Tag Archive | birth family

Every family tree contains some nuts

“How big is grandad’s family mummy?”

“Honestly Buzz. I really don’t know anymore”

“Why? Is it because you live too far away and have forgotten them, like my t**t birth parents have forgotten me?”

“Oh Buzz, how can anyone ever forget you? No I can’t tell you how big grandad’s family is because I have simply lost track of how many there are now. Grandad has 12 brothers and sisters, most of them are married and All of them have at least 2 children, but most have 4 or 5 and that is not counting their step children. All of my aunts and uncles are at least grandparents, but in truth by Grandad’s 60th birthday he was already a Great, Great, Great, Great Uncle and has more great, great nieces and nephews than he can even remember.   Grandad’s family is so big at family parties it is the standard joke that we should all be wearing conference name tags or t-shirts stating which of Grandad’s siblings we are closest related too”.

“Why didn’t Grandad’s mummy and daddy use protection so they didn’t have so many babies?”

“Buzz, that is a whole other discussion and one that will have to wait a little longer” (A lot longer – religious beliefs, merchant navy and extended absence for my grandfather. Not to mention booze and well…. Let’s just say there are things that are definitely never for either of my boys’ ears).

Anyway, I am rambling a little (okay a lot) but there is a reason I chose to start this week’s #WASO post with a brief sample of a recent conversation with Buzzbee and I think triggered by my sister once again, opening her mouth and making inappropriate and insensitive comments with the boys in earshot and refusing to acknowledge how these may make the boys feel or impact on their relationship with her (not that Bumble and I have ever seen any real sign of her really accept them as her nephews. Yes, she buys them birthday and Christmas presents, but there is never any thought put into it).

I swear she is jealous of the boys, despite having 3 biological children of her own and giving my parents their only granddaughter. There are so many reasons that my sister hasn’t really ever fully accepted the boys and most of them the boys are aware of and find it quite funny at times, especially when the eldest of my nephew will repeat a comment that he has obviously heard from my sister to Waxy and Waxy then uses it as a way to manipulate and wind his YOUNGER cousin up (Waxy is now my parents’ eldest grandchild not my nephew and NOW Waxy loves pointing this fact out with my sister in earshot, if she is being particularly frosty).

So what had my sister said that had had such an impact on Buzzbee? It wasn’t anything Bumble, my parents, or I hadn’t heard before, but up until now she had been more careful about when she voiced her opinions on the boys’ birth family, but on this day she was careless (or maybe I am the one who failed to protect my boys). Somehow the subject of wills and families had come up and my parents were ‘reassuring’ her that they had listed some item or other in their will that was always promised to my niece. My parents reminded her that they would make sure ALL of their grandchildren were bequeathed something in their wills.

flaming“Well Waxy and Buzz won’t be expecting anything from you because they have their own family, which they will obviously inherit from when the time comes because they are their blood and the boys will have a right to any inheritance from their birth family, the same as my 3 are your blood and will inherit from you both”

How does that old saying go? “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family”? Now the boys beg to differ on this phrase owing to our family set up, but when it comes to my sister, no matter how much I hate how she treats people and I am on the verge of being unable to find a reason to keep her in my boys’ lives. The fact remains that she IS my sister and she IS part of the boys extended family whether we want her to be or not.

Please forgive me I completely went off on a tangent from my original motivation for this ‘Extended Families’ post.

When Bumble and I started on our adoption journey we always knew that the children we welcomed into our hearts and into our family, would always have had another family before.   We had a vision of how this would work and how we might support our child (children in this case) to maintain some kind of link with their birth family. Okay, we both imagined this would probably be once a year, on the same date and via a third party service (post adoption letterbox service). I can only speak for myself and say that it was never my imagination that very swiftly after the boys were placed with us, those lines of contact and communication with one particular set of birth family members would go from being a formal bi-annual family newsletter and their response, to a more direct and open relationship, which feels surprisingly natural and not just for Bumble and I. My parents have never met these people and yet they will happily chat with the boys about them and not feel even threatened by the fact the boys are open about their affection for these 2 wonderful people.

My sister is right about one thing. The boys do have another family and while most of them have completely disappeared off the radar, the ones that have stuck around I am confident that, no matter what, they will always be around and always put the boys needs above their and this is rapidly beginning to be reflected in the rapid growth in frequency of informal emails and postcard being shared in both directions. There are not just part of Beeswax and Buzzbee’s birth family. They have become part of our ever growing extended family and long may it stay this way.

Nearly there now. If you are still with me, then congratulations for surviving. While I have accepted there is very little chance my sister will ever change, she is in a minority as far as the rest of my colossal family are concerned. From the very beginning the boys were welcomed into the family as if they had always been there and while yes they have been known to say “all kids do that”, in my dad’s family they are more likely to say “oh uncle sting used to do that when he was angry, he calmed down in the end”. Like my dad, nothing really phases them, and it is probably because the members of my dad’s family consist of almost every colour of the rainbow, personality, socially, culturally, academically, behaviourally – you name it someone in my dad’s family has probably done it or been involved/experienced it at some point in their lives.

familytree

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I am an adopted teen. Hear me roar.

I better start by apologising for my bad language in this post. I hope you won’t be too offended or blame mum for letting me write this – Beeswax.

So this week according to my mum, has been National Adoption Week. Why did she tell me this? Well I wanted to know why I keep seeing a load of horse shit “Too old at 4?” adverts which were really pissing me off.

Typical social workers and adults who think they know what they are talking about. They make my skin crawl.

Mum says that it is not supposed to be seen as a negative advert but one that will hopefully encourage adopters to consider adopting “waiting older children”.

Wait what? Why don’t they just go the full hog and shove us in glass dustbins and display us in the street? Don’t we deserve more respect than that?

I know I would have hated to see this when I was living with my foster carer with my little brother. I already thought I was on the scrapheap and the only way I would be getting another family, is if someone fell in love with Buzzbee. We were a package deal.

Oh and I really hate it when professionals advertise us kids as “waiting for a forever family”. I was not waiting for a family. I had a family and whether I was seeing them or not they will still be my family forever. What I wanted was a place to call home – my own bedroom, my own bed and my own Xbox.

Why do professionals always think they know what is best for us?

While I am on a roll and having a rare episode of openly voicing my opinions to people other than my parent and while mum is letting me hijack her blog post this week. There are a few questions that people are always asking me and I try and give a polite answer too, which actually get on my tits. Mum says I can add them to this post and ‘within reason’ put the answers I really want to put.

Why did they take you away from your family?

Oh that’s right! Blame the bloody kids, why don’t you. It is none of your business and even if it was important for you to know. What makes you think, I would trust you enough to share that with you when I barely want to talk about it with mum and dad?

If you could see your birth parents again. Would you?

What do you think you idiot. Wouldn’t you want to hurl abuse at the people who let you down most in the world?

How did it feel to change schools all the time?

You obviously really don’t know me. I have only been to 3 schools and I wasn’t excluded from any of them, they were safe bets for me. It sucked at first to leave my first school but my TA came with me to my new school and only stopped working with me when I moved to my current school which lets me do what I want all week.

Isn’t it wonderful that you parents wanted to adopt you and your brother? What is the best bit about being adopted?

Oh yes they receive their sainthood next week! God you are patronising! Mum and dad hate when people say that to them. What the hell do you mean ‘what is the best bit’? None of it is that great, but I suppose it gives you a proper chance at life.

What do you call your real mum?

Well that does depend I have two REAL mums obviously so which one do you mean? If you mean biological. Well that would be every possible nasty spiteful word under the sun but my adoptive mum on the other hand, she is known as mum of course.

Why do you look like your adoptive parents, isn’t that weird?

To be honest I am not really sure I know. it’s a bit weird isn’t it but then my dad looks like my grandad and he is his son-in-law. Go figure!

Surely you don’t like your parents. They must really annoy you?

Now again it depends which set you are on about. If it is biological, I would really enjoy to see them pushed off of a cliff, but if it is adoptive. DO YOU WANT A PUNCH? Overall you seem to be missing the fact that I am a teenager. I am meant to not like my parents.

Is your brother related to you or is he one that was already there?

He is blood and all very much my bro. Parcel Force delivered us to the designated address in one neat package on the agreed delivery day.

choice for life

That’s it.  I will probably never do this again but if I can’t do it in ‘National Adoption week 2015’, when can I?

The Baby Box – creating narratives

In the last week I have yet again found myself in the precarious situation of being the bearer of news from Birth Family to give the boys and having to potentially face the backlash that the news may cause and I am left having to resist the urge to turn around to the boys and say “Please don’t shoot the messenger”. A few weeks ago one of the boys’ birth parents and their partner has had a baby and they will be keeping it.

Thankfully on this occasion the news although difficult for them both to hear was received with surprising maturity (or maybe a better description would be, their reaction was one of resolute acknowledgement). I think Waxy had been waiting for the day that he received news of this kind and while I know it is destroying him inside and from conversations he and I have had in the past, I know that he feels betrayed and rejected by his birth parent and at the same time I know that he will be worrying for the welfare of the baby.

****We have reliable information that the partner will be an adequate parent and has been instrumental in helping the birth parent get themselves back on track ****

As with anytime I have had to share difficult news with the boys, I have always made sure that they know that they can talk to us when they are ready and not push them to tell us how they are feeling there and then. On this occasion after reminding them of this, Waxy responded with “Well, it makes a change from you sitting us down with a hot chocolate and telling us someone else we know has died”.

Buzzbee’s response was similar to Waxy’s in most ways but he needed more reassurance that the baby would be safe and was more open about his concern for the baby’s welfare. From his point of view, while he was a baby he had Beeswax to look out for him and protect him. Buzz’s concern was that as he was effectively now a big brother himself but unlike Waxy he can’t be there to protect the baby himself. Buzz was also concerned about how Waxy would react and this was visible for a few hours in Buzz’s ‘fizziness’ which rather than placating his big brother was well and truly winding him up to the point where Bumble and I felt that there was a need to use PLACE and talk out loud about how we thought Buzz maybe worried that Waxy was upset or angry with the new and maybe Buzz thought Waxy was going to start blaming him again for being taken into care. To my surprise Waxy joined in and began openly reflecting too about how Buzzbee was be feeling so confused and how much he wished he would convince Buzz that it wasn’t his fault and that while Waxy maybe cross with ######, he isn’t mad with Buzz or the new baby (After so much time with DDP therapist resisting her help, it is nice think he had absorbed some of it).

As for Buzzbee, the news has stirred up thoughts and feelings about his life before coming to us and he has been firing off questions left, right and centre about what had happened to him and Beeswax and why did his birth parents not take care of him like Bumble and I do and so many more questions have arisen, thankfully I many of his questions we could answer because of the hard work one of the LA’s post adoption support worker did on gathering information and putting together wonderful lifestory books. But, Buzz’s questions about what his birth parents were thinking and why they made the ‘bad choices’ that they did, I cannot answer. I can guess but that is dangerous territory to get into. Instead I decided that my best way to support him would be to help him create a cohesive narrative of what had happened when he was and somehow this rapidly turned into “If I had grown in your tummy and I had been your baby what would it have been like? What would you have dressed me in? What colour would my pram have been? Would you have rocked me to sleep or put me in my cot and let me cry to sleep? SO many questions came flooding out and I did my best to answer his questions without filling his head with ‘what ifs’.

The questions and need for extra nurturing has become a nightly event at the moment and I know that it is what he needs right now but last night after the 100th time of him asking me about what it would have been like if I had given birth to him, I decided to show him something that only 2 people other than myself know about (Bumble and Jemima).

During our final cycle of IVF, I had a moment of madness and put together a box containing new-born baby items that I imagined I would bring our baby home in from the hospital. After we made the decision to stop the IVF I put the box in the loft and forgot about it for several years until I let it slip about the existence during a therapy sessions with Jemima. I told her at the time as I had closed the door on that part of my life, I thought it would be best to pass it onto someone who could use it but she encouraged me to hold onto it as it may come in handy in the future and I would know when it was the right time to introduce it – I was hesitant because I thought it might be seen as if I am still holding onto the hope of having a baby but she reassured me that she did not feel it would be seen this way.

Last night while settling Buzzbee down I started thinking about my ‘baby box’ and wondering whether showing him the box would help him.

I decided to talk to him about the box and unsurprisingly he asked to see the box and then was very keen to talk about every item in the box and my reasons for choosing them. He felt the textures of the blanket and teddy. We laughed about the size of the booties and mittens and how he fiddled with them trying to work out how many fingers/toes he could fit into them. He was very keen to understand why everything in the box was white and why I made that decision. And, then he came to the snuggy toy and squealed with excitement “Mummy I have one of these! You gave me it when I first met you”. He was right, I had given him an identical one but I had never thought about it and for a moment I don’t know if I was overcome by his excitement or if it was a delayed pang of sadness for what had never been but tears had begun to roll down my cheeks and Buzzbee noticed and asked if I was crying because he had made me sad. I told him that they were happy/sad tears. I was happy that I he had let me share my box with him and he could ask to see anytime he felt he needed it but I also had a thought for a moment how sad I was for him that I hadn’t been his mummy from the start.

We had a lovely hug and then he looked at his clock and said “Well, you’re a naughty mummy at the moment! Have you seen the time?” – I am not going to say the time but put it this way, Oops!

I don’t know if he will ever ask to see the box again or if it will result in another barrage of questions but Jemima was right. The box did still have a role to play and it played it’s part wonderfully.

babybox

Post-Christmas Wishes

Happy New year to you all

After a very rocky start to the school Christmas holidays with Beeswax and a distinctive lack of therapeutic mummy juice for a few days, I don’t mind admitting that this year we have yet again managed to get through the Christmas chaos almost strop & meltdown free – hey if it had been absolutely perfect I would have thought we had entered an alternative universe or my boys had been replaced by perfectly engineered clones.

At this time of year I always feel guilty because Bumble and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy being with our boys and sharing in the Christmas magic, unlike several adoptive and fostering families I know who find this time of the year  painful and stressful. 

But if it wasn’t for the boy’s biological grandparents, while they were still living within the birth family, always making sure that Christmas was a very special time for the boys with lots of wonderful traditions and keeping the continuity of this on both the paternal and maternal side, this post would probably be written in an entirely different tone. As the result the boys have very special memories of the Christmas time and because several of the traditions that were used within the birth family are traditions that both Bumble and I grew up with, we have kept those traditions going.

I have to say my favourite has to be Christmas Eve: The boys eagerly opening their present from “Santa’s elves” of new PJs, slippers and dressing gown. Watching Beeswax allow himself to join the excitement and helping his little brother spread the ‘reindeer food’ outdoors and  put out the goodies for the impending visit of Santa (“for Buzzbee’s sake of course”). I then love watching all 3 of my boys all snuggled up in their new bedclothes and their mugs of hot chocolate, listening to Bumble reading ‘Twas the night before christmas” while I hide nearby with a cluster of bells ready to ring them at just the right time, and then having to fight back the tears when watching Buzz getting so excited as he races to bed because he doesn’t want Santa to find him awake (the only night during the year he goes to bed without a delay tactics in sight).  

This year we took the brave decision to take the boy’s to my parents’ for Christmas and so have the boys wake up at my parents’ on Christmas morning.  I had absolutely no idea whether it was going to be a success or a disaster, but Bumble and I were both confident that my parents would work with us and not against us to make the stay as endurable enjoyable for all involved as possible and if it turned out that it was just not working for the boys, we could return home without anyone feeling like it had been ruined. As it was my parents excelled themselves and managed to strike the right balance for all (including my 86 year old Nan) and Christmas day was not only calm and pleasant, but also full of fun and frivolity – the boys found great hilarity in watching mum and I battle with a 14 year old spaniel and Beedog to stop them unwrapping all the presents before they had even been handed out. How many homes do you know that put their presents behind a fireguard to stop the dog unwrapping the presents before the children?

Boxing day I thought the boys would have found more difficult, with my sister and her family coming over, but, to our delight, Buzzbee and Beeswax were absolutely fantastic and it was my sister’s three children who were causing all the chaos throughout the day, even poor Beedog found it too much by lunchtime and found a sheltered, quiet corner to hide in (and for a dog who lives with the chaos of my two day in day out, you can imagine she usually has a high threshold for madness).  My parents were so impressed with how great the boys had been and told both boys this, and in an attempt to “have a go at this reflective stuff” as my dad put it, he went one step further and said “I know that you two don’t like lots of people being around or lots of noise – unless you are making it but it was so crazy today and I was wondering if the reason you both were being so good today was because you were trying to hold it together because you knew Nanny wanted today to be a really nice day and you didn’t want her to be upset?”. To which Beeswax responded very quickly “Usually I would say you were right Granddad but personally I didn’t need to play up, try to control everything or generally be a pain. Buttercup, Thistle and Nettle (cousins) were causing enough madness that Buzzbee and I could sit back and relax for the day”. (Cue, Mum spitting out her mouthful of tea laughing).  

Just when you think you know how the boys will respond. They continue to surprise us, and this one was priceless (and in all honesty completely on the nose).

Looking back over the Christmas session and all that the boys have managed to achieve during this time of year, and knowing how blessed we are to have the opportunity to really enjoy spending time with the boys without all the drama, you would think that I would be over the moon but as I am writing this instead of joy, I am feeling quite overwhelmed with sadness and for once I would give anything not to understand why I am suddenly feeling so morose.  I am ashamed to say that it is a very selfish feeling.

For a short few days each year, I feel like I have the family I always dreamt of and it feels wonderful. Beeswax relaxes and doesn’t respond to me as if I were public enemy No.1. He and Buzzbee can be in the same room as each other without setting each other off or Bumble and I feeling the need to ‘divide and conquer’. Bumble and I don’t end up bickering about the most menial and pathetic things because we have let the stress of parenting our adopted, traumatised boys overwhelm us (and so many more lovely moments that we rarely see during the year).

Okay some of this is just normal family life (if there was ever such a thing as a ‘normal’ family) and please never misunderstand me.  I am grateful for my family and I love Bumble and my boys dearly but I just wish sometimes that the rest of the year didn’t have to always feel like we are trapped on a hamster wheel of trauma and fighting, and seemingly getting nowhere at all.

See I told you it was selfish. I would like to say it is just Post Christmas blues but I know that it is so much more than that and it is time that I take the ‘bull by the horns’ and address it once and for all.

Enough of that! I don’t want to end this post on a ‘downer’ and with this in mind. I want to end this post with a picture of Bumble and the boys enjoying so ‘boys time’ on the ice.

Ice, Ice baby

Ice, Ice baby

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out