Who Will Help? or Anyone for Fishing?

anyone for fishhingWould it be too much to assume that those that deal with adoption, work within the sector that facilitates adoption, is it too much to ask, that these people know about and understand modern day adoption? From those concerned with the protection of children and placing and supporting children in care, to those that support adopters in their post adoption years, for them to have a basic knowledge of why children who have lived with trauma behave in the way they do. For those working with children who have come through the care system, for these people to understand a more therapeutic approach in how they are supported and parented is vital. A recent phone call I had with a lady working within one of these departments would suggest, yes that is far too much to expect.

As my husband and I restrained our son on a busy train this weekend, preventing him from further smashing his head into the wall or punching his arm into our faces and also the wall, a woman down the train filmed us on her phone. She was quite convinced that she was performing her civic duty by recording an incident of a child in distress, evidence that she no doubt believed would see my husband and I very much in trouble.I’m sure she would have no idea, not an inkling, of the real trouble it would actually cause for all those involved.

For me there have been a number of sleepless nights, wondering how the event could have been avoided, how we could have worked it differently. The continual self doubting and the belief that I am a useless and pathetic excuse for a parent for allowing this to happen to my son.  Or the toll of having to retell the gruesome details of the events, time and time again, to ensure all relevant authorities are aware,  just in case the film appeared anywhere, and to detail the extent of the problems we face. Do you think she could understand the heartache of reaching out to those who are supposed to be able to offer support, only to be passed around a number of departments who either have no understanding of what it is you need, or are not prepared to give it to you?

I’m tired and bewildered by the question “What is it you want us to do?” or “tell us what it is you need?”  I don’t know, I’m not the expert. I am a resourceful and committed mother who has given her all to bringing up my children but, I’m all out of ideas, I’m worn down, creatively sapped and I’m asking you for help. Where is it?

Oh that’s right it’s the lady at the end of the telephone  that informed me…

That violence “is part and parcel of family life”

And suggested that I “tell him his behaviour is not acceptable in our family and the next time he puts a hole in his wall I will call the police”

Or “Have you tried rugby?”

She also enquired “does he have a grandfather who could take him fishing maybe?”

And implied that by talking with him about adoption I had made him feel “different”.

Her parting suggestion was that my husband and I book ourselves a three day holiday, before Christmas.

It is almost comedic if it wasn’t such an insulting and devastating response to my cry for help.

My son is violent; he has always been violent when he’s angry. We have supported and helped him with this anger but it has always been there. Now he is older and bigger, so is his anger. The violence that we now see is very frightening for all those involved. Up until this weekend these outbursts have only been seen at home and occasionally in a weaker strain, at school. His very public display of anger has frightened me, but not as much as it has frightened him.

After an episode, his eyes flicker across mine unsure, uncertain of his own worth. “Do you hate me he asks?”

“I don’t know why it happened, I’m so scared” he admits in a quiet uncertain voice.

So what are these gigantic feelings of anger, where are they rooted and what is it that is causing them?  What about the overwhelming feelings of shame he has following such an enormous explosion of emotion. And let’s just talk about the fear created within him that someone, a stranger, has filmed him in this frightening state.  “Who will see it?” his trembling voice asks. He is afraid that his peers will witness this wild and out of control behaviour, that his being different will be further identified and these images will become fodder for those who wish to make his life “Awkward”. “I’ll have no friends” he fearfully states.

All these feelings that are born from his traumatic start in life, that I feel, seen as though I’m not a qualified psychiatrist, I am not fully equipped to help him with. So who will help?

Today I’m left feeling bewildered, utterly unsure as to what to do next. I’m sure I will form a plan, once my head stops spinning. I’m sure the fear from the weekend’s events will subside and I will take my son in my arms repeatedly and reassure him that all will be fine, once again. I’m sure my husband will be strong for us all, as he was on that train, and hold me close and reassure me things will be fine. And we will look to our youngest and ensure the fear he felt during the episode is abated and he is also reassured.  And we will plan, and discuss and organise to hopefully avoid it happening again. But it will, happen again. And once again we will look within for the answers because it seems at the moment no else is prepared to offer us meaningful help.



  1. Sally December 4, 2013 / 2:35 pm

    I am horrified, saddened and depressed at the advice you have been given. It is pathetic, and like you say would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic. If professionals don’t understand trauma and it’s impact upon young lives then they need to educate themselves before they support traumatised children and their families. Advice like this is damaging and dangerous.
    Unfortunately the truth is that professionals without knowledge and experience of trauma and attachment do not have the necessary tools to support adoptive families effectively. I hope you find the right sort of help because it really can make the world of difference.
    Thinking of you all xxxx

  2. Emma December 4, 2013 / 2:39 pm

    I don’t know if you can feel this, but right now I am imagining I am hugging you. You write about your son, yet it could be about my daughter. I was sent a leaflet on “parenting your teenager”. It wasn’t even an original leaflet, it was a naff, crinkled photocopy. So, I understand, although I have no words for you but send hugs and solidarity in support. x

  3. Sezz December 4, 2013 / 2:45 pm

    I am gobsmacked at those ‘suggestions’ from that lady. It’s almost as if they’d transferred the phones to another dept and got them to answer, any old answer. Except it’s not, it’s the real department and to give you so called advice like that beggars belief. Big hug to you xxxx

  4. Frogotter December 4, 2013 / 3:32 pm

    I was appalled to read the ‘advice’ you were given. It would be understandable coming from an aquaintence with no awareness of traumatised children, but from post-adoption support it is utterly unacceptable.
    Adoption UK may be more use.
    Your local authority must give you an assessment of needs (I don’t know if you’ve been through that already) if you ask. They should then make some sensible offers of support. We get play therapy sessions and some sensory attachment support for our boys, which – though it is slow and stuttering – is making some progress. But, I know some local authorities are simply better at support than others. It shouldn’t be the case.
    So sorry to hear about your terrible experience. I will be thinking of your family and hoping you do get the support you need soon.

  5. Amanda Boorman December 4, 2013 / 5:13 pm

    Totally disgusted but not surprised by this. As others have said it sounds all too sadly familiar. You should not have to be expected to handle violence in the home as an everyday part of family life. How hypocritical the system is! My heart goes out to you and your lovely son who I know is a beautiful, sensitive and bright boy with huge and difficult things to deal with. My advice is to insist on a risk assessment from children’s social care which will spark off a highlighted need for formal support. Also keep an incident book as evidence. Once I did that it helped my daughter and I. We are always here for you. You will get there one step at a time and shame on those who make the fantastic job you do so much harder through their ignorance. xx

  6. Luanne December 4, 2013 / 7:26 pm

    People can be so stupid. I’m so sorry you’re going through this!!

  7. honeymummy December 4, 2013 / 9:45 pm

    Oh Sarah, I am sorry sorry you have been treated this way. As they others have said comments/advice like that is outrageous.
    I wish I had the right words for you that would help you Or ease your distress, but I think the others have given you good advice.
    I do want to say from reading your posts and meeting you, I can tell your are a wonderful mother who is doing the best she can under very difficult circumstances. (Actually you are doing an amazing job)
    I hope you get the support you need.

  8. finnybobbles December 5, 2013 / 9:39 am

    I don’t know you, and never normally post on things like this, so to say that I am demonstrates the ferocity of my feelings. I cannot believe that in this day and age you have been abandoned the way you have – it is absolutely disgraceful! I read your blog as it had been reposted by a friend who has relatively recently adopted the little boy she has fostered since he was 18 weeks old (he’s now 3). I stand in awe of anyone who fosters or adopts – you are all truly amazing people. Even if you have adopted purely to fulfill your own desires to have a family – you are still amazing.

    From the photos on your other blog entries I’m guessing your eldest son is still at primary school, or not far into secondary school? I hope the school your sons go to is supportive. As I don’t know how long it is since they were adopted I’m not sure what the school will know about them. (I am a primary teacher by the way). We have a little boy who has just been placed with adoptive parents at our school and I know that there are certain procedures and things in place – one of them is called a CAF – Common Assessment Framework. It’s where all the relevant agencies can meet together, with parents of course, just to see how things are going and you should be able to request one if there isn’t one in place. It’s a time where you can raise your concerns and somebody there should be able to either help, or put you in touch with somebody who can. We have a CAMHs service – child and adult mental health, and I know referrals can be made to them and, whilst it may take a while, help is available. I know they provide counselling and therapies – including family therapies. If he does display some of this behaviour at school it is possible that he may be on the SEN register? If not, it would maybe be worth asking if you can meet with the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) to see if a CAF can be set up, or a referral made to whatever services your area has. Also, have you tried asking your GP for some help? I realise that you may already have tried all these avenues, but I can’t just sit back and say nothing when you are going through such hell. I feel for you all, you, your husband, your son who can’t control his feelings and is frightened by it all and your other son who is frightened by witnessing it. It beggars belief what has happened to you. I know that your son doesn’t want to stand out and be any more different, but school should be able to do these things behind the scenes so it shouldn’t cause any problem there. I’m sorry if this is all a bit jumbled up – my mind is racing on in trying to make sure I get everything down.

    Through all of this, hold fast to the fact that you love your sons and you have created a family, you are amazing people and the world is a better place for having you in it, stay strong and keep asking for help until you get it. If I can be of any help whatsoever, please email me – or whatever it is you do through these bloggy things! (I’m lagging a bit behind when it comes to twitter and blogs etc!!)

  9. Emma December 5, 2013 / 10:32 am

    I am so saddened by the advice you were given. These traumatic situations are so hard on both you and the boys, and I just wish you could get the help and support you need. Whilst hoping that you do, in the mean time please know that we are all here for additional support…

  10. Rose white December 5, 2013 / 10:43 am

    This made me sob for you and your family and for all the other families (including my own) who are dealing with the impact of neglect on our children.

  11. older mum in a muddle December 5, 2013 / 7:28 pm

    ‘Violence is a part of family life?’ ‘Take him fishing with grandad?’ I think you are quite within your rights to make a serious complaint to the authorities. Who was it you spoke to? The cleaning lady? Whoever it was has evidently had no training at all. Appalled. Love to you and your family. X

    • thepuffindiaries December 6, 2013 / 9:57 am

      Thank you. You made me smile the thought that the cleaning lady, mop in hand, was just helping out….not. x

  12. Al Coates December 6, 2013 / 9:59 pm

    I wish your story was exceptional but unfortunately it is being re told by numerous adoptive parents. I recall our Local Authority Adoption Support Worker being amazed at the concept of attachment as we explained it to her. We were equally amazed she’d never heard of it before.
    The reality is that many local authorities sub contract the post adoption support out to the lowest bidder and they only require that the workers are ‘suitably’ qualified. Legally they have a duty to assess your families needs but no duty to meet the needs that they then identify. It would seem cruel under any circumstances to tell what you need and what may help but then to deny you access to it.
    From your description of the event you need support, guidance and practical help, local adopter lead support groups are a great source of help and can give names of professionals that ‘get it’ and routes to access specific services. I imagine you know that though.
    Hold fast and we all hold you in our prayers and thoughts.

  13. Lindsay December 7, 2013 / 4:54 am

    Oh Sarah, how awful. It’s so frustrating to ask for help and get shot down with either a) nothing or b) ridiculous non helping, non understanding suggestions. The constantly repeating the same story to countless professionals and the consistently unanswered questions and requests for help…I can only imagine that you and your husband (and your kids!) must be exhausted.
    I wish there was more I could do to help. Please let me know if I can and keep us posted on how things go. Big hug (and cuppa tea…and bag of chips) to you.

  14. Suddenly Mummy December 7, 2013 / 8:50 pm

    I read this when you posted it, and I re-posted …. but I didn’t comment because I was just so beside myself and I literally couldn’t think of anything useful to say. Any comment would have been pure bile and sarcasm! Several days later, and re-reading, I’m still gnashing my teeth in anger and frustration at what has been said to you. Also I want to smash the train lady’s face in – can I say that sort of thing on the internet?! Wish I could help . . . sorry I can’t help, but can only be outraged on your behalf, and on behalf of your children.

  15. Mrs Teepot December 8, 2013 / 2:21 pm

    oh that is awful, I am so frustrated for you, so angry that you are not getting the help you need. I so wish I had some good advice or something to offer other than hugs and strength and love. xxx

  16. Helen December 11, 2013 / 2:33 pm

    FFS. I can’t imagine that anyone out there could do a better job, but that feeling of utter helplessness must be devastasting. I wonder whether there are any therapeutic services on offer in your area, although I am quite sure you will have tried everything? Be strong, you are the best medicine.

  17. Momamoo January 21, 2015 / 1:24 pm

    I have similar with my daughter. Huge rages and self loathing. I’ve had similar advice too. We’ve been waiting 6months now for adoption counselling as she’s been assessed as needing it …considering going private…but SO VERY EXPENSIVE. Big hugs xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • thepuffindiaries January 21, 2015 / 3:41 pm

      Thank you, things have actually got a lot better since I wrote that post. Hope you get your support soon. xxx

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