Lisa*, Paul* and their adopted son Timmy* are a family of three. They brought Timmy home in April 2015 when he was 15 months old and he is now nearly eight years old.
When Timmy first came home with them it a was a big shock for him. He had lived with his foster carers since he was a young baby and the move to his new home was scary and unsettling for him. Lisa reflected: “Looking back on it now, he must have been absolutely terrified. Despite us working hard to build up the trust and attachment, he was often resistant, non-compliant, easily losing his temper and becoming violent and aggressive.”
Lisa and Paul thought this was normal and hoped that once Timmy felt settled and safer, things would improve. This was sadly not the case and five years down the line, Timmy was still exhibiting the same behaviour and it was getting worse. Lisa said: “It was having a massive impact both at home and at school. Timmy was not able to regulate his emotions and neither was I! I was exhausted and could not see any light at the end of the tunnel. I love my son and really didn’t want to give up on him, however I was at breaking point.”
The couple contacted PACT and were referred to the Adopter Champion service in early 2020. They spoke first with the adopter champion team leader to discuss the issues they were facing, and were then matched with Adopter Champion Mark.
They received monthly calls from Mark, who Lisa said was “truly amazing”. They spoke initially about their issues and what had led them to contact PACT, focusing on Timmy’s anger, aggression and resistance to everything.
“Mark was able to reassure us that we were not alone in experiencing these issues and he reminded us of why they might be happening. He was able to identify areas of need and liaise with myself and PACT to get the support our family needed.”
Further support from PACT included attending an attachment-focused parenting course run by the FACTS team, receiving a MIM assessment to identify a disrupted attachment between Lisa and Timmy, Theraplay support, a sensory assessment by an occupational therapist, and assessments to provide supporting evidence to access the Adoption Support Fund so that Timmy could receive further therapy. Lisa said that after a few months of support, Mark was very good at helping them reflect on Timmy’s progress and identify the areas which had improved.
Mark also contacted Timmy’s teacher because his school was experiencing the same behaviour. He was able to advise the teacher to help improve Timmy’s school experience and refer them to PACT’s education lead for support.
Since the support started, Lisa commented that their home life improved dramatically. “We all are so much happier now. We have a better understanding now of ourselves and our son, what our triggers are and how we can self regulate. We still have our moments, however we can see the triggers behind the behaviour and can support Timmy accordingly. He is still emotionally delayed, but we are seeing this improve.”
The family received this support for around 18 months, mostly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the additional pressures the pandemic put on their lives, they said that accessing support from PACT via phone calls has been very easy.
Two years since the support began, Lisa says they are doing well as a family. “We have a far happier little boy which makes the whole household happier. We continue on this journey as he still needs support and therapy for his emotional self regulation, anxiety and self esteem, especially at school as we continue to have daily issues.” PACT’s education lead is continuing to support the family and the school to help improve Timmy’s school life.
“My only regret is that I didn’t contact PACT and the wonderful Adopter Champion service sooner.”
Q: Would you recommend PACT’s Adopter Champion service?
“Without a doubt I would recommend the Adopter Champion service. It has truly saved my family! We now have a wonderful little boy who enjoys spending time with his family, and comes to us for comfort. At home now we are not just surviving, we are thriving.”
*Names changed for confidentiality