AdoptResources's Blog

blogging about adoption, attachment, parenting & family life

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.

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May 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Holiday time, again!

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It’s school holiday time again, and most children in the UK are only at school for about 6 days this month, and not even that for some!

I’ve blogged about holiday times before and no matter the holiday season – summer, festive season, even unplanned breaks due to the weather – the main message is to build a bit of routine and predictability into your holiday time.

You don’t have to be too rigid but lots of the stress and anxiety for children (and so lots of the difficult behaviour) can be reduced by taking away the stress of not knowing what’s happening next. Involve the kids in planning what’s happening, schedule in some free time (with suggestions for what can be put in the free time) and if family visits are part of your holiday think ahead and build in some coping strategies for any of the challenges that might crop up!

My favourite top tip for holiday (and not holiday) time is to use visual planners to make it easier if your child finds it hard to process information…

…and my other one is don’t worry if it doesn’t go to plan!

What are your coping strategies for school holidays? Hope you have a fab time…

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April 13, 2011 at 12:06 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)

Conference Report: Somebody else’s child

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I was part of a blogging and tweeting team at BAAF’s Somebody Else’s Child private fostering event earlier this week. I learned loads about a topic I’d not really considered much before.

Private fostering is where a child lives with someone who is not their parent or close relative for 28 days or more. The majority of private fostering arrangements work well and offer the child a safe and secure environment. However, cases of child abuse and child trafficking have been identified in some private fostering arrangements.

You can watch some of the presentations online on BAAF’s livestream and if you’re a fan of twitter, search for the twitter hashtag #pfweek.

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March 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm

She’s not my real mum…

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That’s a phrase a lot of us who have adopted children will have heard or might be expecting to in the future… It’s the title of a brilliant blog post from Nikki Pilkington about her stepmum and I have to confess to a few tears while reading it.

For me, there are a lot of similarites to the ‘mumflict’ in adoption. That longing for the biological mum – who is bound to be better than the not-so-real mum, with the rules and routines – alongside the developing trust and relationship with the not-so-real mum. Sometimes it can be hard not to get caught up in the rejection and easy to miss the positive shoots of your growing relationship.

child not speaking
The impact of early neglect and trauma on building trust and attachment for some adopted children adds to the complexity and can mean that the closer you get, the more you’re pushed away. It can be hard to keep up sometimes and easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come since starting out as parent and child.

Taking some time out to reflect on things that have changed for the positive, small steps, little things can help give you a boost if there’s not a lot of positive stuff going on. And remembering that often the rejection is a sign of things edging closer behind the scenes…

Related posts

Being a mum

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March 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

Bruised before birth

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The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT) are running a series of conferences in the UK for professionals, parents and carers about the complexities faced by a child with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and strategies and supports that can help.

FASD affects a number of children who are fostered or adopted and it can affect things like speech and language processing, cause and effect thinking and ability to concentrate. Awareness of different strategies and supports will help both children and families to deal with the impact of FASD.

There are still places left for the conference in Edinburgh this week (Thursday 10th March) and there’s another conference in London on 30th March if that’s closer for you.

I’m going to the Edinburgh conference – let me know if you’re going too…

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March 7, 2011 at 7:33 am