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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No surprise…

This weekend the rage erupted. It spewed it’s hurt all over the family. It has been coming since the start of September and I have already made moves to start coping with it.

The worst possible thing for me, is Jelly getting hurt. It’s not pleasant being hurt myself or seeing Hubby get hurt; but we are adults. Jelly is a very small 5 year old, with his own issues; so to not be able to protect him really upsets me. I said to hubby that if he was beating me there would be all sorts of support for Jelly, but because it’s our other son, there is nothing there.

Tomorrow I see Boyo’s teacher. Tomorrow, I try to explain again what school can do to help. Tomorrow I have to make her see the effect that her decisions have on our family life. It’s been brewing, its been coming since she decided that she knew best and ignored his previous teacher. There will be no surprise from SENCO, she also knew this was coming, she suggested this meeting, not me.

There will be no surprise at work when I arrive late tomorrow, as we are going to struggle to get both boys into Hubby’s car for breakfast club. I spoke to deputy head last week to say, ‘it’s coming, he is struggling’ and she said, I’ll cover form for you every morning until you know you can be on time.

Boyo is compliant at school. But right now he doesn’t feel safe and is on high alert, each and every day. At the end of each day he is exhausted. We have been managing, however this weekend he hasn’t caught up on the sleep he needed. Which means we start this week on a low ebb.

There is no surprise to any of this. Those of us that know Boyo knew this moment was coming. However, I suspect that it might be a big surprise to his teacher. She knows he is struggling, but I don’t think she understands what struggling looks like. I am supposed to be explaining some things that have worked to support him in the past, but somehow I can’t get my head round to thinking of these ideas.

So tomorrow I will trip into school and be positive about helping teacher understand him. And I will maintain some hope that she understands what a difference him having a good experience of school makes to us.

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It’s a new chapter – adoption thoughts

At some point yesterday, after a variety of conversations over the course of the week (both IRL and on twitter) it struck me how many people still see adoption as a cure all. It’s not.

And that (I think) is a huge issue.

That the nurse couldn’t understand why Boyo was terrified of having his head looked at. It wasn’t his head that was the issue, it was the unknown person asking him questions that he couldn’t answer. It was the fact that he had, had a fall at school, alongside issue with friends and trauma had not just raised it’s head, but was in that moment over-riding everything. We were in pure fight/flight mode.

He’s adopted. He shouldn’t be effected by it still.

Some teachers don’t understand. I had a conversation about a child in care and his attachment disorder at work this week. Their attitude was, but he is a good place now; why can’t he just move on. I explained. We talked trauma. We talked neurological effects. We talked better ways. We talked about giving choice and avoiding conflict. They went away to think. I have to hope for different for that pupil.

He is looked after. He is in a better place now, why is it still a problem? 

Jelly is having a rough time at school at the minute. Earlier this week he resorted to an old tactic – he bite another pupil. The boy’s mum knows he is adopted. But she can’t understand what I mean when I say ‘he gets overwhelmed’, ‘it is too much for him’. The fact he is developmentally delayed means nothing to her, I have to stop him biting.

He is adopted. But there is no excuse for biting at aged 5. 

I was talking yesterday evening to a good friend; who happens to be a KS1 teacher. Last year her school implemented one of the those behaviour systems that we all dread. She had an adopted child in her class; who survived in her class because she didn’t use the behaviour system as it should have been used. She let the child have an sensory outlet. She saw when he was getting overwhelmed and helped him. This year, his new teacher can’t cope. She doesn’t understand why when he misbehaves and get’s a red, he kicks off when it comes to the following day when he has to miss the whole playtime. My friend has and is trying; but it’s not going in.

He is adopted. He is the same as everyone else and must be treated so. 

There are serious thoughts rattling round my head at the minute. There has to be a way to change understanding. There has to be more support for us; as adoptive parents and our children.

We have to make people understand that adoption isn’t a new story, only a new chapter. A child’s life prior to adoption cannot be wiped out and their experiences ignored. Those experiences (even prenatal experiences) exist within the child and will continue to do so.

 

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