The POTATO group

What Free School Meals Meant to Me

This is the letter that the adult adopted daughter of one of our members wrote to her MP. It’s a powerful reminder of just how important free school meals are for neglected or deprived children.

So this is something that is really upsetting me. Long story short, school meals helped save me and my siblings. If I hadn’t only ate half of my school lunch and take the rest home to share for our dinner, the teachers wouldn’t have clicked on to something not being right at home nor would they have reported it to social services. Who could know what would’ve happened if they didn’t. The amount of children who do not have access to food at home is sickening, living below the breadline, and now essentially being taught that the privileged always come first. It’s not the child’s fault they’re in that situation but you’re teaching them it is because at the end of the day that’s who’s being punished. It just breeds negativity into them even more. But it’s all groovy because you get your £3000+ pay rise and free hot meals, go back to your warm homes, so why would it stop you from sleeping at night?

Reflections on National Adoption Week

Our first contribution, written powerfully from the heart, comes from a member who is tirelessly advocating for her adopted son 20 years after beginning their journey to become a family. Please read it and reflect:

Next week is National Adoption Week. More people will be encouraged to look into becoming adoptive parents. It is what I did 20 years ago. Naive, wide eyed, with all the love in the world to give. I chose my son and he changed my life. I will love the bones of him until I die.
That is the easy bit. What happens after social workers have dug and delved, made promises they can’t keep and made you feel inadequate is a whole load of nothing. I educated myself. I wanted to know why my tiny son was terrified, hugged strangers, hoarded food, ran away…
14 years of being in and out of meetings with health workers, social workers, the police, and mostly school followed. I still have box files of papers stored in the garage. I was told he just needed time, I was told he may be unable to live with a family, I was told to be strict
I begged with the LA, school, CAMHS that he needed help. I did the reading and the MA into adoption and developmental trauma, reactive attachment disorder. They hadn’t. Sorry nothing they could do to help. Sorry he was too out of control for them. Excluded aged eight.
Aged nine he would run from home and be gone for 11 hours. The police helicopter was out searching. The police brought him home where he would collapse exhausted, saying he hated me, until he broke down saying he loved me. Still no help. No therapy.
Through threats and brinkmanship, I managed to get him into a school, but he ran away from there. I had to bring him away when he was assaulted by a ‘carer’. He ran off into the City and I couldn’t find him. The LA put me on a parenting class where they discussed table manners.
Eventually he found drugs. They got rid of the fear, they made him confident, a feeling of happiness. He had new friends associated with them. I begged magistrates and judges to give him another chance. Until there were no more. He’s been locked away. I talk to him every day.
He’s struggling with the solitary, lack of exercise and light. We talk endlessly about his new start without drugs, about understanding himself. But the lockdown is breaking him. I just wanted to share this so you can think of it when you hear about National Adoption Week.
Adopters need to know the reality. That you will need more than love, a home and a job. You will be need to hang in there when everyone else has turned their back on you. You need support. And if not, maybe learn to hold your head up high in court and prison.

POTATO Arts Day (2019)

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!

Sadly the events of 2020 have left us unable to arrange any Art Days.  Hopefully this will be possible at some point in 2021.

Special Guardians and Adopters Together

Whilst Potato is a support group, SG&AT are a campaigning group. It’s members ‘come together to think about what needs to change and support each other in campaigning to achieve it.’. There are a number of members of Potato who also belong to this group. For more information please click on the link below.

specialguardians and adopters together.com

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?