Tag Archives: national adoption week

Anna Writes: Authority

This week is National Adoption Week, but rather than joining the other adoption organisations out there by promoting adoption, or encouraging more people to adopt, this year we’re promoting the voice of the adopted person. We’re doing this by sharing guest posts from adoptees only this week, and we begin with Anna…

Anna WritesFirstly- I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy National Adoption week, it’s an exciting time for many people with awards nominations (good luck to all those nominated!), conferences and lots of focus on all things adoption. I am very happy that the Adoption Social are supporting the view of The Open Nest that this year the focus should be on the voice of adopted people.. maybe one year that will be the national focus too…!

So recently I’ve been re-reading some books concerned with adoption and in doing so, some themes began to emerge- the usual ones about loss, abandonment and identity, but also issues concerned with compliance and authority and I thought I might explore this a little bit more.

I often find myself challenging accepted truths- partly because I think knowledge is always situated in a context, a historical and a political landscape that always benefits someone (clue: usually someone white, male and middle class). Partly because I like to ask questions of the world- I’m curious about why things are the way they are and partly- I think- because I’m adopted.

I suspect that being given up shortly after birth has done strange, but understandable things to my sense of trust in people and the world. Ronnie Janoff Bulman writes about ‘shattered assumptions’ in relation to trauma and how we all have a fairly stable view of how the world is, what is fair/unfair, ‘normal’ and not- and that when these assumptions are ‘shattered’ by a trauma, the whole world tilts on its axis. It’s probably fairly safe to assume that as babies- though we can’t know the words ‘mother’ and ‘biology’ and ‘attachment’ that we innately sense when all is not as it ‘should’ be, that the symbiotic experience of pregnancy has not continued in a linear, predictable way into post-partum life.

So when that connection is severed, trust can be severed too. Maybe it’s hard to rely on the goodness of adults when the first act of the play feels like a betrayal?

I didn’t consciously think any of this until much later when I worked my way into worlds that I could understand and where I could make sense of my own experiencing – but reflecting on it now- it makes a lot of sense to me that I would struggle with authority.

It’s not that I think I know best- I really don’t and am happy to be wrong and I’m keen to learn, but what I have a problem with is people 1) telling me how I feel 2) being rigid 3) taking a position of ‘expert’ over things they often know nothing about- to illustrate- I find that often, on reading panel paperwork the language used is fairly judgemental- towards birth parents, towards prospective adopters and even sometimes about the children too. I’m not talking unprofessional or whistleblowing statements but phrases like ‘sadly’, ‘would probably want’, ‘beautiful wide smile’. ‘very attractive woman’ and ‘morbidly obese’ – some of these are value judgements based on the adoption professionals’ own frame of understanding and preferences. I know that it can be hard to be objective, especially when working in such an emotive field but I wonder how big that leap is between deciding a child is ‘beautiful’ and deducing that they are ‘attachment resistant’…

I digress.

I was told that I had no respect for authority from as young as I can remember, certainly most of the way through primary school. I was told– not asked about why that might be the perception or invited to think about it. Interesting how the way things are handled can reinforce the ‘problem’!

Because if someone would have asked me why I was ‘resistant’ or ‘inquisitive’ or ‘difficult’ the answer might have been upsetting to hear and certainly challenging to the assumption that I should be a grateful recipient of parenting.

Without listing a litany of ways in which my trust in the adult world was gradually diminished- it might be fair enough to say that the adults in my life weren’t always perfect. Parents, the GP and teachers all played their part- and I mine- but everyone knows there is no such thing as perfect so each experience just crystallised in my mind that I should learn to cope by myself, be self sufficient because then I would only have myself to blame and feel let down by. I wonder if this is a common phenomena- not just to adopted people but for people who felt let down/betrayed/mistrustful of the grown ups in their worlds?

In certain books this view of trust and authority might be described as part of the ‘perpetual child’ syndrome- I don’t perceive that as an insult, I think everyone carries some hurt from their childhood and it seems to me that when that hurt is not healed- (which with adoption I’m not sure it ever really can be, separation from birth parent (s) can never be undone.) Certain traits will continue into adulthood. This isn’t to say- of course- that people can’t be happy, grow up loved and wanted and develop into well rounded and authentic individuals.

I ask questions of authority because authority assumes power and power permeates through everything. People are threatened when authority is questioned. But in my view anyone with responsibility or power needs to be accountable for it. This covers the spectrum from the domestic (parents) to society (government)…  so I like that questions are being asked about the status quo of adoption- that the script is being flipped and people are starting to ask individuals who have been adopted to talk and write and speak about their adoptions.

Happy National Adoption Week!

Award shortlist time!

It’s been a week of nominations for the adoption blogging community…

National Adoption Week Awards
The National Adoption Week Awards take place next week at the Foundling Museum in London,edited_IMG_20151010_104510 and we were thrilled to receive an email informing us that we had not only been nominated but shortlisted for the Best Adoption Blog award.
This is brilliant news as it recognises the work that we do in keeping the site up and running, but more importantly is recognises the work and blogs of all of you who take part by joining in with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out, or providing guest posts, re-tweeters, supporters and those of you who read and comment on blog posts.

We’re also proud to be shortlisted alongside 2 other outstanding blogs – Misadventures of An Adoptive Dad and Suddenly Mummy, both regular WASO’ers, and supporters of The Adoption Social. We wish you both the best of luck, and hope that you’ll still carry on contributing even if you win!
Who wins is down to the judges, and we’ll let you know as soon as we know!

Mumsnet Blogging Awards
We’ve also been informed that The Giggles Family, another adoption blog/vlog has been shortlisted in the Mumsnet Blogging Awards 2015 in the Best Vlogger category. And this one needs your votes!

As you might know, the adoption blogging community is a small(ish) one, but one that has a powerful voice. Sadly though, adoption blogs are under-represented on general parenting sites such as Mumsnet, and so it would be great to raise the profile of adoption blogs by supporting The Giggles Factory.

If you’d like to vote, then following this link and vote now! We wish The Giggles Family the best of luck too!

Sibling Success

Today we bring you a guest post from Blackpool Council’s Adoption Service. As we all know, National Adoption Week is used to find more adopters for the many children waiting, and this post is typical of a profile that prospective adopters might see…

The UK recently celebrated National Adoption Week and its key focus for 2014 centred around adopting siblings.
Why? Well every year around 6000 children in the UK need a new home, half of which are siblings.

NAW-2014-logo

Now a sibling does not necessarily mean a biological connection. It takes into account children who share at least one birth parent; and children who live for a significant period with other children in a family group such as step siblings.
It’s also important to note that the word ‘sibling’ is viewed differently across all cultures.

Adopting siblings can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It gives the child stability as well as extra love and it can help the transition period into their new forever families.

Blackpool Council’s Adoption Services strive to keep sibling groups together where possible and in the last 6 months alone,  we have been able to keep six groups of brothers and sisters together which is fantastic news!

Do you think you could adopt siblings? *Lily and Grace are just one example of the many groups of brothers and sisters who are currently waiting for a forever family to come forward and give them a stable home together.

Lily & Grace*Lily and Grace

•        Lily is 4-years-old
•        Grace is 6-years-old
•        The pair need to be adopted together

We love…
We love to have lots of fun. We’d like a family who we can play with and are just as energetic as us!
Lily loves playing with her dolls and Grace likes to play outside whilst trying to catch butterflies.

The beach is our favourite place to go so we can build sandcastles and find pretty shells, so if you live on the coast or on a seaside resort, you’d be our perfect forever home match.

Learn more about the duo…
Lily and Grace are very close sisters. They’re also best friends and therefore are very happy to play together.

Each child is very unique in their own special way and have their own individual interests.

Lily
Lily is very clever and loves to learn new things and is an inquisitive little girl.
Lily is the quieter of the two around new company and can be shy on her own, but soon comes out of her shell when Grace is around.

Grace
Grace is a confident character and loves to meet new people and make new friends. She’s very active and likes playing games and sports, both indoors and outdoors, and is a member of Brownies.

Together they are a confident, happy little team who love trips to the petting zoo, the park and generally like to be outdoors. On rainy days they like painting pictures and watching their favourite films, to which they know all the words to the songs. They like to help in the kitchen, whether it is making fruit salads or helping with breakfast.

It is everyone’s wish for siblings to stay together when being adopted. We’re here to help make that happen and guide prospective parents throughout Lancashire and the North West on their adoption journey.

What the sisters need is a loving forever family in which they can flourish. If you want to adopt children like Lily and Grace, visit the site today at www.adoptwithblackpool.com or get in touch by:
• Call 01253 477888
• Email fostering.adoption@blackpool.gov.uk
• Request a free information pack

Together we can make a difference and help place children in loving adoptive families.

* For security reasons, profile is not real but depicts the types of children we have waiting for a new home.

 

Adoption Acrostic Poems for National Adoption Week 2014 – Part 2

Today we have more moving poems written to celebrate National Adoption Week. These are all acrostic poems using the word ADOPTION.

Buzzbee (aged 8 & 10 months) – adoptee

A new house and family
Drugs and booze free
Only nice food and cuddly teddies
Parents who wanted us
The cat liked us too
It started of cool
Only for a while
Now it is up and down. But that is what makes us a family

Another family! Another new bed to get used to!
Do they really want us?
Only time will tell! We will have to wait and see!
Presents, toys and sweets from strangers we don’t know!
Tell them to stop! PLEASE, we don’t know them!
It doesn’t matter how bad we both can be!
Or, how hard, we try to push both of you away!
Nothing seems to break you! I guess you love us and want us to stay!

 

Beeswax (a grumpy 13 year old) – adoptee

Adults who think they know better than me
Don’t listen to what we want
Or even care. If you ask me
People making all the decisions for us
Try and ask me
It’s not like any of you know us, is it
Or maybe you just don’t know me
New house and new adults – It’s better than nothing but it won’t last.

 

Gary Hargreaves – Adopter

Are you there?
Do you exist?
Or will I remain alone?
Please come and help
Try to understand
just need your love and a home.
Offer me hope.
Never let go
Stop my heart from becoming a stone.

Always
Demanding
Over
Performing
Tired
Inpatience
Obstructively
Needy

The Adoptions Equation Adoptee +Adopter =Answer

Adoptee        Adopter          Answer

Alert                Angry              Absolutely
Distracted      Desperate      Dependent
Overactive     Overload         On
Pleaser           Pressured       Professional
Traumatised Traumatised   Therapeutic
Inbetweener Incomplete      Input
Obstructive   Oppressed      Offering
Neurotic         Nervous          New
Social Misfit   Social Outcast Solutions

 

Sarah Adopter and Co-founder of The Adoption Social

Always on my mind
Deepest, intensity
Of the question inside
Pertaining to how
To make the love I feel
Into a shining light which
Opens their hearts to
No longer be ruled by the darkness

 

 

 

 

 

Adoption Acrostic Poems for National Adoption Week 2014 – Part 1

As part of our celebrations for National Adoption Week we asked people to write an acrostic poem using the word ADOPTION. These poems use the selected word as a the starting letter for each line. These examples below all have the word Adoption down the left side.

Luca Adoptee Age 8

Adoption means our family is good 
Don’t you know
Our love is great
Please join us
Thank you for your help mum and dad
I love you loads
Our love is strong
Now our family is great.

 

Harry Adoptee Aged 10

Awesome being adopted
Days are always fun
Oh adoption is great
Pleased to be with mum and dad 
They always give me love
I’m still together with my brother 
Oh how he drives me mad
Never alone always part of a family.

 

Lydia, mum to 2 boys aged 10 & 8.

Acceptance
Dramatic
Optimistic 
Parents
Time
Imagination
Organised
Normality

Accepting them for who they are and not what they should be 
Dramatic are some of our days and nights 
Optimistic about the future for us all
Parents that’s us
Time is so precious with them
Imagination stretched to the limit and beyond
Organised days makes for calmer times
Normality……what’s that?!

 

Fiona (Adoptee and sister to many who weren’t).

Approved !! Make a
Date,don’t wait for an
Option or a social worker-
Primed to be on our best behaviour
To love, be loved
In sickness and in health, don’t care about wealth!
Or wanting to please-take me as I am~
No-one there for me?

 

Vicki N Adopter and Co-Founder of The Adoption Social

Adoption
Doesn’t
Own
People
True
Identity
Originates
Naturally…or by nurture

 

A big thank you to everyone who took part and here will be more poems on the site again tomorrow.

#HowAreYou?

 

Untitled

So it’s National Adoption Week.  Time to celebrate adoption, isn’t it?

Sometimes adoptive parents can find this a tough week, filled with lots of promotion, painting a very positive image of adoption,  especially if their own family life is challenging and difficult. I understand that BAAF have created the theme of “siblings” for NAW14, which very importantly more adopters are needed for.  However, as a community of many adopters as well as adoptees and practitioners, I think it is important for us to decide how we want to celebrate this week.

During a chat on twitter this week, two of our community, @take2mums and @adoptingd, came up with the excellent idea of encouraging support for each other with the question “how are you?”.

So the idea is, that during this National Adoption Week we look at our twitter feed or followers lists and choose 5 different people to contact and check in with. We can all use the hashtag #HowAreYou

You can do it every day or on just one day when you know you might have the time to converse with someone.

You might say something like

“Hi there hope you’re ok today #HowAreYou

I think it’s a brilliant idea, which follows on perfectly from the recent #TakingCare conference. This online community is growing by the day and we should have a say as to how we want to celebrate adoption and the many people involved in adopting.

 So take to your twitter feed this week and simply ask #HowAreYou.

Final Words on #NAW13

This piece is from someone who has just discovered The Adoption Social and was keen to have a say during National Adoption Week, so we thought we’d let Mimi have the last few words in this special week…  

naw-logo

 #NAW2007 … That Was The Week That Was

It was a chilly November night back in 2007, when my husband and I decided to travel clear across town to an Adoption Awareness evening. That was six years ago, and a lot has happened since then to those naïve parents-to-be. We are now the proudest parents to the most magnificent Missy one could ever hope to meet (yet we would say that, wouldn’t we?) and yet I find it hard to believe that until a couple of days ago, it didn’t register with me that we had begun our journey to the village of adoption during a National Adoption Week.

Back then in 2007 there may not have been a hastag ~NAW2007 however, I  definitely used the internet in my search for information on Adoption.

Back then though, I had no idea that the word of social media would provide such a wealth of information and support to us, not just as new adopters but during those periods, post adoption, when it sometimes it all got a bit too much to handle.

There may have been up and downs to becoming ‘instant’ parents as some people might describe us, however I do so truly believe that we were always meant to become parents as part of the destiny, we just needed to take a different route, getting there. Our daughter came home when she was three years old and now she has been home for longer than she has been alive. The milestones have been countless, the triumphs endless, the lows, quickly forgotten.

Today, I struggle to recall how intense the anxiety was that I felt that chilly November night back in 2007, I dare not speak for my husband here, but I have a pretty strong feeling, that he felt the same, despite his signature declaration of “what do we have to lose” as we wrapped up warm and went in search of our destiny.

I guess the point I am making is that every parent to be just has to be brave enough to take that first step into the unknown, that first step towards grasping on tight to their destiny to become a parent.

It won’t be a walk in the park, but then parenthood isn’t meant to be, but it’ll be the bravest and best thing you’ll ever do, if you decide to take that step and find out if adoption is indeed part of your destiny and you won’t be doing it alone.

It takes a village. Happy National Adoption Week

Mimi @KiddieMansion

#NAW2013 Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 42

We have had an amazing couple of weeks with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out – thank you to everyone who linked up last week – the list is still here, so do have a look through, and thanks also to everyone who has joined in with our special #WASO for National Adoption Week, it’s great to see so many of you passionate in supporting this BAAF initiative, and we’ve found it really useful to see all those posts in one place – we hope you have too?

WASO 42It’s still National Adoption Week, so although our linky for posts specifically about that is still live, we’re kicking off our usual Weekly Adoption Shout Out today, which will close Sunday evening. This is a themed week, and to follow on from our posts about barriers to adopting and myth busting, the theme is ‘barriers’ – whether they have been overcome to adopt, confronted as part of your parenting, still stand in your way or any other interpretation.

 

As usual, link up below, share your favourites and show your support for adoption bloggers by commenting on some of the other posts that join in.



#NAW2013 Barriers to adoption

These days all sorts of people adopt – it’s not just for middle class childless couples. But there are still ideas out there about who can actually adopt. We’re hearing from adoptive parents this week about some of the perceived barriers out there that didn’t stop them being approved, but today is the turn of Melissa, a student social worker…

barriersAccording to one of my many long and (extremely) interesting social work textbooks (!) the most important characteristics for an adopter or adopters to possess are as follows:

Warmth;
Positive regard;
Sensitivity to the child;
The ability to set clear boundaries;
And the use of authoritative (rather than authoritarian) discipline delivered in a way that helps children to learn to control their own behaviour (Sheldon et al, 2009).

Nowhere in that list does it say that the ideal adoptive family are a man and wife, with clean bills of health, who have paid off their mortgage and, in a philanthropic act of goodwill have decided to build their family by adoption. Essentially, what is most important is the quality of the relationship between the adoptive parent and the child (Rushton).

I’d say another important factor is awareness of the need for transparency during the long assessment process, and an understanding of why it is necessary for social workers be delving around in your personal life, asking questions about your childhood and obtaining references from your previous partners before you can be approved to adopt a child.

A long time ago I was the subject of a Kinship assessment, to determine whether or not I would be a suitable carer (in essence foster carer) for a child in my extended birth family who was subject to a child protection plan. (Incidentally, in the end the assessment was stopped midway as the plan was revoked due to a change of circumstances, in case you’re wondering).

I can remember sitting in the initial assessment and being so puzzled as to why the social worker would want to know about my childhood, my experiences at school, the drama of my teenage years etc etc. I felt very much in the hot seat, as if I was the one on trial, and felt an intense pressure to give the “correct” answers. Like I say the assessment was stopped midway, so I never got the chance to fulfil that role, but I still vividly remember the feeling of interrogation brought about by the assessment process. I imagine this is somewhat similar to how potential adopters might feel during assessment, and possibly what puts some people off even applying to adopt.

It was only recently, while I was on placement within a Children and Families team, that I realised the purpose of all the questioning. The social workers hadn’t been trying to catch me out or expose me as incompetent or nutty after all. Children who are adopted, or in foster care, more often than not require a more intense and therapeutic style of parenting than children who stay with their birth families. Therefore, when assessing potential carers and adopters, it is important for social workers to ascertain that the individual has a certain level of life experience, has overcome difficulties of their own, and would therefore be well placed to support a child in overcoming their, albeit more serious and potentially traumatic, personal difficulties.  So actually, having some previous experience of difficulty, whether that be of poverty, previous illness or problems in education, could be perceived as a strength.
A parent who has successfully overcome childhood bullying, self-harming behaviour as a teenager and a period of unemployment as an adult might well be better placed to meet the needs of a child with complex needs than a parent who sailed through school with straight A’s, got a job in the family business, has stayed there ever since and expects their beloved offspring to follow in their footsteps.

Of course, there is an element of risk management within the assessment process, and workers will be looking for any obvious barriers to adoption or attitudes that need to be challenged, but I feel it’s important to emphasise that they are not trying to catch you out!

There is no perfect family, just as there is no perfect child. If you’re thinking about adoption, there is so much to consider and weigh up, but please don’t let feelings of inadequacy or the sometimes interrogative assessment process be the thing that puts you off becoming a child’s forever family!

#NAW13 Adopting with Depression.

As part of National Adoption Week we are sharing post from those who have overcome an obstacle in their path to adoption. Today Sarah from The Puffin Diaries tells us about adopting when you suffer from depression…

depression

One day in 2001 I sat and stared at my front door and knew, just knew that on that day it would not be possible to pass through it. To open the door and walk beyond it was not going to happen just as the ten minute walk to work, to sit behind my desk on the third floor of an office block, was not going to happen either.  What followed brought my diagnosis of depression. I’d actually been suffering a lot longer, I just hadn’t realised, trying ever so hard to conceal and ignore the very obvious indicators.

Like many things, once I knew what was wrong with me, I was depressed; I could start doing something about it. I was signed off work; I took anti-depressants and started seeing a psychotherapist.  Things didn’t change overnight but my life did changed dramatically from then on, my whole out look on life altered, it took time but eventually I did get better.

I do however believe that depression is something I always live with, it does reoccur and I always need to be managing it and caring for myself to avoid it reoccurring, something I’ve done with varying success over the years.

When my husband and I decided to apply to adopt ,four years later, I was worried sick that my mental health would be the main factor to go against us. I was sure that the stigma of mental health, thoughts that I may be weak, unstable, inconsistent and self involved, would be the shared thoughts of those making the decision on my fate. However we went ahead and attended a prep course.

We had a diverse mix of those wishing to adopt on our prep course and this immediately opened my eyes to the obstacles that many felt stood between them and adoption. Older couples, single parents, same sex couples and those with their own birth children; everyone wondering if something about them would be considered a deal breaker. The course did help very much to reassure me that we had every chance; however I also knew we needed to think more about how we were going to cope.

When I began to reflect on how I was coping with living with depression, I realised just how far I’d come since those dark first months of my diagnosis. I now exercised regularly, knowing how important that was to my wellbeing, and considered my diet and healthy eating another way of sustaining a positive mind. My psychotherapy had also brought a greater self awareness to my emotions; I now knew the physiological signs and thought patterns that may be moving me towards depression. With this knowledge I was often able to head off further deterioration.

During our assessment sharing these thoughts with our social worker further helped me to see the possible strengths these aspects of my life offered.

By knowing and understanding my own emotions, I started to see how I might be able to help a child with their own emotional instability.

Discussing living with depression was a big part of our assessment and also something I know our referees were asked to comment on, however I can completely see the necessity for this. The Social worker needed evidence that I had strategies and a support network in place, in case my depression did reoccur.

We went on to adopt a sibling group, two boys aged two and three. It would be untrue to say that parenting my children has not been affected by my depression; there are days when I have found it exceptionally tough. Now the boys are older they know that mummy suffers with depression and that sometimes this means she needs to rest to make herself feel better. I am very open with them as I see this as the best way to be, I know sometimes they don’t like how it makes me feel, but knowing there is an explanation is important. I make it very clear that it is not their fault that I feel down and always say that I hope to improve by the next day, which I often do.

In lots of ways I wish they never had to see me feeling so low and sad, however we are a family living with an illness, as many families do, and we deal with it the best way we can.

On the positive side I know that my understanding of emotions has been really useful when supporting my boys. I am very open and confident in discussing emotions and feelings, and ours is a home where saying how you’re feeling is the norm. My ten year old has an extensive understanding of his emotions and a great descriptive vocabulary for describing them, more so than a lot of grown men I know!

 I am very mindful that mental illness can be a problem for children who have been through care; it is more common in those who have had a difficult start. I think the fact that my children see me living my life with this illness, managing it  and still achieving many things, running a marathon, supporting lots of activities in our local community as well as, and most importantly, providing a loving  home for them, is also significant for their future. It’s great for them to know that people live with barriers in their lives, obstacles of many descriptions, and they can be overcome.

 If you would like to find out more about National Adoption Week please visit this Website http://nationaladoptionweek.org.uk/