‘The Perfectly Imperfect Pumpkin’

This charming autumnal story shares the experience of a pumpkin that looks and feels different and fears he will never be picked. A kind witch helps him see how magical he really is, changing the way he sees himself forever. This gentle rhyming story encourages self-acceptance and embracing our differences.

The book has been written and illustrated by Rachel Cook, an Adoption Support Worker at Adoption Mid & West Wales with the aim of helping all children who may feel that they are different. The hope is that they will be able to relate to the anxieties of the perfectly imperfect pumpkin, allowing them to feel they are special.

“For all the children who read this book… May you find the courage to always be yourself”

Download a copy of ‘The Perfectly Imperfect Pumpkin.

Rachel has created an activity book for families to complete and lesson plans to accompany the book for schools to use, to further support the message of self-acceptance, self-esteem, and friendship.

Competition Time

We are running a competition to design a bookmark to celebrate the launch of ‘The Perfectly Imperfect Pumpkin’.

We want to see designs that promote children’s uniqueness and want to share designs on our social media pages on the lead up to Halloween. The competition is open to anyone who attends school in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys or anyone who’s had a child placed by Mid and West Wales, to get the message far and wide that it is ok to be different.

Winners will receive a printed copy of the book, and more.

Please click the button below to download a template of the bookmark and entries should be emailed to adoptionwebsite@carmarthenshire.gov.uk by no later than Thursday 27th October 2022.

Top tips for surviving the school holidays

The six-week school summer break has arrived, and the change of routine can make children and their parents feel overwhelmed, so we have come up with some top tips to help you manage the next few weeks.

Routines and boundaries

Kids thrive on routines, but routines will inevitably change over the summer period, without the feeling of safety the school day can bring. Organise a routine from the start of the holidays and try to keep to it as best as you can. Try to avoid surprises like impromptu BBQs and unplanned day trips. Having a visual chart with activities is an effective way to help children see when you are going to be out, going on holiday (and returning) and it also acts as a countdown to when school will be back.

Ensure that boundaries and rules are in place from the beginning. It could mean setting tasks to be completed, such as get dressed; have breakfast; brush teeth, before 30 minutes of electronics.

Plan Days out

Involve your child in the planning of days out, it doesn’t have to cost the earth, it could be a bike ride, or a visit to the park for a picnic. Knowing what they are going to be doing from day to day will help manage the anxiety of the unexpected from such a lengthy period away from school. Remember not to cram too much in and have some down time at home too.

Take time for yourself

6 weeks is a long time to keep the children entertained. Speak to your support network about helping you out for the odd day here and there, to allow you time to re-charge your batteries. Many parents will also need to work during this time, so planning ‘me time’ is especially important.

Going on holiday

If you are going abroad or holidaying in this country, discussing returning home is just as important as talking about going away, as many children will carry with them the thoughts of when they left the care of their birth parents or foster carers. If your child is anxious about flying, reading stories about going on holiday and watching YouTube videos of flights can help.

Having a visual chart showing when you are going away and when you are returning, will add reassurance to your child that they will be coming back. Packing regulating toys and the toys they play with the most can also add a sense of normality, by taking a part of home away with them.


Adding playfulness activities into each day’s routine can help build the trust and connection you have with your child. It doesn’t have to be for hours but adding some quality time (at least 20 minutes) to play will help keep your child calm, and know that you are there for them.


We all have good days and bad days and children are no different. We all cope with things differently, so set yourself realistic expectations. Attractions can be busier than normal over the summer, so help manage your child’s expectations, that they may not be able to ride all the rides in the theme park or see all the animals at the zoo. You can use this to teach your child how to deal with disappointment and manage the big feelings that they may have.

If you have tips that you have used to manage the long summer period that have worked with your child that you’d like to share with other adopters then please contact us adoptionwebsite@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

This is Me!

You are a one of a kind. There is no one else on the planet who is exactly like you. What is it that makes you YOU? Is it your personality or the way you look? It might be what you like doing or it simply might be where you come from and your family history. The truth is all of these things are what makes you YOU. This is called our identity. Your identity is made up of lots of different parts. Different parts will make different people.

Could you tell us what makes you YOU?

You can do this through painting, drawing, collage, photography or you can create a film, a picture collage, a comic or animation. You can write a short story, create a profile, a poem or a song. Your piece could be a self-portrait created out of magazine clippings or a collage that has a mixture of things that show us who you are.

Age Groups

  • Under 4 years
  • Ages 4 – 7
  • Ages 8 – 11
  • Ages 12 – 14
  • Ages 15 – 17
  • Ages 18 and above

All participants will receive a £10 giftcard.


Winners can choose either one of the following prizes:

  • A day ticket to a local attraction of their choice in Mid & West Wales.
  • An Odeon or Vue cinema gift card.
  • A Caffe Nero or Costa Coffee gift card.

Closing Date

Friday, 2nd September 2022

To enter please complete an entry form and send your entries to us electronically via our website.

Guidelines & Rules

  • One entry per child/ young person/adult.
  • Entries must be submitted by 5pm on Friday, 2nd September 2022. Please send you entries in any of the following formats: pdf, jpeg, doc, mp3, m4a, mp4, wmv or avi.
  • All submissions must be completed by the adopted child, young person or adult.
  • All participants will receive a giftcard to the value of £10. A postal address must be provided on the entry form.
  • Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced on the 16th of September 2022.
  • Winners will receive their prize shortly after the 16th of September 2022.
  • Winners will be invited to present an award at our 2022 Celebrating Life Journey Work Awards, which will take place during National Adoption Week in October 2022.

This is Me!

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Postal Address (to post the £10 gift card)*
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We would like to exhibit your child’s work on our website and social media pages as well as within our Celebrating Life Journey Work ceremony during National Adoption Week 2021. We will anonymise any personal details that are shown within the work. Please tick the relevant box/es below if you do consent to this. I give consent for Adoption Mid & West Wales to exhibit my child's entry:
Consent (for ages 18+)
We would like to exhibit your work on our website and social media pages as well as within our Celebrating Life Journey Work ceremony during National Adoption Week 2022. We will anonymise any personal details that are shown within the work. Please tick the relevant box/es below if you do consent to this. I give consent for Adoption Mid & West Wales to exhibit my entry:
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If you are considering adopting and would like to receive the latest news and information, direct to your email, then please sign up to our ‘Interested in Adoption’ Newsletter.
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Three Words to describe my parents

Kind, funny, loving, helpful, caring, happy, fun. These are some of the words adopted children used to describe their parents.

As you can see, being an adoptive parent requires the same characteristics as any other parent. However, adopted children will have many unmet needs from their early experiences and will require a little bit extra from their adoptive family.

You’ll be provided with the support you and your family require as you go through the process to become approved adopters, right through to placement and beyond.

Having a positive attitude, patience, resilience, and a sense of humour will give you a good baseline to becoming an adoptive parent and see you through the challenges and rewards of adoption.

Here is what our team said they look for in prospective adopters.

Patience, playful, empathetic, accepting, sense of humour, resilient, resourceful, and committed.

If you are considering adoption and some of the characteristics above describe you; why not get in touch with us to learn more.

Here are some more responses we’ve received from adoptive families who shared their three words with us.

Jillian and John

Mum and Dad

Adopted at age: 2 years

Child age now: 9 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?


Ross and Dean

Dadi and Dadi

Adopted at age: 4 years

Child age now: 7 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Quarry lorry driver

Trudy and Edward

Mum and Dad

Adopted at age: 26 months

Child age now: 21 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Successful at life

Sarah and Gareth

Mummy and Daddy

Adopted at age: 5 years

Child age now: 8 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

A normal kind person



Adopted at age: 20 Months

Child age now: 8 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

A YouTuber



Adopted at age: 1 years

Child age now: 11 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Prima Ballerina

Sarah and Al

Mummy and Daddy

Adopted at age: 13 months

Child age now: 10 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Horse Trainer

Adopted at age: 5 months

Child age now: 7 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?




Adopted at age: 3 years

Child age now: 14 years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Professional rugby player

Adopted at age: 2 Years

Child age now: 13 Years

What do they want to be when they grow up?

Police Officer in the dog section

What does Life Journey work mean for me and my son?

Adoptive parents are encouraged to talk about their children’s life journey with them. It can be a powerful way of helping them explore and understand their history, gives them a better sense of their identity and why they were adopted.

We spoke to Nicola, who is a single adopter from Mid and West Wales about how she introduced her son’s history with him, what tips she’d give to other adopters and anyone starting out on their adoption journey. Here’s what she had to say.

Can you tell us a bit more about your life story journey?

Life story work I believe is critical for the adopted child, but also for me as an adoptive parent. I adopted my son at the age of seven months, so he has no knowledge at all of life without me. To some people this may seem perfect, or people who don’t understand adoption may think it great and the child doesn’t need to know anything, but for me it reinforced that I needed to really focus on the life journey work, so my son knew who he was growing up from a young age.

Almost immediately, before my son even moved home, I wondered (or worried) when is the right time to start talking about the life story? How and when do you tell a child they are adopted? How do you even explain adoption to a child who has no memory of life without you as their parent? Being a single adopter, I also worried about how to explain to my child that he only has a mummy.

After thinking it through I decided day one, at the age of seven months, was the best time for me to start talking about the life journey and adoption. It may seem crazy to talk about this to a baby, but I couldn’t envisage one day saying to my son, by the way your adopted.

Have you maintained contact with your son’s Foster Carers?

We kept in close contact with my son’s Foster Carers and whenever we visited, I would say things like “remember when you used to have a bath in here” taking him up to the bathroom. At first, he didn’t reply as he couldn’t talk, as he got older, he used to say yes and would tell me what he played in the bath, clearly all imagined, and then one day on a visit when he was two, before I said anything he told me “Mummy I used to have a bath here” and “mummy I used to sleep in that room”. Whether or not he had processed this information or not I don’t know, but he had registered and remembered that he once lived in this house, which was a good start as far as I was concerned.

Were you given a life story book for your son?

From a young age I told my son that he didn’t grow in mummy’s tummy. Again, at first, he wouldn’t have understood, but it was being reinforced somewhere inside his brain. When he was three, he pulled up his top and said to his Nanny, pointing at his tummy button, “Nanny this is from when I was a baby, but I didn’t grow in my mummy’s tummy, I grew in someone else’s tummy”. When I was told this, I felt so proud of my son, at the age of three, completely unprompted, walking home from the shop he understood something. Understanding ‘something’ meant to me that when I progress the conversation further then there won’t be big shocks for my son.

I then worked with the Adoption Team to produce the Life Story book. The Adoption Team were great and asked me for lots of photos of me and my son together, my son in places familiar to him now, with his extended family, pets, toys and even asked what he liked. I gave the team lots (a ridiculous amount!) of information about us and they also had photos and information from my son’s first seven months. Importantly the Adoption Team also had a photo of my son with his Birth mother. The book is worded using language I would use every day with my child, and I was asked to proof-read the book and make whatever changes I felt necessary.

The final book is fantastic, it starts by being all about my son now, so it is safe and known to him. It then goes back to the beginning and includes lots of photos of him as a baby, the Foster Carers and the birth mother. Finally, the book moves through the few years that we have already had together. The book contains lots of photos, but also words providing more explanation.

My son loves “The book about (son’s name)” as he calls it. We often sit down and look at the book together. Some days my son will just look at the pages about him now, and completely skip the pages about him as a baby and the birth mother, and that to me is fine, that is him looking at what is important to him on that day and what he can / wants to relate to and being only three I want to be guided by him and have conversations at his pace. On other occasions he will look at the photos of the birth mother, and will say, I grew in her tummy. Just hearing him say that is enough for me at this age, it shows me that my son already understands something. I have on several occasions asked my son if he has any questions when we get to photos of him as a baby or the birth mother, but his questions are only ever queries such as “did I like monster trucks as a baby as well?”, and that’s also ok, because he knows he can ask me questions, and as he gets older I am sure the questions will progress. I also try to add little snippets of information when we look at the book, just tiny extra bits of information about the birth mother so as not to overwhelm him, sometimes this is received well, other times he turns the page.

What challenges do you face as a parent, when it comes to your son’s life journey?

There are always challenges trying to talk about life journey work, even with a three-year-old. Through our choice we have very regular contact with the Foster Carers and my son knows he lived in their house as a baby. However, one day when looking at his book I explained foster care to my son and explained to him it was really kind of Foster Carer One and Two to look after him until he could move home with mummy. My son was horrified and declared that it was not nice of them at all, it was very horrible of them. I very quickly realised that he didn’t understand and was worried that he may have to go back and live there, or they had taken him from mummy. I first reassured him that he was going to live with mummy forever and ever, and then we talked about foster care. Finally, my son then agreed it was very lovely of his Foster Carers to look after him until he could move home with mummy.

Would you recommend any resources to help other adopters?

The other work I have done with my son is to buy some adoption and family books. I bought several books about families and adoption, which demonstrate to him that families can be different and explain adoption, such as saying “you needed a family to love you, I had lots of love to give you” etc. Whilst he will look at these with me, he does protest, and therefore they are looked at only occasionally. However, as I am working through the assessment process for adoption number two, I bought books about adopting a sibling, and these have been more of a hit with my son, and we have been able to discuss why some children are adopted and about finding the right family.

The life journey book has been invaluable to helping my son understand his story so far. Having a photo of the birth mother and some information about her I feel will help him when he is older. We also have the later life letters, but they are safely put away for when my son is much older.

Life Journey work has been a rollercoaster already. Some of the things I have worried about most such as talking about the birth mother have been accepted most readily, and some of what I thought would be simple like the Foster Carers evoked the biggest reaction.

My son is almost four and moved home over three years ago. He doesn’t know his background yet, but he knows he didn’t grow in my tummy and knows the photo of his birth mother and some very basic snippets about her. My son knows what adoption is, he adores his foster carers, he knows he is living with mummy forever and ever, that he can ask or tell me anything, and that mummy loves him more than anything else in the world. For me at this stage this is enough, I will add to his life story as he gets older, in an age-appropriate manner, not overwhelming him, and when I believe he is old enough to understand and process the information.

In relation to life story work, What advice would you give to anyone who has just started the adoption process

  1. From my experience the most critical thing about life journey work is that it is never too early to talk about the life journey with a child. The child’s history is part of them, and you can never take that away or should never want to. The first conversation may seem daunting but having a chat with seven-month-old who cannot talk back is so much easier than the thought of having it with a six-year-old for the first time! My experience with my child is that children are full of surprises!
  • I would advise that you are always open and honest with your child, but in an age-appropriate manner to protect them, help them understand and not overwhelm them. I have always remembered that a three-year-old has no filter. Therefore, whilst being honest, I need to remember that what I say is likely to be repeated, and in order to keep my son safe, details may need to be kept until he is older. This is his life story and not mine to tell, but at the same time what he repeats at a very early age, he may not want shared when he is older. Frequently once information is out it cannot be taken back.
  • My other advice is to work with Social Services to get the right Life Journey book for you and your child. The book needs to be in your language, and it should be age appropriate to your child now otherwise it will be hard to use. I believe my son likes his book because the first few pages are reinforcing positive secure messages to him; is about him now with me, his future, rather than starting at day one as a baby which he does not remember or may be negative for some children. Having a good book that you and your child will use, like we have is so critical to me.

What has adoption meant to your life

Adoption has meant everything to me. I have the most amazing son and I am now in assessment stage to go through adoption for a second time. We have an amazing relationship with my child’s Foster Carers, and I have met new friends and learnt so much along the way.

I would say that in one way I don’t think about the adoption on a day-to-day basis, my son to me is no different to a biological son, and I certainly don’t ever look at him and think of him as adopted. We lead a normal life, whatever normal is. My son is my child, and I am his mummy. However, on the other hand adoption is always on your mind, the life journey work, the unknowns as he grows up and develops, discussions with teachers, anticipating questions, especially around times such as Father days being a single adopter, and so much more.

Adoption changed my life for the better. Whilst there are challenges along the way, in addition to the challenges faced by many other parents, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have already had so many wonderful moments with my child. I wake up every morning to his little voice saying good morning mummy (at a ridiculous time) and just hearing that little voice so happy to see me and call me mummy, is enough to put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. There are children out there that need a loving and secure home and providing that to a child, doesn’t only offer them a chance of a happy future, but in my experience enriches your life massively.

We hope Nicola’s story has highlighted the importance of doing life journey work with adopted children and demonstrated how it can help strengthen relationships and children’s trust in adults. If the story has inspired you to consider adoption, then we’d love to hear from you.