Why are our adoptive families thriving during Covid-19?

Why are so many of the adoptive and looked after children families in our service thriving during the Covid-19 crisis? Families have needed much less support than usual. What is going on?

This is what we have heard from the families we work with:

Children have told us they have felt worried about the virus, sad about people dying and miss their friends and extended family. But overall, they feel “much happier”.

Parents have told us their children have only shown “mild” anxiety about the virus. Parenting has been easier; it has been a surprise just how quickly their children have adapted.

Everyone agrees that family life has improved since lockdown. Children have enjoyed “cooking and helping mum” and “being with daddy and daddy pops at home all the time”. One parent described it as similar to the “nesting” done when the child first joined the family.

We think it is all about reduced stress and increased nurture and predictability. Parents not having to go out to work and continually leave their child – so many adopted and looked after children struggle with this daily sense of abandonment and separation. Children do not have to go to school – school life is often very overwhelming and frightening for children who often struggle cognitively and are hyper alert to detect signs of danger and rejection.

A note of caution – our families had much support and intervention prior to this crisis. It is likely that there are many adoptive and looked after families out there who are struggling with the intensity of family life at the moment. For many children suffering with developmental trauma and family breakdown, family life can feel extremely threatening.  

There are important lessons to be learnt from the families that have thrived – what needs to be taken forward as lockdown is lifted in the coming months?

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"Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative"

“Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative. During the second period of lockdown and home-schooling; parents and children found themselves again in a period of upheaval and transition. Many parents and carers were extremely worried about their children’s mental health and their own ability to be present and engaged whilst also playing the role of teacher and care giver. Dr Shortland gave attendees an insight into how many parents were feeling; tips on supporting children and helping them cope whilst studying from home and also managing their mental health. She also helped us realise the importance of taking care of ourselves in order to effectively support our children. It was such a useful session that we realise it was also pertinent for not only children’s mental health but also adults! We will be holding another session with Dr Andrea and MediaCom soon.”

Avelon Thompson, MediaCom (following a parenting workshop)