Before I adopted I had a successful career. I would like to think I was well respected and pretty good at what I did. That involved dealing with many other senior professionals in different fields. That was easy, even enjoyable, for me.
So how is it that now I am unable to successfully advocate for my children? How is it that I find parenting them so hard?
Is it me? Am I lacking in resilience? If the girls were with someone else would they have got the help they need by now? Or even worse – if they were with someone else would they not need any help or support?
Is it all my fault?
I’m managing to deal with the girls’ school – that’s exhausting in itself; trying to ensure they consider the girls’ needs when they plan lessons/activities without alienating staff. Not easy when eldest’s teacher rolls his eyes every time I mention that she is struggling. And now trying to gently lead them to a decent plan for transition into the next school year; trying not to tread on toes whilst achieving the best outcome for the girls.
I’m managing to speak to the GP to get a couple of physical issues dealt with for my youngest. He is at least listening and has made referrals for her.
But for the rest – I’ve walked away for now. I’m relieved to have CAMHS out of our lives. I feel sick when I get a letter or email from the placing authority. How ridiculous is that?! I feel weak. I feel ashamed of how weak I am.
Once I was someone different. But this is who I have become…
This year I moved the girls from a large multicultural city school who had lots of experience with children with attachment disorders to a small village school where they admitted they had none. The previous school looked great for the girls but failed to put anything concrete into action.
I have to admit that I’m a fairly demanding parent but with good reason:
Firstly I have already had to move the girls twice already – once while they were at nursery and then again at the start of this school year. I can’t let that happen again.
Secondly I was open about the girls’ difficulties before they were accepted at the school and the HT promised they would care for them and was prepared to do things differently for them
When the school gets it wrong it has a devastating impact on my children and on our home life
Lastly I am a teacher myself and I am expected to provide an outstanding level of care for every individual I teach, I expect nothing of them that I don’t do myself for any of my students who need it
So how has it gone?
Well it’s not been perfect. There have been a couple of teachers who seem unable to grasp the reality of the girls’ high levels of anxiety in school. This has been very frustrating to say the least and has sadly caused considerable damage which they seem oblivious to. But to be fair the school’s leadership have stepped up to support us and one teacher now emails every night without fail to tell me any arrangements for the next day even if just to confirm it’s a normal day. This means I can let my daughter know what is happening the next day and also head off any issues I can foresee that the teacher does not. Things are still very difficult for her in school, I know she does not feel safe or contained. I have had to accept that I cannot change these teachers’ opinions so I just need to work round them and minimise any impact on the children as much as possible. Happily neither will be with the girls next year.
But there are some wonderful teachers/LSAs too. The LSA who has devised a secret signal for my 6 yr old to let her know she isn’t coping. The teacher who will call my daughter to her side to offer gentle calming support during a challenging activity. Comments to me saying – we are doing X topic in PSHE and I know it will be a sensitive topic for both the girls. Or another saying – I realise you may have considerable fall out at home this afternoon after we do Y in school. And emails saying – we really want to support both you and the girls. These things are priceless to me as they show there are staff who are starting to understand how much the girls struggle despite the smiles they plaster on their faces at school. Crucially these members of staff accept that I know what the girls need to function in school and they don’t blame me for their tricky behaviour at home.
I guess it’s as simple as this – iinstead of blaming me they believe and trust me.
I knew that this would be a steep learning curve for the school. And I was right.
Happily staffing for the girls has been carefully chosen for next year and the school are also having training soon on trauma and attachment. I have great hopes for next year!