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 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 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 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.