Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 in review...

January - started with conversations with boyo about having a sibling, and a meeting with a social worker about adoption number 2.  Boyo also started to show more understanding about adoption and the idea that he had a Mummy before me.

February - contained the down days that it does, as I remembered my worst miscarriage, contained a week off work, a birthday. a celebration of meeting boyo and a waiting for paperwork.

March - a month of momentous and less momentous occasions. We went to the LA adoption celebration, I had an OFSTED inspection at work, boyo had a birthday and a party, and we had a parent's evening - including the start of transferring from nursery to reception.

April - thoughts about life story work, and a life story book dominated my mind, along with the progress of a second adoption and meeting friends in the park.

May - contained a holiday - and many thoughts that have now gone from the blog as a couple of people in real life found my blog and caused me to go through and delete things from the past! We also found out about Jelly - and had to take an unbelievably difficult decision.

June - started with thoughts of giving up blogging, an accidental meeting of Jelly (by M), a definate link, a death and a funeral.

July - meant approval panel, school holidays, seeing boyo's birth brothers, the start of the worry about reception year for boyo, and a choking incident at school nursery.

Aug - school holidays and all that means, were pleasantly interrupted by introductions, and some difficult behaviour from boyo

Sept - reception year started with little success, and we had a visit from after adoption to talk about life story work.

Oct - was about survival, and the realisation that things were more than a little difficult and we needed help.

Nov - started with national adoption week, a post I shared on facebook, that made it's way back to boyo's school (must remember 1 of my fb friends works in the other reception class), boyo having a really bad day at school, and a conversation about a 'statement'. There was a week of meetings; from a LAC review for Jelly, to Post Adoption Support for boyo, GP's, health visitor, friends with DLA conversations, and a meeting with the SENCO...oh and complaints about my stance on photos at school!

Dec - was busy - hence the two posts - one Secret Santa post and one review of Christmas - without the hard stuff.

So 2013 has passed, the last few months in a blur. I hope 2014 gives us time to relax more. I have less expectations - can things not get worse please, and can we get boyo attending full time school sometime this academic year - preferably before I go back to work. However, we hope we have one big change coming - a house move is very much on the cards, to a bigger house with a much bigger garden.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year - and for those expecting great things - I hope you have a wonderful 2014.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Christmas in short...

I started writing a different post about Christmas but realised that I didn't want to commit this year in total to memory...so a few highlights...

1...seeing boyo interact with the older girls who do playground buddy duty at school...we went to a Christmas Eve party at friends house (the mum of one of the girls) and boyi was so excited because of the girls who would be there

2...baking....we made biscuits, sweets, chocolate, gingerbread reindeer and cakes....I am especially proud of my Christmas tree cake.

3...jelly has got to meet more of our families, in gentle batches but has met more of them, and charmed them

4...boyo recovering some of his joy in life...his best two presents, his marble run and a 2 foot inflatable remote control car...he has actually played properly with both of them.

5.... Jelly right now exploring his cousins playroom... As cousins and boyo are all fast asleep upstairs still! He is having a lovely time thanks

6....spending time with family and the family that we choose (our friends) 

We will not talk about the sleepless nights, tantrums, screaming and black is white syndrome because I will it agree with my Mummy! This too will pass....I hope. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Secret Santa

So The Adoption Social decided to allow us to give another adoption blogger a present, and receive one in return. The post below is a guest post written by Puffin Diaries, I think it's amazing and hope that you do to. I feel honoured to have the chance to share this post with you, as Sarah at Puffin Diaries is one of the people who started The Adoption Social, which has brought together an amazing community of bloggers and twitterati. 

The Boy by the Tree

I take a wooden reindeer and place it on the tree,

“This one is for my Nana and all she did for me”
The boy has chosen his first and reaches on up high,
“This one for my mum, I hope she is alright”.
The boys face reflected in the bauble,
All shiny round and gold,
He holds my heart in that tiny moment,
And for him I’d give the world.
He’s thinking of his lost mum and wonders does she care?
Will I see her one day, this world is so unfair.
A Gentle rub of back, to ensure he is okay, 
And offer of a chocolate, sweetness to allay, 
All the fear and sadness that sometimes can all only be,
Inside the head of the boy standing by the tree.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The annual debate...-

The annual debate started today outside of school... following an email from school, parents are not allowed to take photos of their child during the Christmas show or allowed to video it. They will be able to take photographs after the show, once those children who school doesn't have photo permission for have left the stage. I missed the conversation, as boy-o is still finishing school early, but I heard it all last year, and I know it's happened as a friend who doesn't want photos of her child online is a little (!) upset/fuming

Parents don't like been told that they can't record their child's show. Apparently it isn't fair that a parent who doesn't want a child to have a photo should stop anyone else recording theirs. How can some parents be so selfish as to stop school (and parents) photos of their children. Moan, moan, groan.

Now, I know that about 50% of boy-o's class mates parents know he is adopted, and appreciate my stance on photos. But there are the other 50% and the whole other class...minus my friend. I will tell anyone who mentions it to me, exactly why I don't want photos of my child... and it isn't just because they are adopted!

When I am at work, I spend a lot of time talking to teenagers about the fact that any photos, any facts, anything that they put on the internet, is there forever. That they can post something, later regret it, delete it, and it will still be on the internet. An image can be copied and stored. Information is stored. It is there FOREVER. And you can't do a thing about it. And that is a pretty good reason, not to record every moment on their life online.

My boys have a right to privacy... like we had. My friends know what I want them to know. They don't know what my parents want them to know... (mostly, MIL is a different story). My childhood is recorded in photos and oral stories, I have a shared history with my parents, siblings, cousins and forever friends. No-one that I meet on the street, in a group, wherever, is going to log into a website and see photos of my childhood... because they are mostly at my parents house (and will remain so). That's not to say that there aren't random photos on fb from my childhood... that I've put up, or one of my friends has. But there is nothing more embarrassing than dodge 90's glasses to worry about.

My boys are adopted within our area (from the local agency). I know where their birth parents live. There are places I don't take them to. I have friends who live near friends, who live in these areas. Someone I know could comment on a photo of boy-o that I am tagged on, someone else could see it and put two and two together. Suddenly birth parents know where we live... and where he goes to school.

If you want to think more about this have a look at these links


Friday, 22 November 2013

The highs and lows of a week...

So after last week which was pretty dire... I was hoping for better things this week... and in some respects I got them, and in others...nope just continuation of the same old, same old.

We got very worried on Sunday, as we went to the children's activity church service (if that makes sense) and saw a family friend... who apparently had seen boyo at school on Tues before all this kicked off... he had no recollection of seeing her at all... he has also forgotten bits about swimming (after), going the the park (after) and various other bits. This worried us immensely.

Thankfully in a week of appointments, the first appointment - LAC review for Jelly - brought the health visitor to our house... and say what you like, she has gone away previous meetings and found out about attachment and trauma. And when she walked in the door... I asked for advice - about what to do, did I need to see school nurse etc.... she said GP, paediatrician appointment and CAHMS. We had our LAC review, and at the end, we were asked whether we were ready to adopt Jelly... to which we replied, 'no, not yet' which stunned the independent reviewing officer (our social already knew, and had told Jelly's social worker too). We explained that things were too up in the air, that there were things we wanted sorting out prior to adopting Jelly, including issues with Boy-o, and explained, with our SW input why we are struggling and the lack of input from PAS. He went off to email manager of PAS...

Second appointment was with GP (as HV recommended). He decided it was something and nothing, and would refer us the paediatrician, but didn't see the need for CAHMS. He was more bothered about boy-o's lack of school attendance than anything else. So I left downhearted, but not beaten!

Thursday brought forward Post adoption support...who had clearly been challenged to help us. We had a long chat with the social worker, who had many understanding things to say, and some useful ways forward. Until the issues that make boy-o struggle at school are addressed, he isn't going to do well at school! She will refer us to CAHMS (ha ha ha) and thinks we should be looking for a statement based on emotional and attachment issues (although she didn't know statements are going!). We wait, because if she comes through with CAHMS and Social, Emotional and Behavioural Team into school... I will be happier.

And then today... we went to speak to the SENCO (technically I think she is now the Inclusion Manager) at school. And she listened, and proposed ways forward with increasing attendance... like increasing support (presently at 15hours a week), and not expecting boy-o to do what others are doing, it will be enough that he is at school... he can be playing outside, he can be working with 1 to 1 support, he can playing with playdough, but if he is at school full time by May she will be happy! And she will do what she can to make this happen.

She also listened to us about the attachment difficulties and asked for advice! She has been on a course recently and started to think about behaviour in terms of what that is telling her about the child! I lent her Inside I'm Hurting, and gave her several bits of paper to keep (thank you adoption social and inspired foundations!)

We talked statements and education health care plans. We talked educational psychologists. We talked SEB Team. We talked about things to help him. We talked visual timetable, with a photo of me at the end, so he can see how much more he has to get through. We talked about DLA and her filling in the bit of the form, with help from me.

We left feeling that things might be improving for our boy. That things might actually be put in place to help him. From feeling lots of gloom and despair for his future, suddenly I can see that there may be a glimmer of hope. We wait to see what actually happens from these promises, but I can see a glimmer...

Saturday, 16 November 2013

My plea to school...Talk about behaviour not the child

This week has been harder than it should have been, not by anyone's design, but just one of those things. One of the big discussions we had at school, was about how ineffective their behaviour policy is for our boy (in fact probably most children).

If a child misbehaves he is moved down the ladder (onto yellow?), if they are moved onto yellow too many times in a week, or onto red at all, they lose golden time on Friday.

In our house we are always careful to talk about the behaviour, not the child. We talk about how it was good that you did x, or how we are sad that you did y, or how doing z is silly (or giddy). We do not say things like you are naughty, or you are silly, or you are good because... we talk purely about behaviour. Because every 4 year old will do good and silly things, it does not mean that they are good or silly.

We strongly believe that we don't want to shame our children, it doesn't help them, it is only a release for us. Boy-o has enough to cope with, that to add to his self belief that he is 'bad' would be crippling long term. Just because it is how we were parented, does not make it right or helpful for any child. There is generally a reason for behaviour, and it is worth our time trying to work out why he has done something, so we can talk about understanding. This is still true when he is raging, it tells us is that he can't cope with the emotions that he is feeling and needs to get them out somehow, he needs calm and empathy. Sometimes I move him to a place he cannot hurt anyone, but I stay within sight and sound.

We tried to get this across to his teacher. Besides anything else, what is the point of telling him he will lose golden time, when he isn't at school on a friday afternoon, to lose this time anyway. We like the fact that we are told when he is on the Superstar board, but I dislike the fact that another child finds it ok to tell boyo, that he has to try not to go onto yellow that day. 

I find it hard to believe that any 4 year old can choose to conform or not to conform. They can either conform and do what school think is necessary (sit quietly for registration) or they can't. And if they can't do what is necessary, is it necessary to shame the child and move him down and tell him he's naughty for not doing x, y or z... My boy doesn't choose to fidget, that is who he is, and I, his nursery teacher, the woman from pre 5 team all have suggested he needs something in his hands to occupy them. 

I'm hoping that some good has come out of this week, it has been very draining for all of us, apart from perhaps Jelly...and even he notices when boyo is not himself. The fact that he reacted in a way to a sound, in a way that shocked school may have helped us...in the long term. I'm hoping that his teacher starts to listen to us! 

And in the meanwhile...if you are a parent, educate yourself about shame based parenting and punishments, blame the behaviour, not the child. 


Friday was always going to be difficult before the week got interesting! It was children in need - so Boy-o didn't have his uniform for school, and he had a hospital appointment and we had no-one who we could leave Jelly with!

Boy-o went to school, got himself wound up and worried, then we had to pick him up early and take him to the hospital. This made him worry and panic and stress... because he has been wobbly all week. The good news is, he did really well, and his right eye is now nearly working at normal level (through his glasses) and his left eye is improving.

After this, because although it had been a difficult week, we had all coped okay, we decided to go for our lunch. This was obviously one thing too much for the boy. We went somewhere we have been before, which was quiet - it's a child friendly place, and it was a cold Nov Friday. He really struggled with eating, as it is a diner style place, and the seat backs are high. He struggled with playing outside, on the lovely equipment they have. He just struggled.

We came home and had some playing time... not that boy-o can play anywhere near jelly this week. And the boys were in their pyjama's at 5.00 and in bed by 5.30. If only they slept through!


On Thursday, we had another bad start to the day. Boy-o plainly didn't want to go to school, and was creating difficulties to make sure we didn't get there on time... little does he know, that I allow for this in my planning of the mornings.

Thursday morning for me, was all about friends and conversations about living with a child who is different. It started in the playground, as one of my friends boys is having a tough time, and I left boy-o wobbly and not wanting to be there, and she left her boy in tears. We walked out together, knowing that we are both living through tough times, offering the other one help, but knowing that there is a limit to what we can do. She has however, applied for disability living allowance (DLA) for her younger son, and gave me some tips.

I had arranged for another friend to come and talk to me about DLA and whatever other advice she had to give. And there was plenty of useful information, but very hard to talk about our damaged children, who have other difficulties as well. She has been battling things for the past few years so had lots of tips to pass onto me.

When I picked boy-o up from school, the Senco caught me, and we had a brief chat. As I'd had my brain melted in the morning, I probably didn't make much sense, but she did say that boy-o's teacher had been to see her for some advice... finally! I do need to arrange a meeting with the Senco and chat more to her, the problems that we are having are not all adoption related.

I also squeezed in a phonecall to post adoption support - who are coming to see me next week!

It was another difficult afternoon, but we lived through it, and once the boys were asleep, M and I hatched a plan... and it feels better to have plan. But it does leave us with some decisions to make...about the house, about work, about schools, lots of thinking to do.

Friday, 15 November 2013


We all got up on Wednesday morning, feeling a little under the weather. I made the decision that it would be better for boy-o to go to school, rather than not, but agreed to talk when I got there, as he told me he was not leaving the classroom and his friends at all.

I warned the staff when we got to school, that he was 'not good' and not to push going to the room, and to try to think of alternatives to give him a break from the classroom. And it was taken seriously.

When I picked him up I was told he had been very jittery, and not his normal self. He virtually refused to go to singing in the hall. He did go with his 1 to 1 to the library and choose a book, and have some calmer time. But it obviously wasn't great.

I'd arranged the afternoon round him in some respects. Jelly went to bed when we got back from school (I'd love to say he'd had a long nap, but that would be a lie). Boy-o and I did some theraplay activities and played some silly games and got out his play dough. He had his dummy out for the entire afternoon. But even with my sister coming round with her son to play, we had a relatively calm afternoon. He only lost at right before tea time... always the danger time in our house. But knowing that he'd coped at school and for most of the afternoon, meant that I was able to be calm, and hug him close.

It was another difficult night. But he went to sleep with a smile on his face... which M and I regarded as a positive thing.


On Tuesday things felt okay... but my poor boy-o had a terrible morning, which has effected the rest of our week. The type of morning that I wish he didn't have, but usefully it happened at school...so following our meeting on Monday, he showed them on Tuesday that he doesn't react the same way that other children do.

But I'm getting ahead of myself... Tuesday morning, Jelly and I went to a toddler group, and had a lovely time. We also had a wasted trip to the doctors - again, 30mins of my life I will not get back, which wasn't what I needed after Monday morning. But Jelly had a lovely time at toddler group.

I had a phone call from our social worker to say she'd had a look at Jelly's life story book, and she completely saw where I was coming from. She spoke to Jelly's social worker and expressed her concerns... who still didn't get it, however she has agreed (with some pressure) to redo the life story book in a more appropriate manner.

However, I when I went to pick boy-o up from school, everything went downhill. I could tell it wasn't great when his 1 to 1 assistant snuck out of the dinner hall to speak to me, she normally waves and gives me thumbs up or thumbs down. One of our suggestions on Monday had been that he needed some time out of the busy classroom (60 children, 7 adults = too much), to give him chance to calm. This was implemented on Tues - but the room he went to is on the corridor that links reception to KS1. One of the school's autistic children was having a really bad day, and went onto this corridor and screamed and wailed. And boy-o could hear this noise, but not see what made it.

He froze... as in fight/flight/freeze. He went drip white and started shaking. And he's not done that at school before. It was all the teaching assistant could do, to get him out of the room and back into the classroom. I found out afterwards he was so bad, that his teacher picked him up and sat him on her knee (she is not a cuddly woman)!

But then at lunchtime, the autistic child did it again, and boy-o did it again. And even my friend who keeps her eye on him at lunchtime (as in it's her job) couldn't get him to come round. Eventually the class teaching assistant took him out of the dinning hall and sat with him, cuddling him.

I was told this when I picked him up, and I was happy with how it was dealt with. I am happy they tried to implement something that I felt was important. I am sad that the consequence was so awful for him. But been me, I wrote a lot in his home/school diary about adrenaline and cortisol and did some education about brain's.

But he couldn't stay still for the rest of the day... we went to his swimming lesson, because his teacher there gets him. Sadly there was a new child in the lesson, who didn't get to see him at his best, but he swam. We went to the park. We had an easy tea. We had a bath. He went to bed... and he didn't have night terrors (whoop, whoop, whoop) but he slept very lightly and very badly.


I'm tired this week. It's been difficult, hard, exhausting and emotional this week.

It started with Jelly's social worker came for a visit... this wasn't the one we'd meet previously, this was an earlier one who had returned from long time sick leave. She came very excited because she had brought us a life story book... and as is so often the case (around here anyhow) it was poor. It had a selection of photo's labelled helpful things like 'Your Mummy'... and not of me! It contained information, all gathered together, not written as a story, but a collection of facts. I showed her the one we have prepared for boy-o, she told me that she had done Jelly's and it was adequate and what was I complaining about.  She refused to talk to me about it anymore... and would only talk to our social worker about it.

She also told me that she doesn't think that birth family will want to meet us, or do letterbox. She argued that there was no benefit for her or Jelly, just for M and I. I looked aghast and unbelieving that a child's social worker cannot see the benefit for the child in letterbox contact. I argued, and brought up all sorts of arguments about why it is in Jelly's benefit, but she wasn't having it.

Immediately this meeting finished, I got to go to a meeting at Boy-o's school, and have a hour with his teacher, discussing progress and where things are, and how we can make it better. I took M with me this time, and I think (ok I now know) we started to get somewhere. I took a huge long list of things to talk about, including ideas from primary school teacher friend and boy-o's paediatrician (can I say she is an amazing women). We talked about some ideas to make his time at school easier...some of which has been implemented. I feel confident that progress is been made, but we will see... I have the ear of the SENCo now as well.

I came home from this meeting to phone our social worker, and fill her in on my morning's meetings. This resulted in me having to take Jelly's life story book, Boy-o's life story book and Jelly's later life letter (don't ask) to her offices for her to have a look at. I then had to go to the local stationary shop to buy a pencil that I know boy-o can use, to take to school to say 'this is what you need to have', because I'd given the one we'd borrowed back to it's owner.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

What adoption means to us...

Adoption has impacted this family dramatically. Without adoption we would be a family of two...living a very different life. It's National Adoption Week 2013...the time of year when adoption is in the public eye with the hope of encouraging more people to adopt.
So what would I say to someone who was thinking of adoption?
Firstly, it is the best thing we have ever done, and no matter what complications it brings, it will always be the best thing we have done. Our boys bring meaning to our lives, they have an amazing zest for life, and such joy for the simplest of things.
But if you are considering adoption, you should research carefully exactly what it means. My boys are my boys, I am the woman that they call Mummy, but they each have another mother, who has had and will continue to have an impact on their lives. They each have siblings that they don't live with, some of whom they see, and some of whom they don't. They each have another father, alongside M who they call Daddy. They have another family...and we have to work on their understanding of them.
Our boys have a background that we are not party too. No matter how much information that you are given, there is some things you will never know... In Sept this year I was given a form from biggy's school, with questions on including...were there any difficulties during labour? Is there a family history of...? Along with several other questions which were unanswerable. Because I am stroppy, I gave a lot of 'I don't know, he is adopted' answers. There was also the time I was virtually accused of drinking whilst pregnant by a nurse at hospital (and no he hasn't got FAS)...and I had to explain again. As an adoptive parent I have to fight for my boys and develop a thick skin.
My big boy moved to us at 2 years old. He has clear memories of living at his foster carers. He was not too young to remember, as so many people told us at the time (we never believed this). This separation caused him trauma, and he struggles with separation from us. This has lead to him attending school part time with no sign of him been ready for more. The trauma has given him other issues...he needs to know where people are, and what that different sound is...we can tell when he is really unsettled because even normal everyday sounds become 'what's that?' noises. He comes home from school exhausted because he has been on alert and well behaved for the time he is there. He comes home exhausted and we often have rages because he has stored up all the anxiety whilst he was at school. As adoptive parents we have to understand where the big feelings come from and help him deal with them.
Developmentally my big boy is behind his peers. He needs considerable more help with things than his peers. Some of this is because he is physically unable to complete some tasks, getting dressed involved more manual dexterity than he has got. Some things are emotional needs...he sees me feeding his little brother, and needs to be feed himself. He cannot go to sleep my himself, someone needs to be in his room. He cannot walk alongside you, he needs to have a hand or a pushchair to hold onto...he is impulsive and has been known to run into the road. As an adoptive parent, I need to have time to work on skills, and give him the time he needs.
It's not an easy path, but if at the end of the day, our boys are happy and reach their potential, whatever that potential is, we will be happy. If you are considering adoption, think carefully, and if you think you can offer a child a home, do it....there really is nothing more rewarding. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

My boys...

I did start writing a post last weekend for the #WASO theme of the future, however I got so despondent and upset that I gave up writing it. To be fair - it was following the week where I ended up in tears at boy-o's school at an evening event, partly because I as so fed up with his teacher, and partly because he isn't at the same level as his peers. Thankfully the teaching assistant is fantastic, and didn't laugh at me, but instead listened to my concerns.

However, this week feels in some respects better... a week of no school has improved many things...not least boy-o's sleep. We've only had a couple of nights with wake ups - and one of those was because he was struggling with his cold. It's not to say everything has been perfect and I am more than ready for him to go to school tomorrow... but generally a better than expected week.

So 10 and a bit weeks in, how are things with two boys....

Jelly is a delight mostly - we have had a few concerns and a paediatrician appointment, but generally things are going well. He looks to us for comfort.... when I left him at my mum's for an hour, he burst into tears when he realised I was going, and came and gave me a massive cuddle when I arrived back. He crawled into my lap when M's mum said 'no' to him. He is doing well - and as an aside, he adores his big brother - and boy-o will make him giggle by doing the most stupid of things.

Boy-o is also a delight and joy and we adore him. However, he is still really struggling...with his new normal - both full time school (ha) and a new brother.

He is still only doing half time school - and at the moment no-one appears to have a plan to change this (problem number 1). I have asked for a meeting with his teacher in the next couple of weeks to discuss how things are going... and what they are doing to help him. He has an IEP - which we haven't seen and signed. His teacher keeps telling me - 'others do this, and others do that' without offering any solutions to help him. Over the past couple of weeks I have had some serious conversations with my reception teacher friend and been given some guidance.. which needs to be a whole other post.

Boy-o loves Jelly. Jelly loves Boy-o and they are delight - but I can't leave them together because boy-o gets silly - so when I'm cooking tea I have one of them with me. Boy-o cannot play by himself.. he cannot choose something to play with and do so. He has to interfere with whatever anyone else is playing with. He needs more attention and more reassurance than ever before. He is argumentative for the sake of being argumentative...

IT IS HARD... I feel the need to shout that, because I can't get people to understand... and I'm not sure that I will get them to understand... thankfully our social worker does understand and is an amazing support. Thankfully I have some amazing friends who do understand. Thankfully the twitter community is alive and well and keeping me sane.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Sorting things...

So, on Friday, I had a conversation with a fellow adopter who said 'you need help' and I couldn't disagree...it's all a little hard at the minute. She also suggested that we look into disability living allowance for boyo, as he needs more support than others of his age...and this might enable me to work less hours next year, or simply as M put it, have a take away once a week, so it's less stress for us. After this weekend, something has to give, as we cannot carry on like this, so I have asked for help...

I spoke at length last night to my friend who is an experienced reception teacher. She said that if she had boyo in her class at school, she would be asking for help and guidance, because there is clearly something wrong. And she admitted that actually, it's lots of little things wrong, which makes it more complex. She has given me a list of things to raise with his teacher...and yes I am a qualified teacher, but I needed external input to help me feel confident that I was right in this on, not just seeing things that aren't there.

I spoke briefly this morning to a mate who is a paedriciation, whilst she doesn't know boyo as well as teacher friend, she has seen him around. She has suggested that we might need to get a psychologist to look at him. She also advised that DLA is getting harder to get, but she thinks we stand a chance.

I've spoken to post adoption support...who will send me an appointment for about 6 to 8 weeks time. She didn't think I sounded desperate enough for the duty SW, which is fine, because I then emailed our SW to let her know that I've started things moving and why...she is brilliant by the way, but I need a needs assessment for boyo and that's not her roll.

I've spoken to secretary of our present paedriciation, who is retiring (grrrrrr), who listened to me, and said the paedriciation will phone me back, so she can add extra info to covering letter for new paedriciation. 

I've also asked the mums of several 4 year olds we know to have a look at a list, and tell me what things their child can do, so I can compare him for DLA form! 

And overshadowing all this, we have an appointment for Jelly later in the week...to start ball rolling to see if he has the same genetic illness as one of his siblings!

Things aren't great at the moment, and I'm not looking for sympathy. These are my boys, and thus is what we have chosen...but I want someone with a magic wand to come along, wave it, and solve all our problems! 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A week survived

So much to say...so little sleep...makes a very bad blogger! 

This week has been a funny one, in many respects. It has included differing levels of emotions, as so many weeks do. Safe to say, I am now so tired, that managing the demands of the two boys is becoming very difficult.

I took boyo to Church with me last Sunday (as often happens) and we sat next to some friends of ours, who were at church because of church parade...the little girl sat and whispered to me, 'boyo got an achievement certificate in Friday, but in wasn't in assembly' which was lovely news, and something boyo got to tell M when we got home. On Mon we found out, it was because he did some good number work! 

Earlier this week it was the wave of light in remembrance of all those babies that didn't make it. I sat and had a quiet reflection on all those children of ours, who aren't. And yet, if we had any of those children, I wouldn't have the amazing two boys that we do have, who are so meant to be with us. Life doesn't throw at us more than we can't deal with, although in the dark it's hard to remember, 

I was also contacted this week by our agency, wanting me/us to be an adoption champion. I agreed that I would share our story, our hopes, dreams and aspirations. I also agreed that I would think about appearing on the radio during national adoption week! I might regret that, but we'll see what happens.

I also went to the adoption toddler group this week...and sat listening to all these wonderful things that a selection of first time adopters were saying, and how marvellous they are finding everything! And then I spoke to someone who has adopted a second time, and she asked me how things are...I nearly ended up in tears, because it is so hard, and right now, it's not particularly getting easier, just that I am getting more used to it. We had an interesting conversation, that I will return to in due course. 

So there we are, highlights and lowlights of another week...

Friday, 11 October 2013

Life and Loss

Once again I've written a lot of posts in my head in the past month... but somehow they have not made it here. But I am determined to start writing again... partly to clear my head, and partly to record what is happening, so that I can look back and say things have improved.

And I think that's where I should start...things have improved. In the day to day living it's still hard, but it is improving. It's not easy, but no-one said it would be... but it's getting more normal.

This weeks #WASO optional theme is LOSS, which seems to be a good place to start... at the moment we are all in this house suffering with loss.

M & I are suffering with the loss of sleep... which is pretty insignificant compared to my boys. It's also the time of year, when my head turns to all the loss that we lived through and grieved in our journey to this point. The pregnancy that I got furtherest through, would have been due round about now... we could have a 6 year old or two running around. I don't mourn that alternative life, because without that, we couldn't be here, but I do have to reflect on the fact that we started this journey of adoption from a place of loss.

My boys have both suffered loss.. huge overwhelming loss... from the time that a judge decided that their birth families couldn't parent them, their lives have been about loss and we are presently living with the effects of that loss.

Adoption is surrounded by loss.... our loss of dreams, my boys loss of birth family and their history, birth family loss. And this isn't a quick healed loss... I never, ever, ever adovate that old saying 'time heals everything' because it doesn't... time gives us the tools to cope with whatever life brings, but it doesn't heal, the wounds are there, and be can opened at any moment.

In the immediacy my Jelly is grieving the loss of his foster family, even though he is tiny and seems to be doing okay. He is very independent and doesn't NEED us, which is something that we are doing a lot of work on. To be fair to him, he does now seek me out when he wants something, so he is starting to need us. He has lost the contact with his foster family and his birth family... and it all happened close together. He's too little to know what those loses will cause, and we hope for the best, and prepare for the hard work!

Boyo is also grieving at the minute, which is making his life very hard. Going through the intros for Jelly stirred up a whole pile of emotions for him, which he has struggled to verbalise, but has shown us through his behaviour. He repeatedly tells me when I collect him from school (at dinnertime still) that he has missed me and not seen me for ages, which is as close as I am going to get to an admission that he is worried I won't collect him.

Boyo is insecure and suffers with separation anxiety. Not been with us is incredibly hard for him, and when he isn't with us, he is always more aware... this is why school is such a challenge for him... it's very hard to know where 59 other children and 7 or 8 adults are at all times. As much as we have been able to piece together with him, for him, he is convinced he will loose us too, and therefore wants to be with us... and needs us to feel safe. We spend a lot of time talking about who is safe and can be trusted... childminder, teacher, his support assistant... in the hopes that the repeating the message will ease some of the anxiety and help him relax more.

The effects of loss on adoption children is not well understood. As adoptive parents through, we live with those effects. Each day an adventure, and a puzzle to solve.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Life Stories...

Today we had a visit from a representative of After Adoption Yorkshire...it was something our social worker had set up for us, and we thought would be worthwhile to take the opportunity. The boys are cousins but it is more complex than that, and at some point in the future we will may well need additional help to help them understand their stories. There is money put aside for this in future.

She came and she was lovely. And we talked for 2 hours. About all sorts of things. She collected information for later sessions... what siblings there are, and where they presently are. This may not be the case in future.

We talked about the complexities of the boys relationship, and we explained how we thought we were going to deal with it. She agreed that we seemed to have understood it well, and our plan seemed very reasonable. She also agreed that it might be a long time before the boys actually need to hear the whole story.

One of our concerns is that boy-o may need to hear it before jelly is ready. But she did say, not to worry about that, that the time will come when it's nature to tell them. We have a story to tell them which will need expanding upon as they get older, and can understand more.

We did talk about how we are coping, how the boys are coping and various other things. She said we seemed to have a good understanding of the boy's needs.

We agreed that things are okay at the moment, she will email me a reading list, with some useful books on. And we can ask for more sessions whenever we feel the need for them. We don't have to wait until we want input for the boys. If we have questions, or need advice we can ask at any point.

So we were reassured, and confident that when we need the help, it will be there.

Friday, 13 September 2013

So where were we...

It's two weeks since I last posted, which is nothing when things are going well, but I usually post a lot more frequently when things are going pear shaped. And they have been very pear shaped! But right now, Boy-o is sitting on the sofa next to me, relaxing and having some calm time, whilst watching CBeebies, and Jelly is upstairs in his cot, having a nap. It's taken this long for me to be able to sit and type... and even now, I'm getting, what are you doing, why, just noise been generated.

Jelly has a cold, and is miserable with it. We are on the death throes of it hopefully, he seems brighter today. We have been bonding and attaching, he's been in his sling and carried lots. He is a happy thing, who plays well, and is just busy. The cold has caused some problems as he hasn't been sleeping. But the benefit of sitting up all hours giving him cuddles in terms of attachment are amazing. 

He and I went to the adoption playgroup this morning, and one of the social workers who did our prep course first time round was there. She knew we'd adopted again, but was really pleased to see him. I had him in the sling, and she commented on it - I pointed out it's easier than getting the pushchair our of my chair, and it's good for him to be carried. 

Boy-o is feeling more secure and settled... but isn't right yet. We can see from his behaviour that he is still struggling. He was very happy on his half days at school, so I spoke to his teacher about him doing full days this week, like everyone else. He managed Monday really well, but didn't sleep well Monday night (he's not the only one in his class that didn't), but come Tuesday lunch time, I had a telephone call to say, 'you need to come and get him, he's distraught and just wants you', so I went to pick him up and we spent the afternoon doing calming activities. 

(He's just decided to see how close he can sit to me! Typing with one hand now)

In collaboration with his teacher and TA, we've decided to keep him part time for the moment. We have a meeting next week with his teacher, and will discuss how to proceed from from here. I can quite see we won't be full time until Christmas, which is fine, as I am not at work, and he needs the security of been with me, at the moment. However, I am now having to balance, I can't do what I planned as I have boy-o in the afternoon... and it's difficult to find things that both boys are happy to do, without me having to help them both. 

Successes have been a walk in the woods, as I carried Jelly, whilst Boy-o ran and threw sticks and added to dens that have been made. It is a lovely place to go. Going to a park is also good for Boy-o but not as good for Jelly, as he does want to get out of his pushchair and play... and I can't look after him and help Boy-o at the same time. Less successful was yesterday's suggestion by me, that we needed to go and get Boy-o some new trainers. This resulted in a huge strop including a massive nosebleed. 

We are still trying to do theraplay activities with boy-o most days. Some days it works better than others. But M and I can both see the benefit of it for boy-o. I have started some life story work, but that is a blog post all of it's own.

M & I are doing okay, and everyday it gets easier, so we will continue to be okay. 

Friday, 30 August 2013

Ooops... it's all a little difficult here...

We knew it would be difficult. We knew we would have problems. And yet...when our social worker forgot about us on Wed (she is on annual leave this week) I had a crisis feeling. Had text conversation with her, and said we were okay - not easy but okay, and then on Thurs things imploded and I sent a text just after lunch to say 'please come this evening' which she said she could do.

It was the adults who were struggling with how to deal with behaviour. Boyo is very caring and always has been, and as such he is in Jelly's face a lot. He wants to help, but isn't showing it in the best way. He is constantly doing things that we are asking him not to, such as holding onto Jelly, and taking his cuddly off him and countless other things. He wants to show how much he cares.

But he is also very excited and is spending his whole time showing off. And because he's the way he is, he is also been very vigilant - because his world has changed, and he needs to find his new place in this new order.

We have been reassuring him, we have let him regress as he wants, he is been fed, he is having a bottle of milk at bedtime, we have tried all our usual tricks, ignoring the bad and praising the good, rewards, bribery and threats of early nights. Nothing was having any effect, as soon as you praised him, he stopped doing what he was been praised for. Ignoring the behaviour just escalated it. Sitting him with us on the sofa has given us both bruises. I think my low point was when I carried him upstairs, put him on his bed, and sat in his chair, refusing to engage until he calmed down... I had teddies thrown at me for that one, and there are a lot of teddies on his bed.

So we reached out... and asked for help, because we could not calm him. There was nothing that we could do, that would help him, and we wanted to help him, no needed to help him.

We talked things through. We explained that we felt WE were getting into a negative cycle. And that, is what was bothering us most, we are usually good at stopping that negative cycle, but we couldn't find a way forward.

It felt better to hear that it was normal. That virtually every older child struggles when a new child arrives, no matter how they arrive. That we were doing okay, it's not a disaster.

She agreed that we were doing the right thing going out for part of each day. That we were right about gradually starting to introduce people to Jelly, because Boy-o needs normality. That we could separate them if it was easier... it was okay that they didn't spend every minute together. I'd been resisting separating them, on the grounds they need to get used to each other, but she pointed out that they are spending time together, and that they don't have to spend every waking minute together.

And she gave us some ideas. Initially to start theraplay activities again - and if we were struggling with it, she's happy to give up some time to come and help us with it. And then some ideas to work on both his life story and Jelly's... to help him understand better his story and his place in the world. She has given us some super ideas, which I will probably blog about, once we've had a chance to do some of them. I've also ordered some more books...

So I went to bed last night calmer, and woke up feeling more refreshed. And today has been a better day - and when Jelly had his nap, I got out my mysterious box that Boy-o noticed first thing this morning, which I'd loaded with some things for theraplay activities last night. And we managed a 20 minute session with theraplay activities, and followed it up with some general silly playing. I gave him the total time that we had available, and when M came home from work before Jelly had finished his nap (M is working part time for at least another week yet), we planned our afternoon... divide and conquer.

And it worked, the boys went to bed much calmer, because things had been calmer. They both went early, as neither is sleeping especially well, but they have slept so far tonight.

So I'm hoping that we can continue to be calm, and do theraplay work. I'll start the life story work soon, when I've had time to get my head round it a bit!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Adventures in cloth nappies...

Back when we were trying to get (and stay) pregnant, there was never any doubt in my mind. We were going to cloth nappy. It made sense both economically and environmentally. Both my cousins cloth nappied, it didn't seem very difficult, there was no decision to be had.

And then, we adopted, and we adopted a 2 year old, who was on 98th centile, taller than some 4 year olds that we knew. It made no sense to spend money to buy cloth nappies, when he would be potty trained before long, we went straight for disposal nappies... and on the recommendation of my friend with 4 boys we went huggies, and they were fab, never leaked, and did exactly what we wanted. Of course it was well over a year before he potty trained, and even at 4 1/2 he still wets at night, but we made our choice and we stuck with it. Plus buying cloth nappies to fit him would have been more difficult than I needed at that point in my life.

And then we started the adoption process again. And we were linked to a 15 month old (after we made the decision to for go the 5 month old). And he's a great deal smaller, an average 15 month, hovering around the 50th centile for height. And huggies no long sell nappies in the UK anywhere that it is easy to get them... you can get them at some warehouse clubs, who are importing from the USA, but we gave up our membership as a cost cutting exercise... we used to go and spend between £100 and £200 without thinking about it, on stuff we didn't need... nice things, but not necessary things.

So we started thinking about cloth nappies again. And I started talking. One of my best friends had her second child earlier on the year, and she used cloth with her first and again with her second. When she came to visit she brought me a selection to see.... and explained about using them.

I went out (to a bridal shower) and sat chatting to three other friends who all cloth nappied. One said, she always switched to disposals at about a year old, one said, 'I'm not sure, I'd change him at 15 months old' and the other said, 'oh, I've got some liners that you could have, and I think I've got some nappies and wraps left'.

I started researching on line, and decided for during the day I really wanted to use either pocket nappies or 'all in ones'. So I did some searching and researching and came up with a list of 8 different makes and styles that I wanted to try. I managed to get hold of 3 pocket nappies and 3 all in ones of my list, and only brought one new one! I also spoke to our local council who provide cloth nappy packs to babies under 6 months in the area, and after some decision they decided that I could have a trail pack with another 'all - in - one' and a two part (shaped nappy and wrap). I also brought another two part nappy for overnight use.

So there we were several weeks before Jelly joined us, and I had 7 day nappies to try and 2 overnight ones! We played a bit during introductions when he was at our house, and obviously more since he moved in. M and I both know now which nappies we prefer, and how many more we think we need to buy. Pocket nappies are definitely the way forwards in this house and I hate to say it... my friend was right, she raves about the nappy type that we are going for... BumGenius V4...although I might still mix in a couple of Fuzzibunz perfect fit as well.

Overnight.. so far we haven't actually made a full night in washable. Mostly as I wimped out on changing from disposal to washable for first couple of nights, and then last night when I did try, Jelly is starting to realise that things are going back to how they were before (with him at child minder) and had a really bad night's sleep. I'd put one on, and at 1.30 a.m., when there was nothing left I could do for him, I changed it for a disposal... more normal feeling for him. Not that it worked, but at least I knew that there was nothing else I could do to make him feel better!

So Jelly at the moment is been cloth nappied during the day, and I'm probably going to continue in disposals for overnight for a few more weeks. I am lucky, as I have some of the mythical huggies - a huge box that one of my friends did pick up for me at a warehouse shop - but it was the last box on the shelf. If he needs more nappies in that size when they run out, we'll have to start experimenting with other brands...

And if you want some second hand all in one nappies - I have some for sale...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


So I have been a bit remiss in writing this - however, not just this - but I seem not to have written any notes from foster carer. It feels odd, I have a note-book full of info from boy-o - social worker comments, medical adverser, foster parents, contact supervisor. I have some random notes for Jelly - but not anything useful in day to day life. It's possibly that I know I can phone foster carer up any time, that I have nodded, and thought, I'll remember that. Equally I have proved myself capable of looking after a child - I don't need copious notes. At some point I will possibly regret it, but not yet.

So Introductions....

The first day, we visited, just M and myself, boy-o stayed elsewhere. It gave us time to get to know Jelly without boy-o trying to get in the way. We spent an hour there in the morning, after our planning meeting, then came away and took boy-o out for lunch! We then went back in the afternoon, having left boy-o with someone else. We took lots of photos to show boy-o though.

The next day M went in the morning for an hour, and then we all went in the afternoon for several hours. Boy-o and Jelly had tea together having played together, and had a fantastic time outside. I have some lovely photos of them playing on the toddler slide.

We all went out with a picnic the following day, including the foster mum. We went to a local estate, and walked, fed ducks, had a picnic, played in the wood and played in the play area. I think foster mum was impressed (or depressed) when I just set to and changed Jelly's nappy after a poo, on the grass in the play area... Somewhere like that I don't see the need for a baby changing room, especially as the toilets there are a little ummm.  

Foster mum and Jelly came to our house in the afternoon, and after 30mins when Jelly was plainly calm and happy foster mum left, and Jelly stayed for tea.

M and I have been taking turns in going in a morning and evening to spend a bit of one-on-one time with Jelly at the foster carers. But both us and the foster mum agreed that the best thing for both boys was to be together at our house, living a relatively normal life.

More of the same sort of thing followed, Jelly came here for lunch, then we spent all day with Jelly - went out for some of the day with M and boy-o. This week Jelly has virtually been here all day, he's had breakfast at foster parent's and then bottle of milk at bedtime, the rest of the time he's been here.

If it hadn't been for a hospital appointment today, he'd have moved yesterday, both he and boy-o were ready. But we needed to get the hospital appointment sorted out, and the foster carer had to be there, to follow up from previous appointment. So tomorrow is the day... M will pick him up in the morning, and then tomorrow evening he will have his first night here.

I'm excited and tired. I'm happy but sad for foster carers and for birth family. This is our future and it is bright, but someone else had to suffer for us to get here.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


It's ironic isn't it - the week that we go to matching panel and start introductions for Jelly - is the week that the theme for WASO is siblings.

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about some of boy-o's siblings. We meet up with two of his birth brothers regularly. They have an 'odd' relationship - odd as in I don't understand it! They don't have the concept of being brothers, and yet there is an intrinsic bond between them. They have never lived together, but somehow they know that they are linked.

Boy-o and Jelly are related. They share a grandmother. I wonder if they will have a similar sort of link. There are lots of similarities in their stories. The reasons that they are in care are similar. It's not because they aren't loved, and whenever we talk to boy-o about his birth family, we give him that message, she loves you but... and I am sure we will give Jelly the same message.

So we are in the middle of introductions. The boys have met as brothers. And have interacted as brothers. And Jelly, will produce a smile for Boy-o, and Boy-o loves this. Boy-o is enjoying being the big brother and able to do things that Jelly can't.

This isn't to say that introductions are amazing and going smoothly. That would be a lie. There are issues and  we are finding our way. It's going to be tough and difficult. Not that we expected otherwise. I hate the feeling that I am upsetting the pair of them, and I know that it will be okay in the end, but I'm not sure how long it will be until the end.

In the meanwhile, I am watching cousins who don't know each other, start to learn to live together, as brothers.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Summer holidays are passing...

It's not that I've nothing to post, it's just I'm so busy and so tired that I don't seem to have found the time.

When we set off for this school holiday, I knew I needed a plan.... so we have, and I'm sticking to it. There is something free on around here most days, so that was the first thing to go on. We also arranged to meet our fellow adoptive families on one day a week. I've tried to fit a treat most weeks... this week it was to go on one of the local steam railways, last week we went to big city and went to the Lego shop! We've also had friends to see - which has helped fill time. We've visited parks, walked in different places and generally had lots of out time. We've done craft and painting, and I have some more planned.

So far it seems to be going okay. We've had some meltdowns, and some tantrums, but not as much I was expecting!

Except of course, next week it will all go wrong. We are starting introductions for Jelly (assuming we get through matching panel), which will have a lot of impact on what we can do with Boy-o. At the moment we don't know exactly what we will be doing when, but it's going to have to involve Boy-o a lot, as I am short of people to leave him with - I might be calling in all sorts of favours and travelling to random other places to drop him off, to come back again to see Jelly, but until the plan is put forwards, I can do nothing to prepare.

It's worrying me, but there is nothing I can do, until we have that planning meeting! Which is why it's frustrating, I like to plan.... so if I appear irritated, that's way.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Two days, Three brothers...

We met up with 2 of boy-o's brothers last week. The twin brothers who are 14 months older than he is, and adopted on the other side of the city we call home - nearly in a different area of the county. I love meeting up with them and their mum, and we had a lot to discuss!

Straight away we were stuck with the similarity in their looks, boy-o looks more like one of the twins than the other twin. They sound alike, they look alike, they act alike. Twin S is also loud, disruptive, stubborn and struggles to settle to anything... except winding up his twin brother. Twin J has many, many more problems than either of the other two and will when there is space transfer to a special school. 

Their mum and I had a long chat. We talked about progress that has been made by all 3 boys since last time we met. We talked over issues with birth family - she never got to meet birthmum. We talked about our next adoption and how he fits into their story. We passed 2 hours chatting in a soft play place with occasional interruptions - 'look at me, Mum', and 'he threw that ball at me' and 'I want to go on that now'...just typical boy stuff. 

She has warned me that her boys have been harder this year (their first at full time school) than ever before. We talked about loudness, inability to settle at tasks, stubbornness (oh my goodness they are stubborn or at least boy-o and twin S are). It is funny to see the three of them together, because they are clearly related and their Mum and I are clearly not. 

And then, yesterday we treated ourselves to a visit that we shouldn't have made... but my boy is going to struggle unless we do and our social worker knows. We called round to see M's family friend, and just happened to sit in her back garden, and be invited through into next doors garden. Which probably means nothing... but I'll refer you back to the title of this post! We spent some time with boy-o's brother (to be) getting the boys used to each other. And listening to more from the foster carers!

And I know we shouldn't and many would frown on it. But he will be our child - even if I have to wait... I am having to wait, he should be with us now, if only his social worker had managed to do her job. And an occasional visit will help jelly get used to boy-o and boy-o to get used to jelly...  Foster mum is very much in agreement with us, and we all think that boy-o is the most important person in this. 

Oh... and jelly probably won't be his name for ever, but he shares a name with a friend's child, who has a lovely little nickname, which lead me to jelly - I'm not explaining more than that though. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Feelings of doom...

My feelings about boy-o's school are swinging widely at the moment, to how good they are, to how could they let that happen, to yes - thank you for that, to doom...

I'm worried now that next year might be our first year with a teacher for boy-o who doesn't get him. Which as it's his first year in full time education may be a disaster. It was when the words 'well all children do that', left her mouth that I realised she really didn't get it!

Her biggest concern... is health and safety. He chews things and puts them in his mouth, and oh my goodness he might choke! To which I explained about his chewy and how to recognise the signs, and all she said was 'well he's choked in nursery'. And whilst I recognise she has a valued reason for concern, this is easy to sort... watch him first, find out if he is putting things in his mouth, and then work out a plan of action. I know you want them to have freedom to choose things, but surely it's not that hard! If I tell you he's had a bad night, make sure he has something he can chew. If I tell you he's feeling unsettled today, make sure he has something to chew.

She calmly told me that one of their first topics that they study is the family, I commented that boy-o might find this difficult...to which I was told 'well you're his family'... umm yes, but not his only family. If you are talking about people that are important and have looked after him, you are just as likely to hear about his foster parents, as us. If you talk about been a baby, he will talk about his birth mother... and call her such - which might confuse some others in the class.

We talked about his need to be able to know everything... she didn't get it.... well if we put him round this corner, it's quieter and he'll be able to focus more.....no, he will worry about what everyone else is doing, because he will hear the noise but not know what is causing it. We talked about the fact he has a mild avoidant style attachment, and he will keep it together all day at school, but rage when we get to the car/home.... 'that's really common in children of his age' Yes, you often see 4 year olds, hitting, kicking, biting, laying on the floor screaming for 20 to 30 mins.

We talked about his ability to choose dinner, 'it'll be fine' apparently, all he has to do is choose in the morning, whether he wants the meat option, the veggie option or jacket potato, stick his name on the right colour and then he'll be given a band as they walk down to dinner, so the dinner ladies will know what he's chosen! So he has to choose as we arrive at school, when there are lots of other people around, and he'll want to play, and then he has to find his name (and recognise it) and stick it on the correct coloured board (he doesn't do colours). Then 3 hours later when they go down for lunch, he'll be given a band to wear, and given his main meal, and vegetables, then asked to choose his pudding. Not going to be a success I fear - never-the-less we will play it their way for a while.

We talked about transitions; and how difficult he finds it - which of course lead to another of the 'all children struggle' comments. To which I felt like saying, yes, but he finds it harder than most, and will take longer to trust you as a reliable adult.

I asked about photos of the classroom and the adults he will be dealing with. It should have been in our welcome pack, and I don't think she believed me when I said it wasn't. I have a horrid, horrid feeling that she listened to what she wanted to hear, and put her spin on it, rather than actually listening. She gave me a talk about over anxious parents, and how half the things we worry about don't come to anything.

I wonder if half the problem is, that she knows it all about adoption. After all her niece and nephews were adopted.... but on the recommendation of their social worker they weren't told that they were adopted until they were teenagers...I suspect from her age (she's been teaching at the school for 30 years) that we are talking about adoption in the 80's. She cannot get her head around the fact that we openly talk about adoption in our house.

I was very glad that the inclusion manager (SEN Co-ordinator) was in the room, and able to take some of what I said, and comment on it, and add to what I was saying. I'm glad that I feel that I have a ally who is trying to understand this. She was trying to find ways to help, and offer support - and I am glad about that. Sadly though, she's not the one who will be in the classroom, day in day out. And I have a horrid feeling, that having gone through nursery without much of a blimp, next year we are going to be talking to school, an awful lot more! And hearing a lot more of 'he did...', 'he wouldn't do...' and 'he didn't...'

I got the feeling in the end, that she was quite glad that I've said he will stay part time for longer than the others. Something less to think about in the afternoon. I hope I'm wrong, but we have always maintained in this house... if you prepare for the worst, usually you will be amazed at how it turns out. I'm also prepared for all the comments of how good he is, until something goes badly wrong.

I left her with a copy of 'education now' and 'let's learn together' which the inclusion manager rushed off to copy. So hopefully one of them will read it.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Approval panel... v2

So, this morning was panel for us... sadly not the longed for approval and matching panel on the same day - but approval with matching booked for 4 weeks in the future.

It was a totally different experience this time; although I had been hoping for about 5 or 6 questions and we got 10 - some of which had sub parts. What made it different was the fact that not only did we know what was coming, but there were people on the panel, that we've met and even know! The chair person was new though!

The waiting period - last time we very studiously looked at the questions and talked about how we would answer them. This time we looked at the questions and branched off into different things... chicken pox (boy-o came down last week), school dinners, random things about number 2 child! But we did talk about all the questions eventually.

We were met as ever by the chair of the panel, who came into the waiting room to chat to us. She told us about panel...not that much has changed. And then we all trooped down the long corridor to where panel is held. All the members of the panel introduced themselves; and said what their role was. It helped that one of the social workers that we know really well was sitting opposite us as an observer - someone we know and like to talk to!

The first two questions were the standard....
1. Can you tell us about your experiences of working with the Agency so far...
2. Can you tell us about the child that you can imagine in your family... our social worker, did say that there was a child identified and did try to explain the complex family set up - although I'm not sure how much they understood.

The next few were all about boy-o.
3. Can you say how we are managing contact and how we plan to manage the two children's stories (they did admit that this would be easier as the boys are cousins)... we talked about direct contact with adopted siblings, we talked about meeting birth mum, we talked about letter box... we were asked about contact with siblings in long term care and we said... we'd love some, but it hasn't been organised yet. This question was asked by one of the managers from the long term looked after children team, and she told us that the siblings foster mum was keen for contact as well!

4. How are we preparing boy-o for reception, and how do we feel about the support been offered? This was a good question as we are working well for school, and explained that he is in the nursery unit attached to the school and has made several visits. That we are meeting his teacher and teaching assistant tomorrow, and what is been put in place for him.

5. How have our lives changed since we adopted boy-o... beyond all recognition.

6. What work have we done with boyo to prepare him for another child and how is it likely to impact his routine... we talked about sorting out the room, boy-o helping set up the cot, the wall stickers we have decorated with, we talked about him deciding that little brother/sister could have this toy or that toy.

7. How will we support boy-o if he struggles to cope... to which we said we are expecting him to struggle and will take it as it comes.

8. Introductions - how were they last time, what would be different this time? Talked about how good boy-o's foster carers are; but equally about parties and presents been difficult.

9. Have we met second time adopters... umm yes - talked about park dates and stay and play and everything that we do with other adopters which includes second time adopters.

10. Could M talk about his asthma and eczema... What about my weight? Did have apology from medical adviser (again someone we knew) but they have to ask a question.

So there we are... approved and ready and waiting for matching panel!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A boy and his dog...

Boy-o was in foster care in a busy household with no pets. There were chickens on the allotment, but no pets as such. 

The first time he came to visit, he saw Pepper and jumped into his foster mum's arms and bawled. She calmed him down, and we avoided her for the rest of the visit. When we came to live with us, which was only 4 or so days later, we had done as we had planned and got her training crate/cage out, so she had somewhere to retreat to and we could shut her in the kitchen and know that she was happy. 

Somewhere in the next few months, the boy and the dog learnt to get along, a couple of months later and you would have thought they always belonged together. His day is not complete if he hasn't played with her, she is never happy if we are in, and he's not. 

If boy-o is outside, that is where the dog is. If boy-o is playing in our conservatory, that's where the dog is. If boy-o is playing upstairs... she is lying on the top step, ready for when he will come down again. She wags for him, like no-one else. He can take toys out of her mouth, without complaint. And when we mess around and tickle him, and play rough and tumble with him, she cannot bare it...she barks and whines until we stop. 

The boy and his dog... they love each other. And when he's having a bad day, she will curl up and allow him to comfort him... they adore each other. 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Adoption Number 2...

We are waiting. Which is a major part of adoption...

We know what we are waiting for, we know when we are waiting until. But even so, we are waiting. We do now have a definite date; which is something!

He's had his adoption medical this week, and we have some useful information. We are seeing the consultant tomorrow.

His social worker is doing my head in, and my mate who works in social care, but is leaving soon, has promised to hunt the women down and kick her for me.

We are looking at introductions in Aug; and moving in later the same month - a week or two before boyo starts full time school.... no problems with that then, none at all!

We are meeting foster carer on Monday - hopefully we can have some questions answered.

He still doesn't have a blog name, because I'm not convinced about the one I choose. I might have to leave it until we meet him!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Brief rant...

So I have a lot to update...but tonight I need a little rant...

I've been having warm cuddly feelings about boy-o's school for the last week since I had a meeting with his present teacher and someone from pre5 assessment team, they blew it today, and it's a really good thing, that it was a childminder day, and it is tomorrow so I have another 24hours to rationise!

Boyo did not sleep well last night, none of us did. We had to wake home this morning, warned the childminder, all the usual. The childminder noticed he was really tired by lunchtime, so when she took him to school, told the teachers, in fact did more, told them that if there were any problems, to let her know and she'd be straight back to pick him up.

They know he chews when he's stressed or tired...we all know he chews when he's stressed or tired. That's why he has a chewy I his bag, and they have a spare!

So what I can't get my head round, is having been told he was tired...

He got hold of some Sellotape, put it in his mouth, chewed it...and then started choking. To the point he had a big slap on his back to release it! He immediately ran to the other side of the room, and refused to be comforted.

Later he had a pebble in his mouth, at that point they decided to find his chew. But they didn't phone childminder or even me to get one of us to pick him up. They know my teaching load is ridiculously light at the minute...so they know they can phone me.

So far tonight, he has woken 5 times... He's been in bed 4 hours. Crying, screaming, shaking.

If only... They had put his chewy on earlier
If only.... They had let me or childminder know immediately, we could have calmed him this afternoon
If only...

I am sure I will go back to warm cuddly feelings soon, but right now, I wish they had handled it differently, or I had gone with my middle of the night thought, about not working today and kept him with me!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

My week in summary.

The last week has been difficult... in many ways!

Not least because someone else that I know found my blog... and told one of my closest mates (who doesn't read it) and I whilst wouldn't have any issues with her reading it at all, that's two people in a few weeks. So I have removed a lot of posts - they are saved in draft form, and I can read them whenever, but I'm sorry, they are no longer accessible to anyone else. I'm having to take some serious decisions about writing a blog - and at the moment I can't think about it. And no - I don't care that the person who found me, has read it, although in a text conversation she did say, that once she realised it was me, she did back out.

My grandmother died at the end of last week. And whilst I am upset, she had dementia... for the last 3 years she has rarely recognised any of us. I have visited her and been all sorts of people - from her history, but also  random people. The next to last time that I visited her, she recognised me, and remembered that I had a little boy... she asked to see a photo. It is a memory I shall carry with me.

The difficulties that are involved - my aunt has decided that she has to be cremated and we have to have a thanksgiving in the area that she grew up... down in Suffolk. My mum would have liked her to be cremated near here, where she was living, and then have a internment of the ashes and thanksgiving in Suffolk at a later date.

So I have to visit Suffolk, it's too long to travel in a day, plus the timing isn't great. I can't take boyo to the funeral, I can't leave him with anyone apart from M. If we had been here, I could have left him with friends or childminder for a few hours, but we can't do that. We are all going south, but only I can go to the cremation and thanksgiving service.

It's been difficult as my Mum (although it was my Dad's mum) has been arguing with my aunt about it. And my aunt has felt awful. On Wed I had texts and emails from both of them which I could not deal with, as I was trying hard to prepare my a level students for their exam. I nearly lost it at lunchtime when I received a text demanding that I phone my Mum immediately... I didn't, I went and had my lunch with some work friends and turned my phone off.

And this has been the story of my week - nothing simple, all high emotions and difficult decisions. And next week isn't promising to be a great deal better...more work than I know what to do with. A level exam on Wed, which means very stressed y13's on Tues. Gathering information that I want boyo's teacher to have for next year. Pre school committee meeting. And making sure that I have sorted out all the issues with taking a boy who doesn't deal with change to a hotel for a few nights!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Food...baking one of our favourite activities

Boy-o, as I've said so many times needs sensory input...

One of the things he really loves to do, is to make biscuits; making the dough with our hands fills his need for tactile input. Rolling the dough and cutting biscuits is also good fun. Then the best bit, decorating them.

This may not be the best picture - but it's some that I have a picture of!

Our biscuit recipe
3oz plain flour
2oz butter
1oz sugar
1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice/ginger/cinnamon if you feel like it!
Dash of milk

Put the butter, flour, sugar and spice (if using) into a bowl and mix with your hands. It should go breadcrumb like, then all lump together. If it's too dry add a little milk.

Flour your surface and roll and cut, and roll and cut.... tip - it won't take too much working, I also do half the mixture and add to it.

Put your cut biscuits onto an oven tray (line it with greaseproof) and cook for 10-12 mins at 170 oC (in my oven at least). When the biscuits start to look brown, take them out, and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Make icing - we use glace (water) icing. Divide your icing into small bowls, and add colour. Spread on biscuits and add sprinkles! Eat at least 2, before you've finished!

Boy-o loves this activity, he can do most of it, including measuring out ingredients with help. He can mix. He can roll, he can cut out. He's not so good at transferring to a baking tray, or positioning cutters! I tend to put the icing on, whilst he decorates!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Decision made - and link made

I need to write; and the aspects of thinking about blogging and where to blog are driving me around the bend at the moment!

We had a visit today... two social workers came to call! We have a definite link, we have a date for approval panel, we have a date for matching panel (it's not when I wanted it -but what was best for child's social worker). 

We have a link... can I tell you that again, we have a link. 

We decided, after a lot of thinking and hearts to go with our guts; because my head at least refused to make a decision. We are going with boy-o's cousin (need a blog name). There are many reasons for this, which I cannot and will not sure here. 

So now, we sit and twiddle our thumbs whilst his social worker gets her act together... although to be fair; she is the second social worker this child has had since we started talking about him, and the third in total. I wasn't impressed, I get the feeling that she will need to be pushed all the way - thank goodness for our amazing social worker. 

Now, we have to spread the news that we have a link, and that we have another child (who still needs a blog name) who will come and live with us soon - I'm not going back to work in September soon! 

And in a slightly bizarre twist of fate... we know where he is presently; we know his foster parent's next door neighbour and someone in this house might have gone to see next door neighbour whilst I was at work on Tues, and might have seen foster carer (who knew who he was) and small boy playing. Someone might even have been invited round so that boy-o could see their tortoises. Not that I am jealous! 

And in M's defence - what little there is - he had gone round to see next door neighbour to pre-warn her what was going on, and to ask her a favour. Because our big worry is that when M's mum find's out where this child is, she will go rushing round to her friend's house (next door neighbour) and demand to be taken next door to see child. M would not have done it if we weren't 100% sure that this child is coming to us - there is no way the family finder (we love her too) and our social worker will let this one go. It is the right decision. 

I have unofficially been told that neither our social worker or the foster carer would care if I happened to walk by their house and peer into the garden sometime soon! 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Why I blog...

Again this week, I faced a 'ummm' moment about blogging and why I blog - I'm not going into why I had the moment, but felt it was time to reflect on the blogging aspect again.

My blog has always been my space; the place where I empty my head and heart without driving M round the bend. That means that what is written is written because at the moment I am writing it, it needs to come out of my head. That those thoughts and feelings need to be put down and thought about, because there comes a point when M can't just listen anymore and needs (man like) to start fixing...

I don't blog to have a huge following - although comments are always nice. I know people read my blog, a few are real-life friends, most are people I've 'met' through the internet, some through infertility and more recently through adoption. It's wonderful to share, but first and foremost this is my space - my spot on the internet - and most people who read would pass me on the street and not know that I am that blogger.

It is wonderful to read others stories, to hear - yes, us too - as you go through another moment. In adoption there are moments that sometimes only people educated in adoption issues would get - therefore it's good to share those stories; and hear others ideas. That is one of the reasons I share.

But to bring this round again - this is my space, if you have read something here that upsets you, or you have read something here that that I might not have told you...this is my space to empty to my head. Nothing is written with any intention of causing hurt, it is just written to empty my head.

And yet this week, I considered walking away  - and in all honesty I might still do that.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Park support

I know I've written about it before, but I am going to state it again, I am so glad that we have adoptive family meet ups in parks - and yes I know I organise them, but I'm always grateful when people turn up.

My co-organiser and her children were the first there apart from us today - so I was able to talk to her about 2nd time adoptions, and the fact we have a panel date, and the fact that our social worker is determined that we will be doing approval and matching on the same day.

We were joined by other families - some that I know really well, and some that I don't know as well. But it's a magic thing, being with other adoptive families, families that get it, and understand. Families that are as excited by the fact boy-o is getting his support at school as I am. One even cheered when I said that they were getting the early years intervention team involved, which means he will start reception on the SEN register. Oddly enough, I haven't told other school mum's about the intervention.

There is a reassurance offered within our group - someone who comes to support group but whose child was placed just 5 weeks ago, was able to come and be with familiar faces and be told - 'it's okay, yes it's hard but you are doing okay'.

It's a special thing our support - and knowing that I can phone some of these people up and talk things through is an amazing thing.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Adoption is all about waiting....

We visited M's parents last weekend, having not seen them for a few weeks as we've been ill and they've been ill. M's mum was asking how things were progressing with our second adoption - our reply, it's progressing! Her comment was about the waiting that we have to do - whereas I can't help but feel that we are rushing through it.

This week has actually been about highs and flat spots....
My work is interesting at the moment, but hopefully one of the big stresses will be sorted out and over with next week. Then a couple of weeks afterwards the GCSE classes leave; so more non-contact time for doing work at school.

Boy-o got our first choice school....which is good because it means the system works. Sadly not all of his friends got in.

We saw our social worker this week. She may have talked about actual children. She may have gone away and sent our old report away to two social workers - and I did say to her that she knows us so well and what we'd like that she can send it to whatever social worker she likes - i.e. children she thinks we may be interested in.

We have a panel date - and the plan is that we will go for approval and matching on the same day.

Argh - it's all happening!

Sunday, 14 April 2013


The theme this week at WASO (see the button on the left) is all about transitions;

I'm boy-o. I'm four. Everyone thinks I am a happy boy. My Auntie R keeps telling Mummy that I will be okay, because I am happy and friendly she says that I draw other children to me.

But I don't like it when things change... and when I don't like it, I worry and get very cross. I don't like it, because although I love Mummy and Daddy lots, before I lived with them I lived with some other people who I loved too, they were called J & G. And suddenly, Daddy and Mummy started coming to see me, and all the things that I used to do stopped, then I left J&G's house and moved in with Mummy and Daddy.

Mummy says she likes I like routine because it's predictable and safe.

When I know what is going to happen, I am happy. But it's no good telling me that something good is going to happen, when things change I get scared, because it might mean that I have to move again. I don't like it when things change or stop. I get scared.

When I'm scared, I have to know where Mummy and Daddy are. I have to be near them, sometimes this makes Mummy cross as she trips over me a lot, but mostly she remembers that I am scared.

When I'm scared, I like to chew. Mummy and Daddy don't like me chewing my clothes, so they have given me a special chew to use. I use this a lot especially when I'm at school nursery, because strange people come into the classroom, or sometimes we have to do different things, like go to the music room. It's scary if you don't know what is going to happen.

When I'm scared I sometimes have bad dreams. I can't tell Mummy and Daddy what the dreams are about, but I do calm down if Mummy or Daddy come and give me a cuddle. I hate it when I wake up and they aren't here, because that is really scary. I know that they only leave me with Granny and Grandad, or Granny and GD, but if Mummy and Daddy aren't here when I wake up, I don't know where they are, and that is even scarier.

Sometimes when I'm really scared I hit or kick Mummy and Daddy. Mummy really doesn't like this, and she is trying to get me to shout and scream and jump when I am cross. She thinks this might stop me hitting and kicking them. I get really upset when I hit or kick Mummy or Daddy, because I love them and I don't want to hurt them, but sometimes I do.

....okay - so boy-o clearly hasn't written this - but this is what change does for us, in this house. And whilst we try to stay calm and help him, it's not always easy! It helps to remember, that when he is scared, he has these behaviors so we can start to help him unpick why he is scared!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

History is written by the winners....

The following isn't meant to promote a debate that my family has had many times over the years - it's just a point I am trying to make.

I always remember my education when I am confronted with the title of this post... I was brought up in England, and went to English schools, the IRA was presented as a terrorist organisation which did terrible things for no real reasons. My cousin was brought up and educated in Eire, and her Southern Irish school presented the IRA as freedom fighters. Neither viewpoint was entirely correct or incorrect, but two sides of a very passionate debate.

So we've written boy-o's life story book. We've had to - for all the reasons that I gave on my last past - right or wrong doesn't matter it's just the fact. But it does mean that we've edited the information that we wanted boy-o to have at the moment. There are facts in his past that matter a lot, but that he will not understand at the moment; so we've brushed them under the carpet.... 'there will be time for that' was the point we made.

But in the middle of the night, in one of my insomniac moments - it struck me... 'history is written by the winners' and my boy's story has been written by us. We have presented the information in the way that we want him to have it. We have glossed over some incredibly difficult information.... there are things that I don't want to explain to him until he is a great deal older. We have left out some information that is impossible to comprehend for a 4 year old, actually it's still a little incomprehensible for us to understand.

We've tried to write it with sympathy towards his birth mum, because that is our/my over-riding feeling towards her. I always look at her life story, and think, 'there but for the grace of God', and I know some of my friends have struggled with that fact. I have no bitterness towards her, just great pity. I've met her, she is ruled by a life of hardship and has lived through things that I can't imagine - not just having children removed by social services.

But I still get stuck at the point that we've written it. It is a book for now, and as M has just reminded me, the plan is to go back and add to it at a later stage. We have a roll of lining paper in the loft where we transcribed his report into some sort of date order. We have his report. We have numerous other reports. It's not that we are keeping secrets - but trying to give him a basic story, that we can all build on in future.

But I hope we have put the right information in and left the right information out.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Life Story Book

We've done it.... the book is complete. I was determined that it would happen this week, and we've done it a day early.

Boy-o now has a life story book, which starts where we are, and ends where we are. In the middle there is a lot of information and pictures about all sorts of things. His birth parents, his birth siblings, those he does see and those he doesn't. His foster carers - both sets. Contact. Meeting us. Our court date, his Baptism and adoption celebration. It's all there... in a form that my boy can understand.

We first had sight of a life story book for him, shortly before we went to court. Our social worker had asked his, not to glue anything into it in case it needed changing. His social worker turned up with a complete book and obviously expected to be congratulated....

Our names we were wrong in it.

Across a picture of his birth mum, the word 'Mummy' was written. Same for birth dad.

There was incorrect information in there about his birth family.

It included a genogram (family tree) taken straight from his report - which is also wrong.

And that was just the start of it....

Our social worker, offered help, she offered training. It was all refused. His social worker took the book away, to redo...

She changed our names!

The facts were still wrong. The pictures would have confused him. The information would have worried him - even the stuff that was correct would have left him confused and worried.

In the end his social worker came back with the book, and we accepted it, knowing we weren't happy. We showed it to our social worker who was appalled and offered to redo it, but knowing how pushed for time she is, we said we'd do it. And we have... finally.

It's important for adopted children to have accurate and useful life story books. It tells them about where they have come from, and helps them start to understand what has led to adoption. Our boy's book glosses over the deeper darker stuff, and there is deeper darker stuff, but that's because he is 4. When he's 10, or 14 or 16 he will be better able to cope with some deeper explanation...

We talk about his birth mum - well now he has a photo. We have spoken briefly about his birth dad - now he has a photo and an explanation. We've talked about his birth brothers and sisters, we've looked at photos, now he can see how they fit in age. It's got reminders all the way through, that we love him, that his foster carers love him, that his birth mum loves him. He is lovable.

We have the information that is suitable now in a book, we have more to add as he gets older.