Saturday, 21 July 2018

A & F Podcast - Episode 46 - Suddenly Mummy, a wedding and an Equal Chance



This week we're really excited to speak to Becky AKA Suddenly Mummy as she gives us the low down on her recent engagement. We do get a little distracted by that but then manage to pull ourselves back on track discussing the recent Adoption UK initiative and report (Equal Chance) in relation to supporting adoptees in the education system. Becky recounts her expereinces with teaching as well as appearing on Radio 4, meeting celebrities in the Green Room all before her Fiance distracts her with a cup of tea and has to leave.




We then indulge in a little banter, touch on approaches to empowering parents and all kinds of usual stuff.
We hope you enjoy it as we look start the summer holidays.  

Thursday, 19 July 2018

2018 Child on Parent Violence and Aggression Survey - Summary

So, here it is, the findings of the 2018 Child on Parent Violence and Aggression Survey.

I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been a massive task and consequently produced a massive report, over 50,000 words to be exact. Fear ye not, we've condensed it into an extended summary that can be found here:




From the over 500 responses Dr Wendy Thorley has undertaken the vast majority of analysis and work and it's a testament to her tenacity and passion that it's come together at all. 

What does it say and what does it mean. Now, that is a question. There's lots to pull out and different people will find significance and use in different bits but to me there are few key issues that weave through the work. 

I now see Childhood Challenging, Violent and Aggressive Behaviour (CCVAB) that many families experience is an umbrella phrase that encompasses distinct behaviours beneath it, Child on Parent Violence (CPV) is one that is clearly defined and linked to intent and a desire to control parents and carers, on this almost all of the previous literature, guidance and research has been focused. However, from our respondents we found a much bigger group of children who's behaviour was described by them as linked clearly to dysregulation, anxiety, stress, not coping and being overwhelmed. The main point being that there was no prior intent or planning. Linked to that, over 50% of respondents noted that their children were diagnosed with a learning disability or autism and many of the children had compounded issues such as anxiety, attachment difficulties, mental ill health and ADHD. To then consider how the any violent and aggressive behaviour defined and described within this context leads directly to conditions as described in World Health Indicators 'Conduct Disorder confined to family context' and  DSM-V indicators that outline Intermittent Explosive Disorder.  Many of the respondent's children appeared to meet the diagnostic indicators for these conditions very different to the stereotypical CPV descriptions. 

This wasn't where we were expecting to be lead but its where we found ourselves with two distinct underlying causes and patterns to the behaviour under the banner CCVAB. 

Understanding this makes me consider workforce development, knowledge and responses. Historically, much has been pointed and directed to CPV when the survey notes this is the lesser of the two types. Food for thought across many professions. The need for effective informed responses is more pressing than ever. 

I know that the adoption community may be over represented in relation to CCVAB within the general population, however within the community of parents and carers living with children with like for like conditions (autism, ADHD, trauma ie. children with SEND) we share a similar level of challenge. We need to build strong links to that community of biological parents to strengthen our lobby. 

Of course there's a lot more to consider and that will be unpacked but I'd like to give a massive thank you to all that took part, have listened to me prattle on and have encouraged us when it got hard. 

We felt that the Extended Summary would be of most use to most people and that's freely available so please share far and wide. For a printed version of the full report then it can be found on amazon at a cost and we've made a ebook version for those on a budget.

This is another part of the jigsaw, is there more to do? of course but all in good time. 

Again, thank you. 

If you want a hard copy of the full report or an Ebook version please look here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lets-Talk-About-Violence-Aggression/dp/1717725589/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532019310&sr=1-1









Thursday, 12 July 2018

That's stupid

It seems odd where conversations come from and how they end up in unusual places.  I can't quite recall at what point this one started as we were driving home from some outing with Flossy, Lotty and Peanut.

Flossy and Lotty were somewhat perplexed/indignant at the legal technicality's of the adoption process. The kind of perplexed/indignant that adolescents do with such flair and verve it seems a shame that it's wasted on them. Fortunately, there ire wasn't aimed at me.

Peanut was listening but was also admiring the 'precious' stones that she'd acquired in a car park, I'd negotiated her down from two 'precious' half bricks and a couple of lumps of 'precious' railway ballast. We don't need any more 'precious' things hidden in her room.



Flossy and Lotty set about me.

So, you're saying that our mam* is not our mam when she clearly is my mam. 

Me: Only legally,  of course she is biologically your mam. 

But you're saying she's not our mam.

Me: No, I'm saying she is your mam but when the adoption order was made the birth certificate was changed and me and your mam were put on as your parents. 

But you're not our mam and dad.

Me: Well I am but I'm not...... 

Ok, what about Kasey** is she our sister?

Me: Well.......... yes of course she's your sister but from a legal position................(I trail off realising that I don't know)............Legally, you don't have the same mother.

But she is our mother and Kasey is our sister

Me: Yes, but not legally............. 

So, you're saying that she's not our mother?

This goes on for a while and blissfully is ended when we arrive home. After a brief negotiation Peanut agrees that the 'precious' stone can live with the other 'precious' stones on the drive.

Flossy and Lotty slink into the house and with a parting shot aimed with the brilliance of teenage girls they declared:

That's stupid


I agreed.
Increasingly, I'm at a loss as to how to hold all the needs of all the people in tension. Sometimes none of this makes sense.






* Birth mam
**Older biological sister



Saturday, 7 July 2018

Adoption & Fostering Podcast - Ep 45 an interview with Colourful Carwen

In this episode we interview Colourful Carwen, she was diagnosed in her 40's as having autism but throughout her childhood she presented with challenging, violent and aggressive behaviour to her parents and family. Carwen's reflective account of how experienced the world she lived as well as her feelings on the her behaviour offer a rare insight to the inner workings and thoughs of chldren who are sometimes challenging. 



Scott and Al discuss the news of the day, international adoption and LGBT predjudice. Needless to say there's the usual banter, a moment with a guitar and an interuption from a dog

Be advised there are a few adult words during the interview.



Thursday, 28 June 2018

Cup of sadness

I often feel like I'm the guardian of my children's stories. Complicated, painful and wonderful stories that make perfect sense to some and no sense to others, stories that twist and turn their way to my door. The stories have characters that are good, characters that are bad and predominantly characters that are complicated.

Mostly it's been easy to share the story, as they say 'if you can remember being told you were adopted then it's too late'. Stories have flowed naturally and easily from the photos on the wall and the names in the books. We've all shared the stories of our jigsaw life and little ears find comfort, safety and value in the 'firsts'.

First time we met, first thing we said, first trip and so on..................



From the outset there have been parts of these stories that are hard to contemplate and consider. Hard for me as an adult but immeasurably hard when they are woven into the biological links, genetic bonds and tendrils of identity. There have been some tough conversations and if I focus on me for a sentence, some conversations that I never wanted to have and left shadows.

This guardian role hangs heavy, so easy to slip, so easy to say too soon or too late. We peel back the layers of the same story. We make sense of the same events with a four year old, then a six, nine, thirteen and sixteen year old. Gently we peel back the nuance as these little people grow and begin to understand, 'could not' keep you safe becomes 'did not', becomes 'would not' keep you safe. It's a cup of heartache we return to again and again.

Then our phone rings and though the back channels that we've built and fostered with birth family and we discover the story has moved on again. The cup of sadness has been topped up to overflowing.

The layers of complexity grow, I call my closest friends and they've no words or wisdom they just know. They help me hold the cup for a little while before I ask my children to drink from it again.  

Again, I blog in vague broad strokes. Take from it what you will.



Friday, 22 June 2018

The Adoption & Fostering Podcast: Episode 43 - An interview with Mark Owers

Mark Owers has been close to the decision making and has influenced adoption over the last 10 years within No. 10 Downing Street and the Department for Education. He recently co authored the Fostering Stock Take and now works with agencies on the regionalisation agend. Mark is also an adoptive parent.




There's a lot to dicuss with Mark as he has insight and understanding of a wide range of issues that affect adopters and foster carers but we start with his own adoption story which is quite remarkable and unique. 
We talk to Mark about the Fostering Stocktake, that was controversial, and the responses from various groups as well as considering some of the points that were raised in relation to professionalisation, risk management, foster carer/parent roles as well as being sensible in relation to how we care for children.  

Adoption is discussed and Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs) are spoken about with some of the concerns that many familes have discussed as well as discusion around the future of adoption. Contact, support, Facebook, lifestory and birth families are all touched on as we have a really interesting conversation with Mark in relation to modernising adoption. 


We had a few intermittent technical issues on the line with Mark, they come then go, so apologies but it's not unbearabe. 


As usual Scott and Al enjoy a bit of pre interview banter.  

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Looking Away

I’m struggling to watch the news with images and audio clips of children being separated from their parents and family. It’s distressing to all persons watching on regardless of circumstances, sex, nationality, political persuasion or whatever. Almost all adults are hard wired to help when we hear children in distress. It is too much to bear, to see it in the news day on day, how it will end or play out politically I don’t know and the rationale or motivations behind it bear little relevance to those children or some bloke sat in the north of England. 


It sends chills through me. Be clear I’m not trying to compare my experiences with those of families on the other side of the world but I have had my screaming and crying children taken out of my arms against my will and better judgement, I’ve felt small hand’s desperate grip on me as though their lives depended on it and I’ve heard the cries as they’re carried away. The summer of 2007 was a bleak summer we’re haunted by the experience, I should have stopped it but I was unable. My inaction and inability to protect them and us hangs over me more than a decade later.  All adoption and fostering stories are complicated  and ours is no more so others. Like many we’ve given our hearts and futures into the hands of social workers and a system that is essential but flawed. We were cogs in that machine and justice needed to be seen to be done but this justice cared not for little people or us.

I often blog and say nothing of our story and journey though the care system, it’s our story and not a currency to be peddled for hits on my site. I skirt round the facts because they belong to us. However, it’s a story that is present in our every day, my children’s actions and reactions in my motivations and thoughts. 

I turn from the news because I understand what this does to children and adults. Time doesn’t heal this shit, children don’t grow out of it and not remembering isn’t the same as not being screwed up. 

I’m looking away but I am bothered. 



Since posting this events have moved on, however the damage for those children and families is done.