Friday, 15 December 2017

Adoption & Fostering Podcast - Episode 31 The Christmas Special with Sally D + Guest

It’s the Christmas Podcast!

With a sense of festive fun and mirth we speak to Sally Donovan, we ask some listeners questions, add a little frivolity and have a good old chinwag. 

Of course, we discuss all manner of things, self regulation, writing books, an all kinds of other stuff. We play the infamous Adoption & Fostering Christmas Quiz, Scott and Al have a full on Podtiff and Sally D leads us onto the rocks of questionable taste.

To round it off we have what is now another tradition of our Christmas message from secret adoption blogging royalty. 

We hope you enjoy, thanks for listening and we wish you well as you navigate the festivities!

As always if you’re bored and feeling benevolent you could seek us out on iTunes here and give us a wee review!

Hold Fast! 

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here
or on the Podbean site here


Thursday, 14 December 2017


Last week my Construction Plant Certification expired.

So what.

Good question, it seemed like a big deal, the passing of something that can't be be captured again. I loved my job in construction and sat and cried on a park bench the day I left for the last time after resigning. That was nine years ago. We walked into an uncertain future, with unfamiliar landmarks and features, we hoped everything would be ok and we'd make it, whatever 'it' was. We were struggling to care for traumatised children and it was traumatising us.  I knew we had five children and they would need to be the sole focus for a while and I couldn't remain in work. So I left and it felt like a catastrophic mistake of my own invention.

Some of that uncertainty from nine years ago remains, in fact it's that uncertainty feels like the one certainty. We still live moment by moment, trying to not be drawn into the drama, fear, rage, terror and anxiety. It seems pretty normal now, not bad or good it just is. I suppose its a development of what I spoke of last week, my aspirations are moderated by my circumstance. The idea of a 'career' a little absurd when home life seems so random and abstract at times.

The expiring of my certificate seems to burn a bridge, even if I wanted to I don't think I could return to that 'normal' life.  I'm sure I could actually return to my old job, actually I know I could my benevolent ex employer contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I had a little spare time to do some work. I didn't, though I was tempted.

For all the challenge and complications I like what we've got. Of course I could give you a list of things I'd alter but I still love my kids. I never anticipated the changes parenting would bring, more so the changes that adoptive parenting would bring.

It feels like the winds of change are upon us again. The needs of the children are developing and the needs of the parents are changing.  I'm talking to friends about how I divide my time and where I place my energies. As they say:

 'Constant change is here to stay'

Thursday, 7 December 2017


I'd get sacked within minutes in a meme factory due to me constantly and insistently lowering my standards, aiming lower and setting low aspirations.  I can see the face on my imaginary line manager as I offer them a picture of a cute child with a tagline 'one day you might be average'.

What I've learnt is that high expectations is the enemy of a happy family life in Coates Towers.

I'd hoped that MrsC, the wee three and me could go out for a meal this weekend. We rarely do so, for a whole host of reasons it's always tricky. I'd set my heart on it, partly motivated by one of my children, who shall remain nameless, informing us that we never do anything as a whole family. I really thought we could be like one of those families that we see on the telly with the happy smiley faces and warm loving, mutually respecting, Volvo with Labrador kind of family that laughs as they 'do things together'.

I'd really hoped that we could just have a nice time, more than that in my head it was a marker I'd placed in my mind that we'd survived another tricky year, against the odds we'd done it and we were going to celebrate that together.

So, after appropriate signposting, psychological preparation and phased communication with the massive then identifying a suitable venue the day arrived and the 'I wish we could do things together' Child declares she's not coming.

'Why?' I ask putting on my best Dr Dan on valium tone.

'Just don't fancy it'

So, that's me unravelled right there! and she's rocking the just try and make me come nonchalance/sass.

Needless to say there was an open and honest exchange of opinions followed by a great unravelling with me front and centre to the whole lot of it. So the day went with my tetchy/hacked off/disappointed attitude colouring everything said and done. Everything was a bother and personal.

Expectations, what a killer.

Pre children I had ideals of this and that, high hopes and aspirations for precious moments, shared hobbies and the like. Now they all seem like a recipe for my own unhappiness. I've not lowered my expectations rather to try and take them out of the equation and roll with whatever happens good, bad or, most usually, a little bit of both.

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Adoption & Fostering Podcast: An interview with Stuart Guest

This week we speak to Head Teacher and adoptive parent Stuart Guest. He has taken an innovative approach to create a nurturing, supportive and safe learning environment for all the children in his primary school. This approach has been informed by an understanding of the impacts of early life adversity. 

Scott and Al have a brief intro then we get straight into the interview. Stuart shares his experience and thoughts on a range of issues including; pupil premium, pupil premium plus, partnership with schools, information packs, secondary schools, homework and of course the now legendary #CookieNookieNight 

Thank you for all the questions that were sent in and we hope you enjoy this episode and we aspire to get Stuart back to the podcast in the new year.
Stuart has sent a link to some resources and they can be found here

I appologise that there's a wee bit of 'clipping' in the audio quality for the first 4 minutes of the interview with Stuart. It does pass and so please bare with it. 

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here
or on the Podbean site here

Thursday, 30 November 2017


I'm slowly unpacking some of the events of the last year, this is one part of a really tricky story. We're in a much more settled place today. 

'Why don't you send her back?'

What a peculiar thing to say to me:

Where do I start with that question. Yes, I may have been put through the ringer and gone to the very extreme of parenting experience but 'sending her back'? Really, how do you think that question helps me today. The nuance of my life seems beyond explanation sometimes.

The fascination with adoption seems to hang on the questions can you ever love a child that's not 'yours' the same as your 'own'? I don't know and never will.

I don't want to know, that's a terrifying thought and I don't even want to go there. I'd like to think my feelings are as much as anyone can ever feel for a child. Perhaps that's just me who ponders these thoughts, it's all meant to be ok isn't it?

In the midst of our challenge that question, 'Why don't you send her back?' hurts.
I made a covenant and for as long as I can, for as long as I should and as long as she needs I'll keep going. More than that I love her as such as I can. So, is it as much as I'd be able to love a biological child? does it even matter.

In the midst of my own pain, confusion and suffering you wake the protective dad with those words. I become an apologist for poor behaviour, I can list the reasons for it and don't need to resort to excuses. I want you to understand like I understand to love like I love. Don't interrogate me, don't add to my woes. They were trying to help by asking the question but have made it all worse, much worse.

I imagined her leaving and I feel worse than ever, so you have helped. My resolve is stronger than ever, I'm weak and wobbly but that's different to giving up.

She will not be going back, there is no back, if she were ever to leave it's not to a mythical back. There is no back.

I often feel like I'm reaching for ideas that are reflections on water, present but beyond my grasp.
There's a year to the day between that question and me. It still stings a year on.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Adoption and Fostering Podcast - National Adoption Scotland 2017

This week we see Scott return to the land of his ancestors, Scotland. He talks to three Scottish guests in honour of Adoption Week Scotland, which is now in its second year.

Firstly Fiona, an Adopter and foster carer from Edinburgh - a real character - and provides peer support through her work with Adoption UK. 
Then Mark, an Adopter from a same sex couple - currently going through the process to adopt for a second time. And finally Jess, an administrator got the Adoption Register in Scotland. 
As always banter and humour squeezed into infopodcastainment!

Thursday, 23 November 2017


We appear to be in a bit of a purple patch.

I'm pretty sure by other family's standards it's still pretty hairy, by our standards it feels significantly different. It's hard to explain, we used to be turned up to 10 now we never seem to get past 8, maybe 9, but the difference is tangible, manageable and pretty incredible actually.

The other day we cooked together, we made pizzas, it became a good natured competition as to who could make the best pizza. MrsC was the judge and Flossy and I teased each other and engaged in a little light sledging. We laughed as we tried to out do each other, it was light and easy. It didn't go too far, nobody got upset and we enjoyed being together. That seems like a strange thing to write, but afterwards I realised that I've been tense for years with the anticipation of the next conflict or the fallout of the last.

This moment of fun and relaxation is not an isolated incident, we've been seen having fun, laughing and joking on and off for a few months.

There's still plenty of friction, but it ends and we move on. We constantly battle anxieties and worry that manifests as friction, outbursts and temper. It's never easy and constantly testing. What would have lingered for days now resolves within minutes or hours. Not easy, but in relative terms easy.

Today we had a proper teenager/parent shout at each other about teenager/parent stuff. It ended and we walked away. It was bloody fantastic.

What's happened? What have we done differently. If I had a secret rest assured I'd have shared it. It seems like an 'aggregate of marginal gains' to use a cycling phrase. A little bit here and a little bit there. Hobbies, interests, maturity, school support, family, friends and as always and perhaps the biggest factor few more sharp corners knocked off mam and dad. There's other stuff too.

I'm no fool and I know the wind can change direction again. But I refuse to live in a state of  'what if', I'm chasing hope and optimism and why the hell not? we've walked in the shade in the past enough to not enjoy the sunshine for a little while.
This year people have said to me again and again 'how are you going to manage the next 6 years?'* I can't answer that question but I can do today, and for the first time in a long time today's not too bad at all.

So, while we seem to have this spinning plate steady and true we realise that another one of our children appears to be be unravelling while our gaze was elsewhere.  Young adult bother but that's another story.

* She'll be 18 in 6 year that mythical age where common perception believes that parents can let their kids get on with life.