“ She was like a ball of energy, with no concept of sitting still.”
The idea of us having children snuck up on us really. My wife and I had been together for 13 years and decided to adopt about three years ago. Our local adoption service said we were good candidates but, looking back, it was a bit of a shock to the system. We adopted a five-year-old little girl called Ella and I think I was expecting her to be a placid, quiet child – someone we’d have to bring out of a corner by being good parents. Actually, she was a ball of energy. She was extremely energetic and couldn’t stop moving. If she was supposed to be standing still, she’d be walking. If she had to walk,she’d be running...
“ Last year, things looked bleak, but now the future’s bright.”
I adopted my daughter nine years ago, aged four. The placement was a bit difficult from the beginning really. She settled, but I never felt things were quite right. The real change happened as she moved from junior school to secondary, when her behaviour went from manageable to really ‘out there’ and I was getting regular calls from staff members. She was also threatening to run away. The placement was definitely at the point of breakdown.
"The team provided us with exactly the help we needed."
In 2006, after (I admit it) I’d cried at successive meetings with our social workers, and repeatedly asked for a referral to the National Adoption and Fostering Service at the Maudsley’s Michael Rutter Centre in South London, we were eventually referred there. At the time I think it was part of CAMHS, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, though I’m not sure that’s the case now. I felt it was important to be seen by them because J had been seen there a couple of years before with his foster carers when they were struggling in much the same way. As a result I’d spoken with Caroline Bengo there before I went to Matching Panel, and I had a sense that she really knew him and I could trust her to tell me what the issues were. They had also said that they would see us once he was placed with me if we needed help around his anxious attachment...