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.

Thursday 13 December 2018


MrsC recounted our year to a friend she’d not seen in a while. The ebb and flow of our version of normal, police, social workers, pregnancy, losing children then finding them, births and everything inbetween. 

She spoke of a feeling of slow inevitable corrosion and the friend listened, paused for a moment and said:

‘You’re bloody amazing’

I agree, she is.

Sunday 9 December 2018

Clear Blue Sky

Like tight shoes or awkward pants you only really appreciated how tight or uncomfy they are until you take them off. Then the true extent of the problem becomes apparent and you're aware of how you'd tolerated the discomfort and challenge.

Mrs C and I have had a few days away and the lack of physical work is good but the psychological blue sky we're sitting under is so sweet. We've left a good team holding the fort and lined up all the dominoes to make sure there's no uncertainty as to how the weekend is going to pan out at home. It's time to draw breath before Christmas and the deep mid winter and all challenges that can bring.

Like everybody that looks after children with additional, uncertain and complex needs we're holding our children in our minds even when they're not with us. There are rare time where I switch off, a call from school, an email or a call from Flossy or Lotty's  phone is a trigger, it precipitates a girding reflex as my whole being says what now. I leave our stories in the shadows but the two year anniversary of unwanted social care hangs heavy over Paula and I.  The weather's not helping, the dark brooding skies, short days and leaves underfoot take me back to those long December days of unwelcome social work involvement. We have our very own primary trauma, the skies bring it back, perhaps they always will.

But we've got a 48 hour pass and we've relinquished all responsibility, time with friends just being grown ups for a while it's only now I feel the tension as it's gone. The need for breaks for carers of vulnerable and challenging children remains unquestionable. That fight's for another day.

While I'm here writing the autumn has brought other things, thoughts that about where adoption sits in the world of permanence, I fear we're living in uncertain times with the us, adopters, losing perspective and context and wondering if we've ever really had it. Thoughts that don't want to be marshalled into a blog quite yet but are floating uncomfortably around waiting to be articulated. We'll see.