AdoptResources's Blog

blogging about adoption, attachment, parenting & family life

Posts Tagged ‘birth family

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

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

It’s not about the numbers

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calculator and graphMartin Narey, the outgoing CEO of Barnardos and Tim Loughton, Children’s Minister have called for a reconsideration of current practice in relation to matching ethnicity in adoption to increase the number of adoptions. This is definitely an area that needs to be addressed but the whole matching and approval process would benefit from a bit of TLC. Media attention has focussed on the ‘increasing numbers of adoptions’ message but the real aim should be  better processes for everyone involved, not just trying to increase numbers on any side of the equation.

In an ideal world, there’d be fewer adoptions because children would be cared for in their own family. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. So, in the event that a child is not able to be cared for in their own family, the next aim should be to make their journey to a permanent home as short and untraumatic as possible. It’s not about aiming solely to change the figures and stats around adoption but to:

  • improve the processes for approval of prospective adopters – with less variation in criteria between agencies
  • provide more resources for effective planning and decision making for children taken into care
  • improve the matching process and cut down delays in moving children to permanent placements
  • improve post-placement support through:
  1. better assessment of childrens needs at the time of placement in foster care or with their adoptive family
  2. improved access to support for foster carers and adoptive families
  3. matching support and resources to the child’s needs and not to their legal status (fostered or adopted)

By focussing on the processes and not just numbers you can improve the outcomes for children and families and surely that should be the aim.

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January 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

Top tips for a tip top festive season!

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winter landscapeI’ve just finished a teleseminar discussing some things to think about over the festive season.

You can listen to the replay on the event page and here’s a quick run through of what was covered…

Things to think about:

  • Expectations: ours’, children’s, family & friends’
  • Excitement and anticipation
  • Overwhelm
  • ‘if you’re good…’ or ‘if you don’t behave…’ messages
  • Birth family:  memories, contact
  • Triggers

Some of the things that can help include managing expectations, not aiming for glossy mag perfection; using calendars, planners, albums and visual cues to help build a sense of what’s coming next

and the Top tips:

  • keep it simple
  • talk about what’s happening next
  • stick to the plan/routine if you can
  • look behind the behaviour, think about what’s driving it
  • aim for fun, not perfection…

Essentially, it’s all about understanding the potential triggers and things going on behind the scenes, and finding ways to manage expectations and feelings. Leave a comment with your survival tips for Christmas…

PS as mentioned on the call, here’s the link to the bbc news video where an adoptee discusses his feelings on his birthday…

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December 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm