Learn about the long-term support we will give you after you have adopted a child.
ADOPTION SUPPORT SERVICES
Our adoptive families are supported by their allocated social worker up to the point of the legal adoption being granted. Ongoing support is then provided the Adoption Support Team.
The kinds of services that are provided include family support, various groups, training, Safebase parenting programme, life story work, help with managing contact and adoption counselling.
In our experience many of our adoptive families stay in touch with the agency and avail themselves of the services at different stages in their family life. This ranges from advice and guidance to more intensive support. We strongly encourage our families to seek support as needed and to maintain links with the agency and other adoptive families.
All of our team are trained in Theraplay© principles. Theraplay is a child and family play therapy that focuses on building and enhancing attachment, promoting confidence and self esteem, and trust in others. It is based on the natural patterns of playful healthy interaction between parent and child. It is personal, physical and fun. Theraplay is based on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships, Structure, Nurture, Engagement and Challenge. Sessions create an active, emotional connection between parent and child, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and loveable, and of relationships as positive and rewarding. (from the Theraplay Manual).
Families sometimes require additional support and guidance at different points in the life of their child. This need often arises at points of transition, such as the move from nursery to school or from primary to secondary school, significant changes in the family circumstances or a house move.
Adopted children can display a range of challenging behaviours, such as functioning at a much younger emotional age and stage to their chronological years, behaviours stemming from heightened anxiety and attachment difficulties, related to their early life experiences. We aim to provide our families with further advice on such behaviour so they can manage and better understand their child. We also do direct work with children and families using the Theraplay© dimensions and DDP (Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy) principles.
Sometimes these behaviours create challenges at school and we are available to provide support to the family and school in these situations. This can help to facilitate a better working relationship between home and school. We are able to attend school meetings as required.
In addition to the direct work that we undertake we are also able to signpost families to other relevant services, such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services or play therapy.
In some circumstances we advocate for families who need Disability Living Allowance, or adoption allowances applied retrospectively, depending on the presenting needs of the child.
LIFE STORY WORK
This is an area of work we are often involved in and needs to be revisited at different times during the adopted child’s life as they grow in their understanding of their adoption and identity. This consists of either direct work with the child or young person on their life story or supporting parents to do this work with their child themselves. In doing this work we use the models developed by Joy Rees and Richard Rose.
Help with managing contact can include facilitating letterbox contact with the birth family. It may also include facilitating direct face-to-face contact with birth family members, such as birth parents, grandparents and siblings. Where direct contact is taking place this would involve counselling with all parties to ensure this is safe and appropriate for all concerned, especially the adoptee.
We offer counselling to all people affected by adoption through SACS. For the adoptee this may include preparing a profile of his/her early life and background to their adoption. We also offer a search and intermediary service for those wishing to trace birth relatives separated by adoption.
As an agency we are committed to providing relevant training on a wide range of topics. This may vary according to the needs expressed by our families. Topics have included:
- Stress and the teenage brain
- Managing challenging behaviour
- Talking to your child about adoption
- Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Introduction to Theraplay© dimensions
We ensure that our families are invited to training provided by SACS, as well as keeping families informed of other relevant training opportunities provided by other organisations.
We are continuing to develop and adapt the groups we offer in response to the needs expressed by our families.
Here is an example of some of the groups we have run over the years at SACS:
- A Parent and Child Group using Theraplay© twice a year. This involves six weekly sessions at the agency promoting and developing sensory and playful activities that enhance attachment claiming and belonging.
- In partnership with Scottish Adoption and City of Edinburgh Council we run a Single Adopters Group that meets three times a year.
- A group for older girls – over recent years we have successfully run a group for older girls. This provided them with the opportunity to meet with other adopted young people to explore some of the issues that were important to them, such as identity, school, managing friendships and feelings.
- We have also run a group for younger girls which was more activity and play based. The plan is to resume this group with a focus on Theraplay© techniques and other play experiences. We are looking into developing a mixed teens group.
- In Aberdeen we offer a Dads and Lads group, which soon will be open to girls too, given its popularity. In Edinburgh we link in to the group for Dads and Children. This is run by adopters from the various voluntary agencies and local authorities across Edinburgh and the Lothians.
- Until recently we have also had an Adopters Group and a Male Adopters Group and are considering how best to take these forward.
We welcome suggestions from our adopters and foster carers as to what training opportunities and types of groups they feel would best benefit them and their children.
SAFEBASE PARENTING PROGRAMME
This is a four day experiential programme. Prior to attending, families take part in a filmed family session based on the four dimensions of Theraplay©. A further session is arranged to provide the parents with feedback recognising the positive interactions observed, as well as identifying some areas that may need strengthened. The aims of the course include:
- Raising levels of awareness by providing information that includes attachment theory and the impact of trauma on brain development.
- Helping adoptive parents develop their understanding and responses to the challenges their children’s pre-placement experiences may pose now or in the future.
- Developing and sharing practical strategies to manage these challenges.
- Exploring the meaning of the development of permanence and constancy in child development.
- Developing the knowledge base and skills of adoptive parents to empower them to care for their children more confidently and to deal with professionals effectively.
- Improving family interactions so that the family feel hope, have fun and enjoy each other’s company.
What people say about SafeBase
“I have a far better understanding of my daughter’s character and reasons for her behaviour.”
“I didn’t quite realise how important it was going to be for me. I almost said I didn’t need it!! How wrong would that have been?”
“I believe that the tools that we have been equipped with by SafeBase, should enable us to approach our child’s issues with fresh understanding and a new level of calmness, hopefully leading to a closer and more loving family. This has been a very valuable learning experience, especially about myself!”
“SafeBase has improved my understanding of attachment issues and has provided us with practical strategies and techniques to improve the care we provide and our relationship with our child. The explanation of brain development and attachment was very helpful.”
SAFEBASE FOR SCHOOLS
This programme evolved from the SafeBase Parenting Programme. It is a one day training programme delivered to teachers, learning assistants, nursery staff and any other adult involved in the life of children at school. Its aims are to:
- Inform schools about adoption and its impact on the child, their school and the child’s ability to learn.
- Equip schools to advocate for their vulnerable children.
- Educate about attachment difficulties and early life neglect and abuse including how this shapes brain development and the child’s responses to stress and learning capacity.
- Equip schools to feel competent and confident in teaching children to achieve their learning potential.