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One parent's experience

One parent explains how the Adoption Support Fund has helped her family.

"We first became aware of the Adoption Support Fund through social media. We were also fortunate to be in one of the first pilot areas so we had a bit of a head start in accessing help.

We have been adopters for almost 19 years. We adopted three times in a four-year period! Our children are now 19, 16 and 14. When we adopted back in 1997 post adoption support was pretty much unheard of along with adoption leave. We took ‘holiday time’ following the adoptions. Not the greatest plan given what we know now about early childhood development.

Our adoptions were generally very positive experiences and we were fortunate to have a good local authority. Of course we have had many challenges along the way not least because two of our children have medical conditions. The words "attachment" and "trauma" weren't used that often back then.

In many ways we trundled on during the following years. I guess our "normal" became normal to us. We didn't really know other adopters because we moved to a different area fairly soon after adopting our first child and there was no social media!

As often happens the teenage years brought added challenges. Our middle child was this year diagnosed with FASD at the age of 16. Our youngest’s struggles intensified at the age of 13. She is now 14.

School especially was becoming increasingly hard for her. We decided in the autumn of 2014 to see if any help could be accessed through the Adoption Support Fund. Initially the process was fairly slow, mainly because it was a new thing.

We chose to have an assessment done by Chrysalis in Sheffield. From our earliest contact to now they have been understanding, supportive and totally professional. We have already developed a good relationship with our therapist and our daughter relates really well to her.

The assessment was thorough and highlighted the fact that the effects of trauma and lack of parental figures in our daughter’s early life had had a significant effect on her social and emotional development. Her emotional age in the initial tests ranged from four to 14. It was no wonder school was a challenge!

It was recommended that we have 38 sessions of a combination of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, Theraplay, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

This started in June 2015. It's a big commitment because we have a round trip of three to four hours to get there and back each week. The Adoption Support Fund has paid for travel costs too.

The sessions generally involve an hour with us and our therapist talking about how things are and the current work we are doing with our daughter guided by the therapist. Given the challenges of teenagers this is adapted as needed as we go along.

It's not a magic wand but already we can see some chinks of light after only 10 sessions. Our daughter is making small steps of progress. We feel supported and also get advice as to how best to function when living with a traumatised teen. We are also learning to practise self care. Something we haven't been very good at at all!

After some early hiccups in High School our daughter now has a teaching assistant, a plan in place and appropriate support. Chrysalis are going into school to train staff in a few weeks’ time. They regularly liaise with school and help them in the best ways for them to support our daughter.

This block of therapy ends next May so it's quite a long process but we would do anything to ensure our daughter has the best help for her future life. We don't like to think what life would be like without it right now!

We realise we have latterly had a good experience of post adoption support (albeit late in the day!) but we also feel sad for those for whom this has come too late. Given the nature of adoptive parenting we would like to see the Adoption Support Fund accessible for older teenagers post 18 too."