In January 2018 we conducted a survey to consider the health and wellbeing of adopters and special guardians. We asked respondents about what, if anything, they thought needs to change. It seems timely to publish the views of respondents in National Adoption Week. Since special guardians do not get a special week we thought we would include their voices too. Here are the views of 149 adopters and 49 special guardians. Any duplication is because the respondent was both an adopter and special guardian.

This is a long post – but we make no apologies for this. We feel everyone’s voice should be heard and seek to provide a forum for listening and discussion.

Please do let us know your views, as a parent, special guardian, kinship carer – about what you think needs to change

Adopter’s views about what needs to change

  1. Recognition. Adoption is not a fairytale happy ending. It is the start of a different story. There needs to be awareness and support for the reality of adoption. Even in a relatively simple case like ours, the children have support needs, and the adults need help.
  2. Training for all teachers and support staff on the impact of developmental trauma and attachment should be mandatory and revisited annually much like safeguarding is. Greater public understanding of adoption related issues -not just in National Adoption Week.
  3. Adoption needs to be acknowledged as permanent and professionals must not be able to say things like: the child will not have the opportunity to settle with a foster family while having regular contact with adoptive parent.
  4. Understanding, compassion, a desire by the local authority/government to make support more accessible, reduction in making our lives even more stressful, investment in therapies that work.
  5. Post adoption support needs to be a given, not just something that’s reluctantly offered when families are in crisis and have jumped through myriad hoops to access it. We’re managing ok, but I know so many people who aren’t. On my darker days I feel that we’ve been badly let down – the system places the most vulnerable, damaged children with unpaid, untrained enthusiastic amateurs and then kicks away the stool. Adoption support should start from the premise that ALL adopted children will have complex needs arising from their early trauma, not that some families may need to access a little support at some future point.
  6. Specific trained after adoption social workers and for it to be the same one not passed around we have had inexperienced and so many different ones I’m dizzy and there always on catchup so no use to my son or me. Weekend respite so i can catch up on sleep and recharge as a single adopter he doesnt have a dad he can go to this would stop me from burning out. Therapy for my son to help him with anger management and help him self regulate. I can’t do this because I’m mum not a therapist. When I adopted my son I wanted to be his mum but I’ve been forced by the current system to be his full time carer, advocate, teacher, therapist and social worker all whilst having to fight the system tooth and nail for basic things like access to education. And all whilst being called an inadequate parent and blamed by the professionals this is why we breakdown.
  7. More information in the training about self-care and how important it is to have just a small amount of respite in the week to relax. More specific training on therapeutic parenting techniques.
  8. Attitudes, analysis,thinking, cooperation, whole culture of services, reflection, ability to listen, acceptance of accountability, blame culture. Achieved by good leadership and the intention to give a service which users value, professionals they can respect, and which services users would recommend to others.
  9. Government to pay primary carers a salary – not benefits – to remain us to stay at home for our children – either to home educate or to be there and dealing with hospital appointments and arranging appointments and chasing reports etc.
  10. Peer support signposting from very early days of adoption.
  11. There needs to be a group of professionals that are knowledgable about trauma and how the lifelong impact of previous maltreatment (and ACE’s) affect traumatised children. The idea about an Adoption Guardian could address that but obviously the title needs to change to a more apt role – Traumatised children and familes guardian perhaps? I believe that parents and carers needs can only be met when there is true understanding of ‘our’ childrens needs and cannot or should not be about the adults needs. The biggest difficulty for families of traumatised children is the lack of joined up thinking between the serivces that are supposed to enable our children and families to thrive- especially between social care departments like PAS and CP teams, CAMHS and non statutory theraputic providers and ultimately the CJS and family courts.
  12. The child should come with support and help that starts from the moment of placement. You cannot assume a child who has lost everything and probably suffered abuse and neglect is unscathed. The problems just get worse until they are totally out of anyone’s control.
  13. Assesment of childs needs and access to support
  14. We did EPP so a lot of the issues around trauma will be reduced, as yet we have not seen any major trauma related issues from our child. Our main issue was the attitude of contact workers and SWs to EPP, some were great but some were dismissive at beat but actually a hindrance and obstructive at worst and it did not support or protect our child in contact or the court process. More understanding of EPP and the pressure on foster/adoptive parents would be helpful.
  15. I wouldn’t even know where to start -sorry.
  16. Adoption allowances should be mandatory, particularly with hard to place children or sibling groups. Respite should be available. Access to an EHC assessment should be automatic if requested on behalf of a child formerly in care.
  17. Need more help for parents. Therapy for parents, not just for children. All schools need to provide adoption friendly support, even at secondary & 6th form school. More publicity about the affects of early trauma.
  18. More support from local authority. They are on,y interested post adoption for the first year or so & then we have been left. They are understaffed & staffing & procedures change. There is no help In telling you what is out there.
  19. There needs to be more funding, with easier access to support therapies for children. There needs to be far more support , training and funds for schools, as they are critical in ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of looked after children. The issues the children face and why they react as they do is often not understood, this should be an essential part of teacher training.
  20. The speed of EHCP’s being approved and the access to suppor services for the children.
  21. Better support at the point of adoption.
  22. Recognise that a child issues carries on till adulthood as does the role of parents , things don’t stop at 18.
  23. A greater awareness amongst the general public, tgat parenting adopted children is not the same as parenting birth children.
  24. Support is needed and should be offered to everyone. I also feel a 6mthly or yearly visit from sw shold be manditory even after adoption has been finalized.
  25. Schools are a nightmare for many adoptive families. Society needs to be educated on the causes and effects of Developmental Trauma Disorder.
  26. Full support packages for therapy in place from being adopted. Proper educational provision Attachment trauma training in schools SS working in a supportive role with adoptive parents and not having to be assessed for support.
  27. Professionals stop blaming adopters for issues our fabulous but troubled kids have and start helping them from the off.
  28. If you are interested in self care, you can get it. If the children need good mental health services it is a struggle to get it. This needs to change.
  29. To be listened to. For CAMHS to take this seriously and understand help is needed now, not 6 months from now. To have financial help , to have time out myself.
  30. Takes tor long for support or any application.
  31. Adoption support need to be SUPPORTIVE! There needs to be access to counselling etc for parents funded by the ASF.
  32. I wish there was an online group that allowed me to find other families with adopted children my child’s age in my city.
  33. I think a more realistic view of what adoption may entail needs to be portrayed. There is a very unrealistic opinion about how wonderful adopters are taking on “poor little children” but once the “honeymoon” is over the problems rarely get talked about and unfortunately our experience is of blame being laid at our door despite no one being able to tell us why this should be. I think all professionals dealing with children need more education about attachment difficulties and any other problems adopted children may suffer from. We have even been told that our difficulties were not taken seriously (in 2004!) because social workers really didn’t have enough knowledge then!! Adopters need to be listened to, when they say they are struggling they really do need help, respite care would have made a big difference to us but we had to fight for years for it and our wider family were made to feel guilty because it was felt they should help, but they were at breaking point along with us! Sadly our girls needed the therapy that was recommended when they were about 7 years of age, despite attempts being made to offer this to child 1 it was never enough, child 2 had to wait until 16 years of age for the therapy she needed to be offered, unfortunately our children no longer live with us but we have lots of contact and try to parent them from a distance.
  34. We need to be valued and listened to and those that have been failed should be designing the system.
  35. PP+ and ASF or equivalent in Scotland. Child protection procedures that don’t involve automatic police referral. Better training on adoption issues for all making decisions about adopted children, even when they have returned to care.
  36. We have made a formal complaint to our LA. She asked what we would like the outcome to be, it’s that our sons needs are supported as he becomes an adult and the support doesn’t end at 18. We also want things to change for future adopters, as after being foster carers there are significant differences between support available to looked after children/young people and our son.
  37. Information about support more readily available for adopters in easy to find places. Schools more aware of attachment and the impact on children who have been looked after.
  38. Schools are critical – early support for children with attachment issues before issues flare up is very important. It is difficult to persuade schools to allocate resources that can prevent future crisis, they tend to wait for things to explode before they do anything. Training for teachers in attachment and trauma would be helpful. Including recognising the link between trauma and early inappropriate sexualised behaviour.
  39. The blame culture.
  40. More support and understanding from social workers.
  41. I believe social workers need to be honest about the children you agree to adopt. We were not informed about any of the issues our girls have. i also think that when you asked for support and help this should happen. We don’t need platitudes we need practical support and when something is offered it should be delivered. As the girls needs have had such a financial impact on our family I think this should be addressed.
  42. Professionals need to discuss with parents and see them as an ‘equal’ in this task. We are not the cause of our childrens distress usually. Also there needs to be a recognition that some children have been through horrific experiences and that needs to be acknowledged. not all children… should also mean ‘not all adopted children. They all suffer loss and trauma – but some are way off the scale in adverse childhood experiences (like mine)
  43. I would love some professional and financial support in bringing my children together with their birth sibling who has recently made contact after 8 years of them being apart. As an adopter, it is difficult trying to do this alone.
  44. Loads. The whole system need to be revamped and far more recognition and support put in place, not just for adopters and special guardians but for birth mums and everyone involved. Professionals are totally stretched and anyone with any experience is leaving.
  45. Social services need to be honest about what adopters are getting themselves into. There needs to be ongoing financial support therapy needs to be in place before children are placed, everything takes too long to get set up, you have to be at breaking point before anyone does anything and that’s not helpful for the children or the parents. We were told by our post adoption SW that our financial circumstances and standard of living shouldn’t have to change, however I think our adoption would have broken down by now if we had both continued working the hours we were. The service providers aren’t interested in really helping they just want to save money and make money.
  46. Children should not be in care for too long before being adopted – it prolongs the trauma. My son was nearly 4 – when he came to us he was in care for 22 months, same as my daughter but she was 21months when she came. She is a happy child and settled. He seems very grown up very angry and rude.
  47. More education on needs of adopted children, to understand loss etc, especially for teachers and associated professionals.
  48. Better funding for SWs Assessment of need for adoptive families before children are placed based on children’s history and support put in place earlier Improved quality/monitoring of foster care- my children’s issues were worsened by very poor foster care which I made a formal complaint about.
  49. Better training social workers in Developmental Trauma, empowering parents, training schools.
  50. More support for adopted children within the education system and then not being labelled as difficult children when they are not as the teacher is not prepared to learn and understand attachment disorder and adapt their own teaching and support they offer.
  51. There has been more recently about attachment but we feel it’s much more complex than that. Professionals needs to understand that the reason our children’ problems persist is often that they experienced exposure to drugs and alcohol in utero. This does not mean they will have a diagnosis of FASD and they will not necessarily have the facial features. They are also more likely yo have ADHD, ODD, OCD etc and so they are like a complex venn diagram of symptoms and it’s hard to know what the symptoms relate to as all the potential problems have the same symptoms. it there takes a long while to get the diagnoses and the appropriate treatment. So they need multi-disciplinary assessment early and treatment from people who really understand adoption not people who are dabbling.
  52. There should be a package of support from the day of placement that can be accessed as and when required. GP’s and other professionals need to receive training around adoption and attachment so that our children can be supported in all aspects of their lives to enable their medical, physical and general wellbeing needs to be met without a fight.
  53. More support and resource in schools; more training.
  54. Understanding of the needs of adopted children. Adoption does not go away because he is now an adult. Trauma is pervasive and history of children needs to be taken into account as young adults.
  55. Stop judging parents and actually engage with child!
  56. Access to attachment aware respite so that the children can have respite from each other and enjoy both of their parents; so parents can have time together. If HE child could access a therapeutic school part time.
  57. More support and realism about adoption it has been up and down over the years with times of great optimism and great pessimism knowing other adopters was crucial.
  58. A new support service within adoption support to work with famiies on transition to adulthood. A bit like an EHCP but practical support etc.
  59. There needs to be better understanding relating to the traumas that children have suffered and better therapeutic intervention right from the start. Schools have a lot to learn as even special needs schools do not understand or if they do are still under pressure from LA to perform educationally in a very specific and limited way.The other issue is that event though we have good post adoption support, there is little understanding in other departments and very little joined up thinking. We have had a number of involvements by the police, issues are either dropped after a very long time, communication is poor and there seems to be no link between different offenses. Having raised a sexual matter this has not resulted in help for the child but a very stringent legal process which is dragging on – we are now 1 year after reporting and the case has still not been dealt with by CPS, no help has come forward for our son or us either.
  60. A lot.
  61. As my comments above relating to improving general public and professional awareness of modern adoption, developmental trauma, though media, training programmes and publications, lobbying people in high places etc etc, Child psychologists should be involved from the outset and therapeutic assessment made of all children at removal from birth family- not by SWs but by psychologists!!. Therapeutic packages of care should be made available for all children entering care (and not just those who go on to be adopted) for the duration of their childhood. All therapies should be research-based to suit particular age groups/emotional problems/ attachment styles etc. New adopters should be told the truth so that they can make an informed decision as to whether adoption is really for them and then they should be properly trained and supported and treated for the entirety of their child’s childhood. Social media needs regulating urgently for all children but especially vulnerable children. Closed adoptions will almost certainly become a thing of the past – I for one would not have adopted if I’d have known what damage social media would wreak on our lives and those of so many other adopters. Changes to accommodating adopted teens who can no longer can live at home- foster care is not the answer nor rooms in hotels, not listening to the wishes of parents and undermining their values once their child is in foster care The whole system needs overhauling. More recognition of traumaitsed teens behaviours amongst professional and better ways of dealing with eg.false allegations – I don;t have the answers but social services need to take a good look at themselves – they need to become more rigorous and professional and until then they are just mostly a group of glorified, subjective administrators with too much power and not enough common sense.
  62. Education for all school staff, particularly those in play ground assistance. Arolling programme of training. Staff to be encouraged to have a system of peer reflection/supervision re kids with attachment difficulties. Mental health specialists attached to schools.
  63. Professionals in schools not to blame parents for their own lack of understanding as it makes everything worse. Children should not be excluded. Schools need to change their approach to behaviour. See Stuart Guest, head teacher at Colebourne school in Birmingham. He understands & should deliver training to teachers & teaching students across the country.
  64. More awareness of how truly different our ‘normal’ is. More respite.
  65. Access to therapeutic interventions Theraplay Play therapy Most trauma is pre verbal and need non verbal interventions Counselling post adoption and support.
  66. In Wales we meed better access to support. We were lucky as we muddled through.
  67. Transitions from children’s to adult services; recognition of nature of lifelong issues; better pre-adoption training and post adoption training/support.
  68. Recognition by ‘the system’ that adopted kids are some of the most vulnerable in society. That adoptive parents are THE MAJOR part of the solution and must be worked with and supported, and never dismissed or blamed. WE DID NOT CAUSE THE DAMAGE.
  69. Pushing children into school before they are emotionally ready and with no support, my child would have coped better if allowed to start school at CSA without legal threats. This would have enabled him to access assememnts and therapys that would help him. His anxietys and resulting behaviours caused a lot of stress and trauma that should have been avoided and would mean he wasn’t struggling in school trying to keep up with children who have been in school longer and have no disabilitys. Finances for educational support and therapys would help children keep up with required school attainments.
  70. Greater understanding from professionals . I would like not to have to fight to have my children’s needs met.
  71. Much more support for the adopters. Respite care. Quicker response when help requested. More local support groups organised by LA where adopters can meet – I live in NW England – very little available.
  72. General understanding of developmental trauma and it’s ongoing impact.
  73. I can seek information about help and support but it would be good if it just sent to us as an adopter. We seem to just be off the radar now we’ve formally adopted.
  74. SW need to provide NVR training – requested it 2 years ago. Need to be able to access respite. Schools need training in FASD and de escalation techniques.
  75. That support is automatic – that you don’t need to be assessed for support, that it is just assumed. That support is delivered in a way that feels supportive, and that you are not made to feel deficient. It requires generous resourcing and extremely well-trained professionals.
  76. Clear and fast signposting to relevant or tailored support/availability of relevant support based on the needs of children and therefore the additional demands placed on parents, which were probably not known at time of adoption.
  77. Not having to fight so hard to get what our children need. Rather pessimistic about the change coming about.
  78. Training in DDP/theraplay/NVR for all and quarantined not meNs tested adoption allowance. Schools and Social Care hav3 to work together recognising additional needs/hidden disabilities of ou4 children. Adopters have to face reality that teens are likely to find birth family one way or another and there has to be support in place for all concerned. My teen says it’s inevitabl3 that kids who have experienced what she has experienced will give up…but she recognises that I didn’t….
  79. More awareness in schools of attachment More awareness of EHCP for adoptees Respite for adopters if needed. We have no family or friends able to look after the children longer than a couple of hrs on a good day, so any time for hubby and I is so hard to get.
  80. A better way to evaluate what therapy is right for your child.Our children’s dev trauma recognised as a mental health need and given the same recognition and resource allocation as ASD.
  81. All adopted kids need automatic EHCP not pupil premium Adoption support should be written into every adoption order life long Perhaps there needs to be a statement across interested charities/stakeholders that we no longer support adoption as it is? Education needs to SRT itself put, which I think is slowly starting to happen re awareness of attachment issues SEND needs proper funding We need the end of austerity.
  82. More awareness of and understanding of FASD with clear pathways for diagnosis and treatment. It’s a post code lottery and seems to only be one specialist in the UK. Early intervention is vital.
  83. Stop criminalizing adoptive parents and get behind them. Collective agreement of others in similar positions.
  84. General education about fas and availability of respite.
  85. More funds for adoption training in schools so they can understand adoption and the trauma our children have. They about not be catered under special needs. They should have there own category. More post adoption social worker. More courses. More access to help. Not being left for two years.
  86. Proper funded (unlimited funding) timely support for our children and help for the carers.
  87. Support for adoptive parents that is independent from social services – especially when at crisis such as court cases, false allegations and CSE cases etc. Better training for child protection social workers and other professionals – have adoption specific guardians, and training for school teachers and SENCOs.
  88. Priority1: adoptees need to be recognised nationally as a vulnerable, defined group. Not as a group that is sometimes included in the statistics for ‘current LAC’. This would revolutionise that way we can access services. Priority 2: adopters should be treated as part of the team around the child and should have the access to the same level of support as foster carers. Priority 3: national and local bodies need to recognise that the most financially effective way to support these children is to support those of us dealing with them 24/7.
  89. Each adopted child having a support package at placement. Would include therapy (for all family members), respite, assessments and EHCP from moment they entered school. Could opt out of any parts that weren’t needed. Definitely respite offered as an alternative to S20 for families in crisis. Change can only come about if there is a commitment and funding by central government.
  90. The whole system needs to change . Social workers need to learn more about children with autism and other conditions . Disability social workers need to be found to work with children who are struggling so much that the whole family ends up with emotional difficulties.
  91. The package of adoption needs to just take for granted that support for all involved wil be required and it should be included from the start. Schools/EHCP should not be a battle.
  92. Transparency from professionals before adopting of the problems that may occur and better preparation/training/support.
  93. Each child should automatically have an EHCP from placement. This would stop the constant battle with the education system which then may elicit greater support for our children at earlier stages. My eldest had a low iq of 74 and yet no ehcp. He has always struggled educationally and emotionally within school. This has left him with feelings of low self esteem and contributes to his battles with himself and other family members.
  94. Acceptance that these children are all damaged and are going to need a lot of support to get them to independent adults.
  95. PAS need to do something to actually provide support.
  96. Social services need to support people not become their enemy. Most of my stress is SS related!
  97. Greater awareness in schools on the impact of trauma on adopted children. Greater transparency from social services about what children entering care have experienced and how this is likely to impact on their development and behaviour. A more realistic view on adoption and not portraying it through rose tinted spectacles. Better access to support for adopted families.
  98. Better lines of communication with Post Adoption Support. Schools trained in attachment and developmental trauma. Respite offered for adopters in crisis. Might come about with an informed understanding of the lifelong impact of development trauma.
  99. Honesty in what we face when looking after our children and not blaming us when children’s needs arise.
  100. Too early to say for our family but education always helps. Little is know about how to help adopters in the wider community. How parenting has to be different for trauma sufferers needs to be advertised.
  101. More appreciation of child to parent violence, more provision for counselling. More respite for those without understanding friends or family nearby.
  102. People getting it and not judging.
  103. More understanding.
  104. Schools attitude to adoptive parents and to listen to parents . More public awareness of the difficulties experienced by adoptees so they and their families are not so easily judged. Most importantly a recognition of developmental trauma as a diagnosis so it is recognised by education and agencies so that children can get the specialist support they need to access education. Without a diagnosis children can’t necessarily access support.
  105. More support for single adopters especially those who work.
  106. Greater understanding from schools and the world at large who still seem to think that once a child is adopted and in a stable home their previous experiences disappear. This could be helped by more information in the media, documentaries on TV for example. There needs to be more funding for child and young persons mental health services and more funding available to schools to provide appropriate support (it seems the PP+ doesn’t go far at all) I also think the PP+ should be ring fenced to the individual child it is allocated for, not swallowed up into the school budget, with the head teacher having to report to parents /carers exactly what the funding is being used for on a termly basis.
  107. Government needs to be more realistic about the troubles adopters face with traumatised children in their care. Support needs to be provided more readily and more quickly.
  108. A greater awareness of how difficult it can be to parent a child you have adopted. The preparation is very focused on how it must be for the children, maybe social services don’t want to drive home how it can be for the carers as it may put people off, but I don’t think we imagined how hard we would find it & didn’t consider it could take us & our marriage to breaking point. More support but I don’t know how….
  109. Better support including financial ( for parents courses, support groups, children’s activities etc) from child’s local Authority. Comprehensive professional assessment of child’s needs and recommendations for therapy or other help and suggested order for this to happen.
  110. More respite / networks for parents.
  111. When an adopted child, who we know has suffered previous trauma and loss, acts in a way that is so clearly outside the ‘norms’ of child and teenage behaviour then the professionals have to take a very different approach than they are currently doing with the child/teen and the adoptive family. In our case, we were not blamed ( well not openly). Instead, however much I reached out for care and support I was told there was no more anyone could do, and that I should just keep going as I was doing a ‘great job. This was totally ridiculous, as my son at the time was totally out of control, was involved with police and probation constantly, was domestically physically and emotionally violent, and I certainly was not doing a great job because he was beyond parenting at this stage, and I had no control over him at all. He was also suicidal, but when he was assessed after a drug overdose the psychiatrist almost laughed when I asked for mental health support, and said he seemed fine and able to manage his emotions. I needed the professionals to see what damage he was doing to himself and others and to say,here is a teenager who is acting out all of his traumas and is totally unsafe. This is way beyond what the family is capable of managing because no family could manage it. He needs intensive support and input from highly qualified professionals and that family needs non judgmental respite and care. Instead we were abandoned by every agency we approached. The whole attitude of professionals needs to change, and an understanding to develop of the extreme impact trauma has on the growing child and his/her family. This understanding has to stop looking within the adoptive family to sort the problem, as it has gone beyond that, because believe it or not love and boundaries is 100% not enough !! Some families are blamed, and we did not suffer this, but ultimately the mentality is the same. The adoptive family have to solve the problem and if they cant then it must be their fault. Let them all suffer, as in our case, or remove the child and blame the family. Neither is the solution, and this whole approach needs to change fundamentally. We need to work closely with the agencies to help and support both the child and ourselves.
  112. More understanding of FASD and attachment/trauma informed GPs. Schools on the whole are making a beak through but healthcare professionals still seem clueless!
  113. Post Adoption teams actually doing something.
  114. I think there needs to be dialogue and a listening culture – we cannot solve complex social problems with blame and shut doors. Legal reform is needed – and it needs to be tailored to our families.
  115. Specialised services are badly needed & practical support given to adopters instead of leaving them to deal with the constant stress & feeling like they are alone! I feel the only way forward realistically is greater understanding & funding by government. Many ideas are short sighted & lose sight of the bigger picture which would bring long term benefits.
  116. More joined up thinking around medical, emotional and educational needs of adopted children. Although a school cannot permanently exclude they can constructively exclude, making it impossible to stay.
  117. More honesty in preparation courses, assessment and child permanence report. So many problems we were not told about.
  118. Professionals need to understand that adopters are not the problem. We are not dysfunctional parents – we have dysfunctional children, but we are functioning. We did not cause our children’s problems, but are living with them and need help, not blame.
  119. Belief in parents, lasting support for children, better help and understanding in school/college.
  120. Schools need to be held to account more for supporting adopted and SGO children and given the funding and Ofsted incentivisation to do it well. schools which fail to put in appropriate support in a timely way and use exclusion inappropriately should not get outstanding status. They are not outstanding for those who need it most of all.
  121. We should be able to apply to the ASF regardless of the view of SW. If a therapist or the school thinks something is necessary, we should be able to apply. We lost a year of funding and therapy because of the Mess of the devolved governments not signing up to ASF but being able to apply if we live in Wales but adopted from Wales. It is burecracy gone mad. And it is families who suffer.
  122. Don’t know where to start with this – there are so many things in both post adoption support and education system that need to change. If I was to summarise this I’d say much easier access to services and greater general awareness of lifelog impact of adoption.
  123. Needs to be a focus on the needs of the children, for example therapy, when deciding how ASF should be spent. Too much focus on courses for parents.
  124. Prospective adopters need to have training on traumatised children, attachment disorder, therapeutic parenting, etc. Before they are matched with any child/children. There needs to be more help available to adoptive parents/ guardians when at crisis point. Schools need to be trained in attachment awareness. Professionals need to be more aware and understanding.
  125. Joined up, Therapeutic thinking and resolution across all professional services involved with these children.
  126. For us it would be helpful to feel supported and treated with understanding and equal respect.
  127. A fundamental overhaul of our care system. It is focused on dysfunction rather than recovery. Greater resources need to be put in before crisis point…when you are in crisis it’s often too late.
  128. Professionals not thinking they know our children better than us. Access to services as daughter has FAS she does not fit into a particular box I am fed up of people saying she doesn’t meet the criteria!!
  129. Support available out of the working week for those of us who have to work full time. All support seems to be during working hours. I feel really isolated.
  130. More understanding from school system.
  131. Adopters voices need to be central, greater role of voluntary sector.
  132. Social workers need to be be honest about how children need to be parented therapeutically and adopters need the finance to be able to do it. Currently we are a drain on the NHS as our mental health deteriorates and our careers suffer. We lose supportive networks.
  133. Post adoption support needs adequate funding and resource. PAS should be provided throughout adolescence automatically- if our family had received appropriate early support it could have saved thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds in terms of police, criminal justice, NHS, LA. Schools from primary upwards need thorough training about needs of adoptive children and advice on how to use pupil premium effectively and have appropriate behaviour management strategies. Then maybe children will reach their potential. CAMHS services need to be more adaptive to children’s needs – home visits are needed to help the most anxious children. LA services need to be more long term – waltzing into our family for a ‘brief intervention’ is pretty useless. They need to be there long term.
  134. Adoption agencies and SSD need to learn from those who have lived with the effects of their past and current policies. They need to properly address the reality of early trauma and stop treating the adopters or SG as dysfunctional parents. The punitive blame system has to stop.
  135. Ofsted & LAs / government need to make it impossible for SEN children to be excluded for behaviours relating to their disability.
  136. Adopters need to be believed. Adopters should be given all information and paperwork before matching. Adoption as we know it today should be re-evaluated. I no longer believe that Adoption is viable in its present form.
  137. Adoption support and monies spent on adoptive families.
  138. Professionals to listen and not judge…we know our children best.
  139. Adoption is an out of date institution and requires life long guaranteed support for our children, young people. Their needs are far in excess of what an average family can provide.
  140. There should be access to respite in the form of babysitters who are trained to therapeutically look after children so parents can have a break. Teacher training should cover more about attachment, trauma and working with adoptive parents.
  141. Centralised assessments for support as most LA staff not qualified Same for creating life story work – get an expert to do it with input from relevant social workers Proper assessment of child and family on placement with assumption that everyone should have access to support if they need/want it.
  142. Appropriate services such as therapy locally with appropriately trained proffessionalls. Proper assessment of need of family not just problematic child and appropriate service provision. ASF limit needs expanding and access speeded up – too long over assessment to access the services. Improved training for relevent proffessionals not just social workers but CAMHS and education re needs of adopted children and the issues the family face. Improved respite provision. Support to carers who cannot access support groups needs to be rethought.
  143. Free/cheap services such as art groups in the day when little one in school and I’m not working. Cheap options, so many creative groups are inaccessible because of cost. Also my daughters needs are such that I wouldn’t leave her with strangers, even people that know her struggle if she becomes dysregulated? I don’t like over relying on my mum. Being able to access cheap tickets for mainstream services that me and my daughter could access together? Theatres etc.
  144. Training for extended family members/friends to inform their care of the children while parents have a break. Funding available to support adopters in reducing work hours to care for their children. The importance of mental health and well-being needs to be more highly valued.
  145. More open and honest preparations for adopters, meaningful support and therapy in place from the start, to prevent a battle when it’s needed. Contact with extended birth family to be promoted as much as possible. Much less of a drop and run approach to adoption, everyone involved in the process from Child Protection through courts need trauma / attachment training and awareness of lifelong impact of adoption. Care system needs to hear from care experienced children and adoptees!
  146. Social workers need to pull their fingers out and actually help. Our social worker has signed us off after no help has been given and we still face a possible disruption. How can that be right?
  147. Change professional opinions
  148. Honesty from social work about childrens’ needs before placement. Support after placement. I can’t work because of needs of children but we are currently spending £2 000 on assessments because the L.A. won’t. The only way we can see of keeping our family together is avoiding further interaction with social services.
  149. Support and training for family and close friends in assessment stage of adoption to ensure understanding and support in place prior to placement.

Special Guardians views about what needs to change

  1. The legal system has to change. As birth parents retain parental responsibility in the case of special guardianship and this allows them to continually legally challenge/disrupt the child/rens placement. Therefore adoption should be offered more to family and friends carers especially when very young children are placed with carers as this would stop the above happening.
  2. Jumping through hoops to access services and / or support needs to change. SGO holders need to be treated fairly as others such as foster carers or adopters – after all, we all experience the same issues. I’m fortunate in that, I can access the ASF but other SG are unable to due to their child not being classed as LAC – this increases the risk of placement breakdown and children not being given the support needed to access therapy and / or get diagnosis
  3. Therapeutic support from the earliest stages not until they are permanently placed.
  4. Being listened too and correct support being granted this would be acheived by government reconising family care and practical support needed in this role.
  5. More support & practical advice not just left to get on.
  6. Everything needs to change. Wwe should be treat like people and not a easy go to. Playing on people’s feelings – they promise you everything befote you get the children, then once they are in your care they don’t want to know.
  7. Honesty from ‘professional agency’s’ so that we can make informed choices. More practical and emotional support.
  8. Lower social workers case loads they might then stay in the job longer and have the time to assess cases without falling ill due to the stress and carers having change of social worker several times.
  9. Real support without judgement.
  10. More investment by the authorities in the young people who are so damaged by their early childhood leading to them experiencing attachment disorders etc that compromise their ability to be ‘normal’. Investment in these children and their needs is essential to them leading future happy and useful lives free of mental ill health. A ticking time bomb ….
  11. For special guardianship allowance to not be means tested.
  12. There should be guaranteed financial support for special guardians at a set level. There should be better access to support for special guardians.
  13. Carers need to be fully aware of the history and have an adequate support plan in place prior to taking on a child.
  14. All LA should provide financial care plans for special guardians as they do foster carers. If these packages where In place then more children wouldn’t be returned to the the LA care and give the child children a more stable home life.
  15. I think special guardians should be treated the same as foster carers.
  16. We need help!!! Who do we turn to? Who do we call? As soon as the give you the baby they walk away. Support from government for the whole family, both emotional and financial.
  17. More support and explanation of proceedings, being included more financial support.
  18. Allowence being means tested and how unrecognised we are for example the lack of support for those of us that need it,
  19. Better support we have no one to turn to in a crisis, no social services. no support in our area.
  20. I think pupil premium needs to change – how can adoptive children get it but not all special guardianship children get it?
  21. Yes, Recognise special guardianship as a real thing. The trouble involved in trying to open a bank account, or in case of emergency at the hospital. It takes a lot of explaining when a child is taken into hospital “Where is mum” “We need the info from mum” or them asking mum and her not being able to answer as the child hasn’t lived with her for 2 years.
  22. Special guardianship should be the same as kinship fostering to alleviate some financial worries. Also respite care for those of us who cannot hsve a break from our little one.
  23. More financial help.
  24. Carers need to be listed to.
  25. Special guardians need to be recognised as having the same needs as adopters. They need better financial and practical support. The means test for special guardianship allowances should be scrapped as it is a postcode lottery.
  26. More marginal, independent spaces (such as Open Nest) where we can share our stories/ experiences of feeling powerless, identify with each other and draw strength and power from this.
  27. More support for the whole family, not just the LAC. Children already in the family need extra support too as they suffer just as much. The legal system needs to change and anyone going for a SGO should be able to access free legal aid as they not placed themselves in this situation and are doing the moral right which is penalised by the law and any benefit system. Benefits should be guaranteed till the child is 18 not assessed each year – we not choose to have more children or add to our financial strain. We do it out of love for the children who end up in the care system. Should be treated with the same respect as foster parents. same training offered and same support.
  28. More financial support in line with foster carers until they are 18. The children do not stop needing to be fed and clothed after 2 years!!!
  29. Fear surrounding accessing support from Children’s Services.
  30. Better financial support. Treat us as the professional Carers we all are
  31. I think SG allowance shouldn’t be means tested. I think access to respite should be more readily available. I think access to peadiatric assessment should be more readily available.
  32. The whole care system for children needs to change. The system doesn’t work efficiently and is more about money than children’s best interests.
  33. We as adopters/guardians need more information on help that is available.
  34. People with SGO`s to be treated with respect, give ALL opportunities in parity with foster carers. ALL help and support that is necessary. Absolutely respite care for a few days three times a year minimum.
  35. More help groups.
  36. SGO have already in many cases bought up a family. Example my husband had a vasectomy 31 years ago because we felt we could not afford more children. Now we have a 7,10 and 11 year old and we are in our sixties with very little financial support. There should be a basic allowance in line with kinship fostering.
  37. More help for people who get SGO and then feel abandoned.
  38. The legal system has to change. As birth parents retain PR in the case of special guardianship and this allows them to continually legally challenge/disrupt the child/rens placement. Therefore adoption should be offered more to family and friends carers especially when very young children are placed with carers as this would stop the above happening.
  39. We should get an hour of self care/therapeutic treatment per week, whatever we want, massage, facial, CBT.
  40. Local authority needs to put in help for the children and support for the adopters/special guardians as its non existent, and have a better understanding of attachment issues and its complexities.
  41. A lot.
  42. Extra support and the SGO allowance not means tested. Paperwork kept updated to us. Pupil premium meetings to find out how it is to be spend to benefit the child and not absorbed in the school.
  43. Social services need to support people not become their enemy. Most of my stress is SS related!
  44. Someone to help the carers as well as the child…the carer knows the child better and knows or has an instinct of what is needed to help but also the carer needs help themselves not just constant parenting courses.
  45. Jumping through hoops to access services and / or support needs to change. SGO holders need to be treated fairly as others such as foster carers or adopters – after all, we all experience the same issues. I’m fortunate in that, I can access the ASF but other SG are unable to due to their child not being classed as LAC – this increases the risk of placement breakdown and children not being given the support needed to access therapy and / or get diagnosis.
  46. Guardians need more support from outside agencies. To access people who can advise about schools, passports child benefits and so on. Also someone who guardians can talk to who understand the difficulties that we are faced with from the start.
  47. Be more realistic to potential Special Guardians about potential issues in caring for children who have been experiencef early trauma. Make employers more aware of kinship care and put in some mandatory extra support e.g. paid leave. More attention paid to the needs of existing children in the family rather than saying the needs of the children under special guardianship trump the needs of all others; eg respite care (say half a day a month), so we can spend time with our birth child. Stop telling us that “love will conquer all”: this is a necessary but not sufficient condition for caring for traumatised children.
  48. Proper support from social services and CAMHS – any professionals really.
  49. Continuous support put in place at beginning and not removed or requiring reapplying for.



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