A month or so ago, I blogged about a question our adoption support group had been posed – ‘what should adoption support look like?‘. I wrote about what I thought and felt, but it was just what I thought and felt.
This month in our support meeting we had a visit from a local councillor, not just any local councillor but the lead member for Children on our local council. He came to listen to our stories, and listen he did & hopefully the conversation will bear some fruit…
Following previous conversations our group leader had gone away and written a terrific power point, which was backed up with some very powerful stories from 4 amazing families.
There was an explanation of where we find our lives more difficult when dealing with professionals than other families – eduction, health, adoption support and therapeutic services. There was an explanation of what adoption is not – now at least, as well as what adoption is. The point that our children are removed from birth families with reason, and will have had at least two moves in their short lives.
There was a explanation of the lack of label and diagnosis that happens with our children – (which is what we are living with). That our children are bunched into that ‘social, emotional and behavioural difficulties’ group or sometimes are just seen as naughty. The idea that when we look for help, we are met with a brick wall, despite there being a growing body of evidence that child abuse and neglect can led to changes in brain function.
We discussed other areas of the country where we know good practise exists. We talked about what good practise there already is – but how inaccessible that is to us, as there is no commitment from our LA to pay towards any of this. And what is is prepared to fund is generally on a limited budget, or a limited time. Our LA’s post adoption services are reactive, not proactive… and if you are not in crisis their response time is pitiful. There is certainly no idea of keeping up with the latest research on what actually helps traumatised children…there are things out there that seem to work, but not in our area.
There are scary things happening to families that I know – some that we all face, and some that are specific. Bad things happen within schools and the health service. We were shocked to hear that one adopted child’s hospital record still has her birth mother as her next of kin. It appears that most Health Visitors have no understanding of why an adoptive parent may parent differently to other parents, things like leaving a child to cry it out at night-time, getting rid of comfort items (dummies, blankets etc), as well as not understanding the attachment building that is needed.
Many, many teachers seem to be of the opinion that an adopted child has no more difficulties than the average child (I hope that there are some that don’t). We all know that looked after children are carefully monitored in schools and tracked carefully. However, there is none of that careful tracking for adopted children, and the question is whether there should be? Schools can be an awful place for the child that doesn’t fit the norm, and their parents.
We talked about the fact that as adoptive parents, as adoptive families, things are done to us, not with us. The local authority has been given some money to spend on adoption – both speeding up the process and looking at post adoption support… but no-one is asking what we want, or what we need. Things are decided, and then we are informed – or not. Other groups (disabled children’s parents) have forums, have newsletters, have a voice, we don’t.
Our local councillor, listened to the stories, the facts, and the heartfelt need for better. And he took it away, and promised to think about it. He also has indicated that he will try to help us have a voice, that we should have an input. He also said that he would meet with a smaller group of people, and have clearer discussion about the issues that we had raised.
I am hopeful, things might change, but time alone with tell…we told him our dreams, we have to hope because without hope where will we go next?