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PAS - support that really meets an adoptive family's needs; opinions, experiences & views wanted

Bearfriend June 8, 2018 17:44

Hi All, I am an adoptive parent 5 1/2 yrs post order; I'm also a social worker, a carer for my husband, a working mum, my family's sole provider and 3 years ago I discovered that I have a life long health condition. My AS is now 10 yrs old and I think it would be fair to say he has a disordered attachment. As a social worker I have seen the difference between how Adult Social Services and Childrens' Social Services operate. I have received support from two different LAs. And now I have had enough! I am tired of not being listened to, I'm tired of being treated with suspicion, I'm tired of social workers who have no clue about attachment, I'm tired of being offered services that the agency runs that don't meet our needs but means they can say they offered me a service...but a service that doesn't meet our needs is not a service!! I think that adoptive parents actually often receive a dehumanising experience from services that tend to view them as a resource for their kids rather than people. I would like to see more partnership work taking place. I would like to see Adoptive parents having a voice and helping a LA decide what sustainable support looks like for the whole adoptive family. I would like to try to change the culture of Adoption today.
What are other people's view and experiences?
What would you really find helpful? Has anyone been offered direct payments by social services so that they can purchase support that is suitable for their families directly? Any examples of innovative support that you have experienced and if so where?

I'm going to be meeting with my LA Adoption Service manager shortly and would like to offer some suggestions for how services could be more family centred, less bureaucratic and more dynamic. I would also like to share experiences, obviously any experiences would remain confidential! Many thanks, Bearfriend.

Bop June 8, 2018 18:04

We have had a horrendous experience.....don't want to go into details, but naively we trusted SW and asked them for advice and support, before we discovered their sole objective is to avoid spending money and the yreally don't care about the needs of adoptive families. The final straw came when our AD made consideration of the part attachment/trauma played.... horrendous.... twice over....

To make matters worse we are in Scotland - no ASF or PPP - according to the Scottish Government, adoptees in Scotland don't have the same issues as those south of the border (but then if you refuse to do the research that is easy to say!) AUK Scotland have stopped campaigning too, I believe after there were threatened with funding cuts having tried to raise the issues. Adoption is the cheap option for the government.

I tried to campaign for change, but kept hitting brick moving on after adoption and rebuilding our lives. I am also a SW by training.....sigh....

Good luck xx

Haven June 8, 2018 21:04

We adopted through a VA in Scotland and have had incredible support, almost from the get go 7 years ago - and we are still accessing it now! They have dedicated post adoption social workers. In the past 8 years we have had therapy groups, transition groups, a girls group, a teen group, individual visits and advice on several occasions, Access to workshops and talks from Holly Van Gulden, our kids have both seen different therapists for months at a time. We had support and back up in applying for Adoption Allowance from our placing LA and we get advice by email on an ad hoc basis. Not sure I could have asked for any more. Its much more than I anticipated needing, but I suspect it's what every adopter needs.

Edited 08/06/18
Donatella June 8, 2018 22:44

I’d have to say I think we’ve been quite fortunate. I’m in Wales where we have no PPP and no ASF but on the occasions we have needed support for two of ours, it has been forthcoming. We’re currently mid way through therapeutic lifestory work and NLP for dd which is proving helpful. When middly was younger and proving a challenge to parent, we got the help we needed.

One thing I would say .. too many assumptions made by too many people about the cause of our kids issues. Initially Camhs, post adoption assumed attachment. Well, it wasn’t so all the therapeutic input in the world wasn’t going to make much difference when our kids had autism.

For me, educate the profs - don’t make lazy assumptions!

Haven June 8, 2018 23:05

I completely agree with Donatella about assumptions that all our kids issues are about attachment. It's certainly in the mix, but there can be so many other issues going on, and this needs to be acknowledged. Relatedly, all professional (including many social workers, I suspect) should read the 'Lets Learn Together' leaflets - the new one produced for Scotland (which has apparently been sent to every school in Scotland) is the most comprehensive description of issues that our kids face that I've read. I do hope that every teacher is reading it, but I given their workload, I doubt it...

Bearfriend June 9, 2018 14:02

Thanks Bop, Haven and Donatella. Bop, it sounds like you have been thru the mill with our colleagues ;-) (also sighs...) and perhaps its a bit of a lottery, depending on where you are. I completely agree about the assumptions made about our kids and the need to educate professionals, not just social workers. Sometimes professionals go the other way and try to normalise behaviours; if you don't see something, it isn't there. I would like to see PAS teams that listen to adoptive parents, that recognise that we are partners in trying to support our children, professionals who can recognise that we may be the experts on our child, professionals who are aware when they make value judgements and own that. In Adult services, users can access direct payments that allows them to be innovative in meeting their own needs and choosing the service that they want. Adoptive parents need a greater voice, we are separated, marginalised and often expected to put up with living conditions that are not acceptable, for example, child to parent violence. Ultimately adopters are the cheap option for society and if they struggle to manage, well they haven't done enough training, or therapeutic parenting or whatever. Sometimes I really question what we are being asked to do? Is it actually feasible, I'm not so sure? Sometimes I wonder, imagine you're a qualified therapist and I tell you I have this client here for you, you must live with this client and see them every day, you'll be doing intense theraputic work with them for about 8 hours of every day, you'll get no breaks, no supervision, you'll get the odd days training tho, you don't get to have any boundaries and you must provide unconditional positive regard for your client at all times, they may become violent or abusive towards you but you'll just have to manage that, but without causing any bruising etc because otherwise we'll need to investigate to see if you have abused your client, fancy the job? Any therapist worth their salt would tell you that this is inherently unsafe for the therapist and its not possible to work therapeutically like this. And yet how many of us do, day in and day out? Any therapist would tell you its really important for the therapist to have a life, have their needs meet, have boundaries, have time off etc. We talk about secondary trauma as adoptive parents, but are there any PAS teams out there that actually provide support to adoptive parents for this. We have lukewarm messages about looking after ourselves, how many of us would say that's a challenge on a daily basis? How many of us have sacrificed our mental well being for our child's mental well being? And why do we allow this to happen. I suspect that in a third of adoptions, adopters are being placed in an impossible relationship, one that is inherently unhealthy. I worry that what I role model to my son is putting up with an abusive and unhealthy relationship; if any other male treated me the way my son does I would be long gone, I would argue that would be the healthy choice!! I complained to my LA, after they insisted on a S/W seeing my son for 5 minutes and then that S/W leaving that this further traumatised my son. The service manager offers for the new social worker to visit more frequently so that my son 'can form a relationship'. Does this not say it all, my son has an attachment disorder, he won't form a relationship with new social worker, he'll play games with new s/w and he'll be a lot more skilled at it than new social worker ;-)

Incidently, the attachment/ADHD/ASD thing is a challenge, my son presents with lots of symptoms of ASD but looking at the Coventry Grid I really do feel his is coming from the attachment side. I suspect that one day we will be much clearer that there is a biological basis to these all these disorders and that early abuse creates neurological damage that can cause all sorts of diagnosis like ASD, or bipolar etc.


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