Friday, 18 January 2019

The A&F Podcast -Foster Carer Stories #4 Sylvia

In this episode we cross the Atlantic and speak to Sylvia, author, retired teacher and foster carer. She shares her story of choosing foster care later in life as well as her writing stories for children and her path to towards adoption.

You can follow Sylvia on Twitter hereand view her 'foster heros' books here.
Foster Carer stories is a place where foster carers can share their experiences, good, bad and everything in between with no agenda or filter.

If you'd like to share your story then please get in touch through the Adoption & Fostering Podcast's facebook page here, or our twitter feed here.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Episode 54 - Autism and Fostered and Adopted Children

Before Christmas we had the opportunity to speak to Dr Helen Rodwell and Dr Katie Hunt about a book that they'd just released on Autism and specifically the challenges that presents to children that are fostered or adopted. (The book can be bought here). It was an interesting chat that clarified some stuff and we considered some of the more challenging issues that parents and carers may experience in caring for the children.

We also discussed the nuances of autism, diagnosis and formulations. The clocks chimed and it was a good natured discussion recorded on the evening of the commons no confidence vote in December. There's a little internet trouble but it's very brief so don't fret.
As always, Scott and I engage in light banter as we top and tail the interview and we've been given a book to give away, actually its the second we were given (long story) so there's a very hard competition to win it. In a bizarre turn of events Alexa starts to join in the podcast.
As always thanks for listening and if you're feeling benevolent or bored please head over to iTunes and leave a little review here .

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Empathy and some thoughts on the Adopter Reference Group

So, up again I went to the Adopter Reference Group to look at and reflect on the issues that the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board consider and discuss some of the current issues that our community are negotiating at the moment. 

The discussion fell back into schools and again I find myself slightly out of step on that subject. For us to see the culture and practice shift that we want for our children in education we need to present an irresistible argument to education professionals, policy makers and politicians. With 26,000 schools in the UK and 55,000 adoptees under 18 years old in a pool of 11,000,000 children adoptees represent a very small cohort

Even in the group of children with SEN, 1,276,000 we are aren’t even at 5% and of course not every adopted child needs additional support in education.  The needs of adopted children may pull on the heartstrings of educationalists for all the cultural and emotive reasons we know but they don’t scratch the surface of the actual need in schools. The argument to change school culture and practice, to raise awareness in the workforce of trauma, loss and separation and to support the needs of vulnerable children becomes irresistible when adoptees are seen amongst the many more children that are living through and with the impacts of early adversity. 

1 in 5 children will experience domestic violence
1 in 20 children will experience sexual abuse
1 in 10 children will experience neglect
1 in 14 children will experience physical abuse
1 in 29 children will experience the death of a parent 
Foster care, kinship care, special guardians, private fostering etc.

Those are features in many adoptees narrative, however they are not exclusively theirs and in reality many more children experience high levels of challenge but adoption is not their story. 
I could go on………..

The case for empathy, compassion and a culture/policy/paradigm shift is clear when adoptees are seen in that community of children. Of course, within that community specific needs and nuances are represented with our children having some. However, the baseline shift that we’re looking for would change everything for those children and it’s likely for all children positively.

Here’s the rub, we need to form alliances and to do that do we need to shout a little less about adoption? Tricky, is it a word that opens doors and gets the ears of professionals? It is in my experience but do we need to help open the door for many that don’t have that luxury. 

So, that was what I was thinking and I did reflect a little of that as we chatted about education. I may have got a little passionate. Hey ho.

Then we went onto consider the work that is being looked at in relation to modernising permanency. It’s a broad subject matter and with several strands as support and contact are considered in relation to children’s identity as well as workforce development. 

I’ve lots of thoughts on that issue and it’s a fundamental issue for services at this time of RAA induced flux and remains a hot topic when broached with adopters and families. I’m going to keep my powder dry on that one. 

I apologise as this feels like a sketchy reflection of the discussion and more an essay on my thoughts on the topics raised. 

That said, continuity of NHS numbers were discussed, an issue that is significant for children with many children with complex health needs who need continuity of treatment and care. In a world of social media children being tracked down through this seems increasingly unlikely in my view. So that’s back on the table.  

The case for the continuation of the ASF beyond March 2020 is being pulled together, the Treasury will, rightly, want to see evidence of it’s benefit to children and families and that is being pursued. 

The issues of adopted children, quite obviously, remain central to the focus and efforts of adoptive parents and the dedicated staff of the DfE and the Adoption and Special Guardian Leadership Board continue to focus on those children. It remains a privilege to speak as a member of the adoption community and though the wheels of change move slow they do move but we need to keep oiling and pushing.

Friday, 4 January 2019

The Adoption & Fostering Podcast - Adopter Stories #8 Adrian

In this episode we travel to the West Coast of the US and speak to birth mom, parent and adoptive parent Adrian. She shares her family's remarkable story of multiple adoptions from different sides of the triangle. 

You can find out more of Adrian's story on her blog here. Also, on her Facebook page here.
If you'd like to share your story then please get in touch through the Adoption & Fostering Podcast's facebook page here, or our twitter feed here.

Thursday, 27 December 2018


It seems like utter bunkum to review the year, so I won't.

However, my thoughts are drawn to trends and developments. There's a lot going on, with shifts in emphasis, agencies coming and going, the whole RAA thing seems to be unstoppable with all that means. That all seems routine and beyond the control or influence of most of us though.

For me there's an increasing shift to see the needs of adoptees and foster children in the context of all children's experiences. It's clear, the lobby for supporting children who have experienced trauma, loss and separation is stronger when we pull in the vast array of communities that care for those children, primarily biological parents, kinship carers, carers, kinship carers and adopters in order of decreasing numbers. The number is then increased from the ten's of thousands to at least the hundred's of thousands. A much louder voice. In what seems like and increasingly punitive environment we need a louder voice.

That of course is a challenge for organisations that are built on the premises of supporting and training adopters/adoptees. They've historically needed to highlight the difference/uniqueness of adoption or at least the shared benefits of supporting adoptees in whatever context they find themselves in.

What has influenced this shift in me was an occasion this year when I stood in front of a group of 25 adults to talk about childhood challenging violent and aggressive behaviour, one person in the group was an adopter, two were carers and the rest biological parents. Dare I say that the needs of the adoption community are dwarfed by the needs of biological parents of children with special educational needs, complex biographies, loss, separation and trauma. Next year my diary shows me moving beyond my safe country of adoption to new lands.

It's all food for thought, don't believe that I see the needs of adoptees and adopters as any less, just that my knowledge of the wider context and level of need is perhaps better informed than it was a year ago. I also understand that public opinion remains mostly with adopters and we get a bigger slice of the cake than most. So, is everything ok in the world of adoption support? hell no, am I advocating us just gratefully accepting our lot? hell no. On Christmas day I got news though a birth family member of another injustice heaped on my children*, it reminded me that there's so much to do for so many of us. Looking further forward, I'm not sure where adoption will be in ten or twenty years. As an adopter will I become an ugly manifestation of a then unacceptable practice, I guess that's a much bigger question about the future of adoption and if adoption will choose to embrace the inevitable challenges that are coming. It's clear that a lot of the RAAs are re arranging the proverbial deckchairs while the future of adoption seems uncertain. One of the most depressing things I learn this year being that meaningful contact between children and birth parents is less than 20 years ago. How can we arrest this slide into uniformed popularist practice? I've some ideas but I wield limited influence within my own circumstances let alone beyond that.

So, that's all a bit rambly, rest assured I am optimistic for the future and have personal, family and wider aspirations for the coming year.  Will there be challenges, hell yeah, I'm currently suffering chronic whiplash from the levels of sass coming from a thirteen year old Lotty and the weekend seems like an unachievable target right now. I will hold fast, perhaps next year I'll find some new friends to hold fast with.

Anyway, here's my 'tops' of the year.

Book: Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning

Album: Ozzy Osbourne, Tribute

Family Member: MrsC

Moment: There's lots of things I 'should' say but riding through the night on the the Dunwich Dynamo was hauntingly remarkable.

Have a great year, hold fast.

*I'm holding my tongue and considering my next move, but I'm as cross as hell at what seems social work practice that errs on the side of caution and the easy route rather than on best practice and forethought.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Adoption & Fostering Podcast Episode 53 - Xmas Special with Suddenly Mummy + Special Guest

So here is merry Christmas and everybody's having fun. Actually, it is fun. In this episode we are pleased to welcome Becky, AKA Suddenly Mummy, to help us reflect on the year.
We talk blogging, or the lack thereof, some of the campaigns around education and some of our individual highlights of the year. It's a lighthearted look at all that's happened and as we look to the future it's only just begun (sorry).

We indulge in a new and improved end of year quiz: Memoir or Made Up? and there's only limited mention of bourbons. A dog barks and Tris makes a brief appearance.
All good fun.

Thank you for listening over the year, we aim to bring some light relief, a few helpful thoughts and a little bit of challenged. If we did then a wee review on iTunes here would be appreciated.

Friday, 14 December 2018

The Adoption & Fostering Podcast - Adopter Stories #7 Brie

In this episode Brie shares her story of experiencing post adoption depression following a little boy being adopted by her and her husband.

Brie's blog, The Colours of Adoption, has more details of her experiences and offers guidance on where to access support. You can also follow her on Twitter @colour_adoption

If you'd like to share your story then please get in touch through the Adoption & Fostering Podcast's facebook page here, or our twitter feed here.