Tag Archives: feelings

Mood Cards – A Review

Today Sarah from The Puffin Diaries reviews a box of mood cards called The Mood Cards by psychotherapist Andrea Harrn

This is a collect of forty cards and each card represents a single emotion or mood, some positive and some negative feelings. The emotion is illustrated with a simple graphic which is not unlike an emoticon, with a short explanation or statement which represents the emotion. So for example on the card representing CONFIDENT the statement is “I am who I am. Comfortable in my own skin”.

On the reverse of each card there are three questions, under the heading Ask yourself, about the feeling, to help a child explore what that emotion means to them. An example of a question on the CONFIDENT card is “In what area of your life are you most confident?”

Then at the base of the card there is an Affirmation for the child to use to overcome a negative emotion or support a positive emotion.

moods

I bought these cards to use with my children, especially my youngest who often can’t tell me what the emotion is that he is feeling. He may seem angry but I’m aware that there is often an undercurrent of other emotions. What I really like about them is the range of emotions which are represented which offers you the opportunity to explore the subtle differences between certain types of emotions. For example there is a card each for anxious, worried, wary and stressed.  

Also I realised that I tend to concentrate my study of my children’s emotions on mostly there negative feelings but, there is a huge range of positive feelings we can also explore. So I’ve tried to use them during positive times too.

The children seem to really like them, I was worried they might seem a little young for them but at eleven and twelve they have both engaged with using the cards.  In fact to understand the questions and the idea of an affirmation, I think they are more suited to an older child. However, for younger children the front of the card and the simple explanation of the emotion could be used to start with and as they get older you could move onto the back of the card questions and affirmation.

We have used them successfully on a number of occasions to help me understand how both my children feel. My youngest was recently upset when we had guests to stay at fairly short notice. He didn’t deal very well with the unexpected arrangement and was very rude to our guests. Using the cards I discovered a range of emotions he felt about this, instead of just being angry, he was annoyed, worried and stressed.

On the whole I would highly recommend these cards to use with children who struggle to identify their emotions and the subtle differences between some feelings. The only negative thing I have to say is that the use of an affirmation is not easy for my children to grasp and it often hard for them to believe the positive statements about themselves. However that doesn’t mean we don’t try.

You can find out more at www.themoodcards.com

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?

Feeling Different

Today’s post is from John, an adopted adult who shares his views and feelings…

When reading the stories of other adoptees, I often feel that I am odd or unusual. Going for a walkTheir stories talk of a yearning to find out their roots, or of feeling a sense of loss or anger. Yet, I have never had a deep longing to discover my roots nor I have ever felt a sense of loss or anger. I have always just accepted my adoption as a fact of life and feel secure in my identity as my adoptive parents’ son.

I have met my birth mother. She gave me up voluntarily and clearly loved and cared for me. I wanted to let her know that things had turned out well. We do get on and I do see our similarities but, for me, there is not the deep connection others sometimes speak of.

I often wonder what makes my story different from so many others.

I was given up voluntarily by a loving, responsible birth mother who cared for me in the womb and for the first week of my life. I believe that I was given up because of her love for me. I am sure that she would not have given me up had she not felt it was in my best interests. I was also adopted as a month and a half old baby into a well matched, loving home by parents who were utterly devoted to me and who told from me from an early age that I was adopted. I cannot remember not knowing. I also look very like my adoptive parents so I could easily hide that I was adopted if I wished. I did have difficult times in my teenage years but I don’t believe these were any more difficult than any other teenager trying to find their place in the world.

I have been reading the Primal Wound. As an adopted person, I do not particularly recognise myself in it but I do believe what it says is true of other adopters. I see much of what it says in the experience of my sister. She has felt a deep sense of loss and anger which she has had to work through over many years.

Clearly, there is something subtly different in my sister’s experience of adoption and my own experience. We have both enjoyed a similar upbringing and much of what I describe above about myself is true of her yet her emotional response to her adoption is completely different to my own. I have my theories on why this is. From reading the Primal Wound and from considering my own experience and my sister’s experience, I believe that first few days after birth are critical. I was cared for by my birth mother for a week after my birth. She was not.

This is why it is so important to hear from adoptees. Each adoptee has their own, distinctive story of adoption. We need to hear their story to understand why one adoptee has one experience of adoption and another a different experience so that we can use this information to improve the experiences of the adoptees of tomorrow.

We must give adoptees the space to share their story. It will be in this patchwork of adoptee experiences that answers can be found that can help the adoptees of the future.

Anna Writes: The pain with no name

PhontoThis is how I sometimes describe the feeling of being adopted, because for me, it really doesn’t have one, there are helpful words to describe what aspects of being adopted feel like, trauma, loss, difference, but none of them either individually or in tandem add up to what it really feels like, so following is an attempt to make some sense of it…

For my whole life I’ve wrestled with feelings of semi permanence, a sense that I’m just not quite here, that if a life can be given away so (seemingly) easily, what value does that life have?….so I have never really fully committed myself to anything (family and friends aside- and even then if I’m honest, I’m a bit flaky)

But fully being something terrifies me, not because of the responsibility that may be attached but the fear that at any moment it could just go, slip through my fingers and I would feel lost again.

Anchorless.

I guess that comes from not having had a secure base to start from, no real solid sense of self to shore myself up against and I also recognise that this is a long and ongoing process. When I was younger I used to describe feeling ’empty’ – now of course, this isn’t a feeling particular to adopted people, anyone can feel empty at times and some people all the time, but my experience of it was consuming, I thought I had a void inside me, a relentless, hungry, pit of nothingness that would never be sated, no matter how many attempts I made to appease it.

Throughout my teenage years I tried all sorts of ways to fill it- obviously not with wholesome things like yoga and fruit, but alcohol, substances and self harm to name a few- whilst at the time those things felt helpful in an unhelpful kind of way, what they were actually doing was stopping me from feeling, really really feeling, so that I could get up in the morning and function.

Having been fortunate enough to make some meaningful connections since those years, I have learnt much more productive ways to actually address some of these feelings and come to understand them better.

What I used to think was an empty hole was actually a huge pile of grief, I was full to bursting with sadness for the loss I had experienced, but didn’t have a name for, I was sad for the connections I never made, full of grief and tears for the non relationship with the person who carried me and gave me to the world.

Heartbroken.

….And I think that its hard to hear, is society ready for the grief of tens of thousands of children separated from their biological parents? it seems to me like a locked in grief- because how can you really grieve for something you’ve never known?

Its taken me until well into adulthood to realise where so many of my feelings and ways of being stem from because there wasn’t acknowledgement as a child that I had lost something- only gained- and I didn’t understand how to be grateful for something that felt like a hole.

Thankfully there is now much, much more mainstream understanding and awareness of the effects of separation and loss, and of course the losses of the adopting parents should be considered too- many people having to come to terms with fertility issues, but as adults, that help is there- for the children and young people hurting from their losses, I think much more could be done.

Anna.W

Ps. Thank you for reading and for such a warm welcome into your community, I’m really touched 🙂

Book recommendations for older sibling

Today’s problem comes from an adoptive mum who wants to provide support to a new adoptive family…can you help?

A friend of mine (we met at an activity day where my husband and I found our daughter) has a books7 year old birth son and is currently in the midst of introductions with her 4 year old adopted son.

I want to help reduce the concerns and worries she and her husband have about their birth son and the huge transition this will be for him.

I was just looking for any book recommendations that they could use with their birth son to help explore his feelings and understanding of everything.

I have identified ‘Oh Brother’ already but any further books and/or advice would be great.

Book review: When I’m Feeling… by Trace Moroney

Today’s review comes from Buster who blogs over at Adopt & Keep Calm. Buster is mum to Boyo, 6.

A few weeks ago at work I noticed some books for sale from The Book People.

They were called ‘When I’m Feeling’ with a choice of emotions ‘Lonely, Scared, Happy, Sad, Jealous, Angry, Loved or Kind’.

There are about 16 pages in each book and the main characters are all rabbits.

I had a quick look at a couple of them and decided they were worth buying for Boyo. I think the books are probably aimed at 3-6yr olds. They are simple enough for a 6yr old to read themselves but nice for reading to children as well.

I just put them on Boyo’s ‘reading book’ shelf and didn’t say anything.

Later that day I found him reading ‘When I’m Feeling Scared’. He read it cover to cover and then plonked it back on the shelf.

A few days later I read with him, ‘Angry’ & ‘Loved’. These led to probably the best conversations we have had about emotions. The wording is very simple and the illustrations are just lovely.

Typical sentences are

‘Feeling loved makes me feel  strong……’

‘When I’m feeling scared it feels like my whole body trembles and shakes’

‘Sharing your feelings can sometimes make you feel better.’

They all have a positive slant to them and help make the child they are not alone with their worries.

At the back of each book is a short ‘Background Notes for Parents’. Nothing you won’t already know, but a short explanation of how self-esteem is the key!

Boyo loves them and for us they have opened up a few worthwhile & tearful conversations.

Note: We couldn’t find these books on The Book People’s website anymore, but Amazon do stock them at a reasonable price, here’s a link to When I’m Feeling Kind.

Admitting feelings

Being an adoptive parent can be quite isolating at the best of times, but so much more so if you’re struggling to find an emotional connection with your child; this stranger who now inhabits, nay, has taken over, your home and to whom you feel you are expected to love unconditionally and even feel grateful for having.

It is well documented on Twitter and elsewhere that my husband and I struggled for the first I would say, 6 months, when our daughter came home. She was nearly 3 when placed but with the vocabulary of a 6 year old, the kick and punch of a prize fighter, the bite of a lion and the emotional age of a 1 year old.

That was tough.

Baby time

So when her baby brother arrived, aged 7.5 months, a contented bundle of cuteness, who had already melted the heart of his sometimes hard-to-reach daddy, I thought, ‘this will be a doddle’. We were well prepared for our daughter’s regression and handled it quite well (notice the careful use of the word ‘quite’!) and when daddy went back to work after his statutory 2 weeks leave, I was ready.

Or so I thought.

It didn’t quite happen like that though. I found having a non-verbal, crawling, demanding baby absolutely exhausting. The sterilising, the second-guessing, the feeling of helplessness, the nappies! I guess most new parents feel like that, and boy, did I feel guilty. On top of that, I also felt resentment. Not towards him I don’t think, but towards Social Services. He had been removed at birth whilst his sister had endured goodness knows what in the ‘family’ home and then nearly 2 years in Foster Care.

It wasn’t fair.

I really struggled to bond with him while I had these battles in my head.
I was really happy he’d been removed early but at the same time I felt let down on his sister’s behalf. I asked one night whether my husband loved our baby and I was taken aback by a man not known for his emotional outpourings to suddenly gush his reply and he even had a tear in his eye. He ended by saying, “Do you?” “Er yes. Obviously,” I replied, hiding my face and quickly changing the subject.

I couldn’t tell him. I went online and found a lot about how ‘I loved our (adopted) baby before we even met, our (adopted) baby is amazing and I love them so much etc’, but there was nobody like me.

I covered up my feelings to everyone but privately spent a lot of time in tears. I was scared to tell our SW, even though in hindsight I am positive she’d be nothing but supportive. I was afraid she’d send somebody round to our house to watch us ‘in action’ (as we had had with our daughter – along with camhs) and having been through it once, the thought of yet more appointments and people watching and judging and coming into our home filled me with dread.

Eventually, one tearful night (wine may have been involved), I spoke to my husband and it all tumbled out. He was fantastic and we resolved to share more of the childcare – it had previously been very much, me and daughter (to whom I have a fantastic attachment – albeit ambivalent on her part but we’re working on that), him and son. I did a lot of hands on with the baby and lots of the Theraplay techniques I’d learnt with our daughter. It didn’t help that we were stuck indoors a lot of the time due to the bad winter.

As the weather began to lift, so did my mood. Seeing the interaction between brother and sister was amazing, as was seeing his development. I vividly remember going into his room one morning, feeling fearful of the day ahead (must have been school holidays!) and he looked up from his cot, gave me a smile that lit up Britain, stretched out his arms and said, “Hiya!”. I wept and it was a turning point.

The reason I’m writing this (and I’m aware of how selfish and dare I say, ungrateful, it makes me sound) is because I surely can’t be the only person that has had these feelings? There must be others who have felt or who are feeling equally as scared, ashamed and guilty and if there are (and I hope you are reading), you must talk to someone, either online or in ‘real life’; there’s nothing to feel bad about and nothing to lose – just a whole lot of happiness to gain.

With very many thanks to the lovely Kat who tweets @On_the_Edge. You can read a little more about her over on our Contributors Page.

This post is part of our Blogless Blogging or Anonymous Post section, if you have a story you’d like to tell here please fill in our contact form or email us Theadoptionsocial@gmail.com