AdoptResources's Blog

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Book review: Holding on and hanging in by Louise Miles

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by Fiona Strachan, adoptive parent

Holding on and hanging in is the account of a foster carer and their family’s experience of specialist foster care with Wayne, who was placed with the family at the age of 9 years old. I loved this book. I found it well written and easy to read which, given the content, is an achievement in itself. The book is written by Lorna Miles a foster carer and adoptive parent with years of parenting and fostering experience. Lorna describes their story with great sensitivity, insight and honesty.

Throughout the book you get a real feel of the experience of living with a child who has experienced neglect and abuse. This will strike a chord with a number of carers and adoptive parents. You also get to witness some of the magical breakthroughs they make with Wayne through the concept of ‘therapeutic parenting’ the Dan Hughes way. The book offers an insight into how the theory can work in the real life setting but also shows the enormous strain living like that can cause and how the effects ripple outwith the immediate family to affect friends and extended family.

Lorna presents an open and honest picture of their experience of the specialist foster care scheme and gives an account of some of the strengths but also the shortcomings of the scheme. In particular, the difficulties caused when practitioners are not adopting the same approach to caring for the child’s needs and dealing with behaviour. The foreward is written by the Fostering Manager of the therapeutic fostering scheme involved in the placement and acknowledges the strengths and some of the difficulties in running a scheme like this. Their thoughts pretty much match Lorna’s account.

I think practitioners and carers would get a lot from this book. For practitioners, the book allows an insight into the relentlessness of some behaviours and also the efforts carers go to, in order to help meet their child’s needs. For carers, the book offers a validation of the effects neglect and trauma can have on children placed in care and shows some of the approaches that can help in tricky situations. For any new or prospective carers, it needs to be pointed out that this is not a typical placement!

As an adoptive parent, I felt understood when I read Lorna’s account of some of the behaviours they witnessed and also encouraged to read where the PACE approach got results. This is a book that I can imagine dipping in and out of in the future for wee gems of advice and encouragement.

Holding on and hanging in

This book review was was first published in Foster Families magazine.

Written by adoptresources

July 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm

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