Teen Groups

It’s 4pm on a Friday afternoon and my work for the day in my role as Children’s Worker at Scottish Adoption is about to begin.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

This afternoon’s events are a slight change from the norm. Instead of running our two young peoples’ groups, the Young Teens (ages 12-14 years) and the Old Teens (ages 15-18 years), we’re merging both, creating a super group and embarking on a rock climbing session.

We have 15 kids tonight, with the Young Teens having only recently having come together as a group and their older peers now over two years in. Looking at the larger group, it’s not hard to distinguish who belongs to which group.

In fact, if Attenborough were here, he’d be gently encouraging us to observe some key behaviour from these very different species. The proximity that the Young Teens have to their parents on arrival, standing separately, somewhat unsure of one another and eagerly looking for an ally. For some, this group might be the first time they’ve had the opportunity to forge a friendship with another adopted young person. For others, it might be that friendships in general are tricky. Three weeks into this new group and we still have the full pack. As a facilitator, I’m quietly elated.

The parents of the Young Teens are also acting as we anticipated they would; some question if their child linking in with peers with similar issues is a risk. There’s no doubt that bringing vulnerable children together can feel tricky. However, for adopted adolescents the teenage years can present a number of complexities with regards to identity, birth family and relationships.  During these times, the therapeutic support the group provides is invaluable and it can be argued that this is a risk well worth taking.

Looking across the room, I can see parents chatting and some swapping numbers. We hoped that this would happen, as even a five minute conversation sharing a family struggle can feel incredibly supportive. I hear “I get it. I understand. We’ve been there too!”

Despite the inherent commonalities of the Young Teens, the word adoption has so far only been mentioned once. This is because the focus for the year ahead is to have fun and to build trust with one another. Once this is established, the magic starts to happen.  Our plan to achieve this is simple. Games, team-work challenges, laughter and fun of the old fashioned variety are the order of the day.

Cast a look at the Older Teens and we see an entirely different picture. Some bodies entwined, others actively avoiding each other. I smell hormones and there’s an air of exclusivity to their huddle. This group has recently regressed from what could be defined in group work terms as their performing stage, to a more fractured state.  Having recently worked together incredibly well to organise and facilitate the Adoption Voices Conference (an overwhelming success by the way), followed by a number of changes to the group’s structure, the packs sense of safety has been jeopardised and they’re now re-grouping. In group work theory, this is known as Storming.

We’re back at the office for pizza and, before the last slice has been eaten, my co-worker and I have already diffused one major outburst, several mini dramas and watched an in-joke erupt into tears of laughter. Having already established a robust level of trust with one other, no subject is off limits. One of the questions they’ve asked this evening are, “If you could choose, would you rather not have had the experience of being adopted?”

I never cease to be blown away by the bravery of these kids. They regularly share their deepest private feelings with one another. They say they can’t do this with 99% of their other friends, but they do it here. This is their safe space.

However, with such intensity of emotions, some sessions can be difficult. This evening was tricky at best. Facilitating, or as described sometimes as the Conducting of a group, can mean digging deep into my skill base. For example, working to turn negative situations into learning experiences, constantly monitoring  the power dynamics, ensuring emotional/physical safety and doing this whilst genuinely (and they know if you’re not) staying attuned and joining in the fun and energy of the session.

There’s a reason adolescents are attracted to gangs, to packs and groups. Peer groups are a mirror. They’re practice for the wider world and they help teenagers develop social confidence. For adopted young people they’re more than that. They reduce feelings of isolation and provide a therapeutic community. Group work isn’t easy. It can be complex and often exhausting. But, reader, I love it.

Scottish Adoption Duck Race 2019

The Duck Race is back for 2019 and will be taking place on Friday 24th May on the Water of Leith starting in Stockbridge.

Duck Race

The Duck Race is back for 2019 and will be taking place on Friday 24th May on the Water of Leith starting in Stockbridge. Ducks cost £5 and this year we will be offering 4 ducks for only £15. Ducks are now available to purchase in person from the Scottish Adoption office and are available here.

More prizes will be added to this list as and when we get them confirmed. Prizes that have been donated so far include:

  • Robert from Woodhead Eco Trees has donated a 50cm tall Swedish Candle.
  • Craig from Papillon Restaurant and Cocktail Bar on Commercial Street has donated a £30 meal voucher.
  • Steven from Steven Butcher Art has donated A3 mounted prints from his collection. You can see more of Steven’s art on his website www.stevenbutcher.com
  • David & Sadie have donated a voucher for a one hour microlight flight for one person flying from East Fortune Airfield.
  • Linda had very kindly doanted a beautiful hand made baby blanket.
  • Thanks to Capital Cooling for donating not one but TWO Premier Mini Fridges
  • Susan from The Poodle Palace and Doggy Hotel and Spa has donated one prize of Two Full Dog Grooms and another prize of a 2 night stay at the Poodle Palace!
  • ASY Gardening Services have donated one gardener for a full day maintenece service (Monday to Friday only) and one pot planted up with a Boxus Ball. You can visit the ASY Gardening Services website here.

More prizes will be added to this list and to be in with a chance to win any of these prizes you need to buy a duck! You can do that here http://bit.ly/DuckRace2019 

Adoption Information Evening – Edinburgh

Come join us on Wednesday 22nd May to hear all about the adoption process from the Adoption Experts!

Interested in Adopting?

If you are interested in adopting and want to find out more then come and join us as we hold an Adoption Information Evening as part of the #ScottishAdoptionFestival. Hear from the Adoption Experts on Wednesday 22nd May at our offices at 161 Constitution Street in Edinburgh from 6pm until 8.30pm.

The evening will give you the opportunity to hear from our expert Senior Practitioners as well as from our lovely Adopters as they talk about their journey to parenthood. You will get the opportunity to ask any questions you have all while enjoying tea and cake in a friendly relaxed environment. You can sign up for free tickets here http://bit.ly/InfoEveningEdinburgh

Feedback from previous Information Evenings.

The highlight for those attending previous information evenings has always been the opportunity to hear directly from our parents. Below is a selection of the feedback we have had from previous events:

“We found the info meeting really useful and informative and a great way to make the idea of adoption more of a reality in terms of it being an option for us. We have talked about looking into it for a while now and it was a really good way to get lots of information and meet the team of people from the agency. Hearing the adoptive dads talk about their experiences was definitely the highlight.”

“It was a very informative night and put a lot of thoughts in my head regarding my future, and how to go about setting these into motion. I’m very glad I came along and felt the staff explained everything and the personal stories from the adopters were the highlight. As a result of the event my partner and myself will be filling out an initial request form with Scottish Adoption to move things forward from this point.”

“Edinburgh event last night was so helpful. Great to see so many other people looking to adopt! Hearing the experiences of the gay dads was good, generally I’m really glad we went!”

“We thought the evening was excellent. Very informative and also relaxed so no pressure on anyone to make decisions or to do anything. We both felt very relaxed, and felt we received a really good overview of what the process involves. We especially enjoyed hearing the adopters speak about their own experiences and how they felt throughout the process. To see their obvious joy and happiness was definitely an inspiration to us both. We’ve already completed our initial enquiry form and have had a response from your office.”

If you have any questions about the event please do email david@scottishadoption.org

#ScottishAdoptionFestival #AdoptionExperts

Stevan and Denis Talk Siblings

Stevan and Denis share their experience of adopting a sibling group.

Stevan and Denis talk openly about what it is like to adopt a sibling group.  If you are thinking about adopting a sibling group and want to speak to someone about this, please call our office on 0131 553 5060 and ask to speak to the duty worker.

Activity Day

Sarah shares her experience of an Adoption Activity Day.

One of our Senior Practitioners, Sarah, attended an Activity Day in Bristol with her adopters. Here Sarah shares her expereince of the day.

On Sunday I attended my first activity day or play day as it was called. This play day was being held on the outskirts of Bristol which meant a very early start for a Sunday morning, leaving the house at 6am for an 820am flight. I wouldn’t normally make such an effort to travel from Edinburgh to Bristol for a random play day. This however, was no random play day. A couple of weeks earlier our agency had recieved a profile for two boys, 4 and 5, who needed a new forever family, or as we later learned, a growing up family as they understand it. These boys were not only adorable in the photos with cheeky grins but also love dogs, being outside, walking, exploring, are crafty and arty and have a lovely sibling bond. They sounded like a great potential match for my adopters who also love all of the above. So after sharing the profile with my adopters and numerous conversations with the boys social worker, we were invited to come to the play day as the boys were going to be there. Needless to say my adopters jumped at the opportunity to meet these cheeky chaps and so this led to my 5am Sunday morning start.

We arrived at the play centre where the day was being held and were warmly welcomed by all the staff facilitating the event. They all knew we had come from Edinburgh and I think they were just as excited about the adopters meeting the boys as we were. This wasn’t the boys first play day and while they had had another potential match this had fallen through, so it felt like everyone was invested in the boys future.

The staff had set up a grown up room where we had bottomless tea, coffee and biscuits. In here they also had pictures of the children who were attending, with their names and any geographical restrictions for placement. That was all we knew about the children. Altogether there were 14 children, a mixture of single children and siblings groups of 2 and 3, aged from 18 months to 8 years old. From our side there were about 11 sets of adopters. After an introduction from one of the organisers, explaining the structure of the day, play, tea and snack, parachute games and then storytime, some hints and tips about conversation starters with the children and foster carers, it was play time as the children had started to arrive.

To begin with it all felt a bit awkward, at the best of times, grown ups are not very good at playing without children, then add in the mix of anticipation and nerves and you have some very awkward adults! Things soon became more relaxed as the children began playing and were supported by the helpers who facilitated some crafts and music. Soon the boys arrived and they were even more adorable in real life than the photos showed! After some play inside, the foster care suggested to the boys that they explore outside and they were off. My adopters tried to wait a few minutes before joining them outside and I followed them 10 minutes later. The boys loved the outdoor activities, the swing, flying fox, slide and balance beams. My adopters and the boys were having a great time just playing and generally being silly. The next 30 to 40 minutes was all outdoor play and by a touch of fate no other children or adopters came out to play so my adopters were fortunate to really spend a lot of time with them. The boys decided that they would like to play on the bikes and we felt that we had possibly hogged the boys and their carer’s time, so we went inside to warm up, take a breath and get a reassuring cup of tea. It was easy for me to see that my adopters were rather smitten already.

We then all gathered back to have some group parachute games, during which the boys kept connecting with my adopters through eye contact and silly faces (though that might have been the adopters more with silly faces)! After story time, we all went on a bear hunt and we were only a little bit scared! And a ball flight in the soft play ball pit the day was being to draw to a close I don’t think any of us wanted it to end. The boys wanted to show the adopters their bikes as they had ridden here, and then it was time to say goodbye.

For us the day was a great success, getting to meet the children the adopters had read about was invaluable and really helped to cement the connection they were beginning to feel. Over dinner that evening we all reflected that it would have been a very different experience to attend without knowing anything about any of the children. It would have been much more overwhelming, as it would be walking into any room full of children you don’t know and trying to play, but with the added knowledge that you could possible adopt one of them it adds a certain level of anxiety. However, from my perspective I would also have prepared the adopters differently if we were attending the event without having a specific child in mind, so perhaps that would have been much more reassuring to the adopters or perhaps they would have decided it wasn’t the right type of event for them.

Overall I am so glad that we attended this play day and I would encourage others to do the same if they are given the opportunity. For more adopters it has made them more committed to pursuing this link and proceeding to the next stage of meeting all the professionals around the boys. Nothing beats meeting the children, they are the centre of this process and while we don’t want to expose them to too much uncertainity or risk, they have also had an opportunity to show that they also had fun with the adopters and hopefully also felt a connection, I think this is a strong foundation for a match going forward.

The children all appeared to have fun and left with smiles on their faces. Hopefully not only will these boys have a new growing up family but hopefully many of the other children who attended too.

Anthony & Clare Video Blog

Clare and Anthony share their experience of how they are finding our Adoption Preparation Groups.

Anthony and Clare have taken part in our Adoption Preparation Groups and have very kindly took up our offer of doing a video blog to share their experience of the group with all of you!

If you are thinking about starting the adoption process or just want to find out more information about the adoption process then these videos, made by those going through the process, does make essential viewing. If you would like to know more about the process after viewing these videos do get in touch with us by calling 0131 553 5060 or by email info@scottishadoption.org.

 

 

 

Here is week one:

Here is week two:

Week three is right here:

The final part of Anthony & Clare’s Preparation Group Video Blog series is here!

Finding My Birth Family

Tracing birth family members can be hard, but Scottish Adoption are with you every step of the way. Read how Leasa helped one man reconnect with birth family he didn’t know he had.

Despite having had wonderful adoptive parents who had always been open and talked to me about my adoption, I came to a point in my life when I thought that no woman would put her baby up for adoption unless she, in some way or another, was going through difficult circumstances. Through research I learned my birth mother had no relatives she knew about as she too was an adopted child. This is why I belive that my birth mother made a painful but wise decision for both herself and myself by putting me up for adoption – undoubtedly with horrific pain in her heart. Thus, as a mother she must have had to carry a painful dark secret all her life; being a single mother in those days was classified as sinful – a very sad state of affairs.

Who knows, perhaps my birth mother and my birth father may both have wanted to know how their son was getting on in life and may even have wanted to see him. With this is mind I started my twenty year search to find out who my birth parents were and if they were still alive.

Scottish Association for the Adoption of Children, now called Scottish Adoption, is the charity that assisted my birth mother to find adoptive parents for me. Thanks to a tip I was given in 2018, I contacted Leasa Bleteau at Scottish Adoption. Now my birth father is not named on my birth certificate, so it can be classified as being an abbreviated certificate, but Leasa was able to provide me with information as to who my birth father was. Unfortunately both of my birth parents has passed away but further research enabled me to come in contact with sisters and a brother on my birth father’s side who now live in Australia. I  was also able to track down the final resting place of my birth parents enabling me to finally “give this a place” and at the same time close what proved to have been a somewhat daunting twenty year chapter in my life.

Tracing blood relatives can be like a rollercoaster of excitement and at times painful disappointments that hurt. My advice to those who are interested in tracing their birth family is to be patient, expect disappointments and rejection from a few as you progress, but whatever you do don’t let anyone deter you in achieving your objective. Most of all, maintain your faith with Scottish Adoption as they are such a great team that are there to support and guide you.

Thank you again Leasa; I now have blood sisters who have welcomed me into their family as being one of them. Alas we lost 60+ years of not being together, so there’s plenty to blether about…

Christmas Tree Festival

Scottish Adoption is proud to be taking part in this year’s Christmas Tree Festival in Edinburgh

Scottish Adoption is proud to be taking part in the Edinburgh Christmas Tree Festival. this is the 9th year the festival has been held at St Andrew’s and St George’s West in Edinburgh city centre. Our tree will be one of 40 Christmas trees lighting up St Andrew’s and St George’s West sanctuary, each telling a different story. The Festival runs throughout Advent and brings together businesses, charities, church and city, offering space for everyone to reflect, celebrate and wonder.

The theme for our Christmas Tree will be ‘Adopted Voices’ carrying on the theme from the Adopted Voices Conference which our adopted young people helped organise as part of Adoption Week Scotland. We are encouraging everyone to write on one of the decorations what ‘Adoption means to you’ whether you have a connection to adoption or not.

When and where? 

The festival will run from the 8th until the 24th of December at St Andrew’s and St George’s West in George Street. Monday-Saturday 10-6pm, Thursdays late until 9pm.

Do visit, leave a decoration, take a photo and post it on our twitter and facebook pages, we would love to see them!

And Violet streaming online!

You can now enjoy And Violet in the comfort of your own home!

The award winning film, And Violet, is now available to download or stream online, meaning you can watch this great film over and over in the comfort of your own home!

When Violet and her adoptive mum Cathy visit a small Scottish town one summer, they unexpectedly run into Violet’s estranged birth-mum Zoe. The mothers clash, and Violet struggles to navigate this complicated relationship. Cathy struggles to help her, as she becomes increasingly confused and angry.

The meeting also triggers something in Zoe, and she decides to change the direction of her life, returning to Edinburgh. It’s the city where Violet lives, but it’s also a city that holds dark memories of a difficult past.

Violet and Zoe connect again and begin an illicit online communication, but Cathy finds out and brings all contact to an abrupt end. Violet rebels against her and as Zoe self-destructively spirals out of control, Cathy has to urgently try to find a way back in to Violet’s life.

Here are the links:
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/andviolet
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KBGL7PD

Duck Race Winners!

The Scottish Adoption Duck Race 2018 has been our biggest race so far!

The Scottish Adoption Duck Race took place on place on Friday 25th May on the Water of Leith starting in Stockbridge and we have our list of winners! 268 Ducks were sold which raised £1340 for our Young Person’s group.

The winning duck numbers and prizes allocated are:

Duck Number 46Fee Dickson Painting  – www.feedickson.co.uk

Duck Number 43 –  Two Tickets (one adult and one child) to an English Premier League Fixture for season 18/19. Tickets will likely be to Manchester United, Manchester City or Newcastle United. Donated by Alan Dey from PE5 Sports Tours  www.pe5sportstours.com

Duck Number 217 – A gorgeous wee Highland Cow from Between the Woods and Sea – www.betweenthewoodsandsea.com

Duck Number 82 – Lorena Peressini has donated a voucher for 1 night bed & breakfast at Seaholm Bed and Breakfast in North Berwick! You will enjoy a lovely seaview room with a bottle of Prosecco on arrival – www.seaholm.co.uk

Duck Number 228 – Helen Bonnar from the Gullane After School Club has donated one week, yes that is correct, one week of free childcare at their Summer Holiday Club which runs from 16th July to the 9th August for a family of up to 2 children aged between 4 and 12. www.gullaneafterschoolclub.com

Duck Number 180 – £50 voucher donated by Claudia Wellwood which can be used for one of her lovely unique illustration from www.facebook.com/ByClaudiaw 

Duck Number 96 – £40 voucher for Carse Makes, visit Fiona’s facebook page for details of her lovely work.

DuckNumber 255 – Family Pass on the Lothian Buses City Sightseeing Tours.

Duck Number 2 – 2 Day passes to M&D’s Scotland’s Theme Park near Motherwell.

Duck Number 121 – A Personal Training Session by Ryan Ramsay plus 5 day passes to the Pure Gym in Ocean Terminal

Duck Number 171 – 5 day passes to the Pure Gym in Ocean Terminal

Duck Number 150 – A face painting Session from Karen Ballingham. Perfect for Birthday Parties!

Duck Number 64 – Bottle of Eden Mill Gin donated by Karen Cameron from the band Obsession www.obsessionband.co.uk

Duck Number 201 – Bottle of Glenturret Higland Single Malt Whisky donated by Maurice Gallagher.

Duck Number 35 – Bottle of red wine donated by Maurice Gallagher

Duck Number 12 – Bottle of red wne donated by Maurice Gallagher

Duck Number 177 – Bottle of red wine donated by Jane McLardie.

Duck Number 85 – Bottle of white wine donated by Jane McLardie.

A huge thank you to everyone who donated a prize and to those who bought a duck, your generosity has helped the Scottish Adoption Duck Race 2018 be our biggest duck race yet, raising more this year than all the previous years! Thank you!