Tag Archives: assessment

Preparing our eldest

Today’s problem comes from Lynne, who wants advice from second time adopters.

We’re in the very early stages of thinking about adopting a sibling for our son.

He came home in 2009, age just 11 months, and although it’s not been an easy ride, things have settled somewhat in the last few years and we’re doing well as a family. He’s mentioned in passing a few times about life with a brother, and we’ve started to think that now might be the time to apply to adopt again. We always thought we’d want to adopt again, but making sure son number 1 was settled and ready was the most important thing.

I want to know from others who’ve adopted a second time how much preparation I should do with him? How soon? What resources have you used to help you? And what does the process involve for him? Will he be assessed by a social worker like we will?

Looking forward to your answers, and thanking you in advance.

Waiting for help

We really value all of the guest posts we’ve had this week – all talking about a difficult subject, but one that needs bringing to the fore. This post is no exception…

I am writing this anonymously, not because I am ashamed but because I don’t want my daughter coming across this and identifying herself in years to come.  I also find it difficult to be open as I don’t want it to colour peoples views of my amazing, sparky little girl.  My apologies in advance if it is a bit disjointed…it was quite emotional to write.

My daughter is young – 6 years old and has been with us 4 years.  She is funny, clever, energetic, chatty, caring, beautiful, amazing….I could go on but you get the picture.  She is also very angry punchingand lashes out at my husband and I when she loses it.  This can take the form of kicking, punching, pinching and biting.  She knows it is wrong and she feels shame afterwards.   She wants help – we have been waiting over 7 months for help from our local post adoption support.  We are on a waiting list for sensory therapy with no indication of when this may happen.  I am hoping it is the right thing to help her.  I am on a waiting list for counselling – again with no indication of when this may happen.  My requests to date to be assessed to apply to ASF have been denied.  I am currently considering making this request again and more officially/forcefully but want to be more knowledgeable about the therapies available and what may be beneficial to strengthen my argument.  If anyone has any suggestions/advice as to alternative support therapy that may help then please let me know via Adoption Social.

I have tried what I can to help her.  A lot of it is instinctive.  We use some simple theraplay techniques.  We use meditation CDs particularly at night. We try to incorporate regulating activities and often do life story work with her. I have explained to her in simple terms why I think she has anger problems.  She gets it – and can now tell me when she gets “that feeling”.  But sometimes it comes on so quickly – like a light switch.  Last night I just hugged her whilst she was beside herself because she had “that feeling”.  I wanted to sob along with her.  My beautiful girl in so much pain.  We can only do so much – she (we) need professional help and soon before it escalates and becomes harder to address.  The longer it is left the harder it will be to address and potentially the more it will cost.  Simple economics should dictate that it is dealt with quickly, without even taking into account the cost implications if she enters adulthood without the support provided in a timely fashion.  I know we can’t make her past disappear but I do believe firmly that she can be given the support and tools to be able to cope and lead an independent and valuable life.

We are lucky – she is young so we can control the violence but I am filled with fear as to what will happen if we can’t bring it under control.  I am angry that the required support is so difficult to access.  I strongly suspect that the behaviour is related to the violence she experienced in utero and also the drug and alcohol she was exposed to.  She has been assessed as having regulation and sensory issues.  I am also looking to get her assessed for FASD…but one battle at a time.  It breaks my heart to see her hurting so much and to not be able to fix it for her.  She (and all other adopted children) deserve to be given the appropriate support/therapy when they need it.  It is inhumane to make them suffer longer.  They didn’t chose this life and if we want to truly break the cycle then the support needs to be there.

Sorry – I have gone off on a bit of a rant 😉 The prevalence of the violence varies depending on how stressed/unsettled she is.  It is often focussed around bedtime – she doesn’t like going to bed.  Why we don’t know but I suspect it is as simple as she thinks we are up to something really exciting.  I may let her stay up one night to see the reality and see if it helps.

School know but offer little help as she is fine at school.  However they successfully manage to contribute to the situation with the way they handle things….talking about transition to new school year as early as Easter, going off timetable in the run up to Christmas in October!!!!!!

A very select (2 I think) few friends know and no family know- and without exception they are fellow adopters.  To these two people I say a heartfelt thank you as they have kept me sane (relatively) and listen without judging.  I just don’t trust that others would understand.  They seem to generally understand so little of the other issues associated with adopting so why would they understand this.  This makes me question my first statement as to whether I am ashamed…..I genuinely think my abiding concern is how it would change others views of our daughter.  She has done so well given her start in life and I don’t want people to judge her unfairly.

It is so wearing and emotionally tiring – I can’t really describe it. I feel permanently drained and exhausted.  I am always trying to be two steps ahead in an attempt to avoid any triggers.  I am often analysing my parenting decisions – I am probably my harshest critic!

If I had known what lay ahead would I have still adopted her?  Without question- yes.  I will continue to fight to access the right support for her and to love her and more importantly make sure she knows I love her unconditionally.

Review: ‘Kids Need…’ Cards

Today’s review comes from Sophie*, a single adoptive parent to 6 year old Lucy*. Lucy and Sophie have been a family for 3 years. Their review is of ‘Kids Need…’ cards.

I must first point out that these wonderful cards published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers are a tool for families and professionals to use together. I am not a professional, but have used these with my 6 year old daughter to assess her understanding and inform my parenting a little.

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This set of 52 cards comes boxed, with instructions for us, and immediately both me and my daughter were drawn to the image on the box – A very child friendly illustration of a girl with  a halo, and an adult. “That’s me mummy isn’t it?” she beamed.

According to the instructions, the cards have been designed for use by practitioners who assess parenting or work with parents and carers to increase their parenting capacity.

The cards come with three headers – Kids Need…, Kids Sometimes Need… and Kids Don’t Need… and we laid them on the floor next to each other. The other cards are about things that might or might not be important. One at a time, we looked at each card and Lucy had to decide which of the header cards to put it with. We had a little chat about each decision she made, but a professional could explore this further. And indeed the instructions come with some suggestions of ways to develop discussions.

For us, this gentle exploration was enough, and Lucy has since asked to use them again and we’ve chatted about the difference between needing and wanting. It also helped me see what things were important to her, and gave me a clearer view of her needs and desires. I’ve become a little more reflective of how I respond to her now. I skipped some of the cards for now, and as she becomes older I’ll swap those in.

Examples of the needs/wants include:
To be believed and listened to
Television
To feel special
To make their own decisions
A stable home life
To be criticized
To be responsible for looking after their siblings
To be smacked
A clean dry bed of their own

Some of these will be difficult for some children to deal with, you know your child best, and know what is inappropriate to discuss given their histories.

For professionals, it might be useful to know that these cards have been designed for those assessing parenting capacity, especially those using the Assessment Framework. And Mark Hamer, who developed them is a solution focused social worker/therapist based in Cardiff. There is a reasonable amount of information in the instructions but this is aimed more at professionals.
We are having family therapy at the moment, and I’ll be asking our therapist to take a look at these cards. I might even suggest to the SENCO at school that they might like them.

Sophie received these cards in exchange for an honest review. They are available online through Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
*Name changed to protect identities.