CPV: Another desperate letter to post-adoption support

It’s been an exceptionally hard weekend. Friday was horrendous, with what felt like an all-day meltdown – we’ve never seen Charlotte so violent or for so long. On Saturday, once we finally managed to leave the house, we spent the whole afternoon at soft play in order to give them a safe place to fling themselves about. On Sunday, after some very intentional occupational therapy hard muscle work and deep pressure to help them stay regulated, we managed church and Easter lunch and an egg-hunt before the meltdowns began about 4.00. Today has been another really tough one.

This afternoon, after another epic violent meltdown, I wrote this letter to our post-adoption support team, outlining both the violence and how we feel about our diminishing ability to cope as the severity increases. It seems nothing is working, the help is always excruciatingly slow in coming, and meanwhile we are in the front line, being pelted with our own shoes.

It seems nothing is working, the help is always excruciatingly slow in coming, and meanwhile we are in the front line, being pelted with our own shoes. Click To Tweet

Here’s what I wrote…

The letter

Dear [Post-Adoption Support team]

Charlotte’s behaviour this weekend has been, and continues to be, aggressive and violent beyond our ability to contain or cope with.


Destruction and restraint

She has ripped her wardrobe door off (see photo attached), destroyed the ceiling light fitting in the living room, thrown a picture frame and smashed the glass on her bedroom floor (though she was aiming at Hannah). She issued threats of violence to all of us verbally and in writing (see photos attached) and hit, kicked and thrown books, shoes, and toys at us for prolonged periods (2+ hours on several occasions). We restrained her for short periods within these violent episodes when she was placing herself in danger (eg climbing onto the dining table; trying to break electrical appliances that were connected to the mains). However, she is very strong and wriggly and we didn’t feel that restraint was helping to de-escalate on these occasions, so we felt we had to just let her continue to rampage around the house, breaking things and screaming threats at us until she had got it out of her system. The triggers have been as simple as being offered breakfast, though the underlying reasons seem to be a combination of ongoing sibling jealousy, difficulty coping with the transition from term-time to holidays, and her teacher going on maternity leave.



The triggers have been as simple as being offered breakfast... Click To Tweet

Charlotte’s psychotherapy

You will appreciate that this is unsustainable and we have been questioning whether she can continue to live here. She has had no psychotherapeutic work since [play therapist] found that she was not engaging with play therapy two years ago, but urgently needs help to prevent these dangerous rages before she or someone else is seriously injured. What is the current status of the request for funding from CAMHS for [Joanna’s psychotherapist] to work with Charlotte, please?

Joanna’s meltdowns

Joanna has had one similar meltdown this weekend, thankfully not as long, but physically and verbally aggressive and with repeated threats to injure us and run away. We have no doubt of her intention to carry out these threats when she is angry and that they could easily happen next time. Again, our ability to contain and cope with the violence is limited. She is very strong and has learnt how to barricade herself in her room with a chair behind her door. We have now removed the chair from her room.

Occupational therapy

We have increased the amount of pre-emptive sensory work we are doing with both girls, incorporating as many of the techniques [occupational therapist] has taught us as we are able. Though the girls enjoy them, and seem to find them temporarily relaxing/calming, we feel they are having little effect beyond the short term and half an hour later they can be raging.

Joanna’s psychotherapy

We are glad that EMDR is underway, but if the frequency of Joanna’s sessions is reduced in order to fit in sessions with Charlotte, we feel this will be insufficient for either of their needs. We believe that they both need to be seen at least weekly. [Play therapist] previously stated that she believed Joanna ideally needed three sessions per week because of the severity of her needs. Nothing is yet making any difference to her behaviour at home.

SEMH school place for Joanna

If we don’t get the residential school place for Joanna it is increasingly likely that we will ask for one or both of the girls to be accommodated under section 20. Obviously this would be extremely distressing for all of us and is an absolute last resort, but it may be what is necessary to ensure the safety of each member of the family. Please could we have an assurance that you will advocate strongly for the [SEMH school] place on our behalf? We are so mentally and physically exhausted that without the knowledge that someone else is fighting our corner for us we are just going to have to admit defeat.

Hannah and Pete

We are so mentally and physically exhausted that without the knowledge that someone else is fighting our corner for us we are just going to have to admit defeat. Click To Tweet

Your story

Have you written a similar letter? What happened next? I’d love to hear so we can brace ourselves… and if you’ve written about CPV, don’t forget that you can link up your blog posts here.

The Adoptive Parents' Self-Care Club



  1. Susan
    3 April 2018 / 7:52 am

    Feel your pain and frustration. , we’ve been here for 4 and 1/2 years. I’ve had a broken nose and shin bone, we have a safeguarding police officer , which every time youngest calls 999, officrs come and have to report all major incidents to , so we have it documented. We have huge wholes in doors and walls from her kicking off. We’ve removed bedroom door so can’t barricade herself in. We’re also looking at therapeutic residential school but LA don’t want to spend that amount of money but we will keep fighting to get that because that’s what she needs to keep her younger siblings and me safe. Domestic violence is not acceptable.

    • 11 April 2018 / 6:10 pm

      I’m so sorry, Susan. I am out of words for describing the sense of being failed by the services who are supposed to be supporting our families. We were told today in response to yet another email enquiring about emergency CAMHS that we could be assured of a same-day response, as long as it was between 9.00 and 5.00, Monday to Friday. Given that most meltdowns are between 7.00 and 8.00 am and 5.00 and 8.00 pm, and all day at weekends, this is quite a long way from being Actually Helpful. I really hope you get the help you need soon, too.

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