Dear Mr Timpson

Thanks so much for your letter. It’s good to know that such a senior public official has experience of and a keen interest in adoption.

Sadly for many of us the post adoption support system isn’t working.  There are a multitude of reasons for this, only some of which may be blamed on lack of resources.  Systemic and managerial failures at a national and local level also have a massive part to play, as does the fact that social  workers drowning in paperwork have little opportunity to improve their skills and understanding.

So what would help parents who are attempting to therapeutically re-parent developmentally traumatised children?

1. Honest and thorough reports on children prior to matching.

2. A firm commitment at the point of matching, that each child placed with a family has a support plan.

3. A dedicated, long-term adoption support worker for each family. Someone who is experienced, knowledgable, and empathic, who can build up a positive relationship with the family, and offer sensible emotional and practical advice.

4. Therapeutic resources widely available in a timely manner.

5. An end to the bureaucratic bickering between authorities in the case of out-of-county adoptions.

6.  Support groups in all areas.

7. An undertaking from schools that the use of the Pupil Premium + will be discussed with parents.

8. Attachment training for all public servants who work with children.

9. Regular respite for adoptive families.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these issues.

Yours sincerely,

Take2mums

How are you?

It’s National Adoption Week. How are you?

I’m angry, well, maybe not so much angry, but frustrated. I’m holding a simmering resentment that appears to be grinding me down.

It emanates from my feelings of powerlessness in the face of social services’ responses to our requests for therapeutic intervention for Bubble. And it is stoked by the lack of al local support group. Friends do their best, they are good-hearted people. But if I hear ‘all children do that’ one more time, I’ll have to head to the car wash for a therapeutic scream.

We asked social services for intervention 13 months ago when Bubble’s rages had hit a new extreme. We were sent on the Safebase course. Great as it was, the course did not tackle the underlying causes of Bubble’s behaviour. We asked again for intervention. A few weeks later the social work equivalent of Victoria Wood’s spotty looking youth in plimsolls came round to waggle the ariel and wolf the gypsy cremes. In fact he was the  manager of the Adoption Support Team.  And he called all Bubble’s behaviours ‘typical’ and labelled us ‘anxious’. We weren’t anxious. But we were, by this stage, pissed off.

When he realised we weren’t going to let him leave without an intervention plan (!), he mumbled something about sending someone round to work with Bubble ‘for a few weeks’.  Months passed, and nobody headed our way.

Then in June I bumped into our old assessing Social Worker, who asked how we were doing. Bless her. She was by then doing some freelance work for the Adoption Support Team. Double bless her. And she offered to come and assess. Triple bless.

We talked. She listened. We were not patronised. But once again the point was missed.  Bubble’s behaviours were attributed to the grief H was dealing with after her father’s sudden death a few months previously. The high-energy sensory–seeking child had been there before this awful event. Whilst her behaviours had increased, perhaps as a result of the change in the emotional temperature in the house, they had clearly been there all along. We agreed to note our experiences over the summer.

The summer came and went, and in September we met with our Social Worker again.  This time she agreed to ask the  manager for a referral to a Paediatrician for a general assessment. Two weeks later we texted for an update.  Nothing had been done. Another week later I e-mailed the manager. A very confused reply indicated that perhaps the school should submit the referral, but a Social Worker would speak with me about it.

ENOUGH!!

I talked to school, I wrote the referral myself. 2 days later we met. They copied and pasted. They submitted the referral. Job done. Now we’re waiting for a reply.

This has turned into a rant now, hasn’t it? I’m on a roll though, so stay with me if you will. 

My frustration with social services was compounded by the Adoption Support Team making a half-hearted attempt in March to bring local adopters together to form a support group. When only 3 of us showed up, the manager decided he would send us everyone else’s e-mail addresses and let us get on with organising something ourselves! 8 months later, and we are still awaiting those e-mail addresses. The best possible scenario here would be that he has realised he should not give out other people’s e-mail addresses without their consent. And the probable scenario is, well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Result? 

Frustration.  And a little girl, and her adoptive family who are struggling to make sense of their world. 

So what would help? A firm commitment from social services at the point of matching, that each child placed with a family has a support plan and a dedicated, long-term worker.  Someone who is experienced, who can build up a positive relationship, who has resources at her or his fingertips, and who listens. What is so difficult about this? The Adoption Support Fund is being rolled out nationally next year.  You can bet it will be with great fanfare.  So let’s make local authorities listen to adoptive families, and use those additional funds to best effect. 

End of rant. Have a lovely weekend.