#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.

National Adoption Week calls on more Welsh people to consider adoption

National Adoption Week 
16 - 22 October 
National Adoption Service Logo

This National Adoption Week (16-22 October), the National Adoption Service for Wales (NAS) is continuing its mission to get more people to consider adoption, as sibling groups, children with additional needs, and older children across Wales still wait to find their ‘forever home’.

Working to challenge misconceptions around adoption, NAS is launching a series of informative videos to help people who believe they can’t adopt to consider enquiring.

This National Adoption Week, NAS hopes to change the general public’s perceptions through myth-busting outdated ideas and sharing first-hand experiences.

Adopters from across Wales have become involved in the campaign, featuring in videos and writing blogs to inform others. Faith, who adopted a sibling group through Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Adoption Service (VVC), explained why she got involved:

“We’d already considered adoption but when we found out that even if we’d had IVF, I wouldn’t be able to carry to full term, we started to consider it more seriously. When the social worker said that we were suitable not only for a two-sibling group, but a larger one, it shocked us but it was like, oh my goodness, this could become a reality”.

“My partner and I had lots of discussions, one of the first being, is our house big enough? When we went to our family and friends, we thought there’d be some resistance – we’d gone from being a couple to a large family – but instead, they just gave us love and support”. 

“Even though our family is far bigger than we could ever have imagined, it was the best thing because we kept these siblings together.”

In addition to sharing adoption stories, the National Adoption Service for Wales has been increasing knowledge about adoption with communities across the UK, through their award-winning podcast, Truth Be Told: Adoption Stories.

The two series of the bilingual podcast, which featured stories from seven adoptive families alongside a special episode, produced and hosted by adopted young people, was praised for its candid look at adoption.

Tasha, a teacher who adopted two siblings with additional learning needs through Adoption Mid and West Wales and took part in series one of the podcast, explained:

“When I sent my email of interest [for adoption], my family were telling me that ‘they’ wouldn’t want me because I’m single, I’ve got a full-time job, I’ve got a dog. I thought ‘Why wouldn’t they want me?’

“I went in very open-minded. I obviously had to consider that my family live 2 ½ hours away, however, I was aware that a lot of older children (school age upwards) are often waiting the longest”.  

“My social worker was great, and I’d been in touch with the foster family. So, when I brought them home, I didn’t abandon the routine they’d built up at their foster carer’s house. I even kept a chocolate milkshake for before bed as that’s what their foster carers did”.

“My daughter was quite sensitive to some things, and we worked on them with her over time. Noticing that she was starting to let go of these triggers was a sign to me, that she was going in the right direction.”

Every corner of Wales is getting involved

Regional activity across Wales will take place during National Adoption Week and following weeks.

On Wednesday 18 October, the North Wales Adoption Service will complete their 402-mile walk of the North Wales Coastal Path, which has been taking place over the past year, with a special event at Wrexham AFC with the mayor.

On Monday 16t October, Western Bay Adoption Service is also hosting a walk spanning on three local authorities, with each participant walking in pairs or groups, to represent the fact that sibling groups are waiting and celebrating their collaborative approach to securing the best possible futures for local children.

Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Adoption Service, and Adoption Mid and West Wales will be hosting information evenings and sharing myth-busting content to help prospective adoptive parents learn more about the adoption process.

South-East Wales Adoption is sharing informative social media content, while St David’s Adoption Service will be showcasing a series of short films, featuring adopters and an adopted person.

Alongside all of this adoption professionals from across Wales will come together to celebrate the positive messages and work that has been taking place to improve services since NAS came into existence.

Suzanne Griffiths, Director of the National Adoption Service for Wales and Foster Wales said:

“We hope that during this year’s National Adoption Week, people thinking about adopting across Wales will find the information being shared helpful and inspiring. We aim to answer many of the questions they might have about adopting a sibling group, children with more complex needs or an older child. Our services are always happy to provide more information.”

Find out more adoption in Wales: adoptcymru.com

Learn more about adoption local to you – National Adoption Week

Adoption Information Evening 
19 October 23
6 - 7:30pm

National Adoption Week returns week commencing 16th October 2023.

If you are unsure if adoption is the right route for you to start or expand your family, then our information evenings are a great way to learn more.

The information evening will give you an opportunity to learn more about our service, the children that wait longest, the lifelong support that’s available to families and the process to becoming approved as an adoptive family.

We are particularly keen to hear from people who would consider becoming adoptive parents to the children who wait the longest to be adopted. These include children aged 4 years old or older, siblings of all ages who need to stay together, and children with disabilities or complex needs.

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. There are many myths that are associated with who can adopt and you can learn more about this on our website – Adoption Myths.

Click ‘Book Now’ complete the form and a member of our friendly team will be in touch with you to confirm details and get you started on your journey to becoming a family.

Thursday 19 October 2023 – 6 – 7:30pm – Online (Microsoft Teams)

Celebrating life journey work awards 2022

Our Celebrating Life Journey Work awards were held during this year’s National Adoption Week (17-23 October 2022). This was our first face to face awards ceremony since 2019 and our first ever doing a ceremony within each of the region’s 4 Local Authorities.

The Celebrating Life Journey Work awards recognises and reward workers ad foster carers within the region for their exceptional contribution towards Life Journey Work over the past year.

Thank you to our families for their nominations towards this year’s Family’s Choice Award.

Here is a list of our 2022 winners:

Life Journey Worker Award

Carmarthenshire: Rebecca Neale, Social Worker – Carmarthen Child Care Team

Ceredigion: Charlotte Evans, Social Worker – Planned Care Team

Pembrokeshire: Leanne Akalin, FIT Worker – Family Intervention Team

Powys: Fiona MacDonald, Social Worker – North Through Care Team

Best Team Award

Carmarthenshire: Carmarthen Child Care Team

Ceredigion: Planned Care Team

Pembrokeshire: Family Intervention Team

Powys: North Through Care Team

Outstanding Contribution towards Life Journey Work Award

Siân Gibbon, Adoption Support Worker – Adoption Mid & West Wales

Outstanding Contribution by a Foster Carer Award

Leanne Evans, Foster Carer – Ceredigion

Family’s Choice Award

Rachel Cook, Adoption Support Worker – Adoption Mid & West Wales


Our winners for the ‘This is Me!’ 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 our winners.

Here are our winners’ entries and judges’ comments.

* Please note that personal information within our winning entries have been anonymised for confidentiality purpose.

Winner 1

What a beautiful picture of you and your brother side by side. I loved all the pretty colours you used. You did an excellent drawing –  very well done”

“The picture of the children on the climbing frame has lovely colours and details. Well done!”

“What a beautiful and colourful picture you’ve made. You have put a lot of thought and effort into this drawing, and I love the detail. Thank you for sharing with us”

Winner 2

“I loved watching your video – and meeting all you family , pet cats and snake 🙂 and seeing you in action on the trampoline and scooter. Keep up with all the good reading you are doing. Thank you very much for a wonderful snapshot all about you.”

“What great fun! A wonderful insight into who you are and about your life. I loved the creativity of your video and how original it is. It seems you (with the help of you sister) really enjoyed filming and creating this video as well as showing us all about you.”

“A very different approach to the theme, which I love. I like the uniqueness of your work and how you made it into a comic feature with the captions and sounds. It felt like I was watching a comedy film of your life in just a few short minutes. I can see you having a career in TV and film.”

Winner 3

“I loved watching your short film and learning about you. Your confidence shone through, and I really liked that you sang and danced to your favourite song. That was amazing. Well done!”

“Loved the different take to the topic. It was interesting to hear you speak about all the things that you like and hearing you sing your favourite song. The dance moves were great as well. I really enjoyed watching you video.”

“What a great short film with a great variety of things to watch and hear from talking about the things you like, to singing your favourite song and then adding in some dance moves as well. It was so great to see you sharing things about yourself. Well done!”

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.


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.

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