AdoptResources's Blog

blogging about adoption, attachment, parenting & family life

Posts Tagged ‘adoptee

Making faces

with 3 comments

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

Advertisements

Written by adoptresources

July 22, 2011 at 8:43 am

Family history

with 2 comments

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

Holiday time, again!

with 2 comments

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…

Written by adoptresources

April 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Life story round the clock…

with one comment

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)

She’s not my real mum…

with 2 comments

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

Written by adoptresources

March 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

Bruised before birth

with 2 comments

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…

Written by adoptresources

March 7, 2011 at 7:33 am

Holiday time

with one comment

We’ve just had our half term holiday and it’s back to school tomorrow… I know lots of others are just starting their week’s holiday so I thought I’d post a link to my surviving the summer holidays blog. There’s a few tips in there that might help, especially if your child is one that finds the lack of familiar routine hard to handle.

cycling in parkIn a nutshell, the things that can help are building a sense of what’s happening next. Using visual cues – planners, calendars etc. Avoiding overwhelm, keeping things simple. Another biggy is to take the pressure off yourself to have perfect family moments all day, every day. Savour the moments of magic no matter how small they seem…

Enjoy your holidays, I’ll be thinking of you on the school run tomorrow!

Written by adoptresources

February 21, 2011 at 12:15 am