Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO week 102

WASO102

Hello all, back again and the last #WASO of January already. One month down eleven to go. So what have you all been up to this week? How has your family life been? Or how is your road to adoption going? Share it all here, with us.

There is no theme this week, but next week we look forward to hearing about your “Reasons to be Cheerful”. Also next week  #WASO Top 3 will return, so Vicki and I will share our top 3 favourite posts from January.

So here we go, get linking up, reading, sharing and commenting.



Book review: How I survived in and out of care

untitled (2)It’s unusual to hear from those who have been in care. But it’s also incredibly insightful hearing from those who’ve been in care.

Reading Eve Higgins’ book ‘How I survived in and out of care’ is difficult. It’s hard to comprehend what care leavers have been through, and it’s hard – as an adoptive parent – to even consider what could have happened to my child, had he remained in the care system.

Eve, abandoned as a baby, and then enduring a number of foster placements before being placed in a children’s home writes about her experiences and the relationship that she developed with Ella – abused by her father, and ending up in the same children’s home as Eve.

I feel the book is stilted – as a read it doesn’t flow neatly from one section to the next, but then I imagine that moving through care is similar. There are no nice neat transitions, just the ending of one part, and on to the next. Paragraphs with little nuggets of information in.

But what this book shows is the importance of relationships – whether they are challenging, grief-filled as with Nicola, or long-lasting and strong – like that between Eve and Ella. Detailed through part of the book are the people that Eve and Ella know – the characters and friends they’ve come across both in the care system directly, and through the Adoption and Fostering in the UK forums. The writer brings these characters to life and it’s not hart to feel connected to some of them.

The book features case studies that are well worth reading – giving a rounded explanation of a few people and their stories.

And the final few pages contain poems written by Eve and Ella – which having read the book, I then found very emotional.

You can find the book on Amazon here. And check out the guest post that Eve wrote on The Adoption Social last year.

 

Tips on Twitter

Hands up if you love a hashtag?
*Puts hand straight up*

Yes here on The Adoption Social we do like a hashtag, and we’ve had some great hashtag initiatives recently from the Twitter community – #TakingCare, #HowAreYou, #TakingCare100 and our own #WASO too.

So we’ve thought of a new one that might help with a bit more sharing of tips, resources and general usefulness – Adoption Tips or #Adotips. 1421672780517

There is such a wealth of knowledge out there and we want you to share it. Whether it’s a parenting tip, recommended website, strategy, technique, course, book, blog or even another Tweeter that has been particularly inspiring or helpful. Just make sure you add the hashtag in your tweet and we’ll share it, and try to offer a regular round up here on The Adoption Social.
And if you see an #Adotips tweet that you agree/disagree with or can add to, then please do.

An interview with an adopted child

Today we are bringing you an anonymous post from an adoptive mum who interviewed her son.
He’s 9 and has been home for 8 years, developmentally he’s doing mostly fine, although lacks some emotional understanding.
The mum involved wants to stress that this was conducted with express permission from her son, who understands that his answers are going to be published online – he wants to get his views across…

Do you know what adoption means?

Yes I do.

Why do people have to be adopted?

Because their mum and dad can’t look after them properly, even though they might want them to stay.

Do you feel different to your friends?

Yeah, because I’m adopted and they’re not. But I like football and they like football so in some ways we’re not different….I don’t know why I feel like I am. I just am.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be adopted?

Not sure…well it’s a bad thing of course.

Do you ever think about your birth mum?

Sometimes…not sure what though. I want to see my birth dad sometimes too.

Would you like to meet your brothers and sisters?

Yes.

What would you say to them?

I don’t know. We’d probably argue like I do with <my adoptive sister>.

Do you think it’s good that people want to adopt…

Yes, so like the child/ren won’t be treated bad, because the first parents might treat the child bad. They might tell lies to them which is bad, or they might smoke, or do the wrong stuff like feeding the wrong milk, or maybe worse.

Do you think it’s good that you were adopted then?

Yes, kind of…it makes me feel sad, but I don’t know why. But it is a good thing.

Would you like to meet some other children who are adopted?

Yeah, it would be cool.

What would you talk about?

I dunno, like other boy stuff –football probably. Maybe the other things they’re into.

If I had a choice, I wouldn’t want to be adopted – my birth parents might be nice, but they didn’t treat me right and I might have died as a baby.

Do you think children should get to choose their adoptive parents?

Yeah older kids should be able to.

Do you think you should have got to choose?

Yeah, but I was only like a year old, a baby, so I couldn’t have made a choice, and anyway, there was only you to choose from wasn’t there??!!

Is there anything you want to say to people who are thinking about adoption?

Yes, be careful because the child you want to adopt might be ill. Or they might have things wrong in their brain – like me. Like it didn’t all grow properly. Be careful and learn about brain stuff, and having fun because love and cuddles and having fun can help fix a kids brain, even when it’s really broken like I think mine is. Hang on…if my brain hasn’t grown properly is there a hole in it where my memories might fall out? Is that why I forget stuff at school?

Thank you to our interviewer and interviewee, it’s very insightful to see how a young man thinks and feel about adoption. We know that the conversation continued with questions that are more personal and pertinent to the individual, and mum felt like she’d had a real breakthrough and a proper connection moment. This is the first time she’s ever talked with her son in such a structured manner.
Have you ever had a conversation like this with your children? It’s quite frank, is that an approach you would use?

Life on the Frontline – Week 17

lotf

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.

So as we stumble on, through another school term, things really did start to unravel this week.  Not only did Small find going to school really tough, this week, for me, the impact of dealing with regular confrontation and emotional turmoil about school, started to takes its toll. Long story short, by the time it came to Friday and he was quiet obviously not wanting to go anywhere, a part of me started to give up. I have felt completely worn down by it all and didn’t see a depressive mood coming over me. So for me the weekend has been spent trying to recover some positive ground and lift myself to face another week.

The fundamental problem in our every day and every week is the scoring system which is used to assess if Small is reaching his targets in school. If he scores a 2 ,he has achieved the target, number 1 partly achieved, 0, not achieved it all. If he scores 0s in the mainstream school in the morning he then misses his break time in the afternoon and as he quite rightly pointed out to me this week,

“I need my break time”

I’ve tried to explain to those in charge that once Small sees a 1 on his chart, let alone a 0, his crippling self esteem is dented deeply. Trying to recover from these confirmations of his own incapability is almost impossible for him. So as he is now spending a complete day in the school environment, the cracks do show and he struggles to get the full sheet of 2s he had been getting. Once we start on that downward spiral at the beginning of the week, it really is no surprise, to me, that by Thursday he feels unwell with the anxiety school is presenting to him. By Friday I felt incapable of putting either of us through the stress of another morning or lunch time where his eyes almost glistened with tears as he repeats,

“I can’t do it, it’s too hard, I can’t go there again”

I was almost relieved that he complained of not feeling well, although I was fairly certain it was stress related, I knew I had to listen to him. So instead of the uncomfortable journey to school, we instead, snuggled up on the sofa together.

There is now only one more week until our next meeting in school, when we need to be clearly indicating if Small can cope with the mainstream high school.

 

In Other News

I met with Tall’s play therapist this week for a review. It was fascinating to hear about how some of his play was interpreted and what a window it gives into the child’s emotions. I’m really please that he will be offered another block of sessions because it does seem to be helping him.

The washing machine has broken. Why do these things happen when you can least cope with them? I’ve been dabbing school jumpers down with a damp cloth and hoping for the best.

Tall came home with a certificate for science again this week. It is definitely his strong subject. Anyway we have bought him a new scooter to reassure him that we are really pleased with the progress he’s making.

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 101

#WASO101Well last week went well didn’t it? We were so pleased to see so many blogs linked up to #WASO, and so many of you used the theme too – ‘The First 100′. If you missed the post, you can see it here still.

This week, we have another theme – although of course it’s optional.

week 101 theme

We’re looking forward to reading your posts – themed or not.

So, without further ado, here’s the linky. Go on, add your post and perhaps share some too?



Tips on applying for Disability Living Allowance

Top Tips for claiming Disability Living Allowance

Have you heard of Disability Living Allowance? Also known as DLA.
It’s a financial benefit that can be applied for to help with the extra costs of caring for children whose needs are above those of children of a similar age.

In brief, it comes in two parts – Mobility and Care. Care is divided into Lower, Middle and Higher rates. Mobility into Higher and Lower. The rate awarded is obviously dependent on the needs of the child, and mobility and care rates are not necessarily awarded at the same rate. The currents rates are between £21.55 and £138.05 per week. If awarded, you may also then be entitled to additional child tax credits, and you may also be eligible to apply for Carer’s Allowance.

Importantly, a child DOES NOT need a diagnosis of any kind to claim DLA. It is strictly about the child’s needs.

Much more information can be found on the Government website here: https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children

Forms are downloadable, or can be sent to you to fill in. And to be honest, they can look pretty scary. They are comprehensive, enabling your child’s situation to be assessed. There are MANY questions, all focussing on the difficult and challenging parts of parenting a child with additional needs. But, help is at hand with those scary forms. I’m no expert, but I applied for DLA a few years ago and was successfully awarded it for my son for a period of 2 years, and I have also recently completed the renewal pack and am pleased that it’s been awarded for a further 2 years. I couldn’t have done this without some assistance from another adopter, and now I hope my tips might help you successfully apply.

Tips for applying for DLA

I cannot stress highly enough that a successful award is NOT based on diagnosis, but based on needs.

Throughout your application:

DO show how your child’s needs are over and above children of the same age.
DO use phrases such as ‘not meeting milestones’ as this is a recognised indicator of development.
DO refer to the guidance notes.
DO use the extra information opportunities.

What information to include:

DO fill in the form based on your worst day and night. The care component is in part based on night-time needs, so make sure you detail these fully.
DO be completely honest – if it takes an hour to settle your child in bed, then say so.
DO not worry about repeating yourself, just be consistent.
DO give examples of the additional support required – if night-time disturbances are toileting issues, then say so. If your child has no sense of danger and needs help staying safe whilst out walking, then say so.
DO be detailed.
DO ring your doctor/consultants to check dates if necessary.
DO include all illnesses and ailments – even if you think they’re irrelevant now.
DO include information about your child’s background and early life IF it is relevant to their needs and behaviours now.
DO include information about other professionals that you are working with.

What to send with your application:

DO send as much supporting evidence as possible – therapist reports, copy of your child’s IEP, educational psychologist reports, CAMHS recommendations, and anything else you have.
DO ask a professional to add a supporting statement – our Post Adoption Social Worker helped us in our original application, and we also sent a short email from our CAMHS therapist.

More tips:

DO keep a copy of your application so you can refer back to it at renewal time.
DO remember that you’re focussing on the negatives and that’s hard, but it’s only for a short time.
DO call the DLA helpline if you have specific questions – 0345 712 3456
DO remember that you don’t need to justify what you spend the money on – it’s your business.
DO get in touch if you need support with filling in the form – we’re happy to help.

Good luck!

#Allchildrendothat – An Animation from The Open Nest

So the great news, that you might have already heard, is that The Open Nest would like to commission another animation which can be used for training and educating.  This is following the huge success of their previous film, which we’ve posted below.

The Open Nest. The Lost Children Of Trauma. from marry waterson on Vimeo.

Again, we are looking to the online community to provide the research on which this animation will be based. The subject of this next animation is to be, misunderstanding from family & friends in our support network, the unhelpful advice that is offered and the inappropriate things that are said. We would also like to hear about the helpful things that your support network do for you and the supportive things that people say or do which really help you.

Not all information will be able to be used but we will look for common themes and  incorporate as many ideas as possible.

So please make a comment below, or share a comment on Twitter or Facebook and please remember to use the hashtag #allchildrendothat which will make it much easier to collate the research.

Thanks Dad

Early last year we met our second child for the first time. Just one week earlier my dad walked out on my mum after 33 years marriage for another person. I was totally unprepared for the impact this would have on me and my wider family and more importantly, my growing but delicate immediate family.

 

At the age of 4 I lost my best friend (6), my mums younger sister to leukaemia, her death was never explained to me. Relatives sobbed around me but no one told me why, unwittingly misguided in their attempts to protect me. Therefore I have a deep seated belief system that people leave, people leaving is very bad and no relationship is certain – except those I had with my parents and sisters. I have avoided loss at all costs ever since. It comes in many forms such as being unable to listen to radio competitions as I cannot bear to hear peoples pain when they lose, moving right through to the extreme of shutting down and resisting the urge of walking away when people are dying. I am not proud of this and I have only fully begun to understand the impact of my first and subsequent losses.

It took until the events of this year to understand why I am able to avoid loss in its many guises yet be able to safely hold my first sons ultimate, most painful loss with strength, gentleness and a lot of thought. My counsellor eloquently pointed out that ‘there’s no bloody way you’re going to let what happened to you, happen to your children’ (she’s great I love her!).

“Both my sons have been well and truly rejected by their birth parents and this last year has given me a rare and valuable insight into how traumatic and deep that wound really goes – and for the first time ever, I’m scared of it.”

As an adult brought up in a consistently loving, stable family, I have never felt such loss, such rejection and abandonment when my dad left. It has torn away all my carefully built up layers of protection that surrounded any feelings of loss and exposed it to cold harsh air. It is painful and I have swung from anger and depression through to manic laughter and back again. Its going to be a long journey back to see what my new wider family will look like and our subsequent relationships, but what my dads leaving has also done has highlighted to me my sons losses. Both my sons have been well and truly rejected by their birth parents and this last year has given me a rare and valuable insight into how traumatic and deep that wound really goes – and for the first time ever, I’m scared of it. I had the good fortune of getting 33 years of my parents together, wanting me, wanting their lives together before it all crashed around us taking down part of my identity, my belief system, my self esteem, my ability to stay present and even my support network in the process. On days when it overwhelms me, I wonder, how will I get my two beautiful boys through this pain especially on those days with my eldest when I can already see it.

Dads ill-timed leaving meant that my attachment to my second son is slow and sometimes painful, his loss is exposed right alongside mine and I have had to dig more deeply than I ever thought I could to survive the past 9 months. I’ve been trying to bond with my son and therapeutically parent my oldest, alongside dealing with a suicidal mother, shut down sisters and a newly absent father. It has shaken my belief in my ability to hold my children losses for them, which I’m sure others submerged in the adoption world will agree, is a vulnerable state to be in.

We are told adoption is all about loss but I’m not sure I fully  appreciated what that really meant until I was emotionally exposed and open to it.”

I have hope that it will inform me, make me a better parent, strengthen my resolve and keep me going when times are black however, I have a tiny insight into how they may feel and with that has brought a lot of fear. We are told adoption is all about loss but I’m not sure I fully  appreciated what that really meant until I was emotionally exposed and open to it. I do know, that like my children, I am a survivor and once some time has passed, I’ll be using this experience, this unwanted life lesson and I’ll be a better bloody parent because of it, so thanks Dad, my sons will benefit from your life altering decision and for that, I am grateful.

Very many thanks to our anonymous blogger this week for sharing her story. If you have a post that you would like us to publish, please do email us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com

Life on the Frontline – Week 16

lotf

 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.

I had three whole hours to myself on Monday morning. Small made it into school for the morning register and I breathed a long sigh of relief, one to have the space in my life and two that we had managed to get him there.

He was reluctant; the enormity of this week likes a mountain summit to be ascended, its peak within the clouds, obscured from view. The anxiety buzzed around his being, irritating and unsettling him. But he had still gone.

When I collected him at lunch time his report showed a mixed bag of a morning, some compliance and some refusal, combined with a touch of cheek.  His irritability still sitting uncomfortably between us as he scowled and refused to answer questions. In his bag a homework book was also stashed. The afternoon at the support centre also produced  mixed result.

Tuesday, he again went but the results were mixed. He was quite obviously finding this very hard to deal with. That evening I made the decision that the homework being sent was not going to be completed this week. As his mum, I could see the toll the days were having on him and recognised that his home time needed to be his down time. I explained this to Small, so he knew that I could see what was going on for him and sent a message in the communication book to explain this to his teacher.

A returning message came home at the end of Wednesday. I was asked to “not undermine the work they were doing in school by discussing my thoughts with Small”

It transpired that as I had not done the spellings homework with Small, he was asked to complete them in school. Small being Small, and never missing an opportunity to get out of doing his work, refused, on the grounds that his mum had told him he didn’t need to do this homework.

My blood boiled at the realisation that firstly, school had not identified this as Small  manipulating a situation to his advantage, and therefore they showed again their lack of understanding of his behaviour. Secondly that there understanding of me is that I would do such a thing as blatantly undermine them  and thirdly how dare they tell me what I can and cannot discuss with my child who has massive trust issues.

A slightly heated phone call to school, where I was asked to trust that their choices for Small were right and I asked that maybe they should have consulted with me over the homework as I could have told them it was too soon. I was again told that I needed to trust that they could make the right choices to prepare Small for the high school and I suggested that the bar they had set this week was too high and they were therefore setting him up to fail.

I came away feeling that we hadn’t exactly agreed but we had listened to each other.

By the end of Wednesday Small’s anxiety was well and truly spiralling and he hid behind the sofa, unable to face the conversation we need to have about school. When he did come out he covered his face with a blanket as I gently spoke to him, trying to get him to tell me how things had been, what he felt. The only words he could muster were,

“I can’t do it, I can’t do it, it’s impossible” as he nibbled away at his almost none existent nails. I need nothing more to know that his fears around school had been ramped right up again.

So on Thursday when he refused to go, I really wasn’t surprised. After a lot of debate and a little bit of bribery we managed to get him there for 10.30am. He came away with an excellent report for the rest of the day and again he managed to have a faultless day on Friday.

So the return to full days for Small has not revealed to us weather he can or can’t cope in mainstream education. I suppose it would have been too much to expect that we would have a clear idea so soon but I can honestly say I still feel none the wiser.

In Other News

Tall has returned home saying he’s had bad days. However, after exploring what this means, I would say they are far from bad. He has, on a couple of occasions, used his exit card to leave class. To me this shows a great level of emotional maturity and understanding of his need to regulate himself. He has, in fact, made me very proud this week.

A long time was spent, this week, with the inclusion officer, making further suggestions for content in Small’s EHC. I feel that now, if all is included, the plan will actually represent the complex little boy and how best to support him.

A nice family outing to the pub, this weekend, was cut short and turned on his head when Small got annoyed and louley suggest Dad throw himself down a “s**ting grid”. I love how creative his language can sometimes be.