Becoming ourselves: the personal experiences of living in care and beyond

Conference overview

Incident mark - exclamation pointAlert: conference postponed due to severe weather warnings

Due to the adverse weather conditions (and the forecast looking worse going forward), we have today taken the decision to postpone the conference “Becoming Ourselves: The personal experiences of living in care and beyond”, which was due to take place this Friday, 2 March.

As mental health professionals we are concerned about the increasing difficulties faced by looked-after and adopted children, and those parenting them. This conference presents an opportunity for those with their own lived experience as well as those working in the field of mental health, child protection and social care, particularly those working with foster care, adoption and kinship care to learn from the personal experiences of people, across the generations, living with the experiences of public care and adoption. 

This one-day conference will bring together individuals and groups who can share their stories and ideas about being in residential care, being adopted and living in foster and kinship families. The speakers will bring their own thoughts and understanding, relating to themes of recovery and repair, of spirit, determination and development; about trans-racial placement and cultural experience; about learning from adversity and building a life, becoming oneself!

With presentations, poetry and comedy representing powerful accounts of personal experience, we hope you will want to join us in a unique and collaborative event. 

The conference is led by Sara Barratt (Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist, with childhood experience of foster care) and John Simmonds (BAAF Director of Policy, Research and Development and adoptive parent) and introduced by Phillip McGill (Child Psychotherapist and Team Manager of the Fostering, Adoption and Kinship Care Team at the Tavistock and Portman).

This conference takes place on Friday 2 March 2018 from 9.30am - 4.30pm

9.00 Registration and coffee

9.30 Welcome and introduction

Philip McGill

Chair: John Simmonds

9.45 "You said you cared.... and you did!"

Jenny Molloy

10.15 Transracial adoption: Deracination, racism and the impact across the lifecycle

Perlita Harris and Nick Pendry

11.15 Coffee break

Chair: Sara Barratt

11.30 Growing identities: From there to here

Kellie, Clare and Ian

1.00 Lunch

Chair: John Simmonds

1.45 The British Chinese Adoption Study and me 

Sue Jardine

2.30 Should we and could we reframe personal tragedy into triumph?

Joy Carter

3.15 Tea break

Chair: Sara Barratt

3.30 Torn

Chloe Charles

Chair: Phillip McGill

4.00 Final Plenary

4.30 Close

Dr h.c. Jenny Molloy, BASW England Patron

Jenny is an author, trainer and motivational speaker. Jenny also proudly identifies as a care leaver. The author of her stories, Hackney Child and Tainted Love Aka Hope Daniels, she spent most of her childhood in care, and is now a married mother, grandmother, and of course, a care leaver. Jenny was under the care of Hackney Social Services, and was known as a "Hackney Child", hence the book name.

Written under her real name, Jenny Molloy, her final book, Neglected, shares stories of love and hope within the care system, a message Jenny is passionate about. You can find out more about Jenny and her work on her social media platforms:

Twitter @Hackneychild

Facebook - Hackney Child

Dr Perlita Harris

Perlita is Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Goldsmiths, University of London and holds a PhD in Social Work. A registered social worker with the HCPC, Perlita has a professional background in adoption and adoption support. On behalf of the Transnational and Transracial Adoption Group (an informal social network run by and for transnationally and transracially adopted adults) and hosted by an Adoption Support Agency, she co-facilitates workshops for adopted adults with an international element to their search for identity, information or family.

Perlita’s books include In Search of Belonging: Reflections by transracially adopted people (BAAF 2006), The Colours in Me: Writing and poetry by adopted children and young people (BAAF 2008) and Something that never went away: Reflections on adoption, being in care and searching for family members (Adults Affected by Adoption – NORCAP 2009),

Nick Pendry

Nick is a brown-skinned Indian man who was adopted as a baby by a white-skinned English family. The idea of "race" and the hoped-for experience of belonging has organised the way in which he sees the world from this point onwards.

Nick is a qualified social worker, a family and systemic psychotherapist and a systemic supervisor. He has worked in children’s social care and in CAMHS settings and regularly contributes to the training of family therapists. Nick is married, has two children, and lives in south east London.



Kellie was taken into care when she was 7 and lived in foster families until she was 9, when she moved to her adoptive family. She started her training in Systemic Psychotherapy in 2014 and works with adults and children who have experience of fostering and adoption.



Clare became a foster care in 2000 and has fostered many children and young people. She has a permanently fostered son and two adopted daughters. Clare is an independent social worker specialising in fostering-related work. She also works as a development officer for Family Rights Group and Lifelong Links (which is a DfE Innovation Fund project building and supporting relationships and networks for young people in care).



Ian, with his partner Jonathan, have 3 adopted children - the eldest, a boy, aged 14 years, another boy aged 7 years and a baby girl aged 17 months. Each child was adopted separately. After 20 years in the advertising industry, Ian is now a stay-at-home Dad.

Sue Jardine

Sue is a transracial adoptee who came to the UK from Hong Kong in the 1960s. She is a qualified information professional and has worked for the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) since it was established in 2011. In the past she has supported a number of voluntary organisations such as the PAC-UK, Young Minds and the Race Equality Foundation to develop their information services. Sue was a Co-ordinating group member of ATRAP (Association for Transracially Adopted and Fostered People), the first UK support group for transracially adopted or fostered adults. 

Sue has written about her experiences in a number of BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering, now CoramBAAF) publications and she participated in the British Chinese Adoption Study, published in 2013. Sue is currently a Member of the Hong Kong Adoptees Network (HKAN) and her role includes organising their London meetings.

Joy Carter 

Joy is an established UK comedian with 17 years professional experience. Since the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Joy has been touring the UK with her hour show called ‘Spot the Difference’, which explores her transracial adoption story from Nigeria to the UK. She believes that comedy is a powerful vehicle to engage all types of ages, ethnicities, families and those in the field, helping people to explore adoption in all it’s reality, splendour, diversity, creativity and sadness. 

Over the past 10 years Joy has become an established media figure and specialist on adoption, regularly appearing on TV and radio discussing the issues, and has become a popular and sought after conference/event speaker on adoption, fostering and family issues.  She explores the concepts behind her comedy show in more detail to teach, challenge perspectives and social dilemma’s. Her seminar called ‘Laugh4Life’ explores the important role that humour has with inner healing, wellbeing and overcoming life challenges. 

Chloe Charles 

Chloe was taken into care at around 5 years old along with four of her siblings. Chloe and her younger brother were fostered for about a year before her younger brother’s paternal aunt became their kinship carer. She lived with her aunt until she was 18 and ventured out to university. 

Chloe is very proud that she has persevered with her career goals. She graduated from university with an English literature degree in July 2016 and began her second degree, a PGCE in Secondary Education, specialising in English in 2017. Additionally Chloe welcomed her daughter who was born in August 2016, Chloe also got engaged in June 2017 and is feeling very positive about the future. 

120 Belsize Lane




The Tavistock Centre, London
2 March 2018 09:30 to 16:30

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