Tag Archives: PAS

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.

He’s not *that* strong is he?

Another guest post today from an anonymous mum – sharing her experience of Child to Parent Violence.

We don’t experience the same levels of violence that other families do. And we’re very lucky that now, at 8, it appears to be slowing down and petering out a little…although I know it could return. Peaks and troughs – that’s how we roll.

But when it was at it’s worst, we experienced scary violent moments – the worst, for me, were the black eye (after I held him and got headbutted), the concussion and the threatening with cutlery thing. They stand out, but there are many moments where I have been hit, punched, landed on, kicked, scratched, or had threats of all those things.

After being headbutted, I approached our post adoption social worker and asked for safe holding training.

“We don’t approve of restraining methods” I was told.

Oh. Well I’ll continue to get hurt then shall I?

“Here, have some theraplay/counselling/life story work instead” was the response. It didn’t matter how I worded it, what I said, how I tried to tell them that I’d gotten hurt.

Friends would say:
He’s 5 – how can he hurt you?
He’s 6 – come on, he’s not *that* strong is he?
He’s 7 – can’t you hold him, so he can’t hit you?
He’s 8 – he just needs to work that anger out, have you thought about Karate?

Along with the lack of support from our post adoption support term, those comments made me feel absolutely useless. I questioned myself, wondering whether it was my fault for getting in those situations, maybe I was causing the anger somehow.
Deep down, I knew that this was my son’s way of communicating something really hurtful to me, although we struggled to decipher what that was, but the lack of understanding and support made it difficult to hold that thought in mind, especially when repeated day after day, year after year and when suffering the physical and emotional pain of violence from your child.

These days there is less anger, and we take a step back. Rather than trying to help him calm and regulate with soothing words and reassuring touches, we make sure he’s in a safe space and stay reasonably close by to make sure he doesn’t get hurt.
But I know that we will have to investigate NVR in the future to protect him, and to protect ourselves and I’m not prepared to wait until it’s too late.

And I now know that we are not the only family who experiences this, and I’m not ashamed anymore. We need to speak about this to make sure that those children, and those families that live with this kind of violence don’t feel alone, or judged, or unsupported.

Reflections on post adoption support

Today’s post comes from Vicki, from The Boy’s Behaviour who shares her experiences of post adoption support.

When we were being approved, and even after Mini was placed, I don’t think we ever really thought much about support that we might need later on.

We were assured that as he was so young, he wasn’t likely to have any problems. The advice given to us was, be open and honest with him (age appropriately of course), but it’s unlikely there will be issues because he’s been with the same foster carer for the duration of his time in care.

Ha ha. Except, it’s no laughing matter is it?

We were naïve perhaps. We’d researched and read as much as we could, but all those years ago, there wasn’t as much information readily available. I used online forums, but my social worker was less than complimentary about them (although in hindsight, I think she just didn’t understand how support online could really be supportive). I read Caroline Archer, Louise Bomber and Nancy Verrier. After Mini was placed I started reading more Kim Golding and Dan Hughes too and continued using forums trying to soak up other experiences and save ideas in my mind.  

To begin with, we experienced a few niggles. He used to bite me, would often appear to dissociate, he preferred daddy, rejected me a lot, had sleep problems, refused food on and off, but everyone said he was just settling, and we expected him to grieve after leaving his foster carer. None of it felt difficult to handle and we thought we could see an end to it.

After several years it became apparent though that we hadn’t come to the end of it. Mini was especially affected by the birth of my daughter, but we were still fobbed off though by the health visiting team (the usual port of call for all things challenging in the under 5’s), told that sibling jealousy was normal and given various techniques to try – some of which worked, most eventually stopped being effective. (Although the baby massage I learnt for Dollop, has been very useful on Mini!).

We bit the bullet and turned to our GP when Mini turned 5 and was no longer under the jurisdiction of the health visiting team. We got an immediate referral to CAMHS and an appointment within a couple of weeks. At around the same time, my husband contacted Post Adoption Support (PAS) and we were allocated a social worker and had an initial chat, followed by an assessment.CYMERA_20140113_135341

I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to access this support – but I had to get my head in the right place first. After being continually told to treat Mini like any other child, that he didn’t have any issues, that I was imagining things, it was a big step for me to speak to the GP, and for me to ‘allow’ my husband to ring PAS.

My views on the therapies/assessments/counselling offered vary. We’ve now been ‘with’ PAS for 2 years now and although I feel my husband and I are getting support, I do still feel that Mini needs some more direct work, and as yet this hasn’t been forthcoming (apart from a quite general theraplay course which focussed on improving our relationship with Mini). But I do feel grateful for what we have been able to access. Our social worker has a big caseload – he’s not the quickest to reply to emails (which is how we usually communicate as it suits us all), but I know that if I needed his support or help, I could call and he’d do what he can.

I hope now that the process is changing that there is more emphasis on the importance of post adoption support. I hope that more adoptive parents are encouraged to use it. I suspect though, that lack of funding may mean this doesn’t happen. I’d like to believe there is a unified approach to assessing what is needed for individual families – and that various resources are pulled on to provide what is identified as being needed, but I know that not every agency has access to the same variety or quality of resources.

If you’ve been, or are being approved under the newer system (with stages and workbooks?) how much are you told about post adoption support? And if you’ve accessed it, how easy has it been? Is it a postcode lottery as some experiences I know of might suggest? How useful have you found the support?