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 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, 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 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!