The POTATO group

Clever poem for your five minutes and cuppa….

A POTATO Member has sent in this clever poem to share, and we hope you enjoy it with a cuppa. 

It really is vitally important to take a break, even 5 minutes to yourself each day. Self care is something we take really seriously in our group as it is the only thing you can often control in the times when things are smooth or rough going.

 That’s good for your mental and physical health (as long as the cuppa isn’t neat gin everyday!) 

So. Here’s the poem with today’s cuppa. Enjoy 

 I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots.
Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.
I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognises you there.
I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there.
I have made several trips there, thanks to my children, friends, family and work.
I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.
I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.
I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.
Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.
One of my favourite places to be is in Suspense!
It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!
I may have been in Continent, and I don’t remember what country I was in.
It’s an age thing. They tell me it is very wet and damp there.

AGM 2016

It’s that time of year and again the POTATO steering group are planning for the AGM. This year, it’s going to be a bit different with the emphasis on what the group does to support parents of traumatised young people.

Examples of which will be shared when the group have given talks, shared expertise, met with advisory bodies and held “communication stalls”. Donations can be brought on the day to cover the costs involved in setting up the event, we ask all members to check they have completed their membership forms and paid their annual cost of £10 per year, per family.

We are holding it over the same weekend as the adoptionuk conference so members will have the option of attending both events.

Very importantly we have been busy arranging social meals over the weekend in November to get to meet one another in person, share stories and have a much needed break from day to day family life. Looking forward to laughing with everyone.

For further details, either email or if you are a member, check our Facebook chat group.

Door left ajar

Was it ever right that I tried to be your mummy?
How could you accept that when I wasn’t ‘tummy mummy’?
She made you and she bore you,
And she loved you from the start,
She just didn’t have the wherewithal to keep you in her heart,
I wanted to replace her
And give you all l could,
I wanted you to be secure
And make your life feel good.
We took you in our family
A daughter and a sister,
We loved you and we cherished you
But still you really missed her.
No love nor understanding
Could take away your pain,
No therapy nor counselling
Could make us both feel sane.
We battled and we struggled

And I tried to keep you near,
But it wasn’t really possible
Because of all the fear.
It all went wrong, we asked for help
But no one really cared,
Or maybe they just didn’t see
We both were really scared.
I let you down, I should have had
The strength to battle on.
I never will forgive myself
Now that our chance is gone.
But even now, there is a bond
Of that I feel quite sure
I only hope you feel it too
And leave ajar the door

Used with permission from Poet:  Janet Barraclough

Professionals and Adoptive Parents

word bubbleHi all,

We are so fortunate in our group because there is such experience and expertise in adoption matters. Read an excellent article by Dave Bagshaw and Mair Richards adapted from their presentation at the POTATO conference and AGM 2015.

The full version can be downloaded for free here on the LINKS and RESOURCES page.

With thanks to Dave and Mair for this helpful resource.

Sally Donovan’s Article

It’s Sunday and the roar of Sally Donovan has begun to die down. She did a great article in this weeks “Community Care” and there has already been a huge amount of feedback.

The article points to experience of member families and the fundamental hampering of professional progress due to a lack of learning from mistakes.

Take a look at the link below.


Special educational needs?

Diane Rochford is conducting a review into education provision. The review was asked to advise the Department for Education on statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.

POTATO Group understands that many of our adoptees may be assessed under p levels or miss out on full assessment.


Further, if you have experienced or missed out on p level assessment in primary education and then come up against difficulties in secondary provision as a result, please email us. Subject: P levels review.

Conference and AGM

potato conf 2015

Hello all POTATO group members and interested people 🙂

In November we held our AGM and conference with a mix of speakers and information sharing amongst peers.


The Steering group met and it was decided that the roles within Potato Group needed some changes due to the increased work load involved in a larger, and expanding membership.

The roles decided upon were:

  • Chairperson. x1
  • General Secretary. x1
  • Membership Secretary. x1
  • Welfare Secretary x2
  • Treasurer (with supporting signatories)

Steering Group Persons were proposed and seconded by members, duly elected.

Points of discussion included development of a membership map and database for meeting support. Further discussion about revenue streams and finance followed. Members were asked to consider dates, times and venues for AGMs and Conferences in future. Ideas on the day included having a summer conference and a winter AGM, keeping things as they are, having a separate “self care” focus weekend.

To contribute further ideas, or for a full set of minutes, please contact the steering group via email, or twitter @thePOTATOgroup


Dave Bagshaw- Adoptive Parent, dealing with professionals and understanding each other better.

Exploring reasons that social care misunderstand adoptive parents and are very much geared towards working with dysfunctional parents with dysfunctional children. Whereas we are (generally speaking) functional parents host to dysfunctional young people.

POTATO group parents looking at destructive and challenging behaviours will read these as trauma-induced difficulties which require de-escalation. The parents are often under enormous strain dealing with extreme  issues and find their young person’s needs bring them to the attention of various services. Or they approach services asking for assistance.

Whereas police, social care and other professionals may view this dangerous, rash, threatening behaviours as a result of poor parenting and inadequate boundaries. Dramatising these perspectives it was helpful to recognise what is going on and the practical tips for managing in meetings when the professionals come with this mindset was very helpful for members.

Sarah Phillimore, Barrister.

Sarah’s Website-

Sarah has worked extensively in the family law courts.  Via the contacts made with POTATO group she has become aware that section 20 is often being used in respect to adoptive young people who cannot be at home, most often due to their high risk behaviours, significant harm to parents or other children in the home. Section 20 means that the adoptive parents retain FULL parental responsibility. It is our group experience that this is often ignored and the local authority often behave as if they hold PR and the adoptive parents are “to blame” for their child being looked after.

Sarah has looked into this and has done a specific piece of work debunking the narrative that meetings with professionals cannot be recorded. They can be recorded. It is not illegal, saying that you are going to record the meeting is a wise precaution in many cases.

Jackie, ECHP expert advisor.

Very informative talk about the new EHCP plans. You can as a parent apply for an EHCP for your young person but you will need substantial evidence that your child is behind and has been unable to catch up despite support and intervention. It is worth considering applying for a plan, even if your YP is 16yrs old or over because that plan can continue until 25 years old.

The school/ college will be asked for evidence too but it is not essential that they are on side. The EHCPs are very much education orientated but any plan will encapsulate additional health and social needs.

One of the negatives of EHCPs is that all the information you provide to get the support, is shared with that young persons professional team throughout the time under the plan. So consider carefully the evidence presented and whether you want, or your young person will want, that forever on the record.

Jenny Jones, Adoption Support Fund

Jenny Jones website:
Twitter: @JenniferJ432

Adoption support fund is a recent development allowing adoptive families to apply for and obtain funded support for specialist services, relating to their post adoptive needs.

Basically the process is this:

  1. Family applies to the local authority with responsibility for their support for an “Assessment of Needs”.
  2. The Local Authority should send a suitably qualified and experienced worker to assess the family needs and complete the documentation.
  3. The resulting needs outcomes are shared with the family.
  4. If there are specific specialist needs identified for funding, the assessment is considered by the ‘expert advisory group’ for the ASF for consideration.
  5. If agreement is achieved the local authority assist the family in finding adequate resource to fund and get started ASAP.
  6. This process is reviewed.

There are a lot of families and local authorities that have been helped to achieve support the likes of which would have been beyond the scope and means of Adoption Services normally. This has been most welcome. Helpfully, Jenny has detailed this in her powerpoint .

There are several issues that have arisen within ASF processing as several LAs appear to not be applying, lack personnel to assess as well as run a busy department and additionally there are problems with additional panel based bureaucracies within LA’s before the application even reaches the central fund. If the LA has internal panels these are not permitted to change the assessing social workers decisions.

POTATO Group members are looking to see improvement in the general awareness of the ASF and increasing access. Wide misinterpretation of Post Adoption Departments re access of ASF for S20 families is one issue raised from the members. Many families have been treated poorly by LAs that have tried to access support in the past, (see Dave Bagshaw’s talk notes above) that they just cannot pick up the phone and speak to the LA again. Comments from the floor emphasised that increased and easier access review would be welcome.

There was a lot of thanks given to speakers, individual members and the steering group for organising, attending and delivering a diverse, useful and enlightening conference relevant to many areas of parenting adopted teenagers.

Many POTATO Group members enjoyed various social and individual activities over the weekend, enjoying meals out, pampering, shopping and other chances to indulge in some vital self care.

If you attended, thank you for coming along and we will update you with future dates and details of AGM and Conference(s?) for 2016.

Jenni, General Secretary.



POTATO MASH, AGM and conference. 

On Sunday 8th of November we invite our members to come to Birmingham for our AGM and conference. It is peer led, warm, friendly and kind gathering of parents of traumatised adopted young people, aimed primarily at those with 11-21 year old adoptees.

So if you are a member and would like to hear from our experts on: ASF (adoption support fund), legal matters surrounding s20 and pr, post 16 education and EHCP’s plus service providers, culture and ethos. Please contact us letting us know you plan to attend:

– subject heading- agm.


To run our peer lead group we do need funds and so request a donation- £5, £10 or £15 whichever you feel you are able to contribute towards the cost of running this event.

There will be drinks available on the day, but please bring a packed lunch.

You can pay by using the super easy  PayPal

Bbqs, holidays and first on the list.

It is time for the seasonal blog and its BBQ weather. Yes…. British weather so darting indoors missing the showers, hoping the gateau will defrost in time for pud. “Man cook with fire” pervades and thankfully someone has brought some proscetto and pimms punch.

If you’ve never had pimms punch, give this lovely one a try…. PIMMS PUNCH

On the whole this vision of domestic bliss is achievable in most families and on the whole our adopted young people have managed them better over time, trouble is that there’s a lot of buffet related angst. If doing your own BBQ, then get the tats a plate each set up ready for the burger deposit and get them a large bottle of cola each. That way food is readily available and their worries over managing the etiquette when they feel they may starve, vanish.


A nice role, such as skittles putter-upper or garden Jenga monitor can really help those who find interaction hard. Getting them to set up the music so that there’s something for grandma- the babies is quite a task and overwhelming until the last year when we thought we’d try it again and they actually came out with some good party mixes.

We have come to some peace over actual holidays. For us, we look forward to holidays with thoughts of relaxation and excitement. For our adoptees, despite many years to tell them otherwise, holidays represent scarey changes and settled relaxation and positive happiness are a long way off. The way home almost as bad as the way there and cross exhaustion swiftly follows on everyone’s faces.

So instead we’ve gone for a few days meeting up with family for picnic bbqs (as above) ideally in pubs so less clearing up… Holidays, well, perhaps they are too hard still. Maybe cutting your losses is a good idea. Younger ones could try doit4real, Pgl, Christians in sport, outward bounds courses while parents perhaps holiday nearby.

Tats being older can in theory be left and over time we’ve built up to being able to have a week away with all food labelled up ready, friends and family “dropping in” and various planned meals out. This year it’s big stuff….. Yes! We are off ABROAD and leaving a tat in control for a week. There’s a wall planner up to help. Google calendar is a good thing so your tats and you know what’s what and who is where, when. Leaving them to look at gaps and fill them up, plan transport and when they are going to actually eat each day is a good set of life skills.

For me, I have discovered Audible I’ve found sleeping an increasing challenge as worries about the TATs seem to crowd in at nights. Right now it’s free for 30days and I’ve kept it on, enjoyed the latest c j sansom book “lamentation” (it’s a bit like cadfael but more earthy) and enjoyed being transported off elsewhere in my mind.

Please do remember the last people on your list really should be first and self care is key to holding it together, you do need a break. #selfcare

We are always interested to read about your Tats adventures whether it be family BBQ or a week in Spain and how you all managed it. Twitter @thePOTATOgroup we already have some fantastic pictures by all means add to them.

APV when planets collide


We live on planet adoption. Our lives are so very distinct to other parents. We applaud when our child cries… because its rare that they’ve trusted us enough to show emotion. We are disappointed and distressed as the leader says all our son did at scout camp were the rubbish jobs no one else wanted. This is upsetting because we know that the reason he selected those roles is because he feels utterly worthless. When your daughter refuses school and swears, kicks you and punches a hole in the wall you think that its a run of the mill morning and your greatest achievement is to be able to step out of the drama and drink a cup of coffee while its still hot. #selfcare is a key aim rarely met.

Other planets like the one of domestic abuse collide with our planet more often than we knew. We share a lot of similarities. The backgrounds of people who abuse is often peppered with trauma, abuse and poor support in their early years much like modern adoptees.

In simple terms, the aim of domestic abuse support is normally to make sure the perpetrator and the victim are separated, moved away and both go onto live with happier choices. In CPV (Child to parent violence) or APV this just is not the aim for the families involved. They need to stay together, generally want to stay together but need to find a better way forwards.

Its a big deal, APV over here on planet adoption. It wrecks lives.

Bristol University research published in “Beyond the adoption order” 2014 by Julie Selwyn et al, commissioned by the DFE explains:

  • Violence was a significant factor in the young person leaving their adoptive home in 80 per cent of cases, combined with involvement in crime, life threatening self-harm and running away.  Of those interviewed, 27 per cent of parents reported worrying behaviour shown by their child around the use of knives

Without the welly of a local team of willing, funded professionals the glorious heights of a supported way into Non Violent Resistance as widely advocated for use within adoptive families, many are left assimilating the techniques of presence raising and written agreements alone. The actual evidence for NVRs effectiveness in adoptive families is limited. There is lots of training aimed at adopters on this NVR mainly by Dr Peter Jakob. Here is a great blog piece on an adopters experience from recent training: Frogotter’s Blog

As an alternative, POTATO group were attracted to the LINX programme run by Hampton Trust. The programme recognised that young people who are abusive often are victims themselves. They have shown that developing the SKILLS OF EMPATHY is a key protective factor and that the course delivers that. They use a Wall model similar to the Wall in adoption Uk’s excellent training.

Together, Hampton Trust and The POTATO Group have consulted adoptive parents and are developing a version of the award winning LINX course specifically for them. Unlike NVR the young person has to commit to want to change and the adapted course will provide them with the tools to do this.

As it is CPV week, POTATO group members will be sharing their stories together and supporting one another with kindness. Hopefully, with adoption LINX we will be able to offer more practical support.