Friday, 20 January 2017

I am a tree

I am a tree
I am a tree
I am a tree

Just keep saying it, step back, breathe, hold the image in my mind. I like our new Psychiatrist,  like an angel sent from on high. wise, gentle, caring, soothing words, just imagine your a tree he said, ok, I said, what have I got to lose?

I am a tree
I am a tree
I am a tree

I lean towards scepticism in relation to this 'smell to get well', 'imagine you're a mighty eagle' stuff. When I try I can mostly hear my dad's voice calling me a 'silly bugger'. 

But, any port in a storm and I think it might just be helping.

I am a tree
I am a tree
I am a tree

Oh, hell. I think the kids have found my axe.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Child on Parent Violence Survey 2016 - First Impressions

Here we have the initial response to the findings of the Child on Parent Violence Survey that I posted at the end of last year.

Dr Wendy Thorley has pulled together the findings and written the First Impressions that can be downloaded here

Thanks to everyone that responded and though I wasn't surprised that lots of people completed the survey I was surprised by some of the findings. I'd advise that you read the First Impressions paper as that outlines the clear themes that emerged. The survey was completed predominantly by adopters and as such reflects their experience but it has relevance beyond that.

I was surprised at the number of responses that highlighted the younger age than is often acknowledged in other studies. I thought it was just our family, or just a coincidence with families that I knew. The survey indicates otherwise for adoptive families. With Selwyn noting in Beyond the Adoption Order that Child on Parent Violence was a major feature in disruptions and the 30% of families that are struggling the scale and impact is clear for all adopters. The data raises questions of ethical recruitment and preparation for adopters as they embark on their adoption journeys. 

The impact of Child on Parent Violence is significant, no surprise, but to see the responses in black and white is heart rending.

Another feature was the inconsistency of response and limited effectiveness of support, no surprise but sobering to think of families struggling. It's been said before but the Survey highlights the need for professional awareness to be raised for all practitioners that are in contact with adopters, foster carer, guardians, kinship carers and guardians.

There's more data to sift through on the survey and it is not without it's floors, I'm the first to acknowledge that I'm out of my comfort zone. But, there's more to unravel that will hopefully validate the experiences of potentially up to a third of adoptive families and inform practitioners. 

From here we keep going, I'm sharing the information and hoping to develop more areas of the survey to consider the response of professionals, impact on siblings and awareness. 

So thank you, please read and share 
This is a good start.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Social Work Games

Peanut and Flossy are playing Social Workers again. 

It's hard to tell what is going on but they are clearly feeling passionate, I lean in and try and interpret the scene. 

Lotty, 11, is clearly working hard to care for her babies. It's not clear but I think the babies have been naughty, or that's what Peanut, 5,  seems to be saying at full volume. I don't like to criticise but her communication and intervention skills are not all they could be and as for her empathy? Well frankly they don't meet the required standard as set out in the professional capabilities framework for newly qualified let alone experienced practitioners. Peanut continues, if they don't behave you'll have to go away she shouts to Lotty. 

It doesn't feel like a sad or happy game, volume in my children's games is no indication of either. It feels like a matter of fact sort of game, it just is.

I heard once that 'I'm down on Social Workers', I don't think I am but I am acutely aware that we're often agents of the state and nobody wants to see us at the front door. Generally, there are no good reasons to see us, even if we're welcome, we're welcome because we're helping in a bad situation or meeting a need that we'd rather wasn't there. We try to be fixers. 

The game continues, Lotty's perceived 'non compliance' is testing Peanuts patients and the tone is turning threatening. Lotty, is arguing the toss, quite convincingly, but she needs to be careful Peanut is holding the cards in the game. Social Workers hold all the power.

Children play out what they see, what matters to them and their play can often be a window into their thoughts and feelings. Social Workers have been involved in most of my children's lives they've never played Social Workers until now.

I keep listening to them but I'd rather they weren't playing Social Workers.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Fostering & Adoption Podcast - Episode 7 Blair Mortimer Adoptee, Foster carer and Social Worker

This episode has an interview with Blair Mortimer, an adult adoptee,  Foster Carer and Social Worker.

Blair discusses his experience of adoption, looking for his birth family and the work he does with other adoptees.

Scott and I discuss our aims behind the Podcast as well as thoughts the hearing the voices of adoptees and future hopes.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here and if you'd like to leave a review that would bolster my delicate ego.

Thursday, 5 January 2017


I just want to run into the street and shake my fist at the sky, I want to go totally 'Fawlty Dad' and thrash the ground with the branch of a tree.


Because Trauma wins.

It stains everything it touches and seeps out of the shadows of children's lives and with insidious determination casts shadows over mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and anyone close enough to touch. It feels personal but it's indiscriminate, it chokes love and care, crushes hope and joy. It blinds, deceives, draws you in and asks you to dance to it's tune, it camouflages itself and deflects the blame onto everyone close.

Four weeks ago the historic trauma rose up and cut through us all like a scythe.

Our family, friends, colleagues, faith and professionals caught us. They held us when we couldn't stand, they gave us the worlds to say when we didn't know what to say, friends and acquaintances stepped in and stepped up. I've never felt so cared for in my life. So, thank you for your kind words and wise words shoulders to cry on and ears to listen. There are too many to thank but thank you anyway.

Trauma has not won this battle.

Trauma remains a feature of our home but because of  those who closed around us we are still here, so thank you.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Another Year

Another year and another collection of moments and incidents, some mundane, some surreal and lots and lots in between. Thinking about the last month, the GoodMrsC and I have re calibrated our thinking and we are measuring our lives in smaller increments, minutes, hours and days. Beyond that has seemed impossible and overwhelming.

The end of the year has been a challenge, after years of inviting and requesting support and been told on at least two occasions officially that there was nothing that could offered above what we were doing and were receiving had we found ourselves thrown into a whirlwind of activity. Mainly uninvited, initially unwelcome but from this difficult place we hope that good will come and early signs are promising.

Right now we're all a bit delicate, hurt children hurt and we've all been hurt the last few weeks.

It's all a bit vague and unspecific but it's still tender and ongoing. It's provoked lots of thoughts about contemporary adoption, systems, culture, children's Services and such,  I'm sure that I'll condense them into several blogs over the next few months.

Other than that, what a year, Peanut started school and Flossy moved up to year 7. Like many homes like ours school and all that it brings defines a large part of our home life in the most challenging of ways. We've a way to go, if I look too far ahead then I lose the thought that it's possible. As I said, we'll do a day at a time. I've enough faith and resolve to say that I can do today and probably tomorrow.

There's so much other stuff that's filling up the corners of my life, the survey on Child on Parent Violence raises lots of questions. Hopefully, it will be a start point for a more considered and informed approach to an issue that defines many family lives in the fostering and adoption community and beyond. Lots has been done but there's lots more to do.

Thank you for reading my blog, writing comments, interacting on Twitter, watching my stupid videos and listening to my rambling on my Podcast. I wish you peace, success, regulation, access to services and good fortune in the coming year, or if that's too long to imagine the coming days.

Albums of the Year
Ozzy Osbourne - Tribute
Public Service Broadcasting - The War Room/ The Race for Space

Book of the Year
The Child Catchers - Kathryn Joyce (It's taken me a whole year and I'm not finished yet)

Blog of the Year

Suddenly Mummy -Adoption and Fostering: Not a Competition

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Adoption & Fostering Podcast: Ep6 - Suddenly Mummy & Hannah Meadows

In a, vaguely, Christmassy episode Scott and I  meet Suddenly Mummy and talk Foster Care finances and unionisation and get to know her a little.

Hannah Meadows raises the issue of Self Care and  we ask is it  a rational approach to caring for children who have experience loss and trauma or just namby pamby fluff and nonsense. As always Scott adds wisdom, insight and banter. 

We finish with an alternative Christmas message from a very special mystery guest. 

It's a long episode but it is the holidays and you deserve it. 

I appologise for the coughs, Internet bother, ringtones and general chaos as we experimented with the tecnology to have three way conversations. 
I hope you have a smashing Christmas break.
Here's the links for more info.