Tag Archives: post adoption support

Adoption Sore Point – Contact

We are going to do it all again and this time we want to talk about CONTACT.

sorepoint

 

 

 

 

Maintaining contact with an adopted child’s birth parents can be very difficult for many families. Some find it too difficult to agree to contact right at the very start of their adoption journey, others find the momentum to continue with contact, difficult to sustain over many years. It can be a tricky topic to discuss because families feel protective of the lives they have created for their adopted family, contact can seem to threaten this.

Today, social media can also bring unsolicited contact, complicating family life, sometimes with a devastating effect. For others well managed contact has added depth and meaning to an adopted child’s life story and brought them a greater sense of identity.

So what are your views and experiences of contact?

Do you think maintaining contact is important?

How could contact be better facilitated?

What are your concerns and worries around contact?

Has maintaining contact been a positive experience for you?

We want to hear everyone’s opinion on this. We already have some contributing pieces from adopters, an adoptee and an adoption social worker but, we would be interested in hearing from anyone one else who would like to contribute. You can email us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com.

Our Sore Point week will commence on Monday 13th July. 

We will have posts each day related to the topic of contact and will hope to offer a diverse set of opinions and experiences.

We will have a #TASchat, twitter chat, on Thursday 16th July 9pm GMT on the subject of contact.

We will have a special contact themed #WASO on Friday 17th July.

We will be using the hashtag #Sorepoint during the week.

We would also like to include a list of resources, so if you know of anything which would be helpful to others, around the topic of contact, please let us know.

And as we said before, if you would like to contribute or even have an idea for something to include in the week, please contact us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com

 

The Adoption Support Fund

ASF

Today Sarah from The Puffin Diaries introduces the new Adoption Support Fund,tells you how you go about accessing it and gives you her initial thought.

So have you heard about the Adoption Support Fund (ASF)?

From May this year, 2015, adopters will be able to access government funding for post adoption support services, a pot of money reported to be £19.3 million when the ASF was first launched in September 2013. In the press release on the DfE website this fund is described by the Prime Minister as,

“a lifeline for many adoptive families, helping them to access specialist services when their family needs them most.”

And Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, highlighted the governments understanding of the need for this fund when saying:

“We know that children adopted from care have often lived through terrible experiences which do not just simply disappear once they have settled with their new families.”

So how do YOU go about accessing this funding?

You need to speak to either your local authority, or your placing authority. The authority from which your child/children originated are responsible for providing this services in the first three years of the adoption, after that your local authority takes on the responsibility.

You need to request an assessment of your families’ adoption support needs.

Providing this assessment for you is a legal obligation of all local authorities, so they can NOT refuse to carry out the assessment. However this does NOT mean that you will necessarily be eligible for funding.

Here you can download the BAAF Guidance for the Assessment Framework for Adoption Support. This lengthy document details how your needs will be assessed.

Your social worker is able to start these assessments now, so make your phone call or send that email, NOW.

If, once your assessment is complete, you are recognised to be in need of additional support, your social worker will apply, on your behalf, for funding. Your social worker will also be responsible for discussing with you where the support you require may be accessed.

More information on what type of support is available and NOT available, and also who is able to supply your support, can be found HERE

Also Hugh Thornbery CEO of @AdoptionUK, Chair of the #AdoptionSupportFund is on twitter as @TalkAdoptSupp and invites your questions and shared experiences of the Adoption support Fund. So if you have queries this is a good place to direct them.

So what do I Think About the ASF?

We are, Sarah from The Puffin Diaries and family, about to embark on our own assessment, commencing this week. I will aim to keep everyone up to date on how things progress and share our experience of the process.

Personally, right now, I have mixed feelings about the funding and the assessment. On one side,  I am relieved that we may finally be able to access some much needed support for our family. However another part of my brain is sceptical, as we have been in this position before, needing support, and what we’ve been offered has been completely inadequate. I fear that insufficient funding will be allocated to really make the difference or we will not be deemed eligible for any funding at all.

The bigger picture is that this pot is surely not big enough to help all those families out there in need and there is no firm commitment, at the moment to provide further funding once this amount is spent. I posed this question to @TalkADoptSupp earlier.

 

 

So with that thought in mind, I urge anyone out there who feels they need some additional adoption support, to ask for an assessment NOW. Firstly because this money is here now and might not be here later and secondly, the best way to show the government the enormity of this demand is to make our needs known.

It will be interesting to see how many families request an assessment, then just how much funding is applied for and also just how much is actually allocated.

We are Family – A Post Adoption Community

Today’s post from We Are Family tells us how they are building a post adoption support community and their hopes for the future…

WRF LogoAs any parent will tell you, nothing can prepare you for parenthood. Adoptive or not.

So why are we, as adopters, so alone when it finally happens? Alone in our new role with one, or possibly two, grieving children?

There is no NCT for adopters, no baby massage, no mummy and tummy yoga for adopters. There are places where wide-eyed mums with tiny infants can meet other wide-eyed mums. But by the time we come along with our tots, biological mothers of children the same age as ours have been meeting months, if not years. Many biological mums just aren’t that interested in establishing new friendships at that stage. Particularly while (or because?) we are catching up. And that is to say nothing of the dads out there.

I see the early placement period is particularly fertile ground for creating good, stable, nurturing families, based on mutual love and respect. These are the days when support would be really, really useful.

Centrally to this argument is the word containment. We have it drilled into us that we need to contain all the turbulent emotions of our up-rooted children. That’s our primary job. But who contains us? At the best of times parenthood is the most exhausting and unrelenting 24/7 job you ever had.

Blogging has made it much easier to speak of the difficulties of becoming and being an adoptive parent. At sites like, and connected to, the Adoption Social feelings like anxieties, depression, confusion, being overwhelmed are discussed regularly. These are by no stretch of the imagination unusual feelings. But to many they seem dangerous to acknowledge. Especially at first. No wonder that Post Adoption Depression Syndrome is rife. These feelings are recognisable to biological parents too. My point here is that we are a minority type of family. As newborn families our needs are different from birth families of a newly born child.

Meeting and talking with other adopters can offer respite. The gratification of recognition can feel like opening the curtains on a summer morning, letting the warm sunlight stream in. Letting go to feelings stuck in the system, or identifying the help you might need, may become clearer as you share and listen. Feelings are funny and stubborn like that; they wont let go of their vice-like grip until they have been properly acknowledged.

I don’t think mankind were ever meant to do parenting on our own. Although we all have to find our own way of raising our children.

It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child. But then, that village is no longer there by default. We have to make it for ourselves, with people how are like us, and hopefully also a lot that are very different. And that is what we have done in We are Family.

We dream BIG dreams in We are Family. We dream of a free NCT for adopters, across the UK. We hope we will one day go viral, with or without our nametag. We are working on toolkits and sustainable ways of supporting more local groups. We are enthusiastic and motivated. But we are young. Barely nine months old. It is our hope that our three London networks will be blue print groups to inspire others to do the same. We hope to work out successful formula that can be replicated elsewhere.

We are painfully aware that we need to have good working models before we expand ourselves too far. Having said that support is needed across the country right now. So here are a few ideas for you all, while we get our ducks row.

We have tons of ideas. But they all boil down to the same basics model:

to created informal local networks of adoptive families to meet and connect regularly! With their children and without.

Not once or twice a year. But once or twice, or even three times, a month, if not a week. All for free, with only voluntary donations toward playgroups etc.

We recently coined the term ‘organic buddying’, meaning that once you provide the opportunities for people to meet and make online contact buddying will follow.

‘I have made friendships in this group that I hope and think will last a lifetime.’ Those are the words of one of our members; she voices the sentiment of many others.

In fact we have learned that connecting via email and social media is an important part of the identity of our groups. It helps the sense of a supportive community between meetings at the playgroups or the parent support evening, the two cornerstones. Imagine this: you are home for the 10th day in a row with a sick and contagious child; by now you are going stir crazy and need to connect with someone. You child is reacting to you in ways you don’t understand and don’t recognise. You need to ask some questions about ‘Is this adoption? Or is this ‘normal’?’ So the phone or going online are your options.

With regard to meeting in person the playgroups seem easy to establish – our model is to tag onto a welcoming and well-run existing playgroup. In this way not only do adopters meet other adopters with their young children, a local playgroup will help them meet other local families with children of the same age, thus easing the way in to the community with a child.

It is the adults only support group that appears to be more difficult to set up, but such groups are just as direly needed as the playgroups. These evenings are where the parents can spill all their beans, through all their toys out of their prams, and be heard and feel understood while they do. You could, of course, always just meet in a pub over a pint… But this is very different to the undisturbed and concentrated discussions of the parent support evening.

On top of these two main initiatives, there are now a plethora of other initiatives within our groups such as social events, family parties, clothes swaps, one-to-one play dates, coffee mornings. Much is done via email or text, and it is always informal. Much of it driven by the members themselves (as opposed to the head of the groups).

 So far we have found the following values helpful and essential:

  • If you want to set up a local network, make sure you are not doing it alone. Have at least one sparing partner.
  • Listen. To what the needs are.
  • Be reliably regular – no cancellations, especially early on. Do have your plan Bs ready. Members should know they are never far from meeting with other adopters.
  • Have no expectations of any one turning up – and don’t be disappointed if that is the case. It can take couple of months for a group to get going. It is important that people do not feel pressured to come, but only come of their own account (if they like the playgroup, they may try to change their arrangements so they can come).

However, if no one turns up for a good few times in a row, it could be that the time and day is not good for the people you want to reach. In which case consult with them and your sparing partner.

  • Be inclusive. Open to all faiths, race, shapes and sizes.
  • Keep your initiatives free and open to all. Avoid exclusivity – We all know how we don’t need that!
  • Beware of data protection and safety. So encourage online aliases and be careful about who and how you disclose your group. Consider the security of the chosen venues the initiatives.
  • Work closely with local SW in LAs or charities.

Currently all three groups are working with local Social Workers. In Hackney/Islington we are operating on consortium level with a dedicated working group, and we are moving towards this is the other areas. This is in recognition that we cannot do this work on our own, and that we are stronger if we can collaborate constructively and closely with our local adoption authorities around issues such as post adoption support and life story work. We ask them to steer new adopters our way, so we can welcome them into our midst when their children arrives. That is if they haven’t made contact already.

A crucial part of the network is of course for our children to have the possibility of growing up with other adopted children.

I am not fond of the word, but in want of a better one: A support network like We are Family will help normalise the adopted family, and integrate them into their local environment. We don’t want to create an adoption bubble. We want to support people while they find their feet and we want to continue to be there so throughout their lives as families.

We are not competition to existing group and networks. We just believe that there could be much more post adoption support for all adoptive families, no matter how old their children are or when they moved in.

This may well be premature to promote our community at this early stage. But we are in it for the long haul. And we will keep you posted…

We are Family made our villages in three parts of London. Your village is next.

Connect with We Are Family

Twitter: @wearefamilyadop

 

 

What I need from Post Adoption Support

I am a 40 something adopter of a wonderful 7 year old boy. He was placed with my husband and I nearly 6 years ago and my goodness has it been a rollercoaster ride of wonderful highs and some absolutely dreadful lows.

Currently after a traumatic house move to a new area we are experiencing a new kind of low and there have been moments when I didn’t think we could ever move forwards and upwards again. To be brutally honest there were times I wanted off the ride altogether. In desperation we sought help from our Local Authority.

I have now experienced attempts to gain Post Adoption Support from 2 Local Authorities but what I have found is that both services are woefully inadequate and barely fit for purpose. My son has survived the most appalling abuse and neglect, he has suffered greatly in the hands of an education system that didn’t want to understand him (but that’s a whole different story) and it seems he is to be failed by Post Adoption Services that don’t have the experience, resources or it seems desire to support him. Aside from a few training courses of mixed quality and an occasional newsletter we have received no input at all, financial, therapeutic or otherwise.

What I need from Post Adoption Support is really very simple and I summarised it in a series of Twitter posts to get it off my very angry chest:

What I need from Post Adoption Support:

1. Clear contact details. An email address that works and a phone line available daily that is actually answered.

2. A helpline answered by someone knowledgeable about and sympathetic to adoption issues. No criticism please and no being passed around the system.

3. Absolute transparency about what support is available and how long I have to wait to access it. I can’t ask for it if I don’t know it exists!

4. Acceptance that I am the expert on my child and that I might actually have a valid opinion on what he might need.

5. Phone calls that are returned and emails answered within a reasonable time frame. Days, not weeks or longer please!

6. Clear signposting to adoption allowances, benefits and grants etc.

7. Full disclosure of background information pertaining to my child.

8. A later life letter. This was due 10 days after the adoption order but 6 years later I still find myself waiting for it.

9. Timely support. When at crisis point people can’t wait for weeks for a meeting and then months for assessments to get help, they need input fast.

10. Up to date signposting of organisations, groups and individuals that can help.

11. Please Post Adoption Support when you know people are really struggling and even though you may not be able to help quickly, give follow up calls to check on the situation and show that you care.

12. Help to meet other adopters. Support groups, social events, buddy systems and coffee groups. The most valuable help I have had has come from fellow adopters but PAS should be able to either facilitate adopter groups or at least put me in touch with people in a similar situation.

13. A programme of regular events for children, not just under 5’s. Something for every school holiday would be wonderful, not necessarily free but affordable or subsidised in some way.

14. Regular training on a wide range of issues. I know good speakers are costly so I would be prepared to contribute to costs sometimes.

15. Respite. Just a few hours occasionally at a weekend so I can spend some time with my husband while my son has fun in a nurturing and understanding environment with other adoptees.

16. No judgement of the fact that we have previously sought private support for our son. We did so with the best of intentions; to get timely appropriate help. Our financial circumstances have now changed and we can’t afford to privately fund support but the fact we did in the past should not be held against us.

17. “You will have to keep badgering us.” No Post Adoption Support I shouldn’t have to “keep badgering” you for help, you need to offer a professional service. Picking up the phone admitting we needed serious help was incredibly difficult for us to do. We are currently at our lowest ever point in the adoption process and struggling through every hour of every day with our son. “Badgering” the very people who should be at the forefront of helping us shouldn’t be something I have to add to my list of stresses.

My list could go on (and on) but the points above are the key ones. Post adoption Support Services are under immense strain, I get that, I really do but some of the above cost little or nothing. They are courtesy’s to families who have embraced fantastic but very damaged and traumatised children. My quirky, funny, intelligent but deeply troubled little boy deserves better. So much better!

Thanks so much to @CrusoePoll for sharing these tweets as a full post – I know many of us would want the same from post adoption support teams across the country. What would you add to your wishlist?

 

 

Taking Care – The First Open Nest Conference.

Today we bring you full details of the first Open Nest Conference entitled Taking Care, a user led approach to adoption Support.

onlogoThe Conference will take place on Saturday 18th October 11am – 5pm at the beautiful Royal York Hotel in York, Located right next to the train station this venue has been chosen for it’s great rail links and the excellent facilities, it is just over two hours direct from London on the train.

This conference is for adopters, adoptees, prospective adopters and practitioners and hopes to offer plenty of practical support as well as lots of time to socialise and network.

Those presenting at the conference are:-

Amanda Boorman, founder of The Open Nest charity and adopter, will open the day with and introduction of the agenda and will discuss the formation of the charity.

Following on will be the presentation of the hard hitting documentary film, Severance.

Al Coates, an adopter and experienced social worker will then present his own personal and professional adoption experiences.

Fran Proctor, an adoptee, will discuss whether we need to change our perception  and our way of “treating” trauma and offer practical solutions.

Sally Donovan, adopter and writer will suggest how we can be a positive advocate for our children, especially in the school environment.

Then to follow, there will be a screening of our animation “The Lost Children of Trauma” developed by adopters and adoptees.

The Adoption Social will present on how the internet can be used to find support and information.

We Are Family, a user-led support network based in London, will talk about how to organise a support group and natural buddying.

The cost of the day including tea, coffee and lunch, is £25.

This is a non profit making conference, in line with the charity’s aim to offer support and advice which is accessible to all adoptive families.

Although the conference will not formally commence until 11.00am, registration will be open at 9.00am giving people the opportunity to socialise with others.

Bookings can be made by debit/credit card via charity patrons, La Rosa Hotel Tel: 01947606981

By Cheque sent to, The Open Nest, 5 East Terrace, Whitby, YO21 3HB

Via Paypal on the donations page of the website for The Open Nest If you are able to make a donation when booking we would be very grateful.

The Adoption Social, Social

We are finalising ideas for the evening event, hosted by ourselves The Adoption Social. We hope to offer a fun and relaxed event with food, drinks and maybe even a dance floor. There will be an additional cost for the evening event but we will also aim to keep the price as low as possible and we will not be profiting from this event. If you are unable to attend the day time conference but would like to come and socialise in the evening then we would be really happy to see you.

Accommodation 

For those staying on to the party, you might need a bed for the night. Here are some options,

The Fort Boutique Hostel prices start at £28

Premier Inn York North West (ring rd) prices start at £74

Other possibilities can be found here Visit York

 

Announcements from The Open Nest

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

openNest

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

 UPDATE ON ACTIVITIES

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.

IN THE FUTURE 

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.

A Supporting Hand or a Pointing Finger?

Here one adoptive mother tells us about her recent experiences of post adoption support……..

I was recently asked to “take adoption out of my parenting equation”. The person asking the question meant well, doing her job as a family support officer(not part of post adoption support but we were referred to them by our social worker), working with families in crisis, she really was there to help. It was during our second meeting she made the statement. During our first meeting I’d sat for a draining two hours and divulged the intricacies of our often dysfunctional family. I’d felt up beat when she left, ever hopeful that she would be able to provide the support I’d been brave enough to ask for.

coffee cupAnd then there she sat, my knight in shining armour, clutching the warm cup of coffee I’d kindly made for her, asking me to surmise what parenting my children would be like if they weren’t adopted. The words hung between us, heavy and hard, much too hard for me to swallow. My eyes prickled with tears; yet again, as I contemplated “did I hear her right?” I glanced side ways to read my husband’s face, hoping his expression may clarify.

The lady on the sofa opposite obviously wasn’t sure if we’d understood so shuffled her neat little bottom in my sofa and said,

“What I took away from our last meeting was, that you place too much emphasis on your children being adopted.” And then titling her head in my direction, “especially you”.

My stomach knotted a hundred times over, creating a burning sensation which flushed my cheeks, blotched my neck and no doubt more of my clothed skin below. I felt sickened by the intestinal contortions and gasped as I muttered my astonished reply  “I’m not sure I understand, I really don’t think we can do that, HOW can we forget our children are adopted?”

Unfortunately for her, and me, I was not in the most positive of places before the meeting, and now as her comments thumped me bang smack between the eyes, I had to remove myself and attempt to regain composure.

I paced the bathroom, gulping air, hoping it could be the miraculous cure for my disposition, and slowly my breathing regulated and I felt a faint level of self-control. Digging my fingers into the corners of my eyes and smoothing them along my closed lids, I cleared the remaining tears and returned to the lounge. I got through the remainder of the meeting without crying, for that I feel a sense of achievement.

Post this event I was initially very upset, but what I actually soon became was very angry, seething in fact.

How dare someone dismiss the last seven years of my life with such a flippant remark. For seven years I have read, researched, talked, listened and learnt something new every day. I have never returned to full time work, understanding that my children need consistent support, outside of school, to help them feel safe and ensure they have the greatest opportunity to grow and develop. My marriage has suffered, in some ways irreparable damage, yes we’ll get through but the scars will remain. Me, I’m a mother first and some days that’s it, no more. Yes, that has now got to a point where it’s often not enough for me and the sadness of that is blurring my vision. But damn, I am a good mother, a very good mother. Ok I’ve been a little off track recently but, that’s why I’d asked for help, I’m aware I’m not able to do my best at the moment.

And yet the help was standing there pointing the finger right back at me, us, and seemingly saying, your children don’t behave and that’s your faulty.

After this distressing meeting, we then endured a number of months where we allowed this support access to our lives, only to have the accusatory finger pointed continually in our direction. Why you may ask did we go along with this? Because having asked for help we felt we needed to at least seem grateful. We were on our knees and struggling we were afraid to say “this is not right”. However the final straw was still to come, an incident which snapped me into the realisation that the support we were being given was actually causing much more damage to our lives than help.

The support lady offered to take both our children on a Christmas outing. She collected them early one morning and with a couple of other children she worked with, whisked them off to a children’s centre for some fun activities, followed by a lunchtime trip to MacDonalds. They were delivered back some hours later with a cheery wave.

Following the festive season that same neat little bottom sat on my sofa and yet again pointed her damning finger our way.

My children had, in her opinion, behaved in an exceptionally terrible manner on the outing she had supervised. Her idea of terrible was fighting, answering back, repeatedly not listening to her and generally being very disruptive.

Inside my head I was screaming “hello, welcome to my world” but outwardly a jumble of worlds spilled from my mouth, “…control issues……feelings of insecurity….vying for attention….early life trauma” as I gasping for air, she came back with the line, the one that made it very obvious she had no understanding of what she was dealing with.

“I’m sorry but I work with children who come from far worse situations than yours and they don’t behave in that way”

My response was vehement “How can you say that, you don’t know that at all, you don’t know their full history”

It was decided at that meeting that we would no longer pursue the support of this person or her team. In fact we’ve not seen any one from Post Adoption Support since. They are waiting for some possible therapy to materialise from CAHMS. This therapy I’m again not sure is actually suitable, and we will consider at great length before we allow our child to participate.

We’ve been left feeling even more isolated than ever before, unable to even trust those that are supposed to be there to support us. Knowing that our own understanding and knowledge of the challenges we live with far out strips most of those we come into contact with in a professional role. The only good to come of this whole experiences is that we have regained confidence in our own ability to parent our children.

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?