AdoptResources's Blog

blogging about adoption, attachment, parenting & family life

Posts Tagged ‘attachment


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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

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 for more details

Written by adoptresources

July 11, 2011 at 3:17 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

Written by adoptresources

March 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

A weekend away…

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map and keysI was away this weekend, leaving my husband and the troops at home…

It can be difficult for any child when one or both of their parents is away but, for children who have had significant separations and loss in their life, even a short and well planned absence of a parent can be stressful. Some of the things that can help are:

Before you go

  • time when you introduce the idea carefully – if you do it too early they might get more stressed in the build up to the trip, and this could affect behaviour. But if you wait too long, it may come as too much of a surprise
  • talk about where you’ll be and how you’re travelling – this helps build up a picture of where you’ll be. Show them on the map or show a photo if it’s somewhere they’ve never been
  • talk about what you’ll be doing, who you’ll be with – again this helps give them a picture of what you’ll be doing when you’re not with them
  • talk about what you’ll do when you get back, plans for the week etc – this helps reassure any anxieties that you might not come back!

I sometimes leave post it notes or a note with my phone number on it – this gives something physical to hold to reinforce the message, they can take it to school etc and also gives a bit of security that they can phone you if they need to.

While you’re away

  • make sure you ‘check in’ when you can throughout the trip – chat on the phone, text or email
  • let them know when you’re likely to phone and try where possible to stick to the schedule.

When you get back

  • don’t be surprised it you’re given the cold shoulder, or if after the initial welcome home, a bit of rejection or button pushing sets in
  • they might be a bit clingy and not let you out of their sight, just keep things as normal as possible and reassure them by talking about what’s happening for the rest of the week…

Visual cues with weekly planners, calendars, diaries all help and physical things like notes, photos, comfort blankets or a tissue with your perfume (or after shave) on it all give reassurance on more than just a talking or language level.

How does your child cope if you’ve been away? Add your comments below on what’s worked for you.

Written by adoptresources

January 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Making memories

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black and white photosSometimes in adoption, our attention is drawn to the gaps in our shared history, to the times when we were not together as a family instead of to the memories we are creating all the time. Albums and photos focussing on the early experiences are important to help children build a sense of who they are and to keep hold of some of the important people in their lives. But to help children and families grow together, this reflection also needs to include looking forward and to laying down new memories.

Here’s a few things that can help you and your family build your shared history:

Parallel journey chat about what happened before you became a family, what age you were when they were born, where you worked what you were doing and so on. Look at photos and albums. This helps join bits of your lives together without keeping things in separate worlds. A little PS to this one, don’t expect a captive audience, just gently trickle the information in…

Reminisce chat about things that you’ve done together, what they were like when they were younger, talk about feelings around things that happened – the funny moments, positive times, even sad times. The focus of day to day stuff can often be on difficulties so a reminder of the good old days/moments can help give a bit of a boost…

Commemorate take photos, mementoes, scrapbooks, postcards etc… these help build tangible memories of the things that you’ve done together and helps children not able to hold memories well to have a physical reminder to hold onto…

Celebrate in your way, create memories to look back on and your own family traditions. Choose the events that mean something to your family, these may be adoption related, they may not. Be sensitive to the fact that for some children Adoption Days can be a reminder of loss.

All of these things help build security in families and help us to feel like we belong. I’d love to hear your comments…

This post was published in my Autumn newsletter sign up to receive the next one…

Written by adoptresources

November 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm

The waiting game…

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Adoption is a funny process – full of highs & lows; stops & starts. There are lots of stages to get through and each one feels like an achievement and is worth a celebration, but is followed by a wait until you reach the next stage. In the middle of each of the waiting stages you have to put a bit of yourself on hold and wait for things outwith your control to fall into place but at the same time try to plan for what might or might not happen with no firm idea of when anything is going to happen.

Apologies now for a fairly rubbish analogy but … it’s a bit like flying… you decide you want to go somewhere & research your options, so far so good… decision made, journey confirmed – woo hoo… get yourself organised, remember your passport and head to the airport… check in & hand your baggage over – nearly there… then the departure lounge – potential delays, maybe even cancellations – then, just when you’ve bought another latte/gin & tonic/gone to the bathroom… your flight is called & you’re off – no going back now!!!

So what can you do if you’re in the waiting stage:

  • look after yourself & your partner – be kind to each other, different things stress different people out, some people are better at blocking out things they can’t change, for others it’s not so easy – respect your differences
  • think about the profile of the child you’ve been approved to adopt – preschool? what activities are in your area, playgroups, mother & toddler groups etc – school age? there will be less parent/child activities but it might be worth checking out some of the activities available at sports centres, library etc. You don’t need to be too specific or start booking places yet!! But a bit of legwork now can help save a bit of time later.
  • have a wander round ikea/mothercare etc and see where the types of things you like are, get a few cataolgues to flick through at home. We had a mad afternoon shopping for car seats & buggies & didn’t have a clue what to ask for or what we needed!
  • speak to your health visitor (?paediatric nurse in US) – I found our health visitor a brilliant source of support and advice on parenting and child development. When your child is placed there might not be any scheduled visits to or from the health visitor, so it’s worth making contact or at least finding out how to get in touch with your health visitor before placement.
  • check out some childcare/parenting books… a word of caution on this one – it’s hard to know what information is going to be relevant until you know the child being placed, but again finding out what books you like and where you can find them can help save time later.
  • find out from your agency what sources of support there are for adoptive families in your area – knowing this in advance can help if you do need a bit more support or advice after placement. Linking in with local supports before placement helps make it easier to connect after placement.
  • have a look on social networks – twitter, facebook, internet, Adoption UK etc
  • speaking to family – letting them know about the stages of the process you’ve still to go through, involvement of social workers etc; also have a chat to them about what you’ve learned about attachment – help them to understand how your parenting might have to be a bit different from what they’d expect.
  • sort out practical issues – find out about your options for adoption leave, work out your finances etc – having children is expensive and working out financial practicalities in advance can reduce stress later.
  • pay attention to your needs – chat with someone you feel comfortable with – allow yourself your ups & downs…

You’ve probably done or heard of all of the above and there’s not a lot you can do to make the time pass faster. But there might be a couple of things that help you feel better prepared or fill the gaps while you’re waiting.

Best wishes for you and your adoption.

Check out the AdoptResources blogroll or tweets for current info…

Written by adoptresources

January 20, 2010 at 12:31 am