Supporting adoptive families

The early life experiences of adopted children today are radically different from decades ago where babies were ‘given up’ for adoption. Most of the children have been removed from parents for their own care and protection and have no other family members who can support them to continue to live in their family. Early trauma and separation experienced by the children can affect them in profound ways. Forming trusting relationships can be difficult and they can struggle to cope with anxieties around everyday life. A loving home isn’t enough to heal their hurt: many of the children will not have had the opportunity to form healthy attachments –key to normal development.

While becoming a new parent is life-changing for everyone, becoming an adoptive parent although positive and rewarding, demands a different set of parenting skills that aren’t always intuitive or learned from family members. Traditional parenting approaches are often inappropriate for an adopted child and may re-inforce previous negative experiences. Adoptive parents need to be trained and supported to parent in a therapeutic way which builds healthy attachments and manages different behaviours.

At Scottish Adoption we make a support commitment to all our adoptive families based on three principles:

Lifelong support – adoption impacts on adopted families throughout their lives and we will offer support whenever it is needed.

Relationships – through newsletters, social media, open door office, family fun days and the annual duck race, we maintain relationships with families as part of the Scottish Adoption community. It’s much easier to pick up the phone and ask for help within this context.

One size doesn’t fit all – support needs to be tailored to meet the individual needs of families.

These principles form the basis for the range of adoption support services delivered by Scottish Adoption – services which we would like to see all adoption agencies across Scotland provide for their adoptive families:

  • working in partnership with schools, health professionals and other local services to provide support to adopted children which recognises the impact of early trauma and focusses on improving their well-being and attainment
  • running groups to support adoptive families – theraplay groups (for parents with younger children building early attachment), school transition groups (supporting children and their parents with the challenge of starting school or moving to S1), teen and young adult groups (enabling adopted young people to spend time together and support each other), topic based children’s groups (building self-esteem, managing peer relationships, regulating emotions)
  • offering workshops on relevant topics – talking about adoption, keeping safe on social media, connecting with birth families
  • providing therapeutic support to any children who need this. Scottish Adoption has an Adoption Therapy Centre with a multi-disciplinary team of therapists (art, music, play, OT) who will work with children either within the Adoption Therapy Centre or within family homes.

Good support helps build stronger, more resilient adoptive parents and helps adopted children recover from early trauma, improve their well-being and life chances and thrive within their adopted family.

About Scottish Adoption

Scottish Adoption is a national organisation delivering adoption services in Scotland. At present the bulk of its services are delivered across Edinburgh & Lothians through Service Level Agreements with local authorities within the area, along with a range of inter-agency work with organisations in other parts of Scotland.