Archive | November 2013

Recipe for an Un-Bee-lievable adoption party

bee Collage 

Ingredients:

2 Very eager and imaginative boys
1 Very crazy, party planning, perfectionist mummy
1 Laid back daddy who is an expert at keeping mummy calm
1 Very skilled cupcake making aunty
2 Sets of Grandparents
60 or more friends of all ages to help you celebrate
460 Photographs of your children (from intros to now)
Several handmade decorations
A village hall
Disco equipment hire
Lots of food
And last but not least – a chocolate fountain

Directions:

Preparation is key!
Ideally you will have several weeks to plan your party. So getting everything right shouldn’t be a problem.
If, however, you do not have that gift of time, carefully follow the instructions below and hope for the best.

  1. Take each of the ingredients and gently start blending them together.
  2. Make sure you keep checking on your ingredients at regular intervals to make sure everything is blending smoothly.
  3. If it looks like Mummy is starting to lose the plot, add a little more daddy to calm things back down.
  4. As the afternoon goes on gently add extra friends to the mix until the party feels like it is in full flow.
  5. Make sure that the music and entertainment is kept fresh and that the ingredients are actively blending together.
  6. Now try to sit back and enjoy yourself.

If all goes to plan, the end result with be a wonderful afternoon spent with friends and family helping you celebrate finally truly becoming a ‘forever family’

Warning: The next day a couple of the ingredients may have gone sour.

This light-hearted post was written as part of The Adoption Social’s ‘Weekly Adoption Shout Out’ #WASO

cake collage

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This entry was posted on November 29, 2013. 11 Comments

Stepping Stones

As this weeks’ #WASO theme is ‘Stories’, I have asked Buzzbee for permission to share with you a narrative he recently described to me while walking Beedog to our local field and woods, about how the stream that separates the field from the woods made him think about how he struggles with going to school.

Rather than try and describe it to you in my own words and because I am now home educating. Buzzbee and I have spent the week making a model of his description and then with the help of his Lego people, his camera, and mummy’s laptop. He has created a story board to help tell his story.

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Stepping Stones by Buzzbee ©
"Hi I'm Lil Acorn and I like to pretend I am a cool kid"

“Hi I’m Lil Acorn. I like to pretend I am a cool kid but I’m not” “I have issues”

"I live at the far end of a little village called Acornville" "To get to school all my friends cross the bridge on the river Nutty"

“I live at the far end of a little village called Acornville”
“To get to school all my friends cross the bridge on the river Nutty”

"I can't get across the bridge most days and I have to cross the river using the rocks in the river"

“I can’t get across the bridge most days and I have to cross the river using the rocks in the river”

"The stones are all different shapes and sizes"  "Some days I can get to school easily and have a fun with my friends"

“The stones are all different shapes and sizes”
“Some days I can get to school easily and have a fun with my friends”

"But, some days the rocks are too sharp or slippery and I wobble" "Sometimes someone is near by and catches me before I fall and I have no more problems"

“But, some days the rocks are too sharp or slippery and I wobble”

"sometimes someone comes along just at the right time and catches me"

“Sometimes someone comes along just at the right time and catches me and the rest of my day is good”

"But sometimes no-one is there to catch me and I fall in"

“But sometimes no-one is there to catch me and I fall in”

"sometimes when I try to cross the river and the water is fast and really bubbly" "On these days I fall in and I am so scared"

“sometimes when I try to cross the river and the water is fast and really bubbly”
“On these days I fall in and I am so scared because I can’t get out on my own”

"People used try to help me but I say and do things I don't mean because I am too scared"  "Very soon they stopped trying to help me and I had to wait for my mummy to come pull me back in"

“People used try to help me but I say and do things I don’t mean because I am too scared”
“Very soon they stopped trying to help me and I had to wait for my mummy to come pull me back in”

"One day I hope that I will be able to cross the bridge with my friends and go to school with my friends and be happy" "Everyday I have to try hard and often I don't quite get there but one day I hope I will"

“One day I hope that I will be able to cross the bridge with my friends and go to school with my friends and be happy”
“Everyday I have to try hard and often I don’t quite get there but one day I hope I will”

Bittersweet moments and new beginnings

Ok first of all.  This post is not the original post I wrote for this weeks’ #WASO.  I appear to have some how lost it on my journey to Birmingham at the beginning of the weekend.  Hopefully it will turn up at some point, but enough about my ditsy brain.

Since returning to school at the beginning of September, relationships with Buzzbee’s school have been nothing short of stressful for all involved.

It would be so easy for me to write long angry paragraphs, stating in explicit detail every mistake they have made, but it wouldn’t help either Buzz or them, and heaven knows I don’t need to stress myself out any more than I am. So why am I writing this?

A short while ago another emergency meeting (PEAR) was held to review Buzz’s statement and Bumble went in my place (I recently I found it difficult to contain my emotions long enough with one head-teacher – 14 professionals no way!).

At the very beginning of the meeting Buzz’s head teacher threw a curveball into the purpose of everyone being there. She FINALLY admitted that his needs were too great and that they no longer felt that they were being fair to him. She told the professionals that although she and her staff were committed to him, she feared that without specialist input he would eventually end up being permanently excluded.

Although we do challenge her analysis that `his needs are TOO great’, we do feel that they are in completely over their heads. Despite all the training and advice they have been given, the staff still appeared to be ill-equipped (it does feel sometimes more like they weren’t even trying). They wanted a nice compliant little boy who trusted them, who they could understand, and who would be a joy to teach.

What they got was a very mistrustful, frightened, emotionally unpredictable, avoidant boy whose fear of failure they had activated. They had encouraged his avoidance of learning for so long because of their own fears of his emotional outbursts and the repercussions they were having within the school community. They had got their selves into a difficult situation and didn’t tell us until he was so far behind that they were all trapped on the hamster wheel of shame and despair. By the time we were told, even we were lost for answers.
Anyway fast forward a few weeks to the present time. Since this meeting things have moved on, a SEN panel did agree to look for a more specialist school for him, but they openly admitted there is nothing around for him.
Hmmm, this is where it all gets a bit messy, and please forgive me if the rest of this post is a little disjointed or rambling. I want to keep my feelings of anger at how he has been let down by so many people in his life in check for a minute, but at the same time I am currently feeling very emotional about the whole situation, and about the difficult decisions Bumble and I have had to make in order to support our youngest child.

As I said within our area there is no provision for 7 year old boys who need that extra input but do not fit into any of the SEN criteria or are too young to attend a specific school. The only school that they ‘plucked out of a hat’ was a school in a different LEA that is a primary EBD school, which in all honesty would have traumatised him even more (if we thought an EBD school was appropriate, we would be fighting to get him into Beeswax’s school).

Ok, rambling again. Anyway, this school is oversubscribed, so I needlessly had to make myself even more unpopular than I already was by voicing my concerns about their suggestions.

Rather than keep waffling I need to get to the point.

After several weeks of toing and froing, and an overly complicated flexi-schooling timetable, which school were constantly adjusting, so some days even I couldn’t tell which end was up, let alone poor Buzzbee trying to manage all the changes and different transitions.

I am not saying that the whole flexi-school plan was completely useless or that none of it had a positive effect on Buzz because a couple of the alternative learning activities have been great and not only has he come home happy and chirpy, rather than showing his usual resistance to go somewhere, he is not only eager to get to his destination in the morning, but he also doesn’t want to leave at the end of the day. One of these activities is a forest school and he adores it (although this shouldn’t be a surprise to me – he is an outdoor child after all). He also loves his hour with the ponies each week, but sadly this is coming to an end as it is only a short-term programme.

Back to our big decision! Bumble and I have decided to formally remove Buzz from school and I will, for the time being, educate him at home until a time when we feel he is ready to return to school.

Am I mad?

Maybe! Both Buzz and Beeswax are hard work and the only time I really get a break is when they are at school, but in reality at the moment I am not even getting that with meetings for the boys and transporting Buzz here there and everywhere, on top of needing to cover school work with him on the hours/days that he is not in school. I have had to be his mum and teacher but without the pay.

Do I think we have made the right decision?

Definitely – we couldn’t let it go on any longer. Not only was his education being damaged but more importantly the current situation was having a dramatic and damaging effect on his social and emotional wellbeing; and his self-confidence and self-esteem have hit rock bottom.

Will we come up against a lot of resistance and criticism for our decision?

Probably! Buzz himself at some point will buck against the idea of having to work at home but I can soften him with the knowledge he will still be able to attend forest school. My guess is the LEA will not be very happy and will try to make my life difficult for me for a while, and all I can say is “bring it on”! Thankfully both our families understand why we have taken this decision and are fully supportive of it.

I am actually quite looking forward to the challenge. Hey, you never know -maybe I will learn something new. What are my chances of being able to avoid covering Dinosaurs?

Although it is the right thing for us to do, it is bittersweet because it is not what we really want for him, but we feel we have been forced to do this, in the best interests of our child.

And so begins a new chapter for our life in the hive.

Time to learn

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Barriers – breaking through the wall

At the beginning of the week, with this weeks’ #WASO theme in mind, I decided to ask the boys “what is the first thing you think about when I say the word ‘Barriers’”.

I had a pretty good idea how Buzz would respond but I am never quite sure what (if any) response I would get from Waxy, but to my amusement they both replied in unison “the safety gates that keeps Beedog from going upstairs or getting stuck in the cat flap, when chasing the cats”.  Very black and white and literal!

"I used to fit through this"

“I used to fit through this”

I asked Bumble the same question and his response was “there’s so many things?”

Like Bumble, I struggled with trying to pinpoint what ‘Barriers’ meant to me.  I could easily be very matter of fact and literal like the boys and suggest all the physical barriers that I have had to use over the years to keeps the household safe. Or, I could talk about the bureaucratic restrictions and barriers that we have encountered in our journey to adoption but in truth while I am sitting here trying to decide what to write and thinking about what the word ‘Barriers’ means to me, my thoughts are drawn to the emotional barriers that both Beeswax and myself have put up over the years. Ever since the first day I met Beeswax I have been fighting to penetrate his wall of self-protection with very little success. It is understandable that Beeswax doesn’t trust adults and I don’t blame him in a way, but knowing that my child will do anything to keep me at arm’s length hurts! I keep trying but over the time his need to protect himself from being hurt and let down by another mum resulted in my self-protection instincts kicking in to avoid experiencing yet more rejection.  I had begun to parent while in what Dan Hughes calls ‘blocked care’ and boy! did this cause problems for some time with professionals.

But to be fair, for several years before I even met Bumble I was already putting up barriers.

So what is my excuse? Is it the shame I feel, which is driven by my previous history of depression? Is it the product of my childhood experiences with medical professionals not believing a child and the awareness of what nearly happened as a result of this? Is it that anytime I get close to someone, like Beeswax, they leave me or hurt me? A long time ago I wrote the following extract in my diary and although at the time I was obviously quite self-aware about my default mode. It wasn’t until I was presented with the prospect of having to let people in that I realised how much I had come to rely on it.

Arriving at CAMHS after my sob fest, I thought I had managed to cover up my tear stained puffy eyes with makeup but Jemima had noticed and I was really hoping that she would not ask me about it, but she did and I was able to say it was a pressure release from a hard few days while regaining my composure.

WHY?????? Stupid Girl!

Once again as with any session or visit from SW’s, I kept up the wall without intending too.

I don’t know how or why I manage to do it because inside I am lost, exhausted, scared, primed to burst into tears, I am so anxious that I am making my hands sore, scratching them and it is getting harder to control my breathing. 

Earlier this week, while I was trying to work out how to help myself I wrote ‘that I am truly a Brickie’s granddaughter’ and it is true. I can build a strong wall and I thought I had built it on strong foundations but over the years that foundation has started to subside and cracks have appeared in my wall and no sooner do I repair one area, another appears and each time they are getting harder for me to plaster over on my own, but what would happen if I stopped repairing the cracks myself and let someone help me bring down the wall brick by brick.  Just thinking about it fills me with sheer dread, the prospect of seeing what is hidden behind that wall, what I have shut out of sight and mind (God, I am a control freak!).

 
Only a handful have ever truly penetrated that wall and really understood what drives me. Bumble and Jemima being 2 of them. My parents do not even know about my history of depression. I wouldn’t want them to either. They have enough to deal with and if they knew they would feel obligated to offer more support despite the distance they would have to travel. They say pride comes before a fall. Well, I wouldn’t say I was too proud to tell them, more that I want to protect them. Besides the majority of the time I can still function and maintain the illusion of my role as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and granddaughter.
The barriers that Beeswax and I put up to protect ourselves, are one of our greatest strengths and have seen us through some of our most difficult times, but they are also one of our biggest faults and we consciously or unconsciously isolate ourselves from those who are in the best position to support us.

No Entry

 

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A Time To Celebrate – National Adoption Week Special

court

Well we have finally done it.  Last week we finally had our Adoption Celebration Hearing and are now legally the boy’s parents, and it feels appropriate to write this post during National Adoption Week for #WASO

We managed to get the boys to the court and through the proceedings almost without incident, despite the lateness in the day and the interruption to their routines.  Both boys were extremely nervous (Okay so were Bumble and I, but we had to appear calm for their sake). Buzzbee nearly flipped out when we entered the court room and the judge came out all robed up. He is dinky and the room was big and intimidating to him. But it wasn’t until we left the court that the stress of it was all too much for the boys and they attempted to annihilate each other for a few seconds.

The rest of our afternoon/evening celebration was wonderful and I got my first genuine “I love you” from Beeswax (Okay it was because we had brought him something he has been wanting for some time, but I will take that). Since the hearing Buzzbee has taken to checking at any opportunity that we really mean ‘forever’ and has taken it one step further and monologues as he climbs in to his “forever bed” every night, drinks his “forever hot chocolate”, and has a goodnight kiss from his “forever mummy and daddy”.

It has taken us more than 4 years and throughout our journey to adoption we have had more ups and downs, twists and turns, and have had to loop the loop more times than the scariest ride at a theme park.

  • I have gained so many new hats throughout my time with the boys, some favourable, some hysterical and some I would gladly do without.
  • I have felt that I have had to prove myself over and over again.
  • I nearly lost my boys due to the trauma that their history brought to our household.
  • I am constantly fighting for my boy’s needs to be met.
  • I have pretended to throw a tantrum in a supermarket to diffuse a colossal meltdown (I’ll let you into a little secret – sometimes I am not pretending).
  • I have learnt more about football and dinosaurs than I ever imagined, and sometimes I even manage to pronounce the names correctly (although Carcharodontosaurus is still a mouthful).
  • I have learnt that no matter how difficult a day it has been with my boys, they will always at some point unintentionally have me chuckling for one reason or another (usually because of their fantastic logical reason for their actions.  “It is not my fault that I throw Buzz’s toys down the stairs at you. You told Buzz to put them away earlier so they shouldn’t have been there.”)

The list is endless.

Although we were approved as prospective adopters, we met our boys through respite fostering and I don’t mind telling you that, out of the countless children we provided respite for, Beeswax and Buzzbee were the only 2 children that broke my heart every time I had to hand them back to their foster carer.  We had very young babies, we had sibling groups (come to think of it all but one of the placements we had were sibling groups), and I even offered emergency daytime respite but none of them ever had the effect my boys had on me.

There was always something there – something special! Something I still cannot explain and this was unconsciously reciprocated by the boys over the several times they stayed with us.

Buzzbee had claimed our home, pet and neighbour’s daughter very quickly and, according to their foster carer, would get excited by the knowledge of coming to stay or me coming to babysit.

Beeswax’s claiming was definitely sub-conscious. Beeswax knew that we provided respite for other children but as the visits increase, Beewax’s questions went from “what children slept in the room?” to “Who was sleeping in my room?” and the biggest give away came in the form of his ‘hopes and wishes for his forever family’ comment sheet for is adoption profile. Each thing he wrote described Bumble, his career and personality, myself and all the bizarre skills that I have that he and I had discussed during his stay. He described with specifics our pet, his ideal new home and so much more.

Up until that day we had always thought that it wasn’t possible for us to be considered to adopt them because I had on several occasions met the birth family (well grandparents and extended family) but Beeswax’s list changed everything.

There had to be a way to make it work and that is exactly what we did and how I am now sat here writing this post, welling up with emotion and finally able to say to my boys “I am your mum, now and forever!”

Would I change a thing? Well, there is plenty I would change for the sake of my boys if it were in my power. So maybe the question should be – if I had the chance to do it all again, would I do it differently?

I can’t say I wouldn’t and I can’t say I would.  Each of our childrens’ needs are different and what is best for one is not necessarily best for another. I have learnt so much from my boys. But thing is sure – if I had the chance to do it all again, I would still choose my boys!

Yes there are difficult times and it would be wrong of me to suggest otherwise but at the top of every thorny rose there is a beautiful flower waiting to bloom. So blossom swiftly and some take their time but each and every one of them hold a special place in my heart.

Yes, I missed out on their early milestones – I may not have given birth to my son’s. I may not have seen them take their first steps or heard them say their first word.  I couldn’t protect them from what they have seen and heard, and I can’t take those memories away. But, for every milestone I missed I have so many more that have been made since the boys moved in and each one is as precious as petals on those rose buds.

We'll Bee together 'forever' homemade cake

We’ll Bee together ‘forever’ homemade cake

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Half Term Hoots

I started to write my opening line of this #WASO post with “We have survived Half-Term” but then realised that I still have 3 more days to go.

Both boys have been very much on edge the entire week and keeping the boys calm has been – well, interesting but nevertheless we have coped and the boys have managed to enjoy each others’ company – at least some of the time (although as far as they are concerned “we haven’t had any fun all week”).

Instead of a long waffling post about all their exploits. I think I will let some photos do the talking this evening.

denbuilding

adventure adventure2  hoothalloween

Oh yes, I nearly forgot!  At the end of this week – we had our celebration hearing and Bumble and I are officially and legally Beeswax and Buzzbee’s parents FOREVER!!!!!!!!!

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out