Here one adoptive mother tells us about her recent experiences of post adoption support……..
I was recently asked to “take adoption out of my parenting equation”. The person asking the question meant well, doing her job as a family support officer(not part of post adoption support but we were referred to them by our social worker), working with families in crisis, she really was there to help. It was during our second meeting she made the statement. During our first meeting I’d sat for a draining two hours and divulged the intricacies of our often dysfunctional family. I’d felt up beat when she left, ever hopeful that she would be able to provide the support I’d been brave enough to ask for.
And then there she sat, my knight in shining armour, clutching the warm cup of coffee I’d kindly made for her, asking me to surmise what parenting my children would be like if they weren’t adopted. The words hung between us, heavy and hard, much too hard for me to swallow. My eyes prickled with tears; yet again, as I contemplated “did I hear her right?” I glanced side ways to read my husband’s face, hoping his expression may clarify.
The lady on the sofa opposite obviously wasn’t sure if we’d understood so shuffled her neat little bottom in my sofa and said,
“What I took away from our last meeting was, that you place too much emphasis on your children being adopted.” And then titling her head in my direction, “especially you”.
My stomach knotted a hundred times over, creating a burning sensation which flushed my cheeks, blotched my neck and no doubt more of my clothed skin below. I felt sickened by the intestinal contortions and gasped as I muttered my astonished reply “I’m not sure I understand, I really don’t think we can do that, HOW can we forget our children are adopted?”
Unfortunately for her, and me, I was not in the most positive of places before the meeting, and now as her comments thumped me bang smack between the eyes, I had to remove myself and attempt to regain composure.
I paced the bathroom, gulping air, hoping it could be the miraculous cure for my disposition, and slowly my breathing regulated and I felt a faint level of self-control. Digging my fingers into the corners of my eyes and smoothing them along my closed lids, I cleared the remaining tears and returned to the lounge. I got through the remainder of the meeting without crying, for that I feel a sense of achievement.
Post this event I was initially very upset, but what I actually soon became was very angry, seething in fact.
How dare someone dismiss the last seven years of my life with such a flippant remark. For seven years I have read, researched, talked, listened and learnt something new every day. I have never returned to full time work, understanding that my children need consistent support, outside of school, to help them feel safe and ensure they have the greatest opportunity to grow and develop. My marriage has suffered, in some ways irreparable damage, yes we’ll get through but the scars will remain. Me, I’m a mother first and some days that’s it, no more. Yes, that has now got to a point where it’s often not enough for me and the sadness of that is blurring my vision. But damn, I am a good mother, a very good mother. Ok I’ve been a little off track recently but, that’s why I’d asked for help, I’m aware I’m not able to do my best at the moment.
And yet the help was standing there pointing the finger right back at me, us, and seemingly saying, your children don’t behave and that’s your faulty.
After this distressing meeting, we then endured a number of months where we allowed this support access to our lives, only to have the accusatory finger pointed continually in our direction. Why you may ask did we go along with this? Because having asked for help we felt we needed to at least seem grateful. We were on our knees and struggling we were afraid to say “this is not right”. However the final straw was still to come, an incident which snapped me into the realisation that the support we were being given was actually causing much more damage to our lives than help.
The support lady offered to take both our children on a Christmas outing. She collected them early one morning and with a couple of other children she worked with, whisked them off to a children’s centre for some fun activities, followed by a lunchtime trip to MacDonalds. They were delivered back some hours later with a cheery wave.
Following the festive season that same neat little bottom sat on my sofa and yet again pointed her damning finger our way.
My children had, in her opinion, behaved in an exceptionally terrible manner on the outing she had supervised. Her idea of terrible was fighting, answering back, repeatedly not listening to her and generally being very disruptive.
Inside my head I was screaming “hello, welcome to my world” but outwardly a jumble of worlds spilled from my mouth, “…control issues……feelings of insecurity….vying for attention….early life trauma” as I gasping for air, she came back with the line, the one that made it very obvious she had no understanding of what she was dealing with.
“I’m sorry but I work with children who come from far worse situations than yours and they don’t behave in that way”
My response was vehement “How can you say that, you don’t know that at all, you don’t know their full history”
It was decided at that meeting that we would no longer pursue the support of this person or her team. In fact we’ve not seen any one from Post Adoption Support since. They are waiting for some possible therapy to materialise from CAHMS. This therapy I’m again not sure is actually suitable, and we will consider at great length before we allow our child to participate.
We’ve been left feeling even more isolated than ever before, unable to even trust those that are supposed to be there to support us. Knowing that our own understanding and knowledge of the challenges we live with far out strips most of those we come into contact with in a professional role. The only good to come of this whole experiences is that we have regained confidence in our own ability to parent our children.