Saturday, 11 June 2016

Candy Box

For months now our eldest daughter MB has been enjoying watching children's baking programmes on her iPad. She is especially interested in grand cake designs (the ones with lots of sweets on them).

We have been meaning for awhile to bake together, the task ahead always feels too much. I feel safer baking a banana and chocolate loaf cake (safe but boring). So today while daddy is busy decorating we decided to have a bash at making a candy box cake.

MB choose the cake design and as we were heading out the door to buy paint and emulsion we made a mental list of the ingredients needed. Pushing the trolley around our local supermarket we pilled the items in.

Once home we realised that we had forgotten one or two ingredients, but oh well as usual we will be fine improvising.

MB did most of the baking under my beady eye. While we waited for the cakes to cool, the girls could hardly contain their excitement. The thought of eating the cake and sweets was intensifying.

After two attempts of making butter icing and four batches we were ready to decorate (I was loosing the will to carry on at this point), we sandwiched the cakes together and quickly popped into the fridge and prayed it would stick together. Once ready MB and her sister worked nicely together (I'm pleased to say), to choose and place the sweets on.

It was nice to spend some time doing an activity that MB has wanted to do for awhile and in the meantime making it a fun girly time. 

Here is a picture of the cake.... be kind it's our first attempt :)  Hopefully this will be the first of many, no rush though!

Candy Box

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Family Disruption...

In September I wrote about an up and coming assessment with a psychologist, Amanda. This was to enter the next phase of support in building a relationship with our youngest daughter, SB. We had a few sessions with Amanda. She is lovely, approachable and most importantly, understands attachment and the complexities surrounding it. However, despite the help and support, things were not getting any better at home.

For those that regularly read my blog, you will know from early on that my husband and I have struggled with adopting three children and not been able to build a bond with our youngest daughter. She, too, has not formed an attachment with us. Over the three years we have received intense support and things have improved, however, they have not improved enough and as a result we feel that SB is not receiving the emotional care that she needs. SB also has intense needs and being such a large family we were struggling to meet these on a daily basis. In hindsight, adopting three children was simply too much for us.

For the last two years we have discussed with the professional support around us the possibility of SB being better placed with carers who are able to give her the care and attention that she needs and deserves. The decision has been agonising to make and to be honest, I have often been too afraid to make it, for fear of what others may think and say and also that it may be the wrong choice. Being a Christian I was confused as to why God had allowed the girls to come and live with us, for it then to break down. Why would God allow such heartache, tears and sorrow? Over time and with the help of others including other Christian adopters who have dissolved (had an adoption breakdown) their adoptions, I have come to realise that often things don't make sense to us in the here and now. What is important is our hearts and attitudes towards God in the situation we are facing and then from that making the best decisions that are available to us at the time.

In January we both finally came to the decision that SB should move to a home with carers that could provide for her emotional needs as well as her physical ones. After three months of planning and meetings, SB has moved to her new home. It is still early days so the emotions and feelings around SB moving are raw and present for everyone involved.

Moving forward our hope is for SB to have all her needs met, for her to be loved and cared for so that she can grow and blossom. SB will continue to have contact with her siblings, friends and various family members.

We have been fortunate to have spoken to other adopters who have had to dissolve their adoptions due to various circumstances. Hearing their stories has provided us with guidance, strength and hope.  My wish is that our journey and experiences can be used to help others who may find themselves in a similar situation to ourselves.

We appreciate that some will question how we could have made this decision, however we do believe that we have made it with our family's best interests at heart. Our plan is to take time to heal as a family and to take each day at a time. I hope to keep blogging as we parent our other children.

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank those of you that have provided us with unconditional love and support both emotionally and practically. Even when you may have not agreed or understood our decisions you have still showed us kindness and love. For that we are forever grateful. x

Friday, 18 September 2015

Back to it...

In my last blog I wrote how our social worker is currently completing an assessment of need as we are looking to work with a psychologist for support around secondary trauma and parenting three adopted children. It has been two months since I posted that blog and we are still waiting, as it has taken our worker weeks to complete the report due to annual leave, a busy schedule and the difficulty of getting hold of a local psychologist who is willing and able to take on the work. Hopefully, next week we should hear back from the Adoption Support Fund with an answer on whether they will fund the work or not. If we get the green light then we have an appointment penciled in for later on in the month.

I keep going over the meeting in my head. My husband and I sitting next to each other whilst our social worker and the psychologist sit opposite us. I have already planned on cleaning the house before they arrive to make a good impression. You would have thought I would have relaxed by now, three years on from having social workers visit and assessing us - but obviously not! I can picture me detailing the key points from the last few years and then our social worker politely, professionally and gently interjecting and clarifying the points I am trying to make. After I have spilled my innermost thoughts I am hoping that she will hold all the answers and be able to repair the strain that hangs heavy most days between my husband and I with our daughters. I am not afraid of hard work, but thinking of what we may be asked to do to work towards improvement fills me with dread, and if I am asked to do any more Theraplay, I think I may just be sick!

Last week the girls started back at school. I am pleased to report that they appeared to have settled into their new classes well and are liking their teachers and are with their friends. Our youngest diamond started attending school full time on Wednesday. She has taken starting school in her stride and is coming home happy and is especially chuffed with having hot dinners and a pudding!

I'm not going to pretend that I'm upset that my youngest daughter is now in full time education. I wish I was one of these parents who stood at the classroom door with tears in their eyes, missing their child whilst watching the clock, willing time to fly by. But I'm not! I am relieved, a burden has been lifted, I can feel a sense of freedom and I plan to enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, I want the best for her, I want her to be settled and to do well at school - but the pressure that was on our relationship has been lifted as the time that we are spending together has been reduced.

Life for me has once again changed, my routine has been altered. I am currently trying to re-adjust my daily activities. I am juggling spending time with my little sapphire (which I love), whilst attending play groups, catching up with friends, cleaning the house and maintaining my self care. I feel like this time is special and to be treasured. It's a fresh start, new beginnings and I am hopeful things will improve as we seek help and continue as a family to build on our relationships.   

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.