2 Vacant Posts – Independent Panel Member

AN OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN THE MID & WEST WALES ADOPTION JOINT PANEL AS AN INDEPENDENT PANEL MEMBER – 2 VACANT POSTS

Has your life been touched by Adoption?  If the answer is YES, then you may be interested in becoming an Independent Panel Member for 1 day per month. 

Powys County Council is seeking to appoint an independent member to the Mid & West Wales Joint Adoption Panel for a tenure of four years.

The Adoption Panel makes recommendations as to whether individuals or couples are suitable to adopt a child and makes recommendations for matches between children with a plan of adoption and prospective adopters.

You must be responsible, trustworthy, and be able to read and absorb a great deal of comprehensive written information.  You should have personal experience of adoption and although Adoption Panel is currently online, be able to travel to Adoption Panels in Llandrindod Wells and Brecon. A payment of £150 per Adoption panel to include reading time and panel attendance.

For If you are interested  please email Claire Phillips Adoption Team Manager (Powys) claire.phillips@powys.gov.uk and she will arrange an informal discussion which will be followed by an interview. 

Closing date  30.11.2020                                           

Appointment is subject to interview.

Truth be told: Adoption stories

Truth be told: Adoption stories,

One of the best ways to inspire people to adopt is by sharing success stories of those that have been there and done it.

Truth be told: Adoption stories, a podcast from the National Adoption Service aims to be an informative resource that features a group of adopters discussing their shared experiences together.

Truth be told: Adoption stories is available in both Welsh and English and features 10 adopters from across Wales discussing a different adoption topic each week – from the first steps to postadoption support. Stories range from same sex adopters and single adopters to older adopters and sibling adopters.

No one knew each other before the meeting but within moments it is like listening to old friends talk. They laugh together, they cry together.

Truth be told: Adoption stories is invaluable whether you’ve already adopted, are looking to start the process or just interested in different ways of starting a family. Listen to the podcast here: www.adoptcymru.com/podcast

Podcast

Truth be told: Adoption stories, Wales’ first adoption podcast from the National Adoption Service, follows the journey of 10 adopters with very different experiences brought together to share their stories with each other – from their first steps to adoption to post-adoption support.

Register for a lunchtime webinar to hear more honest stories and tips from adopters and adoption workers across Wales https://bit.ly/3d3rLmp.

The Adoption Barometer

Wales comes out top in UK wide adoption survey, but more support still needed for vulnerable children, report finds

Alongside identifying an improving picture in many respects there is still evidence that the lives of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children are being affected by missed opportunities to provide them with timely and adequate support, a new report reveals today.  

The Adoption Barometer, published by charity Adoption UK, describes the dramatic impact the right support can have. Now in its second year, the Barometer is based on the biggest ever survey of adopters. This year, 5,000 people responded to the survey, 361 of which were in Wales.   

The Adoption Barometer also assesses the government policies that regulate adoption. Welsh policies scored best, with three areas of policy scoring ‘good’ – Approvals and Matching, Newly Placed Adopters and Established Families. Policy relating to finding families for children scored best across the board.

However, all nations scored poorly in at least one area of policy. Policy relating to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) scored worst, with all nations assessed as ‘poor’, and adopter experiences of children with or suspected FASD was also ‘poor’ in all nations. 

There has been progress in Wales since last year’s Barometer, building on the improvement seen since Wales implemented its National Adoption Service (NAS). In June 2019, there was a £2.3m investment in adoption services by the Welsh Government. In partnership with third sector organisations some of this funding is being used to provide new services including the Therapeutic Education and Support Services in Adoption (TESSA) and a new young people’s service. Respondents in Wales were considerably more positive about their experiences of accessing support during 2019 than they were the previous year.

One of the main themes to emerge across the UK is the failure in diagnosing and treating brain damage caused by children being exposed to alcohol in the womb. The report reveals more than one-in-four adopted children in Wales (28%) are either diagnosed with or suspected to have FASD. 53% of families polled in Wales had waited two years or longer for a diagnosis, and 68% felt healthcare professionals lacked even basic knowledge about the condition, even though FASD is more common in the general population than autism.  

Adoptive mother Joanne, from South Wales, said: “We were told our son may have FASD when he came to us at four, but were told we’d never get a diagnosis as he did not have the associated facial features. He soon became violent and aggressive. He’d erupt for two hours every night when we put him to bed. He’d throw things, hit, kick, scratch. I’ve had three black eyes and I’ve got a scar on my chin from being hit with a candle. We saw GPs, Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), a neuro developmental team and a child psychiatrist before a doctor finally diagnosed our son with FASD. We were discharged the same day without the offer of any support.” 

Around three-quarters of adopted children experienced violence, abuse or neglect while living with their birth families, often with life-long impacts on their relationships, their health and their ability to learn. Despite the considerable challenges, the report shows that adopters in Wales remain positive and resilient – 75% would encourage others to consider adoption.

But failures in policy and practice and missed opportunities to intervene mean that problems often build into a crisis. Almost than half (48%) of families with older children report severe challenges, such as being drawn into criminally exploitative behaviour, including child sexual exploitation and county lines activities. The vast majority (66%) of respondents from Wales with school aged children anticipate they will leave school with few or no qualifications because they lacked the right support.  

Author of the report Becky Brooks said: “It is morally and economically imperative that adoptive families are given the right support from day one. Yet 68% of new adoptive families who responded to the survey had no support plan in place. The cost to the child, the wider family and society when an adoptive family falls apart, is unacceptable.” 

Suzanne Griffiths, National Adoption Service for Wales Director, said: “The Barometer is a welcome sense check from adoptive families as to where we are as a service. The findings encouragingly identify that improvements have been made. They also reflect where we know there is more work to be done, specifically access to adoption support and services for adopted children and young people.

“We have made significant investment into these areas over the past year with the support of £2.3m adoption support fund from Welsh Government and we look forward to future reports to see the impact this makes.

“Overall, there are some very positive messages in the report to celebrate and we are pleased to see that adoption in Wales is in a good place in terms of its improvement journey. This is exactly what NAS was set up to achieve.”

The Adoption Barometer calls on the governments in all four nations of the UK to provide detailed therapeutic assessments for every child before they arrive in their new family, with up to date support plans to be maintained into early adulthood.  

Your views about adoption support

The Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University has recently been appointed to evaluate the impact of the Adoption Support Framework across Wales. A key part of the evaluation involves seeking the views of all adoptive parents about the accessibility and quality of adoption support including whether and to what extent it has improved in recent years.

They will be seeking your views through a survey (to be launched in October this year) and, if you are interested, a follow up interview. Participation is completely voluntary and we will send more information about the evaluation and a link to the survey in the next few weeks.

Sibling Adoption

“We have a place for more than one child in our home and hearts!”

Background

We had both discussed and agreed that if IVF did not work for us after one or two turns, we would start the adoption process as we were confident that we could give a loving and safe home for a child or children!

The adoption process

The adoption process proved very challenging at times, but we didn’t expect it to be easy!  A few parts moved smoothly and fairly slickly, but of course because of the difficult and sensitive nature of adoption – there were periods of delay awaiting decisions from others or waiting for the court to go through the necessary steps.  We had an amazing social worker, who advised and mentored us throughout the process.  It encouraged us to consider what was always best for us, and there was one period when we had to consider if we were able to stay with the “match”.  We decided after a lot of discussion and consideration, that the two little ones were worth waiting for.

Deciding to Adopt siblings

The decision to consider adopting siblings was an easy one in terms of our wish to keep siblings together and from a practical point of view, that we have a place for more than one child in our home and hearts!  The conversations we had with our Social Worker also helped us to be confident in our decision.

When they moved to live with us

Almost two years immediately after we submitted the adoption application form, two small whirlwinds arrrived at our house, and turned it into a noisy and happy home full of wonderful mess!  Obviously, this was a complete change of world for us and for them, and the first few weeks of being together were tiring, fun, tiring, challenging and tiring!  There was plenty of support during the introductions and settling in period and we maintained contact with the foster family in order to support the children and ourselves.  The children were coping well with a new family, location and language and we are sure that the fact that they are together is of a huge benefit and support to them. Within three months both had settled well with us and in the area and became bilingual toddlers.

Support network

We have been lucky to know other families in the area, so that has given us the opportunity to discuss, inquire and compare notes every now and then, especially if something challenging has come across us.  We would advise anyone to make use of support networks, informal or formal and our social worker has always been there for us if necessary and if any difficult issues arise in the future, I know that we have the support.

Life story

Every so often questions arise from the children about their past, sometimes the question arises unexpectedly and we must respond agilely and positively.  We reinforce positive but honest messages and use pictures and names.  We have also created a picture of a tree showing the roots beneath the soil, their growth and the family and friends that surround them which is now growing.

From day one to the present day, we wouldn’t change anything about the two whirlwinds, our family!

If you think you could give a loving home to a sibling group, then we would love to hear from you. Please contact us to find out more information about the process.

Telephone 0300 30 32 505, or email adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

New resources to support your children as they return to school

Lockdown has been a difficult time for many of our adoptive families, with many parents having to work from home, whilst entertaining their children and home-schooling.

With the Welsh Government announcement that schools can return in Wales from 29th June, parents now have the difficult decision whether to send their children back to school or not. Some parents may see this as an opportunity to use these next few weeks to slowly ease their children back to school with the new normal that awaits them in the classroom.

The adoption support workers have been busy creating some fantastic resources to support parents with this transition back to school.

Rachel one of our support workers has also created a story which aims to help children understand the changes they will now face at school. The hope is that they will be able to relate to the anxieties Sammy the Sloth has, allowing them to understand the transition of returning to school.

Here’s what Rachel had to say: “I have always enjoyed being creative and have dreamed of writing short children’s stories and illustrating them for a long time. I never imagined that the first story I would write would be about a pandemic, but in times of so much change and uncertainty I found myself thinking of the many children I’ve supported over the years through transitions and how challenging this would be for so many.

Children often find change particularly challenging, and with the changes approaching us as we begin to return to school, with it may come a mix of emotions and feelings. Stories are a natural way for children to learn about their feelings, to help them learn that their experiences of feeling worried or nervous about returning to school are faced by many. This story focuses on the familiar, particularly around relationships, as sometimes feelings of anxiety come from the unknown, and while we may not know everything about what school will look like in the coming months, by thinking of some of the things that will be staying the same, we can help our children feel more secure.”

 

Please download a copy of Sammy Sloth. Please email adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk to get copies of the other resources available to assist with the return to school.

Further resources will be made available on our social media channels. Facebook: @adoptmwwales Twitter: @adoptmw_wales

Adoption Mid and West Wales celebrate Pride Month

June is LGBT+ Pride month, and to celebrate, we are sharing the adoption story of one of our same sex couples, Tom and Lee, who adopted their little boy, who was 1 years old.

Here at Adoption mid and West Wales, there are no barriers when it comes to welcoming the lgbt+ community to be assessed as adopters.

We’ve approved a number of new families from the lgbt+ community over the last few years and here’s what Tom and Lee had to say about their adoption journey.

three pairs of legs

As a same sex couple who always wanted to have a family of their own, adoption was always our first choice. Together we had a firm understanding of children’s needs through working with LAC children and coming from large families. We knew that we could meet the needs of an adopted child and knew that we could offer a loving, stable forever home. From the get-go we were welcomed with open arms by Mid and West Wales Adoption Team. From the initial phone-call we felt listened to, and that their approach was far more in-depth than the other agencies we had approached. For us we wanted the process to be thorough and for no stone to be unturned as inevitably we wanted to find the best match for us and for our child.

Like all couples considering adoption, research was our first step into this seemingly terrifying world of adoption. There are some fantastic books, podcasts and blog posts out there. Try and connect with other adopters and make sure you enter the process with an open mind. We will all approach the process with our own misconceptions, however keeping an open mind and being reflective is our top tip. Make time to listen and consider different angles and perspectives. You may have heard that the assessment process is scary, and your social worker will stare deeply into your soul, however this isn’t quite the case. Be honest, be reflective and you will wholeheartedly, weirdly enjoy some elements. You may even come out the other end knowing yourself and your partner better. It really is like free therapy!

The process definitely becomes emotionally draining and building a support network and having a supportive family is important when this happens. Our family members attended the family training course and found it very informative and helpful. Additionally, you will meet some fantastic families through adoption who will remain great friends for a lifetime. You may even meet these people on your preparation course. We remember the relief as a same sex couple after seeing another same sex couple on our training. There is something comforting about not being the only ones for sure.

After the training, it was full steam ahead with the assessments, panels and matching. Your journey will be very personal to you and no adoption journey is the same. Trust your social worker and make sure you approach every decision together as a couple. Times will be tough and it will be an emotional rollercoaster. However, no matter the hurdles it will all be worth it when you hear the pitter-patter of little feet in your house for the first time or the first time you open the door and realise that there’s a little persons shoes lying next to yours.

If you are interested in adoption and want to learn more, please visit our website dev.adoptionmwwales.org.uk or get in touch by phone 0300 30 32 505 or email adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

We are also on Facebook @adoptmwwales and Twitter @adoptmw_wales

Life-changing work of Adoption Service continues through Covid-19 pandemic

Adopted child holding crayonsThe vital work of matching children with their new forever families across Mid and West Wales is continuing despite the Covid-19 outbreak.

Adoption Mid & West Wales, the Regional Adoption Service for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys local authorities remains open with staff working remotely, conducting visits via Microsoft Teams, Skype or phone.

Some essential visits continue, adhering to the social distancing rules set by Welsh Government.

The Service continues to seek new adopters to ensure that children are not delayed in being placed with families.

The highest number of enquiries about adoption has been received for some time and a recent online information evening was very well attended with 13 couples, (two of which were in a same-sex relationship), and four single enquirers.

The Panel has faced and adapted to the challenge of continuing to meet remotely and regularly.

The Panel has recommended a number of new adopters and more new families have been recommended with matches, since the stay at home message was introduced.

Assessments are continuing with adoption social workers meeting remotely with prospective adopters to get them approved in the near future.

Adoption Panel Member Cllr Reg Owens, of Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “The Covid-19 situation has meant that everyone involved in the adoption process has had to adapt and respond to the challenges of working remotely and, where that is simply not possible, following the social distancing and other safety measures.

“I have been hugely impressed by the way that the teams have rolled up their sleeves and worked so hard to get the necessary measures in place to ensure that there have been no undue delays to what are life-changing decisions for all involved.

“Throughout the lockdown period this has ensured that a number of children have been given new homes for life and adopters having children they had longed for.

“It is most probably the most satisfying duty I carry out as a County Councillor and I thank each and every person involved for their efforts in these most unusual times.”

To further aid adoptive families, adoption support workers have been busy creating resources.

A number of training courses are being added regularly, as well as new e-learning modules, with all the details available on Adoption Mid & West Wales website.

If you are an adopter requiring support at the moment please call 0300 3032 505 or email adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

The Service is also on Twitter @adoptmw_wales and the newly launched Facebook page @adoptmwwales

Positive Focus During Challenging Times

Our Adoption Support Workers have been hard at work creating new resources to support families during this difficult time. With schools closed and families staying at home, it is important that you have resources available to support you.

The team have created a time capsule template, to bring a positive focus to the current situation. We understand that these are both challenging and unique times for families right now, and so we thought that having an opportunity to look back on some of the happy memories, thoughts and feelings that have occurred during these times, with a little opportunity to look back on some of the special and fun moments that you’ve shared.

Creating a time capsule is a great family activity that everyone can participate in , it can be an activity to break up any daily worries and has the ability to transport you to another time and place, as it encourages us to think about the past and our future when we come out the other side ????.

We hope you enjoy this activity! Please feel free to use it as you please.

Download Time Capsule

If you would like to access Adoption Support, please contact us:

email ebost adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk  Phone Ffon 0300 30 32 505