Kath’s Musical Voice

Our Music Therapist Kath shares her 100 Voices story!

It was a chance meeting that led me to working in adoption support: the initial discovery that there was a service supporting birth mothers after adoption, when I was then working as a music therapist in an NHS learning disabilities team and seeing the lack of careful, specialised support for parents whose children had been taken into care.

I got in touch with Scottish Adoption, wondering whether I might be able to offer music therapy services as part of their then Chance4Change programme.

Being any kind of arts therapist, jobs are not commonplace and implementing new services is constantly part of the work we do, sometimes to a sceptical audience. You have to knock on doors to make things happen. I’d knocked on lots of doors and Scottish Adoption stood out for me. I knew this was a place I wanted to work.

Everything takes time – certainly things that are worth doing take time. I knocked on the door for the first time in 2010. It was 2012 and a few more meetings, a few more knocks on the door, before work began to happen, but I felt welcome here. What stood out to me was a care and attention to detail that is rare to find in services. Therapy work is about the individual, the detail, the idiosyncratic, the uniqueness of each person and the necessity for them to be able to show up and take their place, whatever that looks like. Too often that gets lost when services, due to pressure rather than lack of good will, become like conveyor belts. Coming from NHS services, it was like chalk and cheese. Here at Scottish Adoption was the time and thought and care to individualise the support we offer to each family’s situation. Here was the understanding of the essential factors that go into creating safety, that little things are big.

I still remember the day I asked Maureen Kinnell, the then After Adoption manager, if it might be possible to purchase a large “gathering drum” for sessions. Coming from the NHS, I had learned never to ask for anything (either because there was no money, or you’d have to jump through fifty hoops in order to get it – and if you hadn’t figured that out yet you weren’t a savvy professional). Maureen must have seen the look of surprise on my face when she answered “Oh, yes, of course you must have that!” and followed up with “We have a ‘can do’ attitude here, Kath.” The drum has resided here now for a good ten years, withstood years of beating in time, hammering, sharing, children climbing inside and hiding, use as a den structure, and being lifted with unlikely strength by little people. (It must be said that sometimes the littlest people carry the heaviest loads.) It has been an investment worth making, as working here has been.

Things never work out quite the way we plan… I had imagined offering my service to birth parents, and ended up working with adopted children and their adoptive parents, and staying eleven years to date, being invited to join the team permanently in 2018.

I am really grateful for all the years of conversations, feedback, learning and creativity that went into building the service I now offer, which is highly specialised to the needs of adoptive families. We’ve had time to try things out, make mistakes, learn and do better. It’s rich having dialogues across different professions. I hope we continue to learn. I hope we continue to do better.

Most of all I am delighted when somebody simply shows up for therapy work. It’s a common misconception that music therapy must be “fun”, or “nice”. Sometimes there is fun: there is certainly permission for anything to show up. But therapy is hard work, sometimes terrifying, confusing or painful. There may be demons to be faced down, for child, parent or therapist. We often don’t know what’s happening and have to be patient and courageous to trust while the process unfolds, take yet another risk on being vulnerable in relationship when past ones may have failed us or hurt us. Nobody is untouched by child trauma, and everybody is wounded in some way. Play is a serious business, essential to our wellbeing and to our capacity to be in relationship to ourselves, others and the world around us. Sadly, play is not a given, not only for care-experienced children but for many children and adults in many circumstances. It can take digging deep, often through frightening places, to find it. But it is, without a shadow of a doubt for me, an investment worth making.

As I pause to read what I’ve written here, some phrases jump out that encapsulate my experiences of working at Scottish Adoption:

Let’s continue to take a “can do” attitude…

  • Little things are big…
  • Things take time, especially when they’re worth doing…
  • Things never work out quite the way we plan…
  • Unlikely strength by little people…
  • Littlest people with the heaviest load…
  • Some investments are worth making…
  • Everybody is wounded in some way…
  • The courage to show up…

And play is a serious business.

Leanne’s Firsts

Leanne shares a 100 Voice story through poetry, and it’s beautiful!


When you drew your first breath, I wasn’t there.

When you gave your first cry, I wasn’t there.

When you smiled your first smile, laughed your first laugh

When someone took your first photograph

I don’t know who was – but I wasn’t – there.


When you said your first word, I wasn’t there

When you held your first toy, I wasn’t there

When you rolled yourself over, when you started to stand

When you first figured out how to clap your hands

I don’t know who was – but I wasn’t – there.


The gaps in your story are a sadness we share

Those answers are things that we might never know

But we have a lifetime of firsts still to go

The bittersweet honour of seeing you grow.


When you started to talk about times you’d felt scared

When you started to question your journey from there

When you started believing you’re worthy of care

I was there.

                                                                   Leanne. Dec 2022

Stevan’s Voice

“am I your baby now?” Stevan shares his 100 Voices story!

Stevan, on the right, with husband Denis.

My husband and I spoke about having children early on in our relationship and as time went on we knew that adoption was the right choice for us. We reached out to several agencies and felt that Scottish Adoption was the one agency that we felt at home with. We had our initial interview and before we knew it we were invited onto prep group which fuelled our fire to continue our journey.

We went into the adoption process with the mindset of ‘we want one child, as young as possible with no contact with birth family’, prep group really opened our eyes and we came away saying we wanted a sibling group of any age and were keen to have the birth family contact. This was down to learning in prep group just how important each child’s story is to them.

We began our home study with our social worker who gave us the opportunity to learn what type of family we could be and how that would look. The in depth process really helped us personally as it made us look at our strengths and weaknesses as a couple as well as individuals. The home study was also a personal favourite part of mine as I used each visit with our social worker as time to reflect on my own life and experiences. It helped that she made each visit a happy session filled with laughter even though we were discussing some hard life experiences. We then were invited to panel to be approved as adoptive parents which thankfully was a very relaxed meeting and made us feel we were ready for the next steps as the unanimous yes came straight away. The next stage was the one that I genuinely found the hardest, the search for our children. Our search meant receiving different profiles of sibling groups, being invited to exchange days and looking through an online platform of children needing homes around the UK.

We finally matched with a sibling group made up of two brothers and the rest as they say is history. We were quickly rushed to matching panel and before we knew it the process of meeting our sons became a reality. We sent them photos and videos introducing ourselves before our initial first meeting so they already knew us as dad and daddy. The first day of introductions is one I cannot remember fully as the emotions we felt were something I have never experienced before. Two things I do remember is stepping out of the car and hearing “it’s dad and daddy” being screamed at the top of our younger sons voice and later in that same meeting my younger son climbing into my arms like a baby and asking “am I your baby now?” These are two moments I will cherish for the rest of my life.

The boys returned home to live with us after ten days of introductions and life quickly became normal, that is not to say we didn’t have low points; the boys had bouts of regression where they struggled to live with us and us with them. There were difficult times within the family and ultimately and rightly we had to reach out for support. I felt a lot of shame and guilt having to ask for help, however our social worker worked through everything with us and it made our family even stronger.

One year on and the adoption order was granted and the boys were officially part of our family which helped them settle into life more than we knew possible. They began growing and putting on weight, they had blossoming red cheeks and they told everyone in school they never have to move again!

The days have since turned into years and now seven years on we haven’t regretted a single decision even with a turbulent few days, weeks or months throughout the years. Through it all we are a happy family and I can’t imagine the boys not being in our lives. 

After a few years of the boys being with us my husband and I felt we had to give back to Scottish Adoption so volunteered to speak at information events about our journey, this then lead to me taking up a role as a parent practitioner within the team. This would see me support newly adoptive families in the early days of placement and allow them to have a listening ear through some of the highs and lows of the process. During this time I was asked to train up in Theraplay which is a technique used to help build attachment and engagement with the parents and children, this then saw me applying to become a support worker with Scottish Adoption in the after adoption team. I now get to work more closely with families and children through various groups and one to one sessions. I honestly can say this is one of the best jobs I have ever had as not only am I supported amazingly well by all of the team, we work closely together to ensure the best possible support is available to new and older families throughout the agency and every day I learn something new from the fantastic team.

We have more recently been approved as foster carers and are currently taking in children for short breaks which has been a massively rewarding experience not only for us but our sons as well. The boys are getting to meet children from similar backgrounds and this helps the foster children feel safe and are able to communicate their own stories as they feel secure enough with our boys sharing their own stories of foster care. I never expected life as an adoptive parent and foster carer to be as rewarding and exciting as it has been so far. 

Also a very happy 100th Birthday to Scottish Adoption & Fostering, without you all I wouldn’t be sitting here writing any of this! 

Keep Pedalling!

Louisa shares some of those ‘first moments’ she had with her son as part of our 100 Voices!

“Pedal, pedal, keep pedalling! You’re doing it! You’re doing it!”

The first time my wee boy rode his bike was something special. Before he came to me, back when my longing for a child was a cold weight in my heart, I had imagined this amongst many other firsts. I had shared great joy in the firsts of the children in my life that I loved, but I ached for these moments with a child of my own. The annual Facebook Firsts of others could sometimes be overwhelming – endless fancy frocks next to Christmas trees, birthday grins and front-door-posed first days of school. Meanwhile, I felt like I had so much love, and nowhere to put it.

When I accepted there would be no baby, I re-imagined my path to becoming a mother. I wanted my child to be able to play with my kind, funny nieces and nephews, and decided adopting an older child was the best path for me. But when you choose to adopt an older child, you need to accept that you have already missed so many firsts – first steps, first words, first day of school.

What I know now is that, often, these traditional firsts are over-rated. Big occasions are frequently fraught. Play-acting picture perfect, balancing the teetering edge between excited and overwhelmed. Juggling everyone’s emotions to avoid the moment when Reality kicks Expectation in the ankles and stomps off in a huff. I think this may be true in all families, not just in adoptive ones. How many of those Facebook grins are forced?

What matters more are the countless small and unexpected firsts. The day I blew his mind by mixing blue and yellow to make green, the day I finally taught him to make a “pop” with a finger in his cheek, the first time he played Minecraft and instantly dug straight down and buried himself alive, the first time water sliding in the back garden, the first time he caught a fish in a bucket, the first time we exploded vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, the first time he wrote a sentence unprompted (“Mum is a poo!”), the first time we drove up into the hills, just to look at stars, in the wintery dark. So many joyful firsts we didn’t plan, so many lovely days we didn’t see coming.

It is also true that some firsts are less meaningful than later moments. I had heard him say a thousand people-pleasing “I love you”s before the first time he said it to me and I knew he really meant it – because he said, “I love you more than dinosaurs”.

Finally, there are the firsts you really earn. The first time he rode a bike was special because we earned it. He was five, and we were still in the first few months of being a family, swinging between him pulling me closer, and pushing me away. We learned a lot in the weeks it took to get to that final moment, and not just about balance and pedals. He learned persistence against his secret fear of failure, learned to trust me enough to let me lead (sometimes). I learned a little of the hardest trick in parenting – when to push, and when to let go.

The day itself. There are tears, rages, frustrated sighs. One final, bitter dispute about why you can’t start with BOTH feet on the pedals. Then suddenly, unbelievably, he is away, bumping down the grassy hill, determined eyes fixed on the distance. And I am running behind him, shouting “Pedal, pedal, keep pedalling! You’re doing it! You’re doing it”.  I am crying and laughing, and watching my brave, beautiful boy fly.

For me – this is adoption. A bumpy, hard-won path to absolute joy.

Steph’s Voice

In this video Stephanie who was adopted through Scottish Adoption in 1984 shares her story as part of our 100 Voices!


Morven’s 100 Voices Story

The lovely Morven is next to share her voice as part of the 100 Voices campaign.

I had worked for 16 years in a large voluntary organization, in a variety of roles, including being a parenting capacity assessing social worker and a supervising social worker.  I particularly liked being a supervising social worker as working with foster carers offered lots of variety in my day to day working life.

Some foster carers offered their children a long term permanent family to live in and some cared for children when they most needed it, in times of emergency, when their lives were full of chaos, fear and uncertainty.  Each type of carer offered their children love, and lots of it.  They were understanding that some of the children’s early life experiences meant they needed extra support and as a result I was really lucky to observe children flourishing.

However, I took a different path, I was studying (in my spare time) for a masters qualification in play therapy and this was really hard.  Being a supervising social worker meant that I worked long hours and supported families in a wide geographical area and something had to give, so I transferred to a management role, closer to home, to try to finish my studies.  Within six months I realised that my move was not great, the organization was pulling the funding and closing the service, which meant that I had to steer vulnerable families, as well as a staff team through a period of great uncertainty, trying to ensure that all our families were linked into other supports before the service closed.  Personally I was also facing redundancy.

And so I when I saw an advert for a Senior Practitioner post at Scottish Adoption, I thought I’d apply.  The interview itself was stressful; I live in the West so the drive into Leith, getting extremely lost and then not being able to get parked almost made me turn and go home!!  I was absolutely gobsmacked when I got the call that night to offer me the post, I couldn’t believe it.  Scottish Adoption were offering me a job, a really good job, when the organization I had dedicated most of my working life to, were making me redundant.  The team were really welcoming and in the beginning I was given a range of work, which all helped me to learn more about the intricacies and differences between fostering and adoption.

Working throughout covid I was so thankful to be in such a supportive organisation, where when families are struggling we have a good range of supports.  It’s fantastic to be able to call on the expertise of adoptive parent practitioners, our OT, music and art therapists, as well as adult counsellors to offer support that meets the needs of our families.  And here we are expanding into fostering, so that we can hopefully offer more children love and support when they need it, in times of crisis and throughout childhood and beyond.

And yes I still struggle with that drive to Leith and trying to get parked!!!

When Stephen & Derek met Peter

Our Adoption Journey – a 100 Voices story.

We started out adoption journey back in 2018 when we attended an LGBTQ+ event ran by Scottish Adoption. We had always wanted kids and now we were married and had made a home together, we felt the time was right.

On our first initial meeting with Scottish Adoption we met Julie and we had to describe ourselves and our lives. We told Julie we hoped to adopt a boy aged between 2 to 5 years. With all that information Julie processed our application and before we knew it we were heading to our first preparation group in July 2019. After preparation group we were allocated, and met regularly with, our adoption worker Morven who conducted our home study. Whilst it was quite an intense process we found that Morven always made us feel at ease and took us through the home study without incident.

At the beginning of 2020 we had our Adoption Approval Panel and we were unanimously approved for one boy aged between 2 and 5 years old. Shortly after we were approved Morven got in touch saying she had the perfect child for us! After looking at his profile we agreed that he was perfect. We did have some reservations about not wanting to put all of our eggs in one basket so we did look at other profiles. But our hearts were set on that perfect 5-year-old boy and that boy was Peter.

Soon after, we met with Peter’s social workers and started the process of getting us to matching panel. We were officially matched with Peter on 28 April 2020 and started introductions in June 2020. Due to Covid, introductions were quite brief, just 4 days before we welcomed Peter home. Covid was a blessing in some respect as it meant we could funnel properly as it was just the three of us at home for a few weeks. Peter was officially adopted when the Adoption Order was granted in February 2021.

Peter is the best son we could hope for! There has been difficult times which has put strain on us as a couple and as individuals but with support from Scottish Adoption and our families we have pulled through and would not trade the last 3 years for anything!

Peter is a bright boy who gets on with anyone, he loves to bake, play Minecraft and read ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’. We have been on lots of day trips as a family, as well as holidays to Centre Parcs, London & Disneyland Paris. Peter now has a dog called Max who is a Mini Dachshund.

Thank you Scottish Adoption!

16 years of memories!

Giles shares 16 years of memories as part of our 100 Voices campaign.

I worked at Scottish Adoption for 16 years, and recently left. Adoption has been part of family life as well as work life. I worked in the Placement Team, After Adoption Team and lately managing the After Adoption Team.

Being out of the busy-ness of the everyday job, the ongoing demands and commitments has allowed me to understand, feel, appreciate a little of what happens there.. Here are a few moments and memories.

Dark winter evenings completing home study, questions and discussion, back and forth,  noticing when someone’s brave enough to drop their guard a little, trust building.

Discussing details of a potential match, playing the ‘cool-headed’ role whilst prospective parents go through the rollercoaster of excitement, trepidation, doubt, decision.

Visits early in placement, tiredness, curtains closed, washing up to be done, pot of tea to help, little time left to talk. Old life gone, new one so unfamiliar.

Supporting a young birth parent, a concealed pregnancy, offering a space where they can explore what on earth has just happened to them.

Many meetings with parents, confused, concerned, irate, how did it come to this? wanting to lash out, needing to be listened to..

The smiles, the laughter, the stories, the care, the thoughtfulness, the wish to get it right.

Groups of children, adolescents, young adults, taking risks, making friends, planning trips, more laughing.

Ideas becoming reality, employing therapists, counsellors, safe hands and spaces, knowledge, wisdom, care and experience.

Mostly the willingness and wish to love and the want and need to be loved. Human connection, lives changed.

I don’t know about 100 years, but the last 16 have been pretty special.

My Fostering Journey

Read how, to one family, Fostering is one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding things they have ever done!

Fostering is one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding things I have ever done. It is not a job but a vocation.

I started fostering with my husband when I was 21 years old. It was something we had always wanted to do and with two young children at home and a spare bedroom it was the ideal time for us to start. We fostered for a local authority for 3 years. In that time we cared for about 17 children, some stayed for short breaks whilst their main carers took a holiday to recharge, others came because they had no relatives to care for them whilst their parent was in hospital, some stayed for longer until their parents made the changes needed to have them home and others moved onto longer term foster carers. We then took a break as our family continued to grow and the needs of our own children changed, but always said we would come back to fostering when the time was right for our children and we had a room to spare.

We returned to fostering 7 years ago when our own children were older and more settled. Having experienced the challenges of short breaks and interim fostering for our own children, who struggled with lots of change, we decided we would prefer to offer long term or permanent fostering, alongside short breaks and interim. We fostered through an independent agency this time as we wanted to be sure of the support we would receive and felt that this gave us the best opportunity of finding the right child or children.

We have cared for a number of children over the last 7 years, including children who returned home. They have become part of our extended family as their mum ‘adopted’ us and saw the value for her children in keeping a connection with us.

We also have adopted through fostering our youngest child since she was 2 years old and have another child who is with us on a permanent fostering basis as adoption was not in his plan. However, there are benefits to this for him and us, as it means when he needs additional support we can go to social work for this and have access to other services he needs due to his early life experiences.

Fostering is rewarding but also hard work, especially as you have to earn the child’s trust. You have to be empathetic, accepting and remain curious at times when behaviours or words can make you feel anything but that. You have to see beyond the behaviours and look for the nugget of gold under the surface. It takes time, consistency and a lot of patience but oh is it worth it when you see the behaviours begin to fade. When you see a child really truly relax and enjoy life, and achieve what seemed to be impossible at the start of the journey, then you know all the hard work, tears and frustration was worth it.

Fostering is not for the faint hearted, but is the most rewarding thing you can do.

‘Flying in for Dinner’ 100 Voices Story

A family share their story in 100 words as part of our 100 Voices campaign.

Flying in for dinner

Soon we go on a sunshine holiday, across the sea to spend two weeks in the sunshine.

Our beautiful children have been on one flight before, to come and live in their forever home.

Change is a big deal for our two and another flight would bring up thoughts of a different home.

So one short return flight, 606 miles, overnight stay in a hotel 3 minute walk from airport, one yummy hotel dinner and two children that now know they always come home with mummies to their forever home.

Most worthwhile trip we’ve ever done.