Getting through…

Somehow we are stuck in a cycle of negativity. We can’t work out why Boyo is struggling as much as he is, Christmas is coming which fills up some anxiety. Equally the other evening he was asking questions about his birth family. So possibly he is making a leap forward in his understanding of his life story. Perhaps something has changed at school. Perhaps it is all these things and more besides.

Whatever the cause it is effecting all of us. We are all wearing injuries inflif ted. Jelly is picking up the anxiety, so his behaviour is far from where it should be. He is also sad as I keep asking him to move away, he wants to be close but I am trying to make sure he isn’t getting hurt. He wants to make sure I don’t get hurt and will cling on to me and cry and shout when his brother is hurting me.

I gave Boyo a mental health day off school last week. He could not settle to anything. He cried he wanted to go to school. He cried he wanted to stay at home. He shouted and screamed. We want for a walk and he managed about a mile before saying too much.

So right now, I have one boy who is not coping with life. I have one boy who is not coping with his brother not coping. And both himself and myself are struggling to find the way forward,

Tomorrow I have to get up and go to work and pretend everything is wonderful for a few hours. And somehow we will all get through another day and then the next. But this is an early start of our difficult season and it is an awful long time until March when things usually improve.

I saw a very special friend yesterday whose life fell apart at the same time we were deep in infertility territory. We used to say that at some point in the future we would be okay, we would get there. At the moment that point seems as far away as ever.

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8 years

Last night watching my twitter feed, I saw a photo of a group of people who had been recognised at the national adoption week awards for the work they do, and it flung me back several years.

8 years ago this month, having passed our approval with one social worker, we got a new social worker. Both of these social workers are brilliant, they were then and they are now. The first of these social workers came back into our lives when we approached the agency again and I still contact her when I need an external think about a variety of adoption issues; the second got a promotion and I have regular contact with her because of what she does (and what I do – in terms of adopter support).

It was 8 years ago this month we first heard of a 18 month old boy who was in foster care. It was 8 years ago this month, we heard about a boy who was active, loved being outside, slept well (the agency told all my adopter friends the same thing) and was well attached. We heard that there might be learning difficulties. We heard a story of a birthmum whose upbringing was far from ideal. We heard about older children, removed, returned, removed. We heard about about a birthdad. We agreed to move forward and meet his social worker.

And then we waited. Adoption is after all an exercise in patience. We communicated with our SW, she communicated with his and we waited. Eventually weeks later, his social worker agreed to visit us; declared our lounge too small for this active child (comically we later found out he was fostered in a much smaller house, with a much smaller back garden). We set out to prove her wrong. She went away to talk to her manager and after more waiting, it was agreed we were linked and could meet his foster parents and medical adviser and supervisor from contact visits.

8 years ago, we moved a step closer. 8 years ago, we thought we understood. 8 years ago we didn’t understand the lifelong affects of trauma.

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Love isn’t enough (although it helps)…

It’s National Adoption Week 2018.

A week to look at adverts of children needing homes, just looking for love.

I’m not sure that I was ever naive enough to imagine love would be enough. Although I’m not sure I signed up for what we got. I was, however, naive enough to believe that when I asked for help, we would get it.

Love cannot repair trauma. Love cannot solve attachment issues. Love (oddly) doesn’t fix FASD or global delay (nor should these things be fixed, because my boys are my boys and wouldn’t be them otherwise).

Love does allow me to hope. Love does allow me to start each day afresh. Love does help me search for support and help. Love does make the intolerable, something that we deal with.

Love doesn’t stop my big boy raging. It doesn’t stop the anger he feels for himself, which he turns outwards. It doesn’t stop the fact that he carries a belief that when I am not with him, talking to him, being with him, I have forgotten him.

Love doesn’t stop my littley struggling with frustration, because he cannot do, cannot cope with the things his peers do. Love doesn’t stop his difficulties that exist, because he is him.

I wish that there was some way that National Adoption Week could take account of the some different voices; the experienced adopters, the adoptees, the birth families. People should go into this journey knowing how challenging it can be. That parenting adopted children, is not like parenting a birth child. That adopted children come with a history that cannot be written over. That birth family stories, by necessity become part of your family story.

 

In a side note – it is not reassuring to discover after 5 years (& regionalisation) the access to post adoption support in our city has not improved. That a friend phoned up and was told two weeks ago, that as she wasn’t in crisis, she needed to wait 8 weeks to hear from post adoption support. The same respond I got 5 years ago!

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Praise!

This morning starting off on one foot and then rapidly changed to another…

Boyo got himself dressed this morning, it’s the first time this academic year that I haven’t had to cagoule, persuade or just plain get him dressed. I slightly foolishly (I should know better) told him I was pleased and well done. My excuse is, I’m not very well and my thought processes are impaired by the difficultly in breathing.

From then on, it has been boundary pushing, yelling, screaming and hitting. He started small, we didn’t react. He escalated, we didn’t react. He continued, I was calm,  Himself started to sweat. He hurt his brother, we reacted. We go through this pattern every time, and I cannot get Jelly up understand (& remember) that sometimes he needs to be away from his brother.

I asked him to go upstairs to clean his teeth, he screamed and yelled.

I removed all the contraband he wanted to take to school, he screamed and hit.

I reminded him he only had 10mins before he needed to be in the car and he maybe should eat his toast, he yelled and screamed. I didn’t even bother about a drink.

I asked him to put his shoes on, he barged past his brother and pushed him hard enough to fall off his stool. I shouted. He shouted back.

At some point he moved my keys. Thankfully there were limited places he could hide them, so I found them. But it gets us back to needing a key safe.

And he will go to school, and put his smile in place and pretend that nothing has happened, whilst I get to stew all day about how I could have handled it better.

 

 

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Sometime last year I lost my blogging mojo… I can’t even put my finger on when. However, I know that sometimes I just need a break from my blog. I’d like to say that I am back, however, time will tell.

Last academic year turned into a major disaster for Boyo. I will just leave it as teachers make such a difference. However, following an awful reception year, last year Jelly had a teacher who made every attempt to get him, plus he was given full time one to one.

The summer was survived. It wasn’t the worst ever, nor was it the best. We did very little unless it involved a walk, or a play in a park or wood. We had a visit to some very special friends, where I gained the ‘hat of rightness’ which has been out on several occasions since. The boys also got ‘their’ first special song, upto now, they have been our songs, this one is theirs.

September arrived, as it usually does. Both boys have settled into school with some hiccups and new TA’s. Their teacher’s seem to be understanding their uniqueness. They have an amazing TA that they share; one who isn’t afraid to deal with the hard stuff and talks about feelings with Boyo. We have had a few meltdowns and some rages, but on the whole it has been okay.

We now start the battle to get an EHCP for Jelly and to get Boyo’s EHCP reviewed properly with what we want on it. Each year the SENCO learns more about our boys and attempts to support them better. I get phone calls when things go wrong (even when it is such witness to another child struggling). We have a communication book that is used, plus the TA’s seek me out to talk to me at school pick up time.

So that is us mostly up to date. Plainly there is a lot of ‘noise’ that I haven’t talked about…. included today’s afterschool shoe dodging, but we are still here and still dealing with trauma, attachment, FASD, unspecified genetic disorders and global developmental delay.

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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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