist off sick and that was it for 6 months, even our therapy as a mum and dad stopped. We heard nothing for 6 months until I made an official complaint and they asked would she like a goodbye session, think that was a bit late. We are now in breakdown mode. Adoption support did refer us for a second round of different therapy and we now go to a parents group but respite, no chance. We have paid out of our own pocket for a break but like yourselves now finances are about to change massively and we can’t afford it. We do get an allowance but boy do you have to jump through hoops to get reassessed and it won’t replace a wage. Secondary looming I was banging on she’s not going to cope and her previous school hardly passed on any info, they didn’t even know about Camhs involvement, it’s shocking.
    Anyway enough of my drivel.
    We had no later life letter after it first hit the fan last year they found it in her file unfinished, fight to get it!!!
    If you get no joy from calls not being returned get the managers name or contact the head of children’s services.
    Respite is out there but you might have to go through the social care route. Not easy but tell them you can’t cope, recite for you is far cheaper than foster care for them, it’s all about money.
    Adoption uk run local support groups and adoption support do know of patent groups set up locally.
    Events cost we get 2 a year in bucks! So might be a tall order expecting more.
    Getting someone knowledgeable with a good grasp on your issue on the phone might be hard, get your allocated workers mobile!
    No you should t have to keep badgering them unfortunately this is happening all the time in families. Woeful knowledge in schools, poor support system, it feels like a head on the bed and goodbye let’s deal with the next.
    Anyone who adopts needs to have the backbone of a giant and not necessarily to deal with the horrific trauma our children have witnessed but to deal with everyone else.
    Have you considered a childminder for a bit of respite just to give you a break to recharge. The family information service have a list and some provide respite, the council use them in bucks as Its a cheaper alternative. Shout for help but making a call to referral and assessment and getting them involved will get you further, swallow your pride, we had to.
    We sincerely hope you get what you need for yourselves and your son and hope Christmas can be of some joy and the new year brings more success and peace xx

  2. Christine

    Our post adoption worker is wonderful, school have been very supportive, our GP will always listen to me, so we are very lucky and appreciate it.
    HOWEVER, CAMHS have frightened the life out of me for what could happen in the future. He actually said ‘I don’t just mean her living outside the home’!!! She’s only 8 yrs old for goodness sake and doing okay in mainstream school!! Now they’re discussing whether they can deal with us or refer to GOSH!
    My wish would be for sensitive professionals who give relevant information.

  3. Marina Gunn

    I am the grandparent and Godparent of two (sibling) adoptees. Gorgeous, loving children but both have suffered terrible neglect and abuse. It wouldn’t surprise me if my Son and daughter-in-law have kept some of the stories to themselves. We live a 3 hour drive away but see them as often as possible.
    I hear about all the difficulties (as listed in previous posts) and more. Lack of understanding but even I, without any training, recognise the misunderstanding, neglect and, perhaps worse, apathy of those you would expect to know better… Teachers, Doctors, etc. Two examples: 1) bringing Santa Claus and Super-hero dressed adults into school rooms where there are adoptees who have been abused by such. 2) the failure to recognise when a child is obviously not mixing naturally with children of his own age — kicking a ball around with a few others isn’t necessarily interacting with peers.
    I am constantly shocked about the stories I hear about the trouble my family is having trying to get help, advice and… action!
    I get really annoyed when there are news reports and TV articles encouraging adoption without a word about the ‘real’ anguish and pain of both adoptees and adopters alike.
    I wholeheartedly support the petition.

    1. Joanne

      I am so sorry to hear yet another story of failure on the part of social services and CAMHS. We and our adopted daughter were let down terribly by our Local Authority and local CAMHS. We were not told that our little girl was always as serious risk of an attachment disorder until the day of our meeting to discuss disrupting. By then we were on our knees, broken and upset at having to let our little girl down. We feel we failed her but the system failed her even more. She should have been removed from her birth family at 3 months but stayed in a traumatic, neglectful and hugely damaging environment until she was 2 years old. The health visitor had tried to convince the LA to remove her to safety at 3 months old but they were ignored. There began the problem she would face trying to trust us or any parent. She ticked all the boxes for being at high risk of serious attachment issues but we were told instead that she had formed a strong attachment to her Foster Carer and all she needed was a loving home and a mummy and daddy. Despite lurching from one crisis to another with our little girl we were refused therapy for her, instead we were told to “accept and embrace her behaviours” and invited to therapy for ourselves. Living with a deeply traumatised child is exhausting and traumatic for those looking after them because they transfer their trauma to you. To get no support or meaningful advice from the LA or professionals involved is I believe negligent and cruel. Instead they try to ignore or minimise the issues you tell them about and suggest you be a more therapeutic parent! Post adoption support is a joke and not a funny one, as the lack of support is destroying the lives of children and adoptive families. We are still trying to advocate for our little girl now she’s back in foster care but it’s a struggle as we have no rights as we hadn’t finalised our adoption through the courts. We are now 5 months post disruption and she is still waiting for therapy or an assessment of her needs. My fear is she will be moved into another adoptive home and they and she will not get the support needed which in turn could lead to another disruption for her.


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