It’s Weekly Adoption Shout Out time – hello and welcome back!
There’s not too much to say this week, partly because it’s so hot and sticky here that my fingers are slipping off the keyboard! But we’re on another theme free week because next week is our next Adoption Sore Point and we’ll be running a themed #WASO then – on contact if you want to join in.
So for now, link up your best and most recent blog posts, share your favourites, comment on lots, and don’t forget to check back and read those that are linked after yours.
We’re going on holiday soon. It’s only our second in 4 years of being a family because last time, well, it was a disaster.
Our daughter cried the whole time, she was petrified that we weren’t coming home and that she was going to live with another family. It was 18months after she’d moved in and she was about 4 at the time, but was very vocal about her fears.
We’d done everything we thought would help – we took her pillow and favourite snuggle toy; we talked before about the things we’d do on holiday but always stressed that we’d be coming home; whilst we were there we talked about the people we’d be going home to; we purposely didn’t take too much stuff in case we made her feel like she was moving; we sent postcards home so she could race them home, I can’t think of anything else that we could have done to make it any easier for her.
So, fast forward another 2 and a half years and we’re desperate for a break, and have a short weekend away booked, with a day at Legoland included (not sure if that’s more for her, or me and husband!). I don’t want to prepare her too soon in case she worries about it, but we’ve been advised to get it out in the open so we can address any worries before we go.
How should we handle it? What can we do to make it easier? Obviously she’s older and we’re a bit wiser now too, but we’re still worried that the same concerns will resurface for her. I’m not sure that the distraction of Legoland will be enough…
It’s been a while I know, but we’re bringing back a special Meet The Blogger to introduce to you…The Giggles Family…
Quick 5 – In my life at the moment….
Book – How do people have time to read books?
Music – We are pretty eclectic. Anything from Enya to Kanye West. If it evokes an emotions or makes us move our feet we like it.
TV programme – 24 Hours in A&E (with a tissue), Orange is the new black and I’m not going to lie, I do like a bit of Made In Chelsea!
Food – Weekdays we try to “clean eat”. Weekends anything goes!
Pastime– Making and editing videos 😉
What is your biggest challenge as an adoptive parent?
Trying to see into the future! With every decision we make, we are trying to second guess how our son will view it, which is basically impossible. We are just trying to do our best for him, to help him feel confident with his start in life and what that means for him.
What do you wish you had known before you adopted your children?
That you don’t have to feel bad if you don’t feel like “mum” at the start. It can take months for the relationship to grow, years even for some. It’s the same for a lot of biological parents too!
Why did you start blogging about adoption?
We made a blog and YouTube channel to keep a record of our family for my husband, family and friends. As he is in the army we had to move away from family and friends and this year he has to stay on a different base to us most of the week. Its only recently that we mentioned adoption in the videos. It was after a lot of thought and worry. We have had a really positive reaction. Its something we talk about openly (the process, the fact, but not our sons personal story) and confidently as just another way of making a family.
Where do you get your blogging inspiration from? Firstly from thinking about what I want recorded for my husband and son. Secondly, The every day things that happen in family life. I figured if something matters or has happened to me, chances are it has happened to someone else too. It’s a great way to support each other. Recently I have wanted to write about how we are starting to think about how we welcome another child into the family. Whether to go with fertility treatments or adoption a second time and how many issues that brings up.
Who is your favourite adoption blogger?
Sally Donovan, No Bohns About It.
Who is your favourite non-adoption blogger?
The Honest Mum, A Mummy Too.
What made you choose the blogging platform i.e blogger/wordpress that you did? I’ve used WordPress before but kept finding glitches so decided to try Blogger. I find it easier to use, and easy to integrate with other google tools and our YouTube channel.
I’m rubbish at drinking. Seriously one glass and I’m under the table so tea and biscuit for me please.
What do you think is your biggest source of support?
Reward charts yes/no?
J isn’t old enough to use these with anyway, so I have to admit I haven’t researched into this kind of thing enough yet to have an educated opinion
What is the best or most memorable piece of advice you have ever received? To “Fake it until you make it”. However I would say, still have some people in your life you feel you can tell even your deepest darkest thoughts to. Its best to get them our of your system.
Also to trust in your instincts. You are with your child most.
My perfect adoption support would include…
A life story book and later life letter that were actually ready before court concluded and that we had input in! Local play groups etc with other adoptive families. Funding for therapeutic support.
When I look into the eyes of my child I see.. Determination
The best thing we did this week was….Spend time together as a family
If you could take your children anywhere in the world to see something where would you go? When he is older, snorkelling on a coral reef. He is amazed by water and fish!
What I hope I can give to my child/Children?
Confidence in who he is, to be an individual and curiosity at the world.
We are going to do it all again and this time we want to talk about CONTACT.
Maintaining contactwith an adopted child’s birth parents can be very difficult for many families. Some find it too difficult to agree to contact right at the very start of their adoption journey, others find the momentum to continue with contact, difficult to sustain over many years. It can be a tricky topic to discuss because families feel protective of the lives they have created for their adopted family, contact can seem to threaten this.
Today, social media can also bring unsolicited contact, complicating family life, sometimes with a devastating effect. For others well managed contact has added depth and meaning to an adopted child’s life story and brought them a greater sense of identity.
So what are your views and experiences of contact?
Do you think maintaining contact is important?
How could contact be better facilitated?
What are your concerns and worries around contact?
Has maintaining contact been a positive experience for you?
We want to hear everyone’s opinion on this. We already have some contributing pieces from adopters, an adoptee and an adoption social worker but, we would be interested in hearing from anyone one else who would like to contribute. You can email us at email@example.com.
Our Sore Point week will commence on Monday 13th July.
We will have posts each day related to the topic of contact and will hope to offer a diverse set of opinions and experiences.
We will have a #TASchat, twitter chat, on Thursday 16th July 9pm GMT on the subject of contact.
We will have a special contact themed #WASO on Friday 17th July.
We will be using the hashtag #Sorepoint during the week.
We would also like to include a list of resources, so if you know of anything which would be helpful to others, around the topic of contact, please let us know.
And as we said before, if you would like to contribute or even have an idea for something to include in the week, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A weekly blog from a family made by adoption, warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears.
On Monday we had a full blown school refusal, from Small, the first we’ve had in a long time. He simply did not want to go and therefore wouldn’t entertain any level of coercing or bribery. So I had to leave it for a little while, to give us both the space we needed to think it through. I tried to pin point a trigger and work out a strategy to get him into school.
We eventually managed to get through the school gates but he refused to actually go in the building. His TA spotted us outside and came to see what was going on. Small took flight as soon as he saw her and ran out of the school gates and down the road. I stood and watched, unable (my foot was still sore) and unwilling to give chase. I was pretty certain I knew where I would find him.
I walked slowly towards the bushes which are central to a triangle of grass, just a little way from the school. I could see the vibrant colour of his school sweatshirt between the leaves. I must have looked slightly crazy, talking to a bush but these are the things we do.
“You must really not want to be in school today to have run away, I wonder what it is that you don’t want to do today.” I pondered.
“My parts too big, I don’t want it”
The previous Friday the children had auditioned for parts in the end of year six play. Small had landed one of the parts of Macbeth; the role was to be shared between six children.
“I’m really sure that we can do something about that, let’s go into school and talk about it”
“And we’ve got a different maths teacher today that I don’t like.”
“Well maybe you can do your maths in the corridor, like you sometimes do anyway”
He slowly emerged from the greenery and calmly walked back into school.
“I’m really proud of you for being able to tell me what scared you about today and I promise no one is going to be cross with you”. I comforted him.
Once in the school building he went to flee once more, however with a little calm reassurance he stopped, gradually coming to see that everything was ok.
When I picked him up later, he came out beaming and happy, the school day had been a success.
Tall has had an internal exclusion this week for swearing at a teacher. I have not been at all impressed with the way the situation has been handled and I am writing a letter, yes a letter, regarding the situation. I’ll maybe tell you more next week, when I’ve got a bit more clarity on the situation. However, I will say that the whole incident has obviously shaken Tall, again, and we had an incident of electronic device in his bed, late at night. I thankfully caught him before he was able to do anything, but it has renewed my vigilance over the location of devices. I’m back to taking everything upstairs at bedtime. Sometimes I have to do two trips because I can’t carry everything.
“You could open your own Tandy, with that lot” says my husband, nearly every night as he watches me juggle lap tops, tablets and phones, up two flights of stairs. He’s so hilarious.
In Other News
Small decided, at the very last minute, to enter the local talent contest this week. It was a little against my better judgement because I felt he was a bit unprepared. However the boy is a natural and had the audience in stitches with his comedy performance, telling jokes and doing magic tricks. He only went and won, which was super amazing for him and for me, I felt hugely proud.
I managed a really lovely evening out with a friend from school; we’ve not seen each other in almost fifteen years, so there was lots of catching up to do.
Small went to a sleep over this weekend with a new friend. It was lovely to hear from the mum how well he behaved and how lovely he had been.
I touched a little bit last time on finding and meeting my birth mother and I wanted to stop and take a few steps back and talk about why I wanted to search in the first place.
There has been research undertaken looking at why some adopted people search and some don’t (there’s a reference at the end in case anyones interested) -whatever someones individual reason for searching it’s never an easy decision to make and one that’s likely to ebb and flow over time…
Some people may just want to know some more details than what they have, some may want to make contact, some people might be looking to find something that they don’t feel they have ever had, with a myriad of reasons in-between.
I always knew that I would search, from the moment I found out for sure that I was adopted, my curiosity was activated and I was ready to go- except of course I wasn’t because the law says that I needed to wait until I was 18 to get a copy of my original birth certificate- 18 always felt a bit extreme from my perspective, technically I could have got married or certainly could have driven a car, before I was allowed my own birth certificate. I know the world of adoption is much more transparent now than it was, but still, 18 is a very long time to wait -and it felt it.
Growing up I knew two things 1) my birth mum was 16 when she had me and 2) she lived relatively close- imagine how tantalising it was to know those two tiny bits of information….and there was absolutely nothing I could do with them.
Ok, maybe I could talk to my friends about what that might mean or I could escape into my fantasy world a little bit with it, but really, I could attach no meaning to these facts because they remained abstract, I couldn’t research because I had no name, I couldn’t ask my parents any more because they didn’t know any more and I grew up with a paralysing fear of hurting them, so I stayed quiet.
When I reached 14/15 I went to do a weeks work experience at my old primary school, this all went well until the final day when my supervising teacher, who had also been my teacher when I was in reception class, told me that I was named after my grandmother- I was kind of intrigued by this- thinking I didn’t remember my paternal grandmothers name, she had died when I was 7 and she must have meant her, until she said “no, your real grandmother”- the world stopped me still as the reality of what she had just said sank in- I started to ask questions, who was she? did the teacher know my birth mum? where were they? The teacher refused to tell me any more information, other than she played bridge with my grandmother on a Wednesday and she had been to see me when I was at primary school. The teacher made me promise not to tell my mum what I had told her. I retreated back into myself, full of anger.
So. now my available information had almost doubled, I had a couple more snippets to store away and roll over in my mind trying to make sense of the senseless (as it turned out what she told me wasn’t quite true, I was named by my grandmother not after her, but what she told me led me to spend almost 2 years on wild goose chases with many disappointments…) My resolve to search only increased from this point and I couldn’t have wished away the next four years fast enough- I thought if I can just get to 18, I can find her, I can ask the questions I have always wanted to and I will have another mum, one who can love me unconditionally, one who can tell me it’s going to be ok and that I am worth something.
Having all this time certainly gave me the space to think about what I was looking for and why I was looking. I think my primary focus for searching was identity, wanting to have some sense of something that I belonged to, a history, maybe a culture and a geography- I wanted to feel part of something bigger than myself and to have a connection to anything.
I wanted to find a way to stop feeling empty- I thought that if I had some contact with birth family, some answers, some sense of where I came from, the hole inside me would fill up and I could feel ‘normal’…
I wanted to make sense of what had happened, so just to have answers to the questions that I’m sure many adopted people have: why? when? who was my father? have I got siblings? is there anything in your medical history that I need to know about? (because remember all those questions that come later with the medical world…) how has your life been? what do you like? are we similar? the list goes on and on and on.
I thought that by searching and finding I would find a way to myself.
My sense of identity and self esteem being so poor that I needed to look externally to attach to something abstract.
People in the adoption world talk about “jigsaws” and “missing pieces”- I guess this language can be helpful when thinking about how people with great big holes in their history and identity feel, maybe it’s also worth noting that some people start out with very few pieces and may never reach a full picture.
Ref- Howe, D and Feast, J (2000) Adoption Search and Reunion: The long term experiences of adopted adults: The Children’s Society.
It’s that time of the week again – the Weekly Adoption Shout Out is here again…
How has your week been? Full of sun like it has here? Or perhaps a little more overcast…and I’m not just talking about the weather. However it’s been, why don’t you write about it and link up? We’d love to hear about what you’ve been up to.
We’ll try to share as many of your posts as we possibly can. Although we don’t always have time to comment on them, we also try to read them all too. If you’re reading, rather than writing, please do share them too, give our lovely bloggers a bit of support.
Without further ado, here’s the linky (oh and we’re on a theme free week, so link up any posts)…
With so much being said about placing siblings together, or not, in the media and on social networks, at the moment, I find myself worrying more and more about the sisters we adopted.
They are now aged 7 and 9 and the competitiveness between them is growing as they grow older. It’s not that I feel they should have been placed separately, I really believe they should be together. However, I often feel that they undermine and damage their sibling’s progress in order to ensure their own success.
I myself have a sister, who I was very close to growing up, so I know I sometimes compare my relationship with my own sister to the one I see in my children. I know this is unrealistic and I do understand that things are very different but I can’t help feeling that I wish they had more consideration for each other at times. It breaks my heart to see two children who have been so much together be so hateful to each other at times.
They seem to deliberately want to cause trouble for the other one and also delight in the others failings. If they know the other one is maybe being more challenging, then they behave the polar opposite, delightful and helpful. The extreme cmpliant behaviour is often more disconcerting than the challenging behaviour, as it seems so contrived and performed.
We are not by nature a competitive family and I don’t feel we are modeling this behaviour in any way. Does anyone else have these difficulties with siblings?
First things first,here is our TOP #TASPIC from June, thanks to @grumpymumtoo. I love how joyous and yes, how yellow it is. I understand that this funny yellow fella tops a garden cane to stop it being dangerous. So not only is he lots of fun but very useful too….and yellow.
It’s been great to see all the yellow pics on our twitter feed, they’ve certainly made me smile. With spring in full swing, it’s been good to see all the gorgeous blooms you’ve captured. You’ve also been very creative and found the colour yellow in lots of unusual places. Here are some of the great shots we’ve seen.
So on to our next challenge, starting next Wednesday 1st July, our new #taspic theme will be…..
Maybe you could take a picture of a very #smallthing, a ladybird, some little feet or tiny hands. Or it could just mean those #smallthings that make all the difference for you, a walk, a cup of tea or time with a friend. Interpret it any way you like, the more creative the better, and I’ll see you back here in a month.
Have fun, enjoy the #Smallthings
Just a reminder, that whilst we love to share your pictures here and on twitter, if you would prefer us not to, then please let us know.
Very many thanks to Claire from Permanently In A Pickle for this round-up of the recent #Meettheminister session with Ed Timpson MP…
At 6 p.m. last Wednesday I settled down in front of my laptop, Tweetdeck open, brew in hand along with a large section of the adoption community Twitterati and awaited the much-anticipated First4adoption interview with Edward Timpson MP.
Eager to get our voices heard, we flooded the hashtag #meettheminister with our questions.
On paper Edward Timpson certainly has all the skills and experience to make him the ideal person for the job of Minister of State for Children & Families, to which he was promoted following this year’s General Election. His parents have fostered over 80 children and he has two adopted siblings. He has first-hand involvement with children who have experienced early life trauma and, as such, has an in-depth grasp of adoption issues and an understandable drive to push through the new adoption reforms that were laid out in the Queen’s Speech at the end of May.
After a brief chat with the minister about his own personal background of growing up in a house filled with children, chaos and choice words and what adoption means to him, the interviewer posed some of the most important and most prolific questions that we had bombarded him with via email and Twitter.
Edward Timpson first summarised the progress that has been made over the last 5 years: the improvements in the assessment procedure, the increase in the number of adopters being recruited, the shorter court process and the increase in the number of children being adopted.
However, he did recognise that there is still much work to be done, that the system is still ‘fragmented’ and that the ‘small-scale support’ and ‘artificial boundaries’ created by local government are not helping to match children and prospective adopters quickly enough. He made clear the importance of having the ‘backstop power’ to ensure close(r) inter-agency cooperation, to foster synergy, enabling the wider pool of prospective adopters to be looked at by every agency, not just at local level.
The minister went on to address the glut of questions relating to the Adoption Support Fund (ASF). Launched at the beginning of May this year, the aim of the fund is to make sure that adopters have access to the support they need to guarantee a successful placement. Drawing on his own experience, the minister admitted that had therapeutic services been available at the time his brother had been adopted, then any detrimental issues relating to early childhood trauma could have been limited and potentially less ‘acute’ in his brother’s adult years.
This is one of the driving forces behind his decision to push for the almost £20m of government funding. It is his objective to encourage prospective adopters to “make a full commitment to adoption, safe in the knowledge that they will receive the full support they need”.
It was heartening to hear his personal understanding in this respect. I feel it is one of the main concerns for adoptive parents. Our job is to support our children and help them to flourish despite previous adversity, to help channel their challenges into strengths, to help them deal with their past. But we can only do this with the appropriate support.
Edward Timpson acknowledged that timely access to this support is essential. “Every week that passes is a missed opportunity” to address underlying issues.
The minister confirmed that the ASF has been set up within existing regulation and should therefore be a swift process. If any adopters feel the system is not working quickly enough, he confirmed that both he and the DfE would like to receive feedback. Any feedback will help him to build up a picture of whether the ASF is achieving its objective in providing “speedy and focused support when, where and in the way it is needed”. So please do feed back any issues, positive or negative. This is in our interest and the interest of future adopters.
When asked about the longer-term plans for the fund, Edward Timpson stated that he would be pressing hard to maintain funds and support and that the Prime Minister had given his full backing to this.
The main pitfall is likely to be at the time of public spending reviews. However, he did feel confident that he could make a strong case at both national and local level to ensure that ASF can continue to provide the type of therapy many families are crying out for.
Moving on, several questions came from individuals wanting to know about the types of families that could adopt, with one prospective adopter concerned that her one-bedroom accommodation was creating a barrier to her chances of success and a single male adopter anxious to know what the likelihood was of his achieving his dream of becoming a father. Edward Timpson was keen to “bust some of the myths” around adoption, stating that the family set-up was “not the most interesting feature” but rather whether a prospective adopter had the “capacity, motivation and determination” to offer a child a secure placement.
He voiced his support for the National Adoption Register and the Adoption Activity Days. The latter allow adopters to physically come into contact with children currently in the care system and give them the chance to open their minds to the different types of children they can adopt. This type of physical contact was described beautifully as a “powerful driver”. These Activity Days also give a personality to those more “difficult-to-place” children, who can often be side-lined.
A question that I was personally interested in was that of schools and the role of the virtual head. Our schools require more empathy and support in dealing with our adopted children so that they in turn can support parents and children. A previous report had recommended putting virtual heads on a statutory footing but only in respect of providing support for Children in Care. Many of us in the adoption community would like this support rolled out to adopted children, too. Edward Timpson was rather non-committal here but remained open-minded, confirming that a greater role for the virtual head – beyond the current remit – would be looked at. Since the full extent of the impact of the virtual head is not yet understood, this would be reviewed at a later stage. At present, the virtual head can choose to provide support to adopted children but this is at the discretion of the individual local authority. I and many others adopters would like to see this be considered a mandatory, national support service.
Many questions were left unanswered or required more in-depth discussion but the time was simply too short to respond to all the issues raised. All-in-all, Edward Timpson was as forthcoming as he could be within the half-hour webcast timeslot.
If the reforms pan out the way we hope and if we can gain access to the levels of support required for our individual circumstances, not only will there be more successful placements but there will be a greater chance that more people will be encouraged to adopt. Here’s hoping.
Both Sarah and Vicki from The Adoption Social were disappointed to see the odd timing of this webchat, and saddened by the short duration. 6pm really? How many of you, like us, were eating/bathing children/in the middle of bedtime routine? Perhaps next time, parenting duties might be considered when aiming at webchat at said parents!
We’d be interested to hear your views on the interview. If you missed it on the day you can watch below.