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Archive for the ‘adoption’ Category

Adoption: targets and figures

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calculator and graphNew figures on the number of adoptions in England and Wales are reported in the media today with the general message that there needs to be more adoptions and the process needs to be speeded up.

I’m always wary of these calls to action. Adoption figures can be related in so many emotive ways… “languishing in care” or the contrast “forced adoption… child snatchers”, leading to calls to increase or decrease the numbers of adoptions.

Focussing solely on numbers means you miss the factors that create those numbers. More exploration of the figures is needed to see where the bottlenecks are and what part of the process can be improved to address these.

There are faults with the adoption process and care system and these need to be addressed by improving systems and processes and offering the right support to professionals and families. But a rush to change everything and speed things up could lead to important steps being missed.

Myths about who can and can’t adopt need to be debunked and the process of adoption demystified.

Most importantly for me, the support of families and children is paramount. The ongoing impact of early abuse and neglect on children who go on to adoption is not given the same recognition as that of the looked after child, with some families opting for a long term foster care arrangement rather than adoption so that they don’t lose specialist services for their child.

Regardless of the numbers, the end result of all these processes should be that a child is living in the family setting that is best for them and that they are given the best chance to thrive.

Related posts
It’s not about the numbers

BAAF statement 28/09/11

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Written by adoptresources

September 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Containment

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holding handsThe title of this post didn’t mean much to me until last week when I listened to a presentation from Laura Steckley at a Scottish Attachment in Action conference. Laura talked about the concept of containment and how it relates to the regulation of emotions from early infancy and beyond…

Containment in this context describes the process where an infant seeks out emotional regulation from their carer by projecting their unmanageable feelings to their carer to manage. The carer absorbs the feelings and reflects them back in a more manageable form. It is an important part of the infant, caregiver relationship and links closely with the attachment process.

I really liked this way of thinking about emotional regulation, especially in adoption and fostering where children might not have had much emotional containtment in their early years and could still be projecting what’s unmanageable for them and chucking it your way to process. It helps make sense of those situations where ’emotions run high’...

Another important point that was made is that carers can become ‘uncontained’ in trying to contain the emotions  of children in their care…

All of this got me thinking about ‘containment for containers’. For practitioners that can be in the form of professional supervision, for parents and carers it might be one-to-one support, a chat with a social worker, support groups, online forums, friends and family, or a book and a cup of tea. Whatever works for you, it’s important to recognise that you’ll need to find ways to help you feel supported and ready to deal with whatever emotions might be thrown at you.

On a professional level, I have regular supervision, and on a personal level I rely on my network of friends and family, and lots and lots of tea… What works for you?

Written by adoptresources

September 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Making faces

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We learn about emotions from our earliest interactions as babies with our parents and carers. For lots of children who have experienced early trauma or neglect, understanding and expressing their own emotions and reading others’ facial expressions can be difficult.

Not knowing how you feel, how to say how you feel or how to work out how others feel leads to misunderstandings in lots of areas including at home, with friends and at school.

cartoon emotions We used to play a game when the kids were younger to help with naming and understanding emotions and facial expressions. It’s really easy – you just need a mirror, you and your child…
Step 1 name an emotion – happy/excited/sad/angry etc
Step 2 both look into the mirror and make the face!
Step 3 back to step 1, taking it in turns to name the emotion…

Dead easy and lots of fun. I still do it with the kids now that they are older – we don’t need the mirror, we just make faces at each other!

Other things that can help are naming emotions for your child… ‘it seems to me like you’re angry about that…’, it helps them name what they are feeling and build their vocabulary of emotions.

What things have you found help make sense of emotions?

This post was inspired by Misreading Facial Expressions written by my friend, Naomi Richards aka The Kids’ Coach

Related posts:
Noticing

Written by adoptresources

July 22, 2011 at 8:43 am

Support over the summer…

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summer written in the sandSummertime is associated with relaxing, taking time off, having fun and recharging batteries. But it often doesn’t live up to the expectations, especially for those of us who are parents to children who’ve experienced early neglect or trauma. The thought of all that free time can seem like a dream come true for some kids but ironically, the lack of familiar routine can lead to more confusion and the occasional meltdowns.

I’ve written about some tips and strategies that can help over the holiday season: Surviving the summer holidaysChecking inA weekend away

For a bit of extra support, this summer I’m running an online ‘Adoption summercamp’. It’s a 6 week programme that can work around your schedule and includes:

  • weekly video blogs and teleseminars to introduce the topic for each week and cover some key points on attachment and parenting and look at tips and strategies for dealing with issues that are important for you.
  • a weekly group Q&A call for you to discuss any issues with me
  • downloads of supporting materials
  • access to all the recordings to listen to/watch when it suits you best.

rabbit figures in classroom settingOver the 6 weeks we’ll cover:

  • finding your holiday friendly routine
  • troubleshooting – what are your challenges
  • working on what’s behind the behaviour
  • tools and strategies
  • the ‘back to school’ transition
  • looking after yourself

There are some bonuses for early birds who register before 9am on 18th July, including your first week for free, a copy of the Boosting Self Esteem in Adoption ebook and, for the first 5 who register, a one-to-one call for more individual attention.

I’m really looking forward to running the course and hope that you’ll join me for a bit of extra support over the holidays… I’m sending out more info later today, in the meantime, email or comment below if you’ve any queries.

Written by adoptresources

July 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Checking in…

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One of our boys pushes against routines and longs for free time with no structure. So the summer holidays are his idea of heaven, or so he thinks. In reality though, he’s not sure how to handle the lack of structure and we’ve learned over the years that putting in a bit of a framework, chunking up the day into blocks of time and giving him options for what to do when, gives us all an easier time.

As he gets older and more independent, playing out with friends has become a big part of the holidays. He’d happily disappear for the whole day but too much time away can see him disconnecting from us. You can almost see him putting a bit of distance between us… a bit of bravado, bad language and attitude all helps keep everyone at arms length.

stop clockSo we’ve built in an invisible checking in system – giving him a 2hr check in time – either in person or by phone. So he can still play with friends and feel like he has the freedom that the rest of his peers have. The end result is that things don’t unravel so quickly and we keep a better connection even with more freedom.

What strategies help you keep the balance over the holidays?

Related posts:
surviving the summer holidays
a weekend away

Coming soon… Adoption summercamp – a weekly programme to help you keep your sanity over the holiday season… email fiona@adoptresources.co.uk for more details

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July 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Family history

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girl and stethoscopeAt a doctor’s appointment with our youngest recently, I was asked whether there was any family history of a relatively minor ailment.  It’s a fairly standard question in a lot of doctor-patient conversations.  I know what’s lurking in my family’s medical history but I’m less familiar with our children’s. This is not because information was withheld or because I wasn’t paying attention ; ) but because the medical information that is shared at the time of placement tends to focus on things that would have a more immediate impact on your child’s health with less focus on more general health information.

There are a few ways I could respond – make something up, or be a bit vague, or explain why I don’t know the answer – I usually opt for a brief explanation…”‘I’m not sure, x is adopted”. But it all depends on who is asking and the context. We’ve always been open in how we talk about adoption with our children and this definitely helps in situations like this.

My youngest’s response to this exchange? She took great delight in correcting me… “Mum, we are ALL adopted…” making a point of including her brothers.

Written by adoptresources

May 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Life story round the clock…

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This article was in this week’s newsletter, if you’d like to be on the mailing list subscribe here

Last week our youngest asked me at breakfast “which land was I born in… not whose tummy but which land…” so we had a chat about where she was born and then got back to getting ready for school. She wasn’t on the look out for anything deep and meaningful, just a few facts on the geography.

Conversations about adoption can happen anytime and are not just confined to scheduled sessions with an album of photos or letters. Life story work for me is something that weaves itself around normal day to day stuff. People and places can pop into our minds at anytime and questions about who I am, where do I come from, who do I look like can crop up anytime. Obviously, it’s not always going to be possible to devote time to discussing some of the things that come up but it’s important to be able to be ready and to respond, even if it’s just to  say when would be better to talk about things.

Talking about these things isn’t always easy, especially if there are other things going on in the background, and it’s important not to tackle big conversations if you’re not in the right place emotionally or practically.

So what can help…

  • around the time of placement ask any questions that you think might help build your child’s life story, and find out what the process is for asking questions at a later date
  • keep photos in easy to spot places for life story chats on the spot – some of the multi frames that you can put lots of photos in are good for putting in lots of important people, places, stages in life (obviously, you choose what photos are appropriate, depending on your family’s circumstances and approach to talking about adoption)
  • keep things age appropriate, use drawings or stories if your child finds it hard to talk about the facts
  • you can use memory boxes to store things as well or instead of  a life story book/album 
  • keep copies of anything important or special, some children can destroy things that are really important to them in an outburst and regret it later on
  • remember that life story work is not just about things and people in the past, it’s about helping your child make sense of who they are and how all the bits of their lives fit together
  • life story memories involve feelings as well as facts and it’s important to make sure you and your family are getting the right support if things are difficult for you or your child.

I’d love to hear your comments on what you’ve found helpful in your child’s lifestory work…

Related links:

Connecting with kids through stories a teleclass with Fiona
(1st April 2011 live call; recording, call guide and action plan available for download after the call)

Telling healing stories by Melissa Nichols

Telling about adoption a one day workshop (2nd April 2011)