Tag Archives: family

What does Acceptance actually mean?

I blogged about acceptance before, in fact you can read my blog here. That was 2 years ago now. And I think acceptance for me is changing.

Recently I had a break from social media for a few weeks to give myself time and space to think. I wanted to be sure that I am able to manage the girls long term. And I am. I know I am. My lovely GP has been helpful in talking through these issues and making me realise that I am doing a good job and I should stop putting pressure on myself or allowing others to do so. FullSizeRender

Parenting Small can be draining. The older she gets the more pronounced her difficulties seem. She is clingy with an insatiable need to be near me or on me. Her sensory issues, inflexibility, need for control and obsessions all seem to be getting steadily worse. I am accepting that this is just the way she is, and it’s ok for me to find it a little claustrophobic sometimes. I know how to prioritise my girls’ needs and do what is best for them. But I need to do the same for myself too.

But perhaps the biggest part of acceptance for me has to be learning to accept the status quo with my eldest. Many kind adopters have messaged me saying that it is fear that stops Eldest from showing love to me, that it will come in time if I persist with therapeutic parenting, that parenting children with trauma is a long game and if I keep it up eventually there will be a breakthrough. All those things are true for many adopters and many children. All those messages are sent with love, care and a desire to give me hope.

But what if it isn’t true for my family? What if Eldest does not have the ability to develop love or empathy for anyone? What if, in her eyes, people are like are objects or possessions, and she just isn’t able to develop beyond that? And what if she is unable to modify her negative behaviours in any significant way? Then all I am doing is putting pressure on her with my expectations. And pressure on myself too. I believe that is the case for us. There are a few who know us well who think I may be right.

I am still parenting therapeutically. I know we can have happy times, and I can make positive memories for us as a family. But I am no longer waiting for that elusive magical breakthrough with Eldest. I am trying to accept her limitations and love her for who she is and accepting that this is who she will always be.

I’m not there yet on this journey to acceptance but I’m getting there. I feel generally at peace and that can only be a good thing.

 

Long time since I’ve blogged

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.

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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

Forever is a long time

Today’s optional theme on Adoption Social’s Weekly Adoption Shout OUT is ‘FOREVER‘. Goodness me this one has got me thinking this morning. My confidence is a bit fragile at the moment. And so the word FOREVER overwhelms me rather.

Perhaps I should think focus on the positives of FOREVER for my children first. I was listening to a recent interview with Julie Selwyn of the Hadley Centre at Bristol University and in it she referred to the study; Pathways to Permanence for Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnicity Children (2008). The majority of Asian children in the study had their adoption plan rescinded by the end of the data collection. In the interview she summarised findings from the research that found “Asian children wait the longest to be placed and they’re the least likely to be placed. Those who were placed tended to be very young, under the age of two. There was very little interest in older children…

My children are Asian – they were over the age of 2 at placement. Their FOREVER was going to be changed to long term foster care till I appeared on the scene. So for my lovely girls I hope that their FOREVER will be different because they have me and the logical part of me tries to remember that.

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But FOREVER has another meaning for me. FOREVER alone, FOREVER exhausted, FOREVER trying to manage the girls’ struggles on my own, FOREVER fighting the system for what my children need and deserve.

Do I sound negative? Please forgive me. I don’t mean to be. I don’t parent the girls in a negative way – honestly I don’t. I put a lot of time and effort into creating opportunities for them to experience success or make tiny steps of progress and I celebrate it joyfully every time it happens.

And I do access support where it’s available if you’re wondering. Though most support I find transitory and at the end of the day I am a single adopter, these are my children. It is for me to deal with this, to make the decisions and to try to ensure we survive as a family unit – which is the very least my girls deserve.

And for today at least FOREVER seems like such a long time.

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Tough times for my girls

Life is very tricky for both my girls at the moment. I’m doing everything I can to help them –  but sometimes sadly that’s just not enough. Both girls are letting me know how hard life is for them by pushing any boundary to the max.

Kitten also says she has a cold feeling in her tummy that she can’t get rid of. She is still unable to tolerate comfort or even touch from me. Yet things are so desperate for her that this morning she buried her head against my arm and stayed there for nearly 5 minutes – whilst I stayed motionless, barely breathing in case I scared her off, and tried to memorise every tiny sensation of this girl of mine touching me.

So today we headed out to the woods to try and find some peace we could sneak into our hearts and carry round with us next week.

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The girls found a fabulous den to eat their lunch – I was banished!

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We all had a great time, and loved exploring this new place. I’m hoping that this happy time together will have replenshed their resilience somewhat and give them strength for the week ahead.

Please God – all I ask is that you watch over my little girls next week and give them some peace in their troubled hearts and minds.

 

 

Love letters

Most school days I write a short note and pop it in the girls’ lunch bags. I know lots of other adopters who do this and I know my girls look forward to them.

Most of the time they are very straightforward like these:

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But some days when I know the girls are struggling more than usual I write in our ‘secret code’. By that I mean I write in Spanish. The girls aren’t fluent by any means but certainly know enough to understand the notes especially as I tend to use words from familiar stories etc. This isn’t to be pretentious or a pushy parent. Using Spanish means their friends and teachers won’t understand what I’ve written; it’s our private ‘3girlstogether’ way of communicating, reinforcing our family unit and giving us something special that we share just us three. So on tough days I write a Spanish love letter like this:

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But last week I came downstairs and was surprised to find these waiting for me:

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My girls had decided to surprise me and had written notes for me to read at lunchtime – that is the stuff that dreams are made of!

This post was written to link up with the Adoption Social Memory Box:

Memory Box

I nearly lost my girls

I recently blogged about my experiences at matching and introductions with my girls. I’ve decided that I should follow up by talking about what happened once the girls came home and leading up to the Adoption Order (AO).

Once the girls were placed with me it quickly became clear that all was not as I had been lead to believe. As an adopter I was well aware that some issues would only surface on placement and I suspected that not everything would have been listed on the CPRs. However even a post adoption support SW at the placing authority recently told me she was surprised at the lack of transparency in the girls’ reports.

Life with the girls proved very ‘challenging’. One day I made the mistake of mentioning to the girls’ SW (let’s call her Emma) that I was concerned that some of the issues hadn’t been mentioned pre-placement. All hell broke loose and due to that comment I came very close to having the children removed.

Emma refused to admit there were any issues at all with the girls. She began ringing people who had contact with us, seemingly trying to gather evidence of my many failures as a parent. This made life very difficult as some of the comments she made for example to the girls’ nursery made them treat me with great suspicion. There were unpleasant phone calls where Emma accused me of inventing problems and lying about life at home. It’s hard to explain what was happening without giving too much private information but I was made to feel like I was under suspicion of emotionally abusing the girls in some way.

My SW, Helen, and I decided I should lodge the AO immediately with the courts to ensure the girls couldn’t be removed so easily by SS. This resulted in Helen receiving an email from the SW’s manager, requesting an urgent meeting, threatening to oppose the AO in court and making it clear that they had no confidence in the placement. However the manager refused to discuss anything properly in advance of the meeting.

I’m not sure if anyone can imagine how this felt and I’m not clever enough with words to describe it properly. The girls had been home 9 months. Despite our difficulties they were my children. And now I might lose them. Worse the meeting was then delayed for a couple of months. I’ll never forget that time – every time I looked at my girls I would feel sick wondering what was going to happen. I desperately tried to create as many simple memories of family life for the girls as I could in case they were taken from me.

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Though my parents and a couple of friends were supportive, I was on my own as a single adopter and knew I would have to fight to defend myself. Does that sound too dramatic? Maybe – but that was how it felt. It was a very frightening and lonely time.

The meeting itself was long and tough. It began very badly and hearing Emma criticise me was not pleasant. Though I am far from being a great parent the things she was accusing me of were just not true. I tried to explain myself but was shouted down. Things only began to change when my very experienced SW was finally able to speak and started to defend me. Helen had spent far more time with us than Emma and was able to refute the misrepresentations and lies. In fact she pointed out it was she who had first identified some of the girls’ issues and drawn my attention to them.

The tone of the meeting changed, Emma was silenced, the manager backtracked and eventually it was agreed that they would support the AO in court. After the meeting the manager said to Helen that if she had not come to the meeting that day she had no doubt that the outcome of the meeting would have been very different.

Obviously I was delighted and relieved but I couldn’t understand how things had been allowed to get to this stage. This could have all been avoided instead of causing an immense amount of stress over a period of several months.

I was left wondering how this ended up happening to us and questioning my ability to parent my children. Even now I am far less trusting about what I share even with those who care about us and when someone tells me how cute or lovely my girls are what I actually think is ‘do they doubt what I am saying?’ I’m not sure that feeling will ever go away.

Guess How Much I Love You

I think most people have read Guess How Much I love You. It’s one of my children’s favourite stories. It was one of the first stories I ever read to the girls and we still read it regularly at bedtime. As Kitten struggles with being told that I love her, it’s yet another way to let her know how much I care in a less direct way.

Guess How Much

 

Recently Bunny, my little one, has said frequently that she wishes she had grown in my tummy. Then Kitten will ask me to tell them the sorts of things I would have done with them if they had been my little babies.

So today I decided to give the girls a special present each. I decided to give them a gift I might have given if they had been my newborns. I’m always trying to think of new ways to make a connection with both children, but especially Kitten, and thought it might mean something to them. This idea was suggested by a PASW to another adopter I know and had been received positively by her son.

So this evening firstly I read the story to them both at bedtime. As I sat in the middle of them, as usual Kitten was trying to make sure my arm didn’t touch hers.

Then once they were in bed I gave them each a Little Nutbrown Hare from the story:

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Bunny was very happy to get a new soft toy and settled down to sleep – her usual Teddy quickly abandoned on the floor.

But with Kitten I sat on her bed and reminded her why I was giving her that toy – that my love is for always, every second of every day, not just when she’s being good or happy or calm. I love her if she’s doing something she shouldn’t, if she’s dysregulated, if she’s angry and even when she doesn’t love me one tiny bit I still love her.

And my little girl got tears in her eyes as I spoke.

Kitten has rarely shown genuine emotion like that. In fact I’m sitting here wondering if it was the first time – and I think it might be. For a few minutes I felt like there was a real connection between us, that she understood that I meant it. She didn’t say I love you back and that’s ok. Tonight at least my 6 year old will go to sleep believing that her mother loves her. That’s enough for me.