A New Years Message from Wendy -

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I wanted to write and wish you, above all, a happy and healthy 2021.

As we enter this New Year, we know that nationally there are a few difficult months ahead in respect of the  continued fight against the virus. I wanted to reassure you whether you are thinking about adoption for the first time, in the assessment process to become adoptive parents, waiting for a match, in the initial stages of meeting your child or receiving or requesting support post placement that all of our services remain available and open to you. We will continue to operate as we have done over the last 9 months. Whilst the office in Cardiff (Park Place) remains closed to visitors and services for the most part will be delivered remotely, if needed  we will conduct  face to face visits at home following the risk assessments we have in place. First and foremost the safety and wellbeing of you, your families and our staff is our primary concern.

We know that as schools remain closed there will be additional challenges for those with school age children. Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice and support or just a listening ear.

We are all longing for a time when we can get back to some sort of normal , with the office open, meeting freely together to share individual experiences over a coffee and cake or coming to an information evening or training event in person. With the vaccination programme commencing  there is some light at the end of this tunnel so we will hold onto this and until then keep safe and well.

With warmest wishes to you all

Wendy

Every Christmas, we usually all get together and have a wonderful celebration in Cardiff with all of our families. Unfortunately, this year it hasn’t been possible, so instead we have asked Dan Mitchell to record a very special Christmas story for you all, we hope you enjoy.

From everyone at St. David’s Children Society, Merry Christmas.

A Christmas Story – English from St. David’s Children Society on Vimeo.

As we move towards the end of this year I wanted to pass on heartfelt thanks on behalf of all those who work for St David’s, including the teams of Adopting Together and AFA Cymru to all who have used our services over the last twelve months. This has included those who have made the first tentative steps to becoming adoptive parents through enquiry, application and approval to adopt, to newly formed families and those who have accessed our adoption support services through our main services or through the Adopting Together Service. AFA Cymru has provided advice and information to families brought together through other forms of permanency such as fostering, special guardianship and kinship care aswell as facilitating learning opportunities for professionals right across the social care spectrum.

To say this year has been different is probably an understatement as all our services moved on line during the first lockdown in March. With risk assessments now part of our daily lives, we managed during the year to introduce some face-to-face meetings where needed, particularly for those in the assessment process to become adoptive parents as well as families who just needed a face-to-face visit with their social worker to discuss particular adoption support needs. I think we have all missed what we have so taken for granted in the past – human contact over a cup of tea and a biscuit.

I know for each and every one of you this year will have in some way been affected by personal challenge and our aim has been to act as a trusted guide to be there for you when needed. Thank you for your faith in us to fulfil this pledge and we will continuously strive to provide this.

We all wish you a safe and happy Christmas for those who are celebrating, and a much welcomed break for you all. We look forward with confidence to a brighter 2021 for everyone.

Warmest wishes,

Wendy Keidan

Our Christmas Card competition is now closed.

Congratulations to our winners!

We received many entries for all age categories and we love them all! It was hard selecting three winners, but don’t worry, keep an eye out on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages to see all your designs showcased throughout December!

From our CEO, Wendy:

Thank you to all our brilliant artists who submitted entries to our Christmas card competition. The standard was exceptionally high and all the pictures will  go on display in our art gallery at the office.

Many congratulations also to our 3 winners Griff, Oliver and Morgan for their imaginative and creative designs.

A MESSAGE FROM Wendy Keidan

I hope you are all keeping well as we enter into the fire-break lockdown on Friday announced by Mark Drakeford this Monday.

I just wanted to send a message of reassurance that whatever stage you are in the process or journey of adoption, from making an enquiry to needing post placement support, we remain open and here for you at every step.

We are classed as an essential service so the arrangements that we have had in place during most of this year remain unchanged. Our staff team will be mostly home based but for those of you who are going through the assessment process to become parents , face to face visits will occur following a risk assessment to ensure everyone remains safe and well. We can also offer video calls. We will also continue to provide support on a face to face basis when required; again following our risk assessment process. We are constantly working in partnership with our colleagues in the Local Authorities and Regions to ensure that the linking , matching and placement of children continues. Please don’t hesitate to contact your social worker or contact us at info@stdavidcs.org or on 02920 667007 if you wish to speak to a duty social worker Monday to Friday 9.00am – 12.30 pm or leave a message and we will contact you the following day.

With my very best wishes to you all.

Wendy

Below is a statement on Black Lives Matter from CVAA. As a member of CVAA, we fully endorse this statement and the actions CVAA and ourselves as individual members of CVAA will take to address racism and discrimination in our Society.

CVAA Black Lives Matter statement

 

First and foremost, I hope that you and all your family and friends remain well. It has been a period of change and challenge thus far for everyone and despite some reprieve in the summer, we are now entering a potentially tough time over the winter with a reintroduction of national restrictions and local lockdowns for some regions in Wales. I therefore wanted to write to you all at whatever stage you are in your adoption journey, from making an enquiry to adopt to adopting many years ago, to offer my assurances that despite local and national  lockdowns  there will be no change to how we deliver our services to you. We have been home based for many months now and over that time we invested heavily in infrastructure to deliver online pre approval training, virtual adoption panels that have functioned very well  and we have provided a range of support including therapeutic support online. Feedback from families who have accessed this report say that it has worked incredibly well.

We have also introduced a mixture of face to face and virtual meetings when needed. For example, when undertaking some assessment work or support visits. The face to face meetings are conducted following stringent risk assessments to ensure you are all safe.

If you are thinking about adoption we would be delighted to hear from you, so please contact us on www.adoptionwales.org or phone 02920 667007.

I am very aware that for those of you who have adopted, you have experienced some incredibly challenging months being Mum, Dad, teacher, nurse, counsellor to name but a few roles all probably in the space of an hour at best. Your resilience, tenacity and creativity has shone through, but please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone at any time to talk anything through – that is what we are here for.

For those of you at the very start of your adoption journey as newly approved adopters, we are working hard to ensure that we find the right match for you to become parents. This is life changing and life affirming so getting this right for the child and you is critical. In order that you can hear about some of the children who are waiting for a family, you will be invited to a virtual profile event during National Adoption Week, from October 12th to 18th.

We are really disappointed that we are unable to have our annual Christmas party this year – the absolute highlight of my year – but we are hoping that we can provide some Christmas story telling magic online so look out for that plus our annual newsletter with a catch up of news across the Society.

As ever, I send my very best wishes and thanks to each and every one of you.

Wendy

There is no denying it – it is hard!

I would love to be able to say that 13 weeks in, we have established a new routine, a new normal, and every day is full of new opportunity and delight, but this is no fairytale. The reality is we take each day as it comes: some are truly inspiring and give you a glimmer of hope, that maybe you do actually have your sh*t together, while others we plough through with our heads down.

Routine was once a formidable safety blanket, but introducing and more importantly maintaining a new structure in a two up, two down terrace house, which is no longer just their home, but now an office, a gym, a playground, a school and canteen, is just damn-near impossible. Their emotions are shot, my children have already grieved heavily in the past. The loss of their birth family, their foster family, and now this.

I understand to many, they may feel I am over exaggerating, but the truth is our five year olds have experienced more trauma than many of us will face in a lifetime, and to have their routine, family and friends suddenly stripped from them alongside the emotional anguish attached is an experience they only know too well.

After the honeymoon period of being at home with Dad and Dadi ended, about two weeks in, the realisation that this wasn’t going away hit. Their behaviours started to regress, and past feelings, along with their dragon-like tantrums, started to raise their ugly head again. Chaos well and truly descended!

So, we took each day as it came, reverting back to old tactics which we were first introduced to from their foster family. Their days became structured around their meal times, breakfast, lunch and dinner, because as long as they knew they wouldn’t go hungry, which they once did, they felt secure. We then dotted in some home-schooling, garden play, PE with Joe Wicks (who I hope to never have in my living room again) around this, keeping it very much lead by them.

We vastly reduced the number of video calls. We discovered as time went on that they could unsettle the boys. The presence of a family or friend, on a screen, in our house, with only verbal interaction combined with their already mixed feelings of uncertainty, and lack of understanding only enticed their already hyper vigilant and sometimes manic behaviour. Instead, we hold off video calls until they ask, which is usually when they are excited to tell them something or want to show something off.

I myself have also struggled. Just before lockdown I was made redundant from a job I loved. Not to be too disheartened, I had a number of very positive interviews under my belt and opportunities started to dot across the horizon, yet this all came to a halt with the uncertainty brought on by lockdown. I love the boys but, personally, being a stay at home dad was never something I desired. My career is part of my identity, something I could succeed in that was my own, but now in lockdown, and with the light at the end of the tunnel constantly on dim, it is difficult to motivate yourself when you don’t actually feel you are working towards anything.

That said, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom and now as we enter our 14th week, those dragon-like tantrums are securely reigned, they are returning to school in some shape-or-form in a couple of weeks and we can meet other families in the park.

The chorus of ‘Dadi, he hit me!’ or ‘DADIIIII, he took my toy’ will resound in my ears long after lockdown but if you had the choice, being locked down with your brother who also happens to be your best friend doesn’t seem like a bad option. The pair of them are completely different, yin & yang, but lockdown has meant that they have not only found comfort in each other, but learned to appreciate each other’s differences and enjoys each other’s company through the sharing of the others interests.

I no longer feel guilty about their screen-time and the worry that they may not develop at the same rate as their peers has well and truly been erased. Comparison is the devil and as long as they feel happy, safe and content and sleep well at night we are happy.

So, for now, whether it is a long walk or simply vegging out in front of the TV, we’ll take it, and when routine finally presents itself again, we’ll relish it but more importantly be ready!!

Dear all,

I just wanted to write to you all and hope that first and foremost you, your family and loved ones are keeping safe and well.

We continue to live in unprecedented times and I know that all of you are  having different experiences of home life as a family whether you are at the early stages of your adoption journey, waiting for children to be placed with you or have adopted some years ago.

For some of you having this time together has been welcomed with children really enjoying their one to one time with Mum /Dad. For others it has been incredibly tough with children really missing the structure and routine of school. Whilst we continue to work differently through various platforms such as zoom whatever your experiences we are here to help and support you so please do not think that you need to do all of this on your own. Our phone number is 02920 667007 or email info@stdavidscs.org and we will put you in touch with a duty social worker who is available Monday to Friday 9.00am- 5.00pm ( 4.30 pm on Fridays).

There are some parts of the adoption process that are inevitably taking longer such as the safe movement of children from foster care to adoption. We are all working very hard right across the sector and across professional disciplines to assist and support processes wherever possible. However, I appreciate that any delays to you becoming parents will be an anxious time for you. Please do not hesitate to discuss these anxieties with us and we will do all we can to assist and support you.

We have set up fortnightly mid-week coffee morning support groups, continued with our quarterly weekend support groups with guest speakers, there is a closed Facebook group for peer support and lots of ideas of how to keep children entertained during lockdown on social media.

Facebook – @StDavidsChildrenSociety

Twitter –  @AdoptionWales

Instagram – @st.davids.children.society

AFA Cymru are facilitating workshops and training via webinars so ask your social worker about them.

There is also additional support available through AUK who have introduced new helpline hours  Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

7- 9 pm and during the day Mon – Fri – 10.00am – 2.30pm. You can contact them on 0300 666 0006 (option 5)

They have also got useful information on the following links:

https://www.adoptionuk.org/pages/category/covid-19

You will also find helpful advice on the National Adoption Service website:

https://www.adoptcymru.com/

For those of you thinking about adoption we are very keen to hear from you on 02920 667007 or info@stdavidscs.org .  St. David’s remains very much open for business, and is eagerly poised to respond positively to the next stage in Welsh Governments recovery plan when it is known.

I wish you and yours all the very best.

Wendy

 

Wendy Keidan

Chief Executive Officer/ Prif Weithredwr 

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