Friday, 29 November 2013
IAmy has very kindly offered to write a short piece on her experience of Adoption ,another chance for me to reflect on how far she has come .I am so proud of Amy as she was often mentioned in reports by Cabrini Children's Society as being one of the most damaged children ever placed by them .Myself ,I am also amazed at times at how far she has come to reach the point she is at today .An amazing mum to Georgia who is able to put her past into context ,making her parent her own daughter from a very different place to her early traumatic childhood.
Hello ,My name is Amy .I am Fiona's eldest daughter.I am 20 years old and live with my partner Nick and our daughter Georgia .
I would like to start by saying a big Thank you to my mum and dad for doing something as brave and selfless as taking on two children unknowing how different and complex their lives would become .
I say my mum and dad with ease as they are very much my parents .
I may not have been born to them ,but in every way possible they are our parents.
I would like to share a little of what I can remember of those years following our adoption .
Growing up with Fiona &John has always been truthful with no lies or deception about our birth family .
As a child I would push mum&dad away asI didn't feel I was good enough or deserved their love and attention .
This obviously caused a lot of pain on mum and dads behalf .It is only recently I realised how truly horrible I was .Thankfully they didn't give up on me and eventually I accepted them as my parents .They would be at my side helping me out no matter how hard I made things for them .
I would also like to tell you about my first trip to see my birth family .I was 16/17 and had been going through one of my toughest outbreaks .I needed to find out who I was and where I fitted into world .
The day of the trip came and my emotions were everywhere .I will never forget the look on mums face as I left .She looked lost and hurt , She didn't know if I would be back and how much the experience would change me.
When I arrived at my older sisters house it was hectic from the word go !!!
Everybody including a fair few people I didn't remember were all crowded into my sisters house to meet me .
I remember really needing the loo and feeling like I was a walking art Exibition being watched every move I made.
Over the following week I learned that my birth mother still had a lot of issues with guilt and was clearly still a raging alcoholic .
On my return home to my family I knew I was in a better place , I was quite down as the trip had not given me closure.
Eventually I have accepted I have two families that I love and care for deeply but only one of them will always be there for me ,just like they always have been .
Since my first visit , I have been to see my birth family 3to 4 times . I now accept my birth mother won't change her ways , but now realiseAlcoholism is a serious illness.
For now that is all I will say .
Thank you Mum and Dad , I have a much better life .I have a beautiful daughter who I do the best I can for to make her feel loved and cared for ,but most of all SAFE.
Thank you for reading this , I hope it is helpful.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
I've decided to do a mid week blog , for a couple of reasons .
1. To get my head around what my friend is going through .
2.To offload so I don't absorb the energies and take them on .
Today I met with a friend for lunch , ironically we met in a coffee shop a few years ago , she had a hangover and I had gone out to escape the madness of teenagers going awall .We got talking and discovered she had two adopted children .She was struggling bringing them up on her own as her husband decided he could no longer take the pressure of living with the extreme problems they had been having.
How much is written about marriage breack up in Adoption ? I know off at least three during my time as an Adoptive parent so it must be much more commen than gets reported . It's tough being married and bringing children up at the best of times but children who suffer from attatchment disorder and RAD the pressures are far more difficult .In the three cases I know off , the Adoptive father cut ties with the children and no longer wanted to be involved .
Not only dreams of being a united family's were crushed .These women were left to pick up the mess, explain yet again to their children why another person who they were beginning to trust had walked out of their lives .Suddenly they were single mums and the responsibility was all theirs .
My friend , I will call her Jane was left with two young children , one with severe attachment disorder .
Eventially her son was taken into Residential care five days a week as diagnosed with severe attachment disorder and borderline Autism which Jane believes is part of his attachment disorder .Jane has her son home every weekend which puts her under huge stress as the change is too much for him and conflict increases with his sister making every weekend a battle ground.This results in him returning to school on Monday just to repeat the cycle the following week .Janes son comes home in the holidays which become a time where Jane treads on egg shells and the family go from one drama to the next .
Today my usual upbeat ,though down trodden friend appeared to have reached her tipping point .Her 14 year old daughter is beginning to display similar attachment issues to her brother now and I only fear that these will worsen in the next year going on my experience of parenting teenage adoptees .Jane has now found out that the residential school will not keep her son after May 2014 when he becomes 16 .Naturally Jane is very apprehensive about the thought of having her son back full time .
Originally when her son went into care , Social services kept asking her if she was giving her son back to their care .Jane could not bring herself to disrupt and decided to manage the situation ,having him home at weekends and holidays .
My question is : When a child who is unable to stay with their family full time reaches 16 and can no longer stay in education where is the support going to come from ?
By the end of lunch I managed to persuade her not to bury her head in the sand .May is not far off .I have advised her to get back to the Adoption agency and arrange a meeting to discuss future plans for her son .
Unfortuantly Jane has reached the point where she has been so ground down by the lack of support over the years that she vowed she would never contact social services again .Many of us have reached that point many times but sometimes you have to throw the problem back as you can't do it by yourself anymore .
I await the result of her enquiries but have an uneasy feeling in my gut that the help will not be there and Jane will be left to struggle with this dilemma on her own .
My fear is eventially Jane will have no choice but to throw the towel in and yet again an other
disruption number will notch up on the undisclosed statistics in the UK , never to be spoken about again .
I believe that the adoption support packages the government is promising all Adoptive parents should be for life not just for childhood .
Saturday, 23 November 2013
The theme of @adoptionsocial this week is stories , immediately the importance of reading to your children comes to mind .
If you ever had an excuse for some cuddle up time with your children , reading that end of day tale to them may just do the trick .
Children who have sufferred early life trauma often don't enjoy closeness but I always found that reading to the girls was a speacial time for us all to put the trials and tribulations of difficult days to rest .Bedtime is also a good time or dad to get closer and often wind down time from a hard day at work .
When the girls were in foster care their foster mum had read to the children every evening and was a strong believer that reading to children was a huge part of the attachment bonding process.
During our placement period , John and I would get the children ready for bed and then it was down to story time .
Both our girls were late readers which worried me as they were falling behind at school .I was advised by a speacial needs teacher who I knew well that because of early trauma sufferred the brain could only cope with so much and she ensured me that the information would be stored until they were ready to process .
Sure enough just before year seven , Amy miraculously started to read .Not only a little , lots it was so true the information was there just waiting for the right time and space to let it out .
I always say "Thankgoodness for Harry Potter " . Amy became totally addicted and reading became an escape from the reality of coping with daily life issues.
Lauren was slightly harder to pin down as she would do anything to escape to the outdoors .I would say her reading only really improved in her final years in secondary school , she still doesn't pick a book up .
The girls had their favourite books , We loved "Guess how much I love you " and "Wer'e going on a bear hunt ".We read it so many times we knew the words off by heart and we were often heard shouting the words " Splish , Splash , Splashing through the mud on our country walks .
My advice is ,no matter how slow you feel your children are progressing at school carry on with the "stories " every night and just when you least expect it those words that you have planted with love will slowly start to emerge and that will be one of those moments when you realise it's all been worth it .
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
The other day I asked my daughter Lauren to write me a few lines on how she felt growing up as an adoptee .I feel touched at the piece she wrote and would like to share her views . Funny what memories stick
Being Adopted at such a young age sounds great "Yes it is", although you don't fully understand the full story then .I was adopted at five years old with my older sister Amy .I don't remember all of it as I was so young .I always knew I was special and was chosen by my new mummy and daddy , John and Fiona .
I don't remember much but we always got to see our brother and sisters .There were a lot of us all split up .
I remember living with a lovely lady and her husband who we called Aunty Brenda and Uncle Barry .I didn't remember any other home than there , which was probably a good thing in many ways!
I remember one Christmas a lady and man talking and playing with me and Amy .I remember I really liked them ,they both always seemed so happy .
I can remember the first time we went into "Our new home " I was amazed it was beautiful , a lot different from the one I was in before .
They told us we were going to be our new Mummy and Daddy .I was so happy and so was my sister we would actually be able to call someone Mummy and Daddy .
We got asked if we wanted to see our new bedroom , we were so excited !
I just remember being told to be careful as the stairs were so steep .When we got to the top and went in our new room ,it was painted blue and had two matching beds either side ,it was great .
I remember moving in just before Christmas it was great ,exciting .I loved my new homes, my school and I always found it easy to make friends so I felt I fitted in perfectly ,which we Did!
I would say we are a pretty close family , we have lived with our parents for nearly sixteen years , yes we have had our ups and downs , but what families don't?
I always know , what ever happens my parents are always there for me , like they have been through all the struggles my sister and I have been through such as meeting our birth family .
I was sixteen at the time I went .It still feel likes a big blur and was very odd going back and seeing people .They would say "Gosh don't you look like Chinky " . I was used to that name and knew who everyone was referring to , My Birth Dad !.I never knew his real name , I only knew his as chinky .Everyone says his eyes looked like a Chinese persons eyes which would explain a lot .I was always called Chinky too. I always thought growing up I was different to my other brothers and sisters , their eyes were wide , mine were really small and thin and people at school would call me Chink , which I hated .
It was odd seeing how things were back then but it always makes me think "God what would I have been like now it I wasn't Adopted".
While I was there I would have family members say " Do you remember me , I can remember you , you used to stay with us when you were little " I would look at my sister Amy and think " Who is this person ? "
We went for a week and it was an experience ! We came back home and it seemed as if I didn't want to be around my adopted mum and dad a lot .I think seeing everyone in my birth family hit me hard .I didn't want to say anything out of anger to hurt them .I stayed at my boyfriends all the time and around friends and skipped school as I didn't want anybody telling me what to do .
I felt I needed time to get myself back , it was a strange trip seeing people we hadn't seen for years and not remembering who they are .Seeing my dads family who didn't know I existed and my mum was still drinking herself silly all the time .It all seemed like such a pointless journey .It makes me so much happier to be where I m now .Yes things were tough but I will always know mum and dad are always here like this past year where my life has been so difficult .I love them and I love what they have done for me and my sister .I am so happy where I am in my life and wouldn't want to change my parents for the world.They are my mum and dad for life .
Friday, 8 November 2013
Barriers , that and the word Roller coaster come to mind when I think about Adoption . .Hopefully things are changing in the Adoption world with wonderful connections like the @Adoption Social to unravel some of the myths surrounding , who can and cannot adopt and learn first hand from people who really know , The people who take these children on , You and I .
The first barrier we came up against was from family members .After suffering years of recurrent miscarriage and time to consider our future we decided Adoption could help us cope with the dilemma we felt not having a family. Coming from a large family and being the oldest of five children was a very hard reality to face when our attempts to build our own family failed .
My siblings all popped children out like peas ,and as I quote my late mother 'What was wrong with me , your sisters had children ok , I had five children , Why can't you ? "
Needless to say when we did decide to approach my parents to talk about adopting , we were very surprised to find the subject being changed and there was no attempt to discuss the matter further . I found out later that they said Adopting would be the worst mistake we could ever make !!!!!
Being a headstrong person ,I decided to ignore their unhelpful views and pursued our dream to be a family anyway .My parents never knew anything until we had a date to meet the girls for the first time.Eventually they accepted our decision and although they didn't see the girls often as we lived at opposite ends of the country ,they did their best to be good grand parents .
My proudest moment was when my father said that what we had done with the children was incredible , considering his previous comment this was a revalation .I actually believed that he was right many times through our years together due to the trauma we lived through .
The people who you feel are going to be your best supports , may actually turn out to be the barriers you least expected .My husband and I also had a close friends who as soon as the children were placed disappeared from our lives ,never to be seen again .Who would have thought that in this day and age people could act so strangely to our decision to take on two little girls .
Then there was church, I had a period pre Adoption when I needed to try to make sense of my life and
looked for a place where I would be accepted and the children and I would have an extended area of support .
Everybody was very excited about the impending arrival of the girls , many cards were sent and prayers said . How lucky was I , to have such wonderful selfless people in my life.
The girls were welcomed into church and loved Sunday school ,all appeared to be going well .
After the honeymoon period , the behaviour issues started to rear their ugly head .
Where were those people who said they would be there when the s.... hit the fan .Praying is ok , Practical help and support was what I really needed and that was nowhere to be seen . I felt let down and saddened , Eventially this resulted in me leaving the church and looking for other support .
Then there were barriers trying to get support , many hours were spent writting hundreds of letters always trying to justify that we were in crisis .In hind site this would not have been nessessary if a support package had been in place for us , this was a further barrier once the adoption was completed as we then had to go through the local authority which was a complete nightmare .It is my opinion that a support package must be in place for every child that's placed in an adoptive placement .
Barriers like these fifteen years after we adopted should no longer be an issue but I will hold my breath and watch the future headlines and watch the disruption figure's rise if the government fails to deliver its promises that we have heard like gospel this last year.
Then there were barriers in the teenage years , just when you are beginning to think you might just be getting somewhere , along comes social media , peer pressure and birth family popping up from very direction .
So I think the word Barrier comes with the job of being an adoptive parent .To survive you have to be there at every opportunity with the biggest weapon you have to beat those barriers . That is your guts and determination to get through every wall that the people , institutions and children put in your way.
Do that and you to will look back and realise that no matter how tough the barriers were .YOU DID IT WELL DONE ?
Friday, 1 November 2013
I thought it would be interesting to talk a little about the pre teen years with my girls . The girls came to live with us when they were five and six so the middle years were on us far quicker than we would ever imagined .
The early years had been a real challenge with contact issues with their siblings .Toni and Keiren had decided to stop seeing the girls and Kirsty had had her first child and was settling into her relationship and new flat as a young careleaver.
We had seen the new baby when she was about four months old and thought that meetings would become less due to the distance .
This turned out not to be the case as Kirsty's partners family were from Weymouth and it wasn't long before we received a call to say they were coming to the area and could they come and visit .
As usual we kept the impending visit from the girls due to past experience of over excitement and last minute cancelations .
We told the girls we had to go into town and we would take the train. As the train pulled up at the station we had to stop the girls jumping aboard. The dismay and excitement that happened next as they saw their big sister , boyfriend and Casey walking towards them was enough to bring a tear to our eyes , in fact many tears were shed at the start and ending of any sibling gatherings .
It was a big step allowing a meeting in our own home but Kirsty had now left care so we felt it was the way forward .
The girls loved showing them their rooms and showing off where they lived .Not wanting to be overpowering parents we decided to go out and leave them to have time together .
We left then to reacquaint and set off with our dog for an hour ,a much needed breather for us as these meetings can leave you very drained .
The day turned out to be a success and although sad to say goodbye it was much more normalised than having a support worker saying it was time to go way before the children had a chance to rebond .
Only a few months had passed when we received a call from Kirsty to say they were going to be moving down to Weymouth ,this came as a bit of a shock to us at first and we were concerned about the impact this was now going to have on our family life which was already miles from the idea of how we had expected our experience with adopted children to be like .
The first visit was at Monkey world , the day was one of those warm sunny happy days and it was wonderful to spend the day together as a big extended family .
The way we coped with our arrangement of being part of an open adoption was to see us as two families .Sometimes we were just the four of us , living our everyday lives ,and sometimes we were a much bigger family when we came together with Kirsty .
I always saw Kirsty as part of our family so it was easy to fall into the bigger role , what I did find difficult was the communication about other family members , mum ,dads and cousins that I knew of by name and little else , that's when it became difficult .Kirsty would talk of babies being born ,even more relatives building by the minute .Even now when the girls talk of the birth family and call people their sisters , brothers or cousins I am completely lost .
I am relieved to say I no longer lose any sleep over something that is far too complicated in the eyes of evolution to understand .
So that was it , Kirsty had moved to within an hours drive from us ,we had no choice but to embrace it .
The first time we went to visit their new home , the girls were so excited .They could not beleive that the sister who had run away during our placement was now right on our doorstep .
Kirsty kept a lovely house and was a good mum .
Amy kicked off a bit at first ,as there were pictures of her birth mother on the shelf .This was something we hadn't thought about .Needless to say after some reassuring the visit was a success .
We had two black cats at the time .Kirsty had also decided to get two black cats .We beleive somehow subconsciously she was trying to recreate the happy household that her sisters were in .
We would go over to Kirsty's every two weeks.The girls loved it ,we would go off for a few hours for long walks and began to relish in a little us time ,which didn't happen very much in those days .
From this post it is clear to see that ,you must Expect the unexpected in Adoption .What you initially sign up for may become very different .
Be prepared to let go any conceived ideas , it's a roller coaster .
Remember birth family never go away .Somehow you have to learn to accept this or you will not last the years ahead together as a family .
We survived but didn't find things easy and in my next post I will talk about when a wedding happens in the family and how things can change all over again !!!
Friday, 25 October 2013
I thought it was ironic that the title for today's blog is 'The Future' .As a person who has spent most of my life dealing with the residue of trauma residing in the hearts and souls of my children ,the future used to be a place I looked forward to with hope in my heart for theirs and our own lives .
This year has turned that completely on the head due to 2013 being as the queen once called a 'Annus Horribilis '.
Don't get me wrong we have had happy moments .Our beautiful granddaughter Georgia came into the world , it's hard to believe she is now four months .Amy is doing really well .
We had a few hiccups two weeks into her arrival ,Amys partner Nicks sister arrived with her five children and decided to stay for six weeks in their tiny one bedroomed flat .My husband and I were very concerned as the situation was echoing a former life and Amy seemed to be just oblivious to the damage this may be doing to her relationship with Georgia let alone her partner .Thankfully they have now moved on and Amy and Nick are now just beginning to see how a new baby changes your life.
When your adopted children grow up they have a tendency to attract people into their lives who have also suffered problems in their early lives .The issues that have arisen in their relationship not only have echos from Amys past , it has now become clear how Nicks past and damaged childhood is coming to the surface now Georgia has arrived .
John and I are now spending a lot of time overseeing and explaining tactfully that the baby is now No1 and they cannot just blow all the family budget on tattoos which proudly celebrate family as being the centre of their world !!!!!
On the plus side Amy looks after her daughter so well , her obsession with time means Georgia is already in a very set routine and nothing is allowed to get in the way of the feeding , bathing and bed routine .I am very proud of how she is gaining confidence as a parent ,considering she has no positive early experiences to call on .
Lauren and Amy have also become much closer and Lauren is an amazing support to Amy and she is also learning how to parent herself and is showing herself to be a great auntie as well as showing a natural ability with children . The future I expect will not run smoothly at times but Georgia is surrounded by a supportive family who will be there to guide and love her .
Unfortunately John was made redundant in June , my hopes to concentrate on Adoption support have had to take a back seat and I am now working part time .I have also had to resign from my Psychotherapy course due to an incident which left me with no choice but to be true to myself .Ironically my blog was at the centre of my decision to leave .
I started this blog in January of this year to help others see that surviving Adoption is possible , the processing of this experience into words has been very cathartic for myself and being able to make sense of what at times were some of the hardest times in my life .
I feel the future for Adoption is uncertain .If Social services continue to place children without sufficient post adoption support the only figures that we will see rise are disruption numbers and of course we never hear how many adoptions disrupt before they even reach the courts to finalise the placements .Its time we got to see the true picture .
Social Media is changing the face of Adoption , people like myself who have lived through the experience from start to finish now have place to voice the truth and help others have hope that their future can be bright .As for closed Adoption I believe they are well and truly in the past .Adoptive parents have got to be prepared for social media and the intelligence of our younger generation to know more than we do .Regardless of how much we try to monitor what they do online ,they will find away , always .
I fear more and more children will end up in the care system as the under privileged struggle to manage financially .Drinking and drug taking is rising in a generation of young people with little hope of job security or securing a permanent place to live .
The future is uncertain for all of us and it may be better to make a difference today and do what we can to correct the mistakes we are making in our society now .Lets concentrate on improving whats staring us in the face today and maybe just maybe the future will be bright .
IAmy has very kindly offered to write a short piece on her experience of Adoption ,another chance for me to reflect on how far she has come ...
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I've decided to do a mid week blog , for a couple of reasons . 1. To get my head around what my friend is going through . 2.To offload s...
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