Adoption is about giving children the best chance of family life when, through no fault of their own, they are unable to grow up within their birth families. However, adoption comes with challenges that are often underestimated. PAC has been a pioneer of adoption support services since 1986 when it became increasingly clear that adoption was in need of specialist support. Our services are based on experience as well as insights gained from research and theory on adoption, attachment, trauma and related fields. PAC counsellors, therapists and trainers are all qualified and experienced professionals who regularly update their expertise via study and training courses. We therefore offer a highly specialised resource to our clients.
Approximately 90% of contemporary adoptions in England are of children born in the UK. The majority of these children were taken into care because of chronic neglect, abuse or other family dysfunction. By the time they are adopted they may have been moved between a number of different foster families, and their average age will be around four years. Many of today's adopted children will therefore have suffered chronic early trauma in their birth families, as well as multiple moves and losses. These experiences will more often than not affect their subsequent emotional and relational development. The negative behaviour patterns that ensue are often so ingrained that it disrupts the child’s integration into their adoptive family, and their day-to-day functioning in school and the community. Children adopted internationally are likely to have had some traumatic experiences too. Many will have lived in institutions with a lack of physical and, more importantly, emotional care; all will have been separated from their ethnic or cultural origins. PAC offers support to all adoptive parents and families who are in need of advice, counselling and training, including adoptive parents of now adult adopted children.
As well as working with adopted children and adoptive parents, we also support birth parents and relatives, particularly birth mothers, who often suffer deep and ongoing feelings of loss and grief after they are separated from their child. Our birth parent support services include counselling for parents whose children were adopted, mostly due to societal norms and pressures, as many as 50 or 60 years ago - or even earlier - as well as contemporary birth parents.
Adults adopted as children approach PAC for counselling and support around an array of feelings, concerns and questions with regard to their adoption and (possible) contact with birth parents and relatives. We are frequently contacted by older adults adopted as children who, in spite of successful careers and families of their own, sense there is something unresolved.
In addition to working with children, adults and (birth) parents and relatives, PAC also offers training opportunities and consultations to all professionals involved in adoption.
Many of the issues relating to adoption are relevant to other forms of permanent placement. PAC therefore extends their services to all affected by permanent placements other than adoption.
Due to PAC’s vast experience with regard to post-adoption issues we have seen a steady increase in requests for advice, counselling and training pre-adoption and pre-permanent placement. PAC therefore welcomes requests for services from those who are considering or preparing for the arrival of a child who is to be adopted/permanently placed.
Some examples of feedback we have received from those who used our services:
'We wouldn’t still be together as a family if it wasn’t for PAC' (adopted mother of two teenage children).
'It has saved my life, as I could not get help anywhere else. I was so depressed and bogged down with terrific emotional sadness and pain. I could not have gone on for much longer. At last I know why I have these feelings and cope better' (birth parent).
'I found it helpful having counselling that understood just how big and overpowering the adoption process is, and how something of which I have no memory has become my biggest memory' (adult adopted as child).
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