The POTATO group

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.




Mothers Day Management


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.


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:

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.


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“.


Reflecting on Christmas

Its a chilly grey afternoon in early January and we have finished off the Quality Street and the last piece of shortbread. The relatives have gone home, you are back at work, kids back at school and college and everyones on a healthy living kick! But before we move on from the festive memories of 2017 completely, here are some reflections of POTATO in the last few weeks.

Many families are missing having their adoptee at home, and over Christmas the sense that we have to be together and having a great idealic family time is all around you. Tough for many. Those with their adoptees at home it is a time of managing expectations around presents, relatives and appropriate thank yous.

Several adoptive parents who have their adoptee in prison, in “supported living” (which often leaves a frightening chasm of need that we try to fill from a distance), section 20 voluntary care provision and families that simply cannot manage to be together as the pressure of Christmas is too much.

Hm. Well its not all miserable!

One great big lovely cyber hug doesnt always deliver the support required and so a few years ago we began a SECRET SANTA. This year, we have enjoyed the most successful time with over 60 members taking part from all over the UK. The committee and members are hugely grateful for the hard work of our Kindness Gifts organiser and to all who joined in.

“I was overwhelmed to receive my secret santa present, it is the only gift I get for me each year. Thank you for organising it.”

“It was happiness in a box and I grinned from ear to ear thinking of the soak I would enjoy with smellies just for me.”

“An amazing set of little things for me to enjoy, thank you secret santa.”

In addition to sending gifts to eachother, several members sent cards, letters, magazines and small gifts to TATs (traumatised adopted teens) in prison over Christmas. POTATO really does have some exceptionally kind and practically caring members.

Are you a parent to a traumatised adopted young person and want to join in with POTATO group? We have a secret Facebook group where the majority of our support happens and we do have various meet ups through the UK at different times. It will cost you £10 a year and a simple registration form plus a check that you are known to a member or can be checked out as we only allow genuine adoptive parents. Just email and our administration team will help you through.