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.