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Instead of traditional parenting techniques, adopted children require a style of parenting which is more sensitive to their needs and helps them overcome these difficulties.
Although this can present certain challenges, being an adoptive parent is hugely rewarding and provides the stable, understanding and loving homes these children need.
During our early years, we rely on our parents to meet our physical and emotional needs.
How these needs are met impacts on how we grow up, our sense of self and our understanding of the world around us.
Well-cared-for children will grow up feeling comfortable, safe, valued and loved - to use the analogy of a ‘wall’ made of development-need ‘bricks’, their walls would be well built and strong.
But adopted children’s early needs have often gone unmet and all have experienced some form of loss or trauma.
Many have suffered abuse or neglect, all have been separated from their birth families and all have spent time in the care system.
Many will have grown up feeling unsafe, uncared for and alone – their ‘walls’ will be incomplete and fragile.
Find out more about The WallThe Wall is a graphic illustration of how unmet physical and emotional needs early in life affect children’s later development, requiring different parenting techniques and support for adoptive parents.
Adopted children’s early experiences often cause deep-set confusion, fear and anger and so they can struggle with relationships and day-to-day life.
This can lead to behaviour which is, initially, difficult to understand.
Love alone can not always heal the hurt.
Traditional parenting techniques are often unsuitable for adopted children - imagine how frightening ‘time out’ would be for a child who had experienced neglect.
Adoptive parenting works to restore unmet development needs and heal trauma.
Adopted children need love, understanding and patience to help them overcome their difficulties and go on to lead confident, happy lives –something often referred to as ‘therapeutic parenting’.
Although adoptive parenting can present unique challenges at times, it is hugely rewarding and transforms the lives, and futures of our most vulnerable children.
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Training for families that struggle with violence in the home.
Child on Parent violence is an area which is increasingly recognised as a major factor in the breakdown of adoption and foster care placements. Above and Beyond is our latest workshop and is to develop strategies for families to de-escalate child on parent violence (CPV).
Taster sessions: a short session that will be useful for families or support agencies that may be interested but wish to find out more before committing resources to a full training – 2 hours.
One day workshop: extends the taster session into a more practical workshop with sample exercises to work through to offer immediate help and gives practical skills and strategies that can be used over time to alleviate the stress from aggression which many families experience.
OutcomesProfessionals – An overview that will help inform decisions when establishing support plans for parents under stress.
Families – An overview plus some practical ideas and strategies to take away and put into practice immediately. The session will also offer help and guidance regarding finding out more as well as support from other families in similar situations.
Please contact the Training Team at [email protected] if you would like to know more about how this workshop could be tailored to fit the needs of your approved adopters, or to register your interest in any open workshops we may be running near you
Government announces that adopted children will receive extra support in school as a result of the Children and Social Work Act - Adoption UK's successful lobbying leads to the inclusion of significant provisions for adopted children
4 April 2017
Adopted children will receive extra support in school following successful petitioning by Adoption UK for a better understanding of the issues facing this vulnerable group in the classroom.
Adoption UK lobbied decision makers to include a provision in the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which has just been published after receiving formal approval from the Queen on 27th April.
The provision ensures that schools in England must understand the impact of developmental issues, including trauma and loss, on all children’s learning, by expanding the role of the Virtual School Head (VSH) and designated teachers to look after previously looked after children, including those who are now adopted.
Virtual Schools were set up in England to provide extra help for looked after children’s education. In 2014, the government issued statutory guidance which required the appointment of a VSH in every local authority and the provision of a Personal Education Plan (PEP) for every child in care - but not for adopted children.
The Children and Social Work Act (2017) expands the remit of VSHs to include the promotion of educational achievement of adopted children in England, and requires schools to appoint designated staff members to have responsibility for all children who were formerly in care, expanding the previous duty which related to looked after children only.
Peter Seymour, Adoption UK’s chair of trustees, said: “We know looked after children’s problems do not disappear the moment they’re adopted. We’re also aware that adopted children frequently experience significant difficulties in school, which is why Adoption UK has been calling for a better understanding of the issues facing adopted children in schools. We’re obviously delighted that decision makers have listened to our concerns and acted upon them by including this provision in the Act.”
But Mr Seymour warned more still needs to be done to improve life in the classroom for adopted children.
Our members tell us their adopted children are regularly penalised at school
He added: “Adopted children’s early childhood experiences can often lead to behavioural, physical and emotional difficulties which play out in a school environment. Our children rarely respond to the traditional methods of sanction and reward. That is why Adoption UK is working with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), VSHs and other professional teaching bodies, in a bid to make every school attachment-aware.”
The aim of the schools’ campaign is to provide all teachers with knowledge, practical strategies, access to training, and a network of support through Adoption UK’s schools’ membership programme. Attachment affects a broad range of children in schools but adopted children’s ability to keep pace with their classmates, academically, is still being compromised, despite the government’s best efforts. Latest research shows adopted children falling behind as early as Key Stage Two – with less than half reaching their expected targets – compared to three-quarters of their classmates.
Mr Seymour said: “Unsurprisingly, these difficulties follow our children through school to GSCEs where we know fewer than one-in-four adopted children secure five or more A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and maths. The figure in state-funded schools is 57.1%.
“Our members tell us their adopted children are regularly penalised at school because of a lack of understanding about their complex needs so we’re hoping to work with all teaching staff so they’re aware, as well as better equipped, to meet these vulnerable children’s needs.”
To find out more about Adoption UK’s Schools’ Campaign click here
Our Adopter Voice service ensures the lived experience of adoptive families is at the heart of delivering practice excellence. We have an established network of experienced adopters who can represent the adoption community within your agency.
For more information on Adopter Voice, click here
Pets can provide children with companionship and a sense of responsibility.
However, some prospective adopters have found having pets a barrier to adoption and some parents have faced the challenges of keeping a pet safe from a traumatised adopted child.
Growing up with a pet can have strong physical, emotional and educational benefits for children.
A 2002 study by Warwick University, even suggested children with pets have stronger immune systems and take less time off school for sickness. Having a cat or dog exposed children to more infections early in life, but this boosted their immune systems, so they attended school on average for an extra nine days each year to their peers.
Other research has suggested that close physical contact with a much loved pet can lower stress levels and help avoid depression.
The RSPCA promotes the benefits of pet-owning, but believes buying a pet should be a decision taken by the whole family. They will need to have the facilities, time, financial means and level of interest necessary for long term care. Pets can be expensive to care for, and children often lose interest, leaving the caring responsibility with the parents.
If you're an adoptive parent introducing a child to a family pet, the RSPCA gives the following advice:
'Animals may be wary of unpredictable children, and children coming from homes where there has been no pet may be scared of animals, especially dogs. Help them to understand each other and be friends.
'Make sure the child is gentle with the dog or cat and play doesn't become too boisterous. If the animal has had enough, respect that.
'Make sure the child is gentle with the dog or cat and play doesn't become too boisterous. If the animal has had enough, respect that.
No matter how kind and trustworthy your pet may be, if a young child is pulling its tail or poking a finger in its eye, it may lose patience and snap. Don't put your child at risk by leaving it alone with an animal.'
They also advise parents with pets to watch out for scratches on their children, where play has become too boisterous.
If you have any questions about how your pets might influence your adoption process, or be affected by an adoptive placement, why not visit our Forums to share your concerns: Forum
Adoption UK consultation response form.
6 December 2012
Our response to the Government's consultation on adoption and fostering proposals:
Adoption and fostering tackling delay consultation.pdf
Adoption UK has helped to secure an additional one million pounds of adoption support funding for families in England
22 November 2017
The Department for Education announces additional funding for the Adoption Support Fund following a survey by Adoption UK asking parents how the fund is working for them.
You can view the headline results from our ASF survey here
Half of CCGs use funds allocated for troubled young people elsewhere - Adoption UK "hugely disappointed" that funding is not reaching the NHS frontline
21 December 2016
Adoption UK’s former chief executive Hugh Thornbery CBE has said he is “hugely disappointed” at new figures which show funding to improve struggling children’s mental health services is often not reaching the NHS frontline, despite soaring rates of self-harm among young people.
Half of England’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are using their share of the £1.4bn ministers allocated to improve NHS care of troubled young people for other purposes, it has emerged.
Freedom of information requests by the charity YoungMinds show that only 50% of CCGs, the GP-led bodies which decide how NHS budgets are spent locally, have increased their child and mental health services (CAMHS) budget this year, even though all of them received extra money specifically for that purpose.
Mr Thornbery said: “It’s completely unacceptable that half of England’s CCGs are using some, or all, of the funding which was specifically allocated to improve NHS care of troubled young people, for other purposes.
“The Coalition Government launched Future in Mind in March 2015, a plan to transform services around the country, after identifying an acute need for more investment and support for vulnerable groups, of which adopted children are one, to improve struggling children’s mental health services. Adoption UK was involved in this report and provided evidence - so to hear that only half of CCGs have increased their child and mental health services (CAMHS) budget this year by the full amount allocated for that purpose, is hugely disappointing. This means CAMHS is not having the pressure on them relieved by the funding, as was intended.
“All Looked After Children have suffered the loss of being separated from their birth parents. Many have also experienced neglect and/or abuse in those families. Vulnerable children, including those who are adopted, require specialist support for their mental health needs. More than two thirds of adopted children have experienced abuse and or neglect and remain traumatised as a result of their early experiences. To overcome these challenges many adopted children require expert tailored support. Adult psychiatric wards do not provide the nurturing environment adopted children need to mend and form stable lives.
“One in 10 young people have a mental health problem. That’s the equivalent of three in every classroom. This means there are around 720,000 children and young people aged between five and 16 experiencing a mental health problem in England.”
The aim of the first phase of our campaigning with schools is to provide all teachers with knowledge, practical strategies, access to training, and a network of support through Adoption UK’s schools’ membership programme.
31 October 2016
Adoption UK launches its Schools Campaign - we have have joined forces with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in a bid to make every school attachment-aware
Adoption UK responds to the National fostering stocktake: a review of the fostering system in England
15 June 2017
Click the link below to download and read the response:
(National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) consultation on ‘Children’s Attachment
Attachment in children and young people who are adopted from care, in care or at risk of going into care’.
Children's attachment comments AUK 2015.pdf