This morning I had coffee with six mums (I’m getting used to being the only dad around) who all have adopted children at Ducking’s school. It was all very jovial as we swapped stories about our kids and what we had planned for the weekend. But there was another reason for this meeting of adoptive parents and it turns out to be rather revolutionary.
On Duckling’s first morning I was introduced to Caroline who had adopted her daughter four months before us. Somehow she had managed to meet lots of other adoptive parents at the school and hearing how hard they had to work to get things done she decided we should all get together to support each other and get what we needed for our children. We worked out that 1 in 46 children at the school are adopted - I have no idea of the national average but 2.1% of the school cohort feels like a big enough group to have a voice. Particularly when that group brings in over £17,000 a year to the school budget.
As a relatively new parent, I have yet to encounter the heights of bureaucracy that have to be scaled in order to receive the support and help that is often needed by adopted children – whether it’s the Adoption Support Fund, Pupil Premium Plus, or just getting the SENCO to respond to an email, it seems as though a fight is often required. And a fight with the support of six other parents is always going to be easier.
So in-between cups of coffee, the odd biscuit, and the obligatory swapping of stories, we came up with an action plan. An action plan that included aiding the school in developing attachment awareness for staff, transparency about how the Pupil Premium is being spent, and the hope that the SENCO respond to all communications. We all agreed the last one on that list would probably be the one to fail at our school.
Most of us had only met this morning but we left with hugs and a flurry of WhatsApp messages, along with a sense that something might get done to make our children’s lives a little bit easier. And, just as importantly, we would now have someone to call upon when things go wrong, who knows exactly what we’re going through.
As a side note, I got called into to see Duckling’s class teacher, Ms Miller, at the end of the day. I felt sick about what I was going to find out. I was relieved to be told that Ducking had got very emotional during the day, which culminated in crying, running away and hiding, and it had taken Ms Miller a good while to soothe and calm her. Everything was OK but she wanted me to know and to ask if there was anything else she could to help. I could have wept with gratitude as I know that she’s listened to what I’ve told her about Duckling’s past and will do everything in her power to support us. We really are so lucky with school. Long may it continue.
My husband and I have adopted two wonderful children. Duckling is 5 and Gosling, her little brother, is 3. I'll be keeping track of our journey here...