Things are tough right now, how we'll support families now and in the future.
Trying to get through this blog without saying the word 'unprecedented'...we wanted to update you all on the work we've been doing.
COVID - 19 restrictions are having a significant impact for everyone's lives, this affects families who come together through adoption in lots of ways.
For families already together they depend on a strong support network of Grandparents, friends and other relatives which they can no longer draw on in the same way. Families cannot access vital therapeutic services and groups such as sensory play, music groups and thereplay sessions which cannot be recreated to the same affect virtually. Children with additional needs common to adoption such autism, ADHD and foetal alcohol syndrome will have seen a huge change to their routine. The climate of fear and worry may resurface trauma experienced by children due to neglect and abuse before being placed. There is also heightened levels of anxiety for parents who, like many of us, are managing the demands of children while working from is putting additional strain on adoptive families.
Life story and identity
It is also making the placement of children, and all the important life story work that goes along with it extremely challenging. Goodbye contact sessions and meetings with birth families may not be able to take place. Photos and goodbye gifts that come along with these are often the building blocks of life story work. Some adoption panels aren't sitting or are meeting virtually during this time. Pre meets between children and their prospective adopters may be socially distanced or not able to take place. Introductions with new families may not be taking place or be delayed. When all of this is over and these children grow up those missing photographs, scraps of information and goodbyes will have a lasting damaging impact on their sense of identity.
So here's what were doing...
We've been applying for COVID -19 funding to create digital memory boxes for children so that even in this crisis, and if they experience a number of moves we can keep those treasured memories safe. During normal times photographs, teddies and blankets can become lost, their provenance forgotten or degrade as they are stored away. In general the adoption process is very paper based and so families end up with stacks of paper and eventually key information about a child and their story becomes buried. We are planning to launch a digital tool to keep this treasured information safe. We are currently working with developers to turn these requirements into a technical specification.
We continue to work on publishing our Collecting the Diamonds story book which will be a resource for families, schools and social care professionals. We have applied for several funding streams to enable a digital version of the book which will allow us to reach more families.
We really appreciate the continued support of our amazing trustees who continue to guide us through all this chaos! We hope you are all finding your own way through too.
Sian and Siobhan