This is Me!

You are a one of a kind. There is no one else on the planet who is exactly like you. What is it that makes you YOU? Is it your personality or the way you look? It might be what you like doing or it simply might be where you come from and your family history. The truth is all of these things are what makes you YOU. This is called our identity. Your identity is made up of lots of different parts. Different parts will make different people.

Could you tell us what makes you YOU?

You can do this through painting, drawing, collage, photography or you can create a film, a picture collage, a comic or animation. You can write a short story, create a profile, a poem or a song. Your piece could be a self-portrait created out of magazine clippings or a collage that has a mixture of things that show us who you are.

Age Groups

  • Under 4 years
  • Ages 4 – 7
  • Ages 8 – 11
  • Ages 12 – 14
  • Ages 15 – 17
  • Ages 18 and above

All participants will receive a £10 giftcard.

Prizes

Winners can choose either one of the following prizes:

  • A day ticket to a local attraction of their choice in Mid & West Wales.
  • An Odeon or Vue cinema gift card.
  • A Caffe Nero or Costa Coffee gift card.

Closing Date

Friday, 2nd September 2022

To enter please complete an entry form and send your entries to us electronically via our website.

Guidelines & Rules

  • One entry per child/ young person/adult.
  • Entries must be submitted by 5pm on Friday, 2nd September 2022. Please send you entries in any of the following formats: pdf, jpeg, doc, mp3, m4a, mp4, wmv or avi.
  • All submissions must be completed by the adopted child, young person or adult.
  • All participants will receive a giftcard to the value of £10. A postal address must be provided on the entry form.
  • Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced on the 16th of September 2022.
  • Winners will receive their prize shortly after the 16th of September 2022.
  • Winners will be invited to present an award at our 2022 Celebrating Life Journey Work Awards, which will take place during National Adoption Week in October 2022.

This is Me!

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Postal Address (to post the £10 gift card)*
Consent (for ages 0-17)
We would like to exhibit your child’s work on our website and social media pages as well as within our Celebrating Life Journey Work ceremony during National Adoption Week 2021. We will anonymise any personal details that are shown within the work. Please tick the relevant box/es below if you do consent to this. I give consent for Adoption Mid & West Wales to exhibit my child's entry:
Consent (for ages 18+)
We would like to exhibit your work on our website and social media pages as well as within our Celebrating Life Journey Work ceremony during National Adoption Week 2022. We will anonymise any personal details that are shown within the work. Please tick the relevant box/es below if you do consent to this. I give consent for Adoption Mid & West Wales to exhibit my entry:
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Interested in Adoption Newsletter

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If you are considering adopting and would like to receive the latest news and information, direct to your email, then please sign up to our ‘Interested in Adoption’ Newsletter.
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A NEW campaign launched by the National Adoption Service for Wales hopes to encourage more people to adopt those children waiting the longest.

At any one time there are approximately 119 children waiting to be adopted in Wales, with 29 of those children waiting for nine months or more.

For boys, sibling groups, children over three, and those with complex early histories, the wait to find a forever home can last a long time.

On average, siblings wait 135 days more than individual children to be adopted. For many prospective parents the thought of adopting two or more children can raise concerns about affordability and physical space.

But a new campaign launched by National Adoption Service for Wales aims to encourage more people to adopt those who have been waiting the longest.

Suzanne Griffiths, Director of the National Adoption Service for Wales, says: “We know from research conducted within adoption services in Wales that myths in relation to age and gender continue to exist; some prospective adopters believe that younger children present with fewer issues and others feel that girls are easier to care for.

“This is not always the case as all children have different needs and experiences and often the quieter child can be harder to work with.

“Sometimes we know less about the experiences of a younger child whereas we might have more detailed knowledge where an older child is concerned. For these older children we are often in a better position to predict any future support needs should they require it.”

“We successfully place children from all age groups, genders, backgrounds and circumstances, unfortunately older children, boys, sibling groups and children with additional needs can potentially wait that bit longer.”

“We actively encourage people to consider all children when coming into the adoption process.”

The National Adoption Service and its regional teams support everyone affected by adoption, working with birth parents and relatives, adoptive parents, and professionals to make sure that a child’s best interests are placed at the centre of every adoption.

In their powerful new TV ad we follow the story of a seven-year-old child as he is matched with his new family.  

The emotive advert opens with a young boy greeting his adopted father wearing every item of his clothing, including a bobble hat and gloves, yellow wellies and bright blue goggles.  

The ad – featuring actors – reveals how the child has been moved around a lot and that it may take a while to come out of his shell.  

We watch as the little boy struggles to eat beans on toast with gloves on and how difficult it is to score a goal in wellies.  

Eventually, the boy feels safe enough to take off his protective clothing, able to eat popcorn and watch a movie with his dad.  

The ad ends with both father and son happily wearing a pair of goggles, with the words ‘Choose adoption. Choose family.’ 

The advert is based on real-life experiences of adoption across Wales – including Clare and Gareth who adopted a sibling group through Vale, Valley and Cardiff Adoption in 2016.

Clare explains: “Our son wore his swimming goggles every single day, everywhere he went from the day he moved in until the rubber straps perished and fell apart.”

On the advert Suzanne Griffiths says: “We hope the new TV advert will assist people thinking about adoption to understand that children who have experienced a difficult or challenging start in life have often developed their own ways of coping and therefore need time, patience and support to help them to settle into their new families.

“Some settle easier than others but what’s important is that they are enabled to do so at their own pace. The National Adoption Service offers support to all new and established families to assist with those early adjustments, and throughout their lifelong journey as a family.

National Adoption Service is asking people to share images of themselves wearing goggles on social media #ChooseFamily and to reveal the moments that made their family @nas_cymru to encourage others to choose to adopt.  

For more information about adoption, visit adoptcymru.com/choosefamily   

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.

Congratulations to the winners of our ‘What kind of superhero are you?’ Competition

Our winners for the ‘What kind of Superhero are you?’ Competition have been chosen. We received a wonderful variety of entries and our judging panel thoroughly enjoyed looking at each piece that was entered. Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to all of our winners. To view our winning entries and to read the judges’ comment please click here.  

* Please note that personal information within our winning entries have been anonymised for confidentiality purpose. This includes changing names of people, pets and places.


Age 4-7 winner

 “I love the way they have included their whole fam“I love the way they have included their whole family as superheroes. I particularly like how the family are flying high over the colourful rainbow and bright shiny sun.”

“This is a beautiful drawing. I see that you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into this drawing. It’s very colourful and bright. This drawing made me feel really happy. I love that you’ve added so many big smiles and bright colours.”

“Lots of colour and smiley faces. Nice to see that the family are the superheroes and not just one person.”

Age 8-10 winner -drawing

“WOW! The attention to detail in this picture is very impressive. I love all the little details in the robot and how it carries the bot baby in its pouch. Chief engineer storm looks like he could fix anything with his tools on his belt and then the amazing super drone with 4 propellers to help it fly high, I can see from this picture they make a great super team.”

“Fantastic drawing, amazing detail. Liked the super drones and the baby pouch. I think it gives a sense of the child’s personality and thinking about what makes a superhero.”

“Great picture. You have clearly put in a lot of work into to this drawing and it’s paid off. I like that you added so much detail, and the colouring is really neat. You are a great artist!”

Age 8-10 winner – poem

“I really enjoyed listening to this poem. It made realise that we all have the ability to be superheroes just like this “secret hero”. I loved how even though he is a superhero he let us all know that even heroes sometimes make mistakes and that’s ok. I also put too much garlic in my spaghetti bolognaise, so we have that in common!”

“This piece about being a superhero was great fun. I thought the child set out really well what makes a superhero, including thinking about his impact on other people.”

“Something different visually and explained in a thoughtful way of what a Superhero should be.”

Thank you to everyone who entered, here are some more entries.

CHILD TRUST FUND – Was your Child Born between 01/09/2002 and 02/01/2011?

Most children born in the UK between the above dates should have an individual Child Trust Fund (CTF) account open in their name, ready for when they reach age 18.

The Government (in 2002) set up the Child Trust Fund to encourage children to save money and gave them a head start by investing a sum of money to get them started, which they can access at age 18.

This was a new initiative in asset-based welfare, and a subsequent government stopped providing it in 2011.

For most children born between September 2002 and January 2011 the Government put £250 into a Child Trust Fund at birth and topped this up with a further £250 when the child reached 7 years of age. These amounts were doubled for children in families in receipt of Child Tax Credit.

The original accounts should have been set up by their Birth Parents (using the child`s Birth Name). If they didn’t do this (for whatever reason), the government (Inland Revenue) set up a CTF account for the child as an HMRC-allocated account, using a range of account providers.

There are complications for adopted children and young people. Adoptive parents could have had the ‘registered contact’ status for the account transferred to themselves after an adoption order was granted, but there may have been complications with change of name etc. Adoptive parents were able to make contributions to these accounts over the years. If your child is under 18 there could still be opportunities to do this.

Most of these accounts were invested in the stock market, so many have accumulated growth over the years, and may now potentially be worth £1,000 or more.

Eligible teenagers aged 16 – 18 can take control of these accounts, at any time following their 16th Birthday – and can, for example, choose which account they wish their CTF to be invested in.

However only the young person can withdraw money from their account (after their 18th Birthday), and legally they are entitled to spend the money in any way they choose. Parents may advise them to use it wisely – e.g., invest it for when they are older – but the law states they have the right to withdraw it and spend it in any way they decide.

Should adopters (or adopted young people over age 16) wish to discover where these accounts are (i.e., which account provider they are with) I suggest they contact The Share Foundation (also known as ‘Sharefound’), which is a registered charity and works for the Department for Education as the organisation running the CTF and Junior ISA schemes for young people in care.

The Share Foundation also provides regular virtual events providing and discussing more details of above, which can be attended by young people aged 16 and over, parents, foster carers and professionals.

For details of these (and to access advice) visit https://findctf.sharefound.org  or you can ring them on 01269 310400. When using the search facility remember that the young person should have their National Insurance number at hand (provided by HMRC just after their 16th birthday).

For children born after 02/01/2011 parents can currently open Junior ISAs on their children’s behalf, but government contributions are now only made for looked-after children and young people.

Vacant Post – Adoption Support Worker

Adoption Support Worker 

(Fixed Term contract up to 31/03/2022 due to grant funding)

Regional Post – Location Negotiable 

24 hours per week

£22,183* – £25,991* (Grade F) *pro rata

Closing Date: 16/11/2021

This is an opportunity to join a well-performing , vibrant regional adoption service to play a leading role in developing support services for adoptive families in the region. 

The post includes working with colleagues as well as families affected by adoption focusing on reviewing adoption support and contact plans to ensure they are in line with the child’s needs. The adoption service uses a trauma-informed approach. There will be opportunities to undertake relevant training in order to develop the necessary skills and knowledge.

The post is grant funded, however, the funding is likely to continue after 31/03/2022.

This is a regional post but the base will be negotiated dependent on where you live and the need to provide services across the region.

Conversational Welsh is required to accomplish this post. Support can be provided on appointment to reach this level.

For an informal discussion please contact Frances Lewis 07733 102311.

A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check will be requested for this post.

As part of the Council’s Policy and Procedure it is now a requirement that employees must register with the DBS Update Service for which there is an annual subscription fee of £13 borne by the individual.  The Authority will pay for the initial DBS check.

eLearning Courses for Adopters

Adoption Mid & West Wales continue to offer eLearning courses for our adopters to complete in the comfort of one’s own home and to do in their own time. These courses have been created and developed by two learning platforms, KCA and ACEducation. The online courses aim to develop knowledge, skills and reflection as a part of the adopters ongoing learning journey. 

All online courses are free to Mid and West Wales adopters. Please contact us via email if you are interested in completing a course at adoptiontraining@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

‘Some things you are prepared for, other you get caught completely off guard.’

A NEW campaign launched by the National Adoption Service for Wales hopes to encourage more people to adopt those children waiting the longest.

There are 119 children currently waiting to be adopted in Wales, with 29 of those children waiting for nine months or more.

For boys, sibling groups, children over three, and those with complex early histories, the wait to find a forever home can last a long time.

But a new campaign launched during National Adoption Week (18th-23rd October) wants to change all that by debunking the myth that babies and girls are easier to adopt.

To open the hearts and minds of potential adopters to those children currently waiting to find a family, #ChooseFamily will hear from parents across Wales about the realities of adopting a child, regardless of their age, sex, or if they are part of a sibling group.

Single mum Natasha adopted through Adoption Mid and West Wales in 2014. With an open mind, Tasha, researched adoption thoroughly before she began the process alone.

Tasha, who is a teacher, adopted siblings of Thai heritage – a three-year-old daughter and a 20-month-old boy – because she knew that boys, minority ethnic children and siblings typically wait the longest to be adopted.

She said: “It is made clear very early on that all adopted children will manifest their trauma in one way or another at some point in their life. Some of this you are prepared for, other times it can catch you completely off guard.”

“My daughter was the more anxious and hypersensitive of my two children. I think that because she was older when she went into care she has more of a recollection of neglect. My family knew to be more cautious and to give her extra reassurance when it was dark or there were loud noises – but one thing we didn’t prepare for is how petrified she was of balloons and anyone singing Happy Birthday.

“She couldn’t tell us why, but she was storing a memory we can only speculate about. It caused her to freeze and cry or come running to cling onto me. Other parents would ask why I insisted on bringing her along to parties, but I didn’t want her to miss out or have to ask the class not to celebrate birthdays, so we worked together over time to help her find coping strategies. Now, she has been to a few birthday sleepovers and will get up dancing at holiday kids’ club – she’s come a long way.”

“I remember having a friendly debate with a social worker about interracial adoption and feeling strongly about not letting the difference in our skin colour be a barrier. I was challenged on this as the social worker pointed out that I wouldn’t be the one growing up different.

“In many ways she was right, and thankfully, we have navigated the conversations about our differences easily. We have multi-ethnic friends and he often likes to point out when I am the odd one out in the car or on family holidays.

“The world is made up of so many different families and society and adoption have caught up with each other. Not only did that make it easier for me as a single person to adopt, having examples to show how the nuclear family is varied is helping my son to understand that everyone is different. Just the other day he asked me when he was getting a dad, because everyone has one. When we revisited the story of his birth father and started going through the list of family and friends who were unmarried, had lost partners or are in same sex couples, he wasn’t so concerned that it was just the three of us.”

Suzanne Griffiths, Director of the National Adoption Service for Wales, said: “We know from research conducted within adoption services in Wales that myths in relation to age and gender continue to exist; some prospective adopters believe that younger children present with fewer issues and others feel that girls are easier to care for.

“This is not always the case as all children have different needs and experiences and often the quieter child can be harder to work with.

“Sometimes we know less about the experiences of a younger child whereas we might have more detailed knowledge where an older child is concerned. For these older children we are often in a better position to predict any future support needs should they require it.”

National Adoption Service is asking for people to share the moments that made their family @nas_cymru #ChooseFamily to encourage others to choose to adopt.

For more information about adoption, visit adoptionmwwales.org.uk

Welcome to the adoption community!

Congratulations on becoming a parent. This is an exciting time as you start or extend your family.

The First 1000 Days project is here for you from day one, to offer a helping hand and a listening ear from a thriving community of fellow adopters across Wales.

• Advice and support via phone or email

• Free training courses on topics such as Life Journey Work, Education, and Contact

• Family days for adoptive families

• Local community groups, including ‘early days’ groups

• One-to-one support during tricky times

• A wealth of information and resources

At Adoption UK, we know how amazing family life can be. We also know that sometimes we all need a bit of support from other adopters who understand. Come and join the community.

Welcome to the First 1000 Days.

To join in, please visit www.adoptionuk.org/first-1000-days