How has adoption changed professionally in the past 30 years?

30 years adoptionBestselling author of Creating Loving Attachments and clinical psychologist Kim Golding reflects upon the major changes in the world of adoption over the past 30 years and looks towards the future. Her article is taken from 30 Years of Social Change which gathers together over 30 leading thinkers from diverse disciplines to reflect upon how their fields of expertise have changed.

The year 1987 was life-changing for me. I was a relatively newly qualified clinical psychologist and was embarking on motherhood. The birth of my son was a long way removed from the world of adoption and fostering but, unbeknown to me at the time, this latter world was on the threshold of great change.

It would be another decade before I took on the responsibility alongside colleagues to develop a support service for carers of children living in and adopted from care, but this service would be shaped by changes that were already starting. The 30 years during which my son has grown into an  adult,  and Jessica  Kingsley Publishers  has become a leading publisher in literature focused on adoption and  fostering,  have  coincided  with  a  period  of intense scrutiny, research and change within the world of fostering and adoption.

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Exclusive: Read Charlie Craggs’ letter from To My Trans Sisters

Charlie Craggs is an award-winning trans activist…and now author, apparently.

She is the founder of Nail Transphobia and has been travelling all over the UK nailing transphobia since 2013 and has just gone global, taking her campaign stateside in 2017. She uses the proceeds from her campaign to run free self-defence classes for trans and non-binary femmes. Charlie topped the Observer’s New Radicals list of social innovators in Britain, was awarded a Marie Claire Future Shaper Award in 2017 and has been called one of the most influential and inspirational LGBTQ people in the UK by both The Guardian and the Independent. She has starred in campaigns for Selfridges, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Stonewall, and has written and spoken about trans issues on the news (BBC, ITV and Sky), for numerous publications (Vogue, Dazed and Confused and The Guardian) and at the Houses of Parliament.

Read Charlie’s letter from her new book, To My Trans Sisters, here.

For more information on the book or to buy a copy, click here.

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Sensitive boys and masculine stereotypes

sensitive boysBetsy de Thierry talks about her her new book, The Simple Guide to Sensitive Boys, and discusses the need for society to stop imposing male stereotypes upon them about how they should behave.

“The creative mind is wired with the ability to feel with great depth and passion. Without good strategies for managing this hypersensitivity, instead of creativity the result can be a plunge into the emotional depths.”[1]

Being male today seems to be complicated. We recognise the statistics that demonstrate the mental health struggle for many males in adulthood, and yet many environments are not recognising the challenges around being male in childhood. The link is important because I believe that we could prevent a lot of the mental health problems presenting themselves if we were able to meet the emotional needs of men at a young age. Continue reading

Parenting tips to help adopted and fostered children with their behaviour

therapeutic parenting

Christine Gordon outlines a series of action charts to help parents and carers deal with specific behavioural challenges that adopted and fostered children may present.  Each chart is accompanied by a description that explains why they may be acting in this way. The charts address behavioural difficulties such as sibling rivalry, accepting blame and responsibility, food issues, tantrums and more. The action charts are taken from her new book, Parenting Strategies to Help Adopted and Fostered Children with Their Behaviour.

Click here to read the extract

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How can we prepare for a ‘good death’?

Carlo Leget is Professor in Care Ethics and Endowed Professor of Spiritual and Ethical Questions in Palliative Care at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, Netherlands. His book Art of Living, Art of Dying is a contemporary guide for discussing end of life and existential questions. Here, he considers end of life issues in a hospice context and reflects on the importance of a model for enabling a ‘good death.’ 

Some twenty years ago I entered the world of patients who are dying and their families. Until that time I had been studying theology, trying to find the meaning of life in conversation with the great minds of Western thought. I wrote a PhD thesis on the relation between life on earth and ‘life’ after death in the theology of Thomas Aquinas, and hoped to continue my work by building a bridge between the ancient wisdom of the Church and problems in contemporary health care.

The higher one’s ambitions are, the more one risks to lose. During my participatory observation as an auxiliary nurse, caring for dying patients and their families, I virtually did not find a single point of connection between my ambitions and everyday reality. The people who were cared for and died in the nursing homes I worked in, were hardly thinking about life after death. Even ethical issues about autonomy, non-maleficence and benevolence I had read so much about and which might work as a point of departure did not seem to play any role at all.

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How can we attune to the spiritual and religious needs of young people in hospice contexts?

Reverend Kathryn Darby is the Chaplain at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and co-author with Paul Nash and Sally Nash of Spiritual Care with Sick Children and Young People.

In this blog, she explores the roles chaplains play for sick children and young people who are staying in hospices or hospitals. 

How can we attune to the spiritual and religious needs of children and young people in a hospital or hospice context? This question was recently sharpened for me in my role as a chaplain at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital when in conversation with a young person receiving treatment for mental health. He said words to the effect of, “You just get into that headspace where you don’t matter, you don’t deserve anything”. The need for all of us to attend to our mental health has been highlighted in British society recently – e.g. the grieving and recovery process of Princes William and Harry in relation to their mother’s death and debate within the political arena about mental health provisionNo one is invulnerable to the stresses and bruising of life that can result from illness, bereavement, or loss.  At times, mental health issues, such as anxiety, low mood, or eating disorders can escalate for young people leading to hospital care. Young people and their families experience distress, suffering and heartache but can find the support that they need for recovery and growth.

Recently some of us within the Chaplaincy at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital organised a sponsored cycle ride to raise money for our spiritual care activities at Parkview, the in-patient provision in Birmingham for young people with mental health needs. Eighteen people of various ages and cycling experience completed the 23 mile cycle ride.  We cycled through parks and alongside lakes and canals, arriving at our hilltop destination to eat lunch together. Two members of the team drove a minibus and met us at points along the way to cheer us on. The journey illustrated the uphill challenges of living with a mental health illness and also the power of connectedness and positive environment to improve mental health. Our spirits were all lifted by the experience of the day.

The sponsored cyclists

One of the spiritual care activities we have introduced in our chaplaincy work at Birmingham Children’s Hospital is making bead bracelets to assess spiritual need (see, Spiritual Care with Sick Children and Young People for a fuller explanation). In this exercise, different coloured beads are chosen to represent different spiritual aspects which are being experienced or are in deficit. A variation of this activity is making a bracelet with the child’s name or initials on it (using coloured lettered beads), and offering symbols such as hearts, pendants (“love and beloved”), and coloured beads to represent feelings, hopes, or significant people as a sign for that child of their sustaining relationships and connectedness. Wearing a personal symbolic bracelet can remind children and young people of an affirming encounter with a chaplain or care giver and go on speaking about their worth, even in those moments when they cannot feel that way about themselves. Although it may seem a small thing, I have seen how important such bracelets, or other spiritual care objects can be for children and young people, representing both the significance of the time they are going through and the importance of encounter, connection and meaning making. Such an exercise is not exclusive to chaplains but can be initiated by nurses, clinical support workers, play specialists or other professionals seeking to empower, build rapport with, and affirm children and engage with their spiritual life. Through our spiritual care we can give the message, “You matter.  You are deserving”.

 

One of the symbolic bead bracelets made at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information or to buy a copy of Kathryn Darby’s book, please follow this link. Why not follow us on Facebook @JKPReligion for more exclusive content from our authors. 

Rethinking hospice chaplaincy: A spiritually motivated response to raw human need

Reverend Dr Steve Nolan is the chaplain at Princess Alice Hospice in Esher and the author of ‘Spiritual Care at the End of Life.

Here, he explores new ways of understanding the roles of hospice chaplains. 

I never met Dame Cicely Saunders. The nearest I came to her was when I visited the chaplain at St Christopher’s, the south London hospice she established. My tour of the hospice had reached the old chapel, and as I chatted with the chaplain, I caught a glimpse of her as she walked slowly passed the chapel door.

Whether Dame Cicely should be considered ‘the founder’ of modern hospice care could be debated. But her dynamism and drive had a significant hand in shaping the direction and values of the nascent movement. Yet she was not the only dynamic woman to have influenced the history of hospice care.

In 1843, Mme Jeanne Garnier opened a home for the dying in Lyon. In Dublin, Sister Mary Augustine inspired first Our Lady’s Hospice for the Dying, which opened in 1879, then further hospices in Australia and Great Britain. And in New York, Mother Alphonsa established St Rose’s Home in 1899. Working independently of each other, these women shared not only a common purpose but a motivation that was inspired by their spiritual beliefs.

Spirituality was clearly one of the key motivators that drove Dame Cicely. In the late 1940s, she converted from agnosticism to a deep evangelical Christian faith, which transformed the way she understood her work. Caring for the sick had always been a priority; following her conversion it became a religious calling.

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