TTT supporting adopters cover

Ten top tips on supporting adopters


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The Ten Top Tips series considers some of the fundamental themes in child care practice in concise, practical guides ideal for busy practitioners.

Families who put themselves forward to adopt children who have suffered loss, abuse and trauma are frequently required to demonstrate extraordinary levels of emotional strength and resilience. Social workers and child care professionals need to understand the complex range of feelings that are engendered in these new family units, where strangers are brought together and given the opportunity to learn together how to be a family, how to be parents to a child who has endured emotional pain and rejection, and how to be a child who can trust adults to be reliable, nurturing and protective.

This book describes the legal framework within which adoption support services are offered and indicates some of the underpinning principles on which a successful support service for adopters depends. These include: respecting adopters and children; keeping positive and hopeful; having the courage to face sad and distressing feelings and bear the despair and pain experienced by some children and their adopters; being resourceful and flexible in seeking appropriate support services for adoptive families; remaining child-centred and remembering that the child’s needs are paramount.

Who is this book for?

The book is intended for the wide range of social workers who become involved in supporting adoptive placements, and who may have differing levels of experience. This includes children’s team social workers, adoption workers, Adoption Support Service Advisors, children’s Guardians, and workers in other settings who need to understand something about the way adoption support services are delivered.

What you will find in this book

Each of the ten chapters presents a basic “tip” in an accessible and straightforward style, including:

  • Exploring the role of the statutory framework
  • Recognising that adoption radically changes adopters’ lives
  • Creating a supportive relationship with adopters
  • Encouraging adopters to be optimistic but realistic
  • Managing a child’s challenging behaviour
  • Supporting other family members
  • Helping adopters to deal with contact
  • Providing different kinds of support to meet individual families’ needs
  • Being knowledgeable, creative and flexible about financial support
  • Building knowledge of resources for adopters

Good practice points are included throughout.


Jeanne Kaniuk has been the Head of the Coram Adoption Service since 1980. She was awarded the OBE for services to children in 1980.