Tag Archive | empathy

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
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Getting by with a little help

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.

 Hugs

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Blame it on the Boggarts

Oh dear it appears the Hive has a serious infestation of ‘mischievous/naughty Boggarts’. Or at least they appear to be getting the blame for several misdemeanours lately.

Have you seen this guy?

Have you seen this guy?

Buzzbee: “I didn’t cut holes in the drapes on your bed or try to fix it by cutting a patches the same size out of daddy’s Pyjamas” “I think the Boggart was experimenting with the scissors he found in daddy’s drawers and then realised he had made a mistake and tried to fix it before you found out”

Boys: “We did as you asked; we put all my dirty washing in the washing basket. But, the Boggarts are trying to cause trouble. They must be taking all of it back out of the basket and shoving it under our beds and in the corners of our rooms”

Beeswax: “The last time I looked all my clothes were put away neatly in the wardrobe and drawers!” “Maybe the Boggarts took them all back out, screwed them up and then shoved them back in just to make you cross because they were mad at you for not letting them have fun”

Beeswax: “I did not wee on the landing carpet! And it wasn’t the Boggarts either!” “The cats were angry with you after our argument about homework and did it”

Beeswax: “I did not break Buzzbee’s toys” “Buzzbee was annoying me and the Boggarts probably decided it would teach him a lesson”

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how Bee-dog got past the stairgate and got upstairs to chase the cats!” “Maybe the Boggarts forgot and ‘accidently’ left the stairgate open. They have a lot on their mind at the moment and keep forgetting to do things”

Beeswax: “I didn’t mean to kick holes in the doors or walls! I was trying to kick the Boggarts. I am fed up with them always trying to get us in trouble”

Ok, so just with these few statements it is obvious that what I am really talking about, is my boys ‘crazy lying’ and their inability to take responsibility for their actions/mistakes.
I would be lying if I said that their ‘crazy lying’ doesn’t drive me around the bend and there are days when I simply cannot tolerate it or have no idea how to deal with it and I am pretty sure I am not alone in feeling like this. Then there are those days where I truly amaze myself and manage to turn it back onto those naughty little imps (the Boggarts not my boys) and use it as an opportunity to reflect about what might really be going on.

Boys: “We didn’t make all this mess! We put all the DVDs and computer games back in their boxes and put them away like you told us too.”
Honey: “I guess the Boggarts have been up to their mischief again, maybe they thought I would believe that you didn’t really do what I had asked first time and so could get away with taking them all back out. Oh well, if you work together you can get it all put away again properly”

Boys: “We did make our beds and tidy our bedrooms today! It was tidy when we left them”
Honey: “Oh I get it. Those naughty Boggarts have come in your rooms when you were not looking and undid all your hard work. I am really sorry they did that but I now need you to re-make your beds and re-tidy your rooms”

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how the toilet roll got so wet; I didn’t drop it in the toilet”
Honey: “I guess it was an accident. If it wasn’t you maybe one of the boggarts dropped it after using the toilet and left it because he thought he might get in trouble if he was found out”

Buzzbee: “Yes I did go to the toilet but I never smeared anything on the walls and mirror”
Honey: “Oh dear that poor Boggart is having a really tough time in the bathroom lately. I guess when he tried to wipe his bottom he didn’t quite get it right and managed to get poop on his fingers and then didn’t know what to do so wiped it on the wall. Do you know what? I think it would be really nice if you helped him out by getting a cloth and giving the walls a clean for him”

Boys: “We didn’t leave all our toys all over the place! We picked them all up off the floor, like you told us too”
Honey: “Are you telling me that the Boggarts made this mess? Oh well can you both please pick them all up and put them away again before Bee-dog chews them up or worse still chokes on one of them. If you see the Boggarts before I do can you remind them how important it is to keep toys out of the reach of the puppy. I know how upset you get when she does damage your toys.”

Beeswax: “I didn’t steal sweets from the larder and then hide the empty wrappers inside my curtain pole, why would I do that?”
Honey: “Wow, those Boggarts are getting sneakier and how clever of them to think of hiding the evidence in your curtain pole. I wonder why they felt the need to take the sweets without asking first and then leave you to take the blame for it. I guess they were afraid if they asked for them I would say ‘no’”

Buzzbee: “I didn’t throw water all over bathroom floor when I had my bath”
Honey: “Well if it wasn’t you I will have to remind the Boggarts that while it is ok to have fun in the bath and splash around. They need to be careful not to let the water get on the floor as it will make the floor slippery and you could hurt yourself when you get out of the bath”

Boys: “We don’t know who keeps using mummy’s toiletries or make-up or who keeps emptying all the shampoo bottles in the bathroom”
Honey: “Do you think maybe the Boggarts were trying to make weird science experiments. I wonder if they realise how sad this makes mummy sometimes when her personal items are used without asking first. Maybe we can find some samples that they can use instead”

Beeswax: “I do not start making humming, tapping or bumping noises in the night just after you both go to bed!”
Honey: “Ok well if that is the case maybe it is the Boggarts and if so I need to have a chat with them and reassure them that they do not need to make so much noise just to get my attention. I know they are there and I will never forget them”

Beeswax: “I don’t keep making noises outside Buzzbee’s bedroom at night, trying convincing him that ‘bad guys’ are trying to get in his room and hurt him”
Honey: “I think I need to sit down with the Boggarts because it is not Ok to do this to Buzz. I need to try and understand why they want Buzzbee to feel so frightened. Maybe they are feeling pretty scared themselves but don’t know how to talk about it and in an odd way, making Buzz feel bad helps the Boggarts feel a little better. “

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how the Wii nunchuck cable got chewed while I was playing a game?”
Honey: “Maybe while you were playing, the Boggarts was concentrating hard or getting a little anxious and started sucking or chewing it without noticing he was doing it. Remind me next time you are playing to make sure I let you take a lollypop or something with you and then maybe if the Boggart feels the need to chew something he will enjoy that more”

Now, some of you may say that I am enabling them to continue with this level of dissociation from their actions and, I will admit there have definitely been days where I have wished that I had been more direct with them both but if I have learnt one thing about my boys – it is confrontation will inevitably result in a complete meltdown and the opportunity to explore what the behaviour was about will have been lost completely.
I guess you could say that during some of their more ludicrous ‘crazy lying’ sessions I adjust my affect to them and join them in their fantasy as a tool to help them make sense of what is happening without sending them to ‘planet shame’ Although sometimes I do need to watch my sarcasm (that is what I get living with a pre-teen), the tone of the dialogue, always remains open and is usually playful.

Watch out. There are Boggarts about.

Watch out. There are Boggarts about.