In the next few weeks, I’ll be developing my resources page into a series of pages with content that’s wider-ranging and more useful to adoptive parents. I’ll be creating pages with free printable downloads to make them easier to share with those who support you (and those you would like to provide support). Here’s a taster of a work in progress: a quick guide to the resources that are available to support families experiencing child-to-parent violence (CPV). As always, your feedback (in the comments below) is really welcome.

CPV resources

Resources for managing child-to-parent violence (CPV)

Helen Bonnick

holesinthewall.co.uk

Helen is a social worker and researcher/speaker on CPV. Her website contains numerous resources for families and professionals dealing with CPV, including details of training, a reading list, downloadable leaflets, and a blog.

The Open Nest

theopennest.co.uk

This is a charity founded by adoptive parent Amanda Boorman. The Open Nest runs training and events, short breaks and retreats, including therapeutic work with families. Amanda has written powerfully about the need for adoptive parents facing violent behaviour to receive training in safe holding: Part 1 | Part 2.

Al Coates

alcoates.co.uk

Al is a social worker and adoptive parent involved in advocacy to government for adoptive families experiencing CPV. He has also been involved in CPV research projects, and runs The Adoption and Fostering Podcast with Adoption UK’s Scott Casson-Rennie.

 

Safe holding/restraint training providers

Securicare

securicare.com | trainers@securicare.com | 01904 492442

Securicare’s therapeutic safe holding plans are designed for adoptive parents, kinship carers and other individuals with a responsibility for responding to children who present challenging behaviours that require safe intervention to prevent harm. The service aims to produce a child-centred safe holding plan, covering therapeutic safe holding skills as well as advice on calming and de-escalation. Securicare provide a bespoke training session in support of the plan designed to provide the knowledge and skills which will enable parents and/or carers to safely hold a child when they are engaging in physically harmful behaviours.

Able Training

able-training.co.uk | info@able-training.co.uk | 01476 848327

Able Training run courses in managing challenging behaviour, conflict and aggression, led by trainers who are highly experienced, particularly in social care settings, and understand your issues and can deal with them sensitively. Able Training operates throughout the UK with a network of trainers, providing on-site training for public sector and third sector organisations as well as private sector companies. They are happy to tailor and adapt any course to meet your needs.

 

Other resources

Young Minds

youngminds.org.uk | 0808 802 5544

A telephone helpline for parents struggling to support a young person’s mental health needs. Available 9.30am to 4.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Samaritans

samaritans.org | jo@samaritans.org | 116 123

A safe place for you to talk about whatever is on your mind, available 24/7.

 

All this information is available as a PDF for easy printing and sharing.
Click here to grab your copy.

And…

  • If I’ve missed something out that you think should be added, please leave me a note in the comments below.
  • If there’s another adoption-related topic you’d like to see me cover in the same way, leave me a note about that (also in the comments). I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Thanks!

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Do you emerge from a meeting, a phone conversation or an exchange of emails with the professionals who are supposed to be helping your family, feeling, well… like this? 👇 Then you need these five tips for dealing with professionals that will help you take back control.

Five game-changing tips for dealing with professionals

dealing-with-professionals

1. Dress like them

By which I mean, dress as though you are at a business meeting. Don’t let them look down on you as ‘just a parent’. I work from home and live in jeans and jumper most of the time, but for meetings with teachers, social workers, and medical people I wear work clothes – usually black trousers and a tunic top – which is similar to the kinds of things worn by the professionals who work with our family.

dealing-with-professionals

2. Take framed photos of your child(ren) to meetings

This is a tip from Yvonne Newbold’s excellent book The Special Parent’s Handbook. I did this at Joanna’s EHCP review meeting, because so many of the professionals there had never met her and we were there to make potentially life-changing decisions for her. I wanted them to remember the little girl behind all the paperwork – the girl outside of the school environment who is still utterly vulnerable in the hands of the decision-makers. I’m pretty sure it helped. It certainly showed them we were serious about representing her best interests.

dealing-with-professionals

3. Ask ‘What would you do?’

A helpful technique I read in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Committed and was reminded of in Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier this week is to ask the professional who stands between you and the outcome you want, ‘What would you do, if you were in our situation?’ This makes them pause, if only for a few moments, to consider things from your perspective. They may have more information than you about potential solutions and loopholes in the red tape. This is a good way to help nudge them into suggesting practical compromises or ways forward.

4. Escalate!

If you want to get things done and people are dragging their feet, get free and easy with the CC button. Copy in the head of department, the county councillor, the MP… this often results in emergency meetings being called and conversations being had that you were previously informed couldn’t possibly happen. Oh look, now they can.

5. Write kick-ass emails

I know your time is precious and this thing is frustrating and you have Big Feelings about it all. And I also know that the recipients of our emails sometimes don’t read them as thoroughly as they might. But we’ve got this. Writing good emails can get results. It’s often the easiest way to get your message directly to the top of the organisation you’re dealing with.

The who, the what, the where, the when, the why*

(*This is a quote from my favourite episode of my favourite TV programme. Bonus points for naming it in the comments. 😉 )

I’ve previously tried hard to be professional in my tone, keeping it measured and taking out some of the more emotive stuff. But it turns out that doesn’t get results. Letting a bit of emotion show seems to be working better. If, like us, your children are hurting you and each other and you feel desperate because help is too slow in coming, say so.

Emails with action points are likely to get good results. And a strong subject line doesn’t do any harm, either. This might sound ridiculous, and of course it shouldn’t be necessary, but thinking of your message to them like a marketer thinks of their audience can help. (Yes, for me and Pete this is our day job, and we like to think we’re quite good at it, but it’s not rocket science. You could start here if you want to read more about basic principles of copywriting.) If you prefer, write it as you would write a blog post.

The paper trail is important, and if you end up needing to refer back to something you wrote several months ago, how much stronger is your case if you can quote the email where you laid it all out clearly and said exactly what action was needed and why. So write them a belter. And don’t forget to CC your MP if things need a bit more of a shove.

Bonus patriarchal nonsense tip

A bonus tip – that I really hate to share because it is unfeminist, unfair and enormously frustrating, but we’ve found that when Pete emails it gets a better response. What’s different about his writing? Not much, though he is much less concerned about being concise and polite than I am.

Even if it’s an email we’ve written together, sending it from his account seems to result in more action. So maybe, if you’re female, get a bloke to grumpy it up a bit/send it from their account/experiment with seeing whether this makes a difference for you. I’m sorry. Just throwing this one out there for you to take or leave.

If you have thoughts or experience of this, please leave a comment – it irks me but I really think there’s something in it, and I want to know if you’ve noticed this too.

Do you have any other tips that help you get the results you want when you are dealing with professionals? I’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.

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Gratitude is officially good for your mental health. (Harvard says so, so it must be true.) As a self-care practice, it’s great to record things you’re grateful for – big and small. So here’s Thankful Thursday – my list of things I’m grateful for this week.

thankful-thursday

This week I’m thankful because:

  • After I shared Carrie Grant’s excellent post about the horrors of the school run when your child is different, someone has given us some money to cover an extra night of after-school club every week until Christmas, which also means 2.5 hours more peace and sanity. I am so grateful I cry a little bit whenever I think of it.

  • It was great to meet some of my Twitter friends at the Adoption UK conference. Hello! Also, I had a flaming zombie cocktail (think rum on fire) at the networking evening. That was rather excellent.

  • My December Daily planner (pictured above) arrived this week. I love a bit of scrapbooking geekery. This is command central for all my Christmas planning – presents, food, Christmas card lists, self care, all the things – and memory-keeping: daft things the children say, what we’ll do during the holidays, that kind of stuff. All in one lovely notebook. My life is complete.

  • I bought this jumper (from Selfish Mother) for wearing to TAC meetings. It amuses me. You know when they insist on going around the room so everyone can introduce themselves? Sorted.

    thankful-thursday

  • Parents’ evening happened last night. We all survived. Joanna is having a much better term than the second half of last year and seems to be really engaging with everything much more. Charlotte’s sensory issues are becoming more pronounced as she is less able to keep up with her peers and tries to self-soothe with whatever sensory inputs she can get her hands/teeth on. She is still so creative and imaginative and when she is able to express herself with stories and drawings it is a complete joy to see.

  • I gave the SENCo a folder full of handouts, book catalogues and leaflets I’d collected for her at the conference. I was particularly pleased to be able to point her in the direction of Stuart Guest’s presentation (lots of other resources on this link too) and give her and Charlotte’s teacher copies of NOFAS UK‘s booklet Teaching an Child with FASD (this link takes you to a free downloadable PDF of the booklet).

  • I’ve been having a good week behind the scenes blog-wise, and have sorted out some technical things (behold – new sharing buttons below!) and social media stuff (especially Tailwind tribes for Pinterest). I love having a bit of time to do this stuff, so that has made me happy.

What are you grateful for this week? Share the Thankful Thursday joy and let me know in the comments – it’s good for you! 😉 

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This is a guest post from a friend in the adoption community who needs to remain anonymous, but wants to share their experience of meeting their children’s birth siblings in the hope of helping others.

meeting-siblings

We have been a family brought together by adoption for over 10 years. There are a few of us in the family, however, it always struck me that given we read our children’s CPRs and all the other information we receive, if we are lucky enough to receive it all, there are extended family who naturally become our family.

My children’s siblings are always a part of my life, they are family too.

Over the weekend we were lucky enough, after three years of trying, to meet the now adult siblings of our children. A surprise message out of the blue three years ago instigated this meeting. It has taken us all this length of time to be able to feel able to do it. Our children were not involved. You may think that cruel, but right now they are not ready for it, and they may never be.

We met in a train station coffee shop – we felt that it needed to be somewhere that we could all feel as comfortable as possible – as we all knew that the anxiety for us all would be immense.

I hugged sister – I was not sure how it would go, but she hugged me back. I got emotional but kept it together.

We bought coffees and we began to chat. There were no awkward moments. It flowed.

Our first lesson

We knew all about them. They knew nothing about us – NOTHING. They lived for the first few years not knowing what had happened to their siblings. No one had told them they had been placed for adoption. Youngest was removed from a holiday he was on – and that was the last she saw of him.

Our second lesson

Appreciation that they had been adopted. Despite the first few years of their not knowing, they have learnt enough about our children to know that they have been well looked after, and cared for, attempting to repair the damage that they have all experienced. They acknowledged that the trauma will have been more intense for our children as they had differing placements and the worst experience of our care system you can imagine.

Our third lesson

If only we knew then what we knew now… Yes, contact is a scary thing, and it would have needed careful planning, facilitating and reviewing. But had I known that these siblings sat not knowing, not knowing where they were, who they were with, were we monsters, were we cruel, did we love them – that could have been easily remedied.

Their first lesson

They now know that their siblings have been loved and cared for. To see the relief on their faces was worth every single minute of over ten years.

Their second lesson

They discovered that their siblings have very similar issues with attachment, trust, anger to them.

Their third lesson

Never assume adoption is always a bad thing. Family and friends had been rather critical of adoption, as you would expect, and that was the siblings impression as a result. They see the difference it has made.

*

I did cry. I felt so patronising and insulting to these two brave souls in front of me, who had been through just as much in their childhood as my children – and I was the one crying. To be told that they are grateful that their siblings have such fantastic parents blew me away. I sniffed, sister held my hand, and I gave myself a good talking to – this was not about me.

We spent three hours together, and we have so much in common. We’ll meet them again, and that was a mutual decision by us all. We feel they are more a part of our family now than ever.

Their decision to share what their message will be when they do all eventually meet was upsetting, and I leave you with some of it:

‘If you are expecting to meet our parents and for them to be the parents you hope for, then don’t – you will be very very disappointed.’

Thank you for reading.


Further thoughts?

Have you met any members of your adopted child(ren)’s birth family? How did it go? Has anything changed for you or your children as a result? What advice would you have for others considering direct contact? Maybe you’re weighing up the pros and cons for your family at the moment. I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts too. Please leave them in the comments so others can benefit.

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Gratitude is officially good for your mental health. (Harvard says so, so it must be true.) As a self-care practice, it’s great to record things you’re grateful for – big and small. So here’s Thankful Thursday – my list of things I’m grateful for this week.

Susan-Calman-Kevin-Clifton

This week I’m thankful because:

  • Susan and Kevin are still in Strictly and I love them. Their joy is contagious.

  • Our family had our first actually enjoyable bonfire night (if you missed my blog it, you can read it here: Fireworks… without the ‘fireworks’.
  • I’m still feeling the love for autumn. (Sausage hotpot in the slow cooker for the win.)
  • Pete wrote an excellent measured-and-polite-but-assertive ‘enough of your nonsense’ email to our social worker expressing our disappointment and frustration that various things that are supposed to have been done are still not in place. I married him for many excellent reasons, not least his culinary talents, but my word that man writes excellent emails and this makes me happy.
  • I’m looking forward to the Adoption UK conference and meeting lots of my Twitter-friends this weekend. (I’ll be wearing this – if you spot me please say hello!)

thelmatopia-badges

What are you thankful for this week? Are you a fellow fan of all things autumnal? Let me know in the comments – it’s good for you! 😉 

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