Many readers will already know that I am mum to 2 wonderful daughters aged 9 and 10. Both of my girls are adopted and have complex needs including Developmental Trauma Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Sensory Integration Disorder amongst other things. Things are very difficult for us at home and, just like with many other care-experienced children, my children work hard to contain and mask their feelings in school and then explode once at home with me in their safe place. Recently the children’s paediatrician has written a letter in which she said she believes unless things change it will soon become impossible to keep the girls at home and that she believes we will need secure residential placements for them.
I am currently trying to gain for support for the children on 3 separate fronts all from Leicestershire Local Authority:
1) An appropriate educational provision with the support Emma and Sophie need to feel safe, nurtured and to be able to make progress
2) Therapy which many highly trained specialists have recommended after thorough assessments of Emma and Sophie
3) Practical support for us to enable us to keep the children at home.
I am now in the horrible position of having to crowdfund to try to get the support the girls and I will need to stay together as a family. Some readers will have witnessed my struggles over the last 5 or 6 years to get help for my family. I have sold my wedding and engagement rings, I have 2 or 3 things I can sell on EBay and can hold a car boot or yard sale. After that we don’t have anything left to sell; I’m not a person with many things of value. I hate doing this with a passion. I feel like I am begging. But I don’t know what else I can do 😦
I innocently thought at the beginning of this process that if the girls needed support in school, therapy etc that there would be help out there for us.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE
I need to fund any extra private specialist reports, a solicitor to help me preparing to go to tribunal, and another solicitor to ensure the girls get the specialist therapy which all their assessments say they need and to try to get us some practical support at home. This latter may well involve taking the Local Authority to judicial review which would be a very expensive process. Please click on the link to read more details and to donate even a small amount. Every penny will be appreciated by all of us:
We went to see my parents yesterday. My mum talked to me about the girls and told me if they end up going back into care over the next couple of weeks she will come to stay with me for as long as I need so I have support. And both my parents gave the girls special hugs as they said goodbye. My dad is a very traditional 80 yr old but as we drove off I looked back to see him gesturing to show he was still holding me in his arms.
Is this the end?
At the time I was calm but I am sitting here sobbing now. I don’t want the girls to leave me, even temporarily. They will never forgive me, it will break them, it will break me. They are so little and they didn’t choose this, they didn’t choose to be the way they are. I don’t choose this either. I choose to have support for them and for us as a family. I choose for them to be given the therapy they need and we need as a family and for them to stay with me. This isn’t fair on the girls, on me, on my parents.
But this is where we are. Within a few weeks of my girls being placed in the specialised care placement they would need the LA will have spent many many times the cost of a year’s support from FF. My solicitor is writing a letter to remind the LA of their statutory duties and to state that without them funding their FF therapy package the girls will imminently need to leave home. My paediatrician has already written saying the same thing. I am writing to my MP to update him this week but really we have no more options left.
And I am left asking how can this possibly be happening to us?
So how has going back to school been for your cherubs? For us it has been a mixed bag really and has reminded me that the summer holidays at least gave me respite from the stresses school brings to both the girls and to me.
This weekend I have reflected on what is the minimum I would like from my children’s teachers? I have narrowed it down to five things! Perhaps this applies to all parents of children with any SEN and not only those with adopted children.
Read the professionals’ reports. I know you are busy. You have 20 children in your class. I am also a teacher and I will teach about 150 students this year. I’ve been back in work 3 days and I have already read and made notes on key information for any SEN students I will teach next week. I have a list of students I need to find out more about. Isn’t that what teachers do?
Accept that the professionals know more than you about their specialisms. I know you are probably an amazing teacher. That’s because you went to university and trained for that career. There are other people who have become OTs, SALTs, psychologists, psychotherapists and paediatricians. They are specialists in their fields and you need to accept what they are telling you. You do not know better than them because you read a book or an article online.
Listen to my child’s behaviour. My child is trying to communicate how she is doing. It’s too hard for her to tell you but she can show you with her behaviour so observe and then support her accordingly. If my 8 yr old is sitting under a table then I think you can see she is having a hard time and needs a break from the classroom. If my 10 yr old is chattering non stop about everything and nothing she is showing her anxiety about being in class and she needs a break from the room.
Fiddle toys are not the answer to everything. I have provided both my girls with sensory boxes to use in class and you are very accepting of my child having free access to them in class. For this I thank you. But these are just one of the recommendations from professionals. I know it is easier for you to believe they are the answer to everything. But they are not. They are one small part of the package of support my child needs.
Trust me as their parent. It seems difficult for you to accept that I know my children inside out. I know what they can manage and what they cannot. I know what they struggle with and how far they can be pushed them before they will crack. I support you and I can help you if only you will let me. How about it? I’m up for it if you are!
It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that there may be nobody left to read this! I think it reflects how hard the last year has been for us at 3girlstogether. There came a point where I felt that nobody would want to continue reading me talking about lack of access to ASF, lack of support from SWs and other profs, and patchy support at school. I was even boring myself talking about the vicious circle we were trapped in.
Today I have decided I will try to think about how far we have come since my last post. For this post at least I will gloss over everything else. So here is what has changed in the last 9 months:
We have survived another year at school.
We have accessed ASF for assessments by specialist providers and have (nearly) got the finalised reports and costings for therapeutic input and further assessments.
I have tribunal dates for the LA’s refusal to assess for EHCPs for the girls.
I have finally found a nanny/support worker who will enable me to work and also give me one to one time with the girls each week.
Our local peer support group is going from strength to strength and now has over 60 members.
The girls now have a paediatrician which means they can quickly access other specialist referrals.
In term time I do something that I enjoy one morning a week
Actually when I look at that list I feel a little bit proud of what I have achieved in 9 months. Maybe I should blog more often!
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…
It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and there are several reasons for that. Sadly there are a couple of people who read this blog and take some pleasure in our tough times and that has put me off writing for a long time. There also came a point for me where things got so bad that I just couldn’t face putting it in print! But here I am anyway…
I am living with a child who loathes the very fact I exist. It amazes me the amount of venom that my now 7 yr old hurls at me. As a therapeutic parent I know I should rejoice in the fact she now feels safe enough to show how she feels about me. But it is relentless. She recently said quite calmly ‘I don’t know why I feel this way about you but I just hate being anywhere near you. There’s nothing about you I like’. I would feel a bit more comfortable if this was said in anger but she almost seems confused by the amount of hatred she has for me. If I even sit in the same room as her she clearly shows how disgusted she is by me. This is how she is about 95% of the time when we are alone as a family. Obviously in public it is all smiles! She is devoid of empathy so is oblivious to the impact this has on me. On the odd occasion when I have broken down in tears she has shrugged, looked blank and walked away. Mostly I feel sad for her. This is no way for a 7 yr old to live. She seems so alone.
I’m a single mum so it’s not like she has another parent to love and to give her the love and physical reassurance she needs. I hate the fact she goes through life unable to accept my love, my cuddles or even a gentle touch – it feels very wrong to me and she deserves so much more than this. I also worry about the impact on my younger daughter who sees this every day and has become even more anxious and clingy as her sister’s behaviour has deteriorated.
There is no help for people like us. That has its advantages as I no longer have the additional stress of dealing with unsupportive professionals at Camhs or the placing authority. They have made it clear we are on our own. So we plod along surviving a day at a time and hoping that something is going to change for the better
I’m sure many of you have been watching 15000 Kids and Counting on Channel 4. If you’ve missed it you can catch up on it here. Last night’s programme followed the search for families for a 2 year old boy Tommy and for siblings Liam 3 and Lauren 7. It brought back many memories of being matched and then introductions with Kitten and Bunny. Before we were matched the placing authority were thinking of changing the plan for the girls to long term foster care as they were unable to find a family so Liam and Lauren’s story really resonated for me. I sat last night wondering what life would have been like for the girls if they hadn’t been matched with me. And I tweeted:
And I meant what I said. Things are hard and I often feel ground down by our daily lives, but it was a salient reminder that none of our lives would be better if we hadn’t become a family. I will try to remind myself of this on our hardest days – we are 3girlstogether for a reason!
I am hoping that this TV series is going to address some of the other issues to do with adoption. It was fantastic that Tommy, Liam and Lauren were adopted but of course that isn’t the end of the story. Many adopters will be faced with years of fighting to get the support their children need and deserve, I’m guessing this doesn’t such a palatable story for the televison audience but it is our reality.
I remember at prep group the SWs talking about the importance of our resilience as adopters. I thought at the time that I would need resilience to care for my children. And I do. But I never suspected how much my resilience would be called upon in dealing with the ‘system’. We fight for DLA, for adoption allowances when we aren’t able to work full time, we fight for therapeutic input – the right therapeutic input not just whatever our local Camhs specialises in, we fight for funding for therapy when Camhs falls short, we fight for respite, we fight for OT assessments, we fight for schools to understand our children’s complex needs and to support accordingly. The list goes on and on.
Sometimes as a single mum I feel like a tiny dot looking up at a huge mountain and knowing I have to climb it alone:
But then I turn for support to my parents and my dearest friends, to the adopters I have become friends with and to the people I have met on social media; on the FB groups for adopters, on Twitter and my blog. You all give me strength (and a kick up the backside when I need it) and I turn a Warrior Mum ready to take on the system and win.
And that’s how I’m feeling right now – ready for the next fight,