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A site to support those involved in adoption by promoting the use of social media sites as support tools.

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This post from ADOPTER X Find them on Twitter @AdopterX

SCHOOL

I found myself in a crowded school hall with 250 children with their parents hovering uncertainly around what had once been neat rows of desks all lined up in alphabetical order. We were early but the polite pleasantness was already threadbare in the teachers smiles and comments.

Like all these events it had been challenge getting there, X was angry. There remained a murky soup of unsaid words between us, I’d been kicked and called that morning and we’d not sorted that out. We begrudgingly sat next to each other waiting for the teachers to nod and indicate that we were next and to make our way to our impending ‘parent learner interview’.

For us this is just ordeal, for X it’s a unique construction of all that dysregulates. Large noisy environments, peers, adults, public examination of performance. A mix of shame and anxiety. Did I mention I’d been kicked and called that morning, I was not happy?

We filed through the process teacher by teacher, my will to live, already at a low ebb, was in danger of flickering out. Like a pre prepared script to a teacher they repeated the same mantra.

‘Intelligent, but easily distracted and if unable to complete the work then is a distraction. Shouts out answers which is not really that appropriate. I really like you X but you’ve got to knuckle down.’

Generally, there was compassion and understanding the words came as regrettable bad news that they had to deliver, followed by encouragement. It’s all in the way you say words.

The RE teacher looked like she wanted to give me a hug, I think she was so upset to break it to me. I think she read me pretty well I had sad eyes. The last teacher used the same words but it was hard to find compassion, more the barked workds of a drill sergeant. On went the lecture. I looked at X and I looked at the teacher. X was lost, eyes glazed and lolling around the room. I was furious, did I mention that I’d been kicked and called. How stupid is this teacher? I stopped listening and was weighing the consequences of saying nothing against the impact of me coming back at the teacher with the full weight of eight years as X parent, with the speech that starts ‘let me tell you about X’s life, about how X feels every day and how X struggles every day’. X would have died of embarrassment and shame for me to have spoken out. So I’m trapped between an teacher and X. I nod with the least amount of politeness politely.

Now I know why X kicked my and called me today, it seems like an appropriate and rational response.

I’ve booked a call to the school, we’re going to have a chat in private.

 

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 211

Welcome to #WASO!

How are you all? Staying safe we hope? Much love if you’ve been affected by the recent attacks in Manchester, London and further afield.

There’s no theme this week, but do let us know if you’ve any suggestions for themes in future, we’d love to hear your suggestions and we’ll try to incorporate them.
Anyway, here’s the linky – go on, add your blog posts and share your favourites:

 



Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 210

It’s time for your favourite blog linky again – yes that’s right, it’s #WASO!

Welcome back to another week of #WASO, it’s been a lovely warm week for half term here, and we’ve had a mix of good times and challenging times – how has it been for you and yours? Can you share any tips to help manage the school holidays?

Anyway, no more chatter from me, here’s the link:



The Potato Group News

At the beginning of my adoption journey, I was a happily married early thirties successful professional. I had all the things that I’d always aspired to. The rewarding career, the executive home, the nice car, three foreign holidays a year, weekends at the coast, a gorgeous little dog, an amazing group of friends and a great social life. In spite of all of these things, there was a gap. As time went on, the gap was becoming more of an issue. Although my husband and I were happy, we both yearned for a child to complete our picture of domestic bliss. The sadness that it didn’t happen was corrosive. We had delayed starting a family whilst I went to University, established my career etc. It seemed terribly unfair that when the time was right, we struggled so hard to have a baby.

Never one to admit defeat, I was constantly seeking a solution to our problem. At lunchtime one day at work, a possible solution presented itself. Reading the local paper whilst eating a sandwich, I stumbled across an advert for a local Adoption Society. With support from a friend and colleague, I made the initial call that day. Life swiftly changed. There were weekend courses to attend, pamphlets to read and before you could say boo we were being presented to panel. What we didn’t know, when we had the call to say we had been approved, was that we were being matched during our approval. Panel was on the Thursday. Friday morning we had the call to go into the offices on Monday.

We then saw the pictures of our children, who we met for the first time the next week. A further five days and they came home!
No amount of reading prepares you for the reality of parenting two damaged children, 24/7. Like many couples, we struggled as we discovered that we had completely different parenting styles, alongside very different expectations. Together with work, the complexities of parenting traumatised children and the complete change of lifestyle were too big a shock. The marriage broke. My husband decide that he didn’t want to adopt the weekend before we were due in court for the adoption order.

I decided he should leave and I’d continue on the journey alone. He was shocked and angry, I was bitterly disappointed.
After the legal bits were sorted, I was a single mum. As any single mum knows, it isn’t easy to find time for yourself. Life revolved around work, school, nursery and all the events that children are invited to. Every waking moment was full. As the children settled into routine and I settled back into my work role, I realised it was actually a little bit lonely!

I decided, after a while, that it was time to venture out and have a little bit of a life again as me, not just as a mum.
The next question was “How do I meet people?” I’d been in a relationship since I was 17! I hadn’t dated for 18 years! The thought was terrifying! It took me quite a while to pluck up the courage. My lovely friends took me out on the town. The girls took me dancing, but I was constantly clock watching, checking in with the babysitter. In the words of my bestie, it was like going out with Mrs Doubtfire! Lol.

Having a night out with the girls was fun, but we were a bit intimidating as a group. The only men I was meeting were really not my type. I was wondering what next? I decided that online dating could be the solution. I could screen all the candidates from the comfort of my sofa. Perfect! What I didn’t realise then, was there was a whole new language to learn! There was a complete etiquette! There was I thinking that the profile pictures were up to date and realistic.

My delusions were shattered on date one – the guy I was meeting
looked like the grandad of the fella in the profile as he struggled to make it into the upstairs coffee lounge where we met! I felt obliged to stay and have a drink after he’d driven all that way! I was rather worried the excitement of a trip out might be too much for him and he may not make it home! Lesson one learned!

The language issue was soon apparent! “Fun” meant “frolics”, for “interesting hobby” read “fetish” – you get the idea! There were some boring dates, like the accountant who took me out for a meal then told me he didn’t like to converse whilst eating! There were comic ones – the guy who lied about his height, as if I wouldn’t notice he was actually 5’4” not 5’10” and spent the evening talking to my chest and chasing me around like Benny Hill! There was the one who brought his sister along, in case I stood him up. There were the married ones, who all thought their wives didn’t understand them!

One thing I was very clear about, from the start, was that I didn’t want my children involved. I didn’t want them to have a series of “uncles”! Quite a few men I met, along the way, were horrified that I was only looking for dates and I didn’t want a relationship. A few were rather cross that they couldn’t move in and be part of a ready-made family! What I realised, quite early on, was that most people had no concept at all of how it is to live with a traumatised child. In many ways, staying single was the easier option.

A whole decade after I became single, I finally took the step of getting involved. This only became possible because my eldest child, the more challenging one, was attending a residential therapeutic school. With the support of family and friends as babysitters, I was finally able to relax, go out for an evening and not worry what I would come home to. There have been false starts along the way. I’ve had to make difficult choices. I chose to walk away from relationships that weren’t perfect. I did so for me, but most of all for my children. I need them to know that there’s no such thing as “good enough for now”! I don’t ever want them to settle for second best. I had to step up and say “We are worth more than that”.
It has been a bumpy road. There have been lots of laughs and also a few tears
along the way. I have learned that I am much stronger than I ever imagined, I know that I can absolutely manage on my own. That’s why I can now relax and enjoy my relationship. Life is still ridiculously busy. Work, being mum’s taxi, trying to make time for friends and relatives. Somehow, though, I manage to find time for me. I make it a priority to set aside time each week to spend with my partner. It’s great to be part of a team again. Not to always have to make all the decisions – I know! Stop laughing! I know I’m a little bit bossy, a bit of a control freak! Lol.

It’s fifteen years now since I began my Adoption Journey. There are still lots of challenges. Overall, we are in a good place. Life is nothing like I imagined it would be. I’m lucky to share it with my two beautiful children, my wonderful friends – who are almost exclusively fellow adopters these days – my family and a fabulous partner who is working really hard at understanding therapeutic parenting and developmental trauma. We enjoy little moments of “normal” life. We are looking forward to the future.

My advice, to other singlies, is simple. Get out there, have a laugh, meet some people. There are a lot of strange folk out there, but there are some lovely ones too. Set your standards high, but be prepared to make exceptions. There will be some disappointments, but dust yourself off and keep trying! Enjoy the journey!

www.thepotatogroup.org.uk

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 209

Yes, it’s that time again – #WASO time!

Get your blog posts ready to link up and get ready to hit the share buttons too! The Weekly Adoption Shout Out is live until late Sunday for you to link up your blogs, so tell us all about your week, what you’ve been up to, what’s gone well, what hasn’t, and then have a read of the other posts and share, share, share!



Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 208

Welcome to #WASO!

It’s been a mixed week here weather wise and behaviourally – what’s it been like in your house? Have you encountered challenges due to exam season? Have the warmer days meant ramped up behaviour, or better moods and opportunities to play/relax outside?

Tell us all about what life has been like this week by linking your blog up to #WASO. No rules, just kindness and support.



The Potato Group News

 

 

Work and purpose have always been important to me – meaning I travelled work into war zones aged 27 and beyond – seeing things happen to children and adults that should never ever happen to anyone I came back deciding to adopt a child who needed a home – initially from overseas but as a single adopter with limited funds – changed to offering a child from this country a home.

I had a job I loved and hoped to work part time and be a mum – it was hard but just about manageable at first but as years passed my very lovely but terribly traumatised daughter grew into her trauma- we had some very good understanding (private professionals) but as local childrens’ services became involved for “support” these were not respected and the traditional behavioural management enforced on us and the therapeutic approach discredited.

Life became more and more difficult for my daughter and she had spells of being unable to leave the house which ended up in complete retreat from a terrifying world aged 13, until she was moved into specialist supported living aged 16 1/2. Due to her self harm and many other behaviours resulting from her difficult start in life, I was unable to leave her alone – so was unable to work. In the end I lost my job, my professional registration as I could not work to meet the yearly requirements, some friends and much of my life.

During these years we were both under immense pressure for her to attend her school (a small school for educationally fragile youngsters), professionals came – bringing sticker charts, points systems, consequences – and went leaving blame and stress for us both. The more pressure was put on her the more distressed she became and the more visits from the police were required as she was big and I couldn’t contain her and keep us both safe. Or the dog and cats – the dog had to evacuate to my parents and the cats lived outside.

A spell in the local young persons psychiatric unit did nothing as they didn’t take her out so discharged her saying she was fine and my parenting was inadequate – if she was not in school the next day they would push for her to go into care under order. Of course that was a successful tactic – NOT not as it scared her even more and things got worse. My days started with an awful anxiety – I would wake up in my locked bedroom (for my safety) and tiptoe into hers to check she was still OK, pick up the bloodstained results of the cutting, try to remove as much of the rotting food, dirty plates and smelly clothes as possible before she woke up – she would physically refuse to let me leave the room with anything. I would hear neighbours children going to school and feel an awful grief for us both at all we had lost, fear for the future and utterly imprisoned in my home.

My main social life and support was online – the POTATO group and other adoption support sites – my father teen sat once a week so I could go to a choir and I got the occasional in house respite and my parents slept here overnight so I could go away either to POTATO meetings or hill walking with friends and the wee dog. I was threatened with prosecution for allowing truancy and a hearing was held about this and whether a care order would be granted – luckily we escaped both but things dragged on as before – more professionals, more behaviour charts…….luckily we still had some good support but they were also powerless in the system.

Finally a room became available in a nearby unit for supported living for young people with mental health problems – getting her there was difficult, and the first few months there were many ups and downs -particularly downs.
But it meant I could get my life back – I started working in a homeless hostel – but my confidence had taken a HUGE knock – I found it difficult to speak to colleagues – I was physically unfit and very overweight and had no faith in my ability.

Gradually over the last 3 years I have worked to get my registration back, and now have a permanent job which I love – not the field I had specialised in – in fact the last place on earth I would have imagined ending up in. I have new friends , sing in 2 choirs and am feeling more confident than I ever have in my life – I still have counselling and can collapse at any hint of criticism or aggression – real or perceived. Best of all is my relationship with my daughter – she is not functioning as other people her age do – she never got back into education and she is on full disability benefits – she lives in a local flat with her flatmate but they both need a lot of support- any letters they do not understand get “lost” – benefits get suspended because they are too scared to attend appointments and are suspicious of professionals ( she has had well over 100 over the years and some have been good, some dreadful – and often services pull out without much warning). I spend more time that I would like chasing professionals, helping phone benefits offices etc. than I would like – I fear she will always need a lot of support and worry what will happen when I am no longer around to help sort out “muddles” – she is my daughter and it’s not her fault her early life has handicapped her to this degree. We now have a very good loving relationship – something I never thought would happen when a wee girl moved in terrified, raging, hating and if I touched her or her belongings – she would get a cloth and wipe where I had “contaminated”! She is kind and caring – in her own way – and a lovely person – all this never seemed possible during those dark years.

www.thepotatogroup.org.uk

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 207

Welcome to week 207 of the Weekly Adoption Shout Out

We’ve been reading your linked up posts with interest – have you got any particular favourites? Perhaps you read some adoption blogs that don’t join in with #WASO – you could suggest they do? We’d love to have more of you joining in and becoming part of our supportive community.

Here’s this week’s linky – no theme, just add your best, worst, most loved, or more interesting blog:


The Potato Group News

An open letter to all the professionals involved in our family life,

In 2009 we adopted 2 children aged 5 and 6 from a background of physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect. In October, following a few years of increasingly difficult to manage behaviours (violence/ stealing/ lying/ self-harm etc.) we asked for respite for the first time. So now social services have re-entered our lives. One child took an overdose in August so we also have CAMHS. Our post adoption support service became therapeutically based a couple of years ago, so we have a therapist supporting one of our children (our other child refuses to go). We are both in therapy as individuals to keep afloat. We have friends meeting with us on a regular basis just to try to give our marriage a chance against the daily onslaught of traumatised behaviours that we encounter. This week, we get to meet with an ‘adolescent support team’ who will no doubt tell us what else we’re getting wrong. I’m sorry; we’ve never had adolescents before. Let alone adolescents whose inner world is so utterly fractured. We know we’re getting things wrong.

But how hard would it be to hear, in a unified voice, all you ‘support’ services saying what we actually need to hear, rather than a sense of social services just checking off a risk assessment checklist to see if we have the emotional capacity to parent our kids (because we asked for respite)?

How hard would it be for someone to believe in and say the things we really need to hear? Things like ‘It’s so hard to do what you do – well done for doing it.’

Or ‘I know you’ve read every piece of therapeutic literature on parenting adoptive kids and have tried so hard to put it into practice – everyday. I think you’re doing an incredible job.’

Or ‘ We know you’ve read Winnicott and want so much to be more than ‘good enough’ and you’ve read Erickson and we want to help you re-establish self-control in you and your kids and you ooze Dan Hughes because you know you want to resist the brain changes that happen to long term carers of traumatised children. Even with your mistakes and humanity, you are more than good enough and we want to help you with the things that are still hard for you.’

Or ‘Who knows how much harder it would have been for your kids if they hadn’t had adoptive parents who spend all their waking moments wishing they could get it more right – your kids are really lucky to have you.’

Or ‘I know that some days your kids do things that make it hard for you to get out of bed. And that’s not because you’re useless parents, it’s because of the abuse that happened before they ever met you. I am proud of you for choosing to keep getting up.’

Or ‘I can’t believe that it has taken till now for the proverbial whatsit to hit the fan. You must have really been putting some effort into parenting. I am glad that there are parents like you in the world.’

Or ‘Who else chooses to stay in a role which involves undeserved daily abuse? We don’t have to – if anyone abuses us, we get to walk away and they get in trouble. You are amazing to love kids who abuse you because you represent someone else.’

Or ‘How hard it must be to know you represent someone else and to know that one day your kids may choose to abandon you for that someone else. How strong you are to keep on loving them regardless.’

Or ‘I know that you choose to lie down at night and tell your child you love them, even though that day they hit and kicked you or verbally abused you. I know that you choose to remember that they had to do it to you to test if the world was safe. I know that you want so much for them to believe that the world is safe that you overcome every emotion in your body to go into their room at night and hold them.’

Or ‘I hear that you cry at night, not just for yourself but because, even after all this abuse, you wish your kids could trust in just one relationship. I’m here to support you too.’

Or ‘I know that you hate the mistakes that you make. I know that you hate the fact that you had to ask for respite. I know that you hate the fact that that request has brought more judgement on you than you can bear right now but that you are choosing to stand up under it and continue anyway. I don’t want to be part for that judgement – I want to do the job I signed up to do which was to genuinely help parents like you.’

How hard would it be?

I tell my kids that if I go for a walk with someone and it starts to rain, then I stop to put up an umbrella. I don’t do it because I want the walk to stop, but because I want the walk to continue. When I ‘stopped’ to ask for respite, it was because I wanted the walk to continue but I needed some resources to make that happen. I don’t think the umbrella shop should make me feel bad for asking for an umbrella. It’s not particularly helpful to be handed a small umbrella that only covers my kids. (And if you hand the umbrella straight to my kids then they’ll almost certainly refuse to carry it themselves.) I have yet to find a shop that sells big golf umbrellas. I don’t want critical comment on how I’ve been walking up to now. (I’ll be criticising myself for walking into this storm anyway.)

If you have suggestions on a better route to help me, then let me know; but please put up an umbrella first so we can be dry while we look at your map.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for reading. It’s genuinely good to know I’m not the only person who goes above and beyond. Because it’s the only way our kids stand a chance in this world. Maybe you’ve gone above and beyond in other ways that support my kids that I don’t know about. Thank you for that too. I hope that when you’ve finished ticking your boxes, that you’ll believe that I also go above and beyond the things that you write down about me. Every day.

www.thepotatogroup.org.uk

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 206


It’s time for this week’s Weekly Adoption Shout Out. 

Thanks to you all for regularly linking up, reading and sharing all these interesting adoption-related blogs. Whether you prefer to quietly read blogs and feel like you’re not on your own, or whether you’re active in the adoption community on Twitter, do keep on doing what you’re doing, we hope you get as much support out of #WASO as we do.

Here’s this week’s linky…go and join in: