Today I’m thinking about Adoption Social’s #WASO theme of ‘A Year On’.
Over the past year I have hit some terrible lows; wondering if I am fit to parent my girls and if I can give them both what they need to live happy, healthy lives. I realised how bad things were for us when my parents, who adore the girls, sat me down and told me how worried they were and that they would support me whatever I decided about our futures. All three of us cried a bit that day.
But recently I am feeling a bit more positive about things. Yet the girls’ behaviours haven’t improved in the last year and often it’s much worse. So what has changed?
If I’m honest getting the RAD diagnosis for Kitten means I no longer feel guilty saying I struggle to meet her needs. It sounds terrible I know but I feel I can be honest and say it’s tough – not tough because I’m a rubbish parent but tough because parenting children with RAD can be hard. Kitten rejects me every day at almost every opportunity but I know it’s not my fault and I am doing all that is humanely possible to help her. So I have stopped the guilt trip when things are difficult or not improving.
Probably the most significant event in the last year was that I asked the placing authority for an assessment of need. This was risky because their previous SW was negative, oppositional and dismissive. This time I was lucky enough to find a supportive SW who listened and believed me when I told her what life was like (especially after she had spoken to Camhs!) I was given a generous adoption allowance. Now I can continue to work part time. I can pay for a cleaner and for groceries to be delivered rather than the weekly ordeal of shopping trip with Kitten and Bunny in tow. I have a little respite care, at the moment once a month and only for a couple of hours but we’re building it up slowly. And it’s great!
These things have freed up my weekends and afternoons once the girls are back from school. More than I ever I can devote myself 100% to the girls and their needs. The only ‘jobs’ I do when they are in the house are making meals and half an hour of ironing once a week. Everything else can wait. Every day when we get in from school the girls wait to hear what I have decided we are doing that afternoon. As they find free play difficult this suits us all. It might be Lego, playdoh, puzzles, or board games. (Idea stolen from my lovely friend @Purdy2233 – thank you). I would love to say we do making or baking after school but I’m not quite that adventurous yet. But I sit back, forget about the practical stuff and try to absorb myself in whatever the girls are doing until bedtime.
I have also found the motivation to get up and out at the weekend. Kitten and Bunny are always better off out and about. Sleep deprivation had me collapsing in a heap. Now I’m equally exhausted but determined to go on an outing. We’re building some happy memories and I can usually squeeze a coffee in wherever we go so I don’t fall asleep.
When they’re in school I’ve even started going to an exercise class with a couple of mums from school. And it’s fun.
So ‘A Year On’ I am more serene and more focused on what my children show me they need. God willing I can continue as long as they need me to. Now if you’ll excuse me, Friday night is film night and the girls are asking for more popcorn so I’d better dash!