Monthly Archives: August 2015

Back to school – an adoptive mum’s perspective

Lots of parents are getting their children ready for going back to school. Some children will be excited, some nervous, some happy and some sad.  For my children going back to school is complicated. They are not nervous. They are not scared.

THEY ARE TERRIFIED

The girls have known too much change in their lives, too much loss, too much fear and too much rejection. Going into the unknown can only fill them with all consuming fear. Of course we adoptive parents know that exposing our children to these experiences develops some resilience. They will survive and know that they survived. But to see how they suffer to get there is tough for me as their mum and even tougher for them to experience.


So what have I done to help them? I gave the new teachers pupil profiles for each of my girls detailing their behaviours and suggesting ways to deal with them. The girls had lots of extra transition work before the holidays. They also did extra visits to their new classrooms and met their new teachers several times. And I had a long planning meeting with eldest’s new teachers.  Youngest was given handmade presents from her key teachers. Over the holidays we have had postcards and letters from old and new teachers.  They have had transition books to look at over the holidays with photos of the new teachers and classrooms. I have gently talked about school and what will be the same and what will be different. We have thought about the nice things at school. And we have talked about what their bodies are telling them about how they are feeling.

And so we are here. Tomorrow they go back to school. You can imagine what the last few days have been like. We have had the full range of behaviours and emotions. I won’t share the details but they certainly have been struggling with all those big feelings and I am the only safe person to direct them at.

Today I have been quietly packing their bags. There seems to be a lot of stuff! Between the two of them they will be taking back:

Transition books

Weighted lappad

Transitional items – Small has my teddy with her at all times in school. I’ve slept with it all summer so it definitely smells of me!

Photos of me and grandparents

Visual timetable cards which school lent me over the holidays

Chewigems and spare Chewigems

Fiddle toys

Spare underwear and socks as both wet in school

Emergency snacks – the girls keep a snack bar in their books bags at all times so they know there’s always enough food for them

Notes in coat pockets – telling them I love them

I think that’s it! I’ve done all I can to prepare them. I hope that school are equally as prepared to play their part tomorrow and that the girls have some positive experiences on ther first day back.

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Vulnerable

Do you sometimes look at your children and get overwhelmed by their vulnerability? I’m guessing all parents not only adopters would answer yes to that question.

I watch my 7 yr old and the general turmoil which is her usual state of being. I see her tip from calm to calamity in seconds with alarming regularity. In public places I see her make a beeline for unfamiliar older children and adults following them round and trying to ingratiate herself. At home her every action screams notice me, give me more and more of your undivided attention but she is unable to accept that loving attention when it is proffered by me. Yet when we’re out and about she demands and welcomes attention from total strangers.

Generally the calm and rationale part of me says:

I should concentrate on the here and now,

I should try not to think too far ahead.

I can’t be sure what the future may hold.

There’s no point worrying about things that may never happen.

 

But she is my little girl. She may not want to be but she is. She is difficult and challenging, often wishing she was not my daughter. But she is indeed my daughter – unconfident, frightened and incredibly vulnerable. I want to gather her in my arms and protect her from those who might harm her as she grows up. I want to lock the doors and keep her away from the world.

padlock

Every now and again, in weeks like this one, questions jostle into position in my head, crowding out my more reasoned thoughts:

How do I continue to show my love for this child who believes she is unloved and unlovable?

How do I meet the needs of a child so resistant to me?

How do I keep a child safe whose very pores scream out her vulnerability?

How will I protect her from herself and from others as she gets older?

 

There are no definitive answers to those questions.

I will wait patiently for the fear to pass