The second article about post adoption support is another Q & A about one family’s experience of asking for help. Their experience is similar to Christina’s, as no support plan was put in place prior to placement.
Was a support plan agreed as part of matching or when your children were placed?
We have two girls (sisters) and as far as I remember, there was no support plan as part of matching/placement.
How long after your children had been home, did you realise you needed some extra support?
We realised within the first month that we’d need help and extra support. We were led to believe that both children were happy little girls and showed no signs of trauma or any other behavioural or emotional issues. But it became apparent quickly that something wasn’t right with our eldest. She was wild, spent a lot of time on her head, threw massive tantrums which we were unable to bring her out of, and night times were so troubled and disturbing.
Who did you contact to obtain help?
We rang our adoption agency (ARC Adoption). One of the main reasons we chose ARC as our agency was because they offered support at every stage of the process – both during and post adoption. Our social worker during the adoption process had left the LA and we’d never met our new one so we felt more confident contacting ARC.
Did you get a quick response?
Immediately. As in as soon as I called, they popped me through to a Post Adoption Support Worker.
What happened next?
Within the week we were speaking with a clinical psychologist who worked with ARC to help us try and understand our eldest’s behaviour and how best to parent her. We then had regular visits from a post adoption support worker, and a family support worker.
Did you feel like your concerns were taken seriously?
Absolutely. They were taken extremely seriously. They could see how rock bottom we were and how much we wanted to help our eldest. I really don’t know where we’d be right now if hadn’t had the support of ARC.
What type of support were you offered?
Initially we did some work with ARC using Theraplay. This carried on for around six to eight weekly sessions. During this time, we were told about Nurturing Families, an independent service that provides therapeutic interventions and support, particularly with children in adoptive placements.
Once we read more about them and met with one of the practitioners, we knew it was something that we wanted to try. ARC contacted our social worker and a meeting was held with our social worker, Nurturing Families, and me. Our social worker supported the actions and completed a request to access the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).
Was there a waiting list or did you start quite quickly?
We started therapy within the month, continuing with the support from ARC in the interim.
Once the support started, did it help in the way you needed it to?
The support was given to me and my partner only for the first eight months. It was felt that we needed a lot of information, a change of direction in our parenting and general support to make us feel confident as parents. We really were rock bottom and felt utterly useless as parents.
The support we received was amazing. Our therapist built us up and gave us the confidence to take on therapeutic parenting. After around a year the therapy moved to include our eldest. Unfortunately, we only managed a couple of months of this therapy before COVID hit and sessions had to stop. I continued parenting sessions with Nurturing Families during lockdown via Zoom.
Is the support ongoing or was it for a specific number of sessions or period of time?
The support is ongoing. We have accessed the ASF twice, and a new application has recently gone in for further funding for the coming year.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s nervous about asking for support?
My advice would be for any prospective adopter to do a lot of research about post adoption support with the agency they’re considering, before signing up. ARC seemed by far the best agency for us when we did our research. We really didn’t think we’d ever need post adoption support, but knowing it was there was peace of mind.
If you need help, then don’t ever feel afraid or embarrassed to ask for it. We felt like complete failures having to ask for help, but our agency were amazing. Absolutely every adoptive parent will have felt like they needed help at some point. You are never alone in your thoughts! I’m aware that many adopters don’t have the experience we’ve had and that upsets and worries me. It shouldn’t be like that. Adopters should be offered whatever they need to aid their parenting.