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!).
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”.
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).