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How my passion for fostering and adoption will help you.

I wanted to explain to you why I am so passionate about adoption, fostering and to make sure you are getting the best information to care for your child.

I realise now I was not well prepared for parenting or adopting and as a result I made so many mistakes. while no parent is perfect I know I could have done better if I had known more.

As a result I would love to be able to support you any way I can in your journey to bringing up your child to be a positive, confident adult. This video explains more.

Click here to watch the video

To help you survive the summer holidays I wanted to give you a chance to do some activities with your child together. As you know I am a huge proponant of play and leisure as a way to increase communication, bonding and attachment from your child. So we have arranged a great opportunity to do so!

​We have a wonderful chance to spend positive time with your child over the summer holiday, during the week of Monday 26th to 31st July. We have sessions with a range of activities for you and your child to do together. This is targetted at children aged, or functioning at 1 to 8, but is open to anyone, involved with adoption or fostering.

Sessions are only half an hour long so will keep your childs attention. Attend for all or them if you can but do come and join us on:

​Play Week

Monday 26th July at 11.30 AM We have Julie Kowaleski, music therapist, in Canada leading a music session utilising things you have in the house (unless you already have musical instraments to hand!)

Tuesday 27st July at 11.30 AM Melenie Hibbert mindset coach in Jamaica is leading a session on relaxation and building your little one’s confidence.

Wednesday 28th July at 11.30 AM Yoni Ejo (me!) will be leading a practical art session, to complete with materials you already have in the house, and not to make TOOOO much mess!

Thursday 29th July at 11.30 AM we are running a movement session with a teacher I am just confirming.

Friday 30th July at 11.30 AM Beckie Shuttleworth Yoga and former primary school Teacher based in the UK will lead yoga for children and adults, which I know will be loads of fun.

Saturday 31st July at 1.00 PM Play Therapist Keeley Craw will lead a play session to have fun as well as help your child learn.

So please do come, access is by joining one of the Facebook groups. The Zoom links will be available nearer the time. There will be a maximum capacity so please do register to book your place early.

Ambitious Adopters and Foster Carers

LGBTQ+ Adopters and Foster Carers

Would you benefit from more support?

Are you are currently caring for your adopted or fostered child, and want to increase attachment and bonding with your child? Get our Free Guide in harnessing the power of play. Use play to build relationships with your children implemented in less than an hour a week.

COACHING

Would you benefit from having someone to talk through your adoption approval challenges?

Do you wonder how to prepare your children for the family adopting?

Are you wondering how you will adjust to the role?

or Are you currently an adopter with a child/ren, and would you like to speak to someone independent about your challenges?

I specialise in supporting applicants to adopt, people considering adopting or fostering trans-racially and those looking to increase their confidence, attachment through practical strategies and play. Book a free half hour compatability conversation. I would love to hear from you soon.

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Why do we think play is so important?

 

Relationship Based Play

I think we under appreciate the important role of play in our lives. And I think as the digital explosion gains pace, especially since covid, our ability and imagination to truely play has reduced. As adults we often think “I am too busy, too fraught or don’t have the time”.  

But what actually is play? It can a variety of things. It could be going for a walk with the dog, five a side football, baking a cake, or playing an ever lasting game of Monopoly with our children. Is it more acceptable to call it leisure activities?

Why are we as adults so often dismissive of play?

Because of the association with children? 

Or is it because it can be exposing?

Play for adults can trigger feelings we had as children, and as teens. I certainly remember and maybe you do, not being picked for teams, being left out or struggling to be creative when expected to. 

Brene Brown (researcher and social work lecturer) discovered through interviews, that a significant proportion of the shameful experiences her interviewees, remember from school occur during art and creative lessons. 

I think what is hard about play is that many of us were brought up to be perfectionists. Therefore playing in an unstructured way can feel really difficult.  We might not do it correctlyt!? What are the rules?

How will we know when we are getting it right?

So maybe when we take risks, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and we do play, it allows us to become better in tune with our adopted and fostered child.  

Day to day life is so much about doing things we are familiar and comfortable doing. Yet growth is exactly the opposite!

And how positive a role model we become when we show our children we can also allow ourselves to be vulnerable. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the importance of play, I am really excited to be training with Keeley Craw who is a qualified Play therapist, and parent who has worked with many different children in care. I have managed adoption recruitment, children in care and fostering teams. 

Children learn through play. They experience the world through play. And they can start to understand their own challenges and the loss inherent in adoption, through play.  So it is critical that as parents we speak the same language as our children do!  

We are doing an Instagram Live, on wednesday 12th at 7.30 PM. At @diversityadopt.

We will also be presenting a webinar on Friday 14th May at 7.30 PM UK time (GMT +1), 5 WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR CHILDS ATTACHMENT TO YOU. Places are booking up quickly. 

http://bit.ly/increaseattachment.

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Planning Contact (family time) for Adopters and Foster Carers

Contact or family time refers to any kind of communication between an adopted or fostered child and their birth family. This can be face to face, Letterbox (ln writing/indirect) or by phone or video call. 

It can involve birth parents, siblings, aunts uncles, grandparents or occasionally friends.

Contact can also include meeting with former foster carers. 

There is no legal requirement for adoptive families to maintain Contact but there is an expectation that foster carers will promote contact as outlined in minimum standards. 

Contact arrangements will be discussed before an adoption order is made and families will be encouraged to come to an agreement, but sometimes the details of the contact arrangements may be included in the court order. 

The child’s best interests will always be paramount. This will dictate the form, extent, and frequency of contact. Adoption UK advises that the majority of adoptive parents do have contact. In 2019 advised that 84% of adoptive families had signed an agreement for ongoing indirect letterbox contact. A further ¼ have direct contact mainly with siblings.

Letterbox contact is overseen by local authorities, and they intercept any unsuitable correspondence. Adoptive parents also can refuse to pass on communication if they feel it is not in the child’s best interest. Adoptive and foster carers often pass on details of achievements, education, social activities, and milestones.

It is recommended by the dept of health that siblings have contact, where they are not placed together. Clearly, there are situations when this is not possible, or in children’s best interests but my experience on supporting older care leavers is that sibling contact should be strenuously pursued. 

Contact does not always occur it may be due to safeguarding issues or the distress of the child. 

Why should I support contact?

In some US states and the UK until 1976 when the adoption act gave adoptees the right to access their original birth certificates. There is a clear need for adoptees and foster children to have a clear understanding of their history. It is ultimately the adopter’s choice but the adoptee or fostered child must be clear about their own heritage. They must be aware that they are adopted and where they come from contact is a key part of this process.

Half of the adopters who had contact in place said that contact creates difficulties or challenges for the child. 

Social media is an issue that does need to be addressed. 25% of children were reported to have been contacted informally by birth family by adopters to adoption UK through informal ways. 

What does the research tell us?

Contact is a key issue for children and they often have ambivalence about contact they often want more contact even if they are happy in placement content can reassure the child what is happening at home. 

There is a legal presumption of promoting contact where safe to do so, and that it is generally beneficial but frequently in adoption contact is indirect. Carers’ needs and safety must also be maintained. 

Birth parents can have mixed feelings about contact can indicate feelings can range from relief to shame, failure, and a mixture of emotions. Contact can also be distressing to all concerned on occasions. Some adopters really struggle with acknowledging that the child had a life before they met. The problem with this attitude is that the child will therefore grow up to believe that they birth history, therefore their identity and themselves 

ACTIONS WHICH WILL HELP

  1. Gain as much information about birth family, hobbies, heritage, place of birth, etc. 
  2. Be an active part of the discussion of contact arrangements
  3. Don’t start the discussion with fixed ideas, (I can’t do…..) Arrangements will be different for different parents, children, and carers
  4. Where possible and safe to do so, meeting the parents if you can as you can describe the child’s birth parents when they are older. This will be hugely powerful for them. 
  5. Consider the purpose of contact, and if you are not sure, ask. Is it to allow the child to be reassured about their parents, is it to know where they come from? This will inform the regularity of contact. 
  6. Start a realistic arrangement that you can maintain over the long term. You can increase later, but it is hard to reduce arrangements. 
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Coaching: What can it do for me as an Adopter or Foster Carer?

Yoni: Adopter, Adoptee and Social Worker with 30 years experience.

The Benefits of a Coach

Coaching can offer adoptive and fostering parents the tools required to handle issues arising within the family unit. A coach can assist adoptive and fostering parents in building strategies to:

  • Learn better ways to respond to situations instead of being triggered
  • Create a calmer, communicative, and more stable family.
  • Learn ways to be a patient and kind parent, but also firm
  • Remain calm during each situation confronted during parenting
  • Provide the child attention and the tools they need to create their own solutions
  • Develop effective ways to communicate with children, at any age or ability.
  • Comprehend how the behavioral patterns and needs of children change as they grow
  • Improve the parent/child and sibling relationships

“The whole session was excellent. Specifically the  information I received  regarding the process gave me clarity and how understanding Yoni was when broaching sensitive subjects.” Dee

“Yoni is incredible. She has such an in depth and personal knowledge of the subjects that are close to our hearts and this is very apparent when talking to her as she is so passionate and knowledgeable. Our session with Yoni was incredibly enjoyable, she made us feel so comfortable, we sat down with a cup of tea, had a good laugh and she blew our minds with information we didn’t even think to think about”. Kayleah.

Are you navigating the adoption or fostering system? Do you want to welcome your child into your home and grow together?

What improves your confidence to apply to adopt or foster, preparing you for your journey, demystifying the process, and giving you clarity in your dream? 

Any guesses? One to one coaching with me: Yoni, an adopter, adoptee, and social worker of 30 years experience. 

It will give you:

Perspective on your strengths

Ideas for more research, experience, and knowledge

Safe space for reflection

Gain more insight into how children can benefit by living with you

I have 6 open slots for one to one/couple coaching with yours truly. In these session’s you will learn how to prepare for parenthood and panel and walk away with clarity and confidence in your future family life. You deserve to feel relaxed and prepared for parenting.  If you are ready to win, direct message me for more info. These spots are filling up fast so don’t wait. Cntact me below.

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Another chance to read: Surviving Christmas: 5 Top Tips for Adopters and Foster Carers.

There’s nothing like Christmas time to bring up a whole gamut of emotions from joy to despair, togetherness to conflict. For a child who has experienced a whole range of losses the amplified focus of the importance of family at Christmas time can make it one of the most difficult times of the year. These top tips are here to help you and your child to navigate the festive season.

KEEP IT SIMPLE. There are so many activities at this time at year from nursery or school Christmas activities, to family fun activities, to visiting friends and family. For an adopted child this can be overwhelming and over stimulating. Try to keep activities to a minimum and allow time in the day for your child to have space to relax after a stimulating activity. Keeping as close as you can to daily routine can also provide some stability; though the odd late night or extra treat can slip through the net!

FATHER CHRISTMAS IS NOT A PARENT. For 11 months of the year we rely on our own parenting skills to guide and teach our children, but come December many parents often hand over the baton to a man and team of elves that their children have never met. This man will be watching and deciding if a child will be lavished with gifts. For a child who has experienced abuse and/or neglect what is the message that is given in between the lines? They are being watched by strangers? The number of gifts they receive is dependent on their behaviour? Trust the good parenting skills you use every day to support your children all year round.

MAKE A SPACE Christmas is a time when we focus on the importance of family, a time to be cheerful regardless, but for children who have experienced multiple and significant losses they need a place that acknowledges their grief and sadness at this time. It might be as simple as hanging a bauble on the Christmas tree or lighting a candle for someone they miss. GIVE MEMORIES Never is the toy catalogue thumbed more than at this time of year, with every other toy being added to the Christmas list. We all have memories of stand out gifts that we received as children but what we always remember most is the memories of the big day, who we shared the day with, the funny things that happened. So be selective with the number of gifts and focus on memory making.

MAKE FAMILY TRADITIONS Leading on from the last point what often helps to make memories that endure is the traditions we keep around Christmas time. It might be always going to the cinema to watch a Christmas film, a special playlist for when you put up the Christmas tree, or having a special box of chocolate biscuits to eat as you open your presents. Keeping Christmas simple, safe and memorable can help the build up to Christmas and the day its self, go smoothly, and these tips can also be used for other significant celebrations too. Next week we will look at choosing gifts for children.

To learn more in how to build relationships and attachment with your adopted or fostered child. Please join us in the training starting in January 2021. You will learn strategies to build attachment through play and to invest time to reduce the tensions of parenting later in their life.

click here for more information about this dynamic supportive course.

P.S. Join us in our community to make links with other adopters and foster carers committed to doing the best for their child and themselves.

AMBITIOUS ADOPTERS & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

LGBTQ ADOPT & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

YONI EJO YOUTUBE

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The Impact of Attachment Part 2

Traumatised children need the best quality care. They thrive on consistency, calm and order as this is unlikely to have been their previous experience. They need predictability in their lives and both children and their carers’ are likely to benefit from clarity in family routines and habits.

This is especially true of children who are also experiencing Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disability or Anxiety. Each child needs to be confident that their carer is in control. Carers are strongly encouraged to help the child understand the pattern for days, weeks and when new or different activities are going to occur. A visual guide will be helpful for many children. It is particularly important to talk to the child prior to any changes. A household that is disorganised, and chaotic will induce anxiety, stress for the child and subsequently will negatively impact on the whole family.

Carers who create a nurturing, affectionate and warm home environment are likely to contribute to provide a therapeutic place for the traumatised child, when used appropriately. It is necessary to be aware that physical contact and touch will have a range of meanings to traumatised children and those who have been physically or sexually abused could be particularly triggered by touch.

It is therefore important that the child initiates affection/appropriate physical contact themselves in their own time, as this will allow the child build to trust. The child will be able to make better sense of the world if carers create clear and open communication. It is really helpful to make regular space and habit for this from the beginning. Family meetings, mealtime chats, or other regular opportunity to talk as a family is a good habit to establish early on.

Traumatised children also need boundaries. It is important to make your expectations and rules very clear. Implement reasonable consequences if these expectations are not met. However children who have experienced trauma may be emotionally and socially delayed.  It’s important to have realistic and individual expectations of the child. Expectations that are based on the ability and development of the child and not necessarily the chronological age of the child.

Be flexible and consistent when imposing consequences, but offer a level of flexibility as this will demonstrate to the child reason, fairness and empathy towards them. Physical chastisement of any kind is never appropriate, and would/can result on the removal of a child.

Allowing children choice helps them develop decision making skills and gives them a sense of control. However it is a good idea to limit choices as like adults children can be overwhelmed by too many options! Two or three options will be plenty in most situations.

Parents need to be proactive in protecting the child where possible from activities and situations which create stress for them. Being aware of the child’s limitations and vulnerability, in different situations. It is helpful to keep a mental or even better a written note of activities that result in stress or anxiety. Some situations can result in significant “melt-downs” or arguments, creating situations which can re-traumatise the child. This will allow parents to avoid them where possible.

 It is not uncommon for the traumatised child to exhibit symptoms such as sleep problems, impulsivity, anxiety, low tolerance of noise, and social stress long after the event(s). When the child is comforted, with adults being as tolerant as possible, these symptoms are likely to come and go over time.  

While a small percentage of adopted children will be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, others may exhibit milder versions of attachment disorder or insecure attachment. There is a view by some experts that rather than abuse the majority of attachment problems are caused by parental ignorance of child development.  This has resulted in an estimate 1 in 3 people with avoidant, ambivalent or resistant attachment (1). Whatever the cause adoptive families need appropriate information, training and support raising children with attachment difficulties.

While this can be a daunting prospect and it can appear that adopting children is risky, there is lots of research and anecdotal evidence that adoption can be successful and adopted children can develop strong and healthy emotional attachments with their new families.

In the United Kingdom although there are no official UK statistics of adoption breakdowns, it is believed that only 3% of adoptions end in breakdown. Using these strategies and being open to and prioritising the needs of the child is likely to ensure that though the child may experience challenges coming to terms with the loss and trauma they experienced before adoption, they can develop the strategies they need to have to make sense of their early experiences and life story.

(1) Perry, B.D. (2001) Bonding and attachment in maltreated children: consequences of emotional neglect in childhood. Retrieved February 15 2008, from http//www.childtrauma.org/CTAMATERIALS/Attach_ca.asp.

To attend our session on Play within Lockdown on Thursday 19th November 2020 at 8.00 PM. Join us LIVE in the following Facebook groups Or on Youtube:

AMBITIOUS ADOPTERS & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

LGBTQ ADOPT & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

YONI EJO YOUTUBE

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Can I have this one….please?! Choosing a toy for Christmas.

Choosing Toys for Your Child. Buying presents for children can often be a minefield. Issues to navigate are often the cost of the toys, the quality of the toys, and of course the peer pressure to have the latest toy or gadget! My personal experience of buying toys has me wearing two different hats. As a Play Therapist, I find a lot of joy in buying toys, it indulges the geek in me as I think about the metaphors in the toys and how they might be used by children in therapy. As a parent, I look at the developmental functions of the toys, what my children might gain from having this toy. In this blog, I’m going to keep my parent hat on as we discuss choosing toys for children. 

So I guess some of the first considerations for any toy is will it fit in my house? Do they have a lot of this kind of toy already? And does it make a noise I can cope with on repeat?! Sometimes it’s okay to have a number of the same toys such as cars or figures; its often important to the game and it might be helping children to play out ideas such as group interactions, or conflicts or cooperation in groups. As for the noisy toys, as infuriating as they can be for us, for younger children especially they can really incentivise a child to keep on playing and therefore learning with the toy. 

My next consideration would be is this a ‘one trick pony’? Look through any toy catalogue and there are a lot of these kinds of toys in here, often with a price tag that is much higher than the value your child(ren) will gain from the toy. These toys might just do one thing, such as catapult a car off a ramp, they are great for the first day or two but they soon collect dust. So when I look at a toy I’m looking to see if it has lots of functions. So right now I’m looking at bin lorry I bought for my son. It has lights that flash and it makes a beeping sound for when it is ‘reversing’, so it helps add to the imaginative elements of the play. It has a small wheelie bin that travels up the side of the bin to tip rubbish into a shoot, and it can also be filled and emptied at the back of the vehicle, so there are a few ‘action’ features to the toy. My son often fills the lorry up with Duplo or sometimes we have scrunched up small pieces of paper to fill the wheelie bin.

Another consideration would be is the toy at the right level of challenge? If its too easy they will probably show little interest in it, but too hard and they could feel disheartened by the challenge being too great. I think what is important to bear in mind is (considerations about small parts aside) is this right for my child. Some of us parent child ‘geniuses’ and others have children that take bit longer to warm up to a new activity, so the age guide on a toy is just, that a guide. Some toys may have several levels of challenge. I have a shape sorting toy bus for my very young daughter. At first all she could do was play with the shapes, which provided lots of different sounds and visuals, but now she is starting to try and put the shapes in the correct place. Before I know it I’m sure she will be whizzing the bus around the house, so I expect I will have got a good two years of play out of this toy before it is passed on. 

Regardless of ability, it’s also too important to consider what experiences they will get from the toy. Will it provide a sensory experience? Will it help them to develop their imagination? Will it help them with their physical co-ordination or help them to hone their social skills? Will this toy encourage my child to go out to play and get some physical exercise? Play comes in so many forms and toys can really help to facilitate many of these types of play. Toys can also be a great way to access play that increases your child(rens) confidence and help enhance your relationship together. In our ‘Let’s Play! A Course in Relationship Based Play’ sessions myself and Yoni Ejo will help you to facilitate play in ways that can make significant positive differences to your family. 

We will also be running a live session on Thursday 26th November 8-8.30pm via the Ambitious Adopters Facebook page looking at how to use random items from around the home to initiate play. Please join us for the live session or join us at a convenient time later with the recorded session. 

WRITTEN BY KEELEY CRAW, PLAY THERAPIST

To attend our session on The Power of Play on Thursday 12th November 2020 at 8.00 PM. Join us LIVE in the following Facebook groups Or on Youtube:

AMBITIOUS ADOPTERS & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

LGBTQ ADOPT & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

YONI EJO YOUTUBE

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Surviving Christmas: 5 Top Tips for Adopters and Foster Carers.

Helping Your Adoptive Child During Christmas Time.

There’s nothing like Christmas time to bring up a whole gamut of emotions from joy to despair, togetherness to conflict. For a child who has experienced a whole range of losses the amplified focus of the importance of family at Christmas time can make it one of the most difficult times of the year. These top tips are here to help you and your child to navigate the festive season.

KEEP IT SIMPLE. There are so many activities at this time at year from nursery or school Christmas activities, to family fun activities, to visiting friends and family. For an adopted child this can be overwhelming and over stimulating. Try to keep activities to a minimum and allow time in the day for your child to have space to relax after a stimulating activity. Keeping as close as you can to daily routine can also provide some stability; though the odd late night or extra treat can slip through the net!

FATHER CHRISTMAS IS NOT A PARENT. For 11 months of the year we rely on our own parenting skills to guide and teach our children, but come December many parents often hand over the baton to a man and team of elves that their children have never met. This man will be watching and deciding if a child will be lavished with gifts. For a child who has experienced abuse and/or neglect what is the message that is given in between the lines? They are being watched by strangers? The number of gifts they receive is dependent on their behaviour? Trust the good parenting skills you use every day to support your children all year round.

MAKE A SPACE Christmas is a time when we focus on the importance of family, a time to be cheerful regardless, but for children who have experienced multiple and significant losses they need a place that acknowledges their grief and sadness at this time. It might be as simple as hanging a bauble on the Christmas tree or lighting a candle for someone they miss. GIVE MEMORIES Never is the toy catalogue thumbed more than at this time of year, with every other toy being added to the Christmas list. We all have memories of stand out gifts that we received as children but what we always remember most is the memories of the big day, who we shared the day with, the funny things that happened. So be selective with the number of gifts and focus on memory making.

MAKE FAMILY TRADITIONS Leading on from the last point what often helps to make memories that endure is the traditions we keep around Christmas time. It might be always going to the cinema to watch a Christmas film, a special playlist for when you put up the Christmas tree, or having a special box of chocolate biscuits to eat as you open your presents. Keeping Christmas simple, safe and memorable can help the build up to Christmas and the day its self, go smoothly, and these tips can also be used for other significant celebrations too. Next week we will look at choosing gifts for children.

To attend our session on Play on Thursday 26th November 2020 at 8.00 PM. Join us LIVE in the following Facebook groups Or on Youtube:

AMBITIOUS ADOPTERS & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

LGBTQ ADOPT & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

YONI EJO YOUTUBE

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The Impact of Attachment Part 1

I remember when our youngest daughter came to live with us. On the first night she clearly wondered where she was and why things were so unfamiliar. She was just over a year old and had been in a foster household where she was adored and cossetted, and the focal point of attention for four adults.

Joining a busy household with other children, however much she was loved must have felt really challenging for her and as a result she was initially unsettled. 17 years ago there was little talk of attachment styles, or teaching adopters ways you could increase bonding as an adoptive parent. But now I believe we know a lot more.

Attachment is the description of a biological and psychological event, the bond that develops between the primary carer and an infant. The process of attachment will begin in utero, when it is anticipated the mother will nurture positive feelings towards her developing baby and begin the relationship, between mother and child.

Developing a secure attachment to the primary care giver (PCG) is extremely important as the child’s development of future intimate relationships, and they will be set by the nature of this relationship.  It also impacts on the infants expectations as a foundation of trust for the child in future. Studies of attachment have identified that the nature of attachment relationships in infancy are associated with managing the child’s emotions, social skills, the ability to build relationships, autobiographical memory, and the development of self-reflection/understanding in later life.

Studies have made it very clear that attachment has a pivotal impact on a child’s development and researchers have identified 4 primary categories of attachment.

Secure

Those infants actively exploring, who become upset when their mother/PCG leaves, and show happiness when they return. The PCG is typically loving and responsive to the infant’s needs, quick to pick them up when they cry, to hold them longer and to show pleasure in the interaction.

Insecure-ambivalent (also known as anxious-resistant)

These infants stay close to their mothers/PCG and there is limited independent exploration. They become very distressed upon separation, and show ambivalence towards the PCG when they return. Mothers of insecure babies were evaluated to be more mean spirited to cool, chaotic up to incompetent. Though well-meaning these parents have difficulty responding to their babies in a “loving, attuned, consistent way”.

Insecure-avoidant

These infants show little distress when separated, ignore their parent’s attempts to interact, are often sociable with strangers, but may also ignore them as they do their PCG. These mothers often have an aversion to physical contact themselves and can speak sarcastically to their infants.

Insecure-disorganised/disoriented

These infants are the most distressed upon separation from the PCG and are considered the most insecure. They seem confused upon reunion and often exhibit a combination of resistant and avoidant behaviours.

When adopted children are placed in new families, it can be devastating if the adoptive parents are unaware of these attachment issues as a result of their children’s experiences prior to moving to their home. It is easy for the adoptive parents to take the children’s behaviour very personally, not knowing or understanding that this is a product of the strategies the infant had to develop to manage or make sense of the experiences and parenting they were exposed to previously.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

RAD is usually a result of disruption and trauma experienced during the attachment process. This may be as a result of physical or sexual abuse, neglect and/or frequent changes of care givers within the first 3 years of a child’s life.

The loss of a parent, frequent moves, abuse, neglect, parental drug or alcohol use or domestic violence are some of the potential causes during early years.

The symptoms of RAD

  • Lying
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Not being affectionate
  • Cruelty to animals or peers
  • Lying over obviously incorrect things
  • Stealing
  • Limited impulse control
  • Learning issues
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Unhealthy eating habits e.g. hording or over eating
  • Preoccupation with fire
  • Inappropriately clingy
  • Speech issues
  • Destructive to self, others, material things
  • Indiscriminately affectionate to strangers

It is really important to know as much as you can about the child’s history in order to meet the child on their emotional or developmental level. Where they are. When parenting a child who has been removed due to abuse or neglect, traditional parenting will not be the best approach.

There are special considerations to make when parenting children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Traumatised children learn to respond to stressful situations and will often be at a consistent level of stress (arousal) as a result. You should allow them to talk about their experiences in their own way. Without overreacting or showing negativity, as there is a danger they will feel unable to talk about it in future, if you do.

It is important that they have an ordered and predictable environment, so building habits and structures is helpful within the home.

This is one of many reasons regular play sessions will prove to be very valuable, in building attachment between you and your adopted child. Dedicate half an hour three times a week to time when the child can steer their play with you. This will help them build confidence and their relationship with you.

PART 2 IN TWO WEEKS

To attend our session on Play within Lockdown on Thursday 19th November 2020 at 8.00 PM. Join us LIVE in the following Facebook groups Or on Youtube:

AMBITIOUS ADOPTERS & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

LGBTQ ADOPT & FOSTER CARERS GROUP

OR

YONI EJO YOUTUBE

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Beyond Words: The Power of Play

“Concrete words, abstract words, crazy words and lying words, hazy words and dying words, words of faith and tell me straight, rare words and swear words, good words and bad words…What are words worth?” Tom Tom Club, Wordy Rappinghood.

Words, we adults love them and we rely heavily on them to communicate how we feel and to find out how others feel. Don’t get me wrong they can be really useful, but with children we can use play to find new ways to communicate.

As a play therapist I have worked with children and adolescents of all abilities. I want to share with you two examples of how play can transcend language and how it helped two boys who had an extremely limited physical ability to speak, find a new way to communicate. Douglas was 17 when I worked with him. He lived in a residential care setting with other young adults with complex physical and learning needs.

Douglas had been a Looked After and Accommodated Child since he was an infant. His parents were unable to care for him due to their addictions, and as a baby Douglas contracted Encephalitis which left him with profound learning difficulties and limited physical ability. When Douglas came to sessions with me it was messy! He loved the sensory elements of play in the room and was really drawn to the trays of sand, particularly the dry sand. Douglas would spend the majority of his time in sessions putting figures (toys) in the sand, repeatedly burying them and then repositioning them. It was hard to say accurately what he was trying to communicate through his play but when I spoke to his key workers and his dad about how much he enjoyed playing with the sand they bought a sand tray for him to use at home. They noted how relaxed the sand made him, and they used it as a way to connect with him. Often when dad came to visit they would play with the sand together and they both took a lot of pleasure in this time.

I met Adrian at his school which specialised in educating children with social and communication difficulties. When living with parents Adrian was severely neglected as a baby, often left for hours on his own without any stimulation, living in a home were there was lots of violence between his parents. His home environment was still chaotic and this made me think not only about his autism but his attachment style. Adrian was 12 when we worked together and it was only on very rare occasions that he made sounds or the occasional word. For several sessions Adrian explored the toys in the room and I escorted him on his discoveries. He then took to lying on a table, curled up in a ball, as if to go to sleep. I took this as a cue that he was looking for nurture, given his early life experiences. I would get him a cushion and a blanket and then sit at the side of him and repeatedly sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’. The experience was a powerful one for both of us, and after several weeks of doing this Adrian one day gave me a keyring out of his pocket: which I understood as a “thank you”. After that Adrian was able to move on in his play, he had achieved something developmentally; though he did still like to lie down on occasions when his play had been strenuous. Maybe you have a child who is non-verbal or struggles to communicate verbally?

Maybe you have a child who has the physical ability to speak but only really communicates through their behaviour in very physical ways or through powerful silences. Do you feel like your words are wasted? Our need to communicate verbally can make us feel diminished when we don’t get a verbal responses back.

So let Yoni and I show you a different way, a different path. A Course in Relationship Based Play (RBP) will give you the tools to further developing your relationship with your child(ren) through the power of play. Our insights will help you to reframe how you understand and use play in ways that will empower you and your child(ren).

WRITTEN BY KEELEY CRAW, PLAY THERAPIST

To attend our session on The Power of Play on Thursday 12th November 2020 at 8.00 PM. Join us LIVE in the following Facebook groups Or on Youtube:

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