Tag Archives: relationships

How much to share…

Can anyone advise this new adoptive mum who’s wondering what to Problemtell others in developing relationships…

I’m a fairly new adoptive mum to sibling girls age 4 and 6. Both are at school and I’m slowly starting to become friendly, though very warily of some of the other parents in the playground.

We’re also fairly new to the town we’re living in, so it’s been easy to say ‘yes we just moved to the area’ when explaining our sudden appearance at school.

Now, however, as I develop friendships with some of these people, and my daughters develop friendships with their peers, I’m wondering how much information to share. The school knows a little about their backgrounds, and enough to be able to support them if any issues become apparent (though everything is OK at the moment, we’re still in the honeymoon period I’m sure), but what to tell the parents?

I’m not ashamed of being an adoptive parent, but I don’t want to divulge too much as it’s simply not anyone else’s business. But if I become proper friends with any of them, I don’t want to start off by being dishonest or at the very least, not upfront.

How have others dealt with this?

The A word

Anna WritesI’ve been off the radar for a little bit, partly because life gets oh-so- hectic at this time of year but also, and I think I have alluded to this in a couple of posts, all is not great in the older generation of my family.

I’ve become quite concerned about my mum, I thought she would struggle after the death of her mother earlier in the year- and if you didn’t know her you would think she was fine, but her hoarding has increased drastically and the anxiety that goes hand in hand with this is really impacting on her and those around her.

The aspects of her life that she tries so hard to keep under wraps, seem perilously close to the surface and it’s frankly, really sad. I feel at a loss as to how to support her. Despite working in a relevant field and to an extent ‘understanding’ the origins of her distress, being connected to someone seems to make it that much harder to be objective.

I have always had a bit of an inverted relationship with my mum- she has lived her whole life with physical and psychological challenges (real and imagined) and I never felt that there was much room for my, or anyone else’s ‘stuff’- but that was ok, I had good friends, something she isolated herself from.

In more recent years I began to understand that I had felt responsible for her wellbeing, that she was the child and needed those around her to hold her in mind, to listen to and reflect her experiences, to show an interest in and care about her.

And then I got to thinking about attachment.

Attachment is the buzzword of this generation, it’s always topical (especially this week with the new NICE guidelines coming out…) and the theory can be a really useful shorthand to understanding some of the hows and whys we develop in the ways that we do. From babies to adults we can find attachment questionnaires and measures and can plot ourselves into an attachment style(s).

Attachment ‘difficulties’- it seems to me, are often considered as something that resides solely within our most vulnerable children- phrases and concepts such as ‘attachment resistance’ and ‘attachment disorder’ situates the problem very firmly with the child.

We are asking a lot of children to attach to people they don’t know.

We are asking a lot of children to communicate in a clear and sophisticated way about the things that the adult world has done to them.

A lot is asked of adoptive parents in terms of therapeutic parenting capacity and a willingness to educate themselves and engage with the dominant discourse of attachment.

I am very much of the belief that behaviours which may be associated with attachment difficulties, are a communication of distress, of confusion and of fear- they are survival strategies that children have developed and may take with them throughout their lives. And/or…they become part of a reparative process with people who can offer them something that their birth families couldn’t. Well, at least on paper..

I can see how my mum didn’t have her needs accurately met by her own parents and to an extent I can empathise, but sometimes it’s hard to know that the person who wanted children so badly was not accurately assessed as being capable- that her own attachment issues were never (and as far as I know) have never, even been documented.

I’m very much ambivalent, although I find that at different points in my life the way that I relate to others oscillates, so I’m probably a little bit avoidant too…and disorganised- heck, I think we are all on a continuum between the different axis of attachment.

But is my attachment style dictated by my adoption status? I’m sure being given away has impacted on my sense of trust in the world, I definitely don’t feel that I had a ‘secure base’ from which to explore life. From my perspective I experienced trauma before and after the adoption order was signed- the fact that I was placed with people who were unable to meet my emotional needs seems to me, more likely to be at the root of any ‘attachment difficulties’ I may have experienced.

And now I’m a parent too- so I think about my own ways of relating to and parenting my children- how will my experiences impact (or not) on them? I am far from perfect, but I do hope to continuously reflect on my own experiences of being parented and try and do it differently.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I think attachment isn’t really the child’s problem- it is the responsibility of adults to build up positive experiences and connections where there might not have been any. Our own attachment patterns and styles have a huge impact further down the line and these are equally important to consider.

Anna. W

 

Thanks Dad

Early last year we met our second child for the first time. Just one week earlier my dad walked out on my mum after 33 years marriage for another person. I was totally unprepared for the impact this would have on me and my wider family and more importantly, my growing but delicate immediate family.

 

At the age of 4 I lost my best friend (6), my mums younger sister to leukaemia, her death was never explained to me. Relatives sobbed around me but no one told me why, unwittingly misguided in their attempts to protect me. Therefore I have a deep seated belief system that people leave, people leaving is very bad and no relationship is certain – except those I had with my parents and sisters. I have avoided loss at all costs ever since. It comes in many forms such as being unable to listen to radio competitions as I cannot bear to hear peoples pain when they lose, moving right through to the extreme of shutting down and resisting the urge of walking away when people are dying. I am not proud of this and I have only fully begun to understand the impact of my first and subsequent losses.

It took until the events of this year to understand why I am able to avoid loss in its many guises yet be able to safely hold my first sons ultimate, most painful loss with strength, gentleness and a lot of thought. My counsellor eloquently pointed out that ‘there’s no bloody way you’re going to let what happened to you, happen to your children’ (she’s great I love her!).

“Both my sons have been well and truly rejected by their birth parents and this last year has given me a rare and valuable insight into how traumatic and deep that wound really goes – and for the first time ever, I’m scared of it.”

As an adult brought up in a consistently loving, stable family, I have never felt such loss, such rejection and abandonment when my dad left. It has torn away all my carefully built up layers of protection that surrounded any feelings of loss and exposed it to cold harsh air. It is painful and I have swung from anger and depression through to manic laughter and back again. Its going to be a long journey back to see what my new wider family will look like and our subsequent relationships, but what my dads leaving has also done has highlighted to me my sons losses. Both my sons have been well and truly rejected by their birth parents and this last year has given me a rare and valuable insight into how traumatic and deep that wound really goes – and for the first time ever, I’m scared of it. I had the good fortune of getting 33 years of my parents together, wanting me, wanting their lives together before it all crashed around us taking down part of my identity, my belief system, my self esteem, my ability to stay present and even my support network in the process. On days when it overwhelms me, I wonder, how will I get my two beautiful boys through this pain especially on those days with my eldest when I can already see it.

Dads ill-timed leaving meant that my attachment to my second son is slow and sometimes painful, his loss is exposed right alongside mine and I have had to dig more deeply than I ever thought I could to survive the past 9 months. I’ve been trying to bond with my son and therapeutically parent my oldest, alongside dealing with a suicidal mother, shut down sisters and a newly absent father. It has shaken my belief in my ability to hold my children losses for them, which I’m sure others submerged in the adoption world will agree, is a vulnerable state to be in.

We are told adoption is all about loss but I’m not sure I fully  appreciated what that really meant until I was emotionally exposed and open to it.”

I have hope that it will inform me, make me a better parent, strengthen my resolve and keep me going when times are black however, I have a tiny insight into how they may feel and with that has brought a lot of fear. We are told adoption is all about loss but I’m not sure I fully  appreciated what that really meant until I was emotionally exposed and open to it. I do know, that like my children, I am a survivor and once some time has passed, I’ll be using this experience, this unwanted life lesson and I’ll be a better bloody parent because of it, so thanks Dad, my sons will benefit from your life altering decision and for that, I am grateful.

Very many thanks to our anonymous blogger this week for sharing her story. If you have a post that you would like us to publish, please do email us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com

My girls are being bullied

This week is Anti-Bullying Week, and so it’s appropriate that we bring you a problem about bullying from a mum of two…please share your own experiences to help this mum and her children…

My two girls are 10 and 13. Both are being bullied. PP

They go to different schools, and have just a couple of good friends each – and even those relationships are rocky, so it came as no surprise to find that both of them are being bullied, one because she wears glasses and the eldest because she is adopted.

I’ve talked to both schools and surprisingly it’s the youngest’s school that is most willing to help and support – they’ve offered a buddy, a safe supervised space at lunchtime so she can get away from the playground if she wants, they’ve offered a word with the offenders, and the playground staff are going to keep a slightly keener eye.

But eldest’s school are less keen to step in, and have suggested that she needs to learn how to encounter and deal with this herself to prepare for the future, when they think it will inevitably get worse. I’m disappointed in this approach, but short of going to the Governors, is there anything I can do? My daughter is an anxious person anyway and I worry about the ways she might begin to express her anxiety at this obvious bullying.

You can find out more about Anti-Bullying Week here.