Advice for adoptive parents, special guardians and kinship and connected carers

Last reviewed on 5 October 2020

Many children who have been adopted or who are living with their extended family will have had traumatic early experiences. Difficult times like the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic might have an additional impact on them.

It is really positive that they have stable permanent homes as this gives them a great basis for managing difficult periods in their lives. As their main carer, it’s important that you engage them in conversations about any worries or concerns they have.

The Good Thinking team answers some of your questions below. If you’re feeling anxious, stressed, depressed or having trouble sleeping because of coronavirus, Good Thinking can recommend NHS-approved apps.

You can find the latest COVID-19 guidance and guidance for local authorities on children’s social care on the UK Government website. You might also find Good Thinking's articles about Back to School and exam results useful.

How should I be talking about coronavirus with my child?

One of the most important things you can do is to keep the lines of communication open. The Children’s Commissioner has created a Children’s Guide to Coronavirus that is a good conversation starter. You can also find lots of information about coronavirus on the BBC Newsround, Save the Children and The Mix websites.

How can I reassure them about their birth family?

Your child might be worried about their siblings, grandparents and other members of their birth family. Where contact arrangements are in place, these might not be able to happen face-to-face at the moment. If that is the case, contact your support worker in the local authority or your adoption agency. Reassure your child that this is only temporary.

Where there are no formal contact arrangements, or where contact takes place through a letterbox arrangement, it might be helpful to ask your child whether they are thinking about their family. You know your child best and will be able to judge the right time.

I’m worried about getting ill – what should I do?

It’s really important to be honest about your concerns and to seek support from your local authority and adoption agency. They will be able to give you advice and guidance about your individual circumstances and discuss contingency plans should you get ill.

I’m worried about my finances – what can I do?

In our article about how to deal with job and financial uncertainty, we summarise the economic measures the UK Government has put in place and provide links to useful websites, such as Citizens Advice, Shelter and Which?.

Where else can I go for support?

You can get advice and support from your local authority or adoption agency. All children’s social care services and agencies are open and functioning, although there might be some restrictions on making physical visits.

If you think your child needs additional therapeutic support, you could be eligible for support through the Adoption Support Fund. Talk to your local authority or adoption agency about about this before making an application.

If you’re an adoptive parent, you can contact Adoption UK on 0300 666 0006.

For kinship and connected carers, the Family Rights Group has produced some helpful advice and operates a free helpline on 0808 801 0366. Grandparents Plus also provides an advice service for grandparents who are kinship carers on 0300 123 7015.

Peer support groups can also be a really good source of advice and mutual support. Grandparents Plus and Kinship Carers UK have active communities on Facebook, for example.

Do you have any other tips for my child at this time?

Our advice for children and young people contains lots of useful information and top tips, including:

  • Stay connected and be open about how you feel
  • Stick to a routine
  • Eat healthily and stay active
  • Be kind to others
  • Get enough sleep
  • Balance online and offline activities

Useful websites

Adoption UK

Family Rights Group

Grandparents Plus

Kinship Carers UK

NHS

NSPCC

UK Government (adoption guidance)

UK Government (special guardianship guidance)

UK Government (COVID-19 guidance for children’s social care services)

UK Government (COVID-19 guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people)

UK Government (schools reopening)

Read Good Thinking's advice for parents and carers and our article about how to deal with the uncertainty of lockdown and beyond. You might also find our podcast on mindfulness and the 20 free guided meditations that are available from our partners at Wellmind Health (Meditainment) useful.