Now you are 6!

Happy Birthday Jelly.

It is hard to imagine that this is actually the fifth birthday we have celebrated with you. You have been with us forever, and longer. And whilst you are still short in stature you absolutely make up for it in character.

When you giggle, the whole world giggles with you. There is nothing more joy filled than that sound. When something amuses you, you let everyone know. You are loud and busy and happy. Despite been 2 years delayed compared to your class, you are liked within the classroom and those girls, they just pander to your every want.

You love animals more than anything, although trains come a close second. You play with your farm more than virtually anything else. You cuddle your teddies each night on some weird rotation that only you understand, but you are very clear on whose turn it is next. You still carry little (not tiny) pig to school each day; and bring him home each evening. You would love a guinea pig, but make do with a dog and two gerbils and part shares in your Granny’s two dogs.

This year we have managed to convince someone, somewhere that you need help with your sensory issues. You cannot cope with water on your head, even now washing your hair sounds like murder. You cannot cope with loud noises (unless they are yours), you feel best sitting or laying on the floor. I was really glad when the CAHMS lady asked your teacher to consider what she needed from an activity; that if she needed you to sit in a chair to actually give you a task you could complete, and if it was a difficult task to let you ground yourself by lying on the floor.

Actually that is a point, you have an amazing awareness of your sensory situation. You know exactly what you need and how long for. The ladies at CAHMS are in awe of your sensory awareness considering all the other issues you have going on.

Behaviour and frustration are still a big issue. Sadly, you are still prone to lash out when you are cross, or throw something (most spectacularly a pair of scissors across the room). Thankfully we are all learning about what you can and can’t cope with, and that includes school, so they have changed things for you, so that you find it easier. We no longer have tears every day at the thought of school. And school haven’t mentioned finding a new school for you (for when you go into KS2) for a month or two.

You, me and Dad all saw a geneticist on Friday. He was convinced that you have some issues with your genes, although there are no chromosomal markers, there are lots of physical signs of genetic disorders. We are waiting for a letter to see ‘what next’ for you.

Your life isn’t easy; you have your own challenges to deal with, alongside living with a brother with significant attachment difficulties and ARND/FASD. When he is raging, it can be a challenge to keep you safe as more than anything you want to comfort him. And you get your comfort from us, you want cuddles and back strokes and gentle words, and you cannot understand that your brother can’t cope with those things. That he needs presence, but no more.

You are more verbal this birthday than last; and you have your own ideas and opinions. In no way can we say you are a typically 6 year old, but you are your own person and people like you for being you.

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A (never to be sent) letter to a birthmum

Dear X

At this time of year, my thoughts often turn to you. Between mother’s day, his birthday and the anniversary of him moving, we have a lot of memories during March.

I often wonder how you are doing, I hope you are happy, because no matter what else has happened you deserve to be happy. I cannot imagine your up bringing and the life you led for so many years, sometimes I allow myself to wonder how that would have affected me and I remember all the empathy and sympathy I have for you. So I truly hope you are happy now.

My heart breaks though, because some of the choices that you made have left our boy with life long affects. Some of the things that happened to you have left him with serious issues. And in the tough moments, I wonder why? Why you did you make the choices you did? Why did you not understand the damage that would be done? Just why? And I want to scream and shout at you, because of the damage you have inflicted on our son.

And then I stop and I remember. I cannot imagine the pain. I cannot imagine having to make the choices you did. I cannot imagine what I would do, differently. I hope I would have had the strength to choose differently, but who really knows. I watch our teenage girls at work. I know that some of them are following down the path you walked upon. The idea, of being loved, no matter how that love is expressed is such a powerful idea to those teenagers. And I worry about them, and it reminds me of you.

But my heart is broken when I think of our son’s future. So much of what you did; so much of the choices you made have broken our boy. And I can’t share that with you right now. And somehow that feels unfair, we are left dealing with your consequences, the issues that you caused. Today we had a meeting at school about him, talking of his future, and right now everything is a little bleak.

And I’m sorry but I am glad his birth father is dead. Because if he wants to see you we will support that; in the future when he is older. But he can’t ever meet his birth dad and I am glad. And that sounds horrid and awful, but the choices you made, because of him are why we are where we are now. It’s also why you are where you are. He has no way of ruining more lives and I am glad.

I hope you appreciate that at times I am angry with you. That I am sure you could have made different choices. I also hope you understand that the anger passes and I remember that it isn’t all your fault. But I am not to blame, and I get the anger and the rage. I get the bruises. I go to meetings to talk about where we go next; today someone said to me ‘can’t you try….’ and I had to say no, because right now I have nothing left to give. That will change, I will make the changes we need and we will try the next idea someone suggests.

Right now, 7 years after he moved in, we are both making progress and marking time. He still struggles so much with his belief in us as a family. He still doesn’t trust adults to do as they say. So much anxiety, so much worry wrapped up in a package that looks like anger. Our lives are challenging, and some of that is down to you.

Don’t worry, by the time I write the next letterbox letter I will have squashed the feelings and normal service will resume. The next letterbox will be full of news about what we have done. The feelings will not fall out. But I needed today, to write this. To at least try to explain what I am feeling.

 

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The memory of feelings…

I am supposed to be planning lessons… but I have many thoughts circling, many of which make my eyes leak and I need to get some of them down.

We are firmly in March now; which tends to be one of our trickiest months. The run between my birthday in mid Feb to Boyo’s birthday in mid March is never easy. Add in Shakespeare week at school (in response to World Book Day), 3 snows days and another day when we sledged Jelly to school and made Boyo walk. Add in the anniversary of him moving. Add in a school residential. And everything is feeling a little bit hard for him and therefore by association everyone else who lives in this house.

There are positives – compared to last year there is very little CPV; only in the worst moments is it appearing. We are getting a lot of attitude and rudeness. He is living constantly in fight mode, nothing is just accepted, everything is argued. Mind you, both boys have added to the bruise tally today today; because it was that sort of day.

There are a lot of feelings to do with Boyo’s birthday; the fear that he won’t get any presents (he had his first one today), the deep set belief that he will be moving to a new family, the worry about his birth mum and his birth siblings is always more intense at this point of the year.

And I think that some of those feelings are the hardest to understand for other people. Everyone expects him to be excited about his birthday, and he is very good at agreeing when asked. But he isn’t, he is scared. And he can’t express that feeling, he can only feel it and react to those feeling.

And today of course intensified those feelings. It’s a day to celebrate mothers. Which is difficult, because even unconsciously he misses his other mother. And on a day like today, it’s hard for me not to think of her (& Jelly’s b-mum), so for Boyo it must be impossible.

He doesn’t trust fully that when we say ‘we’ll love you forever’ that we mean it. He doesn’t trust that he will be with us for his next birthday. We are working on his attachment and his core beliefs, but it is hard and difficult work that will take a long time.

He also doesn’t trust that when we say Daddy is going up after the first day of the school residential that we actually mean it. Until Daddy appears he is going to worry and panic. I need to think of something Boyo can take, so he knows that Daddy will be coming.

It’s a lot of feeling for a small boy, no matter that he is turning 9 later this week. And he hides the feelings well at school so they bubble out so much at home. And at the moment, although I can understand, empathise and accept, I can’t find a way to make it better and that feels wrong. I want to make it better, because I love the boy deeply. But he doesn’t know what to do with that love. And that is really challenging for all of us.

 

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Twice this week I have heard information that I really didn’t want to, not that was a surprise in either case.

I saw a new pediatrician with Jelly this week. She agreed that there is indeed, probably something wrong. She has referred us onto the genetics team. We have a variety of different theories; a specific genetic disorder (which his eldest birth  sister has); the possibility of FASD; the possibility of a different genetic disorder; lots of possibilities. None particularly appealing.

However, at this point, I can’t do anything about it, so therefore there isn’t a lot of point worrying too much about. Apart from at 3 o’clock in the morning.

I also spoke to a CAHMS therapist this week. She has been doing some assessments on Jelly and also family assessments. We have a proper feedback session this week, but she wanted some more details last week. She has been into school and done an observation and also met with the SENCO.

She wondered whether the school is the right school for Jelly long term. Whether he would be better served at a more specialist school.

My only reply was, it’s the right school at the minute, and that is all we can work with, where we are right now. But it is something else circling my mind at 3 o’clock in the morning.

We are starting to think about secondary schools for Boyo. We know mainstream is unlikely to work. We have possibilities. I need to visit schools and ask questions. Where ever he goes the school needs to understand attachment issues and FASD. Guess what; that also keeps me awake at 3 o’clock in the morning.

For these and a number of other reasons, I am not sleeping well at the minute.

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A start…

Usually sometime late in December, I sit down and write a post reflecting on the year gone. This year, my blog has been neglected and it hasn’t happened.

So instead of looking back, this year I am looking forward. We move forward with hope, but meaningful hope. We have continuing support in place; not from our local post adoption support team that would be ridiculous to expect; but never the less support. Boyo has two amazing therapists, who get him and are helping him build trust in us; when I said we needed to do something about reapplying for funding, they went ahead, contacting our SW and we have a meeting planned to review.

For Jelly; we appear (I hold my breathe) to be getting some real support from CAHMS and in a medical direction as well. Not only that, the CAHMS people seem to want to help our family and have included Boyo in their assessment to see if they can offer us anything to help him… previously he was assessed and written off as someone they couldn’t help. Medically Jelly is now formally developmentally delayed; but we have an appointment to see a new pediatrician who is looking at ways to help.

We have lost a lot of friends over the years, but have made new ones. We are surrounded by people who understand and want to help. On Christmas Eve we went to a friend’s party and both hubby and I sat back and relaxed in the knowledge that our friends and the other people who were there were a) able to cope (in the main) and b) weren’t going to judge if the boys didn’t.

I meet up every few weeks with my amazing adopter friends. We celebrate our successes and commiserative our failures. But in a way that only other adopters and parents of children with additional needs could understand. Other adopters find us and join us.

2018 starts as 2017 finished. With issues for both boys. But I maintain hope that things will change and our lives will change. We will enjoy the good and reflect on the difficult, and we know that it probably won’t be smooth sailing as we move forward, but we are prepared.

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Christmas Conversations

Christmas is coming. We can all feel it in our bones. One of us is very excited. One of us is full of worry, full of anxiety. Two of us are exhausted and know it is going to be a very difficult 5 weeks.

We did have a breakthrough this afternoon. Jelly was talking about Christmas and wanting to put our Christmas tree up NOW, and he meant it. I gentled explained that whilst he was excited and he was allowed to be, that Boyo worries, cue an immediate ‘no I don’t.’

Feeling reckless – the after school was already feeling challenging, I continued to explain to Jelly, why I think that Boyo finds it difficult.

I explained that Boyo worries, that maybe he won’t get any presents because he isn’t good enough; I then said that Mummy and Daddy know that he finds it difficult and he does try really hard to be good. We all know that he struggles and loses the plot; but he does genuinely true to be good when he can.

I continued with the thought that we also think that Boyo finds it really hard to get presents, because deep down he starts to get scared that he might be moving. We talked about the fact his foster carers had a big party for him the day before he moved to us. We talked about the idea, that deep, deep inside Boyo he worries when he gets presents that he might be about to move.

Jelly had plainly given up listening but Boyo heard it all. He responded. I don’t like Christmas. You are right I think I might not get presents. He didn’t comment on the other; but the seed was planted.

As a slight aside. Father Christmas will stop this year. I have started the process. He knows that the Father Christmas he sees at Church is only a pretend one. That Father Christmas is too busy to do all the activities. I am devising a story to help him understand Father Christmas; the idea that Mummies and Daddies buy and give presents, not Father Christmas. But I have to be careful, as Jelly is so small still, and needs to believe in magic a little bit longer.

I suspect that there will be many more conversations about Christmas over the next 5 weeks.

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trauma part 1

Trauma is real. Trauma exists. Trauma has long lasting effects. These are facts.

The removal of a child from a life filled with abuse, doesn’t negate the effects of that abuse.

The removal of child, to a safe place, doesn’t take away what has happened.

The removal of a child to a nice loving family, does not solve what has been done.

The idea that a child should be grateful for the rescue is beyond my comprehension.

Somehow these facts need to impinge on everyone’s thought processes. Not just adopters, foster carers and kinship carers. These are facts we know, but we need other people to understand.

 

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