Tag Archives: blogger

CITIZEN SMITH #ParentPower

 

 

 

 

Life Story Work – There must be a better way?

Hey Sarah, let’s sit down and look at that book about that time you got molested in the park, I’ve got some photos of your assailant. Let’s have a look at them, I know he loved you really. Look here’s you and the police officer that did your forensic examination. How are you feeling?

There are many important things we have to handle as adoptive or foster parents, but to me helping a child make sense of ‘their journey’ has always felt like the most overwhelming.

In this aspect of our role we must act as both counsellor and parent – because what is termed ‘life story work’ is unquestionably counselling and it is unquestionably work. Work we are uniquely ill-equipped to undertake. Work that, in my mind, is important beyond our imagination.

Life story work makes me feel grossly inadequate and it can turn me into an arsehole because when I hear on the news, following one hideous event or another, that “counselling has been made available” to the victims I actually feel jealous on behalf of my child. Jealous! Jealous that I’m left to bumble my way through helping my child make sense of their own traumatic experiences. Jealous of people who have experienced horror I cannot imagine and who are perfectly entitled to receive support. How screwed up is that!

And I am not sure I believe that the PTSD experienced by those who witnessed, for example, the London Bridge attack is so different from those feelings experienced by an abused child, or one whose very life was repeatedly threatened through neglect. Or indeed the additional traumas of severance following removal.

If I were a counsellor being fairly paid to support a person who had experienced what our children have experienced (Complex PTSD) I would be putting a deposit down on a holiday home after the first meeting. It’s for the same reason that I fully understand why parents delay or avoid it, or those who often, like me, wait for their child to prompt us with an enquiry so that I can steel myself and say “Oh I’m glad you asked me that” before dragging out ‘the book’.

These events need professionals, and when I think of us, the army of amateurs coming to counsel our children through their PTSD I wonder how the media would treat our arrival at the scene of a terrorist incident. Equipped, as in my case, with good intentions, tissues and a spiral bound wipe-clean book of their tragedy.

But we know that there is no army of free counsellors to help our children, it can take 18 months to get just one CAMHS referral, and even all those counsellors who, in my imagination, descend on the scene of a tragedy like robot hoovers have to go back to their charging points until the next time they are needed.

So as always we must step up, and equip ourselves to become the professional, the counsellor, equipped to help our children process the events that brought them to us, and to do so over the course of many years. We’ll buy more books, attend more courses, learn from each other and our mistakes but always with that voice in our heads “There must be a better way than this”.

@mistersglluest

The Potato Group News

Bamboo Scaffolding: part 3: makes more sense if you have read parts I and 2

How we avoided a Thai jail and . . .did we get home safely?

I arranged a late checkout for one room, asking D to bring all his stuff to my room before noon. Our airport transfer was at 4pm. I Whats App’d a reminder the night before and at 11am . . .miraculously he was nearly ready at 12 and allowed me into his room to help him carry some of his stuff. I was able to flush his loo and put some rubbish into bags so the cleaners didn’t have a fit! . . .how much chaos can a traumatised young person create in 8 days? Then we set off for our last brunch.

Mistake number 1: His anxiety was already rising in anticipation of the long plane journey home. Why did I suggest we tried the café 50yards to the left instead of the one 100 yards to the right, at which we had eaten 2 or 3 times already? When stressed, D becomes more rigid and less able to manage even small changes. He sat at the table, refused all food and drink and put his head down.

Mistake number 2: I should have paid for my order without waiting for it and left. Instead I waited for my food and gave D my room key as he stomped off back to the hotel. After eating, I hurried back, asked for a second room key and spotted D head down skulking in a corner of the lobby. I put my remaining Thai Baht on the table beside him and encouraged him to order a snack or drink. I went back to the room saying – ‘come up for a shower when you want’. No eye contact, not even a grunt.

Fascination with weapons and fear: Since I met my son, aged 4 years, D has had a fascination with weapons. Developmental trauma and insecure attachment, with an avoidant and disorganized pattern, leave D fearful for his own safety (e.g. found alone in a flat by police aged 2y). For years he has kept a symbolic weapon under his mattress, a small wooden Maori spear, later pieces of ‘found’ wood or metal, later still a baseball bat, a machete and a crossbow . . . . . All the latter we confiscated on discovery, facing his rage, on the basis that ‘rage without machete’ is safer than ‘rage with machete’. He quickly discovered that Thai market stalls (where I bought sarongs and elephants) sold a full range of weapons. He told me that during the week he was offered cannabis and an AK47 . . . . . . .a micro moment of positive maturation, he said he declined them. However, he did produce a flick knife, a taser torch, and a metal kosh, which he insisted were legal to transport home in our shared suitcase.

D skillfully places me in no-win situations regularly. Do I refuse to pack them and risk the inevitable meltdown with him destroying the hotel room and/or storming off and missing our non-transferable flight, or showing adolescent to parent violence to me leading to arrest by Thai police, or do I pack them and face arrest at the airport? I packed them. We shared one small check-in suitcase and each had hand luggage.
I assumed D was still in the lobby; he did not respond to my infrequent ‘Whats App’ messages. I Whats App’d him encouraging him to chill in the room while I spent an hour by the hotel pool.

When I left the pool, some 3 hours after he left the café . . . . .I sat across his table in the lobby, ordered myself an ice cream, and asked if he wanted a drink . . . .he finally accepted his first food or drink in 15 hours. It had taken him 3 hours to emotionally regulate himself enough to be able to eat, drink and join me to finish packing.

Despite having given me dodgy items to pack, he became acutely disregulated when he saw I had a wooden broom with my luggage. I didn’t make Mistake number 3: I left it and a few other items in the room with a note for the cleaner.

Back down in the lobby, I checked out and we waited for our transfer: luckily this was a short wait and we set off to the airport in a heavy tropical storm.
The airport: Drug smuggling and Thai airports are often in the news; I was fairly certain we didn’t have any drugs. From stepping into the terminal, I had a bodily sense of fear – just an inkling of the fear that my son endures most hours of most days.

Checking in: We checked in, the case sped off down the conveyor belt. A repeat of the slow zigzag through security checks, then a large and very noisy airport lounge. Between us we had enough small change to get D a Subway. Bland globalization gives D reassuring familiarity whilst I seek local, quirky and different. D always finds even the shortest wait a challenge. The loud tannoys in several languages, including barely decipherable English, were steadily winding D up; there was no quiet corner to retreat to. As his agitation increased, a woman from Thai tourism approached me to complete a lengthy questionnaire. – that could have been the tipping point to meltdown. Why didn’t I politely decline.

I had tuned out the tannoy, but D said they were announcing my name to go to the desk at our gate. I was asked about the contents of my case, which was being brought off the plane. I was escorted into a private part of the airport, abandoning D in the airport lounge, hastily thrusting his passport and boarding pass into his hands. I was more fearful for D’s reaction to abandonment than what was about to happen to me.
Look out for Part 4 : . . . . .did we get home safely?

www.thepotatogroup.org.uk 

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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 191

Oooohhhh – it’s Hallowe’en #WASO time!

191Welcome back to another week of #WASO, the original adoption based bloggers link-up. As Hallowe’en is coming up, we’ve gone a bit themed, but that doesn’t mean your blog post has to be, although by all means you can use ‘Hallowe’en’ as a theme if you want a bit of inspiration.

Add your blog post below, share some of the others, comment if you can, because it’s always nice to see what people have to say, and say hi on Twitter to some of the bloggers if you fancy it. They’re a friendly group who wouldn’t say boo to a ghost!

Anyway, here’s the linky, it’ll close late on 30th October.


Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 186

It’s #WASO time again!

186

Welcome to another week of #WASO. Our apologies for not returning back to normal programming just yet. We’re still chatting and planning and working out where The Adoption Social will go from here.

But, we’re definitely still running the Weekly Adoption Shout Out, so come along, get those posts all polished and shiny and add them to the linky. (That’s the bit below where you can paste your blog post’s URL.  And don’t forget to share, Share, SHARE!



Meet The Blogger: A Hopeful Dad

This week it’s LGBT Adoption & Fostering week – run by New Family Social. And so we’re pleased this week to welcome a Meet The Blogger post from prospective adoptive parent A Hopeful Dad, who writes about the adoption journey he and his husband are on…

Quick 5 – In my life at the moment….

Book – They’re all about adoption at the moment.

Music – Whatever’s on the radio…

TV programme – The Walking Dead

Food – Sweet potato & feta frittata.

Pastime – Running

Why did you start blogging about adoption?
At the beginning, I started blogging so I felt like I was doing something while we waited for the approval stage to start. Now it’s a great way to keep me focussed and helps me reflect on what’s going on.

Tea/Gin?
Gin in a teapot…

What do you think is your biggest source of support?
My family and friends. They’re all incredibly supportive of our decision to adopt.

What is the best or most memorable piece of advice you have ever received?
Be true to yourself.

At the weekend I can mostly be found…
Reading the papers and relaxing. I’m doing that as much as possible until the children arrive.

You can find A Hopeful Dad blogging here and more about LGBT Adoption & Fostering week here. And in a double whammy – here’s A Hopeful Dad’s post about LGBT Adoption & Fostering week.

Meet Me: Fostering Hope Through Adoption

Today’s Meet Me post comes from blogger Fostering Hope Through Adoption – be sure to check out her blog here.

Quick 5

  • Book – The Connected Child By: Karyn Purvis; The Whole Brain Child By: Dr. Siegal
  • Music – NeedtoBreathe
  • TV programme – Parenthood
  • Food – Soups-chili, chicken noodle, vegetable, lentil, minestrone and the list goes on 🙂
  • Pastime – Making blanket forts with my little brother.

 

What is your biggest challenge as an adoptive parent?
Feeling helpless when my children are struggling with their pasts. All of the therapy, quality time, and sensory toys will help them cope, but it will never make the hurts disappear. Somedays, I wish I could go back and fix everything. It’s hard.

What do you wish you had known before you adopted your children?
I wish I would have taken classes on how to connect with a child from a hard place. We are now taking TBRI classes and we have learned so much. I feel like we would have bypassed many hard days and failed attempts at reaching our children if we would have come to the table with more knowledge.

What inspires you?
Helping people improve their health with nutritious foods.

Who inspires you?
My husband. He’s amazing.

Tea/Gin?
Tea

What do you think is your biggest source of support?
My faith.

What do you do to take care of yourself?
I need to do more of this…oops! I do love to learn. often read research articles, books, and blogs. I also love to run. It gives me time to think, reflect, and pray.

What is the best or most memorable piece of advice you have ever received?
If your children were babies, would you go to them when they cried and meet their needs? Treat your older children the same way. Their cries may not come with tears, but may be filled with rage, neediness, or isolation. Be present in every situation. They need you even when it seems like they would rather do anything else then be with you, they need you.

My perfect adoption support would include:
foster moms, adoptive moms, moms with children who have behavioral and/or academic challenges, and older moms who have been through the trenches and succeeded.

When I look into the eyes of my child I see:
fear, but I also see a sense of renewed hope.

The best thing we did this week was…
spending time with our kids around their first bonfire and eating their first s’mores with them.

If you could take your children anywhere in the world to see something where would you go?
I would take them to their siblings and allow them to play all day long.

What I hope I can give to my child/Children?
Faith, security, love, and a sense of self-worth.

At the weekend I can mostly be found…
watching one of my kiddos play a sport, at the grocery store, or at church.

What makes you and/or your family laugh?
Singing, “Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar?”

5 Top Tips for Starting a Blog.

 Today we bring you 5 tips that can help you start your very own blog…….

Research- read other blogs and not just adoption blogs. Find blogs you like the look of, not to copy but to be inspired by. Think about what you want your blog to include, will it have images or even vlogs? Maybe you want it to have both, or neither, the writing may be the most important part for you.

ReviewLooking at blogs can help you decide which platform you wish to start your blog on, for example WordPress, Blogger or SquareSpace. When you look at a blog the platform the blog is built on may be obvious from either the name of the blog (eg- adoptionblog.wordpress.com) or by scrolling to the base of the home page where the platform and theme is often named.   If it is not obvious which format it is, then ask. Most bloggers will be flattered that you like the look of their blog and be happy to help.  Here we have a post on starting a blog in WordPress and in Blogger.

 Be original –whilst it’s good to be inspired by others; don’t try to copy anyone’s style. Write about what interests you and in the style you feel most comfortable with. I’m at my most happy blogging from an emotional angle, you might like to use humour or it may be that you want to be political and raise serious issues that you are passionate about.

Look Unique –Most blog themes can be customised, make your blog look original. Change the colour scheme and even design your own logo or header. Here’s a post about how to create your own header .

Share – Now you’ve gone to all this trouble make sure you share your posts, link up to #WASO share on twitter.  If you are on twitter use the same name as your blog as your twitter name or at least have your blog details on your profile. Here are some posts you might find useful.

How to link to #WASO

Starting a Twitter Account

Enjoy yourself – Don’t let your blog feel like a chore, make sure you are benefiting through writing, be it to gain support from other or in support of others. For some it is cathartic and others get delight in sharing their special and important moments of adoption. What is your motivation?

Meet Me: Gareth Marr

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

Books
  • ‘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.

Music
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..