About

My first book No Matter What was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in July 2013.  The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting followed in November 2014.  Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off, an illustrated novel for children was published in March 2016.

I contribute articles on adoption reform and therapeutic parenting to the online Social Work magazine Community Care.  Some of them were quite good and won awards from the British Society of Magazine Editors and the Professional Publishers Association.

I occasionally speak in public about therapeutic parenting (the unofficial kind), self care, advocacy in education and post adoption support.

My agent is Genevieve Carden of the CardenWright Literary Agency and she can be contacted on Genevieve_Carden@hotmail.com.

 

45 thoughts on “About

  1. aprilshowers

    its about time that others know what it is like to parent our poor traumatised children, I had thought of doing something like this, but my children would not like it. but it nneeds to be told.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      I’m hoping that adopters will be able to read something that at last looks something like their lives and also that those who have passing association with or interest in the subject will enjoy the book as well.
      I have involved our children in the writing process, they have read bits of it and are excited about it. In a strange way it has helped us all. I have however had to create a very complicated alter-ego to get over the confidentiality issues. (Nothing is ever easy!)
      Thanks for reading, Sally

      Reply
  2. Sami Holmes

    What a fantastic website!!!! It is so good to be able to read about the ups and downs involved when you have taken the huge step to adopt a child/children. This offers not only support but humour on those days when it is needed!! Keep up the good work….it is brilliant!!!! xxxx

    Reply
  3. Louise

    My husband and I have just been allocated a social worker and begin our home study May 1st we are very excited but also cautious. Thank you for a honest reflection of real life. We have certainly found it reassuring in its truthfulness. Wish us luck as we head down the next path on our journey to adoption.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for your comment Louise and I’m glad that you found the site useful. I worry that I may put off adopters with my honest approach so I’m very happy that this has not been the case for you! I wish you the best of luck with your homestudy and the rest of the process. Adoption is certainly not the easy path but has been very rewarding for us.

      Reply
    1. admin Post author

      I took a look at your site too. For any man and couple coping with male infertility it is a must read.
      Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  4. redblogstick

    You are my hero! I started my own blog about 6 months ago and have only found your infinitely superior version today because of your article in Adoption UK. THANK YOU! Your experience is sooooo close to my own (although your son is I think a couple of years older) I feel truly blessed to have discovered a kindred spirit and look forward to your future inspiring posts. x

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thank you for your very kind words. I know from experience how useful it is to connect with other people going through the same trials. There are a number of adoption bloggers out there now, most of which I’ve linked to on my blog. There is also a lively and supportive twitter community, so if you ever feel like joining in then find me at @sallydwrites you’d be very welcome.

      Reply
      1. Gwdihwsiw

        Dear Sally

        Thank you for your book An Unofficial Guide To Adoption. It was brilliant, a breath of fresh air. Reaffirming that I’m doing it right, and has been such a support to me this week at a time when I’ve been so down. I have a queue of family members waiting to be next with the book!

        It was easy to read, informative and left me thumping the air with whooping YES sounds when you wrote about the things I have been struggling to get people to understand. I could go on. But not publicly.

        I think everyone should read this. I’m currently struggling with people not understanding about the affects of early years trauma. (In the womb) and the effects of separation and loss on our children. I have never felt so isolated and alone and made to feel I don’t know what I’m on about. To read your book made me realise I’m not alone. And Rather smugly, I’m right. Until people have walked the day in an adoptive family’s life in times of trauma, then they will understand. (And never mutter the ghastly phrase to me again – they just needs some good old fashioned discipline).

        Thank you so much. This book is such a boost. You may never know how much!

        Reply
  5. Pingback: Is there supply for post-adoption support budgets? | The Children's Services Blog

  6. Emily

    Thank you for writing this blog and for your book. I wish I had been able to read it three years ago when my husband and I started the journey to adopting my amazing children. It followed our story so closely I was in tears when reading it.

    Reply
  7. Jo

    Sally, I started your book on 23rd December whilst waiting for my adoption medical at the doctor’s surgery. Despite all the Christmas festivities – I couldn’t put it down. I just finished it yesterday and it moved me so much I couldn’t really say anything for about an hour.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope my partner and I can find your strength, belief and honesty as we embark on our own journey…

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thank you Jo, firstly for reading my book and secondly for taking the time to write a comment. I’m glad you enjoyed it and I wish you well with your journey.

      Reply
  8. Ed + Tania Carlisle

    Hi Sally, we’re in the midst of the adoption process, just read your book, and found it seriously invaluable. Many thanks for sharing your journey in such an honest, funny, page-turning, insightful way – very much appreciated.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for reading the book and taking the time to comment. It is great to hear that you found it invaluable. The best of luck with your adoption process.

      Reply
  9. Christina

    I have just finished reading your book- read it in a day because I didn’t want to put it down. Thank you for being so honest and sharing the whole process. It’s incredibly useful as we’re currently thinking about adoption and I am in awe of your perseverance and the difference you made for Jamie and Rose. You’ve done such an amazing thing both in parenting and in sharing it with other people. Thank you.

    Reply
  10. Rob

    I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for writing your book. It is a warm, honest account of your journey through adoption. My wife and I have just gone through panel and reading your experiences of the process and your feelings is like holding a mirror up to our own lives. So much so that I am contemplating buying our parents copies so they can understand not only our feelings before the decision to adopt, but also the process and the difficulties we will face in the future. Adoption is a wonderful but daunting thing to do but your book has helped in not only highlighting the challenges but also putting to rest some of the fears we have. Thank you

    Reply
  11. Becky Randall

    My husband and I are just starting our adoption journey and are hoping to adopt siblings. I came across a recommendation for your book and have just finished reading it. I want to thank you for being so brave in telling the world your family story. We have read so much about the difficulties our children would probably face but your book has shown us how this shows itself. I’m under no illusions now how hard this will be (although I’m sure it will still be a huge shock to the system), I feel confident in going forward. Not least of all because your book must surely have opened doorways for more help for adoptive families but most of all because you’ve laid yourself bare to the feelings we can anticipate feeling and know it’s normal. Best of all is the knowledge that throughout all of this your love of your children shines through and that’s ultimately what it’s all about. Thank you from an enlightened but definitely not deterred hopeful adopter.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      It makes me happy (and relieved) to know that the book has not put you off adoption. Thanks for reading it and I wish you well x

      Reply
  12. Lisa

    I just finished your book. I am also an adoptive mom of a 13 year old boy who has FAS and was also severely neglected. I have shared many of your experiences and emotions. I love my son but parenting him is challenging. Sometimes it is a very lonely experience. Thank you for reminding me that others are on the same journey.

    Reply
  13. Davina

    Well said Sally. I can totally relate to your comments. It’s good to read an honest account of adoption for a change. x

    Reply
  14. Sarah C

    Hello.

    Thank you for your book, I’ve just finished it in a day and a half!

    My husband and I are considering siblings and I really appreciate how candid you are about the challenges involved.

    The joy you feel at your children’s accomplishments shine through even as the sadness of the difficulties they face is highlighted.

    A lot of anxiety for us is also around biological family contact – we’re not particularly comfortable with any contact at all and it gives me some hope that we can come to the right solution for our potential children as you did.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  15. Emma

    I just wanted to say after finding your book on Amazon it was one of the best books I’ve ever read it was so refreshing to hear someone actually say they were sick of hearing the “birth” stories and feeling that sickly feeling of not being able to contribute and also if I’m honest a bit of boredom of it all!!

    I’m just waiting for my stage 2 confirmation letter as we speak but my social worker seems to think it will be no problem as I’m at the very emotional stage which is why I loved your book so much. It was great to read the highs and sometimes lows covering nearly all the issues I worry about, being a single adopter I know it’s going to be tough but your book gave me a wonderful insight into how you coped. Im sure I too will go through many of the same experiences as you have and yet to start my magical journey. Anyway enough of my meandering and just a massive thank you to you and your wonderful family for sharing your honesty (and often funny moments) with us all!! It’s been bought by no fewer than 6 of my family so far!!

    Reply
  16. Pingback: Short Book Review (adoption) – ‘No Matter What’ by Sally Donovan | journey into social work

  17. Elspeth Mackay

    Dear Sally
    I’m reading your book. I love the bit about Bradley Wiggins. In fact, I love the book altogether. It is the ONLY book I have read about being an adoptive parent which actually mirrors my own experience. And your dialogues ring true, not like those hideous ones in lots of books where the dad calls the son, ‘son’. Thank you. I have recommended the book to our social worker and recommended to her that it becomes required reading for our council prep course.
    Thanks again.
    Elspeth

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      That’s really kind of you. Thanks for reading my book and for recommending it to your LA. When I’m knackered I like to think of Bradley Wiggins and his Tour x

      Reply
  18. Kate

    Hi Sally

    I came across this
    http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/mulk/product/i-m-still-hoping-i-m-adopted-card whilst looking for Father’s Day cards for my husband from our (adopted) children.

    I was very offended and complained. The reply from the seller said that she accepts that it doesn’t suit me but it does suit many people who share a different view and relationship to members of their family. I am disgusted that the concept of adoption is being used in such a flippant way to humour people.

    Do you find the card offensive? Or am I being over sensitive?

    Kate

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Ah, how tasteful. About this time last year we tweeted the same company about an equally offensive card and they withdrew it from sale. May be time for another mini-campaign.
      I find it offensive and my son will livid, so no, I don’t think you’re being over-sensitive.
      Thanks for letting me know, S

      Reply
      1. Kate

        Hi sally

        Thanks for replying and I am pleased you agree with me. I am not on Twitter (I am happy to explain why as a private message) would it be cheeky to ask you to start the ball rolling on Twitter?

        Luckily my children haven’t seen it as I know my daughter in particular would be upset.

        Kate

        Reply
  19. James Farrell

    Hi Sally,
    My partner and I are about to start the adoption process and have enjoyed reading your blog. Is there any way of having sent to my email when you upload new ones?
    Best,
    James

    Reply
  20. Linz

    Sally, a family member who has just been matched with a child for adoption asked us to read this book. I’m glad they did, it was really helpful to understand how well meaning comments can be so counterproductive and also to get more insight into how parent of adopted children can feel. Her local authority offered a training day for family which we also found interesting and helpful, but without the real “this is how it is” insight you provided which will help us support our family member and partner. I wish your family continued strength in your journey,and happiness, love and resilience. Linz.

    Reply
  21. Esther Hughes

    Dear Sally,
    If only I could read my OU textbooks with the same speed and enthusiasm as I whipped through your unofficial guide to adoptive parenting I would be a genius! Thank you for your insightful and though-provoking book. I have to say lots of light bulb moments occurred for my husband and me. I’m also reading ‘Why can’t my children behave by Dr Amber Elliot and to say how disappointed I now feel about the advice we’ve been given would take a long time.
    After months of being beaten up by our wee one we asked to be referred to our local CAMHS. Their response was to send ME to parenting classes where I was told to naughty step, ignore and consequence our child. One year on and she’s not learned from any of this. We’re now using empathic behavioural management. It’s still early days but we’re hopeful that we’ll get some benefit from this. So many things you describe ring true. I’d love to speak to you about some of them.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi – thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment.
      In my unprofessional and unofficial opinion, advice to isolate and withdraw from a child who needs connection and understanding is dreadful, and leaves parents and children feeling like failures. Amber’s book is great and helped me to really think about what is really going on for our children, particularly their learnt and adaptive behaviours.
      I am so so glad that The Unofficial Guide rang true. It took me years to get to grips with all this (and I still am) and it is QUITE DEPRESSING that families are still being given such crappy advice. I really hope that you start to see some real healing taking place in your family.
      That’s me done!
      S x

      Reply
      1. Esther Hughes

        Dear Sally,
        We really are going through a rough patch with our girl. The explosions of rage are scary and the violence towards me is physical and verbal. We’ve never hit our child so can’t see where it has all come from…Not TV or computer. She won’t talk to us about her feelings and I’ve tried the wondering aloud technique that just ends up with us getting yelled at. She’s nine and half and can flip to three at the drop of a hat, yet at school she’s got no discipline issues at all! Was there anything that you tried with your children that worked? It sounds like you had similar problems but I also note, in your most recent post, that empathy isn’t always the best thing. I’m reading Adoptive Parenting again as it’s comforting.

        Reply
        1. admin Post author

          Dear Esther,
          Everything you describe will be very familiar to many parents. Much of this will be rooted in the past, and is not your fault. I advice that you get into contact with your post adoption support team and ask for an assessment of need. Many find that a really good therapeutic parenting course is a good place to start, also have a look at Non-Violent Resistance training. I would be considering as well whether your child is holding it together at school and then letting it all go at home. Again this is common. I would be thinking about what is adding strain at school, and how this could be reduced.
          If you live in England, then these types of support can be funded through the Adoption Support Fund. Your social worker would need to put in an application for you. Support at school can be funded through Pupil Premium.
          I hope that helps.
          Please get in contact again if you need/want to.
          Very best wishes, S x

          Reply
  22. David m

    Just found your book on Amazon, we’re on a delayed process, one for another day, am getting so much from this book and the reality side and put it on my reading list I sent to SW! Thank you. Do you post blog or link on Twitter?

    Reply
  23. Nikki

    I have just finished reading “No Matter What”. My partner and I are nearly finished stage 1 and have recently done our 4 day adoption training course. Your book really knocked me for six, I was an emotional wreck at the end of it. I could not stop thinking about it. You made me really dig deep into why we wanted to adopt. I am pleased to say, we aren’t put off, but am definitely terrified! I finally realise that “having” children and “adopting” children are not a means to the same end goal. Yes “Family” is the general word for “the goal” but there are so many different types of “family” and being part of an “adopted family” is completely unique in itself. I have sent a copy each to our immediate family members.
    Knowing this now, I feel that extra bit prepared. Thank you so much for your honesty.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I’ve tried to be honest throughout and to write what I needed way back in the early days of our adoption experience. I’m glad that the book didn’t put you off and I hope that you feel better prepared. Very best of luck with stage two x

      Reply
  24. Josephine Scott

    Hi Sally

    I’m a clinical psychologist and have just started a post with camhs and looked after children so turned to Amazon to bolster my professional confidence (!) And bought your book ‘no matter what’ (as an aside, do you know the children’s book of the same title by debi gliori? Lovely book).

    I’ve been unable to put it down (sorry kids) and frequently was moved to tears by your honesty. I can only hope it will help me to better support the young people and families I come into contact with. No Dr Darling, I promise!
    Thank you

    Reply
  25. Amanda

    Dear Sally

    I first read No Matter What in August 2013, during the first week our son was placed with us. I was in shock at the time (nothing compared to how he felt, of course) and your book helped me to emerge from the fog, adjust and carry on. I identified with your journey from infertility to adoption and reading about another family birthed out of grief and loss helped to normalise the craziness of those early days. I have just returned to the book for a second reading. Our adoption journey so far has been very difficult and seems to be getting more so. We are shedding friends along the way (or being shed by!) and the feeling of isolation can be crushing. Returning to No Matter What was like reconnecting with an old friend – one that ‘gets’ me and empathises and then hauls me off the sofa and tells me to crack on. Like you, we live with trauma. Big angry trauma. In the last three years we have learned a lot about therapeutic parenting and we’re getting better at it all the time. That said, some days I’m shit at it. On those days I have nothing left to give and I say and do everything I know that I shouldn’t and I go to bed convinced that I’ve made everything even worse. Your honesty and positivity have helped me to refuel, for now at least. Maybe I now need to revisit ‘The unofficial Guide’, first read last year… or maybe I just need to get out more if a book is a substitute for an actual friend!

    Anyway, thank you and keep writing.

    Amanda (a fellow trauma-traveller)

    Reply

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