Saturday, 8 August 2015

Bye bye BAAF...

Well that was a shock wasn't it? Last Friday, just over a week ago, it was announced that BAAF - the British Association of Adoption and Fostering was closing, immediately. Here's the statement from the BAAF Chief Executive.

Through The Adoption Social I often see press releases, sometimes we get direct emails from adoption organisations asking us to share their news, but this news didn't arrive this way. I happened to see a tweet mid-afternoon on Friday and immediately got in touch with Sarah (from The Puffin Diaries, and my partner in crime on The Adoption Social) to see if she'd heard.

After sharing the link to the announcement on The Adoption Social's Facebook page, I soon started to see others sharing and retweeting it, all with the same level of shock. I don't have much direct experience with BAAF myself, but my timelines on Twitter and Facebook are full of surprise, I even saw a thread on Mumsnet about it!

Now, of course it's sad. Having been made redundant myself, I feel for those poor staff members who will be left without a job. But here's how I see it (based on the very limited information that's been put out there):

Most of the core services will be operated by Coram instead now. So, service users/adopters/professionals/adoptees should not lose out. It might work well for all of us too? Fresh eyes on those services might mean some of them change and improve.

Adoption Link - love them or loathe them - already run other services that fill in the gaps of the now Coram/CoramBAAF run services.

This leaves space for newer, forward thinking organisations. As one of the main players in the adoption support (and I use that term loosely) world, you really needed BAAF onside to get heard or taken seriously, but with their 'traditional' views, communication methods and services, this was always going to be difficult for new/alternative/activist/small/modern organisations. Perhaps the tide is turning?

Now is the time to look further to have your support needs met. You know, Adoption UK and BAAF are not the only adoption organisations that exist (or existed) - yes, there's Adoption Link and the First4Adoption website, there's Coram, Barnardo's and After Adoption. There's also The Open Nest, The Adoption Social, The Potato Group, individual adoptive parents, We Are Family, the new Single Adopters Network, The Yellow Kite, Post Adoption Centre, TACT, Family Futures and many more local organisations too. They might even be better placed to help you with your needs!

My concern however is that if BAAF can't sustain itself, then can these other organisations? What is the wider implication of BAAF closing it's doors?

And whilst Coram does a good job of supporting families in England, what of those in Ireland,  and Wales who will be losing out? (Scotland are being looked after as some services transfer to a Scottish organisation).
And how can Coram - even if the legal part is strictly speaking a separate entity - effectively and independently run the reviewing mechanism that they are taking on?

What are your thoughts? If you have a blog, then you can write a post and link up to The Adoption Social here. If you don't then please leave your comments below, or contact me and I might be able to offer you a guest spot here on The Boy's Behaviour.

Actual support is on it's way...

As you can probably tell from my lack of writing, life these days is pretty - dare I say it - normal.

Mini is happy at school, and happy that it's the school holidays. He's spending his days playing Clash of Clans, watching TV, bouncing on the trampoline, playing in the garden, drawing, on a trampoline course, at nanny and granddad's, baking with me and building dens. We've not had *too* many whines of boredom, though there's been a fair bit of bickering with Dollop. Can't have it all I guess.

The NC and I are still having sessions with a counsellor. Following a course of attachment focussed counselling, during which Mini attended *some* appointments, the NC and I also had our own individual counselling sessions, and after they wouldn't renew funding for more sessions for Mini to attend, we were given a package of 6 follow-up sessions, to be used one a month. We have one more left.

But as a whole things are fine. Which is why we approached post adoption support back in April. I know that our life is a rollercoaster. Some days are good, some days are bad. Equally some months - even years are good, some bad. And whilst we're in a good spot, we know it won't last. That's not me being negative about the future, just realistic. In April, when the adoption support fund launched, we contacted post adoption support and asked for an assessment, with a view to asking for some NVR training to prepare ourselves for the future. Why April? Well, as it's not been confirmed how or when the big adoption support fund pot will be refilled, we felt we needed to act straight away to be guaranteed any help or support.

As it happens, due to reorganisation of the team, we've had to wait until yesterday before that assessment! That's given me 4 months to get riled up, cross about the wait, worried that we wouldn't get money, concerned it would run out etc etc. So imagine my surprise when we were offered - without any hint of hesitation or questioning - a UNISAFE course.
Not only that, but a KEEP space (usually aimed at foster carers and kinship carers, but there are a couple of spaces for adoptive parents in this next local round), which hopefully the NC will be able to go to. This is a long-term support group, with sharing and learning from each other. It comes in a few age groups, and once Mini is older, we 'graduate' to the next group up to continue appropriate support and learning.

AND, we've finally got a definite yes to the life story work that we've been pushing for. Our previous social worker signed us off, case closed before he bothered to arrange this. But after a recent approach for a new letterbox agreement, we really feel that proper professional life story work will be useful in helping Mini decide whether he wants to begin, and continue this letterbox agreement with a sibling.

I'm still in shock. I really thought we'd have to fight and push for what we feel we need. But this time, we went in knowing what support we want, and I was much more confident. We've done the parenting courses, we've had the counselling, we've done theraplay, we've changed our parenting to suit our children, we understand why we see the behaviours we do, we now need to move forward and prepare ourselves for future possible challenges.

So the only thing we have to wait on is a sensory assessment. Mini's sensory needs aren't horrific, but he does react to certain sounds and noises, and he needs firm physical touch - just some of the things that he's a bit sensitive about. Our GP hasn't been helpful, so we've asked PAS for one. However, they're not sure yet if the ASF will fund assessments as it's not a therapeutic issue. (Bizarrely though, I understand the ASF will fund sensory integration therapy - just not the assessment to see if it's needed!)

So that's us...or at least the beginning of our next chapter in the world of adoption support.

In other news...
Dollop had a playdate at her 'boyfriend's' house this week, so I had a day with Mini - a mummy/Mini date if you like. We mooched around town, treated ourselves in CaffĂ© Nero, picked lots of soft fruit at the farm, played in the garden, harvested more fruit from our greengage tree, shopped for new bedding and chilled together.

Mini keeps thinking about vegetarianism, and we now have no meat left in our freezer, just some salmon and fish fingers which I know Mini and Dollop will eat up.

I learnt how to do a lovely hair style of Dollop this morning (something that I'm not usually so good at), with the help of YouTube. Here's what I watched, this family do some fantastic hair styles and are well worth subscribing to...