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Our adoption and fostering resources offer valuable guidance on important issues including attachment and trauma parenting, foster and residential care, life story work, education and schools, creative therapies, transracial adoption, parenting teens, special educational needs and more.  We also have a great set of therapeutic children’s books to help them manage big feelings.

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What is Theraplay® and how does it help children with attachment difficulties to connect with their parents and carers?

TheraplayVivien Norris and Helen Rodwell discuss what Theraplay is, how it works and why it is such an easy yet powerful tool for helping children with attachment difficulties to emotionally connect with their parents and carers. This extract is taken from their new book, Parenting with Theraplay®, and is preceded by a foreword from Dafna Lender, Programme Director of The Theraplay® Institute. Their book is a simple guide for parents which explains everything you need to know about Theraplay, with practical tips to apply it to everyday family life.

Click here to read the extract

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How to make an effective special guardianship assessment

special guardianship

With the number of Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) on the sharp rise, the need for thorough analytical assessments has never been greater when deciding whether to place a child with a potential special guardian. Here Joanne Alper and colleagues draw on experts in the field to provide information and guidance in the promotion of improved analysis when undertaking these complex assessments.

Click here to read the extract

Joanne is the author of Assessing Adoptive Parents, Foster Carers and Kinship Carers, Second Edition. Now fully updated and expanded to cover the assessment of kinship carers and special guardians, the book enables professionals to establish a meaningful understanding of parenting capacity and what it takes to support a child with a history of trauma, loss or hurt.

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We’re delighted to announce that author Sally Donovan has been awarded an OBE for her service to children and families

Sally DonovanWe’re delighted to announce that Sally Donovan, author of No Matter What, The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting and Billy Bramble, was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours this weekend with an OBE for her dedicated service to children and families.  Here Sally recounts how her parenting journey began thirty years ago, and the ways in which it has both shaped and changed her.

Thirty years ago, as Jessica Kingsley Publishers was being formed, I was 18 and about to embark on my first experience of parenting. After finishing sixth form college I took the Eurolines coach to Paris and started work as an au-pair for an Anglo-French couple. He was a floppy-haired British banker who had something of a blonde Hugh Grant about him and she was a beautiful Parisian who spoke English like Princess Diana. I lived with them in their rented house just off Place Charles de Gaulle and cared for their 1 year-old son Pascal. It was kind of normal back then to go to a foreign country, move in with people you knew virtually nothing about and, with no experience, look after their precious child. Continue reading

What is it like from a birth parent’s perspective to have your children living in foster care?

Foster care birth parentsIn this extract from Welcome to Fostering, Annie describes what it is like from a birth parent’s perspective to have your children living with foster carers, and provides some useful advice for foster carers on how to manage a good relationship with birth parents. She is the writer of her own blog, Surviving Safeguarding, which tells the story of her ongoing journey to win her children back into her custody. She believes that ‘Fostering is truly a wonderful thing’.

Click here to download the extract

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Tips for promoting young children’s wellbeing

Young children's wellbeing

Sonia Mainstone-Cotton, author of Promoting Young Children’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing, provides some very useful and easy tips for supporting young children’s happiness at this important stage in their development.

Wellbeing is a term we hear a lot about for adults and young people, but we don’t hear so much about it for young children. We know that the rates of teenage mental health problems are rising alarmingly, and we are aware that children and young people are feeling increasingly stressed and distressed. I passionately believe if we can help young children to have a good wellbeing then we are setting them off to a great start in life. But to help children have a good wellbeing, we need to be proactive about it.

One critical aspect of a child having good wellbeing is by them knowing that they are loved – that they are loved for the unique and precious individuals they are. Parents and grandparents clearly have a crucial role in letting children know that they are unconditionally loved, but I also believe that key workers, teaching assistants, children’s workers also have a role in showing children that they are loved and wanted. We show this through the words we use and the way we hold children. Part of my job is as a nurture consultant; I have seven children and schools that I support throughout the year. Every time I see one of my nurture children I ensure I show delight in seeing them that day. I smile at them, I look them in the eyes and tell them how lovely it is to see them today, how much I have been looking forward to our time together. Continue reading

How Disney films can help you talk to your child about adoption

Read an exclusive extract from Adoption at the Movies

Chapter 5: Disney Films

“Disney produces films that are loved by people of all ages, and their films tend to be watched and re-watched over the years. Disney films often involve stories that are driven by parental loss or family formation. We start our journey into the movies with a selection of enjoyable Disney films that can help your family start some meaningful conversations. The discussion questions in this section explore becoming a family, themes of belonging, dealing with loss and sadness, differentiating between secrecy and confidentiality, feelings of missing or longing for birth family members, and identity development. Let’s get the movies rolling!”

Click here to read the full extract

 

In his new book Adoption at the Movies, based on his popular blog by the same name, Addison Cooper reveals how movies your kids love can get the whole family talking about adoption in a fun and safe way.

With a film for each week of the year, Addison Cooper has compiled the best movies, new and old, for family-friendly viewing. Among those featured are Finding Dory, Frozen, Paddington, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kung Fu Panda, Star Wars, Divergent, The Blind Side and I am Sam. Carefully selected, the movies included will help families to comfortably talk about important adoption-related topics. Films are sorted by age range and topic, so it’s easy to find the perfect movie for your family. Cooper summarizes the plot, the adoption connection, difficult or scary scenes, and provides discussion questions for each movie. Helping all members of the family to explore both the pain and joy of adoption, the book covers a range of issues which can arise, such as culture, identity, control, and reunification. With something for everyone—from kids, to teens, to grown-ups—this book is a must-have for all adoptive families.

 

To learn more about Adoption at the Movies or to purchase a copy, click here. You can also view the full range of JKP’s adoption books here, join our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook.

When did it all go wrong between social work and the media?

To mark JKP’s 30th anniversary year, Martin Barrow discusses the relationship between social work and the media, and the negative impact it has on society’s views of social workers. Martin (@martinbarrow) is a foster carer and writer for The Huffington Post having previously worked as editor for The Times back in 2008. He writes about social work, mental health and child welfare. He is also an editor of the upcoming title Welcome to Fostering, publishing in May. 

When did it all go wrong between social workers and the media? You can do worse than to look back to 1987, exactly 30 years ago, to the Cleveland child abuse scandal. This was a profoundly disturbing case in which dozens of children were removed from their families on the basis of diagnoses given by two paediatricians. In the face of a public outcry the doctors were challenged and, eventually, many of the children were allowed to return home. By then, an entire community was traumatised and social workers, as well as paediatricians, had become demonised.

Continue reading

How to compile a life story book for an adopted or fostered child

life story booksJoy Rees, author of Life Story Books for Adopted and Fostered Children, gives her advice on how best to compile a life story book for an adopted or fostered child.  Working chronologically backwards rather than forwards, she explains how such a format reinforces the child’s sense of security and promotes attachment.

A Life Story Book tells the story of the child’s life and is often described as an ‘essential tool’ to help the child gain a sense of identity and an understanding of his or her history. This was the emphasis when I wrote the first edition of this book, Life Story Books for Adopted Children, – A Family Friendly Approach, some 10 years ago.

This approach evolved from my work with adoptive families, and from a growing awareness that most of the books I read at that time were simply not ‘fit for purpose’. The language used and the details given about the birth parents’ history was generally not appropriate or helpful. The books were just not child friendly. At best many of them were complex and confusing and it was difficult to follow the child’s story in them. At worse, some books inadvertently fed into the child’s sense of self-blame and shame about their early experiences. Others risked adversely affecting placement stability by impeding the vital claiming and belonging stages of the attachment process.

My approach to life story books had a different prospective.  They aimed to raise self-esteem and to promote trust and attachments with the primary carers, and emphasised the importance of incorporating plenty of positive subliminal messages, i.e. that the child is lovable, loved and valued, before helping him or her to understand and process the early history.

These key messages are reinforced in the updated book, Life Story Books for Adopted and Fostered Children. As the title reflects, the approach has been expanded and contains links to sample books not only for children who are adopted (into a range of different circumstances such as transnational adoption), but also for those in long term foster placements or living with kinship carers or Special Guardians. The suggested format, present – past – present – future, is appropriate for all of these children.

Here are some tips for compiling a life story book:

  • It must to be an honest account but ‘child-friendly’ – social work jargon should be avoided.
  • It should be appealing and colourful and contain scanned photographs and clip-art
  • It can be divided into short sections so that it can be shared in ‘bite-sizes’
  • It should engage the child by gently and playfully inviting him or her into their story
  • Writing in the 3rd person is generally more appropriate for young children
  • Positive subliminal messages should be threaded throughout the story
  • It should be a celebration of the child’s life and leave him or her with a sense of a positive future

Suggested format:

Present:

The book should not start with the child’s birth and the birth family. It should begin with the child now and the current primary attachment figures – adopter, permanent foster carer or Special Guardian. Information should be fun and non-threatening. Include details of child’s hobbies, interest, talents, the current home and family, friends, pets, nursery or school before moving into the child’s early history.

Past:

Begin this section with factual details of the child’s birth: date, place, time, day, weight, length, origins of name, if known. With increased use of social networking sites be wary of including surnames or previous addresses. Consider the risks. This information can be given at a later stage, when then child is considered mature enough to make a more informed decision about tracing and contact.

Introduce the birth mother and birth father if known, and again, if the book is for an adopted child, it is best to use the first names only, with age, description, ethnic origin, religion, health, interests and employment. Details of siblings and any other significant family member would also be included here.

Remember, the book is the story of the child’s life, and not the birth parent’s lives, so do not overwhelm them with too many details. The child should not have to own the birth parents’ troubled history.

There should be an accurate but simple account of events leading to the placement in foster care. The underlying message for the child needs to be that ‘None of this was your fault!’. Give details of foster carers. If a child has gone through more than one placement, provide an explanation for each move, emphasising that this was not because the child was ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’.

A simple account of the decisions made by the social workers, police or judge should be given. There is no need to list all of the conferences and meetings or give dates. This is too confusing for a young child and could detract from their understanding of their story.

Present:

The book should bring the child back to present with meeting their permanent family, and moving into their current home. Include Court Hearings and details of the Care Order, Special Guardianship Order and, if applicable, Adoption Order and Celebratory Hearing. A sense of permanency or ‘the forever family’ could now be reinforced.

But do not end the book here.

Future:

Give the child a sense of a hopeful future. Mentioning family rituals, familiar routines and adding more family photographs are grounding and can strengthen the child’s sense of belonging. Include family plans, perhaps a holiday or the child’s hopes and aspirations. End on a positive note and by reminding the child that wherever they go and whatever they do they will always be loved, are part of this family and will always be in the adopters’ or carers’ thoughts.

Having a sense of one’s history is important, but to enable children to move forward to the positive futures they deserve, this alone is not enough. A sensitively written book can lay the foundation for healthy attachments with the primary carers and can reinforce a sense of belonging and security. It can raise self-esteem and help the child to feel loveable, loved and valued.

These are the aspects that truly make a Life Story Book a powerful and ‘essential tool’.

If you would like to read more articles like Joy’s and  hear the latest news and offers on our Adoption and Fostering books, why not join our mailing list or like our Adoption and Fostering Facebook page? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.

How Star Wars can help you talk to your child about adoption

Read an exclusive extract from Adoption at the Movies

In his new book Adoption at the Movies, based on the popular blog by the same name, Addison Cooper reveals how movies your kids love, like Star Wars, can get the whole family talking about adoption in a fun and safe way.

With a film for each week of the year, Addison Cooper has compiled the best movies, new and old, for family-friendly viewing. Among those featured are Finding Dory, Frozen, Paddington, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kung Fu Panda, Divergent, The Blind Side and I am Sam. Carefully selected, the movies included will help families to comfortably talk about important adoption-related topics. Films are sorted by age range and topic, so it’s easy to find the perfect movie for your family. Cooper summarizes the plot, the adoption connection, difficult or scary scenes, and provides discussion questions for each movie. Helping all members of the family to explore both the pain and joy of adoption, the book covers a range of issues which can arise, such as culture, identity, control, and reunification. With something for everyone—from kids, to teens, to grown-ups—this is a must-have for all adoptive families.

Chapter 7: Thirteen Movies to Watch with Your Teens

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace introduces Anakin Skywalker as a nine-year-old boy who leaves a difficult life for the potential of a better life far from where he was born. The Star Wars series follows Anakin’s story and the stories of his children. On its own, this movie is a story about Anakin leaving one family and acclimating to another sort of family, but it is best viewed as the first of six movies that together tell a story of loss, identity formation, and multiple instances of family reunification. There are many adoption themes throughout the series to explore with your kids. This film, and most of the series in general, seems best suited to kids of ages 10 and up and their parents.”

Click here to read the full extract

 

To learn more about Adoption at the Movies or purchase a copy, click here. You can also view the full range of our adoption books here, join our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook.