The Log Blog

After 6 months of covid restrictions Mel looks at how she can repair the damage caused by lack of face to face groups.

How do we reverse the impact lockdown has had on vulnerable teenagers?

How do you rebuild 6 months of lost confidence?

How do we get back to face-to-face group work, if face-to-face groups have become a risk assessment code red?

For those of you who are working or living with teenagers who are currently struggling with the social impact of covid, the signs and symptoms will be evident. But for everyone else, it can be hard to imagine what teenagers have to worry about. I mean, we got them back to school right?

Unfortunately for some families, therein lies the problem.  For children who found school, education and friendships hard, or for those who thrived being at home full-time, returning to the (new) normal is the real tough bit.

So, what’s the answer to safely practicing group work and at the same time, restoring our young people’s sense of confidence and connection with others? The answer for the Scottish Adoption Teen Group turned out to be right on our door step.

Thanks to Justus, Jamie and their team at the Leith Croft Carbon College, this autumn term our Young Teen Group will be led through their Mine Croft program. Here, we hope to use fresh air and space as our weapon against covid and use therapeutic outdoor group work to re-sow some of the resilience the pandemic took away.

Positivity aside, first sessions with any newly formed group of teens are daunting.  Nerves and anxiety can play out in all kinds of ways, but mostly this looks a bit like reluctance and non-engagement.  Luckily, the Croft team had the kind of relationship building skills that made it impossible for the teens not to get involved. For example, knowing each of our young people’s names from the moment they arrived, to  projecting a welcoming, calm, but importantly fun vibe. In terms of the activities, show me a teenager who isn’t into axes, hatchets and fire…

Fun”,  “good”, “great” and  “freezing” were some of the words used by our teens at the end checkout to describe their first session. Although it may have been cold, the temperature of the group dynamics was uncharacteristically warm, so a win as far as I’m concerned.

After the group, I (a naturally reluctant reflector) thought about how the Croft might have changed some things for me too. As I watched one of our teens balancing on a log, flailing around and shouting, I found myself encouraging them to keep on going and praising their skill. In that moment, I realised, had this taken place in the old world, with the group in the office, the balancing would have been on a chair, or on my desk. I would not have cheered them on, or boosted their confidence. I would not have laughed. My face would have twitched and I would have promptly told them to GET DOWN. The natural space makes you view behaviour differently. What inside is difficult to manage, outside can become positive risk based play.

So the Croft might just be the answers to a lot of our new world problems. Restoring connections, enhancing confidence, building resilience, beating Covid and… my twitchy face!

The answer: #getgroupsoutdoors 

Becoming Us

Does online group work really work?

During deep lockdown, I asked myself this question every single time I logged onto zoom to hold an adoption teen group.

Today, looking at our group, reunited for the first time in person since February, I’m thinking, yes it does!

This evening, we’re celebrating the end of last years group with a trip to Foxlake. Coming together one last time before we welcome our new recruits and saying goodbye to Sarah (appointed 2nd most embarrassing group facilitator) as she moves onto pastures new.

The last time these young people came together in person, in February, the group did not quite feel like a group. It still feels like 6 individual young people, only half aware of their common connection (an adoption experience) and group identity.

But this time it felt different, because today I saw…

  • Good Communication – relaxed chatting and genuine interest in one another.
  • Empathy – helping and supporting each other physically and emotionally get through the challenges of the rope course.
  • Connection – eye contact, nudging, pairing up and shared jokes.
  • Group identity – remembering “old times” together and acknowledging that “our group” will change soon and that there will be both benefits and challenges to that.

Online group work is not without its challenges. It can feel like an emotional vacuum. Screens freeze, people literally disappear in front of your eyes and there’s a very good chance that the kids will know their way around the technology better than you!

But, for this group, it did work. It helped promote all off the above and we continued to build relationships and friendships and then, we became an “us”.

To Sarah who we will miss a lot.

A Study Into Adoption

Chloe opens up about problems she faced in school soon after she was adopted.

My first problems in school started soon after my adoption.  I eagerly told all my classmates that I was adopted. I think because I didn’t want it to come out as the big surprise.

To me, adoption seemed like a fresh start, where people didn’t judge me for my family and the things they’d done.

However, as I had a sibling, this meant that everyone now knew my brothers story. He wasn’t pleased. He wanted to be the normal kid, living the normal life.

Many adopted young people have to move school after their adoption. For me, this was also the case and it was tough. In those first few weeks, I followed the customs of my old school, where we were asked to sit cross-legged and to raise our index finger onto our lips when we wanted to talk. When I did this at my new school, they thought I was weird and old fashioned.

Another school issue I faced was the gaps in my learning. Before my adoption, I didn’t go to school all the time and as a result of that, my math’s was dreadful. Many, “normal” people have trouble with maths or English, but I truly struggle. People have told me I probably missed the bits at the start, so my whole foundation to learn math’s was actually missing.

To try fix it, I had to spent my summers catching up on what I missed, and to this day my addition and subtraction is not up to scratch. Finding something so simple as primary school math’s difficult was a really embarrassing for me and I feel it’s the reason I have some insecurities and it hurts if I’m called a name like “stupid”.

Lastly, I feel the social element of school also affected me. Bullying and care-related name calling has left me feeling very insecure about how people see me and how they think of me.

To manage this, I’ve spent some time speaking to Scottish Adoption about how I think about myself and others.

For any adoptive parents out there, a fairly easy way to help your  child through this school stuff is to listen and listen well. Sometimes we, as adoptees, feel like we aren’t heard.

I also believe that most adopted children will need more support to get through school, so be ready!

Chloe, Aged 17, Scottish Adoption Teen Ambassador

I See Me

“Now, when I feel negative about my past, I remind myself that only I  have the power to change my identity. . I see Me!”

Are you still trying to figure out who you are or have you already found yourself?

If the latter, congratulations! However, for those of you who are still finding yourselves, here are some things from my journey that I would like to share with you.

For me growing up, when adoption was spoken about at  school, if mentioned at all, it often came from playground insults. I heard a lot of “lol, your birth parents didn’t want you” or “Is your life like Tracey Beaker?”

I’m sure for those of you who have been pointed at and insulted, you experienced the same thing as I did when this happened. It affected my confidence and how I viewed myself.

For a long time, I took these insults.  However, within the past year, I decided, no longer! The last time I was insulted I replied with the following “No my life is nothing life Tracey Beaker and why I was adopted is none of your business”.

Back in my birth town, everyone knew me and my family as a problem family that needed to be taken care of. This impacted too on how I saw myself.

Throughout my adoption journey, there have also been a variety of feelings that have troubled me. For example, a sense of abandonment, confidence issues and a lack of control. These feelings have come from both my experiences and from how others perceive adoption as a whole.

With both, the result has meant that we as adoptees often end up feeling that how we feel on the inside, is how others think about us.

The good news is, things are getting better. Growing in age, leaving the toxic environment of school and realising that through things like work, I know have confidence that I can control my own future.

Now, when I feel negative about my past, I remind myself that only I  have the power to change my identity. . I see Me!

Chloe, aged 17, Scottish Adoption Teen Ambassador


“Perhaps, some young people don’t understand what it means to be adopted and be “in the system” until they’re older, but I always knew.”

Perhaps, some young people don’t understand what it means to be adopted and be “in the system” until they’re older, but I always knew.

Adopted at 8 years old, I worked out early what foster care was and accepted that I would move around different homes continuously and that eventually, I would leave the system. I also understood that I was… lucky.

Being in foster care was a fairly confusing and upsetting time for me. It was “decided” that every second Thursday I would be allowed to meet my birth mother. At first, I’d be over excited and sometimes even be physically sick before she arrived. Soon after, it turned to a case of absence. She stop turning up and this fact would make me so ill, that on the day after the contact, I’d again become very ill.

My foster carer soon became my long time carer and from this time, I have a lot of memories. I’m not sure if this is the same for all of you, but for me, I felt that my foster carer and I formed a kind of mother-daughter bond, which as we all know, includes both good and bad times.

Strangely, some of my clearest memories are the weirder ones.  For example, I’m extremely glad to see the back of haggis; my arch nemesis. It was a Halloween night and I was told that I wasn’t allowed to go out trick or treating unless I ate my haggis, which she knew I hated. Maybe it was a test, but I’ll never know.

However, I’ve lots of good memories, which balance the bad. For example, our trips to Edinburgh zoo, Chill Factor in Manchester (sledging/skiing) and my all time favorite, horse riding.

Can I trust you with a secret reader? My biggest memory with horse riding was when my brothers pony handler let go of his pony momentarily and the horse spooked, making him fall halfway off of his pony. It then started to canter off with him hanging there. I know that this seems to be a weird thing to put in a blog but my point is that memories are weird, you can’t choose what sticks.

Foster care definitely is not convenient, or the best thing to go through, but if your lucky, you’ll be able to make good memories and look back at that time with fondness.

Chloe, Aged 17, Scottish Adoption Teen Ambassador

I’m Still Standing!

Arran writes about what ‘Yourself’ means to him.

Individual Identity is important, we can all agree on that. But when I hear someone say, “Just be you” I can’t help but squirm. For one, Yourself is rarely what is best in most situations. Two, I also wonder, if simply being yourself creates the illusion that you have no power to shape or to mould out the (prolonged pause) bad bits?

Being a teenager and learning that such ‘self-crafting’ is possible could be an extremely powerful thing. Hoverer, there is a downside to this, because part of yourself is your past. And your past, well you can’t change that.

For some, the past they carry is heavier than for others. For anyone who is adopted, this burden can be quite large. This can take hold and then shape their identity more than they seem to be able to themselves. More than they want.

In my family, my adoption was talked about in a way that meant I created a toolset of motivation. What happened in my past with my birth parents wasn’t fun, good, or of benefit. But without sounding like a hippy; I firmly believe that life is riddled with rough times, and after adoption, with the right support and mindset, we can all go on to take on the world headfirst.

This is the basis I have built my foundation on as a person, and this is a way for you too to take control of your past, no matter what it is.

I’m thankful I have the resources to do so, because even though it was tough. I’m still standing.

Arran Age 17 Scottish Adoption Teen Ambassador

A Peace of Friendship

Chloe, 17, writes about her experience of Friendship!

When I was asked to write a blog about friendship and how my early life and adoption experiences have affected this, I considered two things: Kindness and Trust.

The definition of kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate” and trust “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability in someone or something”

We all witness kindness and trust at different points in life, real or imaginary. I don’t know about you, reader, but I know from a personal perspective that it isn’t something I witness every day.

My life has featured a various number of events, that have built on and knocked down my experience of these two concepts. From having been adopted, starting a new primary school (at a young age), high school and most recently, being an apprentice worker at a nursery.

At these points in my life, there have been times where trust, kindness and friendship either came for free or with a price. Through the years, I have gained and lost people from friends to family. Sometimes through things being out with my control and sometimes through myself.

Back in the past, I found it easy to look for the best in everyone, to look for trust in everyone I met, but it’s become far more difficult. It was especially difficult when I arrived in the institution known as High School.

In the movies you see the conflict in teenagers at high school. High school for me was very hard. Whenever I made friends, I couldn’t seem to keep them. I like my space and sometimes socialising is hard for me. However, my friends from school thought I should do what they wanted and that I should live up to their expectations. When my friends found that it suited them, they would tell some of the private things that I told them about my adoption. In other times, they would take advantage of my friendship, by getting me to pay for things, or even choose not to be my friend, due to who my other friends were. All this was made far more difficult due to the foundation of distrust I already held from my birth mothers lies and manipulations.

However, during this period of time, I was invited into my adoption group. These guys understood my distrust in people in general. It was there, when I found the most trustworthy friends, as they understood my pain and my wariness around people. My advice to you, reader, is to find a group of people who understand you and with whom you can be kind without being taken advantage of. I left high school in S5 and it was the best thing I’ve done. I left for an apprenticeship looking after children in a private nursery and here I found it easier to fit in and relax. Maybe I had learned to trust that people could be kind and trustworthy?

When I look back to compare my high school “friends” to my friends/co-workers, I find that I personally act more mature and more myself with my work friends. Earlier in this blog, I said that I could lose myself and by that, I mean that when I lose trust in others, I start to make myself an island. When I look at who I can trust now, I see my family, I see my co-workers, I see the couple of friends that I have and my adoption group. The last thing I say before I go is that trust and kindness is a two-way track. One doesn’t work without the other.

Chloe Age 17 Scottish Adoption Teen Ambassador

Online Preparation Group Blog

Louisa shares her experience of our new online preparation groups!

My husband and I were a bit apprehensive before the Virtual Prep Course. We hadn’t met any of the social workers in person or any of the participants either! We needn’t have worried though. One of the social workers arranged a Zoom meeting with us the week before the prep group, just to introduce herself and let us know what to expect. We were immediately put at ease as she was so easy to talk to. She admitted that they were also anxious about delivering the course in this way as it hadn’t really been done before and, let’s face it, none of us really enjoy seeing ourselves on screen!  (Especially with lockdown hair!)

Before Session 1 we were sent some work on Google Classrooms. This involved a slideshow, some films to watch, materials to read and some short questions to answer. We were anxious about answering the questions but we were reassured that none of the Prep Course is assessed. It’s an opportunity to reflect on issues that you might not have considered before and to explore a range of approaches to parenting children who may have had adverse childhood experiences.

A WhatsApp group was set up for all the participants of the Prep Course so that we could get to know one another before the course started. This was very valuable as we felt like we knew a little about some of the others on the course before meeting them on Zoom. Our group was comprised of several couples and one single adopter. It was led by two social workers and an adoptive parent.

Session 1

We logged onto zoom for our first Prep Session and it was great to put faces to the names in our WhatsApp group. Everyone was really friendly and we started to feel more relaxed about things. During the first session we had group discussions about the materials that we had covered in Google Classrooms. Some of the discussions were as one large group and for other we broke into individual ‘virtual’ rooms so we could work in smaller groups.

Session 1 covered a wide variety of topics including; exploring the Adoption Process, secure and insecure attachment styles, responding to Case Studies of ‘looked after’ children, hearing some personal experiences of adoptive parents and also exploring the range of post-adoption support that is available through Scottish Adoption.

Hearing the stories of other adoptive parents was really beneficial for us. It was great to hear accounts  from ‘real’ people about what the adoption experience was like for them from the beginning through to having their child/children placed with them.

We were also really intrigued to hear about the post adoption support that is available through Scottish Adoption. We hadn’t realised that Scottish Adoption offer so much support to adoptive families, such as social worker input, family days out, group sessions for children of different age groups and theraplay sessions as well. It was very reassuring to know that the post-adoption support would be ongoing if we needed it.

We were both quite tired after Session 1 as it was two hours long, we were meeting new people and also hearing lots of new information all at the same time! It worked really well though and it was great that Scottish Adoption managed to make it all happen. It enabled us to continue to move forward through our adoption journey, albeit with a slightly alternative approach!

Session 2

We were sent our ‘homework’ ahead of Session 2. This week we looked at a continuation of our case study, and watched some films recorded by teenagers who were adopted through Scottish Adoption. They teenagers were called ‘ Adoption Ambassadors’ and it was really helpful to hear how the adoption process was for them and listen to them express their thoughts and feelings about it.

We also listened to some podcasts and discussed different levels of contact with birth family and the benefits and challenges of this contact. It was interesting to hear from the teenagers whether they felt that contact with their birth family had been a positive experience for them. We also explored the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences and how these early childhood experiences can affect a child who is a placed for adoption.

This week’s Zoom session was very similar to week 1. There were a number of Group discussions as well as time splitting off into smaller groups as well. We felt much more comfortable talking with the group this week as we had really got to know each other during the previous week.  I think the whole group was feeling a lot more relaxed!

Session 3

Before Session 3 we were sent some material on Google Classrooms about ‘theraplay’. It was interesting to learn about play activities that can be used to increase closeness and bonding between the child and caregiver. We discussed child development and the PACE approach when parenting children who have experienced grief and loss. We explored some situations and discussed how we would use PACE [playful, accepting, curious, empathetic] to respond to the needs of the child whilst also regulating our own emotions. We also discussed the next steps in the adoption process and what would happen in terms of proceeding forward to the next stage.

By the end of Session 3 we were actually quite sad that we weren’t going to be having any more Prep Group! Due to the nature of the discussions we had learned a lot about the other people in the group and we felt close to them even though we had never met any of them in person. We were all going through quite similar journeys and it had been such a lovely opportunity to spend time exploring our thoughts and feelings with other people who had been through similar experiences.

The two social workers running the course were amazing. They were so easy to talk to and no question was too silly for them to answer! They made us feel so comfortable. Having an adoptive parent in the group was really helpful as well as she was able to give us her personal experience about the process and things that she found beneficial.

The team from Scottish Adoption were fantastic throughout the entire process. They got in touch between Zoom sessions to see if we had any questions and to check if we were ok. Some of the material can be quite emotional and can remind you of aspects of your own childhood so it was great to have this ongoing support as a safety net between sessions.

We were encouraged to ask questions between sessions, during sessions, at any time, and we were always reassured that no question was too silly to be asked.

By the end of the course we also felt much closer as a couple. We had explored such a wide range of material, talked about memories from our own childhoods and also had many discussions about how we might develop our parenting style together as a couple. This really  helped our relationship to grow and we now feel much more confident going forward to the next stage of the adoption process.

Worrying About Birth Family

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

A Real Life Life-Story

A guest blog from an adoptive teen from St Andrew’s Children’s Society who attends our 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 for more information.