Body & Soul has been working with adopted children, young people and their adoptive parents for the past 2 years. We know that their past doesn’t disappear once they have been adopted, so we aim to provide this critical support; support that continues indefinitely for the whole family.
Our model of looking at the root causes behind the difficulties our members face fits well with challenges that adopted young people experience. The environments that led children to being brought into care and subsequently into their adoptive families can have a long-lasting effect, but we believe these can be transformed to allow these young people to be happy and to thrive.
We run groups for Young Explorers, Teen Spirit and Parent’s Place. We work across age groups because we believe that in order to support a child, you have to be supporting their family too. Under the lens of fostering resilience, our adoption support programmes focus on building connections and relationships, something that can be particularly challenging for those who have experienced trauma and have problems around attachment. This is exemplified by the fact that many of the young people who come to our adoption support Saturdays have been excluded from school and many other groups. The rate of school exclusion for adopted children is three times the national average with 1 in 5 of excluded children being under the age of six (https://www.adoptionuk.org/schoolresearchfindings). While this points to wider problems in the school system, we do what we can to support the children and young people to develop the skills and resilience that might allow them to participate in such environments.
On top of providing a safe space where people can talk about some of the challenges that they face in their lives, we teach our members skills that they can take away from their time with us to address these challenges. The connection and community gained in our group-based, trauma-informed therapeutic programmes supports our members in increasing their feelings of safety, enhancing self-regulation, developing positive self-image and improved self-esteem, gaining a greater sense of control over their lives and supporting the development of secure attachment.
Sometimes our members, teens especially, haven’t been very keen to join initially. Our peer mentors, who work on the programme and have experience of adoption, are usually able to turn that around, and encourage them to try Teen Spirit out. One of our Teen Spirit members, who has been attending Body & Soul since we started this programme has this to say:
“When I first saw it I was a bit nervous, but I was excited because you could meet people who were going through the same experience as you. I thought it wouldn’t be as good as it is… I don’t know, it just sounded a bit weird, but it’s so much better”
The feedback that we’ve gotten from our members has been really positive, and it’s great to hear how their time here is affecting their wider lives. Some things they’ve told us are: