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Power of the Parent 7: S2 Ep7: **BONUS** Katie – Parent navigating the workplace

Power of the Parent 7: S2 Ep7: **BONUS** Katie – Parent navigating the workplace

I’ve got a very special bonus episode to share with you today – with the incredible Katie, who three years ago adopted her daughters.

Katie is a friend of a friend so I’ve known her for a little while, but we’ve never really talked about her experience of going through the adoption process. I saw that Katie had posted some eye watering numbers about the adoption rates dropping in the UK and a subsequent campaign that is currently running to help dispel some of the myths that surround it.

Katie shared so generously about the experience her and her husband going through adopting the girls, right from the first information evening through to the importance of them celebrating their family day each year.

Katie mentions it at the end of the podcast, but if you would like to talk to her or ask a question we didn’t cover, please drop them to me on charlotte.speak@power-of-the-parent.com and I’ll get them over to her.

After the recording Katie told me that currently self employed people are not entitled to statutory adoption leave which is a huge blocker and there is a petition to change it. If that’s something you can support the link is here to get some movement.

Episode Transcript

Charlotte Speak 0:06
Hello and welcome to Power of the Parent, the podcast. I’m your host Charlotte Speak, I’m a level seven CMI accredited coach, a strength scope Master Practitioner, Mental Health First Aider and talent consultant. And I’m also the face behind Power of the Parent. In this podcast, I’ll be speaking to parents in the workplace. Some of them are in traditionally employed roles, others are running their own businesses and we’re having conversations about life in general insights about being a parent and having a career and exploring the strengths that parenting has awoken for people. We will talk about things like the value that they’re bringing to the workplace, as well as my guests very generously sharing their personal stories and anecdotes about everything life can throw at us.

Hello, and welcome to this bonus episode of Power of the Parent, the Podcast. Today, I am joined by Katie, who is a friend of a friend. Katie is a parent in the workplace, having crafted a career around everything from business development, to process design, to relationship building, to name just a few areas of her expertise. Katie is a mum to two girls, who she and her husband adopted three years ago. And she describes her approach to life as trying to get the balance right. Thank you so much for joining us today. Katie, have I summed you up there? Is there anything that you’d want to add?

Katie 1:29
No, I think that’s good. I’ve not really heard it summed up like that before. But no, I think that’s pretty spot on. Definitely. Getting the balance is mostly what I work on most days, if I’m honest, without even realising it’s what I’m doing. So yeah. Love it.

Charlotte Speak 1:45
And I contacted you after I’d seen a post that you’ve put on Instagram, about the ‘You Can Adopt’ campaign because you’d shared some really quite eye watering numbers on there about how adoption rates have dropped so much and obviously, this is a lot of what you’re living, you are surrounded by this conversation in lots of different ways. But I know that it’s still something that, for very obvious reasons, still isn’t talked about very publicly in lots of ways, or there are some, like really prolific accounts out there on social media talking about adoption, either from their experience or things like, you know, educating basically around what it is and isn’t, but I’m so thrilled that you said that you’d come on and talk because I think it’s a narrative of parenting that I think needs a bigger platform and a bigger stage as much as we can possibly give it in a you know, in a boundary led way, you know, that I love a boundary conversation! [Yeah.] So I suppose one of my first questions would be, you know, around that campaign, what do you think some of the blockers are? Or do you want to explain a little bit about the campaign and what you know, first, and then we’ll dive into questions after?

Katie 3:02
Yeah. So I guess some of the key things are just around the numbers of children that are in care or need adoption. And I think some of the ones around that recently, there’s a stat that’s come out that said, by 2025, there’s going to be 100,000 children in care, just in England alone. And like you said, they’re eyewatering stats, they are things that kind of take you aback and I think unless you have been exposed to that kind of side of parenting, or children in the care system, or you know, somebody that’s gone through adoption, you wouldn’t necessarily even think about those sort of numbers, there’s no way you’d think of that. And for me, so there’s 3000 kids who are currently waiting for adoption, and over half of those are sibling groups. So I think as you said, earlier, we adopted siblings. And for me, I just couldn’t believe how many of them were sibling groups, you can understand why people are more nervous to adopt more than one child. But to have over half of them a sibling groups is really the thing that kind of shocks me and takes me aback. And as you said, it’s a campaign that’s currently going on with adoption UK at the moment. It’s #wecanadopt there’s loads more information online, if anyone needs to find out about it. So yeah, there’s a lot of stats out there, they can be a bit overwhelming, but actually, when you start looking into them, it’s a really interesting area to start understanding, and I think more people should know about it, which is one of the reasons I wanted to come on and talk to you today, I guess.

Charlotte Speak 4:41
Because I suppose, you know, the reality is, it’s a stat that we’re seeing but they’re not statistics, are they?. They are children that are sat behind those numbers and they’re, you know, looking for their forever home that is, you know, going to give them everything that they should have had from when they were born, and it’s the stories that sit behind it, obviously, are not to be shared publicly and it isn’t some sort of trauma parade at all. But I think sometimes there can be a bit of a disconnect between, well here are what the numbers look like but actually, you are talking about real humans here. And that’s got to be part of it, hasn’t it?

Katie 5:23
Yeah, and I think when we talked about some of the blockers, I think there are myths out there around age, and you have to be a certain age and once you get past a certain point, you’re not going to be even looked at. And I mean, to a degree, whilst there aren’t any limits written down anymore, there are going to be questions around your ability, if you’re kind of, I don’t know, if you’re an 80 year old person looking to adopt, there’s going to be questions as to whether or not you can actively run around after a three year old toddler, etc. But those kinds of myths around actually, you have to be a certain age, you have to come from a certain background, you have to have had a certain amount of experience are myths, essentially. And yes, there will be questions that you ask them, you have to go through an extremely rigorous process to find out whether you can go through it. But actually, there’s not as many blockers as you might expect that there are and it’s not as daunting as you think it might be and it’s not as scary. I personally found it a little bit like therapy, because when you go through the process, you have to kind of explain a lot of things from your background and experiences that you’ve had and yeah, I quite enjoyed going through the process. And I definitely didn’t find any blockers from my perspective, I know other people have done, but they have been sort of justified blockers. I think. So just around health. And like I said, those things that are actually going to potentially cause a problem for you parenting a young child in the future. They’re kind of yeah, like I said, justified questions, I think.

Charlotte Speak 7:06
Yeah, and knowing what you know now, well I know it’s been three years since you adopted the girls, but it’ll have been, what, four, maybe five years since you kind of started the adoption process. Did you go into it? Knowing as much as you possibly could or kind of were there things that caught you off guard and surprised you, like how much research goes into it before you make that step to go right, we’re going to do this, we’re going to start the process like where was your head at?

Katie 7:38
So for this is just for our experience, personally, I know different people do it differently. I think if you ask my husband, he would say he didn’t do any research into, except he turned up for the information evening. For me, so my godmother is a parent of adopted children, she fostered, she also has birth children. So I’d had quite a lot of exposure to it growing up so I understood quite a lot around it. However, our first step was because we’re in Yorkshire, there’s One Adoption Yorkshire that’s basically the agency for the whole of Yorkshire now, and they have information evenings on that you can sign up to. So you go on the website and you sign up to a certain date and you basically go along to kind of an hour, two hour talk about the situation etc. And it’s mostly about setting out the basics behind it, things like most children nowadays are, it’s not a relinquished situation like you would have got years ago, actually a lot of time they are removed from birth families for significant reasons, there has to be a lot of justification behind removing children from a birth family. So it’s that kind of background and the opportunity to ask questions to almost say okay, now you’ve got this information do you still want to go ahead? And then once you’ve done that, you then essentially fill out the form and you get social workers will come to your house and they’ll do an initial kind of chat to you find out a bit more about you, probably about an hour, an hour and a half long. And they’ll do things like just looking very quickly inside each room just to kind of say okay, I can verify you have got three bedrooms or this setup to make sure that it is a safe environment to start the process essentially. So you kind of find out more as you go along and I would say personally my experience of people that I’ve met is the generally the female in the relationship will tend to do quite a lot more research and the male will tend to do a little bit less but obviously there are a lot of same sex couples that go through the process etc so I think you just tend to find one takes the lead and the other one follows a little bit more.

Charlotte Speak 9:48
Okay, and then obviously so you said there about your godmother, and that’s obviously had a big impact and has informed what your kind of view and perspective of it was gonna be and a bit about your experience too. I don’t know if that’s, is it quite common for people to have been surrounded by, I suppose other people’s experiences of adoption? How much does that inform your mentality when you’re going in into it and what’s on your mind?

Katie 10:21
I’m trying to think about the people that we met through the process, I think we were probably kind of in the minority of people that knew a little bit more about it. And you could tell as you went through, you go through two, three training sessions, basically, before you go any further down the process. It’s stage one and stage two, they call it and as you looked around the room, there were definitely people in the room that were hearing things for the first time. And I would say that there were probably more people hearing things for the first time than not. So I wouldn’t know factually but I would guess that actually, we were probably in the minority of having been exposed to it. However, I do know that there are quite a few people who are adopted themselves that then go on to adopt children. So it’s not unheard of.

Charlotte Speak 11:12
Okay, I know life isn’t this kind of binary experience or anything, but what’s been the best thing, if you could sum it up? I mean, you don’t have to just pick one but what’s been the, you know, the highlight over the last three years?

Katie 11:29
I mean, a little one yesterday, I have a four year old who’s really, really struggled with going to school, and speech and things like that. She came home yesterday, and essentially, just started performing her Christmas songs from a concert to us. Which sounds like a really tiny thing, but actually, she spent most of nursery completely mute and not speaking to anybody and we’ve had some challenges, shall we say, getting her settled into school. So the fact that she’s now starting to trust the school and the teachers and come home and tell us stuff about things she’s done at school, for me, that’s a really, really big achievement, that she’s at a place where she’s comfortable enough now to do that. But I would say just in general, just how resilient they are. And I know everybody says it about children anyway but how resilient they are with the changes that happen, the fact that they’ve then had the pandemic and the lockdown and everything. Yeah, they’re just, they keep going. And the girls are, they just throw themselves into anything, basically, and enjoy it. And I think the other thing, then is just how much I’ve learned about me, and how much I’ve changed. And I’m sure that probably comes with just being a parent in general of learning about yourself but actually, I’ve learned how I face into more difficult situations, and how to stay calm in other situations. And yeah, just a little bit more about what I want to get out of life, in general, has definitely come from going through this experience.

Charlotte Speak 13:07
Is there a point? You just made me think, though, when you were talking about your little girl, and the challenges that she’d had? Is there a point where the support and like the social workers take a step back and it’s like, you know, we’re done here now, the adoptions gone through? Or do they like does it carry on? Are they there in the background? Like what’s the continuation of support?

Katie 13:32
I think it differs depending on who your social worker is, we had a very supportive social worker, who we got very close to, the children have a social worker and family or adults that are looking for children, I never know quite how to word it without being controversial. You have two social workers essentially. So once you’re matched and you move in with each other, one of the social workers will step away a little bit, and will just do infrequent visits. And then you’ll have another one who you’ll speak to probably more regularly. I do know other people that have had very regular visits. But I was quite firm with the boundaries on having social workers coming around quite a lot, just because my eldest didn’t cope with it very well and she wasn’t comfortable with it. So we almost gave them permission to come in when we felt comfortable rather than the other way around. But I do know, people who haven’t had as much choice of that, and it does very much depend on agency and the social worker that you get. You can then after a certain period of time, I think we were about two or three months after the girls had moved in, apply for an adoption order to the court, essentially, and depending on if it’s contested, or if there are any other challenges or questions along the way. It can go through I think ours went through as quickly as four or five months, whereas other people’s have taken years to go through, so it very much depends on the situation. And essentially, once that court order has gone through, they will tend to step away a little bit more. And then when you reach one year after moving in the case will get signed off, depending on how many things have been ticked off. And you can then access post adoption support afterwards if you need it. And you basically just ring up and say, this is what’s going on and they will then do an assessment as to whether or not you can get post adoption support.

Charlotte Speak 15:31
You marked that one year, didn’t you, you had a bit of a celebration when you hit that milestone.

Katie 15:38
Yeah, so we celebrate every year, we call it our family day. To be honest, it’s more to keep the story alive than anything. So the girls have life story books, not the ones provided by social workers, because they just weren’t great. And I’m actually going on a Zoom call next week for somebody doing a project about them, because they are generally not the best. For various reasons, ours had the wrong name of the wrong child in the book, and really, really silly mistakes that I just personally wasn’t willing to accept. So we have life story books that I’ve made, that essentially tells them at an age appropriate way what their life story is, and it goes all the way through from birth to current, as soon as I’ve written it, essentially. And then what we’ll do is more life story work along the way where we adapt it and change it and add more detail depending on the understanding and the age of the girls. So we do our annual family day really to keep that alive a little bit. Yeah, just to make sure that we’re constantly talking about it really without shoving it in their faces. Because it’s a really hard balance between we want to talk about it, because you’re special, and you’ve got this special situation versus we don’t want them to feel like they’re different, or yeah, I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable about it in any way. It is their life story and it’s part of them.

Charlotte Speak 17:04
I’m sure that will be something incredible for them to keep looking back over and like you say that, that age appropriateness of the conversation, it needs to be obviously had with them if that’s the decision that you’ve made as a family, doesn’t it. So making sure that you can do that in a way that I suppose is comfortable for you all as well, because that’s a lot on, and I know that you’ll go into it knowing to an extent, but that is a lot on your shoulders and your husband shoulders as well to figure out how to share that and how to how to navigate some of those conversations. Do you get support with or did you get any support with that? Or is that something that you and he have kind of shaped around how you want to do that and how you want to keep the conversation going with the girls.

Katie 17:50
So it’s talked about a lot in the training that you go through, it is very important that you make sure that they understand their life story, because it is theirs and essentially, this is what they’ve been through and it’s what they’re gonna want to understand as they grow older. And we did a lot of training around identity and how in the past where children haven’t been aware of their background, etc, they have struggled, because there’s been gaps in their story or gaps in their identity and actually, they’ve then had an overwhelming feeling that they want to fill those gaps. And obviously, I haven’t been through that so I have no idea what that feels like. All you can do is relate it back to experiences that you’ve had. And I personally know that I would want to know everything about my life that I could know. For me, that’s meant, I’ve turned into a bit of a mini detective. I’ve gone on social media, I’ve done all sorts of things to try and find as much as I can. Because I guess unfortunately, from the social workers perspective, we didn’t get all the information we wanted or needed and I want to keep filling those gaps as much as I can safely for the girls so that as they get older and ask questions, I can try and answer as many of them as possible.

Charlotte Speak 19:09
Yeah, it sounds like an incredible additional role for you, as a mini detective there as well, and probably could be a full time job in itself. So just going back to when you did adopt the girls, what was adoption leave like for you? Did you have an expectation? Like what was your experience, like?

Katie 19:32
My experience from a work point of view was very positive. I was very lucky to be in a flexible enough company where there was a type of adoption policy. I will say that when I came back, I went in and rewrote that policy with HR along with a couple of other people who had adopted just to say, look, a lot of this is out of date, or actually it’s missing some information. Like I said I was supported to go have as many meetings as I needed to, etc. But I know that lots of companies don’t understand it and don’t necessarily give you the time and the leeway that you need. For instance, you have about eight appointments that you go to with the social worker, probably for an hour and a half to two hours, where you are asked about a subject, and then you have to go into detail and they write it all down, etc. And essentially, it makes up a big file at the end, that then gets submitted to an adoption panel who will either approve you or push it back and ask more questions. I was supported to go to those and just told just do what you need to do. However, that probably wasn’t in line with the official policy, it was more of a line manager who just went, do what you need to do. So I think my experience going into it is very positive. The other thing that I think is important to mention is that generally, the person who’s not the primary carer will tend to get an equivalent to paternity leave, which is something like two weeks, when you’re actually matched with a child, you go through at least two weeks worth of introductions to them. And they are full days where you are together. And they’re exhausting so there’s no chance of you doing any work around that. That tends to take up those first two weeks and then you finish your introductions, which is normally in a foster carers home and a little bit in yours. And bang, you’re expected to go straight back to work again. So for my husband, he then took a two week holiday, but it’s not a long time to get to know two new children who’ve just moved into your home. So I think we had a positive experience but it could have been much better. I’m not sure any companies are quite in the place where they’ve figured that bit out yet. And then our actual experience was my husband then went back to work after two weeks, I had a year off. I toyed with going back after nine months. Personally, I would have loved to go back after nine months, I was exhausted, and I was ready to have something different to think about. But actually, realistically, for the kids, they needed me to be off for that full year, if not longer, I know people that have taken extra time off on top of that as well. And yeah, that was kind of the hardest thing to get used to was adapting from me being the person that went to work every day and then came home and just cracked on with what I wanted to do, to actually I’ve now got two children under the age of four. And trying to then change back to working mum, after that adoption experience was challenging shall we say.

Charlotte Speak 22:36
Yeah, I mean, because you’re not off, are you? It’s just it’s a different type of work and I know there are lots of different schools of thought on what you describe parenting as. No, it’s not, you know, it isn’t a paid job and there’s no no holiday, and the colleagues are sometimes pretty questionable and all of those, you know, funny things that we all say but the reality I think sometimes to describe it as being off can make people think that you just sat there kicking back, chillin, doing whatever and the logistics of one child, two children, however many children you’ve got, and meeting all of their needs, and then also helping yourself be at your best if, you know, I use that cliche phrase but looking after yourself at the same time all whilst kind of adjusting to this very new life that you’ve got. And like you say, kind of go for it one day of you coming home as you, see you later office, to okay, I’m a parent, and I need to get my head in gear around what that means and meeting somebody else’s needs. It’s a different mental pace, isn’t it?

Katie 23:56
It’s the different mental pace. I think I’ve talked about a lot about identity here because I’ve done quite a bit of work around it but before I went off, I had an identity as me and when I went on adoption leave, I suddenly became mum to two children who I’d met met a couple of weeks ago, for the first time. And I built up that identity over the space of the year and my routine and way of doing things etc. And then I went back to work, and I didn’t have an identity. I felt like I’d lost my original one. And I couldn’t necessarily bring my mum identity into work. I did it a little bit, but actually almost had to refigure that out again when I came back. And I’ll say it now even three years on I’m doing some development stuff at the moment that I think I’m only just now getting back to my identity and what that means and that’s not mum, that’s not work, that is figuring out who I am and speaking to other parents, whether they’re adopted children or birth children, I feel like that happens quite a lot and is one of the bigger challenges, I think, of a huge change in your life.

Charlotte Speak 25:11
I was reading an article, like a research article, academic journal thing at the weekend and it really touched very heavily on that, this concept of identity and what our identity is made up of pre-children, and then what changes after we’ve had children and it’s so complex that sometimes, I’m not a fan of putting a problem where there isn’t, but also we’ve over simplified, I think that the conversations that we have, with parents, and in particular mums, you know, we’re still, it’s almost like, I don’t want to set an expectation with somebody that you’re going to feel different, and you’re going to lose your identity. And it’s not a box ticking is it? It isn’t like a B follows A situation, because we are nuanced humans, but equally, there’s going to be change. You don’t just, even the smallest of changes for some of us, even if we’re, you know, hell bent on no, my life is sticking as the same. But it does, there are so many shifts in the family dynamic and the way that you spend your days evenings, like, I remember just craving a quiet evening, when my girls were like quite a bit younger. And even now I’m like, because bedtime is getting a little bit later and my eldest wants to read in bed and you’re like, come on, come on, it’s time for bed. You don’t want to, I’m not a savour every moment kind of person because there are some moments I just don’t want to savour. But I do want to try and be present for them even, you know, even the crappy ones. But it completely resonates with me with that timeline of getting your identity, or figuring out what your identity is. Because they’re so I mean, they’re still dependent on you now, aren’t they at these ages, will be for a long time, but it does start to shift a little bit I’m finding. My youngest is four and there’s just a little bit more, I think it’s been a bit of a shift when she started school.

Katie 27:17
What I find really hard is I often find myself trying to think of what it’s like as an adoptive parent versus a birth parent, and I will never know the difference and maybe there aren’t any differences. The one that I do feel makes my day to day slightly different to some of my friends that have got birth children, is this kind of forensic thinking around it and I’ve spoken to a few other adopters about it. And it’s that figuring out, okay, is this happening because she’s four? Or is this happening because there’s development problems? Or there’s trauma issues? Or there’s, we’ve got emotional challenges? And actually, is that just because she’s an emotional child? Or is it because of some of the experiences she’s had? So one difference, I think, especially around school, and when they go to school is yes, you get that time and you get that independence, but I have found the first two terms have been me bringing the school up to speed on everything I figured out over the last couple of years. And I know some children who have challenges going to school, their parents will feel like that advocate for them but at one stage, I was getting phone calls every single day from school because there were things that were happening and I kind of thought alright, we’re three years down the line now they’re going to school, I can get back into work a little bit more. But actually, I’m spending an hour a day trying to figure stuff out and trying to help school go okay, well, maybe if something’s happening at lunchtime, it’s because she’s getting overwhelmed going into a certain environment or she’s scared because she can’t see the teacher anymore. And some of these things are challenges that some children will face but are also things that adopted children regularly face through trauma and attachment issues and aren’t necessarily things that can have a label put on them and be diagnosed. And I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that I’ve found is, yes, I want that independence but actually, I still need to be that champion and that advocate because the girls don’t necessarily recognise it themselves, and definitely can’t explain it. So these emotions that are bubbling over the top and are coming out as behaviours that are undesirable and you don’t want them to do are because they’re overwhelmed and they just can’t handle it. So yeah, I’m not really sure where that bit came from, but it’s a bit of a kind of advocacy piece that I feel you have to do as an adoptive parent, on their part.

Charlotte Speak 29:49
Ah, well thank you for sharing that and I think it’s really important for people that do feel able to share and give that insight. Nobody has to in the slightest, but I think it’s really helpful, I don’t know if that’s the right word. But I think this is the kind of conversation that we need to hear, particularly as parents who have got children that they have birthed and there might be challenges there, but it is a different experience and it isn’t about comparing, but it is about sharing your story. Because that, I think, sometimes is the stuff that helps people and can really stop them in their tracks and think, you know, what could somebody else be going through? And we all see the world with our own lens, don’t we? When you’ve got very few intersectionalities, you can see the world very, very straightforward. And be kind of shy to some of the privilege that you’ve got, or the fact that you are able to go through life with very little of these things in your head. And you don’t have to, you know, soak up other people’s situations to be able to be a nice human, do you. But I think there is a really big awareness piece that we’ve got to keep having these conversations so that you do support people in the right way.

Katie 31:14
I think, thinking back to when you’re talking about adoption leave, I think one of the biggest things is that, particularly from a work point of view is managers understanding when somebody they manage is going through an adoption process. The amount of times I had it referred to as maternity leave, silly little things like that, and I’m like it’s adoption leave. It’s not maternity leave. It’s adoption leave. The questions around oh, well, what’s the background then? Just kind of questions that come from curiosity and I completely understand and I understand those questions are in your head. The question I get all the time is, are they full siblings? Are they birth siblings? And even from a medical professional the other day, she was just being curious and asking it and for me, I don’t necessarily mind answering those types of questions. But I know there are some people who are particularly sensitive about it. And I don’t know how the girls will feel about it when they get older, either. So you’re constantly thinking about, am I saying something that they don’t want people to know, in the school playground? Questions about things or talking about, I don’t know, breastfeeding or something like that. Somebody said to me, oh, well, would you go through it again, and I just had to kind of bat it away a little bit, because I don’t want to outwardly go in and shout about the fact they’re adopted, because they might not want people to know that and that’s their story to tell. And yeah, I think that that’s my biggest thing, that’s why I rewrote the policy at work. I want managers to try and understand what it’s like to go through the adoption process. And I also want people to understand that when you come back to work, some of the logistics that you wouldn’t necessarily think about with a birth child who’s probably nine months or a year old that can go to, I don’t know, a nanny or a different type of carer. For us with adopted children, we did not want to send them to any kind of after school care, definitely not one to one, because we’ve spent so long trying to get them to attach to us and they’ve obviously been been to various different carers in their life, we want them to know that we are their primary carers now. So for me, that means a hard stop at three o’clock, I have to go and pick them up from school. It’s the kind of logistics around that, that I want people to understand is it’s not a choice, some people don’t have a choice and they have to send their children to somebody else after school, because they have a job that cannot be flexible but if you’ve got flexibility, you should absolutely support as much as you can, because you don’t know what the situation is in that family.

Charlotte Speak 33:55
I think that’s incredibly insightful. And thank you again for, for sharing all of these aspects. And I think there’s so much that the world needs to hear from you, not just on your shoulders, obviously, but from from you and parents like you who are able and willing to kind of share their story and their narratives because this is, I know that there’ll be so many people listening, and I’m learning as you’re talking as well, I know that there’ll be so many people listening that are like, I didn’t know that and I need to think about that. So thank you so much. I’d really love to end on, obviously taking into account that we are all very different and we don’t kind of want to dish out unsolicited advice to anybody but if somebody’s listening and they’ve got a friend or a family member going through the adoption process, are there any things that you would encourage them to say because we’re kind of getting to the stage where we know what we shouldn’t be saying? If we didn’t know before, you know, something as basic as adoption leave is not the same as maternity leave, for example, I hope that there aren’t any line managers listening going, oh, gosh, I’ve said that before. If you are, then don’t ever say it again. But from a personal perspective, is there anything that you would recommend that people could say that would bring some comfort?

Katie 35:20
Yeah, I think, whilst I’ve said there are certain questions that might trigger people, my approach to things is to always be curious. So ask the question, but just be a bit mindful of the way that you’re asking them and to be honest, if you ask the question, in the right way, I don’t think there’s going to be many people that will get frustrated about that. I think ask the questions, but kind of say, look, I don’t know anything about this, the same way that I would ask a question to somebody that I didn’t know anything about, just think about the way that you’re asking it, I think, try and use it to learn about adoption, children in care, foster children, there are so many different variants on it, even I’m nervous about saying the wrong thing in the wrong way. Understand trauma, because I think trauma affects so many of the children that are in the care system. And don’t necessarily think of it as trauma and the kind of traditional way that you might have been taught about it, actually just being, or not even just, being removed from a birth parent is a trauma in itself. And actually, as people go, oh well they were a baby, they don’t remember, it doesn’t matter your brain is developing. And actually, it can probably affect a baby way more in some ways than it does a three year old in another way. So there are different ways that trauma can affect you. Don’t have to high expectations, respects that that family are going to need space, they’re going to need to get to know each other, all the social workers will be telling them to keep to themselves, don’t expand your network too big, do it gradually, we had two weeks where we just didn’t see any family at all. And yes, we had grandparents that were itching to come and meet the children and couldn’t wait but we had to hold them back. And actually, because we did it slower, we found that our attachment with the girls was a lot stronger and therefore when we then did introduce other people, they attached to them a lot stronger as well. It’s not keeping people at bay to be annoying, it is going through a process that has been tried and tested over a number of years to do it in the best way possible. And then my other thing is just around things like Christmas, and birthdays and stuff like that. So what is it 29th of, or 30th of November, we are already starting to see dysregulation in our family. And that isn’t necessarily because of anything in particular. So it’s not something that’s happened and therefore we’ve got dysregulated emotions, it is things like routine at school has slightly changed. We’re learning songs, we know that parents are going to be coming into school, it snowed, that’s different. We haven’t had snow recently, we’ve got birthdays coming up, and those kind of overwhelming feelings that the kids get, happen every year and every year you go, oh, maybe it won’t be quite as bad this year. And then by the end of November, you start to see the telltale signs, so yeah, just anything that’s big like that, that you may expect a child to be really, really overexcited by if they’ve been through trauma, it doesn’t happen for all children and I can’t speak for everyone, but my experience is year after year, they tend to get the same sort of feelings and they can’t necessarily articulate why. So this time of year might be particularly hard for children in adoptive families and for their parents who are trying to co regulate them as much as possible.

Charlotte Speak 38:51
I will be thinking of you over the next couple of weeks, well, the next month, really. That was one of the first conversations that you and I had when we first met, two years ago? And I do very often think of you in December, well in November and December. So I hope that it’s as smooth as possible for you and the girls over the next few weeks. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story. It’s been incredible and I think the more we can share and use, whatever platforms we have, the better, because it is kids behind those stats. And there’s got to be there’s got to be more of a conversation about it and dispelling all these myths. So thank you so much for your time.

Katie 39:36
No worries, thank you. If anyone’s got any questions or wants to know more, I am by no means an expert. I’ve purely lived it and experienced it. But yeah, if anybody wants to know anything, whether it’s from an adoption point of view directly or just being known to somebody or managing somebody that’s going through the process, I’m more than happy to help.

Charlotte Speak 39:56
Thank you so much. I think in the interest of confidentiality. The best way to do that is to either send a question to me to the Power of the Parent email address and I will send it on to Katie or that when this post is live on Instagram and LinkedIn, if you are seeing it, you can pop a question in the comments there and Katie will see them and will get a response too. I think that’s probably the best thing so I don’t have to give out anybody’s contact details. Thank you so much, Katie for that incredibly kind offer and just a brilliant chat this morning. Thank you.

Katie 40:31
No worries, thank you.

Charlotte Speak 40:32
Thanks very much for tuning in to Power of the Parent, the podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, please rate, review and subscribe. And if you could tell all your friends about the podcast that would be wonderful. If you’d like to get in touch you can find me on Instagram, just search Power of the Parent. See you next time.

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