Mini Blogs!

Mini Blogs!

Welcome to the Scottish Adoption Mini Blogs! This week we have two blog writers, lets welcome Dave and Stevan as they talk about the online adoption information evenings!

Dave

While we all have to change the way we work and continue to provide a service we are getting some of our team to write a short blog about their week. This week’s blog comes from Dave our Marketing and Communications Officer and Stevan, an adoptive parent and one of our Parent Practitioners and they are talking about our online Adoption Information Evenings.

Dave who organises our events wrote: One of my favourite events to organise and run at Scottish Adoption are the Adoption Information Events which we run throughout the year. These events are held in various towns and cities covering the 60 mile area we work within. These events let us meet people who are interested in finding out about the adoption process and answer any questions they have. As a worker at Scottish Adoption I can share my knowledge of the process that I have gained while working here but I am also an adopter of two children so I can also share some of my personal experiences too, something which I am more than happy to do because I believe in Adoption and will talk to anyone who wants to listen about it.

When we were put into lockdown we had to rethink how we would be able to get out and meet people to share our stories of Adoption, we couldn’t arrange any more events where people meet in the one venue anymore. Here at Scottish Adoption we always try and be creative in the way we deliver our services and have been using technology in the work we do for quite a while now so it was a simple step to move to hosting our Adoption Information Events online.

We arranged to host our first online Adoption Information Evening for the end of April. We were nervous about how people would react to signing up for an online information evening, would people want us in their homes at the early stage in the process? There was no need to worry. The same day that we announced our event we had a flurry of people signing up and this continued at pace over the next few days. The lockdown had not put people off from finding out about the adoption process and this was fantastic news. In fact so many people had signed up to the first event that we decided that to meet demand we should host another event the same week!

When it came to the first event we were nervous, will the technology work, will people still chat and ask questions, will people actually sign in to chat to us? The technology worked perfectly, people did sign in to hear from us and people still chatted. Phew what a relief. These evenings proved that we do not need to all be in the same room to share our stories, we were just as passionate about adoption talking from our own homes as we would have been in a hall somewhere around the country.  People still laughed, aww’d  and ahh’d and got goosebumps when Stevan shared his story.

In terms of running smoothly the events were a great success and we were happy with how the first one went and now looked forward to the second one that week. The second event that week had something that we did not expect. Two couples tuned in from Aberdeen! Unfortunately Aberdeen is out with the area we work in and after explaining this to the couples we still offered them the chance to stay and listen to us, which they did. I loved this even more, we were reaching people from further afield and sharing our experiences with more people. At the end of the session we signposted the two Aberdeen couples to another adoption agency who work in Aberdeen as well as their local authorities. They left praising the evening and hopefully they went on to contact agencies closer to home.

These online adoption information events reached more people than would have travelled to an event and we reached people from across Scotland. We may not have been able to work with them all but it was great being able to share information about the process, the support we offer and our personal experiences with each and every one of them. Usually when I travel home from these events I reflect on how meeting people at the start of their own adoption journey is the favourite part of my job, when I signed off and closed the laptop I still had the same feeling, the way we deliver these information events may have changed but the message is still the same and I still feel the same way after meeting people at the start of their own adoption journey!

Stevan who is one of our Parent Practitioners shared his Adoption Journey with everyone at these events and he wrote:

I have done numerous talks on our journey to becoming parents to our two beautiful boys whether it was at information evenings, preparation groups and even a dog walk. I genuinely thought that a pandemic of all things would put a halt to the adoption process for many but amazingly the teams at Scottish Adoption are still hard at work and asked me to be part of their very first online information evening. The events  were very well organised and very well attended with many prospective adopters logging in.

I was very surprised by the number of people logging on to learn more about the adoption process because of the way it was being hosted, however it felt natural and in no way different to meeting everyone in person.

I shared my story, as I have many times, and even one of my boys popped in to wave a quick hello. I was a bit nervous doing something so different but hopefully it came across that we are all here to support in any way we can even, if that means from our living rooms at the moment!

I am proud to be a part of the Scottish Adoption family, even more so at the moment due to the fact that even during this manic time, they are looking at new ways to continue to get out there and bring families together. I definitely see this as a new way to keep the service growing and make it easier for prospective adopters to get to know the agency, and I shall be here to support in any way I can.

The next Adoption Information Evening will be happening on Wednesday 27th of May and you can sign up for free by clicking here Adopt with us!

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Giles is one of our Practice Managers in the After Adoption Team and he writes the latest in our series of Mini Blogs.

Where are we up to, week 5, 6, 7? However far it is, things feel a little different now than at the beginning. To start with, we scrambled to change, working out how we were going to do this. How do we keep the after adoption team functioning remotely, with all staff scattered in their homes, restricted by lockdown. The response of the team was extraordinary; it was creative, thoughtful, energetic and very kind.  Everyone wanted to pull together, help each other and most importantly help our families, children, teenagers and adults.

Now, we need to refocus our efforts. Not knowing the future is challenging, second guessing how long we will work like this is a common conversation.  We speak with families about resilience and this is also what we are having to display as a team, making sure we offer as much contact and connection as we can. Where our work is usually face to face, we are trying to connect through what at first seemed like the cold, impersonal displays of our screens. But to a large degree, this is working, people are proving incredibly adaptable. Yet there is also the bit that is missing, there is no complete substitute for face to face connection.

And as a team we all have our personal lives to balance with work. Covid 19 is not just the news any more – for many of us, personal stories and tragedies are emerging.  For me, separation and not knowing can feel agonising. The unspoken acknowledgment with my parents that none of us know when we’ll see each other again is always there. I’ m guessing this is the same for most of us and all the people we work with.

But, I’ve never noticed a spring like this one, really noticed. Watching the weather changing, the birds nesting, trees blossoming, nature carrying on as normal, feels very reassuring.  I’m cooking like never before (and putting on weight to prove it!) I have caught up virtually with way more people than I would do otherwise (not another zoom quiz!) and so I’m trying to take what’s on offer as a counter balance to everything else.

Whether it’s with colleagues or adopted families, young adults or people in my personal life, the one thing I have appreciated most is each other. Given this challenge, my experience has been to witness the best aspects of human nature and that leaves me very optimistic for the futures we share together.

As for the after adoption team, we will continue to support our families and each other the best way we know how!

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This week we have a guest blog from an adoptive teen from St Andrew’s Children’s Society who attends out Teen Group.

A Real Life Life-Story (Work)

Moving through the care system and onto adoption isn’t like the movies. In the movies, adoption life stories show everyone prancing around and, in the end, they finish with happy and perfect lives. I wish my life was like that, but real adoption life-stories are more complicated, confusing and filled with so many emotions.

Before I was adopted, I had been in and out of care since I was 7. I was later adopted age 9 and moved from England to Scotland. Growing up having known your birth parents and then being taken miles away with people you don’t know is such a strange feeling. On top of that, still having memories of your birth family, especially in my case my Dad, was very hard.

Over time, my memories of my life before my adoption kind of faded, though the feeling of having a connection with my birth dad has remained. I left my birth mum quite young, as she couldn’t manage, so I don’t really remember her.

When I was 14 years old, I started doing life story work with my Social Worker Mike. At first, this felt like yet another stranger that I was expected to trust. As I got to know him, I started to feel like I could trust him. I think what helped me build trust with Mike is what he did to earn it. We would go on walks and have a chat about how I was managing at school and at home. We also spoke about how I was managing physically as well as mentally.

Before the life story work, I would always ask my adopted parents questions that they didn’t necessarily know all the answers to. I would ask them things like, “Are my birth family alright?”, “Where’s my dad?”, “Can I have contact with my family?”, “Why weren’t my family given more chances to keep me?”.

During the life story work, I would sometimes get really angry at home and at school – mainly at the people I was close with. I did, and still do, find some things difficult to accept. However, this changed when I did eventually allowed myself to get angry with what I had been through, rather than those around me.

If you’re thinking about starting life story work, here are some things I think you should think about:

  1. Are you mentally ready? You really need to prepare yourself for the things that you could find out. The good and the bad.
  2. You should know that the Social Workers will work really hard to find out as much information as they can to answer your questions, but sometimes, your questions may not be answered and may never be answered.

During the actual work I came to the realisation that my behaviour at home and school was partly because of the things that I have been through. It helped me to see that I used to want to fix my Dad and I wondered that if I found him, maybe I could still fix him.Doing the work helped me see that some parents can’t be fixed, no matter how much they love you. However, the biggest home truth I learned, was finally accepting that what I went through was not my fault. Not at all. Not ever.

If you or any other adopted teenager you know might be struggling right now, tell them about Teen Talk. Teen Talk is free online support service where adopted teens help other adopted teens make sense of their thoughts, feelings and worries, visit www.scottishadoption.org/teentalk for more information.

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This week is the turn of our second Quran-teen-Ambassador, Tegan.

What has isolation taught me?

Well, not to boast, but I think I have mastered some new skills. For one, I can now watch YouTube from a 180 degree angle, whilst…in downward dog! But, apart from filling my days with fun, mostly pointless activities, isolation has also taken me on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, where I’ve come to some important realisations about myself.

In one day alone, I have felt overwhelming happiness, anxiety, anger, gratitude and loneliness. I have found it hard to get motivated, easy to eat chocolate and easier still to slump on the sofa and say ‘this is impossible‘.

Yet, I have also had days like today, writing this, in the sunshine, whilst wearing an outfit I love (no PJ`s in sight BTW!). So when I got stuck writing this blog, I turned to my friends. Pixelated as they may have been, they said, “come on, you can do this!” and, even better, through their cheesy smiles and fist pumps, they told me two very important things:

No. 1: I was not alone

No. 2: I could do this

As someone who is adopted, feeling isolated is not a new experience. Throughout my life, I have had times where I have felt very alone. I have felt left out of friendship groups, classrooms and even family gatherings. What someone else would think of as a simple question, like “how much did you weigh when you were born?” or “what colour are your dad’s eyes?” has had the ability to set me off into a spiral of disconnection, detachment and rejection of the people around me.

So many times, a voice in my head has perpetuated my isolation by telling me “you are not like everyone else here” and “you don’t belong”. This has often been paired with a deep seated feeling that if they actually cared or understood me, they would know not to ask such questions in the first place.

Before I knew it, the voices would multiply and overwhelm me, until I would be walking away from my friends as they laughed over baby photos, I would be refusing to help in school group-work or make rash decisions not to speak to a certain relative again because of what they just said. In a few seconds, I can convince myself that I am totally alone, even when I am surrounded by people who love and care about me. So you could say, I am a self-isolation expert!

However, like earlier today, my experiences have taught me that these feelings do pass and that by letting people in, even when I feel the loneliest and least understood, my friends and family will always be there for me. Even when it comes to things they don’t understand, they won’t hesitate to run after me when I leave, give me a hug or even just a smile.

Whether it`s zoom calling your grandparents, having film nights with family or baking your favourite cake with you siblings, making sure we stay in touch with the people we love is the best thing we can do right now. I hope you are all healthy and happy, and remember, ending a worldwide pandemic is tough, but together, we are tougher!

So yes, coronavirus might be making connecting to others harder, but for every one of us who has felt lonely before, we can look at isolation and think:  You know what, we have beaten this before, we got this!

If you or any other adopted teenager you know might be struggling right now, tell them about Teen Talk. Teen Talk is free online support service where adopted teens help other adopted teens make sense of their thoughts, feelings and worries, visit www.scottishadoption.org/teentalk for more information.

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The third instalment of our mini blogs series comes from Jette who is the Specialist Occupational Therapist at Scottish Adoption.

Indeed it is a time of change and uncertainty which is unsettling and challenging not least on the IT front! However it is also a chance to reflect on our practice and learn new ways of providing therapeutic support. As a therapist I will never underestimate the power of direct human contact as we are naturally social creatures, but there are ways we can share and learn together during this pandemic and we’ll do our best at Scottish Adoption to support families through this time.

As an Occupational Therapist the value and meaning of our daily activities are central to our practice, but it becomes even more important now where we are deprived of some of them. The importance of maintaining structure and routine during self isolation is crucial not least for children. Sensory deprivation due to lack of exercise, social contact, play, learning etc may manifest itself in different ways such as over activity or feeling lethargic. Therefore, put on your sensory lenses and with your child(ren) look at what they like/enjoy:

  • Sound: music, nature sounds
  • Vision: pictures, colours
  • Smell: lotion, oils, nature
  • Taste: soft/crunchy, sweet/sour food and drinks
  • Touch: materials, light/deep pressure
  • Vestibular (movement): swinging, rocking, up side down
  • Proprioception (body awareness): pushing, pulling, heavy work activities

Try to incorporate their sensory preferences in to their day as it will improve their self regulation. It goes for parents too!

Good luck with creating ‘sensory diets’ and don’t hesitate to contact us at Scottish Adoption if you need any help with this.

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Our next blog comes from one of our Quaran-Teen Ambassadors. During the coronavirus outbreak, many of us adopted teens might be feeling worried about our birth families and stressing about if they are okay. Just the other day, I received a message from my birth mother. At first I was happy, as it conveyed sentiments towards my well-being. This made me feel happy, but then I remembered what happened last time we had contact and my feelings started to change.

Around 2 years ago, I found my birth mother on social media and at first, I believed it was a glorious victory to have found her by myself. However this was very short lived, as it wasn’t long before things started to go sour. After a couple of days, I found she didn’t have the ability to manage our relationship. Things got even worse when she began blackmailing me into moving close to her and taking care of her. I was 15 years old and about to sit my exams. None of this was remotely possible.

When this happened two years ago, I used the supports I had around me. I spoke to the staff at Scottish Adoption and I spoke to the other teens at the Scottish Adoption Teen Group. With this support, I decided to end the contact with my birth-mother to protect my self.

If any of you readers have either been in this situation or a similar one; my advice to you would be to do as I did, which is tell someone. Telling someone is better than keeping inside of you, because when you don’t tell someone how you’re feeling, it grows and grows.

If you or any other adopted teenager you know might be struggling right now, tell them about Teen Talk. Teen Talk is free online support service where adopted teens help other adopted teens make sense of their thoughts, feelings and worries, share this link with them www.scottishadoption.org/teentalk

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First up we have Mel our Children’s Worker from the After Adoption Team.

The office is closed, life feels very different, but its Wednesday, so the After Adoption Team at Scottish Adoption are together at their usual time for the weekly staff meeting. However, this week, we’re beaming-in for our first virtual video meet up. As I waited for the meeting to begin, I reflected on my own week. It’s been tough. I’ve felt a bit wobbly and am worried about what all of this situation and its current restrictions would mean for my ability to practice. That said, as each of the team’s familiar yet pixelated faces appeared and we shared, laughed and supported one another, I felt re-assured, more relaxed and ready to get back to working in supporting our families. Plans have been made to ensure that our Social Workers will continue to offer regular individual video/voice calls and that our therapists are creating innovative ways to offer Music, Art and Occupational Therapy. So basically: same, same; but different.

This week I experienced first hand that staying connected, no matter what form it takes, is incredibly important. Scottish Adoption is a community that supports one another and we want to continue to support you the same we always have. If you need any support for you or your family over this difficult time, for any reason, please get in touch. We’re in this together.

Mini Blog number 2 will from our Teen Ambassadors The ISOL8EENS