Category Archives: The Blog

A bit of an announcement

Hello to all our readers.

The Adoption Social is an amazing community resource that we have built up over many years. In that time we have been determined that it would be open to all those affected by adoption and not be commercially sponsored so that it truly belongs to the community and has freedom of speech and diverse opinion built in.

We have been proud and amazed as founders at the response to the website and particularly to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out. Contributors have shared with honesty and openness and in doing so have supported and informed not only other adoptees, adopters and foster carers but also professionals on the the many and complex aspects of adoption.

After much deliberation we have decided it’s time for us to move on and give our precious spare time to our families and to our own #SelfCare

The Open Nest Charity has always supported The Adoption Social and we are also trustees of the charity. With that in mind we are handing over the reins and editorship to the charity. The logowebsite, Facebook and Twitter will carry on as it always has. It will also have a permanent place on the new Open Nest website which is being launched in March.

We hope to continue with contributing ourselves and will be reading contributions as always. Thank you all for your support and please do keep contributing to keep the important resource going.

With much love

Vicki and Sarah

Summer plans at The Adoption Social

It’s almost Summer Holiday time and indeed for some, the holidays have already started, so we thought we’d best let you know what’s going on here…

We’ve decided to take a break for the entire Summer holiday, giving you just the Weekly Adoption Shout Out each week from Friday to Sunday as usual.

We both feel that we need to re-assess what The Adoption Social means to us, to you, whether we need to branch out, or stop or diversify or…we don’t know, but in order to this about all that, we need to step back completely for a while. July and August are traditionally quieter months for The Adoption Social anyway, so we hope you won’t mind us stepping away for a bit.

However, we will still be around if you need an ear or a shoulder, you’ll find us at @puffindiaries and @boysbehaviour. We started The Adoption Social because of our amazing online community, and we both definitely want to remain a part of that community too – because we still need support and help with our families, and because you know, you lot are pretty nice people!

If you have any thoughts about what The Adoption Social means to you or where you see it in the future, then please by all means email us at, and we’ll take your thoughts, ideas and messages into consideration when we think about where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do.057

For now, here’s the dates that we’ll be running #WASO, and their themes:

22-24 July                 ‘6 Weeks’
29-31 July                 NO THEME
5-7 August               ‘Fight, flight or freeze’
12-14 August           NO THEME
19-21 August           ‘Sun or storm’
26-28 August           NO THEME
2-4 September        ‘How do you feel today?’
9-11 September      NO THEME

We’ll be returning week commencing 12th September and we’ll let you know our plans then or shortly thereafter.

Summer activities with little planning

I’ve been thinking a lot about the forthcoming Summer holidays. Usually I go with the flow but this year I wanted to arm myself with a handful of activities that I could pull together quickly when the first ‘I’m bored’ calls begin, so I thought you’d like to see it too…

In the garden:

Garden games – It takes very little to get some garden games ready. You can even get the kids involved with the planning and making.

Make some cardboard spots and mark them with different point values – who can score the most with 3 beanbags? Often the children think about different ways they can play the game and they get inventive. BUT you might need to be clear on rules at the very beginning to make this work.

Trampolining a great activity to help with calming down angry children, regulating hyper children, it’s a sensory experience too.

Water fights – get the water pistols out, buy cheap sponges and cut them up, even use old ketchup bottles as squirters. Good for cooling down on hot days. And it provides a nurturing opportunity when getting snug and dry after.

Invite their friends over – yes you might have to supply squash and sandwiches, but it’s a real eye opener watching your children interact with others. And if they’re in your garden, you get to keep an eye. Provide a few footballs, swingball, skipping ropes or pots of bubbles and even the most cool and streetwise 14 year old, will be running around popping those bubbles with the glee of a toddler!

In the house:

Cooking/baking –  yes this can strike fear into the heart of any parent, but it really is great fun for kids and as long as you don’t mind a bit of mess it can be a lovely bonding experience if you choose the right moment.
Whatever your skill level (and your childs) you can have fun with this…rice crispie cakes to homemade pitta bread pizzas, my son (after some sensory therapy) now loves squishing together homemade veggie burgers, and my youngest likes just spreading butter and jam on a piece of bread.

Movie time – grab a few DVDs, whether they’re old favourites or new surprises, make up a bowl of popcorn and bottles of drinks and chill together. This is a lovely way to snuggle, relax and re-charge.

Crafting – again, not everyone’s cup of tea, but even if you leave a pile of paper, some glue sticks and foam shapes on the kitchen table, the kids will enjoy it. You can supervise with a cup of tea whilst they stick each other together, I mean create wonderful pictures, and even if only for 20 minutes, it’s a fairly simple activity that can be enjoyed by various ages. (My children make loads of pictures, so armed with envelopes and stamps we send them as presents to members of the family and then they don’t clutter up my house too much).

Play – lots of our kids struggle to play. They might need some structure in which case you can put out some useful props and sit nearby for help and support…maybe leaving some paper plates out next to a pile of teddies (picnic anyone?), or a half built lego model that can be continued, even a pile of blankets and pegs so they can make their own den. Sometimes that initial prompt can be enough to get them going. For inspiration search ‘invitation to play’ on Pinterest.

Out of the house

Fruit picking – a simple way to get them out of the house but with an end purpose and a healthy snack (who doesn’t nibble a few strawberries whilst picking them?). You could (if you have the time and inclination) make a whole themed day of it…beginning with fruit themed crafts, ending with jam making, or cake decorating with fresh fruit?

Go to the park – Whether your kids are younger or older, the park is light relief. Swings, slides and climbing frames or even a field with a ball. Take a couple of drinks and some snackage, and get out for an hour or two. Arrange to meet friends there if you like, or take a picnic.

Nature trails and walking games – we make nature bingo sheets, just a very simple list or pictures of things they might see on a walk…ants, blue cars, post boxes, the bakery etc and they tick them off as we go. Sometimes we take a camera and they have to take a picture of each thing too. Other times, the bingo card lists leaves and objects they can bring home, so we take a bag or hat with us to fill. This works well with younger children, but you can adapt it to suit whatever age group. This has helped my hyper child focus on something…a big achievement.

Puddle jumping – even on the wettest days, and in fact especially on the wettest days you just need to get out. So pull on your wellies, grab a jacket and go out to jump in puddles. Have fun with your kids!
Before you go, put newspaper down by the door and a pile of towels and pyjamas on the side, so you can get dry and snuggly when you get home.

What do you think? Will you do some of these with your children? What else are you planning? Let us know.

Today’s guest post is from Hayley, a mum of 4 children, 2 of whom are adoptive. They are 15, 12, 7 and 6. Hayley’s children have lots of different diagnoses (ASD, SPD, Attachment problems, FASD and anxiety) between them which are displayed differently in each so she’s well used to juggling activities to suit all or most of their needs at the same time. We’re grateful to Hayley for sharing this post with us. 

Life on the Frontline – 12/07/16

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.

“Heads down and head for the holidays” is our household mantra at the moment.

This was always going to be a tough week for Small as his school have a policy of introducing the next year’s timetable for the last three weeks of school. Now I think this in theory a brilliant idea, get the pupils introduced to new teachers and subjects before they break up so there is less anxiety when you come back in September.

However, in practice, tired children and staff are tackling the fallout of massive change with quite hug consequences. That’s how Small ended up having to be coaxed down a railway embankment after walking out of school. There has been a whole string of reports which detail, his rudeness, his lack of regard for rules and generally being a difficult or as a member of staff told him “a horrible child”.

Yes, school have confirmed that this language was used to Small and the reason is that the member of staff “is human”. I have a level of understanding, I know how very difficult he can be however, I’m worried about how staff are perceiving him, seeing the behaviour and not the child. Sigh, big sigh “heads down and head for the holidays”.

No exclusions for Tall this week, hooray. However he got into quite a major fight. When I took the phone cal regarding the fight, my heart sank as the voice from school, on the other end said “Are you ready for this”.

However, it was totally not his fault and was quite seriously attacked by another student for no real reason. Well I’m sure the other child had a reason but it was not something that Tall had obviously done.

“Are you ok my love” I inquired when he came through the front door. “I’m fine” he said “It wasn’t my fault”. He was very hyped as he bounced off the walls of our home, walking back an forth and unable to settle. Whilst he didn’t seem too upset by the incident, he was almost excited by the fact that he hadn’t been responsible for the incident and the there was  a residue of electricity pulsing through his body.

The next morning was a different matter, he was anxious about how he would be received in school and his bruised face and chipped tooth were now bothering him. He managed it though and got through his week.

And just as we thought “yay” we are getting there, Tall was caught trying to smuggle his laptop into his bed on Saturday night.

So only two more weeks to go. “heads down and head for holidays”.

In Other News

We seem to have acquired another cat. A local stray has definitely decided we are his new adopted family. He’s sat on the sofa opposite me as I type.

My yoga is still making me soo happy. Teaching yoga is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

On the yoga note, I got my husband along to a class on Friday and now I think he might be hooked too.

Life on the Frontline – 05/07/16

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.


Tall started the week with an internal exclusion and by the end of Wednesday he had accrued another one.

He actually doesn’t mind an internal exclusion because he’s on his own and can just get on with his work without distraction. It has been commented, by school, that he produces some of his best work in this environment. Well off course he does. It’s not really rocket science.

The problem seems to be with his relationship with support staff, he isn’t trusting of them and he there for acts very defensively with them. This behaviour is considered rude and threatening by school, which I do understand because I know how Tall presents himself when in this frame of mind.

Small started the week, by getting on a train, to a seaside town, with his choir. He was excited and nervous at the same time, I was just very nervous. I had decided to travel up on the Wednesday to watch the group perform on the Thursday.

I taught my yoga class on Wednesday and returned home to pack a few bits and get on the road. Ten minutes before I expected to leave School called “Can you come and collect Tall, he’s not cooperating”.

On collecting him, he seemed agitated and irritable. A run in with another student and the run in with support staff which followed had caused his black mood.

It didn’t last long once we were home, he softened and relaxed with a hug and some kind words. He was worried I wouldn’t go on my travels and insisted that the problem in school had nothing to do with my going away. I made sure he was settled, Dad was at home working so I was able to leave.

The trip away was a nice break for me, some time spent on my own, in a relaxing environment. The journey however was quite tiring.

The performance by the choir was brilliant, I was glad I had made the journey. Small however, found it a little difficult to see me and didn’t want me to leave. The teaching staff suggested we took a little time for the two of us, and go for a drink. This extra hour seemed to work and I left him happily munching a donut on the beach with the rest of his group.

Friday Small returned home tired and a bit grumpy but he had managed the week which has made us very proud of him.

Friday Tall completed his second internal exclusion for the week.


In Other News

It has also been my birthday this week, something Tall struggles with so, it has been a very low key affair but still enjoyable.

Tall was home from school by 9.30 yesterday, Monday, after not starting the day well. I’m hoping today will be a better day for him. Something is so triggery for him at this time of year.

We are on a big countdown to holidays now, I really can’t wait.

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.