Myth-busting fostering & adoption…

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/LisaValder

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/LisaValder

I met a woman the other week. She approached a stall I was working on; we were trying to recruit foster carers.

We talked briefly and I shared a little of my personal experience of fostering and adoption.

She and her partner had been through the whole shooting match of heartbreak that surrounds childlessness. At the end, she said they had no emotional energy left to adopt. It would all take too long and they just couldn’t face it.

What a great shame. Someone who really wanted children. Lots of children in need of families. But no happy ending.

Myths that spoil the happy ending…

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Putting attachment theory to work…

Book review...

Clarks book

Photo courtesy of ©Pavilion Publishing

Great for working with TEENAGERS

Attachment-Based Practice with Adults: Understanding Strategies and Promoting Positive Change, Pavilion Publishing, Brighton, UK. ISBN-13: 978-1908066176

In recent years I’ve come to really appreciate what attachment theory has to offer. And I find it fascinating!

But theories by themselves don’t offer much. Particularly to those of us involved in direct work with troubled people.

We know that these folks have a messed up development. And we know that attachment is a huge part of it.

But one nagging question just won’t go away:

How do I practice in an attachment-based way?

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Adoption: YET MORE tips for the curious…

boy needs a family 3

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Stacey_Newman

Wow – what started as a quick list has become 3 not-so-quick blog posts!

After the first and second posts on this subject, I had a growing number of responses via LinkedIn, offering more and more advice – some of it really good. So I thought that I would continue to share these here.

I haven’t quoted the commenters verbatim, or credited them, as I haven’t had their permission to do so (though I did ask).

Yet even more good advice for those considering adoption…

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Adoption: MORE tips for the curious…

boy-needs-a-family 2 Istockphoto stacey_newman

Photo courtesy ©iStockphoto/stacey_newman adapted by Jonny Matthew

After the first post on this subject, I had a number of responses via LinkedIn, offering other bits of advice. So I thought that I would share the essence of these here.

I haven’t quoted the commenters verbatim, or credited them, as I haven’t got their explicit permission to do so (though I did ask).

There are some real crackers here from those working and living on the front line of adoption practice:

More good advice for those considering adoption…

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5 tips for the curious...

Boy Needs Family - iStock_000012148896XSmall

Photo courtesy ©iStockphoto/stacey_newman

16 years ago, I took part in my first adoption.

It was a nerve-wracking process. First time experiences usually are!

This wasn’t one of my usual fads. A new hobby that I would pursue vigorously for a few months before moving onto something else. This was much more important. This would be a new life entering our family!

But this was different…

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Why licking frogs is good for you…

This is one of my all time favourite photos – I love it!

Girl licks frog - porject wild thing

Photo courtesy ©Project Wild Thing


Project Wild Thing…

I came across it online at the Project Wild Thing (PWT) website. PWT is a film in the making. It will examine the fact that children and nature are growing apart.

The array of instant gratification gadgets and easy entertainments available to kids these days means they go outside less often. The project aims to halt this trend by encouraging children, young people and adults alike into the great outdoors.

Troubled kids & tired workers…

We all know that working with troubled young people is hard graft. It can be disheartening, draining and difficult. Keeping going can be a real challenge.

Many of the young people we work with have never had someone to properly explore and thrill in the great outdoors with them. May be it’s time to do some of this together. To break free of the interview room, the therapy suite, the YOS or social services office and venture outside…

Licking frogs?…

This is obviously euphemistic. I haven’t actually licked a frog – yet! But here’s what comes to mind for me:

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5 Self-care tips for carers…

Looking After No.1...

Those of us who work to help others, often neglect ourselves.

Psychologists call the impact of our work, “vicarious traumatisation” (VT). In other words, dealing with the struggles of troubled young people can have a similar impact on us.

Tired - Sandoclr - iStock_000000053566XSmall

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/sandoclr

We empathise with them, we engage closely with them – this has an impact. The helper is affected.

Caring is hard. Keeping going is sometimes really hard. I discovered this the hard way…

What happened to me…

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40 is too old to adopt…?

20121105-153450.jpgA 48 year old adopter begs to differ!

A report conducted on behalf of BAAF, questioned 2100 people about various aspects of adoption & fostering.

Among the misunderstandings reported by the subjects, were beliefs that amongst the factors that would act as a barrier to adoption, were things such as:

  • Having a criminal record;
  • Being single:
  • Being gay or lesbian;
  • Being from a low income family, and
  • Being over 40.
  • Also, a third of those questioned believed it would take around 3 years on average, start to finish, to adopt a child.

I was privileged to spend a number of years sitting on an adoption and fostering panel. Along with colleagues and lay members, I helped in the approval process for prospective adopters and foster carers. During that time, I witnessed applicants from each of the above groups apply successfully to foster and/or adopt children.

Looking back, in fact, it wasn’t these kinds of issues that marked people out; it was the overwhelming desire to be parents and the refreshing and well-informed willingness to embrace the additional challenges presented by adoption. Whilst panels have to give due consideration to applicants, the priority is always to ensure the welfare of children and adopters. I never once saw even a hint of prejudicial practice that would exclude anyone on the kinds of mythical grounds assumed by those questioned in this study; nor would the guidance or the Courts allow it.

I have another qualification to speak on this subject – my two adopted children! So I can speak as one who has sat on the other side of the table at a panel hearing. As it happens, during my second journey through this process, I was 41 years old. Whilst I had quite a clear subjective sense of being an ever so slightly “older parent,” at no time was this reinforced, or even mentioned, by the professionals involved. It just wasn’t an issue.

Indeed, in more than a dozen years of involvement as an adopter, I have had a universally positive experience of the whole thing. There have been all the usual challenges of bringing up kids – the kinds of things that have tested parents since time immemorial – but like all parents, adoptive or otherwise, that’s what I signed up for.

But I was 41 and that wasn’t a problem; and in both cases the process took less than 18 months from initial phone call through to having the child move in!

Personally, I think everyone involved in adoption should work not only to bust open the myths, but to celebrate the delights!

Ask not for a good reason why you should adopt; ask yourself why not

What do you think?

  • Will you be celebrating National Adoption Week? If so, how?
  • What experiences of adoption have you had?

Please contribute to this by adding your own thoughts and experiences. You can  leave a comment by scrolling down, or just click here.

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© Jonny Matthew 2012