Sally Donovan reflects upon her journey as an adoptive parent and discusses adoption’s place in the future

adoption futureSally Donovan, bestselling author of No Matter What and The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting, recounts how her journey as an adoptive parent has changed and shaped her as an individual, and discusses adoption’s place in 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 evolved during those years.

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

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Adoptive families come in all shapes and sizes; here they tell their stories

adoptionAnn Morris reflects upon her new book Adopting: Real Life Stories and describes the honest and often moving stories of people touched by adoption whose contributions form the book.

Nothing pulls at the united heart of Britain like a lost or abandoned child. Recent government legislation to offer a haven and a home to Syrian and other orphans wandering aimlessly through the Calais camps is passed with speed. The outrage over the Syrian crisis reached its passionate peak when a picture of the limp, lifeless body of a little Syrian boy on a beach was splashed across every world news outlet in September.

So why I always wonder do we give so little time to our own lost, abandoned, neglected and abused children: 93,000 of them in care in the UK at any one time?

Some will  ricochet  between care and their birth families for most of their childhood, some will remain in foster care or children’s homes until they are adults and only  a few, approximately 6,000 a year, will be adopted according to statistics. Continue reading

I tend to lie low during National Adoption Week – Sally Donovan

National Adoption WeekSally Donovan, author of No Matter What, Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off and The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting, reflects upon her decision to adopt all those years ago, and what National Adoption Week means to her.

Last weekend I went to a reunion at the historic garden I used to work in. I left fourteen years ago. Amongst the staff who had worked there some had lost partners, some had married and had children, several were suffering ill health and one had moved into a nursing home. We all had stories to tell over lunch. Mine was that I had adopted two children, now in their teenage years.

I went through all the highs and lows of the adoption process while I was working there. After the reunion lunch and the group photo on the steps I walked around the garden. Every familiar wall, doorway, tree and view took me back. It was a pivotal time for me. I was happy there in that pseudo-Edwardian world, amongst a warm and slightly dysfunctional family of gardeners, historians, teashop staff and office workers and yet I wanted so much to be a parent. I’d planned at some point to do both; to return to historic gardening as a working parent. It wasn’t to be. Adoptive parenting, or at least the kind that was demanded of me, was not going to share me with anything else. Continue reading

Meet Rosie Rudey, Charley Chatty, Sophie Spikey and William Wobbly

Sarah Naish describes the real children behind the characters in her new book series for ages 3 to 10, and explains why each story is such a helpful resource for parents whose adopted or fostered children are struggling to manage their emotions. Introducing Rosie Rudey, Charley Chatty, Sophie Spikey and William Wobbly, none of them had an easy start in life but luckily their mum is here to help them save the day. 

naish-jefferies_william-wobbly_978-1-78592-151-3_colourjpg-printAll the time I was raising my 5 adopted children I was desperate to find a book which would cut through all the psycho- babble and help me to help my children – quickly and effectively.  My daughter Rosie and I have now written the children’s books that I always tried to find to read to my children. They are Rosie Rudey and the Very Annoying Parent, Charley Chatty and the Wiggly Worry Worm, Sophie Spikey Has a Very Big Problem and William Wobbly and the Very Bad Day.

Rosie was adopted by me at the age of 8, along with her four younger siblings, aged 7 months, 2, 3 and 6. The children had reactive attachment disorder (disorganised attachment) and were therapeutically re-parented successfully to a secure adulthood. Rosie now works alongside me in Inspire Training Group, helping to train foster carers, adopters and social workers. Continue reading

Adoptive parenting can be tough, but also wholly rewarding – Sophie Ashton

AdoptionSophie Ashton, author of The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting, describes the emotional struggle she went through soon after her daughter moved in.  Admitting that she did not anticipate the emotional toll it would take on her and her husband, she nonetheless says that adoption can be a wholly rewarding experience that brings joy, hope and fulfillment.

Everyone’s adoption story is unique and special to them. Yet many include the similar frustrations associated with the adoption approval and matching process and/or the emotional anguish associated with the loneliness and heartache of infertility.

Our story is but one of many, and one with which many people will identify.  Getting through the adoption approval process took my husband and I two years, followed by 13 months to find our daughter and a further 10 months of waiting for the matching panel to approve us as her parents.  As you can imagine there were many frustrations along the way.  On the plus side, by the time Lucy moved in we’d had many years to read adoption related books, attend courses and prepare for her arrival.  We were super excited and felt more than ready to welcome Lucy as our new daughter into our home. Continue reading

New toys and expensive parties aren’t the best way to show a child love – Jane Evans

loveIn this article, Jane Evans reflects upon her new book Cyril Squirrel Finds Out About Love to discuss how we can help children aged 2-6 learn about the ways that love, friendships and kindness can look, sound or feel in this increasingly complicated world.

It may seem strange to think about teaching children about love and kindness. Surely that’s what they grow up knowing. They feel it every time they are picked up, rocked, fed, and sung to. They see it in the eyes of those around them. They are taught the difference between a kind act and an unkind one once they begin to be around other children. Lessons on sharing and ‘not pushing and snatching’ can become regular and repetitive!

What prompted me to write about Cyril Squirrel going on an adventure to find out about love and kindness was a sense that these simple concepts are getting lost and confused in modern day life. Children can easily come to equate love and kindness with things. We live in a consumer driven world in which parents and carers can feel a real pressure to show children how much they matter by providing material comforts, fabulous toys, equipment and experiences.  But is that a great example of love? Continue reading

Read an extract from Sophie Ashton’s The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting

Ashton_Secrets-of-Succ_978-1-78592-078-3_colourjpg-printIn this extract from The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting, Sophie Ashton discusses how it is perfectly normal to feel emotionally overwhelmed soon after your child moves in, how the process of successfully integrating them into your family does not simply happen overnight, but that in the long term adopting can be a wholly rewarding experience that brings joy, hope and fulfillment. An honest and reassuring account of what it can really be like to be an adoptive parent, The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting is a practical hands-on guide that will help you prepare for the highs and lows of being an adoptive parent. It discusses preparing for the journey ahead, parenting with empathy, facilitating your child’s attachment, helping your child feel listened to, and providing structure and consistency in order to successfully integrate your child into your family life.

>>Click here to download the extract<<

The emotional and behavioural challenges of adoptive parenting – Sophie Ashton

Ashton_Secrets-of-Succ_978-1-78592-078-3_colourjpg-printIn this article Sophie Ashton, author of The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting, talks reassuringly about the emotional challenges of adopting a child.

It is quite common for adopters to feel emotionally overwhelmed soon after their child moves in

In the early weeks post-placement many adopters feel a mix of emotions in response to their child.  For some adoptive parents the challenging and negative emotions seem more prevalent than the positive ones, and can on occasion lead to them starting to question their reasons for wanting to adopt.  Sometimes these challenging emotions can put the adoption placement at risk of breaking down.  I know this – because it almost happened to us.

After four years in the adoption process we were very ready for the arrival of our daughter. Although emotionally exhausting, the eight-day introduction period went well.  We warmed to her – she warmed to us; she and our birth son seemed to get on well.  We were all beyond excited when she moved in – we adored her.  Happy days!  Our dream of a perfect family was coming true!

Our honeymoon period didn’t last long

Unbeknown to us, however, just the other side of a brief two-day honeymoon period were some pretty challenging and debilitating emotions lying in wait for us to experience in full.  These emotions turned our excitement into panic, our hope into despair and our happiness into gloom.  We felt heavy and weighed down by the mixed emotions we felt in response to the placement of this little girl in to our family.

Continue reading