Tag Archives: guest post

Direct contact between siblings

Today we are bringing you a positive post from adoptive mum Dorothy on direct contact between siblings and their adoptive families…

In June 2009 I was sat on our front lawn, watching our 3 year old daughter in her new paddling pool, relaxing in the sunshine and chatting to her social worker. P had been with us since January and we were just waiting for the final court date to make things official. Everything was right with the world. Then the Social worker dropped the oddest of bombshells. Hearing that P’s birth mother was pregnant was not something we had contemplated so soon after placement. To be honest I was stunned and didn’t know how to react…. it’s not a feeling that is easily described – in fact it’s a whole bunch of mixed emotions.

We were due to meet birth mum and her parents in a few weeks so the powers that be decided that we had better be told before seeing her so we could prepare ourselves. Meeting birth parents takes some preparation in itself so why not add a pregnancy into the mix!

The baby was due in November and SW’s were conducting assessments to see what would happen when the time came. We had all the reports stating that BM should never be allowed to parent another child….. but we all know that new baby means new assessments….. Our first concern was that yet another child would suffer as our daughter had….

Learning that your child is to have a new sibling is very confusing – She already had around 6 others, ranging from 15-3… in fact birth dad (now married to a new partner)  had two other children born to different women,  within 2 months of P. Somehow a new baby brought different feelings than those I felt for existing siblings – maybe because of the potential risk to the baby? Maybe because previous siblings were born before we even knew about P?

Fast forward to November….. our adoption had been finalised in the September, things were slowly starting to feel normal and we were getting into the pattern that our lives would form now we had a bubbly 4 year old. I had been trying to get in contact with the SW team for a few weeks to find out what was happening with the baby….. We were pretty sure that our circumstances meant that we wouldn’t be able to cope with another child – P was still in the process of being diagnosed with what would turn out to be a rare medical condition and our financial situation was the same as anyone with a new child – stumbling but pretty flat.

In the December the phone finally brought the news we had been waiting for…. Baby L had been born in the middle of November. He was a healthy weight (unlike P)…… I had to drag any more information from the SW who was very haughty and official…. speaking to me as if I was an unruly birth parent or a small badly behaved child – the baby had stayed in hospital with BM for 4 days and had been discharged into local authority care. We were very relieved…. and sad…. and confused and happy and emotional.

Within the blink of an eye a year had passed – every attempt we made to find out more was met with a brick wall. One day a SW rang and asked – ‘how are you fixed for another one if things don’t work out with BM? ‘ Blunter than I was expecting at a school day tea time with P stood in front of me….. I explained that we weren’t in the position to have another child but that we would like to be kept informed.

When we eventually told P about L she was overjoyed. Her first questions were – did BM feed him? Is he small like me, is he healthy, happy, alone? At 5 years old P had managed to sum up our feelings in one long scrambled sentence.

It became clear that L wasn’t going to be going back to BM – she had several mother and baby placements, never managing more than 4 days at a time…… but still the SW tried, still they allowed him to be ferried back and forth between foster carer, Children’s Centres, units and BM.

L was adopted just before his second birthday.  His family are French, but live in London, they have two older boys aged 9 and 11. L is as loved and cherished as P. We found this out by raising a level 2 complaint against the placing authority. His SW eventually said that she would consider allowing us letterbox with his new family but would have to have a meeting about it. In October 2012 a month before L’s 3rd birthday we received an email stating that direct contact had been decided and that we should meet twice a year and arrange it ourselves (!) Decided! It was ordered that we should contact each other to arrange this and that they would not need to be involved….. I was furious that SW were still making decisions that affected our lives and pronouncing their judgements  about children that were legally ours.

As it happens, L’s family had been fighting to be allowed to contact us too. They, like us, believed that contact with the siblings was very important for their future mental health. They were interested in their child’s sibling – adoption had cut us all off from the other siblings in their lives but adoption could also ensure that now our children could safely get to know each other. P and L share the same birth mother but L’s birth father is unknown. They share one other sibling, an older boy – 16 now, who still lives with BM (with SW involvement).

Emails flew thick and fast between L’s parents and us….. We share the same beliefs on contact – that given the right circumstances, it can only be a positive thing for our children. Dominique, L’s mum says that contact gives them back a sense of roots and history that adoption can take away.

We met in 2013 in P and L’s birth City. The meeting was probably more emotional for us parents than the children – all four children flowed into a natural and loving relationship within 30 seconds of meeting. P calls the boys her nearly brothers and from the start felt a connection with all the boys, not just L. The adults watched on in wonder as the children played together. Adoption meant nothing at that moment. Family meant everything…. and that’s what contact has brought us – a new French branch of our family tree. We have met at least twice a year since that first meeting and exchange endless emails and phone calls. It is not for SW to decide what is best for our children, it is for us, their parents.

P and L look very much alike-  I understand how special  it is that that they have can see this, that they grow knowing that there is someone in their family with whom they share a resemblance and can see as often as they can. Last month they were sat on P’s bed together, lounging around and L turned and stroked P’s face, touching her nose and her hair and said – ‘you look like me’. Dominique and I held each other’s gaze and silently wept.

There is an acknowledged sadness between Dominique and I. We are mothers who share our children. P slots as easily into L’s family as he slots into ours. We are overwhelmingly grateful for our children and for each other. I have found a friend who understands feelings that neither of us need to explain. It is a powerful bond we share.

L and his family have now moved back to France. Distance has made spontaneity a little more difficult but has widened our horizons. Plans are afoot for a Christmas meeting in France and a summer holiday here in England. Emails and photos whizz around the internet and Skype calls are being scheduled. Discussions about family at school are complicated – but more so for the teacher than P and L. Our children are happy. Our family is bigger.

We are lucky; we have found people who hold the same beliefs as us, found out that a little bit of our hearts are now French.  P&L contact guest post

Secret Santa fun on The Adoption Social

  xmas gifts 1

I’m going to mention a word in a minute. I’m giving you warning because I know some of you don’t like to think about it too far in advance, so if you’re not quite in that festive place yet, look away now…

CHRISTMAS!

It’s fast approaching and here at The Adoption Social, we’ve been thinking about ways we can include a bit of festivity in our blogging. So we’re going to host a Secret Santa. No, no don’t worry we’re not asking you to buy gifts and send them to strangers, we’re going to ask you to use the skills we know you already have – your writing skills.

This is the first time we’ve done something like this, although it’s a sort of extension of the linkys we already run – The Weekly Adoption Shout Out and Memory Box. Part of the reason we encourage the use of social media tools for support is because at times we’ve personally felt isolated. We’ve struggled to find people who share the same challenges and feelings. Some of us adoptive parents have felt unable to work because we’ve been needed at home full time. So this, we hope is another way to get involved and find new support and friendships.

We also feel this is a great way to share posts from all sorts of people who are connected to adoption, whether you’re an adoptee, a birth parent, a social worker, other professional, extended family or an adoptive parent.

Just like any normal Secret Santa, we’ll pick two names – one as the writer and one as the host. The writer will write a guest post about something adoption related, and the host will feature it on their blog, linking up to WASO too if they want. It could be a full written post, a photo or a poem, just make sure you include your blog details somewhere so your host can link back to your blog. Once we’ve picked names out of a hat, we’ll let you know who your host will be, but we’ll keep it a secret about who’s writing for you…

If you fancy joining in and having a bit of festive fun, then add your blog details below – just like our other linkys (if your email address isn’t clearly on your blog, please drop us a line with it in too). It’ll close on 1st December, so make sure you sign up now if you want to join in.

We’d like the posts to be featured during the week beginning 16th December, so ask that all of your posts are sent to theadoptionsocial@gmail.com by Friday 13th December at the latest so we can send them onto your hosts.

We know lots of our readers don’t blog, but if that’s you and you still want to get involved, then drop us a line at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com to talk about other ways you can join in – perhaps you could write a guest post for us here on The Adoption Social, or we can share a festive photo through Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook for you.



Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Today’s post is written by Lesley, perhaps more commonly known as Scottish Mum. Lesley is an adoptive parent, and is passionate about informing and educating about the damage that drinking in pregnancy can cause, as she parents children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and knows first hand the challenges that children with FAS can have.

FAS

Adoption and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) are often linked.  There are very few children waiting to be adopted that haven’t suffered trauma of some kind in their tiny short lives.

When I talk about FAS, I often get the derisory looks, the half snigger or the curl of an upper lip as many think it’s just an excuse for badly behaved children.  What people don’t seem to realise is that alcohol in pregnancy can and does cause very real problems for children who have been exposed to it, and their future lives.

When any of us consider adopting a child, we need to look at the life the child has led before they come to us.

FAS can be life changing and cause total devastation for whole families where children grow up and their struggles are not recognised for what they are.

In adoption, there are frequently found behavioural characteristics that can be common to a lot of issues and disabilities.  

There are many conditions that can be found in children waiting to be adopted.  Foetal Alcohol is just one of them.  They may also have Attachment Disorder, ADHD, Pervasive Development Disorders  and Language Disorders  at different levels.   These are things that we should all keep in mind when we are dealing with vulnerable and sensitive children.

It’s important to remember that not all vulnerable children act meek and timid.  Many will have learned to protect themselves through aggression and they could well be outwardly confident.

My middle child arrived and spent much of his day banging his head against a wall while screaming all night long.  When our children arrive, we haven’t formed a parent/child bond and that can take a lot of time to happen if children act aggressively.  Tensions can run high in families where they are living 24/7 with difficult children while trying to create a bond, do the daily chores, fund the family and still have time for themselves.

Schooling can be difficult for adopted children with FAS.  Peer relationships can be non-existent or they may fall in with the wrong crowds who just want to take advantage of children they can sense are different.

From first hand experience of a child with a significant degree of alcohol related brain damage, I can tell you that life with a foetal alcohol child can be sheer hell for everyone concerned.  It can also be sheer bliss when they reach a milestone you never thought they’d ever meet.

On the surface, unlike the children with Full Foetal Alcohol Syndrome who are much more obviously affected with more profound special needs, many of the children affected by foetal alcohol look unaffected.  Many of them seen to have good speech patterns, they often learn to read and write easily although they often struggle with the comprehension, and they tend to be able to make their daily needs perfectly well-known.  They tend to suffer with impulsivity, short term memory problems, immaturity, immature conscience, hyperactivity and much more.

Children with FAS might also have ADHD and may only be diagnosed with one condition, but there are differences.   Where ADHD children tend to struggle to learn as their brains go to fast to process the information, the ADHD child who also has FAS is likely to eventually learn concepts, only to forget them afterwards which makes building future learning on previously learned concepts very difficult indeed.

In the right situation, children who suffer from alcohol related brain damage can do very well, but the tendency for many of them to lie, steal and be very easily influenced makes life very hard for them.  If we add the possibility of Attachment Disorder into the mix, it could make for a very difficult life indeed.

On the flipside, my children are also very loving, very attentive and very sensitive in many situations.  I don’t deny that I have found life very hard indeed at some points in their development, but we’ve got through the low points and we just sail on to the next blip on the horizon.  

None of these things should put anyone off adopting any one child, but I would recommend asking the relevant questions of the adoption agencies and finding out more about the birth family to find out what the child might have been exposed to.  

It’s much easier to deal with a situation that might arise if you know what it is than it is to try and work out what might be causing problems a decade down the line.  Being informed also allows a prospective adopter to negotiate with schooling and social services for future support which is always easier to put in place before an adoption is finalised.

You can find Lesley’s blog – Scottish Mum – here. Or contact her via twitter: @Scottish_mum or email: scottishmum@gmail.com