Life on the Frontline – week 44


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.

Whilst we wrestled with an external exclusion for Small this week, it has on the whole, still been a very good week. Tall has been in school every day, and whilst he is not access all his lessons or staying in them for the full duration, he is using his exit card appropriately and remaining in a manageable emotional state.

The meeting which followed Small’s exclusion was with the school’s head teacher. This was a first for me; we had not previously met, not once during Tall’s entire first year at the school. However four weeks in for Small and the Head Teacher is in charge of his back to school meeting. Small thankfully didn’t have to stay long and went off to start his school day. Myself, Small’s support worker, a SENco and said head, then had a long meeting.

I shared my opinions of how things had gone wrong for Small on the day that lead to his exclusion, triggered I felt by a mismanaged conversation on their part. I had indeed said just that on collecting him the day it all went wrong.

“You’ve got this wrong, not him, it’s you that’s messed up” I rather publicly ranted in the school entrance, by the office and with Small in tow.

Not my most contained of moves or considerations and even in the meeting there was an insistence that they had done what they, could within their resources. However, I know and I know they know, that there was an alternative which would or could have diminished the possibilities of a control standoff, which is what happened.  I haven’t dropped this point  just yet, a meeting with the SENco next week will see it revisited in line with his EHC plan.

The Head Teacher was very keen to point out the huge success rate the school, with children which require additional support in school, in attaining a high academic outcome. He however emphasised that this is a mainstream school and therefore there are certain aspects of the school which cannot be as flexible as they might be in specialist support schools. One of these mainstream aspects being discipline and consequence.

So it was proposed that the set consequence for Small, when a certain level of inappropriate behaviour is displayed, will be an external exclusion. However, I have been reassured that these exclusions are not to be seen as a ticking time bomb going off unexpectedly with a permanent exclusion. There would much effort and consideration, including working close with us, the parents, to keep Small in this mainstream setting. However, if we all recognised that is wasn’t working then necessary action would need to be taken, in that the LA will not accept his need for an alternative education without a permanent exclusion from the school.

So whilst not all this fits with my idea of an attachment aware school and therapeutic support, it has left me feeling strangely reassured. There is always that fear with a disciplinary structure of where is all this heading?  Especially after we were almost in the five strikes and you are out situation with the primary school only a year ago.

It feels like “I can handles this” and when it does occur, which I’m sure it will, we will see it as a bit of down time and nurture time to nourish Small after a difficult experience.

In Other News

I have been very impressed with Tall’s attitude towards his school work recently, he is, without resistance completing his homework and keeping on top of what he needs to do.

In other great news about Tall, he still has the majority of the contents of his pencil case and it’s all intact. This time last year, when he had just started year seven, it had all either gone, lost or was snapped into tiny frustrated pieces.

Dad has had acute sinusitis and has been really poorly but is on the mend. It just adds another level of concern to everyone’s day, which is why it’s impressive how well they’ve both done.

My head is all yoga, yoga, yoga at the moment. Found a great new class to go to and feeling empowered and enlightened by it all. I’ll tell you more at a later date.

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 138

The weather is turning cooler, the leaves are changing colour…time to snuggle up with a hot drink and read some interesting blogs?!waso138

Yes, it’s time for the Weekly Adoption Shout Out. This week our optional theme is ‘I swear’. You might choose to own up to uttering a few expletives under your breath, you might want to make a pledge or swear to do/change something – however you decide to use this theme, be sure to come back and link up your post below.

Here’s the link. Simples.

Meet Me: Gareth Marr

Our first Meet Me post today comes from blogger, tweeter and campaigner Gareth Marr…

  • ‘Sapiens – A Brief History of Mankind’ Yuval Noah Harari. Did you know we lived on the earth with other Home species and probably mated with them!
  • ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ Marlon James. The Jamaica the tourists don’t know.
  • ‘Artie Shaw, King of the Clarinet. His Life and Times’ Tom Nolan. He married 8 times including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner, dated Betty Grable and had Billie Holiday as his singer in an all white band.

It’s all modern New Orleans jazz

  • ‘Breathless’ Terence Blanchard
  • ‘Say That to This’ Trombone Shorty
  • ‘Stretch Music’ Christian Scott

TV Programme – Dr Foster

Food – soft and easy to digest and made by Mrs M

Pastime – Anything with son. This week conkers.

What do you wish you had known before you adopted your children?
That after us, school is the most important thing to get right. ( I think we passed, so far)

Who inspires you?
So many, but this week Louise Bomber who did a brilliant on day conference for local adopters last Friday.

What do you think is your biggest source of support?
My wife and son.

What do you do to take care of yourself?
Breathe, carefully and with concentration. Yoga.

What is the best or most memorable piece of advice you have ever received?
‘If you are lucky enough to be in the club, you gotta pay your dues.’

The lovely Gareth can be found tweeting as @garethmarr and blogging here..

Meet Me: Anna

Our second ‘Meet Me’ of the day is from our very own Monday columnist Anna…

Book – Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane
Music – Dirty Gold by Angel Haze
TV – The Sopranos (missed it first time round, boxed set binging!)
Food – Homemade woodfired pizza – best invention EVER.
Pastime – Swimming

Most memorable piece of advice
Not really advice but a quote:

‘Who can live with his own truth? it is enough to know it is there, it is enough to know it at last and that it feeds a secret and silent fervour in the self in the face of death’ Albert Camus

When I look in the mirror I see…
…a familiar stranger

If I could travel anywhere in the world…
It would be West Wales-I love it. The sea and the mountains, what else is there?

What makes me laugh?
90’s comedians (mostly Stewart Lee & Richard Herring..) Charlie Brooker, Caitlin Moran, Bridget Christie, The Mighty Boosh, Blackadder, Bottom, The IT Crowd, Father Ted, my children and my friends i.e. most things!

What inspires me?
People, hope, nature and fear

Who inspires me?
My children & family, people who say what they mean and mean what they say.

Ideal support package?
Counselling (accessible from being told onwards) honesty, trauma informed models of working and a willingness (from the adult world) to talk about adoption.

WASO Top 3 – September

top 3



Another good month for amazing blogs, we always love reading all your blogs. Thank you for joining in with #WASO but here are our top 3



This post rang so many bells for me, well maybe a little more for how my husband is. How important is it to win asks Al Coates?

I’m all for the visual and it’s great that this US site can share pictures of her children. It’s so good to see an average day in pictures.

Nicola Marshall of Braveheart Education writes with such wisdom. This post on what we “feed ourselves” is full of wise words.


My first top 3 of the month is this post from Digger Diaries. 20 seconds, it sounds so little, but can feel so long…but I’ll definitely be trying to get more eye gaze with my kids from now on.

On What’s the buzz, Buzzbee, I was really pleased to hear about all the fun things that Buzzbee has been upto, even though they seem scary. What a brave young man to share his feelings.

Some big moments happened for Two New Girls – some whispered words and an announcement of love are described beautifully in this post. I hope the well-deserved takeaway was enjoyed.

Media request

A few months ago we ran our first Adoption Sore Points week on the subject of #CPV or Child to Parent Violence.

We featured guest posts from a variety of people, ran a Twitter chat, had a special avatar for cpvon Twitter, published a resources post, and generally shared information and tried to raise awareness about this issue, one that is relevant for a lot of families, both adoptive and not.

We’ve been approached with a request from a journalist who works for a large media organisation. He has been encouraging coverage on CPV for some time now. He is doing some research into CPV and it was suggested to him that adoptive families could also help with the research.

The journalist is working on a longer feature and would like to hear from people on or off the record, with their story. He hopes to provide a national picture of what is going on and hopes to show that CPV can affect all sorts of families in different situations.

If you feel you can share your story with him, then please do email us at with your name and contact information and we’ll put you in touch with each other.

Anna Writes: Conflict

Anna WritesStruggling with conflict is by no means unique to an adopted status, but something’s happened recently to give me pause to think about this more than I have done previously.

As I’ve described before, as a youth I was very much a ‘put up and shut up’ kind of person- the fear of being a) rejected again and b) found out kept me pretty quiet. For example- if someone were to upset me, that hurt would just get tossed on the pile with the others and I would move on.
(Until such point that I became a teenager and found ways to process some of those feelings self destructively.)

Sadly, that also meant that when I hurt other people, I also couldn’t deal with the guilt and shame that this provoked and it would be handled in the same way.

So: people hurting me= I deserve it and me hurting other people = I shouldn’t have done that, I’m a bad person. The end result always the same, low self worth, shame, self punishment. I didn’t have any mechanisms whereby an adult could take any responsibility and I took far too much.

Conflict was terrifying to me- it meant that I was going to end up shouldering all the horrible feelings and having no way to understand what my needs were- like fight or flight, any hint of raised voices or someone feeling annoyed or cross with me (or even just in general) meant I panicked (this didn’t mean that I was such a good girl- I was pretty naughty at times, but I just found creative ways to not get caught out…)  and although I have developed resilience and a bit more capacity for emotional regulation (I hope!) it transpires that conflict still has a primal effect on me.
My mum has an issue with hoarding- it’s been there for years, as long as I can remember- and it’s getting worse as she gets older. I can understand hoarding behaviour from a psychological perspective, I get that its often about attachment and loss- feelings get tied up in ‘things’ and the ‘things’ take on an unacknowledged value, which then makes it near impossible to part with the objects- whatever they may be.
For my mum it’s mainly newspapers, magazines and containers.

To paint a picture- she isn’t displaying ‘Channel 4 documentary’ hoarding behaviours, crawling through tunnels to get to the living room, but it does have a significant impact- it’s a huge fire risk, the dust is so thick that it has its own character and it’s not safe to take my family to her home as the towers of stuff threaten to fall and she feels uncomfortable if the kids touch things. The knock on effect of this is that my children have limited contact with their grandad. It’s very sad.

Now, if anyone knows someone with hoarding issues or obsessive compulsive type traits, they will know how difficult it is to help. For me, any attempt to explore/ question/understand is met with dismissal and denial or my least favourite response, it gets laughed off as a joke.

The conflict came as I tried to help my mum start to clear my Nana’s house- an upsetting time you might think, but my mum doesn’t really do overt emotions so, business-like we set about the task- when I offered to remove some of the magazines from 1983 and take them for recycling it was met with a brusque refusal- I felt frustrated, I wanted a way in to try and understand why I couldn’t get rid of some things which (to me) were completely redundant. The more I asked, the more she dug her heels in, until I snapped- I got angry, I dropped an F bomb on my mum- something which for over 30 years I have never dared do (fearing that this is the taboo, unsayable -the thing that will get me sent to live with other people) and we fell out.

Even writing this feels so lame, we fell out, so what? people fall out all the time, but this…this felt monumental- I can’t remember really any times where I have ‘stood up’ to my mum, where I have directly challenged her about herself- which is a risky thing to do with anyone. And here she was in front of me getting visibly upset and clearly not able to cope with the conflict either.

I felt I had to leave, I could feel adrenaline surging through me and my heart was pounding, I felt distraught- I had upset her, I had challenged an aspect of her that although as a family we worry and grumble about, never gets directly aired. I had voiced my concerns about her hoarding, about her health ( she is constantly ill with chest related issues- dust maybe?) and broken the seal on something that is kept so well defended that any exploration threatens annihilation.

go. drive. leave.

panic, I set off after a curt goodbye and sobbed for the entire 50 mile journey home. I couldn’t understand why my responses felt so powerful, like they came from a place within me untouched by time and fossilised by separation.

I got home and powered my way through several hours of cleaning and housework (an antidote to the head mess?) and burnt off some of the inexplicable hormones coursing through me, it took hours to come down- days even, such was the impact of the conflict.

Fast forward- we are fine now, a few days passed and we both avoided the truth and I apologised.

Returning to a safely avoidant stance, we continue to rub along, trying to keep the peace.

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 137

Welcome to another Weekly Adoption Shout Out…waso 137

It’s time for another shout out, time for you to link up your latest and best blog posts of the week. There’s no theme this week, so go forth and add any posts that are either adoption related, or from blogs that are written by someone with an adoption involvement. You might even choose to add a blog that isn’t yours – just be sure to let the blogger know.

Here’s the linky, add your blog posts, then why not read the one before yours and share that on Twitter or Facebook? You might even leave a comment to let the blogger know you found them through #WASO? Give it a try and help spread some blog love.

Meet The Blogger: But All Kids Do That

Today we welcome a Meet the Blogger post from Sarah at But All Kids Do That

Quick 5 – In my life at the moment….

Book – The most recent book I read which was at my GP’s suggestion was a beginner’s guide to yoga.  It was terrible (the book, not yoga).  About an hour into it I found myself sat on the floor drinking wine and swearing.  This did, in fact, help me feel less stressed but maybe I’ll try a class instead.

Music – Muse and Queens of the Stone Age are probably top of my listen list at the moment.

TV programmes – I am just not a big TV watcher, I much prefer PC games.  Heroes of the Storm and EVE at the moment, but I do like a good first person shooter.

Food – I love good food, but my sneaky treat whenever my husband works late is oven chips and fried eggs.  I only eat the yolks.  He doesn’t know, and the waste would really bug him.

Pastime – Aside from gaming, I exercise a lot.  Running, swimming, gym, and hopefully soon learning to ride a bike properly to try a triathlon.

What is your biggest challenge as an adoptive parent?
By far the biggest challenge I have is balancing the needs of my two very different children, each with their own very different problems, and managing their difficult and fraught relationship with each other.

What do you wish you had known before you adopted your children?
I wish I had known how isolating adopting would be, and that there would simply be no-one to talk to who would just accept what I or my husband said about our children.  I would have felt a lot less upset, anger and disappointment if I’d had lower expectations.  I would also have spent a lot less time trying to change minds, and a lot more time simply telling people how things were going to be when it came to my children.

Why did you start blogging about adoption?
I blog because it allows me to express the frustrations, joy, pride, anger, love, resentment and many other things that I simply can’t voice to anyone “real” in our lives at the moment.

Where do you get your blogging inspiration from?
I wouldn’t call it inspiration, I don’t normally know where my blog posts are going, and a lot don’t get published.

Yes please.  Well, more wine than gin really.  And definitely plenty of tea.

What do you think is your biggest source of support?
My biggest boost is my kids.  The good times I have with them keep me going through the difficult times.  The smile, the “I love you Mummy”, the kindness, there are always enough good bits that it makes the bad bits OK.

Reward charts yes/no?
No, this sort of parenting just doesn’t work with my kids.

What is the best or most memorable piece of advice you have ever received?
That there is no quick fix, no “right” parenting trick that will solve behaviour issues which are routed in attachment problems or the result of early trauma.  It’s a long game, and in the short term all we can do is manage the behaviour, build the relationship, and make the most of what good time we can have together.

My perfect adoption support would include…
I don’t entirely know what my perfect support would include because we haven’t even got close to scratching the surface of what’s needed.  Right now, a comprehensive assessment of both children and ongoing therapeutic support for the whole family to help us help our daughter and live with the impact of her early trauma and an assessment for ADHD for both children, and sensory processing issues for our daughter.

When I look into the eyes of my child I see…
When I look into my son’s eyes I see trust and mischief.  He is an adorable rascal, a complete handful under the best of circumstances, but he has a basic joy and faith in the world which all children this age should have.

When I look into my daughter’s eyes I see turmoil and defiance.  Even when she’s smiling and seems happy, even when she looks at me and tells me she loves me, there is no peace for her.

The difference is so clear it is like night and day, and it makes me indescribably sad.

The best thing we did this week was….
The best thing we did this week was pick blackberries and make them into crumble.  Or maybe that was last week, I’m not sure.  This week we rolled down the hill in the park and got covered in grass.  That was pretty good fun.

If you could take your children anywhere in the world to see something where would you go?
To the circus, and we’re going, tomorrow.

What I hope I can give to my child/Children?
My children are three and four.  I want to give them a childhood full of normal childhood things, and the ability to enjoy them.

At the weekend I can mostly be found…
At the park, swimming baths, rugby pitch, zoo, or anywhere else out and about where I can take my kids to have fun and run around.

What makes you and/or your family laugh?
My son and his various three year old antics.  He’s a comic, and even our daughter is tickled by it.  Let’s just say that when he grows up I will have lots of stories to tell anyone he brings home. Also photos, and videos too, my poor boy!

You can read more from Sarah on her blog at

#Taspic September – And a new Challenge

So food was the topic of Septembers #Taspic and it was  a yummy filled month. I’ve  salivated over lots of your meals and a special mention goes to @mizzanels to the thing that didn’t quite make her plate.

Here’s this months Top #taspic, just because I so wanted it.


And here are some of the others I loved.


So what shall we do for October?

Well shall we #Taspic #todayistheday.

So what are you going to achieve today? Or maybe it’s the day when you accept that your plans have completely changed. Lets see it all in picture form. Roll on October for a new challenge.