When you adopt children it can be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience but it can also be difficult when a child comes to you who has had a very difficult start in life with their biological parents. Once a prospective adoptive parent goes to an adoption agency and goes through the adoption process, it doesn’t always end there. It was apparent that a number of adoptive parents were struggling to find support when things were becoming difficult with their child/children and there was an obvious need for extra support so SSAF was set up.

Safer, Stronger, Adoptive Families programme (SSAF)

SSAF was formed to offer support at home on a weekly basis to support families in keeping adoptions from breaking down. A qualified Triple P practitioner/family support worker would be assigned to a family for a 14-week period during which time the family members and support worker would work together on the Triple P, Solution focussed brief therapy and team parenting models. It’s an intensive programme designed to help the parents understand more about the issues adoptive children may have and how to make them feel safe and loved.

The support worker will assess the family and look at the dynamics as well as the parents’ parenting styles and will then help the parents find new ways to interact with and respond to their child’s needs. An adoptive child can have many issues, some that look just like bad behaviour, but there is generally an underlying reason as to why an adoptive child is behaving as they do. This programme assists the parents in peeling back the layers of their child to understand more about their fears and anxieties and what they can do to help them. There is some home study involved for the parents with ‘homework’ being left for them to be completed by the next visit which gives the parents time to work together and look at ways to show a united front to their adoptive child, which will make the child feel safe and secure. It then empowers and enables the parents to find their own ways to put things in place to support their child and to continue being able to do this after the intervention has ended. It’s then followed up by 3 phone calls at 2 weeks, 6 weeks and 12 weeks after the visits have ended to check on progress and offer any additional advice.

Adopters for Adoption have only been involved in this programme for 16 months and the success stories speak for themselves. The 5 AFA family support workers have changed the lives of over 70 families during that time and the social workers we have worked alongside have nothing but praise for the programme.

I am proud to be one of those support workers and am looking forward to seeing how SSAF will grow in the future to help us to continue to keep families together.