My daughter came to live with me 10 years ago and was formally adopted 9 years ago. I felt confident that I could make a huge difference in her life and I would get the support I needed in order to make sure that happened. Sadly, I struggled to get her referred to the relevant agencies I felt she needed support from and whilst we had a wonderful relationship and she attached very quickly there were a number of underlying emotions and issues that were not being tackled. Wherever I turned I felt I couldn’t open the necessary doors and things got quite scary as my daughter started to put herself at risk through some of her behaviours whilst she searched for approval in the toxic world of social media to fill the gap of self love. I was starting to feel like I was failing my daughter even though I knew I was a well educated and highly driven individual who didn’t give up on fighting my daughters corner for her. I tried to stay positive and keep up my resilience but was tired and I knew I needed to be in a better position myself to be strong enough to meet all my daughters needs
I then came across ACE and what a transformation. I felt supported, I felt understood, I felt there was someone at the end of a phone or an email who would listen and empathise. When you feel overwhelmed all you need sometimes is someone to remind you what a great job you are already doing but in addition to that was the offer of training, webinars, regular phone calls to touch base. As this networking and sharing grew so did my confidence in the fact that I was not alone and was actually doing a pretty good job so far as a mum. In turn I had more to offer my daughter emotionally and resources wise. My daughter also had someone to talk to without feeling disloyal in some way, she felt worthy and valued by more than just me, she ‘heard’ the comments from our social worker about what a wonderful relationship we had, she heard more than just me telling her she was amazing and most importantly she heard that it was ok not to feel ok sometimes whilst she was processing her experiences. ACE helped make her world a better and safer place for her.
I now know that I am a good mum and I am the mum my daughter needs. I know I don’t have to be perfect and have all the answers and I know its ok to turn to ACE whenever I need a helping hand. By me putting my trust in ACE and accepting their support it helps my daughter to put her trust in me and accept my support….quite a ripple effect.
We first approached post-adoption support for help six years ago, when the service was still part of local authority social services. Three years ago, the service was absorbed into ACE.
We had massive concerns for our oldest adopted daughter, then aged 11. The latter years of primary school had turned into nightmare of social exclusion, academic failure, anger, fear and shame, and transition to secondary school was imminent. Our daughter clearly had huge emotional and learning needs which weren’t being met, and as parents we were struggling to cope with her explosive behaviour at home.
When we asked for help, the Adoption Support Fund was just being established, and we were the first family in our area to put in an application for funding. The help we received through the ASF, and the support from our post-adoption social worker, has been outstanding, and an absolute lifeline. Secondary school turned out to be even more disastrous. A switch to special school after two years made things worse, and after months of self-harm and being involved in no less than four police investigations, our daughter came out of school altogether, receiving an alternative education package, just to keep her safe.
Throughout all these years of crisis, our PASW and the DDP psychologist provided by ACE through the ASF, walked by our sides, never blaming or judging us, but helping us see things more clearly. Learning to parent and think therapeutically, with their support, was transformational in helping us cope, and our daughter also made enormous progress in understanding herself. Eventually, a hard-fought-for diagnosis of FASD helped make even more sense of her underlying challenges and needs.
There is still a long way to go, and we are by no means ‘out of the woods’ yet. However, we are no longer lurching from crisis to crisis, and the support we received has been foundational in bringing us to this place of comparative calm. Our daughter now has a part-time apprenticeship with a supportive and inclusive employer, which is amazing and offers real hope of a purposeful and fulfilling future... providing no further crisis erupts (we have learned not to hold our breath…!) We are very grateful to ACE and the ASF for helping us get here.