The POTATO group

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


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 and subject line: PAD 2018.

art painting.jpg

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.


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.




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.