Archive | November 2014

#WASO special – Dear Mr Timpson

brotherly love picmonkeyI have agonised all week whether I want to speak up and write this special #WASO collective response letter in response to Edward Timpson’s letter to adopters, that was released during National Adoption Week, but seeing the bravery of several others who have already written letters themselves, I have decided “in for a penny, in for a pound” even if nothing comes of writing it, other than giving me a cathartic outlet to honestly express my own personal opinion.

So here goes!

Dear Mr Timpson,

I would like to start by thanking you for your letter, which you published during National Adoption Week and that our own Post Adoption team saw fit to send out, two weeks later, to parents in our local authority. While we were pleased to see that an attempt, during National Adoption Week, was being made by yourself and the government to inform adopters of future plans for supporting us and our families, our experience in the past of empty promises has left us feeling somewhat sceptical and concerned. Your letter has left me wanting to ask more questions and comment on aspects of your letter that directly relate to the extremely complex dynamics of my family.

Very much like your own parents, my husband and I have adopted two boys (two very traumatised and complex boys), and for a time, while we waited to be matched with a sibling group, in an attempt to gain more experience and understanding of the needs of vulnerable children from the care system, we took the decision to become respite foster carers and accommodated several sibling groups and individual children. In all reality, if had we not done this, we would never have met our sons or fallen in love with them.

Having had the opportunity to get to know our sons before we even knew that there was a possibility that they would one day become part of our family, my husband and I felt that we were more than prepared for the challenges that would come with parenting this traumatised sibling group (aged 8 and 3 at the time). I can now safely say that we were not prepared for the pain and humiliation we have been made to endure at the hands of our local authority’s adoption services, when we dared to admit that I was finding the effects of our eldest’s early traumatic history difficult to cope with, and that we felt we needed some support. Nor were we prepared for the education system to completely fail our youngest son and leave us with no other option than to deregister him from school and begin home-educating him, taking up much of the time and energy that I need to support my vulnerable family, and making it even less possible for me to return to work.

In all honesty this year during National Adoption Week, I tried my upmost to avoid commenting on anything on any form of local/national/social media for fear of saying something negative or unhelpful, because I am more than aware that over the years this week has become more about ‘recruitment’ than about dispelling the myths that surround adoption.

Let me now respond to some of your announcements and explain where my concerns originate from, in an attempt to help you understand why we feel so sceptical.

Reading your recommendations/comments on the recruitment and matching of prospective adopter, and aim to approve them within 6 months, made my blood run cold for a fleeting moment. Obviously I can see where there may be benefits with doing this, but speaking as a couple who, despite our assessment process being long, frustrating and invasive, now feel that we weren’t adequately prepared, I worry that making promises to remove delay and frustration from the process for adopters by setting a time limit will be counterproductive in the long term. Please understand me, I would love nothing more than to think that this is achievable and you may feel that I am being very close-minded and negative, but having been in the ‘adoption trenches’ for several years now, my rose tinted glasses have faded, and I can now see why our social worker was as thorough as she was and how necessary it was that we took that time with her to really explore everything because, trust me, our children will always find that chink in our armour, and if prospective adopters are not sufficiently prepared for the impact this may have on them, the results can be far more devastating for the vulnerable child/children than the initial waiting game.  

As for your Adoption Support Fund, this has become a hot topic in our local authority and, for a short while, I was personally encouraged by what I understood about it, but on closer inspection and from discussions with fellow adopters in our area, we are all feeling quite uneasy about how we access this fund and, quite frankly from what I understand, when the fund is rolled out to all agencies it will become a complete ‘bun fight’ to see which Local Authority or Voluntary Agency can snaffle up the biggest chuck of the fund. From a personal perspective, I am struggling to get my head around the fact that, in order to be eligible to receive our ‘quota’, we will need to approach our post adoption team and ask for an assessment of our past adoption needs once again, and put ourselves through yet more scrutiny, and have to justify ourselves all over again in order to obtain money to provide our children with much needed support, that they should by rights be already receiving, but that CAMHS and the education system refuse to supply because they don’t fit the criteria or it is not available on the NHS in our area.

When it comes to your comments around prioritising adopted children in your education reforms, elements of it are admirable and I am grateful for the Pupil Premium being extended to include adopted children as well as looked after children and children of service personnel. However, as a mother of 2 sons in very different positions educationally, I do have a handful of concerns (gripes maybe would be more accurate). Our eldest son, now 13, attends a specialist residential weekly boarding school where I would estimate that about 80% of the intake be eligible for the Pupil Premium, but when parents have questioned how the money is to be spent to support our children, we have been told that it goes into a collective pot and we have no right to know how this will be used in terms of our children. I would like to see parents being allowed to actively be involved with the decision making of how the funding is used for their child/children as, let’s face it, we are the people who know our children best and, contrary to what our eldest’s school believes, we want to have a positive working relationship with them.

Before I go onto comment about education in general, I feel there is another area of the pupil premium fund that from a personal point of view is very disappointing. Earlier I mentioned that we have been forced into a situation where we have had to remove our youngest from his primary school (aged 7 at the time, now about to turn 9), because of the lack of training and understanding of his needs from school staff and the school community – in all honesty they broke my once spirited little boy, and he is but a shell of his old self. It was never our intention to keep him at home forever and for this reason we made the decision to retain his statement of educational needs ready for a time when we felt he was in a position to return to the education system, but, despite this, as home educators we are not eligible to access the pupil premium fund for our son, although I can confidently say that this money would be have been used to provide him with opportunities that would potentially undo some of the damage done to his self-esteem and confidence by his then mainstream primary school. If this money has been made available to benefit our vulnerable children, why is it that this money has to be exclusive to children in mainstream/specialist education settings (under government control) and our child, who was pushed out of the education system, is left completely unsupported? This is also relevant when it comes to services like Educational Psychologists and other service providers who work closely with schools – currently we feel our youngest needs an assessment in order to fully understand his academic, social and emotional needs, but our Educational Psychologist refuses unless he is in an education setting.

That brings me onto training. I would like to see some of your funding being used to train professionals more in-depth and help them understand that adoptive parents are not the enemy. Many of us, including myself, will have had more intensive training/experience in how best to support and get the best out of our children. Yet, in my experience, professionals believe, because they have a degree in education/social care etc., that this gives them the right to completely disregard our advice and as a result fail our already traumatised children.

I think I have already made my feelings about CAMHS in our area very clear, but for arguments sake, at the time our eldest was accessing CAMHS at the beginning, I could not fault the service he was receiving and the expert attachment focused family therapy (DDP) his therapist was providing. Sadly our CAMHS then changed providers and all the wonderful support for our son and our family simply disintegrated, and we were left with a therapist who, not only did not understand the dynamics of our complicated family, rather than helping things feel more manageable as a family, she did the opposite and nearly tore my family apart. A year later we found ourselves once again needing to access CAMHS for our youngest son who was in ‘crisis’ and once again the service we were provided with was woefully inadequate and in fact his sessions were cut short as a result of us removing him from school. Apparently this meant that all his problems would magically disappear as if the scars left from his early years’ trauma were insignificant. His sessions were ended on the same day as we informed the CAMHS therapists that he had, the day before, been given the news that he had lost, not only his grandmother, but his great grandmother too (both of whom he had learnt to love over the years).   On a more selfish note, under the old CAMHS provider the parents were supported as well as their children (sometimes this was only a simple ‘checking in’ phone call before an intensive session) Under the new provider, parents are completely left to fend for themselves despite many of us experiencing some form of secondary trauma at some point in our time parenting our children. I am a firm believer that, if you take care of the care giver, they will move mountains for their children and nurture them to the best of their abilities, but sadly most Post Adoption Services are overstretched and understaffed, and do not have sufficient experience or training to support their adopters‘ needs as well as their children.

I know that I am presenting you with a rather bleak overview of my family’s experience of adoption support to date, but rather than BAAF’s idealist, picture perfect presentation of how it would be to bring a sibling group into your family, the reality is that, unless you adequately prepare prospective adopters for the painful impact of supporting children who will come with, not only their own emotional and complex attachment needs, but the destructive ‘trauma bond’ that certainly came with our sons and dominates our lives whenever they are with each other. I can tell you that this never ever came up at any point during our preparation to adopt.

I look forward to hearing your response

Yours Faithfully

Honey

Mother of 2 beautiful and boisterous but challenging boys

Waiting for our Fairy Godmother

For weeks now I have been writing posts and dancing around topics, saying plenty but never really saying anything at all. Well, not what I really want to say anyway!

Why? Pride! Fear! Sheer cowardice! Or, as someone pointed out to me this week, have I skirted around the topic, because I am so hard on myself that I am expecting the same from others?

Just under 2 weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a 2 day DDP network conference and had the pleasure to hear many amazing speakers including Dan Hughes and Jon Baylin.

It was a wonderful opportunity to gain further insight into the practical side of DDP practise and remind myself of elements that were covered in the Level 1 course that I did earlier on in the year. Although at the time of booking it was not high on my list of importance, possibly more importantly, for the first time in a while, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with some lovely ladies that I have not seen for quite some time and in all honesty (gosh, I have just realised how often I actually use that word), I underestimated how much I have missed chatting with them about the boys, without having to explain anything about all their idiosyncrasies or feeling defensive about admitting how it is taking its toll on Bumble and I (there is very little they don’t already know about the boys, both good and bad). I can’t describe how refreshing that was at the moment, at a time when I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the boys’ needs and the chaos their ‘trauma bond’ is causing in the household, but at the same time there is a pang of sadness and grief for what we have lost (as in their wonderful support) and may never get back.

Maybe I am being selfish? Or maybe I am being realistic, but in the past couple of months two wonderfully different conferences have had me leaving with a very similar message – I need to start taking better care of myself, and that needs to start with asking for the support my family needs at the moment.

This has started me thinking about what would my ideal ‘post adoption support package’ look like, if money wasn’t an issue (LA or self-funding) or we had a fairy godmother who with a ‘BibbidiBobbidiBoo’ she could wave her wand and magic up everything we need.

Magic-Wand

Here goes with my wish list.

  • Relocation to a property with an attached beach, in a secluded area, with plenty of space around us for the boys to play and let off steam, and we can be a family without people scrutinising our parenting, making constant allegations, or making us feel like criminals in our own home.
  • Therapeutic/psychological support for Bumble and I from a qualified DDP therapist / psychologist.
  • Subsidised ad hoc childcare service, so that Bumble doesn’t need to keep using his leave to cover child care when I have to attend meetings (Must be CRB checked babysitters who have the hide of a rhinoceros, but experienced, caring and unflappable by the challenges they may face).
  • Complete Ed Psych, Occupational Therapy, and Therapeutic assessment for Buzzbee to finally assess his complete needs in order to return to school in the future if he should wish to.
  • 1:1 home tutor for Buzzbee to help him begin learning that mummy is not the only person who he can trust to show how ‘clever’ he is and not be fearful of showing the areas he struggles with.
  • Commitment to fund Specialist post adoption therapy, i.e. DDP qualified therapist (private as no longer available on NHS/CAMHS in our area) or other appropriate services until 18 and transitioned to any relevant/suitable adult provision.
  • Guaranteed specialist education placements/provision until 18
  • Ok I actually already receive some adoption allowance for Buzz but I would like to see adoption allowance payments which are in line with our LA’s foster care rates until children complete full time education.
  • ‘No questions asked’, Non-judgemental Post adoption handyman service that we could ring up after a violent outburst and arrange for them to come and repair damaged doors, walls, etc.
  • Access to holiday camps/activities with additional support funded (thinking of Buzzbee mainly on this one).
  • Proper and effective developmental trauma and attachment training for Waxy’s school.
  • Parent/school advocacy service to mediate disputes/misunderstandings – parent partnerships in our area not up to the job.
  • On-going opportunities for training (new skills, etc.), access to out of hours/in hours non-judgemental support/advice when needed (in person/email/phone)
  • Pupil premium for every child whether they are in full-time education or have been forced into home education because of the huge deficit in the way the national curriculum and ‘school rules’ are so rigid and unsustainable for some of our children.
  • On the ball Letterbox service – Oh hang on we actually have this already.
  • Access to a database signposting adopters to ALL support services and training available etc.
  • On-going support for us and NOT JUST when difficulties develop / Crises occur.
  • Crisis intervention support plan – violence, bereavement, allegations, sibling trauma bonds, and so much more…

Maybe I should also ask for:

  • The entire staff of Downton Abbey minus the backstabbing (I get enough of that already) to run my house for me.
  • Spa sessions at Center Parcs’ Aqua Sana at least 3 times a year.
  • Endless supply of chocolate and diet Pepsi for evenings and weekends when the boys are together (trauma bond survival kit), served by ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ male pros, bronzed Adonises, the ghost of Patrick Swayze, really any nice male eye candy, as and when needed.
  • Mummy rescue package provided by local Firemen.
  • Automatic hotline to Il Divo or Michael Buble to personally serenade me when I need an extra big slice of self-regulating/self-care mummy time.
  • Pocket sized Andre Rieu and orchestra, so he can come everywhere with me to keep me regulated all day long.
  • Pocket sized Dan Hughes, Bruce Perry, Jon Baylin, etc. who can be taken out as and when advice is needed.
  • Uninhabited deserted island with mute blonde Adonises waiting on my every need.
  • Soundproof, purpose built study for Bumble to play his online roleplaying games.

In the spirit of fairness, I have also asked the boys what their dream support plan would include.

Here it is:

  •  Weekly private training with a premier league football player for both boys.
  • Private street dance lessons with Ashley Banjo for Buzzbee.
  • Kate Upton as Beeswax’s 1:1 teaching assistant (lock up your daughters!)
  • ‘No Social Workers’ trapdoor/hidden ejector launchpad under front door mat.
  • Purpose built adventure playground and climbing wall for the garden.
  • Hypnotist to brainwash mum and dad into letting us play Xbox all day and night.
  • Girlfriend for Buzzbee (Waxy wrote “not that he has had trouble getting them in the past, LOL”) .

So that is our list! I am sure there are things I have forgotten but if you could do the same what you put on yours?

This post has been linked to The Adoption Socials’ Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Secrets to protect your family

This weeks’ #WASO optional theme is ‘secrets’ and while at first I thought I might struggle to write something that could incorporate the theme effectively – actually I am still not 100% sure that this post will be seen as doing so, but after yet another sleepless night (and no I am not going there with the ins and outs of why I am not sleeping properly at the moment), I thought I would just put down my mind’s rambling and attach a rather large humble apology to go with it, just in case, as a I suspect part of it might do, it turns into a post filled with negativity and self-pity.

So here goes!

I can’t speak for other families and maybe ours family’s attitude/rules surrounding ‘secrets’ is driven from our need to create a respite foster carer ‘safer caring plan’ before we had even met the boys, but in ‘the hive’ we have always said that “keeping secrets is not allowed but surprises are always welcome”. I am conscious that while some will read that statement and think “Oh my god, what kind of people are they, demanding that nobody keeps secrets in the family. How can you surprise someone if you are not allowed to keep a secret?” It is a tricky one and I would completely understand someone seeing it this way. Obviously sometimes it is necessary to keep things from the boys, but always for a good reason. When either Bumble and I are colluding with the boys over gifts/surprises for us, this is where the ‘surprises’ part of the statement comes in, because while surprises are seen as fun and exciting, I have always felt that secrets can be used as a negative tool and rather than being about keeping something from someone as a nice surprise, it suggests more that someone or something mustn’t be spoken about (please understand this is just my personal opinion and I am not forcing my view on anybody else – not even the boys).

I know I have not done a very good job of explaining myself there, but in all honesty the reasons are not really relevant to this post. What is relevant is that at the moment I feel that I am a hypocrite, because while I am telling my boys that they shouldn’t keep secrets from their dad or I, I am doing just that with my own parents and family – to protect them, but still I am deceiving them and certainly the weekend that has just gone, I did not feel good about having to do just that, although I knew it was absolutely necessary, because I do not want the boys’ trauma and the way they communicate this at times to interfere with their relationship with our families (Ok my parents are not stupid, they know stuff goes on, but just not to the extent it really gets to – I hate to think how my dad would react if he really knew! It would destroy the relationship Waxy and he has, that is for certain).

Ok, so if I manage to stop rambling for a minute, maybe I will manage to get to my point or at least manage to share with you what happened last weekend and then maybe you will understand why I had to keep it a secret from my parents.

On the Friday afternoon I did not collect Beeswax from school, I collected a hormonal, stomping, snarling, aggressive teenager who looked a lot like my son, but had the distinct body language of an alley cat about to get into a scrap with another. For whatever reason, he had come out in a foul, foul mood (distress disguised as anger), but rather than being willing to share with me what was going on in his head, he instead came out hissing and spitting and determined that if I even dared to breathe, I was getting at him. Cue violent verbal aggression, complete inability to follow the simplest of requests without needing to punch or kick something (thankfully only inanimate objects at that time) and of course his favourite pastime: doing all this in front of school staff who he knows will not challenge him on it, despite being still on school property and Buzzbee being visibly upset by his big brother’s rage (but I think in the past I have said enough about his school, so I am not going to rant about them again – not worth my tears).

Waxy’s dissatisfied demeanour continued not only during the journey home but long into the afternoon once we were home and I continued to pack for our final weekend at mum and dad’s caravan and all the owner exclusive events that were taking place which Bumble and I knew the boys would enjoy.

Waxy’s aggression during the afternoon seemed to be going off the chart (more than usual maybe a better way of saying it) and shortly before Bumble returned from work, I found myself in a position that I have not needed to be in for quite some time, and, quite honestly, it scared me (Ok he scared me for the first time in a long time). I know I judged the situation wrong when I asked him if he could please pick up his coat off the floor and put it into the car, so it is there when his dad gets home, so that we can leave immediately and give ourselves time to stop off part way to the caravan to buy KFC for our evening meal before heading down ready for the fireworks display (both boys adore the fireworks). The next thing I knew Waxy had jumped to his feet and was standing square in front of me with his chest all puffed out and with hatred/pain in his eyes. I won’t go into all the gory details, but I found myself in a position where I needed to use the training I had received and safely restrain Beeswax for his own and my safety – it was only for a short few moments, but in that time I realised that he is not only now taller than me, but far stronger than I am and while this time I was lucky and he gave in quickly, next time (oh god I hope not) I don’t think I would feel able to do so and then that brings up a whole other dilemma about how to keep him safe as well as the rest of the household without further traumatising everyone one (anyway I am waffling).

firework2014

Ok a positive bit before I get to the main dilemma I had last weekend. Once again my boys did both Bumble and I proud, as well as my parents and during the fireworks display they were not only wonderfully behaved and polite but they had people commenting on how good they were (unlike my sister’s kids) and as you can see from my rather dodgy photographs, the display was equally amazing!

Now for the tricky part and please excuse me if this becomes a little incoherent, because for such a silly, unnecessary act and several bad choices being made, I have felt extremely wobbly all this week (triggered off an old trauma memory for me personally) and I am still quite tearful when I think about it and part of that is because of the shame of knowing I have had to ask my boys to keep a secret from my parents for everyone’s sake.

On the Saturday morning the weather was less than desirable and so Bumble and I decided to take the boys to see ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ at the cinema in the nearby city centre – absolutely nothing to do with it being one of my favourite places for Christmas shopping at all. Honestly! By the time the film had finished, the sun had begun to sneak through the clouds and taking advantage of the boys’ relaxed, happy state I managed to sneak in a little shopping too, without too much complaint from my three gorgeous men. On top of this I decided to push my luck a little further and suggest we visit the ruins of an old castle that was cleverly hidden behind the shopping precinct and take some photos for Buzzbee then to be able to research a little more for a home education exercise – knowing the Buzz loves castles, and more importantly he loves ones that are ruined and he can image has a gruesome tale to tell, I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to convince him, and I was right, both he and Waxy loved exploring around it.

remember

The trouble started when we were leaving the public gardens and both boys began to get tetchy with each other and Bumble and I, and we needed to manage them in public and there were a handful of teenagers (drunk teenagers as I was to discover) sat on a bench nearby. They started to laugh and call Bumble and I horrible parents (Ok I will take that, I never feel good about having to pull the boys up in public even when I know it is unavoidable and necessary for their safety). Beeswax went berserk and started hurling verbal abuse and threats at them (only he is allowed to be mean to mum and dad), which they returned the favour of. My darling husband then rather than soothing the situation, in the heat of the moment defending his son, he was triggered and reacted badly verbally also (which he has since then admitted wasn’t his finest moment), which then resulted in the youths getting more ‘mouthy’ and both Bumble and Beeswax seemed unable to respond to my instructions to ‘walk away and be quiet’ (ok to be fair to Bumble, he did stop talking but as for getting the boys out of there, he wasn’t so good). Beeswax before leaving left them with one final piece of information about what he thought of them and this got the reaction that I honestly don’t think Beeswax ever intended to have. One of the youths rushed down towards us and, in a moment of sheer madness (or maybe it was just the ‘lioness’ in me came out), I turned and stood my ground with the drunk teenager (he wasn’t getting to my family even if 2 of them had been complete berks), unsurprisingly the teen for a split second came to a quick halt and you could almost see the cogs in his head going around, unsure about how to react to this 5ft mother not batting an eyelid at his advances (good job he didn’t have x-ray spec, otherwise he would have seen how my amygdala was screaming ‘danger, danger, danger’ and making my heart race at treble its usual rate). Anyway cutting a very long story short, as a result of being so drunk, the teen was obviously not in any position to think through his actions properly and whether it was fear based or just because his brain was so muddled by the booze, when I refused to be bullied by him and explained that while I did not like how my family dealt with the situation, it was unnecessary for he and his peers to humiliate my son as they had done in the first place -they should have minded their own businesses. At which point another drunk teen – girl this time came down spouting about how “I don’t know anything about them” and how “she is in care because of her parents” (a lot more details, but even though I don’t know this girl , I do not plan to divulge it here). I then quickly responded in my best PACE tone by telling her that both my boys have had very similar experiences to her, but I would be just as unlikely to accept that as an excuse from her or her friend as I would have from my own children. I then told them I had no problem with them and asked them to leave us alone as I walked away, but then I heard footsteps behind me and as I turned the drunk youth threw his can of beer all over me. We left at that point, and yes I was sobbing my heart out the moment we were out of earshot of the youths, and I didn’t manage to regulate myself for several minutes, meaning that I walked through the high street wet, smelling of alcohol and sobbing uncontrollably while saying things that maybe I shouldn’t have been saying to Bumble and Beeswax due to the distressed state I was in. Poor Buzzbee was so quiet when all this happened and on returning to the caravan and cleaning myself up, I managed to sit down and talk to him about it and reassure him that while mummy was very upset and ‘daddy and Beeswax’ did not make good choices, I was ok and very proud of him for not trying to get involved as he would usually do. Bless his little heart, but after giving me a wonderful hug, he said “I think seeing those kids made Waxy think about our birth parents and it made him mad, and don’t be too cross with daddy, he was just doing what they never did for Waxy, he stood up for him and so did you”.

So how do my parents fit into this, you may be asking! As I said earlier we were staying at the caravan so that we could attend the end of season ‘owner exclusive’ activities, what I didn’t say is mum and dad, along with my sister and her children were travelling up each of the evenings to the parties too (they were returning back home each night). Saturday evening mum and dad were returning for the end of season party and the last thing I wanted was to spoil anyone’s evening, and if they knew about the afternoons events, I am more than confident that it would have done that, but more importantly, it would have caused yet more unnecessary tension and because Waxy was still not in a headspace (and still is not) to accept his part in the events, my dad would have struggled with his lack of remorse.

Having said this by the end of the evening all the stresses of the weekend were forgotten as my sister’s overly-superior attitude to parenting was completely wiped off her face when she discovered that my nephew had set off the fire alarm because there was a sign saying ‘press here’ – I should add he has been recently diagnosed as being having Asperger’s and his impulse control is on par with the boys, and he made no ‘secret’ of the fact he had done this – honestly on the outside I was a supportive big sister but inside I was feeling just a little bit smug that for once it wasn’t one of my children.

redbox

Oh before I forget! If anyone is reading this and feel like I have been a complete wet blanket, please accept my humblest apologies. Secondary trauma can do that to you sometimes and it is not the real me – honestly!

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out
This entry was posted on November 14, 2014. 8 Comments

Boys, Boys, Boys!

My intention this week was to have written at least one post during National Adoption Week but the universe has consipred against me and I have failed in my mission. Ok maybe not failed, but it had different plans for me this week and to be completely honest I could probably have (if I had the energy) written several posts this week, with all that has been playing out in ‘The Hive’ with the boys and life generally, but on reading them many of you may have thought that the ‘men in white coats’ were already en route to collect me – or at least in my dreams, someone had whisked me off away from this madness.

However rather than focusing on the chaos that half-term and the boys’ trauma bond has created over the past 2 weeks, and because I suspect that if I start writing this #WASO post about all that has gone on, I would need to add a disclaimer or warning that readers would probably want to get themselves a long drink and a bite to eat before beginning to read.

Instead I have decided that this week while sticking loosely to the ‘adopting siblings’ theme of NAW2014, I will share a few photos from the past and present, which for me have powerful stories behind them, but more importantly they show how, while each year my boys grow older, their bond is as strong and close now as it was they day we met them, and for all the brown smelly stuff they put us through, and all the heartache that I have felt, I wouldn’t change them for anyone (not even Patrick Swayze or Mr Darcy).

beachboys Brocode