Friday, 25 November 2016

Feeding her to the Wolves

The issue is never the issue. Pretty obvious I guess.

I'm struggling to think what else to say, after  days of attrition, name calling, refusal, attitude, sibling insults and unkindness we finally get to the crux of it. I guess we always had a rough idea what was going on, but these things take time. Like detectives we piece together clues from here and there.

We deal with the anger about this or that, sperficial frothy rage pointed at some inconsequential nonsense, 'I don't want to clean my room!'. We crack that one knowing that this issue is not the issue.

Each layer gets closer to the crux of this particular cycle of rage and darkness. We pass though the superficial issues toward our ultimate goal.

And when we get there we are always confronted with the same thing, a little girl frightened, anxious, worried and confused. The same predictable stuff, this time it's school. The nuances of peer relationships and interactions are a foreign language. Social resilience is non existent.

After it had all blown over I drove up to the school drop off point and she got out. It's like feeding her to wolves, my heart sank knowing this is the first term of her first year with 14 more terms to go. School have been fantastic and the 20 mile round trip is justified but I'm worried for her and I'm worried for us.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Child on Parent Violence - Survey

Create your own user feedback survey

Child on Parent Violence (CPV) is an issue that many adoptive families have experienced. Twitter ignites at the very mention of CPV as empathy, advice and support are offered and experiences shared. The adoption community is under no illusion about the prevalence and challenges that CPV brings, we are  also under no illusion about the lack of a co ordinated of effective response from services we look to for support.

My worry is that we become an echo chamber and we begin to speak to people outside of our world. So, after chatting this through with a few wiser and more experienced folks here's the plan.

We gather some statistics about the prevalence, challenges and experiences of all families that experience Child on Parent Violence, including carers, birth parents, guardians and adoptive parents.

That evidence is used to access funds to get some academic peer reviewed research completed.

We use that research to lobby government to develop an effective response and guidance that can be used to form the practice of all professionals that parents turn to when they experience Child on Parent Violence. Sounds easy.

So, please complete the survey, it will take you a minute.

Please use the link below to  spread the survey wide to friends families and networks beyond adoption, facebook,  twitter to gather the views of all who are affected .

I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Adoption & Fostering Podcast: Ep4 - Brid Featherstone

This week a thought provoking conversation with Prof Brid Featherstone about the BASW Adoption Enquiry.
Scott and I have a catch up, engage in a bit of bantz and reflect on CPV, iTunes ratings and all things adoption.

The review runs through til May 2017 and completed surveys will still be accepted after the closing date

If you need the feed it's here

Or look us up on iTunes

Remember if you give me a rating on iTunes I can boast about it at the water cooler at work, I need more excuses to talk about me.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

A Long Hard Week

Remotely reading accounts of children's violence against parents unfold over Twitter makes for a hard week. It's not just now and then but a theme every week, be that 4 year olds or 14 year olds, either way it's hard to read.  
Lots of us walk that CPV* path and are still on it, it's a hard path that is exacerbated by the professional responses that have been thought up in a common sense empathy vacuum. 

To feel abandoned or accused by the very people that should help you is a double blow, worse than no help at all,  much worse. As Helen Bonnick said in our podcast one professional can make all the difference, finding that professional can be the trick, but we found ours, many don't.

This week I've seen voices get stronger,  dots starting to be joined. Emails bouncing round my inbox with ideas and suggestions, plans and schemes on twitter with experts in different fields drawn into the debate. I've had conversations with friends planning to make a difference. 

If the Post Adoption professionals are not prepared to navigate the legal, ethical and emotive seas that safe holding, risk assessment and restraint inhabit then perhaps we ought to raise our sails and set off without them.  

Social worker's bread and butter is managing and quantifying risk but for a host of reasons this issue is not one that many will embrace or are allowed to embrace. Safe holding has perhaps been linked to attachment holding which has had tragic consequences. So the pendulum has swung and social care has stepped away and we're met with blank stares when asked what to do, or we're made to feel like monsters for even suggesting that we take control. But there are other voices and professionals with different views. 

Let's keep talking

Forgive the brevity it's been a long hard week.

*Child on Parent violence

Thursday, 10 November 2016


The concept of exaggeration can be a tricky one to manage and explain to children like mine. It's been a hard news year in that regard, what with Trump and Brexit. As much as I've tried to temper the news with realism it's been a year of bold statement, exaggeration and hyperbole. 

             Hyperbole  - 'Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally'

This year what is hyperbole and what is actual truth has been very tricky to distinguish.  Tensions were high, and that's just me, for Flossy it's been off the scale. Strange thoughts filtered through 'there's going to be world war three you know' being one. Explanations were met with her glazed eyes and the nuances of rhetoric, propaganda and hyperbole are pretty useless agains the logic of the boy she sits next to in literacy who knows for fact that Donald Trump is going start a nuclear war because his dad said so and he saw it on the telly.  

The girl's hypervigilance always choses danger over safety no matter how wrong that perception is to me and regardless of how watertight my explanation is. As a rule she'll believe anyone over me.  Its a feeling not a thought. 

That boy is telling the truth, we are all going to die if DT is president.

The day of the result and tensions were running high, he'd won, we drove to school and listened to the news  on the radio, realising my mistake I turned it off. She asked for it to be back on and fortunately a measured and calm correspondent said it was all going to be ok. 

We listened and I said I wondered what was going to happen, she confessed to wondering too (we don't talk about being worried, that starts fights).  

'But' she said, 'I think that man on the radio's right, it'll be ok', I nodded and agreed 'yeah I think so too.'.

She jumped out and meandered into school and a new radio commentator came on, he didn't think it was going to be all right, in fact he was pretty damn sure it was the end of the world. I tried to believe he was wrong as I started digging my bunker.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Child to Parent Violence: A Podcast Conversation with Helen Bonnick

With trepidation I flagged up on Twitter that I'd be speaking to Helen Bonnick for a podcast about Child to Parent Violence (CPV) and asked if anyone had any questions or issues that they'd like raised.

Predictably Twitter went up like a Catherine wheel, stories, questions, worries, requests for advice and help poured into my phone at a frenetic pace.
It is no longer a surprise that whenever it's mentioned that many parents, of all varieties, share their experiences and concerns with passion, vigour and relief at the opportunity to talk.

For us I think at the worst of the voilence they were some of the darkest days of our whole parenting experience, our world seemed to shrink to a very claustrophobic small place. Violence and more often the threat of violence dominated every day and the fact that the girls were so little, under 5, seemed to make it even more isolating.

Crikey how could such cute bundles of joy ever cause such chaos, violence and anxiety.

The seeming paralysis of professionals and those who were meant to support us exacerbated our isolation.  It is one of the last taboos that adopters are often not prepared for the attrition that it brings into the home. Perhaps beyond that the self questioning and reflection on our actions and reactions in the midst of the violence are just as hard to manage with few friends or professionals to confide in for fear of misunderstanding.

We've found our path out of that dark place. Quite how is a story in of itself but needless to say the spectre of violence remains manifest in different ways with odd relapse.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the podcast.

If anything you heard or read made you want to find out more or join the debate then please visit Helen's website

So, below is the feed address to post into iTunes or it can be found if you search in Apple's podcasts though iTunes.

If that all sounded like another language then there's a player and which is also going to be permanently in my sidebar.

As always, if you rate or review me on iTunes my delicate ego will be massaged and I'll be eternally in your debt.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Talk them down

I listen carefully to the the voice on the phone.

WA - 'She won't come back' 

It's like one of those 70's airplane disaster films. I'm the so called expert helping the willing amateur land the jumbo jet. We've reached a delicate stage of the proceedings, what I say next may make the difference between a night of 'Raaaaaagh', or a slow wind down to the uneasy peace.

Me - 'Ok, ok, carefully suggest that if she comes back she can have food.............try not to sound cross'

I hear talking

WA - 'She's not interested'

Me -'Ok, ok..............let her go' 

It's hard when you've an ever decreasing circle of willing child minders,  a cohort of brave and foolish who's desire to give us a short break is greater than their common sense.

Me -'What's she wearing and where is she now?'

WA - 'tee shirt and shorts and she's down the lane'

All the time I'm weighing the need to keep the willing amateur calm against the need to resolve the situation down the phone line. It's dark now, she'll be cold. The weather can be our parent.

Me -'Ok, ignore her and don't go after her, ok?'

WA - 'Ok'

Me -'I'll ring back in five minutes'

I ring, no change.

Me -'Leave food close to the door and if she comes in ignore her, ok?'

WA - 'Ok'

Me -'I'll ring back in five minutes'

I ring there's no change...........I keep calling and an hour later I get a text.

'She's gone to bed'

An relax, we've landed another one and to paraphrase that film
'I picked a hell of a week to give up sugar'