Tag Archives: family

Life on the Frontline – Week 8


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.

The boy Small has moved into a happier place. The half term holiday provided a space for him to relax and the calmness amassed has remained. For me the time out from school gave me the room to gather strength and confidence and we have returned to school feeling in control.

Currently Small is attending the support centre in the afternoon and is at home in the morning. The integration back into his Primary school has been put on hold for now, as we gather more information and allies. I now do not want to attend a meeting without the Educational Psychologist and Parent Partnership being in attendance too. I also have been planning and taking notes on what I wish to be considered and discussed all adding to the sense of control I’ve gained.

I also made another decision this week that I feel confident about. There has been some expectation that whilst Small is at home that I am providing him with some activities of educational value. One morning this week I asked Small to carry out an educational task and he flatly refused, as he sometime does. The wrangle which ensued left us both in tears and me in a difficult position.

The centre expects me to allot a score to Smalls morning to determine if he has met his targets. This whole process has not sat comfortably with me from day one. I am not his teacher and I don’t wish to be. I’m his mother, his confidante, the one person he trusts the most in the world. Scoring his behaviour felt like a betrayal of this trust, as if I am tell tales on him. Right there on that morning I decided I’d had enough, I didn’t want this pressure on our relationship any longer. I resolved to only enter into nurture based or fun activities with Small which encourage our connection and boost his self esteem.

So with that in mind the next morning we set out on a walk up a hill, bathed in the autumnal sunshine. Although it was all his idea, he still complained about the walking but it was worth it for the magnificent view we admired from the summit. We had brought his kite along, an activity he really loves and finds great peace in. As we tried to launch the kite into the air, we laughed and giggled as we became entangled in the cord. Once air born the kite dipped and swirled above our head and we laughed and giggled more. It was so wonderful to see a contented smile on the face of my pink cheeked boy.

“I wonder why you like flying your kite so much?” I pondered.

“I like how free it is” was the reply.

Yes, I though, floating around in the air would seem unrestrained without control, everything that Small wishes his own life could be.

“I wonder if you could write a poem about flying your kite” I tentatively asked.

“no” was the reply.

“I bet I could write a poem and I bet it would be better than yours”

“No it wouldn’t, mine would be the best” he boasted.

Back at home, an hour later he had completed a deep and moving poem about how it feels to be the kite. Daddy judged our poems and of course Small’s was far superior to mine.

So by setting the expectation to not achieve much we achieved the most we’ve ever done and had a lot of fun doing.

I am very much going to be guided by Small on what we do each morning we’ve got lots of things in mind. Together we can look forward to our week ahead instead of dreading a morning battle when I get the maths books out.

 

In Other News

I am delighted to announce that Tall has suddenly started to enjoy reading. He’s been reading the Maze Runner series of books and is hooked. So lovely to see him engrossed in a book that is not about Minecraft.

Both boys have had a meltdown of sorts this week. Tall’s was small and Small’s was huge, you know, spitting hitting,throwing things and trying to run away. The thing is we got over it all fairly quickly because we had the confidence to deal with it and move forward. I think this confidence thing is catching.

My husband and I managed a night out just the two of us, yes we had an argument but it was nice to have the time to argue in peace and yes we soon made up and enjoyed ourselves.

In-laws or out-laws

Today’s problem comes from a mum who’s feeling a bit bogged down by the views and opinions of a family member – have you any advice?

I’m sure the mother in law is a frequent source of frustration for all parents.

I’ve encountered problems with my mother in law ever since my daughter was placed. She had opinions on *everything*. You name it, she knew about it.

A Problem Shared1Except back in those days, there was no appreciation day, and our parents learnt what they did through us. We passed on as much information as we could but, without the preparation courses, materials, social workers, and chats with other adopters, there was really only so much they could take in. We bought that BAAF book, the one about adoption for family and friends, and passed it around our immediate family – the one’s who’d have an active part in our daughter’s life.

Right from the word go, they didn’t understand the need for it to just be the three of us. But we did quite a good job at deflecting their requests for visits.

After a few months it all began getting worse. She wasn’t physically interfering – she didn’t try to feed little one, or take over doing her nappy. But she had an opinion on everything, and she wasn’t afraid to tell us when she thought we were doing the wrong thing, which was most of the time! I held the bottle wrong, I winded her wrong, I dressed her in clothes that mother in law didn’t like, I gave her the wrong food, I expected her to do too much, oh the list goes on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased she wants to be involved – I lost my own mum some years ago, so of course I want my daughter to have a relationship with her granny but…over the years I’ve felt so unsure of what I’m doing anyway, so unconfident, that hearing those negative opinions just knocked me down. It’s hard enough being under the scrutiny of a social worker, let alone those around you too.

The thing is, she’s not a bad person. She’s just insensitive, and truth be told, so set in her ways that she just can’t comprehend WHY we do things the way we do.

I’m not sure what more we can do to get things across to her, without sitting down and having a really full on frank discussion. But because of the person she is, with the temperament she has, sitting her down would result in her walking away and feeling blamed. I can’t see a good way out of this, so should we just grin and bear it for now?

If you have had a similar experience or have any helpful advice for this parent, please comment below. 

If you have a problem you would like some advice on, please use the contact form here, or email us theadoptionsocial@gmail.com

What is ‘it’?

 

ProverbialOnion

I Recently fell out with someone close to me, family close to me.

It started over me forgetting a child’s birthday, (this happened some months ago the card and money were 2-3 days late) and for which I had already apologised and kicked myself, dutifully many times, for forgetting.  Reminded of the incident and how unhappy said person was about it I felt cornered and judged and the discussion then escalated into a row about how little interest or time that person had shown in my children. I might have had a glass of wine, which might not have helped but said person’s reply was that “Well that’s what you chose”. I reeled from this fallout for days because it just identified fully to me that this person, family close to me person “didn’t get it”.

During my post row melancholy state I realised that this saying “getting it” is bandied about a lot when we talk amongst adopters, it’s why we congregate on twitter and mooch around each other’s blogs. Here we don’t have to explain “it” to anyone, everyone knows what “it” is and everyone just “gets it”.

So what exactly is “it that makes our lives as parents so difficult or just different compared to other parents. I must admit that at times I have wondered if I’m just being a bit dramatic, if I imagine some of these hardships. My two boys, to the untrained eye, appear well adjusted little boys, not unlike their peers and yes, I know, lots of children can be difficult. So post my fallout with the close person, I have been pondering what exactly “it” is that I would like them to get. Without having to give details that may seem like a lecture in child psychology, how could I, or you, or others put it so that people, non-adopters may also get “it”.

I’ve come to the conclusion that although there is an intense physical aspect to parenting my children, it’s the emotional strain that really cuts deep. That doesn’t mean that all the physical abuse you take from your lovelies, here in the last twenty for hours I’ve experienced biting, hitting, kicking and having things thrown at me, doesn’t take its toll, it does. Restraining your child whilst they attempt to escape from your home, damaging the home or much worse themselves, requires a lot of strength and the right kind of strength too; you really do not want to hurt them. But somehow that affects me less than the emotional mental drain that creates a fuzzy haze around you for, hours, days sometimes weeks or should that be years.

Presently, from my first waking moment until their last waking moment, I feel like I’m in battle mode. Not every day, but lots of days, it is just one constant need to head off possible confrontations, negotiate positive outcomes or at the very least, create the path of least resistance. And that’s just it;

“there is always resistance, resistance to everything”

No-one ever wants to do as they are told, not right away, and if they do you know that you’ll pay for it later.

 If I’m being fair, it’s not both of my boys which require this level of surveillance and a watchful eye on their every action. We’ve already been there with the older one, he started from the day he arrived, but he’s now in a reasonably good place. He throws the odd almighty wobbly but on the whole he requires much less guidance, now it’s his brother’s turn. So with no break in-between, we have made the smooth transition from one child’s need for constant attention to other, and there is my first part of “it”. For us “it” is the now long term, ongoing need to be on guard, all day every day, no holidays given. To be honest you kind of get used to this part of “it” it’s just our family life.

But “it” is multilayered, and just like the proverbial onion, it will create salty droplets in your eyes, the more you strip it back the more emotional “it” becomes. So whilst battling through the day to day onslaught of demanding and controlling behaviour, there is the next bit of “it”. The child’s own emotional make up, how and why they roll the way they do, all of which is created by their totally inadequate, totally damaging and totally unthinkable start in life.

 One of my most disliked questions, and I know it is just a general enquiry and innocent remark, is “do you really think that their start in life still affects them now?” Yes that’s me standing on the roof tops, jumping up and down, waving my arms and shouting “YYYEEESSS”. “Yes I do think that”, “No, I KNOW that”.

MY 8 year old child does not call me a “f*****g useless “b***h of a mother” during a complete meltdown because this is the language he hears used all the time to his mother and in his home. We are not the family from hell, and although I’m sure the school playground provides a lot of his colourful vocabulary, this is not learnt behaviour.  It stems from his total lack of comprehension of boundaries, empathy, appropriate conduct for an 8 year old, because he’s trying so hard to not let another adult, hurt, damage or reject him. He’s protecting the deepest darkest corner of his steely little heart that might still be able to love, love himself because if that’s gone he will just give up. He’s repelling me, pushing me away telling me to back off, he’s venomous and determined, no holds barred.

So whilst my child is calling me a “f*****g useless B***h of a mother” I have to dig deep and not feel hurt or upset by this abusive behaviour I have to find my therapeutic mummy head that says ”you poor soul look how angry your life is making you” or “well this is positive, great he’s starting to reveal his emotions after 6 and a half years, he must be starting to trust me”. You see whilst trying to strategise over how best to deal with the situation you are in, you are also have to try and understand the situation you are in, read between the lines and understand why. The understanding why is the second part of my “it”. And to think all I did was say “no” to watching The Simpsons.

Next, here’s where the emotional heart break starts, because if you do understand “it”, understand the reasons why your child, that you love deeply, is behaving in such a horrendous way, then you can’t help but feel utter, desperate, sadness for them. Not just sadness but complete anger at the world for letting a child you love be treated the way they have been treated, but knowing also that if they hadn’t have been treated that way then they wouldn’t be yours, oh yes the churning turmoil of “it”. With every moment of recognising “it”, there is a reminder of why “it” is here in your life, a reminder of your child’s nightmares.  This is the heavy emotional burden of “it”, that because you care you can never put down. You carry this heavy sack of nightmares across your broad shoulders and it bends your back and your heart into pain you could never have imagined. “It” literally weighs you down.

And so to the final part of “it”, for me anyway, and this is how “it” then impacts on all the other relationships you have in your life; your friends, your family, the school teacher, the other school parents but most of all your significant others. It’s another blog post again containing details of relationship breakdown, loneliness, misunderstandings and angry words. It’s about pushing the boundaries of your love for others and their love for you to the farthest corners of the world, hoping and praying that it will bounce back, mis-shaped and bent but with the bond still intact.

In summary “it” is daily battles, strategising, understanding, carrying your child’s pain, emotional turmoil, taking abuse and smiling, peeling onions whilst carrying a sack of nightmare on your back and hoping those you love don’t leave. I hope said family close person is now no longer in the dark about “it”.

Oh and just for the record if someone had fully explained “it” to me before I got to choose “it”, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to take “it” on.

 This post is written by someone who wishes to be anonymous. If you would like to submit a post anonymously too, then use this form to contact us…

Where’s My Daddy?

Today’s problem comes from Suddenly Mummy, adoptive mummy to OB. Have you experienced this… if so, can you help?

Ok, so, I’m a single adopter. A couple of weeks ago my 2-year-old son suddenly said to me, “Where’swhere is daddy my Daddy?” I was pretty shocked because the ‘D’ word isn’t one that gets used often around here.  I was also totally unprepared and so had no option but to distract him from the question with the offer of a biscuit.

Today I went to pick him up from Playgroup, and the teacher drew me to one side.  Apparently, the children had been playing outside in the little yard and a random man had walked past.  My son had yelled “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” repeatedly until the guy disappeared from view.

I’m trying to act nonchalant but actually I’m a bit mortified by the whole thing.  I do worry about my sufficiency as a single mum to a lively son.  There was no particular reason why he would need a single parent familysingle adopter, and sometimes I wonder if I’ve been a bit selfish keeping him all for myself when he could have had a two-parent family. I hate to think that somewhere inside his 2-year-old self he’s pining for a Daddy that he’s not got.

As for the question, “Where’s my Daddy?” I really have no idea what to answer. I can’t say, “You don’t have a Daddy,” because obviously he does, even though birth dad refused to admit paternity until forced to by the positive test and, as far as I’m aware, has never even seen him. But OB doesn’t even understand that his mummy situation is more complex than it appears yet.  We haven’t got our life story book yet, and although I’ve talked to him about how he came to be my son (I tell it as a cute little story at bedtime sometimes), we haven’t really talked about another mummy before me.

I know there are other single adopters out there, and same sex adopters as well. Have you dealt with these questions from such a young child with so little understanding of his own background?  I’d really appreciate your advice on how to handle the question in a better way if/when it comes up again.  After all, the distraction power of a biscuit only goes so far!

My Twitter Life from @Adoption12

Here @Adoption12 tells us all about here love for twitter and the surprising other character she tweets as……

adoption12I’ve just been searching for a dictionary definition of “family” but all I found were varying descriptions of “people living under the same roof”. Well, if you can class twitter as a roof, then I certainly have a family under it.
I started tweeting about 2 years ago, firstly (don’t laugh) through our cat! He has 929 followers! About 500 more than my other 3 twitter accounts put together! Mad? Yes! Fun? Definitely! I realised that twitter is about finding a main interest (in the cats case it was my interest in animal welfare – signing & RT’ing petitions etc) and once you reach out others with the same interest reach back.
This proved to be invaluable when, in 2012, we decided to go through the adoption process after our attempt at IVF failed.

Something made me set up a twitter account immediately on deciding and, originally, it was going to be a daily diary for myself.

I never imagined in a million years that, just over a year later, I would be in touch with lots of other like minded, lovely people, daily, who have gone through or are going through exactly the same things as me and offering such wonderful support that I always assumed would come from “real life” friends and family.

I started tentatively, little tweets here and there, and then something lovely started to happen. I started receiving little supportive tweets back, advice that I thoroughly appreciated, I felt totally supported by people I didn’t even know.


In the time I’ve been on twitter I feel the family of people on there has become extremely strong. We’ve all got to know each other, as much as you can do over the air waves (or whatever you call it nowadays – digital waves?! *shrugs* I don’t know!)
We offer each other support now and  it’s really comforting knowing that somebody will come to your aid if you tweet you’re having issues or just that you’re having a bad day. It’s also really lovely to be able to offer that support back. If you see someone is having a bad day you make yourself available for them.
And we don’t just tweet support and advice about adoption, we talk and laugh about everything. Just recently we started a healthy eating campaign amongst ourselves! It appears adopters need chocolate cake a LOT! And so we’ve embarked on a #wecandothis campaign and we tweet the healthy things we’ve eaten. I know I wouldn’t have started without my twitter buddies.

There’s something very different about twitter when it comes to adopters. It doesn’t feel like shallow social media. It feels like home!


And in the end I did find a definition of “family” in the, always funny, Urban dictionary (try searching your own name!) I think it sums my twitter family up perfectly…
Family;
People you love and love you back, not neccessarily blood or biological, but you trust them and they trust you, and they take care of you and you take care of them.

Tweet with @Adoption12 and read her blog  Hoops and Hurdles

Family Dynamics

Our problem today is from one contributor struggling with family expectations….

Like a lot of adopters, I was childless for a very long time before I became a parent.  I was also single and pretty much used to doing things my own way.  I don’t have a bad relationship with my family, but they live far away and I’m not used to relying on them for anything really.

I have nephews, but my sister has lived abroad for over 25 years now so my Mum missed out on most of their growing up.  Now she and my stepdad have moved close to my sister to enjoy their retirement and suddenly, here I am with another grandchild.Help Line

To say it’s altering our family dynamics would be an understatement!  Now, from seeing my parents a couple of times each year, I find that they are over pretty much every other month . . . staying in my house!  It’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds.  My Mum is not particularly hard to live with – there are a couple of things she does with my son that I’m not keen on, but I can manage that most of the time.

No, the problem is the way our relationship is changing.  Or rather, how it’s not particularly changing and my Mum thinks it should.

  I think she’d rather I was on the phone, asking for advice and seeking the wisdom of the ages from her, but I’ve been used to being independent for 20 years so that’s not something that comes naturally to me at all.  On her last visit here, she said that she wished I needed her more.  This is after years of telling me how proud she is that I’m so independent!

So, I was wondering whether anyone else has found that the arrival of their children has radically changed the dynamic of their existing family, and how you’ve got round it . . . if you have!