Tag Archives: conference

Adopted Voices Conference

logoIn today’s Adoption Social Times we mentioned  our support for the next conference from The Open Nest, which takes place during National Adoption Week. Here we bring you a post from The Open Nest explaining all about Adopted Voices.

Many adopters have a good understanding of what effect social care systems have had and continue to have on their adopted child. How they as parents are part of that system and the tensions within it. Trying to advocate for your adopted child’s rights as they grow up can be exhausting in a system that views you as the final solution and adoption as the cure.

If some adoption professionals and therefore some prospective adopters have little informed understanding or training around the impact loss and constructed identity has on some adopted children as they grow up, or don’t have access to detailed life story information, things can get off to a confused start and it can be possible to pathologize the child’s response to trauma and loss along the way. Focusing on the perceived failings of the child rather than the system the child has found itself in can cause failure to support adopted children fully.

The adoption system and agenda within the UK is informed by a constructed view of adoption as the best permanence option, in fact a golden opportunity for all involved. There is some truth in that, but it is only part truth. There are difficult aspects of the culture of adoption in this country that are yet to be openly discussed let alone thoroughly researched. There are also gaps in knowledge in health, education and social care and as a result there are uncertainties in practice that are passed on to adopters. With gaps in knowledge and a lack of access to adoptee led training and research material, adopters and professionals can find themselves learning on the job which is not really fair for anyone involved, particularly children who are bottom of the ‘having any choice’ in adoption list.

Adopters may feel they want to question standard advice or information given from LA’s on issues such as contact, life story, parenting and choice of interventions. This can be hard to do, especially when you are at the beginning of a process and may not be used to the workings of the culture and system. Adopters begin from a point of having to trust, and take as red, the information and advice professionals are giving them in order for them to best support their adopted child. Sometimes this works out really well but other times there becomes a clear mismatch between the expectations and limits of parents and services and the needs and rights of an adopted child.

In recent adoption reforms, media attention has been given to policy that champions the rights of prospective adopters to receive a quick and efficient adoption service and one which removes potential barriers to accepting or receiving a child. Against this back drop, some individuals, organisations and charities have called for an emphasis on improving support to adopters and have cited the reasons and quoted research to demonstrate why support is important.

These calls seem to elicit some opposing responses. Openly discussing or representing the difficult parts of adoption does not appear, for some adoption professionals, to fit easily alongside the governments positive marketing of adoption. On the other hand, with talk of adoption support on the political agenda, specialist support agencies, and charities are being government funded, improved and formed in order to be commissioned to address the recently highlighted needs for support. This shift in thinking has been largely informed by government funded research with adopters.

The Adoption Support Fund has been used as a positive adoption marketing tool in that it acknowledges support is needed. This acknowledgement alongside resultant funding are a way of reassuring prospective adopters that lessons have been learned. That they will not struggle supporting an adopted child  in the ways some of those that went before them have, that we are in a new era of understanding adoptees. If the adoption support fund budget extends well beyond it’s pilot year in 2015 it has the potential to do some good work.

As a charity we feel that although support is improving for some adopters, there are currently gaps in support information that is produced by and for adopted adults.  We would welcome a long term policy commitment to hearing the many voices of adopted children, young people and adults. This would mean funding and finding effective, accessible, longterm ways of listening to, recording and publishing the views of those who are adopted rather than those who wish to adopt, or who have already adopted.

Including adopted adults in all discourse around adoption that leads to policy making would be a great start. Further to this, funding independent research by and with adopted people, inviting adopted adults to take leadership in reform and promoting equality in support systems for all adopted people regardless of age.

At our charity trustees meeting in April 2015 we committed to organising a conference where all speakers would be adopted adults. We decided the event should be held during National Adoption Week to encourage open debate and discussion. Delegates of the conference will hear varying and unedited experiences and what it means to the individual speakers to be adopted in the UK.

Speakers are:

Liz Blakey: psychotherapist, mental health trainer, mother, writer. Liz will be introducing her new research project ‘Growing Up Adopted’

Lucy Sheen: actor, writer, film maker. Lucy will be showing her amazing documentary ‘Abandoned Adopted Here’  looking at International transracial adoption.

Fran Proctor: care manager, inspirational speaker, mother. Fran will be talking about her incredible life story so far and promoting adoptee rights.

Peter Sandiford: CEO of adoption support charity PAC-UK. Peter will describe the experience of spending his early years in residential care prior to being adopted in the early 50’s.

Charlie: historian, researcher. Charlie will examine the policy and practice that affected her as a child who was adopted from care aged 12.

Kay Purcell: actress in television, film and theatre. Kay is going to talk about how adoption is seen through the eyes of her adoptive family members and their individual experiences.

Speakers are looking forward to welcoming other adopted adults, adoptive parents, and social care professionals for what we hope will be a really interesting day.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to look around the museum which has been privately hired within the ticket price.

The conference is taking place at The Foundling Museum in London on Monday October 19th 2015. Tickets will be on sale from 1st September via The Open Nest website and payment will be in the form of a donation. In line with our policy the conference will be non profit making. Tickets are £35.

There is a hashtag for the event so please feel free to use it #AdoptedVoices2015

Further details will follow shortly via the charities Facebook and Twitter

News from The Open Nest

Today we bring you an update from The Open Nest Charity, current activities and plans for the future.



Firstly, this weekend 15th and 16th November 2014, sees the second showing of the Severance Exhibition. Hosted this time at Family Future (full address below), this exhibition is a collection of artwork by adopters, adoptees and those involved in adoption and aims to bring narrative to the modern culture of adoption.

From a collection of different medium including installations, photography and film clips, the pieces portray the differing feelings and experiences that those involved in adoption hold and how these can be both in line with and at odds with current media perceptions.

So if you can visit the exhibition at –

Family Future
3&4 Floral Place
7-9 Northampton Grove
N1 2PL

11am – 6pm Daily


The Open Nest has responded to a letter, seen below, addressed to all adopters (see here) from Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families. As part of this response the charity has  raised a petition asking that more funding be allocated to support than recruitment. You can sign the petition below.

Dear Edward Timpson,

We know you appreciate all that us adopters do. We are brave, loving and committed people. We provide permanence for some of the most needy children in the UK. Many of us feel that the Government funding and attention given to recruit new adopters far out weights the funding and attention given to support adoptees.

Many of the families who have already adopted are struggling daily with gaining meaningful support. For these families it is hard to watch mass media recruitment drives. We worry about our own children and those children and families entering a system that is not yet ready to fully deal with the issues. These include inconsistent approaches from health, education and social care. Adoption Support is still in development and many of us feel it would be good to get this bit right before increasing the numbers of adoptions.

National Adoption Week 2014 is promoting the adoption of siblings and yet this task is one that needs very careful consideration. Yes, siblings should ideally be kept together but only with a built in intensive and committed package of support before the adoption order is granted. Many of the adoptive families in the UK would like to see support to adoptees as a right enshrined in law. At the moment it feels to some that it is a postcode lottery. Social workers and teachers need more training, funding and support to understand fully the needs of adoptive families.

We need support more than we need acknowledgement of what a great job we do. We are aware of this great job but just as ‘love is not enough’ neither is receiving a PR based pat on the back. We look forward to seeing adoption support high on the political agenda as a tribute to the braveness and resilience of adoptees, our children, who have no choice in becoming adopted.

Please click the link below and sign this petition if you are in agreement with what this letter wh highlights, the urgency for adoption support to be higher on the agenda than recruitment.



The charity is currently developing training for adoption social workers, which they hope  to start delivering early next year.

After the huge success of #TakingCare conference, more are planned for the new year. These will take place in different geographic locations and hopefully offer more space for participation discussion.

Announcements from The Open Nest

Today we bring you exciting news from the charity The Open Nest.


We are proud to be able to announce the names of all the charity trustees and bring you an update on the charity’s recent activities, including the launch of a short animated film which highlights the problems adopters have in accessing post adoption support. Finally there is news of the first ever The Open Nest conference….

So firstly we would like to announce the trustees of The Open Nest:

Amanda Boorman: Adopter
Jazz Boorman: Adoptee
Fran Proctor: Adoptee
Sarah H: Adopter and co-founder of The Adoption Social
Vicki N: Adopter and co-founder of The Adoption Social
Sally Donovan:Adopter
Krissi Thrustle: Therapeutic Support Worker
Kayti Boorman: Events and admin manager


The Open Nest is in development and aiming to become Ofsted regulated later this year in order to offer post adoption support and most importantly specialist respite.

So far funds have been raised by selling holidays through La Rosa and by public and private donation. Also, in the charity’s first year, the following awareness raising projects have been completed.

-Launched a charity website, twitter feed and blog.
-Attended ‘The Care Enquiry’ presentation in Westminster 2013

-Featured in Community Care and The Guardian
-Attended a ‘Guardian Masterclass’ on social media and charities.
-Severance: an art exhibition in London during National Adoption Week 2013
-Severance: a booklet containing the voices of many of those involved in all sides of adoption
-Shared and sponsored a promotional stall with The Adoption Social at the Adoption UK conference 2013
-Sponsored adopters to attend the Adoption UK Conference 2013
-Sponsored The Adoption Social to attend Britmums 2013
-Become professional members of the Kinship Care Alliance
-Made professional links with adoption teams in North Yorkshire and The North East.
-Presented at a conference at The University of Sunderland 2014
-Made a documentary film for training purposes portraying a real life story of an adoption which nearly broke down.

Most recently The Open Nest commissioned the making of an animation based on the difficulties some adopters have in accessing post adoption support. The online Twitter community helped to provide the content of the film and so we are proud to now present the finished item, below, please feel free to share. You can find the original film location HERE

The Open Nest. The Lost Children Of Trauma. from marry waterson on Vimeo.


Severance: the art exhibition will be shown at Family Futures in London November 2014. This will be a prestigious event and a debate between professionals on ‘Openness in Adoption’ is planned. 

The Charity will also be working with life story professionals to improve outcomes and safely gain voices of birth family relatives in order to support the emotional development of adoptees

AND FINALLY We are very excited to announce The Open Nest Conference…

 The Open Nest Conference will be on October 18th 2014 at The Royal York Hotel.

This will be a unique conference led entirely by adoptees and adopters.

The theme is positive and set around gaining meaningful grassroots and community support in times of LA budget cuts.

The cost is being subsidised by the charity making it affordable and accessible to all at £25 per ticket including lunch.

As soon as we have details on how to book you will of course be the first to know, and there will also be news of The Adoption Social get together and social event which we will put on during the evening of the conference.