Feeling a bit spooked and anxious because of the frightening riots in London (what is going on inside those guys heads that makes it alright to behave like that?) I went with Nina, DCN’s Manager, to visit Family Futures this morning. This converted warehouse in a quiet Islington backwater, is a haven of tranquility for families when things are going badly wrong for them. Most of the parents and children who come here are part of adoptive families but they are happy to support families of any sort…and let’s face it, we all need a bit of extra help from time to time. Nina and I were there to talk about the possibility of holding our Preparation for DC Parenthood and Telling and Talking workshops there once our Department of Health funding runs out. The culture and values of the two organisations are compatible in that we both support parents towards the ultimate benefit of the whole family unit and we believe that genuine exploration of very personal areas of peoples lives can only happen if they feel safe and cared for. Alan Burnell, one of the founders of the organisation showed us around the comfortable, colourful and well equipped spaces where specialist therapists encourage children and adults to play and talk, beginning to face the very difficult feelings that may have come from troubled beginnings. I have known Alan since we worked together at a now defunct organisation called Exploring Parenthood. This was started in the early 1980s by two psychiatric social workers who were amongst the first to recognise that parents needed somewhere to turn to when they were in difficulties that did not stigmatise them for not being able to manage their children, nor require them to wait in queues, fill in endless forms and sit on hard chairs in drab waiting rooms to get the support they needed. At EP we provided a pleasant place to be, fresh flowers in the room and high quality drinks and snacks as well as non-judgemental support.
We hope to be able to work something out with FF for our workshops but best of all we look forward to working more closely in collaboration towards the well-being of donor conception families. DC is different to adoption – and particularly perhaps to modern adoption where most children placed are older and often from very traumatised backgrounds – but DC families DO get into difficulties from time to time and the people at FF could not be better placed or qualified to support them. I left feeling much better and more hopeful about the world.