The Potato Group News

An open letter to all the professionals involved in our family life,

In 2009 we adopted 2 children aged 5 and 6 from a background of physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect. In October, following a few years of increasingly difficult to manage behaviours (violence/ stealing/ lying/ self-harm etc.) we asked for respite for the first time. So now social services have re-entered our lives. One child took an overdose in August so we also have CAMHS. Our post adoption support service became therapeutically based a couple of years ago, so we have a therapist supporting one of our children (our other child refuses to go). We are both in therapy as individuals to keep afloat. We have friends meeting with us on a regular basis just to try to give our marriage a chance against the daily onslaught of traumatised behaviours that we encounter. This week, we get to meet with an ‘adolescent support team’ who will no doubt tell us what else we’re getting wrong. I’m sorry; we’ve never had adolescents before. Let alone adolescents whose inner world is so utterly fractured. We know we’re getting things wrong.

But how hard would it be to hear, in a unified voice, all you ‘support’ services saying what we actually need to hear, rather than a sense of social services just checking off a risk assessment checklist to see if we have the emotional capacity to parent our kids (because we asked for respite)?

How hard would it be for someone to believe in and say the things we really need to hear? Things like ‘It’s so hard to do what you do – well done for doing it.’

Or ‘I know you’ve read every piece of therapeutic literature on parenting adoptive kids and have tried so hard to put it into practice – everyday. I think you’re doing an incredible job.’

Or ‘ We know you’ve read Winnicott and want so much to be more than ‘good enough’ and you’ve read Erickson and we want to help you re-establish self-control in you and your kids and you ooze Dan Hughes because you know you want to resist the brain changes that happen to long term carers of traumatised children. Even with your mistakes and humanity, you are more than good enough and we want to help you with the things that are still hard for you.’

Or ‘Who knows how much harder it would have been for your kids if they hadn’t had adoptive parents who spend all their waking moments wishing they could get it more right – your kids are really lucky to have you.’

Or ‘I know that some days your kids do things that make it hard for you to get out of bed. And that’s not because you’re useless parents, it’s because of the abuse that happened before they ever met you. I am proud of you for choosing to keep getting up.’

Or ‘I can’t believe that it has taken till now for the proverbial whatsit to hit the fan. You must have really been putting some effort into parenting. I am glad that there are parents like you in the world.’

Or ‘Who else chooses to stay in a role which involves undeserved daily abuse? We don’t have to – if anyone abuses us, we get to walk away and they get in trouble. You are amazing to love kids who abuse you because you represent someone else.’

Or ‘How hard it must be to know you represent someone else and to know that one day your kids may choose to abandon you for that someone else. How strong you are to keep on loving them regardless.’

Or ‘I know that you choose to lie down at night and tell your child you love them, even though that day they hit and kicked you or verbally abused you. I know that you choose to remember that they had to do it to you to test if the world was safe. I know that you want so much for them to believe that the world is safe that you overcome every emotion in your body to go into their room at night and hold them.’

Or ‘I hear that you cry at night, not just for yourself but because, even after all this abuse, you wish your kids could trust in just one relationship. I’m here to support you too.’

Or ‘I know that you hate the mistakes that you make. I know that you hate the fact that you had to ask for respite. I know that you hate the fact that that request has brought more judgement on you than you can bear right now but that you are choosing to stand up under it and continue anyway. I don’t want to be part for that judgement – I want to do the job I signed up to do which was to genuinely help parents like you.’

How hard would it be?

I tell my kids that if I go for a walk with someone and it starts to rain, then I stop to put up an umbrella. I don’t do it because I want the walk to stop, but because I want the walk to continue. When I ‘stopped’ to ask for respite, it was because I wanted the walk to continue but I needed some resources to make that happen. I don’t think the umbrella shop should make me feel bad for asking for an umbrella. It’s not particularly helpful to be handed a small umbrella that only covers my kids. (And if you hand the umbrella straight to my kids then they’ll almost certainly refuse to carry it themselves.) I have yet to find a shop that sells big golf umbrellas. I don’t want critical comment on how I’ve been walking up to now. (I’ll be criticising myself for walking into this storm anyway.)

If you have suggestions on a better route to help me, then let me know; but please put up an umbrella first so we can be dry while we look at your map.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for reading. It’s genuinely good to know I’m not the only person who goes above and beyond. Because it’s the only way our kids stand a chance in this world. Maybe you’ve gone above and beyond in other ways that support my kids that I don’t know about. Thank you for that too. I hope that when you’ve finished ticking your boxes, that you’ll believe that I also go above and beyond the things that you write down about me. Every day.

13 thoughts on “The Potato Group News

  1. Mother of three

    I think you’re amazing. Thank you so much for sharing, for getting up when you feel it’s impossible to do.
    Getting our children to trust is a monumental task. Where your children would be without, how far away from any gains they Have made is unquantifiable, but also unthinkable.
    There are organisms in our world that are so tiny they can’t be seen, but they are vital to our existence. Everything you have achieved whether it can be seen is essential to getting them closer to being able to fulfil their potential.
    The best of wishes in the world

  2. Linda Brown

    I don’t usually comment, I save all these posts in a file for ” later”. Later never seems to come though so today the tears are flowing as I read it and say to myself “how true” this is our life too. Good luck with your fight and thanks, at least I have released something today.

  3. Helen Bonnick

    Thank you so much for having the courage to write what you have done. You are right that many of us professionals really do not know what it is like, or how to even begin to respond. I hope that by making your life so open in this way you will not only gain new strength for your selves, but also find that you have helped to transform the world for the better for your own family and many others.

  4. Juliet Powell

    We walked a similar path and life is a bit easier now (got everything crossed as I say it). Keep going xx

  5. Amanda Boorman

    I felt every word of that. So eloquently put and full of love. I admire your strength and I hope you get the support you need x

  6. Jackie

    This is our life too and I am writing so much down for a book one day. We have everyone involved too because of asking for respite!!!! X

  7. Pete brown

    Hi,read this out of the blue and because it’s the same thing I have so wanted to put to paper. Started once and ran out of time eye’s closing another bad day very similar to the last 5 years.All places we have been in the last year’s what future does she have ….not a lot. Every day a fight to get help paper work never ending, stress honestly don’t know how we cope,day after day of the same traumas,lots of friends and family disappearing heads down always an excuse understandable?a few have helped as behaviour always good away from house. Thanks to them.20 weeks of therapy nearly at an end after losing 3 years due to inaction from services….she’ll be OK when settled! !!!! No action ,police refered …….no action is needed could go on.ALL BECAUSE DRINK WHILE CARRYING.not her fault no but how to cope? ?wishing when you get up each morning this could be the day ????………but no,is this whinging don’t no or care,it’s really happening and a child will more than likely have no life when we finally succumb to age ,sad to think after 35 years of fostering the same kids with staring eyes come through the door same problems. ….this one stayed.

  8. Tally69

    Oh wow. So sorry to hear your suffering. So much of what you say resonates. I read this out to my husband who nodded teary-eyed the whole way through. He works for a local council and has promised to copy this to all the adoption social workers he works with. Just as a little reminder for them. Wish I could do more. Xx

  9. Helen

    This really does sum up life as an adoptive parent. Which in turn makes you feel so lonely as you are ostracised from you peers and family as no one but other adoptive parents can relate. Feel more isolated the older they get. In my experienc issues are magnified due to Hormones/understanding etc. In my case have had to work full time so no opportunity to provide the level of commitment that I now think is required to fight our adoptees corner for the support they truely need, starting early on. Whole family has suffered and broken down and my financial future flooking grim – just cos I wanted a family, and to do best for them all to my own detriment. Am I going to get any support for me long term due to giving 100 percent plus. No.

  10. Angela Theobold

    I feel your pain and applaud your honest, eloquent account.
    I reached total desparation point when my DD “achieved” 15 (adopted at age 2)
    It was aproaching my 50th birthday and my fabulous post-adoption worker (found through sheer desperation) told me I needed a break. To take DD out of school, my brother said he would take her for a week, school said if I got fined for taking her out of school during term time (though to be honest she was exculded so much that was laughable) they would support me,
    She told me “I needed to take care of myself, because if I had a breakdown then who would be there to look after DD? I would be totally irresponisble if I didn’t go to Cuba for a week and chillax so that I would be better equipped to deal with all the “challenges” Finally I had been given “permission” to look after myself. Boy did I do it that time and every year after. Some ended in disasterous behaviour, but my sanity has endured.

  11. Julie Rainer

    Just to say that we now have sensi treatment for our son who is 13. Not sure if it is an age thing, or that he has stopped taking ADHD medication, or that he is now a member of a local football team, so that he now feels needed, but life has improved dramatically on these last 2 months. All these things have also happened in the last 2 months. The sensi report was him to a tee after many others reports that we have been given. Maybe you can look into local sensi practitioners. Worth a try. Plus keep up the fabulous work that you are doing for & with your young ones. One day they may be ‘fixed’. XXX

  12. mair

    such fantastic heart-felt writing – all professionals please read, absorb and share for all our children’s sakes

  13. Jayne

    Thank you for sharing. This has really touched me and I write my reply with tears of admiration for you in my eyes.

    I organize information meetings for prospective adopters and we have adopters there who share their adoption journey. We get them to tell potential adopters their story, warts and all and I always make sure I tell the adopters who speak what an amazing job they are doing. Not because I have to, because I really mean it. Our last two adopters told us of their adoption story and how it had almost broken down but how they had got the help the needed eventually and that they have worked through it and stayed together as a family. We want people to know how hard it can be at times so they can decide if its right for them.

    So I want to say to you what an amazing job you are doing and will continue to do. Stay strong, keep fighting. I will spread the word in our service and will continue to thank our adopters.


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