Ben and Jamie adopted seven-year-old Daniel in 2017

Ben and Jamie adopted seven-year-old Daniel in 2017

The couple first approached PACT after a recommendation from New Family Social, the UK network for LGBT adoptive and foster families, which knew of people who had adopted through PACT and had been impressed, particularly with its matching and post-placement support services.

They said: "We attended an information evening with PACT and really liked the approach - the focus was very much on how they could help bring families together."

The couple decided to go ahead and were matched with Daniel who was placed with them in 2016. Initially Daniel, who had been in foster care with an older brother, was placed with Ben and Jamie together with a younger brother Oscar*, who had been in foster care with a different family.

PACT's Strengthening Families Team was involved from the start to prepare the two boys for their placement and to help them come to terms with the loss of their birth family.

However it became clear that Oscar had significant additional needs, exceeding those originally identified, and the decision was eventually taken for him to return to foster care. Ben and Jamie said this had been an incredibly difficult experience for them all.

They said: "Kathryn in the Strengthening Families Team supported us throughout the disruption. She was just brilliant about talking it through with us and Daniel, and helping us to work out how we could best support him. She really helped him, and us, in so many ways."

The couple said the Strengthening Families Team Support ranged from Kathryn regularly calling and visiting, including on the day that Oscar moved out, to recommendations of books they could read to Daniel to help him come to terms with the fact he was no longer living with either of his brothers.

They said: "There was one day when it was really bad when we rang Kathryn and she just dropped everything and drove down the motorway to see us that same day. PACT was there for us when we most needed it."

The Strengthening Families Team also carried out Theraplay Workshops with the family, which Ben and Jamie said gave them some good ideas of things to try with Daniel, and the couple benefited from one-to-one sessions with Kathryn when Daniel was at school.

Therapeutic life story work is now being planned for the family to further help Daniel understand and make sense of his past.

Ben and Jamie said they had also found PACT's other training courses, particularly its four-day Preparation Course, incredibly helpful and a really good way of getting to chat to other adopters.

They said Daniel was much more settled now, was enjoying school and has had contact with his older brother.

"He still has wobbles and needs reassurance but he is doing well. When we told him the adoption order had gone through he gave us such a big smile, it has put him in a really good place."

PACT's Strengthening Families Team comprises therapeutically trained, specialist social workers who can offer strategies and advice to PACT adoptive families to help improve attachment and manage behaviours.

This team is part of the package of support offered by PACT, which also includes the award-winning Family And Children Therapeutic Support (FACTS) Service, parenting courses and training sessions.

* Names changed in line with confidentiality