Category Archives: The Blog

The Adoption Social Times

TAStimesIt’s that time – it’s our monthly round-up of all things Adoption Social

Weekly Adoption Shout Out
Loving your posts these last few weeks – thanks so much for joining in. Do you know any other adoption bloggers who don’t link up? If so, why not suggest they join in too…
Themes for July are:
8th July – Moving on upAProblemSharedrequest
22nd July – 6 weeks

With the month almost over it’ll soon be time for our round-up and new theme. You’ve got just a few days to post your #summerishere #taspic images on social media before we’ll (me included) find out what the next theme will be.

Summer holidays
The summer holidays are almost here. We’re aware this can be a challenging and difficult time
for some families as we settle into a different routine, learn to be around each other 24/7 again and have to battle with boredom. If you need any help PLEASE reach out…via email, Twitter, your blog, Facebook – whatever works for you. Remember we know what it can be like, we’re living it too. We’ll do our best to listen and support you and will also look forward to celebrating the good days too. We are all part of an amazing community and I know there will be someone online when you need them with a listening ear and a virtual hug.

Posts you might have missed:

We met Laura and Diego in our latest Meet The Blogger post.

Adoption UK announced it’s new magazine editor, someone you may have heard of…

Just yesterday we had a guest post about the Fagus project.

We shared a review of the Billy Says books by Joanne Alper.

Guest post: Fagus, a framework for emotional and social development

Today we welcome a guest post from Fagus, about a new tool they’veFagus logos developed 25-04-2016 5 developed for use in educational settings…

“One way teachers can become more sensitive to children is to increase their knowledge of child development.” (p. 158, Bergin & Bergin, 2009)

The impact of early trauma and loss on children’s subsequent development can be profound. For these children emotional and social development is often atypical, either developing later, at a slower rate or in a disordered manner. They often have ‘spiky’ profiles, with typical and expected behaviour in some areas but immature functioning in others. It is vital that teachers understand this development in order to understand children’s behaviour.

All too often we hear of children’s developmentally immature behaviour being misunderstood and labelled as ‘naughty’. But how can we expect teachers to understand emotional and social development if they aren’t taught about it in initial training, or given materials to help them do this? Two and a half years ago, at Beech Lodge School, we began working to fill this gap and Fagus was born!

Fagus (Noun: Latin Fagus (“beech”) – The Tree of Learning) is a comprehensive educational tool which supports teaching staff to:

  • Understand typical emotional and social development during childhood and adolescence.
  • Clarify their understanding of a child’s strengths and difficulties across emotional and social functioning.
  • Use this understanding to set appropriate goals for pupils in emotional and social domains.
  • Monitor social and emotional progress.

Fagus divides emotional and social development into 13 areas:

FAgus tree

Three areas (Attachment, Cognitive Development and Language Development) are so fundamental to all aspects of development that these are identified as Core Developmental Areas. These can be considered as the ‘roots’ of development, from which the other ‘branches’ grow. Those living or working with children with attachment difficulties will be all too familiar with the impact of a disrupted attachment ‘root’ on the other roots and subsequent ‘branches’.

The Fagus Materials

The Fagus online checklists are completed by teaching staff and are used to create a developmental profile of the child. This provides a visual snapshot of a child’s development across the Fagus emotional/social domains, identifying key areas of need (i.e. the areas in which the child is most developmentally delayed):

Fagus table

On the profile, typical development is coloured green, somewhat delayed development yellow and significantly delayed development red. This child has a ‘spiky’ profile, with many strengths in some areas and significant difficulties in others.  

Teachers can then use the Fagus developmental guides to investigate a child’s current point of development further and identify specific behaviours that they would like to improve. Using this information they can set a goal for the child, based on what would be expected to happen next in typical development. A plan can then be devised to help the pupil achieve this goal. Within the Fagus framework the aim is to support the child to move through the sequence systematically, rather than expecting them to make huge leaps towards behaviours associated with their chronological age.

Using Fagus

Since its conception, Fagus has been used with pupils at Beech Lodge School and trialled in mainstream schools in Yorkshire and Humberside as part of a DfE funded PAC-UK project. We have received extremely positive feedback. Helen Hoban, educational advisor at PAC-UK has found that the Fagus materials shift the focus away from ‘problem’ behaviours to understanding the potential reasons behind this behaviour. In her words, for teachers, “the penny doesn’t just drop, it thuds”. She has also found that gaining a shared understanding of the child’s development brings teachers and parents onto the same page, enabling them to create a joint action plan to move forward. Most importantly, we have seen significant developmental progression being made by children as a direct result of using Fagus.

We are delighted to be launching the materials to all schools this week. For more information please visit (where the resource can be ordered) or email The cost for schools to buy Fagus is £660 (developmental guides) plus an annual licence fee to access the online checklists and profiles (£50 + £5 per pupil per year). We have an introductory offer of £495 with one year’s free annual licence for 10 pupils if ordered before 1st November 2016. Fagus was initially developed for pupils with attachment and trauma related difficulties; it is an effective and powerful use of Pupil Premium Plus funding.

All profits from Fagus go directly to Beech Lodge School – a not-for-profit charitable school for children aged 7-17 who have emotional and social difficulties. The majority of pupils at Beech Lodge have been fostered and adopted. For more information see


Bergin, C., & Bergin, D. (2009). Attachment in the classroom. Educational Psychology Review21(2), 141-170.

Life on the Frontline 27/06/16

lotfA 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.



All aboard the end of term train and hold on tight, it could be a rocky ride.

Tall had a difficult Monday, I wasn’t most sympathetic with his cause, when he returned home to tell me about it. I requested that he gave me every detail about the incident as I knew school would willingly give their version in detail. He was confused and couldn’t remember the full detail of what was said, or to whom.

When I received the email from school it was apparent that Tall’s version had lacked some important details. I find it so frustrating when he uses the line of defence that he “forgot” that bit; I struggle to see how these major details can be forgotten. He had refused to go to two of his lessons. The refusal part was what had not been included in Tall’s tale. I therefore was not happy and made my feelings known, not by shouting or being out of control, but cross.

Tall didn’t take it well and very quickly we had a very unhappy and uncooperative Tall on our hands. For the next hour he taunted, threatened certain types of behaviour and would not listen to any reasonable requests. I eventually found a small way in with a suggestion of some Anime and he eventually settled.

He didn’t want to go to school the next day, concerned about seeing the member of support staff he’d had his previous day’s run in with. I knew it was going to be hard for him but I encouraged him to just apologise and get on with things. He went off in a reasonable mood and I hoped for the best.

For me Tuesday was a good day. I got plenty done and enjoyed a good yoga lesson. I should always be wary of these days; these are always the ones that end in disaster. This day would be no different.

Whilst Tall had got on fairly well at school, he was still edgy that evening. At the dinner table he pushed his food around his plate, food I’d put some thought and care into preparing.

“In my opinion this tastes horrible”

Well it was as if someone had lit a firework inside me. I fired off a string of raging “how dare you” and an explosive “You don’t know you’re born” I sparked with words like “ungrateful” and “selfish”, screamed at the top of my voice. I truly went off.

Tall was upset and then I saw the glint that turned to anger as he started head butting the table. I tried to calm myself as I saw him now climbing his ladder of rage. He went up and up and up, taking himself off into the garden.

Myself now calm, went to apologise to him but he wasn’t going to have any of it and even though I repeatedly apologised and pleaded with him to make other choices, here started three hours of a feral, demonic, melt down. He threatened, taunted, deconstructed, damaged and ran rampage in the garden. Whilst he was quite obviously in a state of real hatred and anger, he appeared calculated, cool and vindictive.

With concern for his well being we finally, physically removed him from the garden and his dad held him for a while. I sat downstairs ready to call the police if the violence escalated; now we were detaining him inside.

It actually subsided very quickly, almost as if he needed the physical restrictions to make him feel safe. I had repeatedly asked my husband to not physically intercept because I worry how it aggravates the situation and I’m aware it is not an option for me if my husband is not at home. However, it seemed to be what was needed this time; I’m almost ashamed to say.

The rest of the week has been low key and all about reconnecting. On that Tuesday evening, once calm, Tall asked to sleep in my bed. He remained close to my side most of the following days, requesting lots of hugs and seeking reassurance. We have been deeply shaken but not broken. We’ve made a really good recovery, well, we’ve managed to support Tall through a very quick reconnection and recovery. I’m hoping this week to provide a little bit of recovery time for myself.


In Other News

Small has gone off to a lovely seaside Town to sing with the school choir. He will be gone five days, I feel a little wobbly about it, as he’s never been away this long before.

Tall and his best friend had a night camping in the garden this weekend, a much needed high point for Tall. The next morning Tall cooked his friend an omelette for breakfast and then one for his granny, who had also stayed over. It made me feel very proud to see how he wanted to look after the people he cares for.

I’ve rediscovered my crocheting mojo and have an exciting new project on the go, new cushion covers for the kitchen chairs.

New appointment for popular blogger

Today’s guest post comes from Adoption UK. The charity has just appointed Sally Donovan as the new editor of Adoption Today – its magazine for members.

We are delighted to announce that Sally Donovan is the new editor of Adoption Today.

Sally is an adoptive parent to two children and is the author of No Matter What and The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting as well as children’s book Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off.SallyD

Adoption UK’s chief executive Hugh Thornbery CBE described Sally’s appointment as a “real coup”.
Mr Thornbery said: “Sally is hugely respected within the adoption community and has a big following on social media.”
“She has a wealth of experience relating to the issues, concerns and challenges that are important to our members and anyone who has read any of her books will know that her writing is incredibly colourful and engaging – so we’re very excited to see how she will take Adoption Today forward into the future.”

Sally and her husband have two teenaged children, both adopted. She has worked in industry and in horticulture but has written a lot about adoption in more recent years. Sally also works with the Department of Education, in a voluntary capacity, as a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Adoption Support.

She said: “It sounds grand but it’s really about giving a parental and family input into achieving better support around adopted families in England. I look forward to the time when the same engagement is being sought in all parts of the UK.”

When asked about her plans for Adoption Today, Sally said: “I’ve got big boots to fill and hope to build on the work of past editors. The growth of social media presents an opportunity to engage more with members and to hear a diverse range of voices from across the UK.
“I’d also like to freshen up the look of the magazine. I’m interested in fonts, which is not something I talk much about at dinner parties, but I’m hoping to put that interest to good use.”

Sally is aiming to get more readers involved with the content of the magazine. The August issue will set out a number of easy ways that anyone connected with adoption, whether that’s personally or professionally, can contribute to the magazine.
She said: “I’d like to involve those at all stages of the adoption process, children and young people, social workers, volunteers and practitioners.
“I’ll also be looking for original images, so budding and experienced photographers and artists can get involved too.”

Anyone who would like to contact Sally can do so by tweeting her @sallydwrites or emailing

Sally will also be around on the Adoption UK Facebook page.  She said: “I’d really value your feedback on Adoption Today so please get in touch. And if you’re coming to the Adoption UK Annual Conference on November 19 and would like to take part in a small focus group, please contact me.”

Life on the Frontline – 20/06/16

lotfA 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.


We had a death in the family this week. The hamster, Small got at Easter is no more. It was very sudden he’d seemed fine the day before, but there he was all still in his cage on Wednesday morning. Small found him and was devastated, I must say I also was quite chocked by the incident as I’d really liked the little fella. I realised straight away that school would not be good for Small on that day and so kept him home with me.

He tagged along with me to my yoga class, sitting quietly in the corner reading and then we came home and had chilled sofa day with plenty of cuddles. I did a little research and came to the conclusion that the hamster may have had a heart defect which is not uncommon. Drawing this conclusion helped Small come to terms with the loss as he was certain he had done something to cause the death. This way he now believes there is nothing more he could have done to avoid the unfortunate event.

So apart from this very traumatic, event the week was far more plain sailing than the previous week. Both boys went to school when required and as I haven’t had any information to the contrary, I presume they did well.

Tall attended a detention on Monday, the one he had refused to attend the previous week. I was very proud of how he handled it because he was only told about the detention at the end of his school day. I had been informed on the Friday by email but had not seen it and so was unable to prepare him. He went and got on with it, which is very impressive when it was sprung on him.

Tall also attended his therapy this week and we unpicked a few things from the previous week. He quite obviously returned to some really difficult feelings, triggered by our discussion. However, unlike previous weeks, he didn’t curl into a ball but stayed up and open, all be it turned away from me. I did wonder how things would be post the session as he seemed angry with me again but he soon thawed and on the way home,we chatted away easily.

“Sorry” he muttered as we pulled in the driveway, “for in there”.

“You have no reason to be sorry, you did really well and I’m not at all cross with you”.

We had a big hug when we got out of the car and everything was back to normal. A dose of Japanese anime and a delicious pot noddle sealed the deal and Tall was all smiles as he went off to his afternoon in school.

So little more to report from last week, I’m just very relieved it was nothing like the week before.

In Other News

Small has recovered form his loss and now has a new hamster, a girl this time, called Petal.

I was able to escape to two full day yoga workshops with the amazing yoga instructor David Swenson.

I’m also very much enjoying my newly decorated and made over kitchen. It feels good to get all those draws and cupboards more organised.



App Happy

Today’s App Happy comes from Sammy, mum of 4. These are the apps she has on her phone…check them out.

The App I Use the Most.
Hmm. It’s really difficult to say. Probably my email..I use Inbox for my Gmail and I get a lot of email so I check it quite a lot when the kids are at school. I like how I can have certain emails directed into certain folders as soon as they ping in…and I like being able to put reminders on the emails so I can come back to them happy

The App which is my guilty pleasure.
Two Dots. I’ve recently discovered this little game. And it’s a great 10 minute distraction. Only ten minutes because your lives expire and you have to wait a while for them to refill. This is ideal for me, as it limits my game playing time.

The App I really should remove.
Snapchat – I just don’t ever use it.

The App on my phone/tablet which is not for me.
Android Pay – I support it is for me, but the other half insisted I download it, because it would make life easier for me. Honestly though, I’ve not used it once. Maybe this should have been the answer to the previous question?!

The App I would recommend.
WhatsApp – a great way to chat with friends for free. No text message/mms cost and you can you can send photos too. I use this more than texting or FB messaging to keep in touch with friends and family.

The last App I used today.
Funnily enough, WhatsApp – used to make arrangements for a coffee and catch up with a couple of friends later in the week.
Would you like to share your App secrets??? Answer the above questions and email us at

Life on the Frontline – WC 13/06/16

lotfA 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.


In contrast to our calm week off, our first week back included two school refusals, a therapy refusal , a difficult bedtime and one very long and stressful school day for mum.

Tall was adamant on Monday, the first day back that he wasn’t going to school. He couldn’t even be prised from his bed, tugging his duvet back over his head on each request to rise.  I remained calm, realising that heightened tension around the situation would not assist. The boy seemed tired, even though the day before, Sunday, he’d slept until one thirty and had an early night. I made a deal with him,

“Sleep for another couple of hours then we’ll get you up, shower and feed you and get you in for lunchtime, ease you back in”

A grunt of agreement came from the duvet.

So that obstacle successfully conquered on the Monday, Small decided that in the spirit of fairness he would not go on Tuesday morning.

“It’s not fair” was the cry.

I calmly dealt the same deal and hoped that would bring a Wednesday where they both attended school. It worked.

By Wednesday Dad was away for work for two days, and whilst they went to school it was a grizzly morning. It was therefore with some relief I turned up to teach my yoga class that day, thankful for a couple of hours of calm time.

The calm didn’t last, post a dash around the super market, and then during a social worker meeting (I seem to suddenly have SW meetings coming out of my ears again) I received a phone call from Smalls school.

I dashed off to collect the boy who had managed to become so angry, three members of staff had been involved in holding him to the floor. On arrival at school, I was shown into the heads office where I listened to the catalogue of events.

When he finished I had one question in mind, just tell me the consequence then I can take him home and start repairing.

The Head looked a little confused “consequence? no you misunderstand I just wanted you to be fully informed on how we had to keep him, other children and staff safe, I’m not aware there will be a consequence.”

So I scooped the boy up from where he now was calmly playing with a really lovely member of the pastoral team and brought him home.

I did take a phone call from the Head and Senco that evening to plan for the following day. Whilst Small was not being punished, their current shortage of staff in pastoral and support (due to exam invigilating) would mean it would be difficult to unpick with Small what happened and therefore would it be possible for him to have a reduced time table in school. They were very anxious that he was able to come in attend his first Art Therapy session but could I collect him after.

It was going to be a logistical nightmare, as Tall had his Therapy at the same time the following day and I was still without husband support. However Small’s school were keen to support us in any way possible and when I uttered the words “I’m sorry I’m not trying to be difficult, I just need to work out how I can do it all”

The SENCO replied “We do not think you are being difficult”

So Thursday morning arrived and a military style plan was in place to assure all would get to do what they needed to do, but there was one problem. Tall did not want to play ball.

After a difficult bedtime with Tall, he then refused to turn his light out and didn’t sleep until eleven thirty. Extremely tired he did get up but was then unhappy when I revealed the consequence for his actions. Yes I know I shouldn’t have gone there at that point but I too was tired and in fact felt I was being very lenient and wanted him to know and not worry about the eventual outcome. Just to add I was only dealing a consequence because I’d had a number of challenging bedtimes recently had informed him that on the next occasion a consequence would be incurred.

Tired and unable to deal with this blow, Tall decide the sensible thing was to go to school, without breakfast and in a really bad mood.

I informed school and the phone call I had in return was that I needed to collect him because he was not supposed to be in school on a Thursday morning. I was a little bewildered by this reply, what was I supposed to do?

“He won’t come with me even if I come to school” I explained to the receptionist, who was tasked as the go between. “He’s cross with me right now”

The next message the go-between delivered after an hour of worrying about how things were going, so I called to enquire, was “don’t worry we can look after him, we don’t wanting him causing you problems at home”

I reassured the poor receptionist, that it was no problem for me to have my son at home and that I was willing to collect him at any point if he wasn’t coping. I was reassured “that will not be necessary”

My blood was boiling. I felt misunderstood and patronised by this school once again. I spent all day in a state of high anxiety about what was going on in school for Tall and what mood he would be in on returning.

He thankfully came home tired and sorry.

So that was up to the end of Thursday and it was with great relief I welcomed my husband home and saw the end of the week on the horizon.

In Other News

I was very happy to spend Friday afternoon at a spa with friends and a very relaxing treatment of a hot stone massage.

Husband and I also let our hair down at a great party on Friday night.

At brunch with grandparents on Sunday both boys were brilliant. Whilst Tall helped with the cooking and  table clearing, Small played with his baby cousins.

The Adoption Social Times

TAStimesYes, it’s time for your regular round-up of news from the world of The Adoption Social…

Weekly Adoption Shout Out
Still going strong but we have to apologise for not sharing as many posts recently – we’ve both been a bit bogged down with family life, but hope to get back to sharing again soon. We really appreciate when you, as readers and supporters, share posts you find on #WASO so please keep doing that…
Themes for the next month are:
10 June – If I had 5 minutes peace…
24 June – My bucket list

During May we’ve been using the theme #LookAtMe and we’ve seen a few achievements there. We’ll be rounding up tomorrow and giving you the next theme. I can’t wait to see what it’s going13323818_1141227962595894_5132127242587791783_o to be can you? Keep snapping those pics and sharing them with the #taspic.

Meet The Blogger
It’s been a little while since we’ve shared any Meet The Blogger posts, but we know there are a few new bloggers out there that we don’t know much about.
If that’s you, then email us at to get our interview questions so we can learn a bit more about you. You can check out previous Meet The Blogger posts here if you want to find out about other bloggers.

The Open Nest conference
The next conference from The Open Nest is fast approaching. Taking place in York in July, further information is in the advert over there —–>
Don’t forget to book!

Posts you may have missed…

After the sad loss of Gareth Marr, we shared this post.

A reader asks for help on preparing her eldest to adopt again.

This review looks at a yoga book to help children feel positive.

An adoptive dad wrote a post about the ups and downs of adoptive parenting.

A new self harm workshop is available from Inspired Foundations.


Life on the Frontline – 06/06/16

lotfA 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.



With it being half term there is little to report. No anxiety about school for the boys or me, no difficult therapy sessions, no demands being made on anyone…’s been bliss. I have however noticed how much more confident I have felt this week and again it leads me to ponder why school’s feel the need to create such levels of anxiety for our children, and us the parents.

The boys and I have been together all week, dad has been away a lot, and the three of us have mostly relaxed at home. The only time the boy’s haven’t been at home is when they have visited the local park together.

This is a new thing for us, I reported recently about how proud I was when they achieved a successful visit. So it’s become a thing, going to the park. They both seem to enjoy going and playing, meeting friends and making friends. It’s been very good for Small as he has been able to catch up with some of his old friends.

One such friend even came to call for Small yesterday and both Tall and Small played or “hung out” with her in our garden, she even stayed for our BBQ.

These events, would not even seem worth commenting on to parents of a none adopted children but for me, seeing this progress for both of them in their social activities is really huge. I know it adds to their confidence in their ability to interact and for Small it means he still has friends where we live, which is good.

So back to school this morning and Small has gone off relatively easily. Tall however is still in bed and refusing to go, no other reason than “I don’t want to”.

I understand, school means, deciphering lots of people, process situations and trying to make lots of right choices. I’m sure it’s exhausting. Hopefully I’ll get him there by lunch, a half day to ease him back in.

In Other News

I also managed to teach my yoga classes this week and as always they create a perfect oasis of escape for me, a tiny bit of me time.

Holmes and Watson the new guinea pigs are becoming more confident, Watson particularly seems to have a lot to say for himself.

Excited that as I type, I’m having some raised vegetable beds built in the garden. Cant wait to start growing things again.

Gareth Marr – Our Adoption Warrior

This week the online adoption community has been deeply saddened by the passing of one of our adoption warriors, Gareth Marr.

Here at The Adoption Social, the news came as a huge shock; Gareth was such a large character in our community, and a friend we had met on a number of occasions at adoption conferences. It has made me think about the man who was always spotlessly turned out and full of ideas and thoughts on any discussion we were holding on TAS, or on the day at those conferences. He was full of enthusiasm for anything that challenged the establishment on their ability to support adopted children. A father of an adopted child himself, our heart goes out to his family at this difficult time.

Gareth was always very supportive of The Adoption Social and wrote for us on many an occasion. If you want to know a little bit more about this man, we can let him tell you more with his “Meet Me” post.  I love that as a pastime he says he enjoys spending time with his son; conkers was that week’s activity, he also had a fine taste in music.

So if we look at posts that Gareth wrote for us, for those that don’t know, his passion was ensuring support for adopted children in education. It comes as no surprise that his first post for us, about the pupil premiums plus, is almost the most viewed post on our site, Helping Our Children at School – Using the Pupil Premium Plus. I think Gareth would find it amusing that the post that pips him to the top spot is our post about pixilating a picture.

 He wrote other posts about education for us and worked tirelessly with his local authority, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, to affect change where he lived, with the hope that this would create a bench mark for other LA’s to achieve.

 If that was not enough, he also supported others trying to affect positive change around adoption. As trustees for The Open Nest charity, we can’t thank him enough for his donation of signed Pink Floyd vinyl, which raised the largest single donation for the charity of £4000.

 A light has gone out in our community but I’m sure he would not want us to feel too sad, instead we must feel confident in fighting for the rights of our children and all those involved in adoption.

 Rest peacefully Gareth Marr.