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Support is there for those who adopt in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 10:57 14 August 2020

There is support available for those considering embarking upon this unique parenting journey. Picture: Getty Images

There is support available for those considering embarking upon this unique parenting journey. Picture: Getty Images

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Adoption Service Buddy Ken Mason from Norfolk County Council says adopting a child can be both a rewarding and a challenging experience.

'You have to be able to learn to parent in a therapeutic way, as these children need a huge amount of security and understanding.' Picture: Getty Images'You have to be able to learn to parent in a therapeutic way, as these children need a huge amount of security and understanding.' Picture: Getty Images

He wants those considering embarking upon this unique parenting journey to understand there is excellent support in Norfolk.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your role?

A buddy can help you manage the challenges that can come with adopting, helping you to care for yourself and the child. Picture: Getty ImagesA buddy can help you manage the challenges that can come with adopting, helping you to care for yourself and the child. Picture: Getty Images

I work as a buddy – an adopter who supports other people who are adopting a child. When an adopter is struggling, they will often be asked if they would like a peer to support them. They tend to open up more to a peer than a social worker because they know they have lived through similar parenting situations. Sometimes their friends and family do not quite understand how different adoption is to straightforward ordinary parenting. There are very different challenges because every child who has been in care comes with baggage their new parents will have to help them through.

Q: So, you are an adopter yourself?

Benefit and learn from other parents who have also adopted. Picture: Getty ImagesBenefit and learn from other parents who have also adopted. Picture: Getty Images

Yes. My wife and I adopted a seven-year-old boy 22 years ago – and by the time a child in care is seven they come with a certain array of emotional and behavioural challenges, so we went on quite a journey and learned a lot. I decided to put some of my experience into helping other people who were struggling with the kinds of parenting issues and frustrations we encountered.

Q: What does a buddy do?

It’s very flexible. One or two of my families live in the county and I contact them through the phone and email but others I meet up with for a chat as they need. Some people have problems that can be resolved very quickly, while others have much more deep-seated issues requiring more work. The support can be tailored to the needs of the adoptive parents. It is a confidential service, but if I felt there were safety concerns for either the parents or child, I would be duty bound to report those to the social work team.

Q: Why is the support you offer so important?

The challenges that come with parenting a traumatised child can engender a feeling of isolation and frustration in the adopter. A buddy like me can help people adopting children through those feelings; help them remain child-focused and to look after themselves. Those we work with have been through a very stressful, stringent adoption process and once they have adopted a child, they are desperate to give them all the love they have missed out on. Sometimes this can be overwhelming, and they need to step back and acknowledge they also need to look after their own mental health and wellbeing to be able to give the adopted child what they need.

Q: Who makes a good adopter?

You do need to have a certain attitude – and you have to be able to learn to parent in a therapeutic way, as these children need a huge amount of security and understanding. If you have those qualities, then age, marital status and sexuality don’t matter. Healthwise, you need to be likely to be able to bring a child up to adulthood. We also want adopters who acknowledge the need for support – a lot of people think they have failed if they ask for help, but we want them to understand there might be a need for support before things get so bad that we are threatened with an adoption breakdown.

Q: Did you have a buddy to support you?

No, the service did not exist back then. We did have some support, but it would have been useful for us to have had a buddy. People are more likely to come forward if they feel there is a level of scaffolding there for them if things get difficult and Norfolk has a very good reputation for post-adoption support.

For more information visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/adoption or call 01603 638343.


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