This content is very useful for foster carers, adopters and professionals as the themes relate to parenting and living with children who experienced – maltreatment and/or neglect and/or frequent changes of carers. There are many metaphors, examples and diagrams which can be used to understand trauma and explain its impact to adults and children.

Most articles below appeared in Adoption Today, the bi-monthly magazine of Adoption UK, a charity which supports adopters before, during and after adoption

The articles are roughly grouped by content. Some have audios to download.

Social media (including Facebook) threat to adopted children grows in the UK


Adoption and NLP expert Helen Oakwater’s new book, Bubble Wrapped Children, released this week, has generated a worldwide storm lifting the lid on a major crisis within adoption.

Reuters, The Times (in a front page article), The Sun, The Australian, The Daily Mail are among dozens of major media outlets that carried features on Thursday and Friday.

Below is an extract the article from Reuters.

British youngsters adopted after abusive childhoods are at risk of fresh emotional turmoil as some birth parents turn to Facebook and other social networking sites to track them down, adoption agencies said on Thursday. The ease with which birth parents can use technology to get in touch with their children without warning and without following established safeguards has alarmed adoption agencies.

Families who have been contacted have described the experience as like being in a “slow-motion car crash” leaving them “battered and bruised.” Some families have been torn apart. “Social networking sites have blown things open — you can’t keep things secret,” said Julia Feast, a consultant at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), which campaigns for children in care.

The Times Article - Facebook threat to Adopted Children - Helen Oakwater

Want to Adopt? Review of new book by Helen Oakwater.

In March 2012 I reviewed Helen’s first book: ‘Bubble Wrapped Children – how social networking is changing the face of 21st century adoption’ . I commented then that I thought it did the book a disservice by apparently focusing on only one element of what was making closed adoption a trickier concept as electronic communications networks grow at exponential rate.  In 2012 I said this: – Sarah Phillimore

Want to Adopt Book Cover


The Cost of Trauma Article

The Cost of Trauma

Early intervention is cost-effective and morally right. First published in April 2008, this article demonstrates the cost-benefit of early intervention. Although the actual costs have changed the principles are equally valid today. A decade later the child in this case study did not have a good outcome.

Measuring trauma

Trauma comes in different sizes and intensities. This article offers both a metaphor and formula for measuring trauma. Quantifying damage can help explain why children behave how they do and why early intervention, truth telling and understanding is vital.

Measuring Trauma Article
Invisible wounds don't stop hurting Article

Invisible wounds don’t stop hurting.

By comparing and contrasting two different parents (including “a mother like Alex”) the challenges of parenting attachment disordered children become clear. Both the financial costs and emotional costs are compared

Child abuse victims need more than just our shock and horror.

Newspaper articles brings child abuse into “normal peoples” lives. Sympathy is not enough. Repair, healing, truth telling is needed to future proof children.

Audio: Child Abuse victims need more than (mp3)

Child abuse Article

facebook issues

Facebook: direct contact with no safeguards

Facebook: direct contact with no safeguards (Part 1)

First of two articles published in 2010 exploring the threat of Facebook, what’s happening plus the link to identity, teenage angst and loss of control when birth family enter adopters homes via the internet.


Facebook: The Shame and the Shadow (Part 2)

Adopted children need an enduring safe place to grow, create a solid sense of self and to melt the pervasive shame their early maltreatment created. The need for therapeutic reparenting and truth telling is explored.

Facebook: The shame and the shadow Article


Toxic Parenting Article

The impact of toxic parenting.

Based on Susan Foreward’s 6 categories of toxic parents (inadequate, controlling, alcoholic, physical, sexual & verbal abusers,) this article steps into the childs shoes and highlights the distortions it creates plus tools for healing.


Toxic Shame: how trauma contaminates the ‘wonderful’ inner child.

John Bradshaws model explains how the “wonder” child can be contaminated by trauma and toxic parenting. The different developmental stages of children (based on Erik Erikson’s model) is explained with impact of deficiencies.


Toxic shame Article


Where Hindsight meets Forethought

Edinburgh Festival for a week Article

Edinburgh Festival for a week?

Helen reflects on the different interactions between “normal”  and “traumatised” children with their families at a festival. Trust, responsibility, therapeutic reparenting and prioritising the need of children.

Nothing but the truth.

Neglect as a traumatic experience. Sensory triggers, metaphorical shrapnel, trauma triggered behaviour, bubble wrap and need for coherent narrative.

Nothing but the Truth Article
Mind your Language Article

Mind your language!

Words have a big effect. Examples of how to be clearer with your communication to assist your child achieve better outcomes and reframe events.

What do you and they really need for Christmas?

Christmas brings heightened expectations, so focus on childrens enduring needs not short term wants . and yes that may disappoint some adults – including your family. Plus glorious ‘gifts’ others can give you and the family.


What do they really need for Christmas
Jigsaw of Truth

Jigsaw of truth: why, what and how?

Children need to know their history, it shapes how they see themselves, hence key to their identity.  Life story ‘work’ must honour the child’s somatic (body) experiences and memory.

Fresh Perspectives, Tools, Flows, Values

Valuing our needs.

Our needs and values affect our motivation and behaviour. Children whose early developmental needs were not met have an emptiness inside.  Often their ‘nonsensical’ behaviour is a window into their inner turmoil and deficits, if we can read the cues. Maslow and Barrets models illustrate the concepts.

Valuing our needs
Increase the flow with a SUD

Increase the flow with a SUD

Being in the flow is a useful state. Reduction of anxiety by increasing skills and a method of measuring “Subjective Units of Distress” which can help children callibrate hurt, pain and trauma. (Part 1 of flow articles).

Are you a boiled frog?

Maintaining one’s identity is vital to keep self-concept strong. Boredom stems from the repetition of events, even being stolen from.  With sufficient skill; flow is possible. (Part 2 of flow articles).

Are you a boiled frog?


Robust matching for permanence

Robust matching for permanence. 

Criteria for matching a child to a new set of parents is often vague and subjective. We need robust measurement and techniques that will enable placements to last.

Robust matching for permenance feb 08 PDF


Why are these children any different?

Written primarily for teachers this article explains why and how children who have experienced maltreatment and neglect have a legacy of trauma which impacts their ongoing life

Why are these kids different Education Now AUK Jan 2013

Why are these children any different?

more articles

What the **** was that about?

What the **** was that about?

ONE of the many challenges adopters face is not understanding the reason their child suddenly ‘goes off on one’, i.e. flips for no apparent reason.


Logical Levels

AS adopters we hear enlightened therapists say “Their behaviour is not the problem – it’s the answer to the problem”.


Logical Levels Article
Is this what I expected?

Is this what I expected?

During the drafting of this article, I had an ‘interesting Sunday’, which for me illustrated how the complexities of adoptive parenting change as our children grow older.


Expectation, reality and time travel…

When my children were placed in the early 1990s I had a view of how my life would be as a
mother. I anticipated some things; however….


Expectations, reality and time travel for heroes


The legacy of childhood trauma is huge and complex. The more you understand, the more you can do in your field to either prevent or heal childhood trauma.These links and resources will aid your learning.

Drowning in Empathy: The cost of vicarious trauma: Amy Cunningham

(Heads up, she does not mention being the parent of a traumatised child, but that hat fits).

The Paradox of Trauma Informed care: Dr Vicky Kelly

Dr Vicky Kelly (This actually explores Developmental Trauma i.e. trauma in childhood)

How do we stop childhood Adversity from becoming a Life experience : Benjamin Perks

(Stands in child’s shoes and explores ACE -Adverse Childhood Experience)


7 + 6 =

Just checking if you breath, smile and are not a robot! laughing