The Adoption of a child is a totally life-changing and often challenging opportunity. In this blog, adoptive father and Beacon Family Services team member, Pete Brindley reflects on his families experience and how play has helped them.
Our Adoption Journey could be compared to a long mountain climb – 3 climbers with me: my wife and our adopted 13- and 16-year-old children. Our journey has seen many scrambles across loose rocks; looking out on majestic views; breathing in the freshest of air. Our mountain has brought many questions and some sudden dark places of uncertainty. Thankfully, the sense of purpose and achievement, along with helpful people we have met on the most perilous slopes, keep us going, with continual hope.
“Would we have gone through all of this if we had known what we know now?
However, there are many things we wish we had known then.”
Fellow adopters, do you recall the excitement, the form filling, asking a thousand questions (and being asked them?) For us, there was confusion, lots of waiting and wondering – some real frustration too along the way.
Like many new adopters, the whole adoption possibility had never crossed our minds. But then, it very suddenly just had to. From that day onwards, our life entered a totally new series of chapters,
We constantly asked ourselves were we good enough to continue? Would we have the energy, the resilience, the patience required? And, would we really make Good Enough Parents in the long term? Significantly in all this, we did not know and love our children back then. We do now.
As a trained primary school teacher, it was second nature to play with the children in the early years., We did a lot of activities together that made us smile and laugh. My son loved repetitive play, as do most children. At bath time, every night for the first few years, we sung a song I had made up for him.
“I did not understand back then how play would be (and continues to be) the biggest help in the journey I continue to make as a parent.”
As my children settled, they each loved whenever my garden wheelbarrow came out to be pushed fast. I now realise all this play was helping them build and strengthen relationships. Young children like rough and tumble play as they are learning to take risks in safe hands. Playing an exciting game like being pushed in the wheelbarrow, knowing they would not be let go helped them feel safe.
We also found that in joyful moments of play we felt like a family. Making silly faces to one another helped connect us and communicated to my children how special they are to me. Playing together on our Wii or in a treasure hunt eased stress.
At Beacon Family Services, we support parents and their families who may be experiencing challenges. This includes adoptive and foster families. When I joined the team and trained in Theraplay® I realised how powerful the kind of play we enjoyed had been. I have now supported other adoptive families enjoy the playful experiences their children need. I see them begin to feel more hopeful for their future.
Play helps children learn about the world, themselves and their relationships with others.
I tell all prospective and new adoptive parents I meet that play works, in many and different ways for their children and them. I recommend they order our Cards to Help You Connect (Beacon Family Services donate part of the sale of each pack to Adoption UK) or download our free app, Lumin&us ™. These resources help at times when you are busy and overwhelmed as a parent.
Play is a powerful therapeutic tool for connecting and deepening positive relationships in your family. If you are in the Birmingham area you can access Theraplay through one of our Connect for Kids groups or on a one-to-one basis with our team of trained Theraplay practitioners.
Pete Brindley is a Teacher and adoptive father, former School Senior Leader and Group Theraplay Facilitator at Beacon Family Services and can be contacted on 0121 270 0592
In part 2 of this blog Pete will share more about his experiences of post adoption therapy.