Dear Mr Timpson
I like many other adopters saw news of your letter on Twitter. I am sure that it seemed like a good idea, during national adoption week to address a letter to tell adopters how much you appreciate them. I am sure that it was done with the best of intent. I am sure that you feel that by writing the letter you meant for adoptive parents to feel supported. But… living our lives, it didn’t come across that way. It seems like a gesture to appease adopters, to enable us to say ‘look people, adoption is great and we are supported’.
In both my professional life as a secondary school teacher, and my family life as an adoptive mum to two boys, I see the fallout that a lack of real support for adopters has on parents.
My older boy is 5 1/2. He has suffered because of decisions that his birth mum made whist she was pregnant. He has suffered because of decisions that his birth dad made for years prior to my boy’s birth. He has suffered because much as I think his foster carers are great; they had 3 children under 5, alongside their grandchildren to care for. He has suffered, and yet, no-one is willing to help him.
CAHMS insist we need more time, because 3 1/2 years isn’t long enough. His pediatrician says that there is nothing medically that she can do for us. The NHS is so underfunded that his occupational therapist can only help with his motor skill problems and is unable to give any guidance with sensory issues. The Ed Pysch says that he is not bad enough to have an EHC (but I know a 2 year old who has better concentration skills than him). Post adoption support appear and disappear in our lives, we regularly get told that ‘it must be so difficult’ but that is it. We are not entitled to an adoption allowance (that would enable me to give up work) because we haven’t got a formal diagnosis.
In my form at work, I have an adopted teenager. Because she is coping (barely) school are not interested in receiving further training. Her mum and I have been trying since Sept to get someone to agree that staff should receive training in Attachment Disorder, and how to make the classroom more friendly for pupils like her. On her latest report she received an effort grade deemed unacceptable – according to the head of year it’s not because she is adopted, but because she doesn’t pay attention in lessons (but apparently we don’t need training!)
I would love there to be people who actually understand these issues that these children are living with. I would love there to be professionals who don’t need it to be explained to them. I wish that there was somewhere we could actually go for advice and support. Post adoption support who actually did something… we are not even entitled to go to the support group that our PAS runs, as our child is not old enough.
There should be guidance on spending the PP+ for pupils. There is good practice, but not enough of it. I shouldn’t be worrying about how my pupil at school got on today, as she had a toddler strop this morning about something that had happened.
Please, I beg, do something different. Do something radical. Accept that we doing something really, really challenging, don’t give us words, give us action. Please.