Tag Archives: Adoption UK

You take into this pandemic the risk you carried with you.

There has been much discussion about the increase in domestic abuse that has been seen and documented around the world, as country after country has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by locking down the population. A less discussed aspect of violence within the family in the past, but one which is increasingly receiving attention, is that of child to parent violence, with people now asking how quarantining and isolation are impacting this group of families. I am pleased to bring this guest post, discussing this issue, from Eleanor Haworth of Adoption UK. Eleanor is Director for Service Delivery at the charity. With her social work background as well, I am hopeful that we can start to see a greater influence in this area of practice. 

 

Professor David Spiegelhalter has one of the best job titles in the world, he is a “Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk.”  I was listening to him talking on the radio, and he has a calm and reassuring manner. He does not patronise, but he convinces me that I can understand complex statistics. This is not something that my school mathematics teachers ever accomplished.

He was explaining that the medical risk for people with regards to the Covid-19 virus was an extension of the risk they carry in general life. So, if you are older, unhealthy and vulnerable in normal life, then you will be at greater risk during this pandemic. However, if you are young, healthy and robust in normal life that will be equally true in terms of this virus.

This made me wonder about the social risks of the pandemic and lockdown. Do we carry into the coronavirus all the same risks we had previously?

In my conversations about child to parent violence (CPV) throughout this lockdown a clear message has emerged. This lockdown makes the experience of CPV so much more acute. The normal coping mechanisms and techniques are not as readily available. Support services are restricted and in many cases the professionals are feeling desperate too.

At Adoption UK we have had many people contacting us explaining that CPV is an acute issue in their homes. There are families where violence had been reduced and other, less violent forms of managing had been employed and there has been regression. We’ve been told of families where children are living out of the home and this lockdown prevents them from safely seeing their family, which then acts as a trigger for trauma, distress and violence.

The news media quickly reacted to a perceived rise in domestic violence, and yet the CPV story was slower to emerge. Is this another of the risks that CPV carries into the pandemic? A previously hidden difficulty that does not receive public support in the national emergency.

Certainly, a risk that is carried forward, from my perspective, is that there is a double jeopardy present in CPV. Trapped within an abusive situation and responsible for the abusive party. It is hard to see many other groups taking this with them into the pandemic. That’s why we have been keen to help the Home Office and police authorities to understand that needing extra trips outside the home isn’t an indulgence, that choosing not to cause a violent showdown as to whether a teenager should respect the lockdown is not negligent parenting and that families do not get close to disruption and crisis easily.

I do not want this blog to feel pessimistic, because taken in the round the risk discussion is not pessimistic. For those people where societal pressures were contributing to risk, you don’t take those risks with you into lockdown. We have also heard about families who are managing better with the conformity of school, work and social activity being a daily source of distress. For these families, the lockdown has allowed a calm, a period of nesting and an opportunity to unite in our family relationships.

I think that understanding CPV and Covid-19 in these terms helps me to recognise that this is not about blame and that this should not be about shame. If we carry our risk register with us, then it is right that we can explain our risk factors and these should be respected as needs. This is not a story of failure or fault, and it is only by recruiting in supporters to listen to this need that the appropriate support and structures will be created. I hope that people can take their own power to tell their stories in this way and that the professionals can hear it in this same way. Maybe that way we can all become Professors in the Public Understanding of Risk.

 

Many thanks to Eleanor for this post. As always, if you would like to contribute anything to the discussion about child to parent violence and abuse, please do send me an email. 

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An important message from the adoption community. 

Sue Armstrong Brown, CEO of Adoption UK, wrote on their website this week about the potentially devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown for families. Reassuringly, she also writes about the growth of online support, including the provision of therapies, and peer to peer work. Getting help early is important at the best of times, but even more so now, while so many families find themselves facing additional day to day stresses.  

The Support Gap

The past six weeks have taught us more about adoption support than the previous year. It’s been a deeply uncomfortable experiment into what happens to adoptive families when social, medical and academic infrastructure is disrupted, family routines are upended, pressure on relationships goes up and respite goes down.

This is what we’ve learned.

Things escalate quickly

Families have been simultaneously exposed to additional pressures and cut off from their support. Access to therapists and school SEND resources is reduced, patchy or absent. No less important is the loss of informal support networks, such as contact with the wider family or access to regulating activities.

Family resilience is under strain. We are seeing a steep increase in reports of challenging behaviour, child-to-parent violence, anxiety, and self-harming.

You can read the rest of her blog here

Adoption UK published their report, Home Learning During the Covid-19 Lockdown, on May 4th. The report catalogues notable increases in anxiety and in challenging and often violent behaviour, and concludes with a series of recommendations to schools about communicating with parents; about parents’ need for additional understanding / support at this time; and for understanding about issues around return to school when lockdown ends . The report can be accessed here.

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International FASD Awareness

September 9th was International FASD Awareness Day. Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, the most common non-genetic cause of learning disability in the UK, is thought to affect 2% of the UK and US populations, though some people claim that is a huge under-estimate, with up to 5% affected. Within certain communities – care experienced children – it is significantly higher, with perhaps a third of adoptive children receiving a diagnosis. That is a challenge in itself, with only relatively recent wider recognition of this disorder, above and beyond the facial characteristics which only show on a small proportion of children affected. Continue reading

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Adopting: real life stories

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I was a bit surprised when this book first dropped through my letter box. I hadn’t offered to review it and so for a while it lay on a very tall pile of “books to read when I have some spare time”. But of course the title should have given it away…

If anyone was thinking that love is all that’s needed, or was tempted ever to say that “all kids do that”, then this is a book for them! Not that it’s all doom and gloom by any means. Adoption stories are statistically more often positive and affirming, but it is a sad fact that as many as a third of families will experience real struggles (see Beyond the Adoption Order) and Ann Morris quietly and without drama shows us both sides of the coin. Continue reading

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Child to parent violence: Parents talking

On Sunday 28th August, Hannah Meadows posted on her website “But they look so innocent”: Our CPV experience – an account of living with traumatised primary aged children, and the family’s attempts to access help. The post was picked up by many people over the next couple of days, with significant twitter comments, and then also featured as a Mumsnet Blog of the Day. Hannah’s is by no means the only blog to raise the issue of child to parent violence in recent weeks. As schools returned, other parents spoke out about the stresses faced by their young people and the impact this has on mood, regulation and behaviour; and a quick tweet asking for contributions brought many other families and issues to my attention. Discussion ranged from the difficulties in being believed that there is a problem, professional understanding of the issues, lack of resources and the impact of budget cuts, the problem with “quick fixes” and being encouraged towards courses that are too brief, to what happens when misguided help makes things worse. Some of these issues are all too familiar, but others are important considerations which, perhaps, have not been sufficiently addressed in the past.

One of the people who replied to my comments was Scott Casson-Rennie, adoptive parent to three sons and Regional Manager in the Development Team (England) for Adoption UK. Scott, who tweets as  @GayAdoption Dad, kindly agreed to contribute his thoughts and experience for this post. Continue reading

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Non Violent Resistance

Non-Violent Resistance, as a response to child to parent violence, has attracted considerable attention and support among the adoption community, so I was pleased to come across this blog from Frogotter, outlining their experience of attending an NVR course with Peter Jakob.

frogotter's Blog

We were pretty excited about attending a course on Non Violent Resistance. It was run by Adoption UK and had Peter Jakob speaking. Violence has become our biggest concern with the boys. Not really because they’re getting worse, if anything they are getting better at handling their impulses. But, as they get larger and stronger, any violence at all starts to be a bit worrying. So, a day course about dealing with aggression without getting aggressive sounded perfect.
I’d already read a book about it, but I was concerned that it seemed aimed at parents of older children, and wasn’t entire applicable to us, yet.
On the other hand, some of the ideas sounded different to things I’ve read in other books, and that was rather exciting!
So, we turned up hopeful, but not expecting much.
The first thing I always look for from an expert is what they…

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Support for adoptive families experiencing violence and abuse from children

The publication last April of the research report: Beyond the Adoption Order highlighted the urgent need within the adoption community for support around the issue of children’s violence to parents, and so I have been interested to follow how this is developing at both the large scale organisational, and more intimate networking, levels. Many adoption agencies offer training around the issue, specifically in Non Violent Resistance (NVR) a theory and technique first developed for this group by Haim Omer. Continue reading

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