The POTATO group

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.

Let them eat cake! (UPDATE)

We have a lot of fantastic mothers in POTATO group. Often holding it together with really traumatised young people and as parents ourselves we know that Mothers Day can be a real flash point.

Understanding (as we do) that our young adoptees are often angry, confused and generally troubled about the “Mothers” past and present we salute you. Adoptive mothers are often trying to be brave and not want a bit of demonstrated love from our TAT.

The shops are full of flowers, cards and Mothers Day merchandise. POTATO parents cannot miss it. If your young person has been unable to connect with you and show the affection that Mums would ordinarily expect it rubs salt into the wound.

Not only are POTATO parents deprived of gifts and cards and a chance to celebrate mothering, the jumbled feelings about mothers stirs up a hornets nest of unwanted behaviours in your young person. It can feel like walking on egg shells trying to play down what should be a point of relaxation, fun and celebration.

Lets change stuff.


On Saturday 14th March any time of the day go and eat cake- feel wonderful for few minutes and enjoy time just for you.

If you can take a selfie of the CAKE of choice so much the better! Print it off and stick it up somewhere as your happy moment…

You’re welcome to put any cakey pictures up on here. (Flowers buying optional but also highly recommended #selfcare)

So- How did it all go? Well Twitter was a flurry and we got sent some fab cake pictures and stories via email and the private Facebook.

LOVELY Cakey pictures thankyou-

cake1cake2cake3cake 4

In support of Red nose day we had a lush tray of red nosed Biscuits… YUM! #RND2015red nose cake

Members who joined in felt:

cared for for just those few minutes

Strong enough to face the Mothers Day trials from my teen knowing I’d had something lovely just for me

An adoptive Dad commented:

It is great, that POTATO group. This cake time has given my wife a smile all day, it is a simple thing but what a difference

Festive Flounderings…

potato nativity

POTATO nativity with Potato-y sheep!



As Christmas approaches us in the POTATO group we have mixed feelings about surviving the season with young people who often struggle with change, overwhelming pressure to do “family” and supporting young people who have odd levels of present expectation. As parents the responsibilities mount up and its hard to balance the expectations of the wider family and the capacity of our young people to manage without massive fall out and destructive behaviours repeating.

We all started out in adoption with some dreams and hopes of what a family life could look like:christmas_family460

But, the reality for many POTATO families is trying to settle for the lowest possible impacting Christmas which makes it more manageable.

It means that several members have not received any gifts for YEARS from their young people as giving to parents of any description is too big an ask for many traumatised adopted young people. Or the gifts they have received are ones they have had to engineer themselves or are wholly inappropriate. Tales of being given perfume that was originally given to a girlfriend and one gift of a roll-on deodorant with attached PUBE occurred on the facebook group! In all seriousness Christmas can be a particularly upsetting and hard time for members.

So, POTATO group decided to change things to make a Happy Christmas.

We have run a Secret Santa project.

How it works.

Members have confidentially given their name, address, likes and dislikes and in return have been given a fellow POTATO members details.With a maximum spend of £5 it was hoped many would feel able to join in and we have had 46 members join this years scheme via our private Facebook.

Planning ahead.

On Christmas Day, at 8pm we are going to take POTATO selfies of us opening our gifts… and thank one another on line….(toes wiggling excitedly as I type!)

The gift of Christmas JOY !

Hannah from Yorks– “it’s about us as real people caring for each other as we truly understand. Making us feel good when most of the time we feel s***!”

Pauline from London– ” I didn’t want anyone to get me a present but I really wanted to get one for someone. I would like my Spud to know that I’m thinking of them; that I care; that I want to put just a tiny spark of light into their life and that, even though they’ve probably never met me, I’m their friend.”

Laxme from Oxon “I was so excited to send out my little effort which I designed and kept adding too – all for under £5!”

Mary from Boston It felt genuinely good to buy a present, knowing that this small gift would brighten up someone’s day.
Receiving mine made me feel as though someone else ‘gets it’. They know that Christmas can be tough, and sending/receiving presents isn’t always easy when you’ve got a traumatised teen.”

John from Winchester “When mine arrived I was so excited I tried to open a bit to peak at what it could be. Someone who actually cares about me and sent me a gift- POTATO is such a wonderful thing for Dads like me.”

Theresa from Kent “It’s reassuring us that we’re not alone in Potato Land. Others understand and care cos they hold the same passport!”

Jasmine from Sussex “I did a little happy dance a present sent to me that I didn’t have to sort out.. To enjoy with no guilt”

*We have changed the names and some locations for privacy reasons, but comments are genuine*

See you all at 8pm on Christmas night with your selfies!


If you would like to be a part of this wonderful supportive group, please contact us using the form on this site or simply email Paypal a donation and we can: meet face to face,collect your membership information and you can join our private secure facebook group.

Welcome to the world of LEGGIT & SCARPER…

When life in with your teen isn’t tough enough they start a whole new range of activities! One that comes up a lot within our community is the young runners and leavers. These expert terrified toddlers are inexpert young adolescents and therefore attract a whole heap of troubles due to many factors.

Vulnerable, excited and with a very limited grasp on cause & effect our young people represent a high level of risk to themselves and others that often the professionals and authorities fail to grasp. As parents it can be incredibly hard to get the Police, Social Care and other services to recognise the level of risk posed and act quickly.

Often, our young people just have not developed enough genuine empathy and appear completely indifferent showing ingratitude for the good life choices their adoptive families have demonstrated to them. Their inner world (developed from their backgrounds in their birth families) means they read life as full of fear, guilt, shame, horror and negativity and cannot accept the loving care from their adoptive families and struggle with secondary attachments (teachers, foster carers, mentors, social workers, medics, support workers e.t.c) to a degree too.

Again, with all things adoption, there are teens who run away from home but the intensity, frequency, level and frankly the reasons why they are doing this are at a completely different level from your “average teen”. We would argue in POTATO group that there should be a specific protocol for professionals to follow. Primarily we are into encouraging and supporting adoptive parents and going through the night, wondering if your wayward teen has hooked up with the local druggies at the park or offered sexual services for a packet of fags to the peadophile is something many of us have not only lived through but struggled through repeatedly. That constant bombardment of threat is a serious thing for the strongest parent and so we have put together some tips for surviving it. Don’t become a MASHED POTATO!

In comfort to most, the running off seems to arrive and then go as quickly as it came. Something, somewhere clicks. Maybe its the young person simply maturing. It does not seem event driven so a really serious event like being hit by a car or assaulted may not stop the running. But eventually, it stops in most.

So IF your young person is running then what do you do? Can you get prepared before it even starts? Read More

Welcome to all parents of teens (and post 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. We are looking forward to the easing of restrictions which will enable this to happen again. 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 the POTATO group do.

  1. Demonstrate kindness to fellow adoptive parents, and their children, primarily via our secret Facebook group but also, when circumstances allow, face to face.
  2. Actively encourage “self care” by members, to help protect both their physical and mental wellbeing.
  3. Share our considerable expertise in areas such as housing, specialist schools/ colleges, mental health problems, therapy, addictions, the criminal justice system and other difficulties traumatised young people often bring into our lives.
  4. Signpost national events of interest to our members.
  5. Promote good practice and present to local and national authorities.

Please visit our membership section for details of how to join us.