by AUK staff member

Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about our support networks and the family and friends who rely on us as part of their support network. As a family, I always felt that we were connected to the people that mattered but perhaps we haven’t been actively connecting often enough.

One of the things that has brought this sharply into focus since the end of March has been the restriction on non-essential travel. This has meant thinking more locally, about neighbours, local walks and local shops. We’re checking in on elderly neighbours, and shopping for those who are self-isolating, and everyone has asked how our children are coping without school and without seeing their friends and cousins.

Our neighbours have been really supportive since we adopted our children four years ago, and perhaps we had forgotten that they are an important part of our support network. Both of our children have had their birthdays in the past few weeks, and they were so happy to receive cards and presents from people in the street. Thanks to the good weather recently, we’ve also spent a lot more time talking over the garden fence, all connected by a genuine interest in everyone’s health and wellbeing. For the kids, it has mostly been shouting over the fence but it’s all good natured.

With an NHS worker in our household, we’ve been active participants in the Thursday evening ‘Clap for Carers’. Our whole street takes part and it becomes louder each week, with fireworks and rattling pots and pans. It’s yet another opportunity to wave to neighbours and catch up. I hope we can continue with some of these activities in months to come – it’s great to see the kids releasing the tension of the week as they cheer and bang a saucepan.

For family and friends who live further away, keeping in touch online has been our main communication. This includes our children’s sister who is also adopted. Our families usually meet up a few times each year, and this has become really important to all of the children. Over the past few weeks, they have sent WhatsApp video messages and connected on Facetime, which usually involves virtual tours of each other’s houses! It was also lovely for the children to connect on their birthdays, as these are usually times when they have lots of thoughts and feelings to share.

I’ve also spent time thinking about birth family. Our once a year letter doesn’t seem enough in the current climate, so we’ll write now to let them know that we’re doing ok and we hope that they are too.

We’re fortunate to have a very supportive school, with a class teacher who has phoned every week and has also sent WhatsApp videos for story time. I’ll be honest and say that there hasn’t been a great deal of home schooling, but there have been some good opportunities to experience other things such as helping with gardening and cooking. We’ve concentrated on removing the anxiety points such as rushing to get dressed and hurried breakfasts. All of these types of activity have helped us to connect as a family and support each other, which is the starting point of every support network.