Let’s start at the very beginning
Our adoption support fund story starts pretty much the way this website started, in Starbucks, over coffee.
Pip was telling me about the ASF and I had a slack jawed expression and the feeling of a very useful door opening.
For a couple of years prior to this hubby and I had been trying to get some support from our local Post Adoption Support team. Our goal was to get professional support for doing more in depth life story work for both kids.
As with most adopted children, there is some traumatic stuff in their past. As a family we felt that having a professional walk us through it would be most beneficial.
We hadn’t had much luck.
The problems we encountered
Firstly, the Post Adoption social worker allocated to us was young and inexperienced. I am neither. She had very definite ideas about what was going to happen and what she was putting into the report. Listening wasn’t her greatest skill. This resulted in the report she submitted being inaccurate.
Her recommendation was that we meet with SCAYT to discuss the best way forwards. Unfortunately, when we had the meeting with SCAYT, they were working on incorrect assertions and assumptions. They wanted to work on behavioural issues that were being addressed elsewhere. I felt that two disparate sets of professionals working on the same thing but independently held no value.
What I wanted was support with the life story work.
It was when they pointed out that they were the experts and therefore knew what was best for my family, that I politely called the meeting to a close, stood up and went home.
A lightbulb moment
So to learn that there was another way that we could approach getting this therapeutic input for the children was very exciting, and we recontacted the Post Adoption team again with a request for an ASF assessment.
We were allocated a different social worker. Again, very young and very inexperienced, but this time, she listened. She took everything on board as I explained exactly what we needed, why we needed it, and which provider we wanted to use to deliver the service. Although she was taken aback that we didn’t want the LA to deliver, she completed the application with my request.
How the Adoption Support Fund is working for us
Our adoption support fund story has a happy ending. Thankfully our application was approved. We have funding in place. And for the last 18 months we have been slowly working through the kids life story.
Yes, it’s disjointed when we have to redo applications and await further funding. Also, it’s a slow project because we have breaks for school holidays and the like. But, its life changing for the children.
They get to explore the story of how they came to us with a trained professional who knows how to work at their pace and the language to use to draw out questions and fears. It’s a safe environment where they know that nothing will upset Mummy and the truth will be told.
Whilst the process is emotionally exhausting for all of us, our Life Story Social worker has also included additional sessions just for us parents, which supports us in helping the kids work through it.
It’s a whole family package, and we are all benefitting from this.
I truly believe that without this support, whilst we always talk about their adoption, their birth family and how they came to us, some of the more difficult questions wouldn’t come to light. Mainly because the children belief (erroneously) that this might be painful for me as well as them. They don’t want to hurt me.
ASF funded Life Story Work gives them the space and time to explore at their pace, but in a gently guided fashion.
It was worth waiting for.
My hope for the future
I cannot stress how much I hope that the Government sees sense and commits to long term funding of the ASF. That they recognise that the children coming into the care system today are not the same as 50 year’s ago. That the support of adoptive family’s needs committed, sustained and reliable funding, a wide range of therapeutic interventions, and easy access to all adoptive families.
Only then will we all get the support and help our families need. And our children will be given the best opportunities for the successful outcomes they deserve.
How we can make a difference
AdoptionUK are currently encouraging everyone to write to their local MP, attaching a copy of their recent report, and asking the MP to back the ASF going forwards. It’s one way that we can endeavour to secure this funding for all the families that need it.
If you feel this is something you can do, you’ll find a copy of the report here and your MPs details here . You might also want to drop a line to the new children’s minister Kemi Badenoch who replaced Nadhim Zahawi in the recent cabinet reshuffle.