For all my working life, I have proudly felt associated with a profession that offers support to families in their time of need. I qualified as a social worker in 1992, having worked as unqualified social worker for many years with children who had experienced adverse childhood experiences, now known as ACE, and childhood trauma, separation and loss.
I have always been passionate about supporting better outcomes for children and have been part of thousands of looked after children’s journeys. I am still in touch with some children who are now in their 40’s and say I made them believe in themselves which tells me that what I offered helped them.
As a parent of 3 children; 2 birth children who are now adults, and our youngest who was adopted in 2014, I now encounter the chaos and lack of therapeutic interventions for families like us in a system that does not understand the amount of time it can take to heal from childhood trauma.
My youngest did not have a secure or safe adult for her formative years which has had a lasting impact on us all. Thankfully, my therapeutic training, experience of working extensively with children experiencing trauma and social work background did prepare us for the complex challenges of reparenting a traumatised child, using the things I had learned in my 34 years of being a therapeutic parent.
I am encouraged as an adoptive parent that I have places to talk. WAF offers a much needed safe space for overwhelmed parents in the invaluable support groups and through its online resources.
At a recent WAF Talks webinar, I was alarmed to hear the experiences of many parents who do not feel able to challenge the responses of some professionals. I feel compelled to say, we should always challenge a lack of empathy and never ignore or accept inconsiderate responses from any representative about our needs or the needs of our children. This is particularly true when these lead to ill-judged comments which do not support the lived experiences or therapeutic needs of families, or minimise the impact on our children who have historically experienced neglect, harm, abuse and are still finding their feet after these adverse childhood experiences, which really do leave their mark on them and their ability to thrive.
It is important we continue to challenge professional practice and speak up for the children we are attempting to reparent EVERY DAY! Our children’s past continues to show up in everyday behaviours and in the disordered attachments we encounter as the secure adults in their lives.
It is important that we do not settle for poor services after a child is placed and continue to ask for the support that we deserve and need. By doing so, we will be better resourced to re parent our children, despite the challenges our children have encountered in their life stories. Children’s Services should be equipped to provide the services and support our families need and deserve.