#ChooseFamily – Tasha, Adopter

I looked at my mum and theought, 'What now?'
Tasha, adopter

Tasha, from mid-west Wales, first considered adoption when she was just a teenager. Moved by documentaries about orphanages across the world, she wanted to give a home to children who needed it. After becoming a teacher, Tasha saw firsthand the number of children who needed loving and supportive homes in the UK – and realised her dream of adopting may be slightly closer to home.

From sending her first enquiry email in 2013, to today, as a single adopter of two children with additional learning needs.

This is Tasha’s story…

“When I sent off my initial enquiry to adopt, my family told me that they wouldn’t want me because I’m single, I work full-time as a teacher, I’ve got a dog, and I thought, ‘Well who are THEY? And why wouldn’t they want me?’

“I went into the process with a very open-mind. I didn’t have a picture in my mind of what sort of child I’d like to adopt. Gender or ethnicity wasn’t something that I had a preference about, but I did share that I’d try to keep sibling groups together if it was suitable for my situation.”

“I was aware that older children are often waiting the longest to be adopted, and I did let my social worker know that this would be a preference to reduce childcare costs as I was adopting on my own.

“The whole process was thorough and rigorous but necessary, although I did think it would take longer as I had some things against me, such as being overweight and being single. However, as I was a single adopter, they only had to assess one person, so I feel that made it a bit quicker.

“When I was approved, my social worker told me about two young siblings, a boy and a girl, who came from a sibling group of four (their older siblings were in long-term foster care).

“I was initially hesitant as I had expressed a preference for school-age children. However, I took my time to consider it and realised, following my year off from work after they came home, that the eldest would be in school. I was also very fortunate as the adoption team were able to put together some financial support to help with childcare costs for the youngest.

“My social worker did a lot of work with me on what to expect with the introductory phase – we created a booklet with photos of myself, and I gave them teddies and little trinkets to familiarise them with me.

“The two weeks of introductions were intense, but I tried to do everything by the book.

“When they came home, I tried to stick to the routines the foster carers had put in place, as I didn’t want to disrupt the norm for them.

“My family bought a pile of clothes and toys for them, which I kept in my garage for a period because they already had possessions, and I didn’t want them to feel overwhelmed by lots of new stuff.

“I think my family were initially nervous as they live over two hours away and wouldn’t be there for on-hand support. However, my mum was part of the ‘coming home’ phase, and when we put them to bed on the first night, they settled so quickly. I looked at my mum and thought, ‘What now?’ because it was all very seamless.

“Although they settled in well, in the early days, I did have internal feelings of guilt as my youngest’s foster carer had looked after him since he was six weeks old, so it must’ve been hard saying goodbye.

“My children have additional learning needs; my son has an official diagnosis, but we’re still waiting to see the paediatrician for my daughter. My son’s foster carer told me that he was an energetic child so that diagnosis wasn’t a surprise when he was older; with my daughter it’s been a little more difficult to spot the signs.

“Yes, there may be some additional challenges due to their additional needs, but we’ve taken it in our stride as a family. With any child, there will be bumps in the road as they grow up.

“For anyone considering adopting children with more complex needs, or even adopting full stop, I would advise to just go for it. When you have birth children, you don’t always know what they’ll turn out like, and it’s the same with adopting.”

Read more about the #ChooseFamily campaign on the National Adoption Website

Top Tips for helping your Adopted Child through the Xmas period

We all have our own response to the prospect of the festive season. For many of us, our enjoyment of this time of year relates to memories of our childhood Xmases and the desire to create a magical, joyful experience for our own children.

As we do this, it may be worth reflecting on aspects of Xmas which, for some adopted children, might also prove challenging.

Managing emotional arousal

Many adopted children experience difficulties with self-regulation, or the shifting of high-level emotions into a calm, relaxed state. If your child missed key, co-regulatory experiences in their early life, this self-regulation might well continue to be a struggle for them at times. Difficulties managing high-level emotions can be as much of a challenge when the emotions in question relate to excitement as when they are related to fear or anxiety. Consequently, the frenzied excitement we sometimes actively encourage around Xmas can, literally, end in tears. It may be that your child needs a modified approach and extra support to manage party time. It may be that they require your help to maintain a comfortable emotional and physiological state at times of high excitement. Engaging your child in calming, slow-paced activities, using quiet, melodic tones, rhythmic touch and movement and slow, deep breathing can be effective in helping them bring unmanageable emotional arousal down to a more manageable state. It may even be that, for your child, at this particular stage of their development, high emotional arousal is intolerable and feels unsafe. They might crave emotional equilibrium, in which case you might feel that party-time can wait.

Conveying your availability

For many adopted children, change and transitions can provoke a sense of fear and anxiety. Xmas, typically, involves a greater number of visitors to our homes, or more visits to others’ homes, some of which may be impromptu. Even familiar places might be much busier than usual. It can be easy for an adopted child to feel lost, unnoticed and forgotten in a crowd. It can be hard for them to feel certain that they are still at the forefront of your mind. If you are in conversation with others it can seem that your availability to them is reduced. This can be experienced as a threat to their security. Maintaining connection with your child throughout such experiences can reduce any insecurity. You can convey the fact that they remain at the forefront of your mind through subtle means such as physical touch, a frequent smile or a wink and through involving them in your conversations. Keeping them close and conveying that your focus remains firmly on them is likely to help maintain their sense of safety. Depending on your child’s current developmental profile, you may decide to minimize the number of people with whom you interact over the holiday period.

Managing change and maintaining routine

Xmas is typically a time of surprises and marked changes to our usual routines. The unknown and the unpredictable can be a source of significant fear and stress for many adopted children and young people. Surprises intended to be pleasant might well be experienced as anxiety-provoking shocks. While for some of us a strict adherence to routine might feel like a rut, for many adopted children and young people it is instrumental in their feeling a sense of safety, particularly when, all around them, there is palpable change in activity, emotion and even our home interiors. It is likely to be helpful all round to maintain your key daily routines, such as mealtimes, bedtimes and outdoor exercise as much as possible. It may be that your child is likely to benefit from a visual schedule that clearly depicts any changes to routine and ample opportunity to talk about what any changes might entail. This might include, for example, the fact that a friend or extended family member will be giving them a gift and how they might respond. Minimizing, or even avoiding, surprises might be the kindest option. Involving your child in structuring necessary changes to the norm is likely to help them feel a sense of control so, for example having them help you put up the decorations rather than surprising them by doing it while they are at school or in bed.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus evokes a range of thoughts and feelings in children. While for some he is the greatest delight, the epitome of kindness and generosity and someone they wish were a more frequent visitor…… for others he is a strange, unknown, heavily disguised man, who assumes a high level of familiarity. There may be a suggestion that he has, surreptitiously, been watching them all year to monitor their behaviour and judge whether, or not, they are worthy of the gifts he has at his disposal. Added to that, he finds his way into locked homes – possibly even into children’s bedrooms – in the middle of the night, without a soul noticing him and with the explicit acceptance of their parents. For some children whose early experiences have made them hypervigilant to threat, Santa Claus might actually generate more fear than joy – and might also raise painful issues around shame and self-worth. You might like to consider how, and to what degree, he features in your family’s Xmas.

Awareness of sensory triggers

Most of us will be able to identify specific sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Xmas that, for us, provoke a degree of nostalgia or a frisson of excitement. This might also be the case for your child. It is not uncommon, however, for children who have experienced early adversity to present with sensory integration difficulties. Particularly if/when they are stressed and operating in survival mode, they might be hypervigilant, super-alert to all incoming sensory information, and, subsequently, unable to filter out peripheral information. Hence, they might find themselves overwhelmed and stressed by high-sensory environments. Extraordinary bright and flashing lights; loud music, singing and bells ringing; powerful new aromas; and busy shops, cafes, restaurants or town centres might be uncomfortable or difficult to tolerate.

For some adopted children, there is also the possibility that some of the sounds, sights, or smells of Xmas might trigger sensory-somatic memories relating to frightening, stressful experiences from their early days – i.e. memories that they do not consciously recall but which overwhelm them with the emotions and sensations they felt at the time. Unfortunately, we know that the festive season often sees an increase in episodes of family discord and domestic violence. If this is likely to have been the case for your child, you might like to bear in mind the unconscious connotations that certain Xmas-specific sensory experiences might have for them. Children who have conscious memories of Xmases before they joined your family might find that this time of year triggers difficult, painful thoughts and feelings around their identity, their lovability, their self-worth, their sense of belonging and the losses they have experienced. Noticing emotional shifts and talking about their feelings, accepting and validating thoughts and feelings that might seem incongruent with the festive atmosphere, will help your child feel more secure despite their wobbles.

Managing anticipation

Xmas for most children is largely an exercise in anticipation and delaying gratification. The build-up to Xmas Day, filled with hopes and wishes, can seem eternal. It is worth bearing in mind that, for children who have historically struggled, consistently, to elicit basic care, such uncertainty and waiting might actually provoke unbearable anxiety. Maintaining a low-key approach to advent, Xmas lists and the anticipation of gifts might be markedly more comfortable for your child. You might find that a small number of gifts makes for a calmer, more relaxed Xmas than a huge pile of presents which overwhelms and discombobulates. You might like to spread the giving and opening of gifts throughout the day or even over a number of days.

Shaping Xmas for your family

Consider ahead of time the most important features of a successful Xmas for your family. Accept that these will differ from family to family and that prioritizing your child’s needs might entail your explaining to wider family and friends that you need to do things differently this year. Be very mindful of your own stress levels and construct a Xmas that allows you to relax, be playful and simply enjoy each other’s company – as well as enjoying some time to yourself.

In brief, we are all shaped by our experiences and, as such, though we might find ourselves in the same situation as another, will likely have distinct responses. Indeed, that which brings excitement and joy to one person might generate fear, anxiety and stress in another. For many adopted children and young people the greatest joy comes from the sense of security derived from sameness, consistency, predictability and support to manage emotional arousal, whatever the emotion involved.

This is certainly not to suggest you adopt a Scrooge-like approach to your child’s Xmas, but rather to be mindful of their current, individual, developmental profile so that you can shape your family’s Xmas accordingly.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, harmonious festive period!

Adopter Experiences:

Rhys – Adopter

The article has really helped us to reflect on what’s been happening recently with our son. He has been talking obsessively about the Elf on the shelf, and was showing signs of anxiety since his return this year. We have never referred to the elf reporting back to Santa or that he is keeping an eye on him. We recently discovered that school had introduced an elf, that was watching the children. This has spurred us to come clean with our son, that his Dadi has been moving the elf each night and the anxieties have now gone, and things have returned to a calmer state.

Daniel – Adopter

Recently, our son has been displaying signs of being dysregulated at school and at home. Routines have been changed due to practicing for Christmas concerts, a Santa parade with beavers and other things. We put our decorations up the last weekend of November, which on reflection was too soon for him. This story has reminded us that we need to remember that keeping things low-key and communicating with school more, on the run up to the big day is important to support him though the difficult build-up to Christmas.

Catrin – Adopter

My son always struggled with Christmas because there was so much focused on naughty and good, especially in school! He struggled with regulating his emotions, which came out in negative behaviour, and he always struggled with feelings of shame. He felt that he was naughty and because of this would think that he was automatically on the naughty list and Santa would not come. His anxieties always heightened around Christmas, but here are some of the things I did to ease his anxieties.

  1. We reinforced that Santa was coming to our house no matter what.
  2. Christmas Eve was a time of anxiety, as no matter what we said there was always that niggling feeling that Santa might not come. So, we found a Santa Tracker App where you can track the countries Santa is in so they can see where he is. We also introduced a Christmas Eve present of new pyjamas, slippers, and hot chocolate and new DVD (before streaming). Santa would include a letter which said, “enjoy your Christmas eve, I’ll be back later to drop off your main presents”. This worked a treat because he felt reassured that Santa was coming and also gave him some treats to enjoy on Christmas Eve.
  3. We never put up our Christmas decorations until about one to two weeks before Christmas. With so many changes in school and with extra parties to attend we kept home life as low key and normal for as long as we could.

‘The Perfectly Imperfect Pumpkin’

This charming autumnal story shares the experience of a pumpkin that looks and feels different and fears he will never be picked. A kind witch helps him see how magical he really is, changing the way he sees himself forever. This gentle rhyming story encourages self-acceptance and embracing our differences.

The book has been written and illustrated by Rachel Cook, an Adoption Support Worker at Adoption Mid & West Wales with the aim of helping all children who may feel that they are different. The hope is that they will be able to relate to the anxieties of the perfectly imperfect pumpkin, allowing them to feel they are special.

“For all the children who read this book… May you find the courage to always be yourself”

Download a copy of ‘The Perfectly Imperfect Pumpkin.

Rachel has created an activity book for families to complete and lesson plans to accompany the book for schools to use, to further support the message of self-acceptance, self-esteem, and friendship.

Adoption Myths

We need adopters from a variety of backgrounds so we can place children with families and individuals who share their own culture, language, and religion, and many people now decide to start a family later in life.

We are interested in what you can bring to a child’s life. Ultimately it is your capacity to make a commitment to providing a loving and permanent home to a child which makes a difference.

There are many reasons why people think they are not eligible to adopt, but here are some of the myths that surround adoption.

Myth #1: I’m too old to adopt

There is no upper age limit for adopting a child – the only age-related stipulation for adoption is that you must be over 21 years of age. We will take into account each applicants’ individual circumstances including checking that you are in good health, you have a good support network, and you are likely to be able to support an adopted child into adulthood, but many people in their 40s and 50s have successfully adopted children.

Myth #2: I can’t adopt because I’m LGBTQ+

The law allows same sex couples, the right to adopt, and this became law in December 2005. If you are a same sex couple you don’t need to be in a Civil Partnership or married to adopt, you will need to show that you are living together in an enduring relationship.

Myth #3: I can’t adopt because I’m single

A common misconception with adoption is that you must be married to adopt. However, a single person can adopt if they would like to add a child to their life. We welcome enquiries from Single people of any gender. We will discuss the support that you have around you during the assessment process.

Myth #4: We aren’t married, so we won’t be allowed to adopt

You can adopt a child regardless of your marital status – whether you’re single, unmarried, or in a civil partnership. It is usually recommended that you and your partner have lived together for at least one year before beginning your adoption journey, but as long as you can demonstrate that you are in a stable, enduring and resilient relationship, you will be able to apply together to become adoptive parents.

Myth #5: I don’t own my own home, so I’m not eligible to adopt

You don’t need to be a homeowner to adopt a child. If you have a stable rental agreement in the property you’re renting, you can be considered for adoption. Ideally, you will need a spare bedroom for an adopted child; it is important that they have a space which they can call their own. It can also be particularly helpful when adopting a slightly older child, as relationships with existing children in the family can take time to settle down.

Myth #6: I work full time, so I can’t be considered for adoption

It’s not necessarily true that being a full-time worker will exclude you from becoming an adoptive parent. It is true that you (or your partner, if you are adopting as a couple) would be encouraged to take an extended period of adoption leave from work, to help your new child to feel safe, settled, and secure in their new family.

We encourage adopters to think about how they will manage financially whilst taking time off work.  People who are employed are entitled to paid adoption leave, but those who are self-employed will particularly need to consider how they will balance the need to work and the need to offer a child that vital stability early in the placement.

Myth #7: I’m unemployed / on benefits, so I’m not allowed to adopt

Your financial stability and money-management abilities will be discussed during the adoption assessment, but being unemployed, on a low income or on benefits will NOT automatically exclude you from becoming an adoptive parent.

If your job has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and / or you have been furloughed during the last few months, this will not automatically rule you out either. Please discuss your situation openly with us, and we will support and advise you.

In some circumstances, financial support may be available from the agency placing the child, so please talk to us before ruling yourself out.

Myth #8: I already have birth children, so I won’t be allowed to adopt

Having birth children will not necessarily prevent you from becoming an adoptive parent too. The age gap between your birth children and any prospective adoptive children will be considered, as will each child’s position within the family. Usually, agencies would want an adopted child to be the youngest in the family by at least two years.

We will work closely with you to ensure that the needs of ALL the children involved are recognised.

Myth #9: I can’t adopt because I follow a particular faith / religion

Adopters can be of any or no religious faith. Children who are waiting for adoption come from many different backgrounds, cultures and religions, and adoption agencies accordingly welcome adopters from all walks of life.

Research has shown that people of faith can be particularly motivated by altruism and a wish to care for the vulnerable, which is obviously a positive thing when it comes to adoption.

Myth #10: I live with extended family, so I can’t adopt

Living with extended family members can be a real bonus for adoptive parents, especially in terms of the support they can offer. But those family members will need to be part of the assessment process and they must understand the particular needs which adopted children may have. They may be asked to attend some appropriate training and make sure they’re around when the child is introduced to the family for the first time.

Myth #11: I have a mental health condition, so I won’t be allowed to adopt

Having a mental health condition will not automatically rule you out from adopting. Any health condition, mental or physical, would need to be discussed fully during the assessment, and all prospective adopters will have a medical in the early stages of the process.  This will help us understand your condition, any issues relating to your ability to adopt a child and how well supported you are by your family and friends.

Many people have short periods of depression, anxiety or stress in their lives and others have longer term mental health conditions which are well managed with medication. Our focus will always be to assess your ability to meet a child’s needs in a consistent way and to consider how the stress of adopting a child will affect your mental health. Talk openly with us and we will support you, regardless of the decision we make.

Myth #12: I can’t adopt because I’m disabled

Being disabled will NOT automatically exclude you from becoming an adoptive parent. Your medical will consider any issues you may experience with parenting an adopted child, but in fact, you may have specific experience and understanding which would make you an especially good adoptive parent. Please talk to us before ruling yourself out.

Myth #13: I’m overweight, so I won’t be allowed to adopt

Many adopters who are overweight successfully adopt children. However, we do need to be sure that adopters are likely to remain healthy and active enough to parent a child into adulthood and that the child will have a healthy lifestyle too.

The medical you have during the assessment will comment upon your lifestyle, BMI and any potential health implications, but we guarantee that this will be discussed with you in a sensitive and respectful way.

Myth #14: I can’t adopt because I have a criminal record

It isn’t necessarily true that a criminal record will prevent you from becoming an adoptive parent. As long as you have no convictions for offences against children or certain sexual offences against an adult, your application may still be considered. Talk to us first, be completely honest, and we will advise you further.

Myth #15: Once we’ve adopted, we’ll be on our own… we won’t get any help

Adoption Mid & West Wales offers lifelong support to its adoptive children and their families. Our adopters can access regular training workshops, support groups and a range of social events. There is also more specialised one-to-one support whenever it’s needed – from surgery appointments, through Theraplay sessions, to counselling. We’re here for you every step of the way.

Myth #16: I won’t be able to raise my child in the Welsh language if they’ve come from an English-speaking household.

Adoption Mid & West Wales place children in families that best match the needs of the child. Language isn’t a barrier when matching. We do place children from English speaking families/foster carers with Welsh speaking families, and they quickly become bilingual.

If adoption is something you have considered, but want to learn more, please contact us for an informal discussion. We’ll support you every step of the way and help to create your golden moments of becoming a family.

You can get in touch by phone 0300 30 32 505 or email adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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Top tips for surviving the school holidays

The six-week school summer break has arrived, and the change of routine can make children and their parents feel overwhelmed, so we have come up with some top tips to help you manage the next few weeks.

Routines and boundaries

Kids thrive on routines, but routines will inevitably change over the summer period, without the feeling of safety the school day can bring. Organise a routine from the start of the holidays and try to keep to it as best as you can. Try to avoid surprises like impromptu BBQs and unplanned day trips. Having a visual chart with activities is an effective way to help children see when you are going to be out, going on holiday (and returning) and it also acts as a countdown to when school will be back.

Ensure that boundaries and rules are in place from the beginning. It could mean setting tasks to be completed, such as get dressed; have breakfast; brush teeth, before 30 minutes of electronics.

Plan Days out

Involve your child in the planning of days out, it doesn’t have to cost the earth, it could be a bike ride, or a visit to the park for a picnic. Knowing what they are going to be doing from day to day will help manage the anxiety of the unexpected from such a lengthy period away from school. Remember not to cram too much in and have some down time at home too.

Take time for yourself

6 weeks is a long time to keep the children entertained. Speak to your support network about helping you out for the odd day here and there, to allow you time to re-charge your batteries. Many parents will also need to work during this time, so planning ‘me time’ is especially important.

Going on holiday

If you are going abroad or holidaying in this country, discussing returning home is just as important as talking about going away, as many children will carry with them the thoughts of when they left the care of their birth parents or foster carers. If your child is anxious about flying, reading stories about going on holiday and watching YouTube videos of flights can help.

Having a visual chart showing when you are going away and when you are returning, will add reassurance to your child that they will be coming back. Packing regulating toys and the toys they play with the most can also add a sense of normality, by taking a part of home away with them.


Adding playfulness activities into each day’s routine can help build the trust and connection you have with your child. It doesn’t have to be for hours but adding some quality time (at least 20 minutes) to play will help keep your child calm, and know that you are there for them.


We all have good days and bad days and children are no different. We all cope with things differently, so set yourself realistic expectations. Attractions can be busier than normal over the summer, so help manage your child’s expectations, that they may not be able to ride all the rides in the theme park or see all the animals at the zoo. You can use this to teach your child how to deal with disappointment and manage the big feelings that they may have.

If you have tips that you have used to manage the long summer period that have worked with your child that you’d like to share with other adopters then please contact us adoptionwebsite@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

Three Words to describe my parents

Kind, funny, loving, helpful, caring, happy, fun. These are some of the words adopted children used to describe their parents.

As you can see, being an adoptive parent requires the same characteristics as any other parent. However, adopted children will have many unmet needs from their early experiences and will require a little bit extra from their adoptive family.

You’ll be provided with the support you and your family require as you go through the process to become approved adopters, right through to placement and beyond.

Having a positive attitude, patience, resilience, and a sense of humour will give you a good baseline to becoming an adoptive parent and see you through the challenges and rewards of adoption.

Here is what our team said they look for in prospective adopters.

Patience, playful, empathetic, accepting, sense of humour, resilient, resourceful, and committed.

If you are considering adoption and some of the characteristics above describe you; why not get in touch with us to learn more.

Here are some more responses we’ve received from adoptive families who shared their three words with us.

Jillian and John

Mum and Dad

Adopted at age: 2 years

Child age now: 9 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?


Ross and Dean

Dadi and Dadi

Adopted at age: 4 years

Child age now: 7 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Quarry lorry driver

Trudy and Edward

Mum and Dad

Adopted at age: 26 months

Child age now: 21 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Successful at life

Sarah and Gareth

Mummy and Daddy

Adopted at age: 5 years

Child age now: 8 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

A normal kind person



Adopted at age: 20 Months

Child age now: 8 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

A YouTuber



Adopted at age: 1 years

Child age now: 11 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Prima Ballerina

Sarah and Al

Mummy and Daddy

Adopted at age: 13 months

Child age now: 10 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Horse Trainer

Adopted at age: 5 months

Child age now: 7 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?




Adopted at age: 3 years

Child age now: 14 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Professional rugby player

Adopted at age: 2 Years

Child age now: 13 Years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Police Officer in the dog section

What does Life Journey work mean for me and my son?

Adoptive parents are encouraged to talk about their children’s life journey with them. It can be a powerful way of helping them explore and understand their history, gives them a better sense of their identity and why they were adopted.

We spoke to Nicola, who is a single adopter from Mid and West Wales about how she introduced her son’s history with him, what tips she’d give to other adopters and anyone starting out on their adoption journey. Here’s what she had to say.

Can you tell us a bit more about your life story journey?

Life story work I believe is critical for the adopted child, but also for me as an adoptive parent. I adopted my son at the age of seven months, so he has no knowledge at all of life without me. To some people this may seem perfect, or people who don’t understand adoption may think it great and the child doesn’t need to know anything, but for me it reinforced that I needed to really focus on the life journey work, so my son knew who he was growing up from a young age.

Almost immediately, before my son even moved home, I wondered (or worried) when is the right time to start talking about the life story? How and when do you tell a child they are adopted? How do you even explain adoption to a child who has no memory of life without you as their parent? Being a single adopter, I also worried about how to explain to my child that he only has a mummy.

After thinking it through I decided day one, at the age of seven months, was the best time for me to start talking about the life journey and adoption. It may seem crazy to talk about this to a baby, but I couldn’t envisage one day saying to my son, by the way your adopted.

Have you maintained contact with your son’s Foster Carers?

We kept in close contact with my son’s Foster Carers and whenever we visited, I would say things like “remember when you used to have a bath in here” taking him up to the bathroom. At first, he didn’t reply as he couldn’t talk, as he got older, he used to say yes and would tell me what he played in the bath, clearly all imagined, and then one day on a visit when he was two, before I said anything he told me “Mummy I used to have a bath here” and “mummy I used to sleep in that room”. Whether or not he had processed this information or not I don’t know, but he had registered and remembered that he once lived in this house, which was a good start as far as I was concerned.

Were you given a life story book for your son?

From a young age I told my son that he didn’t grow in mummy’s tummy. Again, at first, he wouldn’t have understood, but it was being reinforced somewhere inside his brain. When he was three, he pulled up his top and said to his Nanny, pointing at his tummy button, “Nanny this is from when I was a baby, but I didn’t grow in my mummy’s tummy, I grew in someone else’s tummy”. When I was told this, I felt so proud of my son, at the age of three, completely unprompted, walking home from the shop he understood something. Understanding ‘something’ meant to me that when I progress the conversation further then there won’t be big shocks for my son.

I then worked with the Adoption Team to produce the Life Story book. The Adoption Team were great and asked me for lots of photos of me and my son together, my son in places familiar to him now, with his extended family, pets, toys and even asked what he liked. I gave the team lots (a ridiculous amount!) of information about us and they also had photos and information from my son’s first seven months. Importantly the Adoption Team also had a photo of my son with his Birth mother. The book is worded using language I would use every day with my child, and I was asked to proof-read the book and make whatever changes I felt necessary.

The final book is fantastic, it starts by being all about my son now, so it is safe and known to him. It then goes back to the beginning and includes lots of photos of him as a baby, the Foster Carers and the birth mother. Finally, the book moves through the few years that we have already had together. The book contains lots of photos, but also words providing more explanation.

My son loves “The book about (son’s name)” as he calls it. We often sit down and look at the book together. Some days my son will just look at the pages about him now, and completely skip the pages about him as a baby and the birth mother, and that to me is fine, that is him looking at what is important to him on that day and what he can / wants to relate to and being only three I want to be guided by him and have conversations at his pace. On other occasions he will look at the photos of the birth mother, and will say, I grew in her tummy. Just hearing him say that is enough for me at this age, it shows me that my son already understands something. I have on several occasions asked my son if he has any questions when we get to photos of him as a baby or the birth mother, but his questions are only ever queries such as “did I like monster trucks as a baby as well?”, and that’s also ok, because he knows he can ask me questions, and as he gets older I am sure the questions will progress. I also try to add little snippets of information when we look at the book, just tiny extra bits of information about the birth mother so as not to overwhelm him, sometimes this is received well, other times he turns the page.

What challenges do you face as a parent, when it comes to your son’s life journey?

There are always challenges trying to talk about life journey work, even with a three-year-old. Through our choice we have very regular contact with the Foster Carers and my son knows he lived in their house as a baby. However, one day when looking at his book I explained foster care to my son and explained to him it was really kind of Foster Carer One and Two to look after him until he could move home with mummy. My son was horrified and declared that it was not nice of them at all, it was very horrible of them. I very quickly realised that he didn’t understand and was worried that he may have to go back and live there, or they had taken him from mummy. I first reassured him that he was going to live with mummy forever and ever, and then we talked about foster care. Finally, my son then agreed it was very lovely of his Foster Carers to look after him until he could move home with mummy.

Would you recommend any resources to help other adopters?

The other work I have done with my son is to buy some adoption and family books. I bought several books about families and adoption, which demonstrate to him that families can be different and explain adoption, such as saying “you needed a family to love you, I had lots of love to give you” etc. Whilst he will look at these with me, he does protest, and therefore they are looked at only occasionally. However, as I am working through the assessment process for adoption number two, I bought books about adopting a sibling, and these have been more of a hit with my son, and we have been able to discuss why some children are adopted and about finding the right family.

The life journey book has been invaluable to helping my son understand his story so far. Having a photo of the birth mother and some information about her I feel will help him when he is older. We also have the later life letters, but they are safely put away for when my son is much older.

Life Journey work has been a rollercoaster already. Some of the things I have worried about most such as talking about the birth mother have been accepted most readily, and some of what I thought would be simple like the Foster Carers evoked the biggest reaction.

My son is almost four and moved home over three years ago. He doesn’t know his background yet, but he knows he didn’t grow in my tummy and knows the photo of his birth mother and some very basic snippets about her. My son knows what adoption is, he adores his foster carers, he knows he is living with mummy forever and ever, that he can ask or tell me anything, and that mummy loves him more than anything else in the world. For me at this stage this is enough, I will add to his life story as he gets older, in an age-appropriate manner, not overwhelming him, and when I believe he is old enough to understand and process the information.

In relation to life story work, What advice would you give to anyone who has just started the adoption process

  1. From my experience the most critical thing about life journey work is that it is never too early to talk about the life journey with a child. The child’s history is part of them, and you can never take that away or should never want to. The first conversation may seem daunting but having a chat with seven-month-old who cannot talk back is so much easier than the thought of having it with a six-year-old for the first time! My experience with my child is that children are full of surprises!
  • I would advise that you are always open and honest with your child, but in an age-appropriate manner to protect them, help them understand and not overwhelm them. I have always remembered that a three-year-old has no filter. Therefore, whilst being honest, I need to remember that what I say is likely to be repeated, and in order to keep my son safe, details may need to be kept until he is older. This is his life story and not mine to tell, but at the same time what he repeats at a very early age, he may not want shared when he is older. Frequently once information is out it cannot be taken back.
  • My other advice is to work with Social Services to get the right Life Journey book for you and your child. The book needs to be in your language, and it should be age appropriate to your child now otherwise it will be hard to use. I believe my son likes his book because the first few pages are reinforcing positive secure messages to him; is about him now with me, his future, rather than starting at day one as a baby which he does not remember or may be negative for some children. Having a good book that you and your child will use, like we have is so critical to me.

What has adoption meant to your life

Adoption has meant everything to me. I have the most amazing son and I am now in assessment stage to go through adoption for a second time. We have an amazing relationship with my child’s Foster Carers, and I have met new friends and learnt so much along the way.

I would say that in one way I don’t think about the adoption on a day-to-day basis, my son to me is no different to a biological son, and I certainly don’t ever look at him and think of him as adopted. We lead a normal life, whatever normal is. My son is my child, and I am his mummy. However, on the other hand adoption is always on your mind, the life journey work, the unknowns as he grows up and develops, discussions with teachers, anticipating questions, especially around times such as Father days being a single adopter, and so much more.

Adoption changed my life for the better. Whilst there are challenges along the way, in addition to the challenges faced by many other parents, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have already had so many wonderful moments with my child. I wake up every morning to his little voice saying good morning mummy (at a ridiculous time) and just hearing that little voice so happy to see me and call me mummy, is enough to put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. There are children out there that need a loving and secure home and providing that to a child, doesn’t only offer them a chance of a happy future, but in my experience enriches your life massively.

We hope Nicola’s story has highlighted the importance of doing life journey work with adopted children and demonstrated how it can help strengthen relationships and children’s trust in adults. If the story has inspired you to consider adoption, then we’d love to hear from you.

12 days of Playfulness

Relationship Based Play (RBP) is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent/carer and child and is personal, physical, and fun!

These 12 days of Playfulness ideas are some activities that you can try and will enhance your approach of using RBP. If you do it wrong, it is just play which is great for your children! The activities need your imagination to add detail and are not competitive but playful and fun!


Day 1 (13th December)

Snowball fight with scrunched up toilet paper or cotton wool.

Keep hold of the snowballs to use in other games we have planned in the coming days.

Day 2 (14th December)

Create your own elf to put up on the wall.

Get your child to lay still on a large sheet of paper (or multiple sheets stuck together). Draw an outline of our child and colour in together.

Don’t forget to leave room for your little elf’s hat and share your creations with us.

Day 3 (15th December)

Snowball cup game.

Simply place paper cups on the floor/table and take in turns to throw scrunched up toilet paper or cotton wool.

Day 4 (16th December)

Why not make a Christmas present out of your child, by wrapping their body in wrapping paper and getting them to break out – Don’t forget the bow on top.

Or alternatively turn them into a snowman by wrapping toilet roll around them and again getting them to break out.

Day 5 (17th December)

Sing a Christmas song as a family and including your child’s name in the song.

“(Child’s name) the snowman was a jolly happy soul,

With a corncob pipe and a button nose

And two eyes made out of coal.”

Day 6 (18th December)

Build a den/grotto.

Creating a space where your child/ren can feel safe, during the big build up a week before Christmas. Use the den as a good hiding place for hide and seek.

Day 7 (19th December)

Snowball Basketball

Make a hoop out of your arms and take it in turns to shoot some hoops with scrunched up toilet roll or cotton wool

Day 8 (20th December)

This little Reindeer.

Just like ‘This little piggy’ nursery rhyme, add a festive twist by incorporating Santa’s reindeer.

Day 9 (21st December)

Go on a festive scavenger hunt

How many of these decorations can you spot near your home?

Christmas Tree; Festive lights on a house; Snowman; Santa; Snowman; Reindeer

Day 10 (22nd December)

Santa Balloon tennis

Decorate a balloon as Father Christmas and/or Rudolph, and gently knock back and forth keeping the balloon from hitting the floor.

Day 11 (23rd December)

Snowball blow

Take it in turns to blow cotton wool, back and forth with your child. This is a great exercise for children to self-regulate.

Day 12 (24th December)

Measuring and feeding.

Why not use string fruit sweets to measure your child’s smile.

If adoption is something you have considered, but want to learn more, please contact us for an informal discussion. We’ll support you every step of the way and help to create your golden moments of becoming a family.

You can get in touch by phone 0300 30 32 505 or email adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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