Sunday 19 October 2014

The Open Nest Conference - Taking Care

I've just spent the weekend in gorgeous York, attending the first Open Nest conference entitled 'Taking Care'.  It's the first one the charity has held and hopefully there will be many more. Attended by mostly adopters, there were also adoptees, social workers and foster carers in attendance.

The Open Nest was founded by the inspirational and very lovely Amanda Boorman who adopted Jazz 15 years ago. It was Amanda who started the day off with her documentary about her life with Jazz, including video clips of Jazz over the years.  It's not all been rosy for them, and Amanda wasn't afraid to show that in her video. Thankfully there were tissues on the table because there were a lot of tears around the room. I cried. A lot.

Next to speak was Al Coates who writes at "The misadventures of an adoptive dad".  He talked about his life as an adopter and social worker, speaking with a mix of humour and seriousness. I think it's important us adopters use humour because without it we quite possibly would have imploded by now!

Fran Proctor is an adoptee and, in the form of an interview with Sally Donovan, she explained about her experiences as an adoptee, finding out the truth about her birth mum and her struggles to come to terms with her trauma. Again I cried. A coupe of things she said were lightbulb moments for me and will change the wording I use with Missy. I've also been considering future life story work with Missy and Fran's experience will be helpful to me in that regard.

Next up was Sally Donovan. I love her book "No Matter What". If you are haven't yet read this book and have an interest in adoption, whether a prospective adopter, adopter or professional, I urge you to get a copy. Sally's talked to us about taking care and what I was reminded was that I must not feel guilty if I need to take time out. The only way I can parent therapeutically is if I have the energy to do so. If that means an hour on the sofa rather than a hour cleaning then so be it.  Sally also made me feel much better about the dreaded school run and gave us some great tips for being an advocate for our children at school.

We also heard from We Are Family who are doing a fabulous job in London setting up parent support groups - something that is vital for adopters - and from Ella Harris who introduced the concept of Open Space events, a platform for brainstorming ideas and discussion.

Finally, Sarah and Vicki from The Adoption Social talked about how they came to form this wonderful resource for adopters, what they can offer and what the future holds. They do a wonderful job and have really brought the adoption community together under the adoption social roof.

By the end of the conference I was drained. So much to take in, all the while thinking of my daughter, her future and how to apply what I learnt.  I was grateful for the lovely calming 20 minute walk along the river to the YHA where I was staying, even if I did end up with blisters.

An hour later I was back out again, for dinner with @iris7summer before heading back to the hotel for the evening social. Now, I do like a bit of a boogie, particularly if 80s music is playing but tiredness and blisters conspired against me. I had to admit defeat by 9.30pm and return to the YHA and bed. 

This morning I was up earlier than expected and decided to make the most of my extra hour by having a look round York Minster. The last time I was in York was with my late Dad when we visited the Minster and climbed the tower. Being in the Minster brought a tear to my eye whilst I lit a candle for him, a candle conveniently near the organist who was practising for Matins. Dad loved the sound of church organs. I loved the sound of the bells that were ringing out across the city, such a joyous sound. 

I've been truly inspired by the conference.  I've learnt I need to take care more of myself, I've learnt that it's ok not to do the cleaning (phew!), I've learnt I need to take more care in how I parent therapeutically, I've learnt that I'm leading an 'epic life', I've learnt it's ok to say no to the PTA (I really need to practice this one). I laughed, I cried. I loved meeting people who up til now I only knew as a random twitter handle. I loved meeting people who 'get it'.

I, for one, cannot wait for next year's conference.  Take care.


  1. Not surprised you felt drained. Sounds like a very full on and very wonderful experience x

  2. I love this post Sezz, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the conference. It was really lovely to see you again, albeit briefly.
    I'm glad you got the chance to get into the city too - last time I was at the Minster, I also lit a candle for a lost loved one - a stunning spiritual space.

    Thanks for linking to #WASO and remember - just say 'No' - especially to the PTA! x

  3. It was great wasn't it?! So much to think about and ponder on. It was good to see you there :-)

  4. Lovely post. Well put. I entirely agree. Very special conference. Can't wait til next year either!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...