Thursday, 13 June 2013

Guest post from The Open Nest

I'm very excited to be attending Britmums Live! this year, and can't wait to learn more so I can develop both The Boy's Behaviour and our new site (launching tomorrow 14 June) The Adoption Social.
However, I wouldn't be going at all, if The Open Nest hadn't stepped in and agreed to support me financially to attend. So big thank you to Amanda at The Open Amanda writes about how this developing charity began, and how it will continue...

I decided to adopt as a single woman following an amicable divorce and a surge in powerful hormones that insisted I became a mum.

Jazz arrived thirteen years ago in a five year olds flurry and our lives changed forever.

She had experienced a very traumatic start in life and the effects of this were not successfully relayed to me during the adoption preparation procedure.
At first I was just run off my feet imagining the whirlwind would calm down over time.

Quite quickly and having lost my job and an exciting MA offer, I realised I needed to have a rethink.

Over the first few years I had witnessed government bodies and charities discussing, funding and creating set narratives around adoption and adoption support. In reality it remained a fact that many families, including my own were shocked by the issues they faced after adoption, often with no meaningful support.

After my daughter had failed to gain understanding within the education system between the ages of five and eight, I made a big, and some said crazy decision.

I decided to sell my house, my only secure asset, and take on the long term tenancy of a deserted unmodernised farm house and twenty acres in the wilds of The North York Moors.

Nestled on a valley side in the woods, the house meant we would begin a new life where Jazz could avoid the overstimulation and often torturous rejection that trying to fit into the mainstream was causing. I have to admit it was a gut reaction on my part at the time but we have never looked back.

Being unemployed with a child out of school was not an easy situation at all and along with some brave friends I came up with a creative solution to the financial and social isolation problems we faced.

We opened a vintage caravan campsite "La Rosa" at a time when "glamping" was unheard of. Using what was left of my life savings we bought caravans on Ebay and kitted them out from flea markets and car boots.  It caused quite a stir in the rural farming neighbourhood but we eventually got our planning permission. Our quirky story and business captured the imagination of many journalists and before long we had a stream of happy customers who returned time after time due to the peaceful natural surroundings and the warm welcome we provided.

Running the business with us gave Jazz an "alternative" education and enabled her to socialise with the guests and their children in a controlled but flexible and calm environment.
Being beside me every day enabled her to work on our attachment and even on a bad day her rage caused minimal damage if directed into the physical outdoors.

When the neighbouring farmhouse along the lane came up for rent it meant that we could also offer a family life to Jazz's brother who came to live with us under a therapeutic fostering scheme. He went from being in an institutional children's home in Manchester to being chief woodsman and recycler for La Rosa by the age of thirteen.

Many years have passed and many stories of hope and despair are contained within them. Jazz and her brother have transitioned, painfully at times, into adulthood and due to our customers loyalty La Rosa has grown to include a quirky but much loved hotel in our nearest town Whitby.

We feel we have survived against the odds and as a group eventually felt we could perhaps use our assets and experience to support others, using our creative and practical approach to some of the issues faced by adoptive families.

We all sat down one day and talked about what we would have liked as a response to our problems over the years. What would have helped? What would have avoided some of the heartache? The list didn't seem to be that complicated and I realised that the thing that stands in the way of much support is the lack of understanding of trauma from social workers, teachers and other families. This coupled with lack of funding and resources mean assessments and meetings are in abundance but proactive support does not necessarily follow.

We made the decision that money would not be the issue that got in the way of access to our support services and that all our support would be free to adoptive families. We would not rely on commissioning bodies to create access routes to our help. We also decided that we would wish to sponsor and fund other adoption support ventures. To work with others to create a strong user led force.

The Open Nest idea was created at our kitchen table over a snowy winter and informed wisely by our now grown up children.

We have been forming the charity in public over the last six months so that we can interact and work with others who share our vision and hope for positive change.

By becoming involved in social media, tweeting and blogging, we have met inspirational and supportive people who have taught us a lot both personally and professionally. Our intention of creating an "open" nest to hatch ideas and plans is slowly but surely bearing fruit.

We plan to fully launch The Open Nest as a user led adoption support charity in November. It will be born during National Adoption Week and at an exhibition of thought provoking artworks from adoptees and adopters.

Like many adoptive families we feel positive about our experiences despite the extremely challenging nature of them. We love our funny made up family and feel immense pride in our ability to ultimately see the good or comical side of life even in times of great adversity.

We also feel great warmth and respect towards others in the adoptive community who give their time and energy not only to their children but also to help others along the journey. We look forward greatly to communicating and working alongside them into the future.
For more about The Open Nest, check out their website, they're also on Facebook and you can tweet them too @TheOpenNest


  1. Great guest post - sounds absolutely brilliant :)

  2. I am in awe of what you have achieved with both your family and your charity. The Open Nest has a wonderful sense of inclusiveness, acceptance and creativity and I can't wait to come and visit x