Archive | September 2013

Getting by with a little help

This week’s Weekly Adoption Shout Out theme is “Support” and it couldn’t be a perfect week for this theme to come around.

When you make the decision to adopt and put yourself through the intrusive and intimate assessment process, you are full of hope and optimism that you can deal with anything life (or the children) throw at you, and when you come to the time in your home study where your social worker asks you to produce an Eco map of your support network, you are only too pleased to oblige because you are confident that the friends and family who have been there for you so far and have promised/offered their support will be there for you once the children finally move in. The suggestion from your social worker about how you would feel if, after children moved in, most of the people on your map suddenly disappeared and you no longer had that “safety blanket”, seemed ridiculous. Of course our friends and family would be there when we needed them! Why wouldn’t they? They have always been there for us up to now!

It pains me to say it, but she was right. Most of our friends have completely disappeared and the ones who are still around, we only see them if we make the effort to contact them and arrange something and even then it is strained because they either find the boy’s behaviour difficult to understand or more often than not they do not understand why we have to parent our boys differently to their children.  To be fair there is one friend who has stuck with us through thick and thin – Bumble’s best man.  Not only is he there for us when it is tough, but he is fantastic with the boys and almost unshakeable. Yes, recently we have had a little blip because his daughter and Buzzbee had a HUGE falling out and it made relations a little tense, but with a few weeks breathing space we are back on track.

Although we have lost people along the way, we have never felt like we were without support.

Our families are fantastic and although there are times where they really don’t understand the boys or why we do what we do – they are our families and they will always stick by us.

We have wonderful friends who we have met through adoption and fostering who are always at the end of a phone, text message, email – when you simply need to rant or if really need to talk to someone who gets what it is like to live with my boys.

And, let’s not forget the support that comes from strangers I have yet to meet but are always there at the end of a tweet or message when I have needed it. Social media and blogging definitely has a place in adoption support to my mind.

Talking of adoption support that bring me onto what this post is supposed to be about, so I apologise for the waffling beforehand (my fingers hit the keys of the keyboard and wouldn’t stop).

I consider adopters in our LA to be very fortunate to have a wonderful Post Adoption support team, who are almost always there when your need them.  And, that brings me back to 2 very special women – Wise Owl and Jemima -whom without their unending support and advice I believe I would have probably ended up having to throw the towel in a long time ago when it came to Beeswax.

When we first met Wise Owl she was working in the fostering side of children’s services but for the past few years she has been working as the Post Adoption Social Worker for our area (actually she has found herself covering a vast area due to the ill health of her colleague). In several tweets I have mentioned how fantastic she is at supporting me in school meetings where I have felt like I am bashing my head against a brick wall.  She is not only VERY skilled at keeping me grounded, but also at explaining to professionals what the concerns are, or explaining the needs of my boys in a way that they take on board.  At the same time she is wonderfully supportive and accepting of my frustration at telling the so called professionals exactly the same thing and them not taking a blind bit of notice. But, probably the most important gift over the years she has given my family and many others in our LA – is her time.  This may be a simple as swiftly replying to a rather neurotic, emotional, despairing email after an especially difficult episode with one of our children and we simply need to off load before we burst, to giving a quick phone call to just ‘check in’ at times when she is aware home life is extra stressful, right up to doing everything possible within the realms of her job description (and sometimes beyond) to review and implement a new support plan so that it reflects the families current needs.

The second amazing woman is Jemima – Beeswax’s previous therapist and the current supporting therapist at our local attachment support group.  I think anyone who has ever read any of my posts will know that I have built up a trusting and open relationship with Jemima and she pushes me in ways that I would never have the confidence to do if left to my own devices.  It is hard to put into words everything that she has done for my family, but what I can say is that Jemima has, like Wise Owl, given me (and other adopters) a gift that is priceless.  Over the years she has seen the best and worst of me and throughout all of this she has always treated me with respect and no matter how I am feeling or what I may say or admit to be ashamed of thinking, she has always been there and shown acceptance and empathy, and she will always validate my feelings before reflecting back on the conversation and steer me back onto the therapeutic parenting path. Again like Wise Owl – sometimes Jemima’s support is nothing more than a quick email between attachment group sessions just to ‘check in’.

OK that is the warm gushy part over with, now for the bit about the unwelcome news that I alluded to in last week’s #WASO post.  Two of the most incredibly supportive professionals I have ever had the pleasure of working with are leaving. One has taken redundancy, and the other’s contract is not being renewed, or should I say she is being replaced with in-house professionals who have absolutely no knowledge of the families they are expected to support, and more importantly many of the mums who come to the attachment group find trusting professionals really difficult and like myself, have good reason for this mistrust.  Personally the thought of having to be open with new people is a prospect that I quite honestly cannot envision happening.

In the end whether the support is coming from friends, family, twitter, Adoption UK message board users, blog or from such wonderful professionals as Wise Owl and Jemima (and trust me their leaving is going to be felt for a very long time), isn’t important. What is important is that you feel that you are supported and that when you need to laugh, cry or scream, you know that there will be someone there to share it with you.

 Hugs

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out
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Stuck between a rock and a hardplace

This post is not the original post that I wrote for this weeks #WASO link up. Somehow the words that I had written in that post seem meaningless.
I will post it eventually but at the moment I cannot align my current thoughts and feelings with the message I was trying to get across in my original writing about while sweating all the big stuff that is going on at the moment, I had lost sight of the simple and small things that used to be a source of calm and comfort to me.

Family has always been important to me (I guess that comes from having such a large extended family) and for weeks now I have been trying to support everyone who is dear to me through each and every one of their fears, dramas and upsets. Add to this Beeswax not coping with the news that the adoption is now official and our on-going battle with Buzzbee’s school over their absolute in ability to even manage him with a ratio of 2:1 staff to child outside the classroom without ringing me before morning break asking me to bring him home because he is “not coping” and their denial that the staff are failing him (but that is definitely a rant for another time and another place).
I have always been there for everyone and dreadful at asking for support myself (It is really irrational but it just doesn’t sit right with me. I do not like to feel like a millstone around someone’s neck), but I have nothing left in the tank although I still somehow need to keep on going because.

• Beeswax and Buzzbee still need me to be there fighting their corner and at the same time remain therapeutic when they are trying to fight every corner of their own internal and external world.
• Bumble no matter how much he wants to deny it, needs me to be there for him while he worries about his mum and the impact the boys issues are having on relationships with his family. He has been an absolute rock for me in the past and is still always there for me but I see how much he is hurting at the moment and how hard he is trying to hide it by burying himself in his computer games each night.
• My nan’s health has been deteriorating and my mum is terrified of losing her. I live to far away to take the pressure off my mum and my sister with all the hospital visits or night time calls from the call service to go over because she has pushed her panic alarm. So all I can do is listen when my mum calls and is upset, at the same time trying to not let her know how helpless I feel (that won’t help her at all)
• I need to be there for my dad also, while he is doing a fantastic job of supporting my mum, he is dealing with his own turmoil. His best mate of 45 years has had a stroke and is pretty poorly. It has knocked my dad sideways because is closer to ‘Ratty’ than any of his own siblings.

Sorry I will stop waffling.

The last 2 weeks have been horrendous and writing has been impossible but at the beginning of this week I felt positive and confident (something I rarely feel). I attended the first 2 days of a 4 day DDP (Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy) level 1 training course and by the end of day 2 I was feeling brilliant.
Why? Well, if we put aside for one minute the elation and joy that I was feeling about finally being the boy’s legal mother! My positivity stemmed from the fact that when I originally booked myself to attend the family focused therapy course, I thought I was off my rocker and that I was going to be so far out of my depth with it.
Yes, I knew there would probably other adopters attending but ones who also had a professional background in social work or therapy of some form. Very early on I realised that not only were there others adopters but the professionals who were attending had limited knowledge of substance of the course. Oh! Most of them could tell you who Dan Hughes was and had an acceptable knowledge of attachment theory but knowledge of the actual working model of DDP appeared to be new to some of them  (that is not to say they were ignorant or unenthusiastic, quite the contrary. They were completely open to learning. Actually I wish there were more like them. A lot more adopters would receive the support most of us desperately need). Suddenly, I no longer felt intimidated or ill-equipped to deal with the course.
I have spent so much time in sessions working with Jemima and Beeswax that by the end of day 2, I was confidently engaging in role play exercises and openly discussing with “professionals” in my group, the dialogue I would be using with a child in several different situations (if you ever knew me or had met me you would know that I prefer to avoid involving myself in group discussions for fear of looking silly).

DDP

So what happened to that Honey?

Where did she go?

She is still around but reality has kicked back in and along with the on-going issues with school and some very unwelcome news which has knocked her sideways, about one of her most valuable sources of support and strength (next week’s #WASO will explain). She also has Beeswax to deal with. He is going through such a difficult time at home since returning to school a few weeks ago and he is making it very hard to live with him and the relationship is already complicated enough without all the return of the verbal, physical and emotional aggression and bullying tactics he is using.

I am constantly told how amazing I am at sticking with it or reflecting back to him about what may be going on for him but it doesn’t feel like that to me.
I know that is what he needs me to do and what others expect from me and if I dare to even imagine not doing what is expected of me, it doesn’t bare thinking about. The last time I opened up and let people know that I was struggling with him and how I felt about our relationship, we nearly lost the boys.
Nothing I do is ever right. He has anyone who doesn’t really know him wrapped around his little finger and does a brilliant “victim” routine because he does not have the capacity to acknowledge or accept responsibility for his actions or the impact this has on everyone.
Everything is always my fault and if I dare to challenge that then I am painted as the bad guy and they get sucked in.
• He hits me! Their response “What happened for him to react like that?”
• He tells me to “go kill yourself”! Their response “Oh most kids tell their parents that at some point”
• He trips me up or jabs his elbow into my side as he passes me! Their response “I’m sure he didn’t mean to. It was probably an accident”
Most of the time now I have stopped telling people what is happening because all it causes is more criticism of my “obvious lack of warmth” for my eldest child. I am made to feel like I don’t care about him. Some days I wish that was true because it would hurt a lot less every time I have to support him through the next drama. I could certainly do without all the “pips” being spat in my direction.

Sometimes I am envious of Bumble and his relationship with the boys, especially Beeswax (Buzzbee although he is a ‘push me, pull you’, he knows who mummy is). I would give anything to just hear Beeswax say “Hello” or “Hi” without it beginning or ending in a vile comment or a torrent of verbal abuse but in lieu of that if anyone has a spare ultra-thick suit of amour, please send it my way, I think over the next few years I am going to need it more and more (and not just to protect me from Beeswax’s abuse but from all the other directions as they come my way).

OMG reading this back myself, what am I saying? I sound so whinny and cold. I love my sons and I wouldn’t change them for the world. Both boys have been through so much, seen too much and they have enormous levels of emotional and developmental trauma. I know that neither of them given the choice would ever want to be in the state they are and it breaks my heart to see my sons so scared, angry, distressed and almost devoid of hope some days that it will ever get better.

• Can I fix all their problems? No of course not, no matter how much I would love to.
• Can I expect them to learn to trust me when so many adults have let them down before? I can’t expect them to but I have to hold on to the hope that someday they will.
• Can I promise them that in the future it will be better and that their past will not have an impact on their future? I would love to be able to but I don’t have a crystal ball and we make it a rule in the house to not make ‘promises’.

So for now all I can do is be the best mum I can be and be there for them when they need me even if they don’t want it.
And, as for the rest of my family! I am who I am! I will be there for as long as they need me. I just need to remember that I need to look after myself too and not feel guilty about that.

I must end this post with an apology to anyone reading this. I have waffled on and changed directions so many times, even I can’t work out where I was going with my ramblings.

I guess what I am saying is I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

cheddar

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out
This entry was posted on September 21, 2013. 5 Comments

Looking through the camera lens – turning negatives into positives

 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

With both boys now back at school I have had a chance to sit down and look through all the photos that were taken over the school holidays and upload them to our secure Flickr page so that our family can see what the boys have been up to and we can continue with our smoke screen and paint a picture of 2 well adjusted, content children.

It has taken a couple of years to come to terms with it, but for the boys’ and our sake it is best that our family and friends only get to see the good bits because in all honesty that is all they want to see. They cannot possibly contemplate the idea that the boys and their early years trauma can cause so much chaos and heartache.

In contrast to previous school holidays (summer), this year was not only stressful, but at times I really questioned my abilities as a mother and felt like throwing in the towel and I have definitely felt more like my glass was ‘half empty’ than ‘half full’.

I am not even going to start on the physical aggression, vandalism, stealing and lying, but In the face of acid tongued verbal assaults like:- ‘I hate you, you are a f***ing fat c**t’, ‘you’ll never be my real mother’, ‘go kill yourself’, etc. I have tried my best to remain therapeutic, rise above it, not take it personally and not react to it. Sadly I have probably failed on all points at least 60% of the time and allowed myself to be reduced to tears, become a crazed, nagging or shouting Loony Toon.

So how does my rambling link back to the photos I have taken this holiday?

To put it simply I have felt so negative about how this summer holiday has gone and felt that I had let the boys down despite keeping the routine they are used to, but the photographs tell a different story.

For every moment that I have felt that I have screwed up, let everyone down, or the boys have worn me down to the point that I can’t see anything ever being good again, there are photographs showing us enjoying time together and creating wonderful memories as a family. Photos that remind me that no matter how I may feel about myself, I must be doing something right.

So rather than dwelling on everything that I did wrong this holiday I am going to end this weeks’ #WASO post with a couple of pictures that are steeped in personal memories.

New found water confidence

New found water confidence

Sandy moments

Sandy moments

"I am Bee-having"

“I am Bee-having”

No 36 A Grand day out

Lovely day, Gromit

Scooter Boys

This entry was posted on September 8, 2013. 4 Comments