|National Adoption Week
2016 is taking place from the 17th to 23rd October and the theme this year is to #SupportAdoption. This is an ideology that is embodied by PAC-UK and the work we do to support those affected by adoption through our education, training, therapy and counselling services for adoptive parents, adopted
adults and children.
Adoption changes lives in complex ways; there are gains and there are losses. Above all though, there is opportunity, and PAC-UK’s vision - that all people affected by adoption are supported and helped to live life to the full - means that we focus on this opportunity to make positive improvements in the daily lives of those involved.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that our major conference on recent developments in adoption support is taking place on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th November. I encourage you to join us to celebrate adoption support services and the progress that PAC-UK has made with the generous five-year grant from The Big Lottery.
Families like Rachael and Greg* and Linda and Keith* have benefitted enormously from the guidance and support of our staff, and we want to highlight their stories during a time when adoption is at the forefront of public interest. They have shared their experiences below of how training and support from PAC-UK has helped them overcome adoption-related behavioural challenges, including anti-social behaviour and child on parent violence.
I would like to thank you for your continued support of PAC-UK and ask that you share your own experiences of adoption and our services on Twitter using the hashtag #SupportAdoption.
Peter Sandiford, CEO of PAC-UK
How PAC-UK is Building Bridges for a Family in Need
“PAC-UK is an absolute lifeline; I am not sure we would still be together
as a family without them.”
Rachael, adoptive mother of three.
Rachael and Greg* adopted two brothers and a sister ten years ago at the ages of 6, 3 and 18 months. Now 16, 13 and 11, the family has been accessing PAC-UK services for three years. This is Rachael’s account of her experience with PAC-UK and how the charity has helped her and her family overcome adoption-related behavioural challenges.
‘Are we bad enough now?’
All three of my adoptive children have been challenging in terms of behaviour on and off over the years. We tried to access support from our local authority about two years into the placement, but despite our concerns we were told repeatedly that there were no resources, the ‘children were fine’ or that we were doing a great job raising them.
Our first encounter with PAC-UK was at a parent training course which my husband and I found really useful when we were stuck in the nitty gritty of daily life. Those courses gave us an opportunity to learn more about the wider issues and the effect neglect has on brain development. As a result, we began to understand that our children were different as a result of their experiences of neglect and abuse.
trusted them, I insisted on being referred to the charity rather than more traditional services.
We persevered with the issues for many years but the children’s good behaviour in school meant that while we voiced concerns, they were never taken seriously; either it was described as ‘typical adolescent behaviour’ or I was an over-anxious mother. I am sure I am not the only adoptive parent who can relate to this dilemma.
It took many years for people to take us seriously; in fact, it was only when my elder son had a near successful suicide attempt that we were considered “bad enough”. Because I’d had previous experience with PAC-UK and I
Embracing Adoption Support Fund
Three years ago, we were referred to PAC-UK with funding from the local authority. However each year, as that funding came to an end, we had to argue our case to continue with the sessions. There is no easy solution for our situation and when we started with our psychotherapy sessions, we discovered that the issues were complex and challenging, and that the children were re-triggering each other in a cycle that reactivated the trauma.
Last year we were granted funding by the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) which has been the best thing that has ever happened to us. We’ve been able to move away from having to plead with the local authority for money each year. Now the psychotherapist makes the case on our behalf and puts its forward to the ASF, and because we meet the criteria there is no issue. It has been an absolute weight off our shoulders and removing the uncertainty has been a great benefit.
The support network we have built around us is vital. PAC-UK understands the complexity of adoption and the issues related to abuse and neglect. My sessions with PAC-UK have increased my knowledge of psychological issues, so when I get anger or hatred thrown at me, they are there to talk to and remind me it is not about me but about the past.
One of the most important things I have learnt is that when someone says “you just need to...” I just need to ignore it. Everyone experiences parenting in different ways and I have come to appreciate that our journey is simply different.
PAC-UK has helped me and my husband maintain our own state of mind which enables us to confront our issues and work towards a solution. We were dealing with quite a lot of child on parent violence, so PAC-UK referred us to the Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) courses which were a great help. They gave us the confidence to call the police at times of violent behaviour and in turn reduce the risk of injury to ourselves and the children. It’s a fine line to accept that the violence comes from their past, but its unacceptable behaviour. It was fantastic to be able to confront and overcome physical abuse; once the violence has been reduced, we are able to deal with the underlying issues.
constant invitations home - which is totally counterintuitive to what other parents tell me – has been a lifesaver. Other parents tell me I need to take his phone off him but that phone is my only contact with him; the only way to hook him back in. Why would I take that lifeline away? It is the techniques suggested by PAC-UK that have consistently helped bring him home.
For the children, it has helped us to have a more confident approach to parenting. We understood very early on that the “Supernanny” approach of consequences and time out just wasn’t working for our children. At the time we didn’t know why, but now we realise that the children don’t have the capacity to make those choices, and negative consequences are completely internalised and only reinforce the children’s negative feelings.
My 16 year old has gone through a phase of running away; going out at night and not returning. Simple strategies like sending pictures of food and
Mainly the children have the sessions with the Child and Family psychotherapist and we are included in those sessions, as standard practice. There is also opportunity for parents’ sessions but the goal is to help my children process their traumas, and to feel more connected to me and their dad. The psychotherapist is available out-of-hours, and I email, phone or text for help to implement strategies or just to talk to someone who understands and helps me think through what is happening.
PAC-UK has been an absolute lifeline – I am not sure we would still be together as a family without them. They provide us with the confidence and knowledge to confront our issues head-on and work together to find appropriate solutions. There are no quick fixes but I feel like we are on the road to regaining control and creating a brighter future for our children.
*Please note details have been changed to protect identities
Finding Hope with PAC-UK’s Child & Family Therapeutic Services
“We believe that without PAC-UK there would have been a breakdown of some sort;
either our marriage or our family”
Linda, adoptive mother of two (and one biological child)
Mike* and Craig* joined our family six years ago having been in foster care for two years. They came from a background of domestic violence and alcoholism. When taken into care, we were told by the foster mum they were ‘feral and out of control’.
It took a few weeks before we started to experience the legacy of the trauma they were both subjected to at home. Their anger was like nothing we had experienced before; very physical and sometimes completely unexpected.
Over time it would be Mike who would turn his physical anger onto me. This was incredibly hard to deal with for all concerned, including our eldest daughter who was 13 at the time. It was hard to understand our children and their trauma, anger and confusion.
While attending CAMHS, both as a family and as individuals, Keith and I were increasingly frustrated and concerned that nothing was changing and so sought out another avenue for help. We eventually secured funding through the local authority for sessions with PAC-UK (formerly known as PAC). We had become desperate and were facing daily battles with all the children; it was tense, our family felt like it was being pulled apart and we were exhausted.
Giving us Hope
Even the first session at PAC-UK gave us hope. We were being treated as a whole family and we both felt we could be ourselves. Anthea and Sue (the counsellors) were easy to be with and our children were responding. It also gave us the opportunity to talk honestly to the children, and to Sue and Anthea. We had difficult sessions, very moving sessions and really fun sessions ...all of which, over the four years we were there, have systematically and incrementally had such positive and beneficial influences on us all. We have learnt how to better understand, deal with and empower the children, and have been on a number of workshops and gone on to read several of the recommended books.
It’s an ongoing journey
We are still learning and are so much better equipped to do so, but as with so many things there is still more to learn and we do face periodic challenges. This is in stark contrast to the sometimes hourly challenges of a few years ago.
We are generally a much calmer family now, but still see outbursts and upsets caused by stuff not yet resolved .However we do feel like a cohesive family and the kids are definitely in a much better place. We have had to see our eldest (biological) daughter really struggle with the extension of our family, and PAC-UK has been invaluable there too.
We believe that without PAC-UK there would have been a breakdown of some sort; either our marriage or our family. Sue is still helping us with situations at school with Mike to help the school staff be better informed. Let’s hope they listen!
*Please note details have been changed to protect identities
|Supporting PAC-UK's Vision:
We need your help to make a difference to more lives
At PAC-UK we understand that adoption changes lives in complex ways – there is gain, there is loss. Above all though, there is opportunity, and PAC-UK’s vision - that all people affected by adoption are supported and helped to live life to the full - means that we focus on this opportunity to make positive improvements in the daily lives of those involved.
*Illustration of lottery funded training and education projects.
Over the past two years, PAC-UK has grown to become the nation’s largest independent adoption support agency. Here are some examples of the difference we’ve made:
“Our counsellor is a miracle worker, caring, supportive and brilliant in how she helps the children tackle really difficult memories and feelings so that they may understand themselves better and go forward in their lives” (Adoptive family following therapeutic intervention).
“I cannot express how amazing the session was. I could listen to your wisdom and kindness all day long. The session was informative, emotive and so very helpful.”(Adoptive parent following schools training session)*
“We are a better, more rounded school as a result of working with you.” (SENCO, infant school following intervention by Education Service)*
"The support was excellent. I was able to deal with my issues and move on with my life. The support is ongoing. PAC has been a life saver for me, I am very grateful.“ (Birth relative)
With major policy changes underway in adoption, PAC-UK has entered an exciting period of growth. Enquiries to our Advice Line were over 3,000 in 2015/16. Due to vital funding from the Big Lottery and the Department of Education project, 1497 people and 1853 school staff also received training, and requests for individual counselling and family therapy have reached unprecedented levels. We are aware, though, that there are still gaps in provision and PAC-UK must continue to work hard to ensure that all those needing help can access it.
Will you support PAC-UK to fulfil that unmet need? We rely on voluntary contributions for 20% of our annual income. Could you mark National Adoption Week 2016 by setting up a regular monthly or quarterly standing order to the benefit of PAC-UK? As well as affording us much needed stability of income over the long term, it will help us continue to offer the highest quality of service to an ever larger number of people.
Follow this link for information about setting up regular payments via Virgin Money Giving, or ask your bank to set up a standing order.
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