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James and Mark's story

An adoptive parent’s experience of ACE and how the agency has helped them and their family

We are two gay adoptive dads with two amazing teenage siblings, Harry (14) and Ella (13). We have stayed connected and in touch with post adoption support and Adoption Central England (ACE) right from the very start of our little adoptive family.

Over the years, the support from ACE has been invaluable. Just knowing that we have the care and support of our ACE social worker on the end of the phone/e-mail is very reassuring, not only when things wobble, but in the many good times too.

We have built up a very strong relationship with our ACE social worker and lots of the amazing post adoption social workers at ACE. There have been many occasions when as adoptive parents we have just needed a “chat” to let off steam. Our ACE social worker really understands our adoptive family life; she is a fab listener and always has some very simple “have you tried this” advice (which very often is all we need as adoptive parents when we are feeling “tired and emotional!” and cannot see the wood from the trees!)

As our ACE social worker knows the dynamics of our family so well, she will often contact us with useful details of local and national training courses, webinars, local peer-to-peer support groups, podcasts or new publications that she feels will help our family and us as adoptive parents. One such suggestion from our ACE social worker was to encourage our children to join the ACE peer-to-peer support group for teenagers. This is something that our children have really enjoyed; sharing their experiences with other adopted teenagers in a safe place – away from their adoptive parents!

Our daughter has a physical disability and in the more tricky times, our ACE social worker has helped us to access the Adoption Support Fund to pay for professional therapeutic support from a local clinical psychologist. This has not only helped our daughter, but us too as her adoptive parents. We are now much better able to understand and properly support our daughter’s needs. Recently, our son has had traumatic flashbacks to his early childhood with his first family. Our ACE social worker has been supporting the entire family signposting us to webinars, suggesting useful books to read and accessing the Adoption Support Fund to pay for professional therapeutic life story work with trained clinicians.

We regularly attend local peer-to-peer adoptive parent support groups. It is always very sad and distressing to meet parents who have struggled on (sometimes for a very long time) without accessing the quality and professional support that ACE is able to offer them as an adoptive family. Often in the belief that things will get better, or X,Y,Z will never happen to their family. By the time, they have sought support, the family can be in quite considerable crisis, with everything taking much longer to recover and repair. As adoptive parents of nearly eight years, we would recommend to all adoptive parents to keep in touch with ACE especially in the good times. So if your family should have a wobble you know “when, where and how” to seek support. It is easy, follow ACE on Facebook, sign-up to the regular ACE newsletter and occasionally hop onto the ACE website to see what is new.

James and Mark

6 July 2021

*all names have been changed