Saturday, 8 August 2015
In the week that we have seen the sad closure of Kids Company and BAAF , two massive organisations that were at the hub of our support and care for vulnerable children , young people and BAAF's lifeline for Adoptive parents on many a tough day . I am pondering after bringing two children up since the ages of five and six whether there will ever be enough money to throw at such a massive problem .
After seventeen years , with just two children's early life trauma effecting our lives and their's everyday, I ask myself what does the government expect to happen .Shall we just stick a plaster on the wounds of early life and they will just dissapear, or shall we continue to lock up young care leavers as it's easier than supporting them to adult hood .
My last blog post talked of my daughters decision to go back to where her birth family live . Six weeks later I feel quite different about my feelings on this matter .At first I have to admit I was unprepared at how the grief of my Grandchild being hoisted to the very place where Lauren was removed for her safety all those years ago was almost too much to bear .
I grieved my own losses all over again as if it was ,all those years ago . The babies I had hoped to give birth too being snatched from me before I ever was able to hold them in my arms .Here I was again history repeating itself , my grandchild , the one I helped bring into the world was also being torn away barely out of the womb .
It has taken me a while to get my head around why I felt the loss so deeply . I had allowed myself to beleive that I now finally felt that I had a complete family, all the heartache and exhaustion of those early years had been worth it .I knew I could love these children in a different way and they would replace the pain of all those difficult years . Trough them I believed I was finally healed .
It has been a tough lesson for me yet again . In Adoption you can never assume that our family's will be complete as the reality is that right from day one we are entering into an agreement to care for these children as if they are our own .What other's don't realise is that there are always little signs to remind you that they are not your own and we are only looking after them until they are old enough to make their own decisions .As Kahlil Gibran quotes " And though they are with you yet they belong not to you " .
I am still finding these feelings hard to accept and deal with but I am slowly coming to terms with acceptiance that the relationship I have with Luca will be a very different one to the one I have with my other grandchild Georgia .
The joy I feel in my heart is like no other , as I hear the screams of delight when John and I arrive to visit , NANNY , GRANDAD , she shouts with excitement . That joy is something I waited a
long , long time to hear .
I am struggling at the moment as the family I thought we were has again become disjointed and disfunctional . A month ago Lauren went to visit and check the area out and has not returned as yet .We get messages to say she has'nt got enough cash to book tickets , or that she will be home on a certain day but as the day approaches another message of dissapointment arrives .
This behaviour has helped in a weird way as it is nothing new .Growing up , if Lauren went to friends or to stay with boyfriends it was very hard to get a time of return .
I am also struggling accepting that certain lifestyle choices are not frowned upon when she is there and I struggle with the anxiety of the reality of what the future may hold for them both .
We also live in a culture where it is expected that a home and finance is provided with no effort on their parts .I fear that our society actually fuels situations like these .Again I question is money the answer or are we just building a bigger
problem as our Government slowly starts to claw back those Benifits they gave so easily with little thought for a nation of young people who have never learned that one has to work hard for what they get in this life and nothing comes without a price .
Attachment Disorder .We as Adoptive Parents hear that word mentioned so much as we grow in our relationships with our children .I will say now and many may disagree but I beleive this is where the real problem lies .
As your children grow does this dissapear as you provide them with a stable home ? Do they make friends and form good relationships that last ? Do they find parenting easy , having missed so much of their very important formative development .?
NO ! Attachment Disorder stays with them , it just shows through in different forms .
Today I can see so clearly Lauren's Attachment Disorder shining through as bright as day . How easy she finds it , leaving her lovely little flat empty with no thought for her possessions .How easily she can walk out of our lives , taking our beautiful little Grandchild to call others Nanny and Grand dad , How easy she can walk away from her big sister and Georgia and not ring . How easy she has settled into a house with her sister and her six children surrounded by people who are her Birth family but who she has never really known .That is how Attachment Disorder works . If I remember that as I put aside my own grief , I can just, if I watch very , very carefully see the effects of how Early life Trauma changes Lives for ever .
On a final note , I have no personal insight into What happened at Kids Company .My own gut feelings tell me that the problem is way too big to be healed by throwing millions of pounds at it . I fear for those young people who benefited from the support and safety they received through this organisation , who at the core of all the mess believed they could make a difference .
Saturday, 4 July 2015
I love this picture , it was a poignant moment for me .Finally I felt complete , my girls had come along way and I was now Nanny McFi with her two adorable grand children all those years never quite sure whether the girls could work through their early life trauma , the rage filled early years , the teenage war years , full of weed , domestic violence relationships and teenage pregnancies . Finally we were going through a more balanced stage or so Î thought !!!!!!!!!
On the 11th of March 2015 I cut the chord of my beautiful grandson Luca , for someone who had avoided maternity hospitals and visiting new babies , I suddenly found myself at 2.30am being at the birth of Luca . All of my reservations about hospitals , not being a birthing partner for anybody were suddenly disguarded with Lauren going into full blown labour and giving birth to Luca at 3.30 am . As I cut that cord I felt all my own years of pain and inability to carry full term just drift away , here was that little boy I had waited so long to watch come into the world . I felt Life had come full circle and finally a new chapter in my life could begin .
Lauren took to motherhood straight away , we felt closer than we had been for many years having shared such a poignant moment together . I suddenly felt that we might just have reached an acceptance of where we belonged and be it a bit of a disjointed family , that's what we are a family .
There is only one forgotten point in this and that is this family is not a small secular unit of six , there are other people involved and regardless of how much as Adoptive parents you muddle along this is a fact that cannot and will not ever go away.
Lauren decided she wanted to go and see her Birth family and share their new little nephew , Grand child and Great grand child this was not a surprise as contact has always been open since both girls decided at sixteen after contact on facebook that they wished to reconnect .! Over the years they have both visited once or twice a year ,these visits have always been thraught with Drama but eventually it was agreed that regardless of the life differences it was beneficial to the girls to see their birth family .
The visit two weeks ago was no different to usual , Lauren and Luca set off to see the family she has never lived with from two years old .
I had several call,s over the week , this was unusual but I felt a good sign as she felt the need to connect with us even when she was away .
On return I started to notice Lauren was distant from us , having had years of fall out from family meetings I put it down to the usual sadness at leaving Kirsty her sister .
I decided just to check in everyday and monitor her low mood .
It was during one of those well being checks that Lauren announced the one thing that subconsciously had been my biggest fear , she wanted to move closer to her sister and the rest of the Birth family .
At first I think I went into shock and disbelief mode , all the years struggling to unravel the complexities of abandonment , neglect and Attatchment issues , my daughter wants to go back . My initial reaction was disbelief , sadness and Fear , I felt all those years of struggle flooding back .Had I put myself through all of this for nothing ,I was devastated .
Lauren spent several days back and forward , saying she was confused but somehow through her muddled brain drain I could see she had already made her mind up ,she needed to do this to find herself .
Suddenly I woke up , this is not about me , the sadness of having my grandson snatched away before I had connected and built a lasting relationship , this was not about what we had been through as a family , this was not about the past , this was about not about whether I had not been a good mother. .This was about Lauren , her need to work out where she fits in , where she belongs .
Having Luca had opened old wounds , unanswered questions had surfaced and although not ideal if going back to connect with her birth family was how she can answer those vital questions , then so be it .
I explained that the sadness she saw from me was nothing to do with thinking she has chosen her birth family over our secular unit .I have no issues that I have only done my best , I have always answered any questions they asked growing up , let them go at 16 when I felt my heart was being ripped out .No I have done my best .I love both my girls very much but Love is not enough .
I am writting this as many of you are in early days of your Adoption journey. I want to say
Never underestimate the need's of your children , Loss and abandonment stays with them regadless if they were five like Lauren or adopted from birth .Eventially they will want to find out in their own way what happened , where they belong and where they will end up .
It's with that thought that I let go of what I cannot control , I have to trust that Lauren will be OK and whatever happens , We did our best .
Monday, 2 June 2014
The last year has been very challenging with our new Grand child , my husband redundancy and going back out to work .
I now work part time as a benefit Advisor for a Disability Charity and find keeping up with the latest DWP info is a challenge in its self .
Lauren still lives with us and has had a hard year coming to terms with the horrific Domestic violence she suffered whilst living with the boy she became involved with at school .
Amy is still with her partner and Georgia is walking and approaching her first birthday .
I originally started my blog as away of making some sense of what we had lived through during bringing the girls up over the last fifteen years .
The girls have enjoyed reading my blog and have also contributed with their own views of Adoption .With no baby books to fall back on and only a life story book telling the story of their previous life it has enabled them to piece their early childhood memories together ,having forgotten many of the memories due to the early life trauma that fogs them starting life in a new family.
Having lived the dream I am pretty qualified on the pitfalls and joys of the Adoption world to pass comment now and again .
After seventeen years I have decided I have had enough of dragging the past up , reliving how hard it was does not help me move on and rebuild my life again post children .The whole process left me very fragile and I have needed time and a lot of self reflection to reconnect with myself and see a very different life ahead of me .
If you have read any of my posts you will know my husband and I adopted our girls at six and five and survived through some very traumatic times as well as having a pretty open Adoption .
The girls are now 21 and 19 years old .Amy is a mum to Georgia and life is now very different for them now in the adult Adoptee world .They now balance two families ,being in regular contact with their birth family .
My reason for changing direction with my blogg is to get the message across that Adoption really is a life long commitment and just because the girls are now adults their needs remain very complex .
I also feel by not talking about the issues Adoptees continue to have into adult hood I am discounting any young person who has spent time in the care system or a loving Adoptive family but still struggle with Identity and trying to find their place in society .
Over the last year as an Adoptive mum I continue to parent Amy and Lauren and support them as they learn to live in the Adult world .The difference now is I do it from a different place , the balance of being their for them as a loving supportive mum ,balanced against making them responsible for their own choices and actions is often a difficult role .
Amy parents Georgia from a very different place to her beginning in life and it is lovely to watch her attachment grow and the joy she shows .
I have also noticed that Georgia is already a much more Independant baby to most her age , most young mums ponder to their babies every move , Georgia held her own bottle very quickly and eats almost everything she is given .
Amy and I have very different views on how baby's are fed , I found it difficult to watch as Georgia was handed a bread roll and ham at eight months and had great fun tearing and throwing it all over the floor with the bits she managed to devour reaching her mouth . Bibs are a waste of time as far as Amy is concerned as Georgia tears them off .
After watching the ITV programme the secret life of babies , I can now see Amy is instinctively parenting Geogia having no past experience to draw on .
Apparently the messier children are allowed to eat the quicker they learn .I now hold my hands up and ditch my own perfectionist super clean upbringing and complement Amy in fallowing her heart .
Just like parenting Amy as mum , I need to work on choosing my battles as Nanny McFi .
Believe me there have been issues over the last year , far more than I would want to share on this page, but the main point I want to emphasise is my girls are doing just fine under the circumstances they are often attracted to .It is not my place to act as judge and jury to the choices they make , the mistakes and how they overcome the lessons they are challenged with through adult hood .
The time has come for me to let go , let go the story of how hard Adoption has been and how it still challenges me .The time has come for me to concentrate on my own self love which I have neglected for way too long .
I will still post occasionally positive milestones in our family lives and I am still contributing to Twitter and I am happy to help if anybody needs support .
For me now , I am taking a huge leap of faith that There is life after Adoption .
Friday, 11 April 2014
FREEDOM , the title for #WASO this week .Freedom is not a word I believe goes hand in hand with the complexities of Adoption .
Only the other day , Amy approached my hubbie John ( pushover dad ) with the idea that it would be nice if we had Georgia to stay once a week .! Much as I love my little Grand daughter I nearly choked at the thought of being tied down every weekend after finally getting a bit of my life back after years of the tribulations of bringing up two Adopted children .
Freedom is something you dream about when you are in the thick of Adoption Mayhem .I remember wishing so many times that I could just turn the clock back and had been able to accept that I couldn't have children .I wished I was travelling the big wide world that could so have been my oyster .I wished for freedom to go for a wee without one of the girls rattling the door and crying a Mum, Mum ,MUM!!!!!!! The very word that I had always dreamed to be called , I so wished for the freedom of being just plain old Fi again .
Alas as soon as you decide to put your foot on the ladder of the Adoption World you lose every bit of freedom you ever had.Social workers want to know every little detail about your past life pre children .If you have been through the mill in relationships , infertility and family issues they want it all , every little bit of the gruesome details .Many times you will find yourself reliving the pain of every failed pregnancies or failed IVF treatment .No there is no freedom in Adoption.
The Happy day arrives and you are accepted by the panel who now also know every little detail of your sad little life and it dosnt stop there as your details are passed on to every hopeful Adoption Agency you approach regarding finding your little family .
Never mind ,once the children arrive you can get on with your proper job and finally have the freedom of not being branded childless .
The children are now with you , the dream of Freedom now a distant memory .
No longer is your time yours , no longer can you walk out the door with your mobile phone and your keys just for company .
Life is now a juggling act ,a military operation and if there is a change of any arranged plans , a war zone of screaming children hellbent in showing you every little bit of the pain they are carrying in their little souls .
Ah but wait ,the Social workers are now gone you scream with delight ! Wrong you still only have looked after children ,months of stress awaiting the Adoption hearing and assessing your ability to parent the children is still on the agenda .
Finally you rejoice the making of your family is now complete , grasping that certificate you can finally breathe .You are free you are a family at last .
Next day reality sets in , You now hold the certificate but the problems are still there .RAD doesn't dissapear with the signing of the judges pen . Contact issues still exist , Loss is highlighted they now have new parents and they cannot live with their siblings anymore .Where is the freedom in that ?I
As the years go by , time is taken up with weekly therapy , school meetings and fighting to get support.Holidays take a different meaning with Adopted children , no longer are you free to relax and let your troubles melt .No they come with you !
Time goes by and the children grow up into young adolesants , boys , drink and drugs and the freedom of a whole nights sleep replaced with anxiety and ear strain , and the boundaries you worked so hard to place shattered as they force their new found independence and well chosen peers upon you .
Finally they fly the nest and a little glimmer of the effects of your parenting starts to shine through ,they come to you for advice , a place to cry and offload their early adult problems . They return to their roots and reconnect with their siblings and birth parents ,a period where freedom from stress and sleepless nights is a normal every day occurrence .
Thankfully we survived Adoption , both our girls have come such a long way .Amy turned 21 last week and parents Georgia with confidence and love .Lauren has got a nice new job and has her old sparkle back so for the time being , I really do feel that I am getting a bit of freedom back into my life and much as Iove spending time with Georgia , I also enjoy handing her back to her mum .
I end this post with not a glimmer of guilt at not being the perfect Grandmother , Adopttion is tough ,coming through it in one piece and surviving it takes a long , long time .
I am going to enjoy every little bit of the freedom I waited so many years to reclaim ,For that I offer no appology .
Many of you will relate to what I have mentioned in my writting , I wish you all the Hope of Freedom , it will come eventually , just hold that thought .
Thursday, 20 March 2014
it's been a little while since I have published a post.This weeks Adoption Social topic was recipes .I thought about what that title means to me regarding Adoption .
I tried to recall favourite recipes the girls liked and all I could think about was the control battles over food at mealtimes and the teenage years when they refused to eat anything I prepared .
Lauren still very rarely will eat a meal with us and she has been back at home for eight months .I used to take it personally but now I know it is a means of control and even now Lauren still has to always be in charge especially when food is concerned .
In December we took a young person in to our home . The nice thing is when I bake or make meals she loves to eat them .After over fifteen years with my girls it is a relief to have somebody living with us who will actually eat my food .
Incase any of you were thinking that they might have been trying to tell me something , I can inform you I come from a family of amazing cooks and I am trained in patisserie and confectionary .
I also have vivid memories of baking days with the girls in the kitchen , The picture of a yummy mummy in a Cath Kidston Flower adorned apron was as far from the real scene as you could get .
I wrestled with two power crazy siblings determined to get every little bit of my attention to themselves and Woh behold the child who was in charge of the wooden spoon . Baking sweet delights in our kitchen was not on the agenda .Our projects were often abandoned due to meltdown of either girl and I ended up wondering who actually was the adult in the kitchen as I quickly dissolved into an emotional wreck .
Eventually I found separate baking days with the girls was the only way forward and even then due to Amy's attention levels resembling that of a Knat , I was often left knee deep in Sponge mix as she stormed off to her next drama.
Cooking at school was also an experience in our house , I remember very clearly Amy's GCSE Food Technology antics .
Cheesecake . Gosh cooking had changed since my Home Economics day 's .I could not get my head around why making a cheesecake every week with varying ingredients of differing fat and sugar levels would give my daughter experience in her future domestic life in the real world .
Regardless of my fury over this , my angst at being handed the list of ingredients at 8.30am on the day required was often enough to drive me to breaking point.
I was seen at the schol gates at break time pushing the dreaded cheesecake ingredients through the school gates as even though I threatened there would be no cheesecake today I couldn't quite ever carry my angst out and leave Amy the only child with no ingredients .
Never mind, you are all thinking we would have lovely deserts to consume at tea time .I am saddened to say a complete cheesecake never quite made it home intact and believe me there were many of them over that GCSE time !!!!!On the positive Amy passed her GCSE with flying colours .
Regardless of my lack of happy memories of cooking with the girls , I do believe there are certain ingredients required for a successful Adoption,
A sense of humour
Most of all , you will need an inner belief that you will make a difference in these children's lives .
It may take time but as the years go by with a lot of unconditional love you will see a light at the end of that very long tunnel .
What ever recipe it takes to make your family work , handle it with Love and Respect , Bake it till secure and well formed and relish in the knowledge and words of the great Helen Keller.
Alone we can do so little ; Together we can do so much - Helen Keller.
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
Today is Safer Internet day . As an Adoptive parent I wanted to draw attention to the vulnerability of the internet for children who have suffered early life trauma .When we adopted our girls sixteen years ago the popularity of mobile phones was only just starting ,in fact during our placement we purchased our first phone between us !!!!!!!! That would be unheard of in our house now .
Who would have thought that technology would have moved at the speed it has .Who would have thought we would witness children as young as five with their own phones!
As my girls were growing up ,pester power began and eventually we gave in and Christmas and Birthdays changed from Barbie and Polly Pocket to arguments about the latest electronic equipment.
Initially they were more of a status symbol to keep up with their peers but eventually the introduction of BBM and Facebook we noticed a change in the way the girls used their phones and computer .
Lauren was able to multi tax at a speed that enabled her to convince us she was doing homework but was holding a large line of online friends on hold .On looking over her shoulder I then came across a language I could not understand and believe me I tried . The computer at that time was a family computer and we monitored time spent , but the girls were so fast and so techno Savy that we soon got left behind .
We soon began to lose control on their online social lives and resorted to communicating on the dangers .
We were often involved in incidents when arguments got out of hand with friends and a barrage of nasty exchanges would end up with parent interaction and grounding .
As Lauren got older it became fashionable to take pictures with friends pouting in less than appropriate clothing , it became hard to keep tract off as they were all doing it .
The incident which I believe taught Lauren the best lesson on the danger of the Internet was when during a sleepover with a friend a picture of a boys attire was forwarded to them as a trade for a topless picture of Lauren .
The problem escalated when her friend told the boy my daughter had posted the picture .
In revenge Lauren's picture was sent to the boys contact list and as you can imagine this then escalated virally .
Unaware of this teenage game , I was very surprised to receive a call from the school advising me that there was a picture of Lauren inappropriately dressed .I explained to the teacher that this modelling behaviour was something I was aware of and I would try my best to get the message across.
When Amy got home , I discussed the phonecall with her . I was completely shocked when she announced that Lauren actually had no top on !!!!!!
Lauren suffered the backlash from this incident . It was interesting the boys didn't give her as hard a time as the girls in her school where she became the brunt of their nasty female teenage tongues.
This was not a good time for Lauren and going to school became very hard .
As I knew the incident would blow over and Lauren learnt a very important lesson on the danger of displaying her body on the net .
We were lucky ,we communicated openly on the dangers of what she had done and she was able to learn from it . Many others are not able to communicate with their parents and become insulated and withdrawn . The incident could have ended in a much different way with the bullying and shame leading my child to self harm or even end her life .
We had many issues during the girls early teenage years ,and we were amazed at the number of young boys who see phonographic material as the norm ,ironically this leaves young girls with low self esteem as they view images of airbrushed adult bodies and leaves the young man thinking that this is what he has to conquer to get to manhood.
Facebook enabled the girls to contact their older siblings which resulted in a return to the birth family by Amy at just 17 and their was nothing we could actually do .
My girls are now 19 & 20 and the teenage crazes are now in the past .
Amy still posts every mood and event she experiences on a daily basis .Like most parents she does post pictures of her daughter but believe me I have made it very clear that their are no sweet little naked bath pictures as I have seen posted many times by people , naive of the damage this may cause now and in the future.
Technology is here to stay and as Adoptive parents you have to be hyper aware of the vunerability of the children you have taken in to your lives . It is a well known fact that children with Attatchment issues don't make friends easily and an escape to cyber world can give them a network of so called friends often as vunerable as them . (Like attracts like ,believe me ) .
It's very easy for a birth parent or sibling to pose as a prospective new friend under a new name .(Lauren's birth dad tried to do this through somebody else's page )
We have survived the ups and downs of the growth of the internet , and I personally couldn't live with out my friend Mr Google .
I still point out dangers to the the girls but they are now adults and it is now their job to make sure their children stay safe .
I somehow fear that this will be something that will be way out of any parents control by the time this generation reach puberty .Being aware and keeping ahead of what is trending in our children's lives will enable us to hang on just a bit longer by that rapidly disappearing privilege of knowing our children lives inside out .
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