Sunday, 26 July 2015

Family Life with Secondary Trauma



Curled up on the sofa, watching telly whilst the rain continues to fall I thought I would catch up with my blogging. It's been far too long. I have missed sharing our days and touching base with other adopters. The reason I haven't blogged in a while is because I don't want to bore you with the same day to day routines, squabbles, hit and miss parenting techniques and tears (mostly mine).

Over the last few months our days have continued to be an emotional roller coaster. Life with the older two girls is filled with cheeky fun, they are growing in their confidence and have settled into their new school, made new friends and are happy to help (sometimes).  Our youngest daughter and I are still struggling to bond and it is leaving me feeling emotionally drained, I can tell it is impacting her too. Things were becoming more manageable however her behaviour over the last few weeks has changed, she has begun to try and control situations and people. If she is asked to carry out a simple task she will ignore you. She loves to wind up her sisters and this ends in tears - usually hers. These behaviours have meant that I have found it harder to be around her and stay regulated. Reflecting on what may have caused her behaviour to change, I believe it may be due to her preparing to go into reception. When I asked her how she feels about starting school, she replied that 'she feels shy.' Its understandable, it's a big step. However I am confident that she will be able to adapt and after a few days she will be a confident little madam who will thrive.

Recently the adoptive blogger 'The Boy's Behaviour' posted a link titled 'Secondary Trauma in adoptive parents.' By Amy Sugeno - Here is a link to the post if you wish to read it: Secondary Trauma. Having read the article I was blown away by how much of the piece I could relate to. It dawned on me that the level of anxiety and overwhelmed feelings that I am experiencing is due to secondary trauma. We receive regular support from our post adoption social worker and during our last session I have raised that I feel that in order to mend the relationship between myself and my youngest I need help with my emotions and feelings. Our social worker is currently completing an assessment of need form and will then apply to the adoption support fund and hopefully we can find a psychologist to work with us. If anyone has information on secondary trauma or has experienced it - please share your experiences and information with me, I would love to hear from you.

The summer holidays are going well so far. I was dreading them as the girls have eight weeks off school and that is a long time for any parent to fill. We have visited the park several times and have had a number of picnics. We even managed to have a fantastic family day out at Legoland. The kids were so excited to go and sitting on the pirate ship with my eldest daughter while we both giggled away was a precious memory I will treasure. I am trying to take the pressure off myself and take the morning easy whilst getting the four kids ready and then take a stroll out in the afternoon, meet up with friends and enjoy the company and sun (hopefully).

We have another couple of weeks of making the most of what the local area has to offer and then we are off on our holidays! Again, the thought of packing and taking four kids away fills me with anxiety, but I hope I can take it all in my stride and enjoy what's on offer.

Well, that's a round up of our news and brings you up to date. How are the holidays going for you? What fun and creative ideas have you planned for the long British summer days ahead.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Taking Care






Well it's day 100!! I have completed the challenge!

Firstly, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has joined in. Whether you have shared one photo or 100 it has been great sharing in this time together.

Personally, I believe that taking care of yourself is at the root of being able to care for others and us adopters know too well that caring for our children is a big and interesting task.

You may have noticed a lot of food and drink shots. Just out of interest, I had to count how many of my pictures included food, cuppas and glasses of wine and in total there were 63. Out of those 63, surprisingly, it was only 29 pictures that were cake and chocolate-related (I thought we would be looking at higher numbers than that!) I guess food and drink is my main source of self-care!

I hope that just because the challenge has ended that we do not loose the importance of self care on a daily basis. It doesn't have to be anything huge, in fact there can be great benefits from having 10 minutes with a cuppa (and cake), a walk around the block or a soak in the bath.

If you fancy a look at the pictures that have been posted please click here. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Pressure Cooker!

Living with adoption to me is a bit like living in a pressure cooker! 

The mix of ingredients - the complex relationships, the muddle of emotions, the behaviours, the history, the feelings, the tiredness.... I could go on and on! 

I guess the holidays have a lot to answer for - the build up, the heat, the arguments getting bigger and bigger, forced to spend each minute together!

This afternoon I sent an email to an adopter stating how well I had done this holiday, whilst I had struggled on day one and half of day two, I had managed to turn my negative emotions and feelings around and began to quite enjoy spending time with the kids, friends, family and making the most of the sun.

Tonight all that changed! I blew my top! The pressure cooker had reached it's limit and the steam escaped! It was over something and nothing really. My girls were being horrible to each other (all day for two weeks) and then telling on each other as though they were innocent little angels.

It got to me and I blew! Can they not see that they are as bad as each other? Can they not see how worn down and tired I get when all I can hear is constant bickering! Am I worried about it? No, my sister and I would have massive arguments and we are now the best of friends! But, I am sure as hell worn out by it!! I had had enough and for about 5 minutes I let them know how much I'd had enough!!

At this point my husband took over and I escaped to what would appear to the outside world to be pampering myself by blow drying and straightening my hair (when in fact it was a coping strategy). As I was taking some deep breaths I looked out the window to see my lovely neighbours on their way out. To be honest I had a pang of jealously. Here they were going out on a summers evening for maybe a lovely quiet meal together, where they could relax and enjoy each others company. For all I know going to Sainsbury's to do their weekly shop, but even that seemed a better option to me in that moment.

Moments later my thoughts were disturbed by my middle daughter as she came to ask me if she could have a hug. As I looked at her with open arms she gave me a huge hug and as I said sorry so did she. We hugged each other harder and she told me she loved me more than anything in the world, my eyes filled with tears. "I love you too", I replied. Minutes later, another knock at the door. This time it was my eldest daughter. She too wanted to say goodnight. We hugged, I said I loved her, as usual she doesn't reply, but it's okay, it's hard for her to say. Then I hear my youngest clambering up the stairs. "Come here" I say and she gives me a big hug. It's hard for us to look at each other at first but then we say "I love you" and off we go to brush her teeth. Tears well up again in my eyes. Do I feel guilty about exploding, funnily enough no, but I do feel proud of all four of us for repairing our relationship and moving on.

I said to each of my girls, 'Let's try again tomorrow'. So that is what we shall do.

Try again tomorrow..... Pressure cooker reset!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Taking Care!



This weekend has been amazing, re-energizing, quiet and peaceful. A well needed break from the chaos and drama that plays out on a daily basis in our household.

My parents have been kind enough to have our three diamonds for a weekend stay. It is something that we are hoping will be a regular set up as my husband and I feel the need to have respite.

Over the last 70 + days myself and a few other adopters have been taking part in the #takingcare100 challenge. The idea is that you post a picture of something you've done to care for yourself once a day for 100 days. This helps you to make sure you do something caring for yourself at least once a day. I think when you are sharing this with others it encourages you to take the time to have a treat.

Self-care appears to be a hot topic in the adoption world at the moment and rightly so! If we as parents are not in a good place then how can we give the best to our children? I don't know how we could cope as a couple if we did not have the emotional and practical support from our family and friends.

So, this weekend we have enjoyed a walk in the forest, stress-free roaming around the shops, yummy food, bottle of wine, good T.V. and quality time together. This time is priceless!

As we walked through the forest today, I smiled as I realised how much nicer my husband and I are to each other when we are not having to constantly pick the kids up on their behaviour and the stress is just not there.





Do I feel guilty about feeling so free? No, not at all! I'm sure the girls are enjoying themselves and are enjoying being spoiled by their grandparents and we also deserve a break, a rest. I also have to think how I am going to manage the next two weeks and it's a great start to have a breather at the beginning of the holidays!

So, thank you mom, thank you dad and thank you to those who will be helping me survive the next two weeks!

Here are some pictures below of the things I have been doing to take care of myself - Yes, most of the pictures contain food! If you would like to join in on the taking care challenge click here.

A fellow blogger, Hannah Meadows has written a lovely seven week series on self-care. Within her posts she gives some great ideas on how to care for yourself. If you would like to read her posts please click here.

Hannah has also set up a survey to research into adopter's thoughts on the topic of self-care. She aims to write a book to help parents to care for themselves. If you have a couple of minutes to spare please stop by and complete her survey - it would be much appreciated. Thank you! Please click here to go directly to the survey.

I hope the holidays are a happy time for you and your family and that you manage to find time to rest, eat chocolate eggs and take care of yourselves.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Doing this alone...

The other night as we sat down for dinner my husband shared how his day had gone. During the conversation he mentioned how he had attended a meeting for a teenage lad who had sat through the discussion displaying disruptive and challenging behaviour.  I questioned as to why nobody i.e. a room of professionals had not taken control. My husband replied that no one quite knew how to handle the situation and it was silently agreed to just ignore the behaviour.

This led me to think about how alone we are as adoptive parents. There has been a number of times where we have been clueless about a certain behaviour or situation. We have often felt torn and not known how to respond. Do we go down the therapeutic route? Do we take the Super-nanny approach? Do we discipline by taking treats and favourite toys from them? Or just ignore the behaviour? I have to say I think my husband and I have tried every option listed above and we are not convinced that any have had a profound or life-changing impact. Am I expecting too much? Probably! Does it take longer than a few months or a couple of years to change behaviours? Probably! This may be the case but I keep asking myself how much longer can I keep going? I feel as though I am constantly firefighting rather than building loving relationships. How can I do both, I ask myself daily? How can I help these children who we decided to take on, whilst I enjoy my life and live above the chaos and the drama?!

The firefighting is becoming more and more. I thought it may increase as they grow older, become independent and hit their teens. However, the decline in behaviour hit an all time low yesterday when we received a call from the school stating that one of the girls had taken a couple of items from another pupil's bag and then on top of that, had spun a number of lies and had tied herself up in them. I felt sick to my stomach mainly because of the lies she had told, but also how could she make such a wrong choice. Selfishly, perhaps, I couldn't help but think how does this all reflect on us as a family? What do the teachers think of us as parents? Do they judge us or can they see the bigger picture?

Next week we have a meeting to discuss two of our girls and how they are developing, any areas of concern and how these areas can be addressed. I pray that the school are able to understand how the girl's early trauma has impacted upon their lives and how they respond to certain opportunities. I also hope that our Social Worker can support, and if necessary, advocate on our behalf and that the points my husband and I would like to raise will be taken seriously. 

I think I find it harder as I am constantly analysing, are these behaviours due to their ages, their past, their new school, their new friends or maybe it's a mixture? What leads me to further frustration is that at the end of the day I can feel so alone. Sure we have people around us who care and support us, but when all is said and done my husband and I are alone trying to figure out the best way forward. I have to say at times it feels too much, too overwhelming and suffocating. At times I get a glimmer of hope, maybe we can make a difference, maybe we can help these girls. I guess I have to cling to that hope right now and trust that God will work all of this together for good.

Recently the subject of taking care appears to be prominent in the world of adoption. It's as though this must be at the core of every adopters daily existence otherwise our worlds are going to collapse inwards and the effect this would have on ourselves and our loved ones would be devastating. I received an email today from someone who is working to raise the awareness of adopters needing more support, in the hope that this may reduce the amount of disruptions that take place. She is also working towards supporting those who have experienced a disruption as there is a lack of support out there for these families. It's as though the subject is uncomfortable for some and a definite taboo for others.

More desperately needs to be done by adoption teams to support and equip adopters from the moment they inquire to when the children are living in their adoptive homes. I feel that the only way things will change is if we as adopters stand united and make the point clear that we don't want and can't parent these children alone. We need informed teams of professionals and loved ones working with us daily and not once in a blue moon after an incident has occurred, parents are drained and relationships have been strained.

We need more support. We need to take action. We need to be heard. We shouldn't be doing this alone.

A group of adoptive parents' have been taking a picture daily, as we have been trying to take better care of ourselves. If you would like to take a look at some of the pics or join us in the fun then please see the link below or check us out on Twitter using the #takingcare100. 


 http://threediamonds321.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/happiness-photo-challenge.html









Thursday, 12 February 2015

Happiness Photo Challenge Week 4


Week 4 Happiness Photo Challenge: 

Week four and we are still here having fun sharing our happy moments. 

It has been a great support to have a window into other people's happy moments in their day. So often we can get bogged down in the craziness of each day & it really lifts my spirits to pause, snap and share those moments of happiness.... Yes even if it's just a cuppa! 

So here are my photos from week four: 

Day 22 - I was so tired, so my lovely husband told me to go and rest. I slept for a few hours!! A bit longer than I think he thought I would be! 


Day 23 - Sunday roast cooked by the hubby!! Delicious, warming, comforting, family time! 



Day 24 - Hubby and I escaped for the night. Spa, birthday celebrations, massages, dinner, champagne, fun, bubbles!! A wonderful time out, something I feel is so important. 



Day 25 - I thought I'd treat myself to a late Christmas present. 



Day 26 - Spending time with my oldest daughter whilst helping her with her homework. Precious bonding moments. 



Day 27 - Feet up, hour to myself. Delicious treat! One of my favourite cakes! 



Day 28 - Today is a song. The family and I danced around the kitchen & living room to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. Lots of fun!! 

So that's the end of week four, if you would like to join us please link up your pictures using the #takingcare100. 

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Week 3 Happiness Photo Challenge

Week three and we are still going strong. A handful of adopters have been posting their pictures using the #takingcare100 to show how they have been caring for themselves whilst having fun. 

In this post I will do a roundup of week 3, reflecting over the happy and positive moments that have brought a smile to my face. 

Here we go... 

Day 15 - There is no other way to kick start the week than with a coffee & cake. This was a nice and relaxing couple of hours spent with the hubby and three of our children in one of our favourite cafes. 


Day 16 - Whilst shopping in a busy shopping centre with four children this was a very welcome break. 



Day 17 - Monday's always seem to be challenging for some reason. Not sure if it's the fact that family members are all doing different activities and it unsettles the girls or if it's settling back into routines. Or maybe it's both.. Either way this glass of wine was very much needed!

 

Day 18 - Time spent with a lovely mummy friend. Quality time supporting each other. I decided to take better care of myself and swapped a cake for vegetable soup and was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was! 



Day 19 - With the busyness of having four children I don't always get as many cuddles with my oldest two daughters as I would like. It was lovely to take this moment with one of my daughters when she was so tired & upset and needed her mommy. 


Day 20 - Whilst walking to playgroup with my youngest two it was lovely to get caught up in a snow shower. If you look closely you can see the flakes. 


Day 21 - Hubby & I don't get to spend as much quality time together as we would like, so it was lovely to go to a work function for the evening. We had a nice time catching up with people, eating yummy food & drinking wine. 


79 days to go... If you fancy joining us it would be great to have you on board. Just link up your photos on social media using the #takingcare100.