Post adoption support Vs the Bermuda Triangle

Q: “What does the Bermuda Triangle and our current Local Authority post adoption support services have in common?”

A: “Things disappear, and requests for help and support often go unheard, or responses are too late”

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Let me start by saying that this post is not an attempt to criticise Post adoption Support agencies and what they offer, but more an attempt to highlight the changes Bumble and I have experienced in the services that are provided by Post Adoption Support services in our area at a time when there is a heavy emphasis on support packages being built into new placements from the very beginning.

Okay in the interest of not wanting to turn this post into a great big rant, let me break this down a little.

I do not mind admitting that at the time of the boys being placed with us officially (obviously they had been staying regularly during their respite stays), Bumble and I were only too aware that we were going to need a robust support package and for the best part of the first 4 years, that is what we experienced.  The most important elements of support that Bumble and I found invaluable were:

  • Access to training courses and annual adoption conferences
  • Attachment training followed by access to a monthly support group facilitated by a very skilled SW and therapists, who provided a safe space for adopters to be open about their experiences and, where necessary, offer support and guidance free from judgement.
  • Access and support from a simply wonderful SW who was always only a phone call, text message, or an email away, and who would always respond almost instantly, even if it is only to acknowledge the message and let you know that she would ring as soon as she could.
  • The same SW would also be the first to ‘touch base’ if she did not hear from us for a period of time. Likewise she made every effort to support us at school meetings and offer valuable advice to both Bumble and I, as well as the boys’ schools on possible routes that could be taken to support everyone. In the event that she could not make a meeting then she would go out of her way to find a stand in for her.
  • As a family unity we had an experienced and supportive DDP therapist working alongside us, enabling us to regain perspective even at the most painful times.

8 years down the road and theoretically the baseline of our post adoption support is still there, but it has changed. In the past, the support elements that I have already highlighted felt like a stable foundation and supportive level of scaffolding.   Accessing support and feeling supported wasn’t something that we lost sleep over. While we were still had an uphill battle accessing services and interventions for the boys (particularly educational), knowing that we had someone and somewhere to turn to, gave us the strength to continue.

In recent years this has changed. With the introduction of the ASF and at the same time heavy budget cuts to local authorities seeing our own agency’s employees stretched beyond their physical and financial limits, accessing support has become an uphill challenge.

  • While there is still a support group, it no longer feels like a place of support. The dynamics have changed and from a personal point of view it no longer provides the supportive platform/environment to be able to discuss difficult situations. The group no longer has a therapist in attendance at every session (if you are lucky there is one every 3rd or 4th session) and the group is more of a coffee morning chatter and issues are often minimised or dismissed.
  • We do not have the relationship that we had with our original SW. Our current SW is overworked and there hasn’t been the opportunity, as before, to build a trusting relationship with her.
  • Unless we going chasing our initial communications, we can go months without hearing from anyone – in fact the only times we have had contact from PAS is when I have been ruffling Waxy’s previous school’s feathers and they go complaining to her.
  • And don’t even get me started on accessing the ASF!

Yes we still have the newsletters and they continue to recommend courses and conferences (at our own expense most of the time). They have their helpline which for some is useful, but not for someone who is barely ever on her own long enough to be able to have a private conversation detailing a problem, since Buzzbee is always with me.

I am at risk here of this #WASO post sounding like the selfish ranting of a tired and overwhelmed adopter who has spat her dummy, because she is no longer getting what she wants (at least that is how it is sounding to me while I read what I have written).

While it is clear that our experience of Post Adoption Support services has changed dramatically. Our day to day challenges, parenting two complex, traumatised and vulnerable young men hasn’t changed. The only difference is that before Bumble and I had the emotional and physical scaffolding available to us, giving us the much needed foundation which freed us up to support the boys emotionally, physically and therapeutically without burning out.

Recently I attended the DDP Connect UK Launch Day. I had the honour to listen to a wonderful presentation from a local authority agency, who have a couple of social workers who are DDP trained practitioners and provide therapeutic support to their adopters (they do not work with the children).  From a personal perspective, providing a safe space for adopters to discuss challenges that they may be facing, offers parents an invaluable service, which in turn enables them to provide the support to their children, that is so desperately needed (if often unwanted).

In fact, they are providing their adopters with the same level of support that Bumble and I experience at the start of our journey as a family.

*Apologies if this post is a little manic and disjointed. My tired and stressed out brain is not working as well as it used to*

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National Adoption Week – School’s out

Oops where did the week go?

I planned to add a couple more posts this week but as always life on ‘Planet Adoption and Home Education’ have taken over the days this week.

In the Hive we have always been very open about discussions about Adoption and the boys’ birth parents and life story narratives, and recently Buzzbee has began working with a wonderful DDP therapist to try and help him begin to unpick all his muddled up thoughts and feelings – he has amazed (and saddened) us all with how much he has taken in and how insightful he is into some of the reasons he felt had responded in the ways he did while at school.

This week Buzzbee has been curious about the repeated Purple #SupportAdoption selfie pictures that have been showing up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. When I explained to him about what they were all representing. His response was “will my old school see it?”. This then opened up a long discussion about what it was like for him at school and how he wished he hadn’t “screwed it all up”.

I wanted to give him the opportunity to express his feels as an adoptee, so I asked Buzzbee if he would like to write something about it for National Adoption Week and we could put it on his page or I could, with his permission, create a #WASO post for him. He liked the idea, however during the week it has taken legs – more accurately it has gone from a slow gentle 1 mile jog and with Waxy’s help it has morphed into a full scale marathon of a Powerpoint project for me to add to this post (my boys have more faith in my technical abilities than I do in myself that is for certain)

Over the week it has been given 8 or 9 different title as he put the slideshow together.  He wanted to originally call it “Look into my eyes” but finally settled on “School’s Out”.

I will leave you with Buzz having the final words.

“I hope people will like it and I don’t make them cry. I just want people to understand that sometimes being adopted is hard. Even when you are loved”  Buzz xxxx

Supporting Adoption during #NAW2016

 

I haven’t written for a while, and although I have blamed it on writer’s block. I think it is probably more accurate to say that I needed to take some time out to try and heal for a while.

Has this been successful? Well, not really if I am being completely honest, but onwards and upwards.  I have been taking each day, one day at a time, and for now, I have to accept this is “good enough” and not keep giving myself such a hard time when I drop the ball for a moment.

Today sees the start of National Adoption Week 2016 and, as always, this means local authorities and adoption charities, are actively rolling out their ‘picture perfect adoptive family’ recruitment campaigns in the hope of lassoing unsuspecting, warm-hearted, prospective candidates to open their homes and hearts to adoptees all over the country. Each year the campaign is given a theme and this year is no different! My first response to this year’s theme #SupportAdoption was “finally a theme that is all encompassing and embraces all the aspects and realities of adoption”.

And, then I metaphorically gave myself a long hard shake until I came to my senses and returned to the real world! The agencies want to attract new adopters, not scare the living daylights out of them.

Curiously enough, in all the years that I have been aware of #NAW and we have been adopters,  I have not once seen any sign that our local authority actively gets involved with National Adoption Week – Fostering now that is a different matter. I can’t walk down the street or open a newspaper without seeing their repeated attempts to recruit foster carers in our area (heaven knows they need them).

Okay moving on before this #WASO post really morphs into something that sounds bitter and twisted and undermines the content of this post.

While I know that the aim of #NAW is recruitment and their theme is a reflection of this. It does actually tie in nicely with a post that I began to write at the beginning of last week while attending the international DDP conference in Glasgow.

 

 

Post adoption support is a little bit of a thorny subject for me at the moment and I have been certainly struggling with accepting and adjusting to the reality that we no longer have a secure and robust scaffolding of support surrounding our family – I guess it would be more accurate to say, barring my parents and my father-in-law (both are very limited on how much they can do, due to proximity), every single couple/person on our Ecomap has disappeared in a puff of smoke.  Our post adoption social worker has changed and I have more chance of catching a fish in a raging river with my bare hands, than I have of getting her to return phone calls or emails. The only time I manage to see her is at the monthly couples’ socialisation meet up (Oops sorry, I mean post adoption support group), and even then I find myself feeling like I am talking a completely different language and my attempts to express our need for support is lost in translation.

It is not all bad.  While it will take me sometime to build up a relationship with Buzzbee’s new DDP therapist, we do at least have someone who is slowly grasping the impact that the boys’ trauma is having on family dynamics and stress levels.

That brings me nicely back to the DDP conference (yes, I know I have been waffling again!).

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For 2 amazing days, I found myself surrounded by individuals who WANT to support vulnerable children/teens and their families – I should say professionals but from my experience the whole conference environment has an autonomous feel and people would struggle to be able to identify your adopters/carers from your psychologists/social workers/psychodrama therapists, etc., unless your name is in the programme as a speaker for the conference – Oh and of course, if you are Dan Hughes!

In truth I cannot tell you if there were any other adopters/carers at the conference (chances are there would have been and quite possibly some of these were also there in a professional capacity), and really I am not sure it is important. That is not to say that I did not know a sole who was attending – Buzz’s therapist was there, as was Jemima (Waxy’s previous DDP therapist and angel in disguise).

We were all there with one goal on our minds. To develop and gain more insight into “The Power of DDP”.

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The importance of companionship provided another strong theme throughout the 2-day conference, both in the formal content of Professor Colwyn Trevarthen and Dan Hughes’s presentation but also through the sense of fellowship and camaraderie amongst groups of delegates and the desire to create an environment of safety and understanding in their work with families and children who have/are experiencing the crippling effects of early developmental trauma, helping them move from ‘Mistrust to Trust’ and reducing the risks of ‘blocked care’ occurring (the damage this can cause, I know only too well from personal experience).

I could spend hours writing about the conference. No matter how many times I find myself being drawn into the affect of the content or case studies being presented, and how often it leaves me with an emotional lump in my throat (if I am lucky – usually the hankie has already been deployed by then), as it resonates with my own sons’ struggles and experiences. In the past this would be enough to have me running for the hills and maybe if I had been at a local authority conference or training day, it would have had this exact reaction.

However, at no point did I feel the need to excuse myself and there is one simple reason for this – I knew, if I wobbled, there would be support there if I wanted or needed it.

So while the exhausted, emotionally fragile and jaded side of being an adopter to two vulnerable and traumatised brothers, finds all the National Adoption Week recruitment campaigns difficult when there is a sense of glossing over the realities of adoption. This years’ theme gives myself and many other families the opportunity to try and highlight the need for better adoption support and the lessons that have been learnt and are still to be learnt in order to give our children and families the support they need… No deserve!

With this said, during this week with the help of Buzzbee, I am setting myself the challenge of creating a couple of posts which highlights ‘the good, the bad and the on another planet’ experiences of ‘Adoption Support’.

But for now I will leave you with Dan Hughes in a kilt and wearing his “What would Dan do?” badge (I was tempted to include the video of him dancing during the ceilidh).

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on up through the tears

There has been a distinct lack of post from me lately and it probably won’t come as a surprise to some of you the reasons for this, but it hasn’t stopped me beating myself up about it. Yes! I know it is not helpful to anyone, me being so hard on myself, but as ‘Blame Honey for everything’ seems to be a common theme at the moment. I guess if I can’t beat them, I might as well join them. This way maybe I won’t feel the painful sting left by the unending feeling of desperation and isolation.

Last weekend was a difficult weekend.

NO WAIT! Last weekend was a complete mess! Decisions were made that I have resisted for so long, and as I sank deeper into the dark pit of failed attempts at trying to therapeutically parent an angry and emotional, vulnerable teenager, relationships and emotional health crashed and burned along with it.

I guess you would say…… We hit rock bottom! (I certainly did anyway).

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Calling the police on your child was never going to be an experience that I could or would relish. After Waxy’s early life experiences, he is understandably anxious (and angry) with the ‘boys and girls in blue’, and for a very long time I have used this knowledge as justification for not drawing a line in the sand sooner – Some would say I was being too soft and making excuse for his actions, and in some ways they were right and I wish it was as simple as that, but as many of you will know:

Nothing is ever simple when it comes to living on ‘Planet Adoption’.

So if in the past I have been a repeat offender and tried to manage the consequences and restitutions ‘in house’, which has almost certainly backfired, what was different about the weekend this time that prompted me to change my mind and report Waxy to the police for criminal damage?

Was it, just simply I reached the end of a very long and crumpled straw and felt I was left with no other option?

Was it because this time it wasn’t just myself or an inanimate object of some kind that was at risk of harm? He had lost control and Buzz, Beedog and Waxy himself were all at risk of serious harm.

Or, was it the fact that this time Waxy had lost so much control that he was displaying everything for the world (okay neighbourhood, which he would never usually do) to see, and I no longer felt safe in my own home?

I could hypothesise and dissect the ins and outs of the events of last weekend but it wouldn’t help anyone.

Nor would be having a VERY long rant about Post Adoption Support, or should I say the lack of it (5 minute phone call, 5 days after the incident happened and complete disinterest from PASW about the impact the weekend had on Buzzbee or myself – she just wanted to tell me how she had had a lovely long and pleasant chat with Waxy and he only did what he did because he felt I was being too strict – Hmmmm so wanting to treat my sons to a day out with Nando’s for supper is being too strict is it?).

Anyway, this weeks’ WASO theme is ‘Moving on up’ and I suppose through all my waffling, I am trying to come to some kind of rational conclusion as to the fact that I cannot change what has happened in the past, and while it WILL this time take me some time to bounce back, we have hit the bottom so there is only one way we can now go and I need to move on and move up (and not move out as I was ready to do Sunday).

How I am going to do this?

I really don’t know at the moment.

I guess for now, all I can do is wait out the storm and not beat myself up so much for events and choices that are not in my control, and pray that one day our family’s equilibrium will be once again be restored.

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Guilt free mummy time

*Stop the press*

I have managed to find myself in a position where I can write a complete post and upload it in time for this weeks’ #WASO link up – Okay maybe I should make a confession. The only reason I have a little time to myself is because I have had a toddler style tantrum over the fact the males in the hive seem to struggle lately with the basic concept of picking up after themselves, let alone helping out with minor household chores without spending double the length of time doing it because they are so busy attempting to annoy me so much that I take over the task myself (which I will admit is what usually happens in the end), however much to their dismay, their regular tactic backfired on them and mummy declared that she was going on strike and the 3 of them would have to fend for themselves.

Definitely not very therapeutic but miraculously the jobs were suddenly completed with little or no fuss and an hour later Bumble drew the shortest straw and carefully peeked around our bedroom door to waving the white flag.

I have been longing for just ‘5 minutes to myself’, so having a whole hour to myself was pure luxury (well it would if I hadn’t been so worked up about the males in the house).

The last few weeks in all honesty have been more than a little difficult and relationships with Waxy and school have been pushed to our absolute limit and Bumble and I are finding ourselves raising concerns and exploring painful questions about our family’s future if the current situation doesn’t change and support from Post Adoption and ASF is not forthcoming very soon, and as a result I have struggled to find opportunities to indulge in any form of self-care for myself and in the rare moments when I have found some space and time, something has managed to derail it.

Okay that is not entirely true. Last September as a birthday present, Bumble gave me a gift voucher for a whole day 1:1 photography lesson with a local photography studio in a picturesque National Trust village. Recently I have finally managed to make use of the voucher spent an entire day focusing on something that I enjoy and being able to switch off from being mum for a few hours safe in the knowledge that the boys were safe at school/forest school and Bumble has organised his work day around their timetable.

I had for the first time in I do not know how long, spent a complete day without any ties to ‘planet adoption’ and it felt wonderful. For one day I wasn’t someone’s mum or wife and the only person I needed to focus on was myself (oh and the wonderful lady who was providing my 1:1 lesson).

I surprised myself during the lesson by realising how much I already seemed to know about getting the best out of my DSLR camera and I lost count of how many times I sat listening to the tutor explain this, that and the other and my mind drifted off thinking about random photos I have taken with my camera over the time, while listening to a little voice in my head saying “oh so that is what happened, I didn’t even realise I could do that”.   Apparently each time I did this, the tiniest of a ‘shy’ smile kept catching the tutor’s eye.   At the time I passed it off as being amused at being “jammy so and so” and blindly blundering into lucky shots but in truth, the reason was so much deeper and more personal – I am not sure I can really explain it very well without coming across as wet or self-absorbed but I supposed after the rejection I experience day in and day out with my boys and the negativity that is projected at me from every direction over the years, my self-confidence and self-esteem has been all but destroyed and I now struggle to ‘sit with’ or believe positivity or praise that is directed my way (see I told you it would sound wet) but on the day for some reason my guard was down and my confidence was receiving a much needed boost (even if it was just for a few hours).

While the morning was focused on theory and a little bit of practical practise in the studio with my camera making exciting discoveries about the true extent of what it can really do and how some of the functions in it can do a WHOLE lot more than I could ever have dreamt it could.

buttonI don’t mind admitting I let out a little squealing of excitement to discover that a button which I had believe was only a zoom feature for viewing photos already taken, can in fact be used to take incredibly clever photos (I am still working on perfecting the skill of creating a decent photo using it for now).

The afternoon was spent strolling around the village and visiting the Abbey putting what I had learnt during the morning into practise and discovering that my amazing telephoto lens which only ever comes out when I am taking photos of the boys at the beach or when we are visiting the safari parks, can in fact produces absolutely stunning close up photos that even I would be mistaken for believing were taken with a macro lens.

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During the day I managed to get a few lucky shots, some that I didn’t quite achieve the composition that I had hoped for, and some…. Well let’s not talk about these ones and then we have the photographs that are still haunting me days after they were taken of a sweet elderly couple who I was mesmerised with as they walked through the cloisters together. I couldn’t help wondering about their story. Who were they? How had they met? How long had they been together? What had brought them to the abbey that day? – Okay I know I am a nosey devil but there was something about these two that was pulling at my heart strings and evoking bittersweet memories of my dear depart grandparents and the love and unconditional devotion they had for each other for nearly 60 years. In all fairness when they would come for a visit they did insist on taking an afternoon drive over to this village for a cream tea and a stroll around the abbey, so I supposed the place already holds special memories for me and the sight of this couple reignited them for me. (I really hope they won’t mind me including them in this post)

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Listen to me jabbering on! What I have neglected to say is…… while the course was wonderful and I got so much out of it physically and emotionally. It wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t manage to take one single usable photograph because the biggest realisation of the day was not the fact that I can actually take some nice photographs.

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Residents of the village including the most adorable puppy

 

It was the realisation that all this time, the answer to my self-care prayers has been under my nose all the time.   I have something that I can and already do uses as an excuse if I need 5 minutes to myself.

I can lose myself in my photograph and refill my tank before it reaches empty. We live in a beautifully areas, adorned with rolling hills, woods, rivers and meadows so while If I am lucky my four-legged and 2 legged muses will oblige and not run for the hills at the sight of the camera (okay maybe not Buzzbee, he only needs to spot the camera in my hand and he is posing away), I still have plenty of opportunities to find an excuse to escape the trauma and destruction that often fills my days living on ‘planet adoption’, for a few short guilt free minutes or hours.

Unprofessional

I am going to apologise in advance for any potential offence I may cause or personal ranting that I may do in the course of writing this weeks’ #WASO, but after stewing on things for the last few days, I really need to get this off my chest.

There are several people who have known me and shall we say, they have seen more of my ‘passionate’ side than I probably would like them to have. It is definitely something I am working on, but it isn’t a personality trait that I have always had. Okay, I am not ashamed to admit, I used to be a bit of a doormat. I would have done anything for a quiet life, or not to encourage conflict. I guess that is why my sister STILL thinks she can be a pain in the backside and I won’t say a word (tough luck girlie, the old Honey is gone).

It would be easy for me now to put the blame at Adoption’s door and say that my need to advocate for Buzz and Waxy to get their needs met, as well as trying to keep my family together and happy, has turned me into someone who I am not always very proud of, when handling situations with professionals or individuals who have come into our lives for whatever reason.

While the ‘adoption’ process was not the spark that originally ignited the passion (that would be a very difficult story to tell), over the last 8 years its repeated fanning has certainly kept the flames flickering along, and every now and then someone or something comes along and gives the flames a few prods, turning flickering flames into a raging inferno of frustration and tears, and more often than not my own fight and flight responses kick into gear and I have to run (okay walk out) from the situation because I know I have or am about to make a complete fool out of myself and at that point I am certainly not helping my sons one iota.

Okay so why am I telling you this again? Oh right yes! I know why it was.

I have lost count of how many times I have heard so called ‘professionals’ comment or directly tell me that I am being ‘unprofessional’ when I have struggled to keep my composure while trying to advocate for my boys in a room full of people who just ‘DON’T GET IT’, and each time I have just wanted to scream “I am not a professional. I am their mum”.

Anyway, I still haven’t got to the reason for writing this and I honestly do apologise for rambling.

On Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to attend my second DDP Network Southwest study day. I had enjoyed the previous study day and was looking forward to another enjoyable and informative session surrounded by professionals and a couple of adopters/foster carers in an inclusive environment where no one person’s job or role was any less important than another’s. In fact unlike several conferences I have attended over the years, at the study days, your role is practically anonymous. No name badges. No job titles. No badges labelling you to a specific classification of involvement with fostering or adoption.

Bliss!

However this time my experience was not so positive and not because of the content of the study day or the presentations or the professionals who had work tirelessly and voluntarily to put the day together.

No! My experience was marred by 4 very rude so-called professionals, who were sat directly in front of me throughout the day and whose behaviour I feel was more than a little unprofessional (and a professional sat beside me agreed also). No that is wrong they weren’t a little bit unprofessional – they were downright and completely unprofessional countless times throughout the day and, if my memory serves me correctly, 2 of these professionals were on my table at the last study day and I ‘may’ have spoken my mind to them then about their negative attitude towards adoptive parents who may be having a tough time.

meeting-clipart-clip-art-meeting-340741The main discussion point and presentation for this study day was based around NVR and the principals applied to it, and while there were several people in the room who were clearly anxious about some of the conflicting and counter-intuitive advice that was being discussed, the questions were largely productive and created insightful discussions (some were definitely being a little closed minded but hey, I can’t judge, I can be a little set in my ways and adopt a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ stance at times), but the ‘unfantastic four’ weren’t following the flock, they were rarely challenging viewpoints or airing their concerns about conflicts in method ideas in an open forum. No they were leaning on and calling across each other, like naughty school kids, sniggering and making inappropriate comments, at inappropriate times, at levels that were audible to everyone surrounding them, and on the odd occasion that they did raise a comment openly, the theme of their comments was always the same “sort out the parents because they are the problem not the children.”

I have to confess on one occasion, I allowed myself to be affected by one particular professional from this group (I wish I knew what her role was), who spoke about parents with such repulsion and dismissiveness of the impact of child to parent violence, and later making a comment about how adopters are far too emotional and have no place attending events that are designed for professionals. While I may have shed a few tears over the first comment and it had done nothing for my view point that professionals cannot be trusted and will screw you if you dare to ask for help. Their wonderful comment about adopters having no place attending this event on the other hand I could quite smugly say ‘’As someone who has completed her DDP level 1 training, I have as much of a right as you have to be here today”.

While I am not always the biggest fan of certain professional bodies, especially when they love to suggest that my meltdowns are ‘unprofessional’, until this week I don’t think I have ever encountered professionals that I would suggest had conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner and further compounded the negative reputation that professionals involved with looked after and adoption services already receive at times.

But before I start sounding like a ‘Negative Nelly’ or ‘Moaning Minnie’ myself, I have to say a huge congratulation to Jemima (our previous DDP therapist) and the members of DDP UK for arranging another wonderful study day.

 

 

Return to Paper Mountain

“Transferring Buzz’s statement of education to an EHCP, shouldn’t take much! It should be really straight forward”

“The paperwork work we will need to do, won’t be any more than has been needed for his reviews in the past!”

“Taking over Buzz’s personal SEN budget will give you the flexibility and freedom you need to fund and timetable a weekly plan for him that suits his needs, without having to bankroll it yourself, and all you need to do is keep a record of all spending, mileage, DBS checks and employer insurance details. It will be easy for you!”

I have a feeling the professionals are living on a different planet to myself because: –

Straight forward, they said! – Let me think……… Um. No wait this is an easy one to answer. NO IT IS NOT! 99% of Buzz’s statement is now not relevant and this, along with results of his recent assessments, means that the whole document practically needs rewriting, instead of minor editing.

No extra paperwork, they said! – please see previous comment, and then add an entire week of mind-melting, soul-sapping, time-eating, sleep-depriving hurricane of box files, invoice/receipts, reports, emails, phonecalls, budgets and timetables, squeezed into every spare second of an already full and busy week of Home Education, housework, food shopping, school runs, meetings, letterbox contact letter writing, dog walking – actually Beedog has been a good excuse to take regular breaks………. Oh and of course, not forgetting writing this weeks’ #WASO post.

More flexibility and freedom, they said! – Okay I will give them this…………Hahaha! Who are they kidding? Freedom and flexibility, well yes it will give me the ‘freedom and flexibility to tailor Buzz’s weekly timetable to his needs without financially crippling Bumble and I, but what is it they say? “Be careful what you ask for”, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”.

Some of you will know that we felt forced to deregister Buzz from his primary school, because neither he nor they were coping. We fought to get him an SEN Statement that specifies that he should be placed in a Specialist School. Trouble was – there wasn’t one suitable, and he wasn’t ready in any case. So for the last two years, I have been home educating him.

Now, please don’t think I am being ungrateful for the opportunity to have direct access to funding that can be used to enhance and open doors to future learning opportunities for Buzzbee, with the sensitive support he may need. From the moment the lead SEN worker assigned to Buzz’s case suggested that it may be an option that the SEN panel would consider a viable option for him, as they are currently not in a position to provide him with suitable specialist educational provision, I could see the positives to taking full responsibility for providing him with what he needs to progress not only academically but socially and emotionally.

workinghardHowever, it has come as somewhat a shock, the depth and volume of research and planning that I am currently having to put into creating an acceptable Direct payment budget proposal to present to panel.

  • Complete costing breakdown and proof of payment for any current activity or home ed based learning tools and equipment that we are using to support Buzz with his timetable.
  • Complete financial breakdown of proposals of current and future activities/timetabling and the expenditures that will occur as a result.
  • A breakdown of timescales and frequency for each activity.
  • A detailed description of the activity/subject and how this fits into Buzz’s home ed timetable and how it ties in with his SEN needs – and when I say detailed, I mean detailed!

And, I haven’t even mentioned the long list of amendments/rewrites that are needed in order for Buzz’s statement to transition with moderate ease (fingers, toes and eyes tightly crossed).

While the reality of taking on this challenge is most certainly not straight forward and my mind keeps drifting off into space and questioning what I am doing and whether I am in fact up to the mammoth responsibility this entails, the long and PAINFUL process of dissecting Buzz’s home education experience has also, in a very strange way, been a positive experience and has quelled extended bouts of self-doubt and criticism of myself when it comes to the quality and extent of Buzzbee’s learning experience.

Buzz may still find physically reading and writing stressful, and fight me on a daily basis when presented with activities or exercises that he needs to complete. Yet he is now rarely asking for someone to read dialogues or game instructions when playing on the computer or tablet, and he will often find himself a note book and jot down random words he has seen around or practise spelling words he is familiar with.

I have worried that there is a limited volume of work physically produced to prove his is learning and not sat all day playing games and watching TV (he wishes), but in truth he has been exposed to so much more than I could have possibly expected, both through direct and indirect exposure to educational opportunities.

What Buzzbee lacks in core literacy and numeracy skills, he more than makes up for in physical and verbal demonstrations of the wealth of information and knowledge his has absorbed, and my little caterpillar is slowly breaking out of his chrysalis and morphing into a bright and articulate butterfly before our eyes.

hungrycat

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out