Tag Archives: fostering

Guessing the future and planning for the unknown

Have you got any advice for today’s anonymous poster?

I am currently embroiled in the process of adopting a very young child that I am fostering, through a non-agency (or as my LA like to call it ‘private’!) adoption. This has involved wrangling with my LA over what, if any, post-adoption support might be on offer, and they have asked me to come up with my own assessment of what I think the child’s future support needs might be, just in case they decide to offer PAS after all.

ProblemThe issue of whether PAS will be offered or not is slightly separate to this request for advice, as I have taken legal advice on that and am fully armed for battle! My question really is whether anybody who is further down the line as an adoptive family might have any suggestions as to what I should ask for in terms of PAS. Without sharing too much of this little one’s story, she is currently very young, and is meeting most, but not all, of her milestones. There is a definite possibility of a future diagnosis of FASD. She has a number of other chronic but fairly common health issues that are not directly related to her early life experiences but are most likely inherited. She has lived with me since she was a few days old.

I adopted my son nearly three years ago, also from foster care, but via a more traditional route. I have looked at his PAS plan for inspiration but it really is a very vague, two sentence affair. I do realise that there is a world of difference between making a plan, and then actually getting that plan put into action at some future date, but if possible, I would really like to cover as many bases as I can at this early stage. Can anybody suggest the types of things I ought to be asking for? Thanks in advance.

Review: Facilitating Meaningful Contact in Adoption and Fostering

Today’s review comes from Jo Mitchell, an adoption manager and children’s therapist… and is on Facilitating Meaningful Contact in Adoption and Fostering, by Louis Sydney and Elsie Price.

Sydney-Price-Ad_Facilitating-Me_978-1-84905-508-6_colourjpg-printThis is a very comprehensive read which I felt was written in a concise, accessible and easy format that would be beneficial to social workers, foster carers, birth parents and adopters.

It starts out by tackling some of the consistent difficulties faced by all parties in adoption which upon first reading I was worried that the book may not then go on to address how we may take a different look at contact and it’s meaningfulness.

Of course I was heartened to be very wrong about this. Although the book is not definitive in saying whether contact is right or wrong, it provides a wealth of research that they carefully link with the promotion of creative and news ways to think about contact embedded in research and therapeutic intervention.

An ongoing issue in contact is the drawing up of such arrangements during what is a hugely emotive time where children become almost like ping pongs between the opposing sides and because someone once said it, plans are drawn up for toing and froing between different families that would make a well regulated adult’s head spin.

Although this book is considering in the main contact post permanency placement, it’s content, reference to research and links to theraplay for example in contact have the potential to play a hugely important role in the much earlier stages of contact. The implementation of their well thought out and considered ideas could where possible have significant benefits for children who have developmental trauma.

The case study on Page 100 (Steven) is a clear example where much better information could have been provided to Steven and his adoptive family much earlier in his life. The context of knowing this information about his birth mother latterly was a crucial and significant part of the story that had been missing for so long. It is testament to his adopters that their support and openness to knowing Steven’s birth mothers story was a vital part of her history that enabled Steven to gain a much better picture of his birth mum and therefore an improved understanding as to why her life deteriorated to the stage where she was unable to care for Steven appropriately. Sadly such information and on occasion a willingness to understand this can eventually lead to a placement struggling to survive the trauma that is played out by children who experience such early life adversity.

One of the areas of the book, which I found to be most useful and thought provoking, was the idea of video messages. Although Skype and face time are a common consideration of late in contacts, the concept behind a video message I found was a very powerful one. My own reservations about Skype and Face time are the use of this at times with very young children who are not able to understand fully how it can be that a person who they know is effectively inside a box and the impact of this, where are they etc?

The case study of Jodie on Page 10 was fascinating and the skill of the worker and the openness of the adopters, kept Jodie central to the decision making and their creativity in “adjusting” the context of contact enabled both Jodie and her birth mother to gain more from one another through a series of questions and a video message that continued direct contact was unlikely to achieve.

The layout of the book made it a very easy and accessible read to. There was a general acknowledgement of ongoing difficulties in contact, the pressures on local authorities to put contact plans together and a vast range of case studies that made this seem so much more real.

What was most refreshing was that within the book it consistently provided ideas, ways and paths through what is an undoubtedly contentious and fragile area of children and families lives. An excellent point that was raised was the rationale behind letterbox contact. All too often we have postbox files where either the birth parents or the adopters haven’t written, some since the beginning, and an often “roll of the tongue” approach is to say to the party still willing to write that it is best in the long run for you to write. What this book does very cleverly and without apportioning any blame is to urge you to consider that contact should be fluid from the outset. It asks us to think about who should be involved in making contact plans, who is best placed to put this together and who is there now and in the future to support those involved in plans for contact.

The reference to their work with birth parents begs the question as to why so often there is absolutely no service for birth families beyond the adoption order.

This book has given such food for thought in terms of what we do now and in the future and whether if we just stop to think more carefully and considered at contact. If we no longer see this as the tick box exercise it so often sadly becomes, then we have the opportunity to consider the true shape that contact needs to be for every individual child, potentially improving at every stage, every change, every review a plan that facilities, enables and enhances the lives of the children and the very centre of such planning.

This review is Jo’s own opinion of the book. We have not made any payment in respect of this post, however Jo has been able to keep the book reviewed.

Facilitating Meaningful Contact in Adoption and Fostering is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, and available from their website.

More trainers sought for education-based workshops

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BraveHeart Education needs more trainers…

Looking for trainers to deliver training on Attachment & Trauma in Educational Settings throughout the country. We are interested to talk to anyone who has personal experience with vulnerable children such as Adopters or Foster Carers who are passionate about seeing the needs of our children met in our schools. Preferably we would like you to have some kind of training qualification and/or experience. We run workshops throughout the country and need local people to deliver these sessions on a freelance basis.
To discuss further please call BraveHeart Education on 0121 405 0310 or email team@bravehearteducation.co.uk.

The Importance of The Life Story Book

Today we’re pleased to bring you a guest post from Katie Wrench, who – amongst other things –life story work is co-author of a guide to life story work. Here she talks about “The importance of the life story book- how to get it right for your child….”

Identity is a strange phenomenon; difficult to define and often taken for granted when we have a strong sense of it, and yet desperately sought after when we are denied it. Thankfully most of us have a notion of what it means.
If I were asked the question ‘Who are you?’ I might answer drawing on many aspects of myself: my name; how I look; my home town (Manchester) or my current home (West Yorkshire); my footballing allegiances (City not United); my family (wife, mum, sister, daughter); my friendships (a small, select few); my hobbies (even smaller and more selective); my values; my gender or ethnicity…. I could go on.

I also think about the nights my brother and I spent sitting with our mum when she was dying, not wanting her to be alone. We spent hour upon hour together while mum slept, through the dark hours of the night until the sun rose, re-visiting the past, sharing stories, unearthing memories and realising we each remembered things the other had forgotten or had experienced events or people surprisingly differently. When I look back at this awful time, I treasure those hours. I realise I am so lucky to still be able to use my family to develop a sense of who am I. My identity is still developing in the context of enduring familial relationships.

Traditionally, the family has been the source of all knowledge about its children. Where this process has been thrown off track by experiences of trauma and loss, or separation from birth family and community, how much harder it is for children to develop a coherent and positive sense of who they are. Where children have been repeatedly separated by multiple moves (from birth family to foster placements to adoptive family), each move fragments their personal history further. With each move, access to priceless information is potentially lost.

This is why a life story book should be so much more than a re-working of a social care chronology, with edited highlights from the legal bundle thrown in for good measure. It must include everything that makes a human life: the funny anecdotes; the stories that are special just to that child; the facts and the fictions; the idiosyncrasies of family lives – the things my brother and I spoke of in the dead of night… It should have intrinsic messages woven throughout the story: that this child is loved and loveable; that the trauma he suffered was not his fault; that he deserved better parenting.

So why is it that some social workers seem to find it so hard to do? Why is it so difficult to write a story that will initially help a very small child understand his world and help his parents explain the journey he has travelled to their homes and hearts?

Here are some of the tips I offer social workers in the hope that you can use them to advocate for better stories for your children. In an ideal world, I think children should really have up three stories depending on their age, although I realise the reality is that some don’t even have one. The first should help the toddler (possibly a simple metaphorical story), the second should speak to the primary aged child and the third (the later life letter) should be suitable for the older adolescent. Above all….
– It should contain a coherent narrative account of the child’s story in a way that will help him share his past with his adoptive parents and others.
– It should give a realistic but compassionate account of early events to dispel any lingering fantasies or distorted views about the birth family.
– It should acknowledge issues of separation and loss and the pain this brings.
– It should help the child develop a sense of security and permanence, promoting attachment to his new family.

What should you insist on?
— Insist the story is written following Joy Rees’ family friendly approach; starting with the present and ending with a hopeful future, with the child’s difficult history sandwiched in the middle. The past is then openly shared, but symbolically held and embraced by the adoptive family.
— Insist that the stories of the past don’t overwhelm the story – the history should be honest but short – kept in perspective in terms of the child having his whole life ahead of him, not necessarily to be defined by a difficult start in life.
— Insist that stories and images of the child’s life with you are integrated into the Life Story Book and that you proof read the draft before the completed version is handed over and accepted. Make sure you are comfortable with the language and content and that you feel you could share it with your child.
— Insist on good grammar, spelling and punctuation and captions on photographs!
— Insist the story reflects the developmental age and abilities and interests of your child and incorporates suitable language, graphics and images. Does it look appealing and interesting to a child? Is it personal to him?
— Insist on a genogram – it might not mean much to a toddler but might help you answer tricky questions from a teen…

Please feel confident in giving feedback to your child’s social worker in order to get the story you and your child deserve that will help you both now and in the future.

About Katie…
Katie is a Team Manager in a Therapeutic Social Work Team in Leeds, where she has practiced for the past 12 years. She is also an art psychotherapist, short breaks foster carer and mum of 2 children and 2 kittens. She primarily works with children and young people who are fostered or adopted and their parents and carers. She also provides specialist training and consultation to social care practitioners, foster carers and schools around Life Story Work and other related subjects such as attachment and trauma. She has co-authored an accessible guide to life story work entitled: Life Story Work with Children who are Fostered or Adopted, Creative Ideas and Activities. (Wrench & Naylor, 2013)

She can be contacted at katie.wrench1@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @WrenchKatie.

Adopters doing it for themselves

Today Andy Leary-May,CEO of Adoption Link, tells us how adoptive parents are shaking-up family-finding.

adoptionlink300My partner and I decided in 2007 that the time was right to grow our family, and that adoption was how we wanted to do it. As a gay couple, at that time, we were relatively unusual in this. We really wanted to know others in the same situation, and I started a support group called New Family Social.

Over the next few years adoption became an increasingly large part of my life. NFS grew into a national charity that now helps hundreds of families, and each year hold an annual camp that is the biggest event for adoptive and foster families in the UK.

As the charity grew so did my family, and our second son joined us last year. They are both beautiful, bonkers, amazing forces of nature.

Through running an adoption charity, and having been through the process twice myself, I knew how frustrating matching could be. There were various options available to help bring families together, all of which served an important purpose, but all with their own limitations. The charity was lucky to have a talented volunteer called Craig working on its online systems, and together we mused about how matching could work better.

The problem is fairly straightforward. People from two groups (children and parents) need to find each other so that the needs and criteria of each are met as well as possible, and with a healthy chunk of ‘chemistry’ playing a part.

Surely, in this day in age, this should be possible without lots of delay, out of date information, or expense? We set to work.

Early in 2013 an opportunity came up to tender for the Government contract to run the Adoption Register for England. We put together a joint bid with Adoption UK using our system, but we weren’t successful. Undaunted, Craig, myself, and a developer called Will finished building our system and in April 2014 we launched ‘Adoption Link’.

The system was simple, but very different to anything the adoption sector had seen before. Both adopters and social workers add their profiles directly online and start looking for each other straight away. OK, if you insist on using the analogy, it works a bit like a dating site – it really isn’t rocket science.

Since April we have been overwhelmed by the support and positive feedback we have received from both adopters and social workers.

Adopters are happy  to finally gain some control in a process that can otherwise leave them feeling confused and forgotten. Social workers, meanwhile, are for the first time able to access hundreds of approved adopters across the UK directly, and be more proactive in searching for new families for their children.

The beauty of having a ‘system’ like this is that any available resources can go into refining it, and adding more features. We are preparing to add a document-sharing feature that will make exchanging PARs and CPRs quicker, and far more secure. Soon we will add new social functions, so that any adopters can find others near them to chat, and find play-dates with adopted children of similar ages. Our biggest development, due next year, will introduce fostering and residential placement finding.

Our dream is for Local Authorities to be able to create a profile for any child and instantly see the most suitable placements, whether adoptive, fostering or residential.

We want each placement to be commissioned because it meets the individual needs of a child best, not because it appears cheapest in the short term. We are pleased to be working with national leads in fostering and residential care on this, and hope that as a result children will more often find the right placement first time, with fewer moves that we all know do so much harm.

For the time being we are excited to see so many new adoptive families coming together, and I will leave you with a message we received last week from a social worker:

“Hi there – just wanted to let you know the great news that I have just submitted panel papers for a match which got off the ground thanks to Adoption Link! … I’ve also had a great response for a sibling pair I added last week and it looks like I’ll be visiting one of the couples who have enquired about them – so another Adoption Link match. Keep up the good work – really pleased we subscribed!”

You can find out more about Adoption Link at www.adoptionlink.co.uk

Coram – A Brief History and a Celebratory Pledge

Sign Coram children’s charity’s 275th anniversary pledge and help stop vulnerable children being invisible

coram logo 3 (1)Coram is a leading children’s charity which specialises in adoption. Today Coram is one of the largest Voluntary Adoption Agencies in the country, which places children with loving families and offers lifelong post adoption support to all adopters. It also works closely with Government to help improve national practice and in partnership with local authority adoption services.

We are celebrating our 275th year with an online anniversary pledge wall, which links back to the petition which created our charity in the 1700s and renews our commitment to today’s ‘invisible children’.

Few people know that Coram is the country’s first dedicated children’s charity which began to focus on the nation’s most vulnerable children and pioneer leading practice nearly three centuries ago.

By sharing the Coram story with you, I hope you will be inspired to add your name, just as Annie Lennox and Peter Capaldi and over 1,000 other supporters have done.

The Foundling Hospital

The Foundling Hospital

Coram was known as the Foundling Hospital when it was first created and the driving force behind its establishment was a man called Thomas Coram. He returned to London from being away at sea and was appalled by the sight of destitute children being left to perish on London’s streets. For many thousands of mothers, abject poverty and the social norms of the day meant they could not care for their own children, and had little choice but to abandon their babies.

Thomas Coram responded to their plight with an idea; the creation of a charitable home which would feed, clothe and raise these children, giving them a chance of survival and a dignified start in life. The prospect attracted some criticism; would this condone women having children who might be illegitimate and increase the numbers born to families who could not provide for them?

Now well into his 60’s, Thomas Coram remained determined to help these children and gathered the signatures of influential people (often the wives of noblemen and gentry who were moved by the plight of these mothers) in a 19-year campaign.

Eventually, King George II signed a Royal Charter on 17 October 1739 for the creation of the Foundling Hospital, the first UK charity of its kind.

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The Foundling Hospital from above.

Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital was built in Bloomsbury, London, on the same site on which Coram stands today. For two centuries, women brought their babies to be cared for, many leaving an identifying token in the hope that should their circumstances change they might be able to return and reclaim their children.

The Hospital attracted the support of very well-known artists and writers including the composer, George Frideric Handel, artist William Hogarth and author Charles Dickens.  Hogarth was one of our founding governors and Handel arranged fundraising concerts for the charity.

The Foundling Hospital pioneered the practice of ‘wet nursing’ or foster care, arranging for families, many in the Home Counties, to care for the babies and young children until the age of five.

hospital2They were then brought to live and be educated in the Foundling Hospital until around the age of 15, when they were usually trained for a future career in domestic (girls) or military service (boys). The children were also inoculated against diseases and experienced a much better quality of life than children living on the streets or living in the workhouse.

The construction of railways and pollution prompted the Foundling Hospital to relocate to Redhill, Surrey, in 1926, while a new, purpose built school, closely modelled on the original Foundling Hospital, was built in the countryside Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, which opened in 1935.

By 1948, the law was changed and foster care rather than institutional care became the preferred placement for children. The Foundling Hospital like other similar institutions changed with the times. In keeping with the emphasis on family care, children remained with their foster families rather than being admitted to the residential school, and those in the school were placed in foster homes whenever possible. By 1955 the residential school had closed and all the children in Coram’s care were placed in foster homes.

In the following years Coram continued to provide foster care for babies whose single mothers did not want them to be adopted and hoped to be able to care for them in the future. Some of these children did return to their mothers, others were adopted by their foster families, and some remained in foster care till they reached independence. Coram then registered as an Adoption Agency in 1971, providing permanent families for vulnerable children, in line with Thomas Coram’s original vision.

Throughout the time that Coram received children into care, great care was taken to retain their personal information and birth records. Coram still provides support to former Foundling pupils and their descendants.

Coram now is nearly 275 years old, and on October 17th will celebrate its official birthday.

Coram has been helping children find new parents for more than 40 years and has a very high success rate of families staying together after children are placed for adoption. We offer a range of post adoption support to families, including specially adapted parenting skills’ programmes, children and young people’s support groups, Creative Therapies – including music therapy and art therapy, as well as one on one advice and guidance and signposting to clinical services and educational support.

Coram also has partnerships with local authority adoption services including Cambridgeshire, Kent and Redbridge. Its partnership with Harrow was the first of its kind in the country and is nationally acclaimed for its success.

We’ve recently expanded our adoption services supporting prospective adopters in North London and Hertfordshire, South London and North Kent and North Surrey and across the whole of Cambridgeshire.

We are currently piloting an adoption support programme offering a range of post adoption support to non-Coram adopters, which you can find out more about on our website here.

Coram’s work has also expanded to encompass Coram Children’s Legal Centre and Coram Voice into our services, organisations which offer advice and protect the rights and welfare of young people, particularly those who’ve been in care.

Despite it being 275 years since we were founded, we still continue to help today’s ‘invisible’ children who of whom might otherwise be overlooked or ignored.

Children like Billy, who was born to a mother chronically addicted to drugs and needed a foster family from the day he was born to ensure he would grow up safe and well Children like Laura, who endured terrible treatment until her teenage years, when we provided her with a safe place to live and support to go forward into adulthood.

Our pledge wall, which renews our commitment to ‘invisible children’, in tribute to Thomas Coram’s original petition which created the charity, asks for those who believe no child should be invisible to sign their name and help us stand up for children again.

The pledge wall has attracted the signatures of world renowned singer songwriter Annie Lennox, actor Richard E Grant and author Jacqueline Wilson to name a few, as well as hundreds of other members of the public who have been moved to support our work including Philippa, a mother and wife who said: “I am adopted. What if I had been ‘invisible’? My husband would have no wife, my sons no mother and my adoptive parents, no daughter.”

Thomas Coram’s own pledge has been added to the wall; he said: “I believe everyone ought in duty to do any good they can. In 1739, I founded Coram with a vision that every child should have the best possible chance in life. Today, our work is as important as ever.”

Without Coram’s commitment to helping vulnerable children, it is unthinkable to imagine what fate might have befallen the infants he saw perishing on London’s streets.

For the most vulnerable children, not enough has changed, so please, help us continue to fight for vulnerable children and young people by signing our pledge today.

 

Jeanne Kanuik, Head of Adoption

Jeanne Kanuik, Head of Adoption

This piece has been put together by Jeanne Kaniuk the Managing Director of Coram’s Adoption and Permanent Families Service which she has led since 1980 and her team.

 She has a long standing interest in the needs of children who cannot remain in their birth families, and was involved in the longitudinal adoption attachment study undertaken by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Anna Freud Centre and Coram (Kaniuk, J, Steele, M, and Hodges, J, Adoption and Fostering, 2004, 28.2, pp61-67).

 Jeanne was also instrumental in developing Coram’s pioneering concurrent planning project, which is now in its thirteenth year. Latterly Jeanne has developed a subscription scheme which offers participating LAs and VAAs who wish to establish local concurrent planning schemes consultation and training.

 She is keen to work closely with local authorities to develop appropriate services for children, and was involved in setting up Coram’s adoption partnerships with the London Boroughs of Harrow and Redbridge as well as Cambridgeshire County Council.

 Jeanne received an OBE for her services to adoption in 2010.

 She regularly speaks at major adoption conferences, having chaired discussions for BAAF and held post-adoption support workshops at the 2011 Community Care Adoption Conference. In July 2013 she presented concurrent planning research at the Fourth International Adoption Conference in Bilbao.

 Her expertise is showcased in her book, Ten Top Tips on Supporting Adopters, published in 2009 for BAAF.

 

Adoption Activity Days

Today’s post comes from Suddenly Mummy – can you tell us your experiences of activity days?
As a foster carer and adopter I’ve heard a lot about these events, but I’ve never actually been to one. Now the baby I am fostering has been referred to attend an event at the end of June, and I’m wondering what to expect.
DSC_0097If any adopters out there attended an activity day as part of their adoption journey, I’d love to hear your views. In particular I’d like to know what you were expecting from the foster carers that were there, and how you think I can best prepare myself for introducing my foster daughter to prospective adopters.
What sort of questions do you/did you have? What types of interactions worked best for you on the day? What can I do to make the process more valuable and worthwhile for prospective adopters that I might meet?
I would love to hear from any other foster carers or social work professionals too.
Of course I want to do my best for my foster daughter – she needs a new family! – but I also want to learn as much as I can through the experience, so I’d really appreciate your input.
Thanks in advance.

What is Foster Care? – A Post in Association with the National Fostering Agency

Today we feature a piece on behalf of the National Fostering Agency, answering some of the frequently asked questions about fostering and giving an overview of what fostering is.

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What is fostering and what do foster carers do?

 Almost everyone has heard the term ‘foster parent’ at some point, either through a personal experience or simply on the television or radio. Yet, it is still something that can cause a degree of confusion. Many people confuse fostering with adoption or aren’t clear about the exact role of a foster parent. While the two are indeed similar they are not the same and so it is often necessary to re-iterate the exact definition of fostering and role of the foster parents.

At its essence, fostering involves caring for a child in your own home when they are unable to live with their birth family. This can take a number of forms and be for any number of reasons. Some children need a foster home for just a few days until they either return home or are moved on elsewhere. Others will need to stay in a foster home for longer periods, some for a number of years.

Foster parents are not the sole focus of support for children, with the parents forming just a small but important part of the network of care around the child. Working with social workers, other professionals and even the birth parents, foster parents will aim to offer support to children at the times when they most need it.

What do foster carers do?

The role of the foster parents is to provide high quality care for the children in their care, for however long that may be. Working in partnership with the local authorities to provide this as best as possible, there are also a number of other healthcare professionals that you may need to be in contact with. These can include but are not limited to, therapists, teachers and doctors.

NFA1

 

 Very often you will be dealing with young people and children who are experiencing very traumatic periods in their lives and you need to be able to provide a stable environment for them. Although there are no hard and fast rules about the best way to do this, as each child is different, there are certain qualities that make some people more suitable to be foster parents than others.

 

 

What qualities do foster parents need?

Communication skills are essential to any foster parent. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with a number of people. First and foremost is the child, where being able to open up lines of communication is very important.

 However, you should also expect to have relationships with other professionals as mentioned. You should also expect to have to communicate with the child’s parents, regardless of any personal feelings, in order to offer ongoing support to the child.

 You should also be prepared to commit time and energy and invest in the young person in your care. Being a foster parent is not an easy job and it’s worth realising this before you go any further. However, the efforts you put in can be rewarded in many ways, some of them very unexpected.

You also need to be able to work as part of a team and be prepared to learn new skills throughout the process. There is no such thing as a complete foster parent, as anyone who has done it will tell you. There is always more to learn and understand about fostering and always room to develop new skills

Who can foster?

Almost anyone can be a foster parent. You don’t need to have kids already and you can be single or married. Your sexuality won’t prevent you from fostering, nor will your religion or cultural background. You can apply from the age of 18 (though some services have higher limits) and can continue to foster as long as you are in good health.

 Financially speaking, you will probably need to have a spare room in your house or flat but you will also be helped out by the local authorities when fostering. People on benefits can also foster.

Types of fostering

Although there are no set definitions for the types of fostering that happen, as most cases are individual, there are some general categories that most cases fall into. Emergency fostering can mean anything from an overnight stay to a few months. Then there is short-term, long-term, leaving care and short-breaks.

 In some specialist cases, specially trained foster carers may take both young parents and their babies in parent and baby care.

For further information on fostering or to ask more questions please contact the National Fostering Agency.

Website: http://www.nfa.co.uk/
Phone:0845 200 4040
Email: info@nfa.co.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NFA_fostering/

LGBT Fostering and Adoption Week – Round Up

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To support and help promote LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Fostering and Adoption week (3-9 March), we have put together a special round up of posts, blogs and useful links. To start I’d like to highlight the findings of a recent survey which show that 1 in 3, of the general UK population, believe that being LGBT is a barrier to becoming a parent.

During National Adoption week last year, we posted a number of articles hoping to break down perceived barriers to adoption, one of these articles was from a same sex couple who had adopted, you can read that here.

This same couple also write a blog about their adoptive family, which is full of incredible warmth and love. Read this recent post here, which reflects on their last year with their adorable daughter.

Another blog, this time by two dads, Two Guys Adopting, although not recently updated it is a great archive of their story of adoption and also has some useful links on it.

One more blog 4 Relative Strangers with a post this Inspirational Post especially for this week

Another blogger that doesn’t usually write about adoption regularly, but wished to show their support to the week is Mum of Three world, read her post here.

During this week a number of Adoption related organisations and charities have posted to add their support and raise awareness. One of my favourites was from TACT, read here.

Here are some other useful links…

New Family Social

Gay Adoption Blog

Moms, Cats, Kids?

Suddenly Mummy

Suddenly Mummy biog

 

Suddenly Mummy is a single adoptive mummy and foster carer, here she shares why she blogs, and what blogging means to her…

 

 

Even before I formally applied to be a foster carer, I decided that I would have a blog documenting the whole experience and that it would be called ‘Suddenly Mummy’.  I’m not sure what motivated me at the time and it was actually months after I was approved that I got around to making that first post, but once I got my first comment, I was hooked!

I guess my imaginary future blog was a bit like my imaginary future child.  I had thought about it and named it, but hadn’t really got any clue as to how that might work out in real life!  I was new to blogging, had no idea how to get my blog ‘out there’ and not much desire to find out really.  At first it was only about writing (which I love), documenting moments I didn’t want to forget, and keeping distant friends and family in the loop with what was happening.  I thought that if nobody else ever saw it, that would be fine with me.

Yeah, well, that didn’t last long.  Pretty soon I noticed that my stats page would tell me how many page views I had, where my readers had come from, and which of my posts were most popular.  I started checking . . . it got addictive! When I started getting the odd comment, I found the feeling of connecting with and hearing from the outside world strangely exhilarating.  I wanted more!

Then I was introduced to the blog of a friend of a friend, and through that, to #WASO.  I had never even heard of a linky before and had to ask for tech support to work out how to put the #WASO badge on my blog!  But once I started linking up each week, my page views, comments and other stats practically exploded.  Even better than that, I discovered a whole host of other superb blogs.

I had found a community I didn’t even know I was looking for.

I suppose there are some who would think it a bit sad to get so much out of an online community. Why don’t you go out and meet some ‘real’ people?” they might say. Easier said than done!

I am a single parent and carer. I have one adopted child, and I also foster children aged 0-3.  That means that during the day I am running around like a crazy woman, and in the evenings I am tethered to the house.  I do get to meet other foster carers at mandatory training and things like that but, although I spend a lot of time with other families with young children, I don’t actually know a single other family who have adopted a child within the last 20 years.

It takes a lot of time, perseverance, effort and kind babysitters to get out there and meet brand new people.  Thankfully, my laptop isn’t so high maintenance.  Sitting here in the evenings, blogging and reading blogs, I get to ‘meet’ adopters and adoptees from all walks of life, with all types of experience, and from all over the world – impossible for me to achieve in the ‘real world’.

Added to that, I’ve found that connecting with adopter bloggers has not only given me an insight into adoption (and everything I’ve got to come!), but has also opened up a whole new dimension for me as a foster carer.  Now, when I’m preparing a child to go to their new adoptive family, I have such a clear idea of the experiences that family may have gone through; their hopes, wishes and dreams, their heartaches and yearnings.

I have known the longing of childlessness, but I have never tried to have a birth child.  I have never been through the dashed hopes of infertility, the trauma of miscarriages or the indignity of infertility treatment.  I adopted my little one after I had fostered him for a year so I have never had to leaf through a magazine of heartbreaking images of children’s faces, looking for ‘the one’.  I have little in common with many adopters, but through reading honest and open blogs, I can add the experience and knowledge of so many others to my own.

Now, when I’m preparing to meet that new adopter for the first time, I have a clearer picture of where they have come from.  I can let myself walk in their shoes a little, understand some of their anxieties, prepare myself for their questions, and even answer the questions they might not ask.

 Hopefully that makes me a better foster carer, and a better parent.

 When we choose to connect ourselves to others, to learn from them and embrace their perspectives, then we all come away enriched by the process.  As I continue blogging, I discover that what was meant to be just an outlet for me has become much more than that.  And if anyone thinks that’s a bit ‘sad’, then I’m ok with it!

You can read Suddenly Mummy’s blog here, she’s also a regular contributor to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out.