The POTATO group

Welcome all Parents of Teens, Adopted in the UK

We are a UK based group of parents who have adopted our children from the looked after system in the past 20+ years. All of our teenagers are incredible survivors who need specialist parenting which can be very hard going. Despite dealing with some heavy subjects, we like to meet socially and have a bit of relaxation with other parents who understand what we are facing. These pages are by way of an introduction to our group, our aims and an overview of what we do. We accept families with adopted children, teens and young people but our focus is supporting parents through the teenage years.  Our group is a not for profit organisation committed to this community. We promote (and try) to follow therapeutic principles (in depth document HERE.)

Here is a brief (not exclusive) list of things POTATO group do.

  1. Demonstrate kindness to fellow adoptive parents of adopted young people in the UK by face to face, email and the private facebook facilities.
  2. Share our considerable expertise in areas such as housing, specialist schools/ colleges, mental health problems, therapy, addictions and other difficulties traumatised young people often bring into our lives.
  3. Several members are active in promoting good practice ideas and presenting to local and national authorities.
  4. Actively encourage “self care” within the membership, encouraging good physical and mental wellbeing in parents.
  5. Train & support volunteers and develop financially so we can cover volunteer expenses.
  6. Offer training to social care, education, social and health groups in life lived with adopted teens with practical strategies.
  7. Provide national events of interest for Parents of traumatised young people.

POTATO Arts day.

Every year, we have a couple of days break from looking after our traumatised adopted young people.

In the team of POTATO we have some talented artists, caring compassionate and fun individuals. We have all lives life with traumatised adopted young people and all genuinely knowledge the score.

So, we have an Arts Day. There’s a meal out all together the night before and it’s a relaxed and supportive group.

This year we have been focusing on designing a ‘Self Care Island’.

Here are a selection of collages and paintings our POTATO creatives made!

If you would like to know more about being in a POTATO arts day and joining up because you have traumatised adoptees, please email parentingadoptedteens@gmail.com

New publication from SG&AT.

We have been really impressed by the recent publication by Special Guardians and Adopters Together. For those who don’t know, we work with this organisation a lot to help give an honest picture of modern adoption.

Several of our members are also members of this other group and have contributed to this very interesting publication. Apparently, there is going to be one every quarter and we will be keen to see their next piece.

We especially liked the friendship and support section. But the charity details are also helpful and the insight into the position of Special Guardians.

Here is the link online.

Here is a PDF version you can download.

sgat_newsletter_2019_issue_01.pdf

Parents experience of Child Protection.

There are a large number of families with traumatised adoptees who have been subjected to child protection enquiries. Our group has experienced the whole range of enquiries, from the simple set of questions by a social worker to full child protection conferences.

The vast majority of these are about the young adopted person making false allegations. These allegations can be to do with the young person’s anger, emotional turmoil at the time or simply confusion with which memory belongs to which set of adults.

Prior to adoption, our families were fully vetted and accepted as excellent prospective parents. We are often told by CAMHS and Post Adoption that we are doing a really great job with really hard kids.

However, often the fact that it is an adopted, deeply traumatised and attachment disordered individual making an allegation is not fully recognised by the authorities.

Sonya talks about her experiences with the authorities following a false allegation against her. (Headphones recommended.)

 

 

When a child is trafficked…

Not an easy thing to talk about but our wonderful adoptive mum Sonya and her daughter Danni are giving it a go.

There are a fair proportion of adopted young people who become involved in trafficking, county lines and other undesirable activities. It is truly terrifying as a parent and of course as a child.

These poor choices are tied in with their repeated early trauma which damages their self worth, ability to attach and causes repeated developmental trauma.

Here is the clip with Sonya and Danni talking about sexual exploitation.

 

Foetal Alcohol and School

There are lots of adopted children who have foetal alcohol who have particular challenges in life and educationally.

Not many children are diagnosed at birth because unless it can be proved that birth mum consumed alcohol through pregnancy to a degree that is likely to cause harm, there is often no diagnosis.

Here, Sonya and Danni discuss her late diagnosis and the impact knowing this had on her and her education in particular.

 

Film 1- Modern Adoption

We are delighted to share a set of short film clips made by one of our members and her now young adult daughter.

Emotional in places, with a few swears (you have been warned) but it is raw and so authentic you will get really drawn in.

We found that listening through headphones is easier as the speaking is a little quiet in places.

This first clip gives an over view and a solid introduction to Sonya and Danni.

When your adopted teen has a sudden change of staff.

We have a great deal of parents of traumatised adopted teens who struggle at school. Their troubles are often to do with the ways school run and how tricky things can be to negotiate when you have had a lot of early traumas, prior to adoption.

One of our adoptive parents has written a really helpful, insightful piece on how it is for our adoptive young people facing staff changes in school.

It can be a HUGE problem.

This short piece from the adopted young persons point of view,  covers many of the reasons why.

 

Reflections on Adoption.

This is an article written for professionals and adoptive parents to use to inform themselves about a way forwards. We think there are some problems within adoption that need addressing.

It is written by one of our members, based on many years of adoptive parenting. This individual has experience of birth parenting too, and so knows how very different the experiences of parenting are.

Have a look through the article and see if you agree with the questions posed. What would you say are the issues that need addressing within modern UK adoption?

 

What every social worker should know working with adoptive parents.

Over in POTATO group we have a lot of families involved with social workers.

Even when the adoption order is through it’s very clear that families need support from professional people who can access relevant help for our traumatised young people and their families. Sadly, our experiences of services often fall short and at times catastrophically so for our family lives. Our traumatised adopted teens get very badly effected.

There’s a few total diamonds in the service, I’m a committee member of POTATO writing to you today and I can name a few. We would like to see the standards raised to excellent across the board helping post adoptive families.

Every now and again, we come across something that resonates so loudly with our collective experiences that we want to share it.

This is a piece published here with permission of the author (yes, we asked!)

Essential reading for anyone involved in post adoption, especially social workers.

Help! Is this what you’re saying to social care?

Our members often find it difficult to get much in terms of support from the various services. We wonder if the following letter, written by a member of POTATO applies to your situation or your professional department?

It certainly struck a chord with many of us in our Facebook group. So much so we have all decided it should be shared in an anonymous form for you all to see.

Dear Decision Makers,

I adopted a child with complex needs, a child I grew to love with all my heart, a child I have fought for, worried over, battled to get support for, a child who has brought me both joy and challenges.

I believe with all my heart that I am the right person to parent my child, now a young person. I believe I have the skills I need and I can cope with most of the challenges his needs throw at me. But my single parent family is unravelling. Why? Not because I do not have the willingness or skills to parent my son, but because it is a serious challenge which cannot be achieved without support. The support we need is not there.

My son has night time continence needs and erratic sleeping patterns. Hence I have erratic sleeping patterns too. Our monthly respite broke down months ago and we were approved instead for respite at a residential unit which would hopefully meet my son’s needs more effectively. There were no vacancies and there will not be any for the foreseeable future. Respite time was the time to catch up on my sleep in order to be able to continue for another month. I have become more and more exhausted. Last week I fell apart at a routine medical appointment, when the medical professional asked me how I was, other than my medical needs. I finished up being diagnosed as completely exhausted. I am still exhausted. Nothing has changed.

When it comes to complex needs my son’s needs are high up the scale. At first glance they do not appear so, but he has attachment and trauma issues, learning difficulties, and sensory modulation problems, all of which can trigger extreme challenging behaviour. His special school have not been able to meet his needs effectively this term, due to changes in staff. This has escalated challenging behaviour at home.

My son has become too old for any holiday care in existence in our county but I need to work. As a single parent working is the only option I have if I want to pay the bills. I like working. However, as of today I can only work half of my hours as we secured direct payments but only managed to recruit a home carer to provide half of the care hours we need.

I tried to access adoption allowance but it was a fruitless attempt. I cannot access support to work and I cannot access support not to work. Our financial future is non viable.

My son has significant and complex needs. He was adopted relatively late in her childhood. He was in traumatic circumstances for many more years than many other children who get adopted. His therapy needs are great. He has been making good progress in therapy but the funding for this is now in jeopardy. Nobody would argue for therapy their family did not need. Most families in this situation would celebrate when their child/young person no longer needed therapy. It is a massive commitment to support your child/young person through that. When it is time to move on and get on with life it is a huge positive step. However, like many parents, I am left feeling like I am asking for something unreasonable. If my son had cancer we would not fund half of a treatment programme and then leave him high and dry, but somehow mental health is less deserving of support.

The only option left on the table is the unthinkable one, the one I do not want to take. I can ask for my child to re-enter the care system or I can struggle on until either the money runs out or I completely break down, whichever comes first. I know that the unthinkable option will destroy us both, and I will go down fighting with the very last breath in my body, but I can see no way ahead unless the support, both practical and financial, is found. The support we need is not there.

By A member of POTATO used with permission, July 2018