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.

PAD- POTATO ARTS DAY 2018.

Do you like arts and crafts? Or just to meet fellow adoptive parents and have a well deserved break and recharge your batteries?

Come on up to Sheffield and take part in PAD! We still have a few places left if you are a member of POTATO group and are quick off the mark…

email parentingadoptedteens@gmail.com and subject line: PAD 2018.

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We are so excited to be having another POTATO arts day! You might be into painting or more a cut and stick or a learn a new technique type of person. Everyone is very friendly and you would be very welcome even if you don’t know any participants closely.

Later this month, April 2018, we are holding our third Potato Art Day which is growing into a self-care weekend.  Potato members from across the UK get the chance to meet friends whom they have previously only met online, to accept overnight hospitality from other Potatoes, to share a therapeutic alpaca trek and a meal out as well as a day of art and craft activities.  This year will include Raku pottery, wire sculpture, papercraft, crochet, drawing, a wish tree and a raffle.

alpaca

This weeks piece is all about WHY POTATO group members need a break and what sort of break the PAD provides.

Mental Health is feeling ill….

Good evening everybody.

This evenings piece, ready for you is by someone in POTATO who has become quite an expert in mental health services. Not that they set out to do this. Well, few of the the things we set out thinking we would be doing as adoptive parents are actually the things we’ve ended up doing!

Most of the POTATO members have come across CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) at some point. They have had mixed experiences from the hugely supportive but with no resources to offer, to not at all supportive and very vague, to pondering about what could be provided for the level of need presented in children and teens with extensive trauma related mental health needs. Not fit for purpose?

For those who have extensive, complex, epigentic linked and to a degree organic serious mental health needs, an inpatient stay of several months might be required.

These are as rare as hens teeth.

We are encouraged to see all main political parties and campaigning groups have signed up to improving CAMHS and “ending out of area placements” but sometimes its really hard to see action making any difference.

This article was written recently, in the last year in fact, but it STILL just as relevant as in 2017. Its a challenge to spot any differences at all.

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Mothers Day Management

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Mother’s Day

Yes, that time of year that most mothers and fathers look forward to. That cheerful card and fresh bunch of flowers, a lovely family roast dinner. OK well here’s the thing. Mother’s Day is a complex thing for many of our traumatised adoptees. It reminds them of their first family, who they may have mixed feeling about due to adverse events and some affectionate feelings, loyalty and abandonment. It underlines that their adoptive mum is not their biological parent and often takes the emotional flack for not being able to prevent their harm, simply being of the same gender as birth mother or a myriad of complex emotions.

In some ways when our adoptees are younger, mother’s day is easier. They might have a wobbler at home or push it at school but you still get a card (albeit soggy at the bottom of the book bag) and generally they can manage a family meal. But heading into teens, it is much more difficult. They aren’t provided with a card from school and therefore have to buy one and wrestle with all the difficult stuff listed above, often alone keeping it hidden (why oh why do we have to keep everything a surprise it really isn’t a help!) Even when given the money to do so some young people will struggle to get something. The meals out or in become more difficult. You have a teenager who doesn’t find socialising the easiest thing and communicates via grunt. Family and friends would expect the young person to have done a card but if not at least be warm, pleasant and loving to the mum and when this isn’t happening tension arises. The young person feels overwhelming shame and all the mixed up emotions appear and cause trouble all round.

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So, how do we deal with Mother’s Day? Can we improve things and make it more manageable?

This week’s article looks at the responses we had from within POTATO to the trials and tribulations of Mother’s Day and how families have worked around it.

CPV & adoption in crisis, on the TV.

Good Morning everyone.

POTATO has been in demand recently, with the Wright Stuff and this piece on the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

Talking about how adoptive families often face crisis with their traumatised adopted young people and the professionals lack capacity to help.

It emphasises how important POTATO group is to families in terms of support and expert knowledge having had many families having faced similar troubles in the past.

Thankyou to our members who took part, especially the parents who agreed to be interviewed on live TV!

It is really good to know that our group is so well supported. If you would like to offer a media opportunity or arrange an interview with our members please email us: parentingadoptedteens@gmail.com

Moving on up, moving on out!

This week we are sharing our members journey with her young adult towards supported independence.

Moving on up, moving on up!

Yes, now you’ve got that 90s classic zipping through your head- have a read of this weeks excellent blog.

It can be ever so challenging for adoptive parents, with vulnerable adoptees, having a variety of executive functioning and other difficulties to start moving towards independence.

Hopefully, this weeks blog will give you some ideas of where to start and a chance to think through the issues faced by families at this point in life.

Moving home, a DIY approach

The Wright Stuff… Janie

On Monday morning The Wright Stuff on Channel 5 ran a phone in about the contraversial topic of whether a 2 year old should be told that her father killed her mother and then took his own life in prison.

Here is the news link.

Here at the POTATO group we understand that many of our members had their children due to reasons of extreme violence, and it is important to give their children a narrative.

This is based on the work in Greg Keck’s 2002 book “Parenting the hurt child” and sits alongside the respected work by Bessell Van De Kolk “The body keeps the score“. The approaches to life story work such as Rose and Philpot “The Childs Own Story” and “Story Re-Visions” by Parry & Doan are related to this therapeutic understanding. Other experts such as Dr Bruce Perry and the respected Dan Hughes and Family Futures  with a multitude of current trauma specialists follow the “full disclosure” school of thought.

“Janie” is one of our founder members and continues to contribute on the committee and our private facebook group. Janie says re disclosure of life story to adoptees: “After all if we cannot give our children the truth, what can we give them?”

We would like local and national government to give full disclosure about their childrens past when they are adopted. This rarely happens and a censored version of events is given to families so they are in effect, parenting blind. We think this needs to change. Here are some quotes from Greg Keck explaining why.

“In therapy, Rita [approx. age 7] was capable of expressing what she thought she might have felt when she was two years old”. — Parenting the Hurt Child (2002), p. 82

“We need to validate their truth, document their truth, and where possible show them the truth. Sometimes in therapy we have used police or hospital photos to show the child exactly what “bad touch” means. These photos do more to affirm the child’s reality than the nice smiling photos taken at a supervised visit.” — Parenting the Hurt Child (2002), p. 249

“I don’t think we should keep any information about a child from that child. And I don’t think we have to wait until he is old enough to understand what happened to him. After all, most atrocities committed by parents are done before their children can truly understand them. We talk to babies”. — Parenting the Hurt Child (2002), p. 250

Greg Keck passed away in 2015 and is missed by the adoption community worldwide. You can access his powerpoint explaining his approach in detail here.

Bamboo FINALE

Good Afternoon everyone. Yes its Tuesday, blogday.

This week we bring you the last bit of the adventure and trip home which is not without some eyewatering bits!

Over the next few weeks we will be bringing pieces on when your adopted young person is trying to get a mental health bed, moving out well along with several other pieces written by our members.

Enjoy the final part of BAMBOO….

 

Whababaluba baba BAMBOO

Are they heading for a Thai jail?

Find out how they get on in BAMBOO part 3.

Would you believe all this stuff was possible with a traumatised young person? Here at POTATO we are amazed at the tenacity, intelligence and ‘sheer bloody minded hanging on in there’ ism in our adoptive parents.

Sometimes just about hanging on with your eyes shut praying, hoping and getting through by the skin of your teeth might be more like the day to day.

Bamboo adventures maybe for another day but sometimes achievement looks like being able to drink a hot cuppa and not be sworn at, or have an hour when you realise you haven’t worried about your adopted teen is really nailing it.

Bamboo 2

Just got in from taking one of our much loved POTATO dogs for a walk in the sunshine. It’s icy and bitterly cold.

But thankfully bright and I feel so much happier and exercised afterwards. You end up day dreaming wondering about summer, the warm sun without icy wind. Holidays sound a good plan… France? Devon? Turkey? Dubai or perhaps… Phuket?

For those who don’t know, holidays for traumatised young people can be really tough. For many it’s the first time they really notice how different kids with ‘normal range’ starts are to traumatised ones. They struggle enormously with change. All their controlling, stress driven behaviours reappear and there’s very little relaxing on the side of parent or child.

Doing a big thing like Thailand is such a huge leap for any family, let alone one with a traumatised young person.

This weeks blog is following our friends are off on their Thailand Adventures and here is part two.

Bloggy McBlogface

Ahoy there! Its TUESDAY and every week we are going to publish a blog piece on our website. So all aboard the Bloggy McBlogface.

Frankly I can’t wait to hear from our members how they have been getting on with their TATs (traumatised adopted teens) and celebrating their steps forward, and commiserating them when things have gone belly up.

This week we are sharing the epic of traveling overseas with a TAT. Part One is here. Our writer has called it “Bamboo Scaffolding“.

Bamboo