Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thief in the night...

Your advice, fellow adopters, would be much appreciated. I'm struggling to get my head around a problem that has cropped up in our family over the last few months...

We moved our two eldest daughter's (aged 7 & 6) bedroom downstairs. They seemed happy to move, liked the decoration and enjoy sharing a room. Since moving them we have periodically noticed that food has gone missing. When I say food, it is mostly sweets, chocolates and biscuits. We don't have much in the house but at certain times, Easter, birthdays and Christmas time we, like most families, stock up!

We spoke to our post adoption social worker about this and she felt that it was most likely due to our daughters past (lack of consistent meals) and it was a learnt survival behaviour that perhaps during times of stress she would demonstrate. Fine! I can understand that and carry bags of empathy for a child who has not known where or what their next meal will be and why should they trust the next set of adults who come along? However, our daughter has been with us for nearly two years and of course my husband and I (and other family members and friends) have fed her three meals a day, not to mention all the treats and snacks in between. Before living with us she enjoyed the same routine for two years in foster care. So why does she still feel the need to take whatever grabs her fancy? We have tried talking to her about the issue but she closes down and is not able to answer. I have tried to monitor the situation and can not find a link between changes, hunger, anxiety, stress, good or bad days.

Our Social Worker suggested leaving out some food for our daughter to eat in the morning when she woke so she would not have to wait for us to give her breakfast. I left an apple (a fruit she enjoys) on the kitchen worktop and told her to help herself if she so desired. The following morning I came down to find her eating the apple. As I went to pour her cereal she went to throw the apple in the bin. This led me to believe that she is not taking food due to hunger as surely she would have wanted to finish the apple before beginning her cereal. Later on that same morning I found that she had taken some Skittles which were on the side. Again, this guided my thoughts to her wanting certain foods rather than her being hungry.During the rest of the day she will usually choose healthy items for pudding, i.e. an apple or grapes, rather than the cake or sweets that the other children ask for. Yet the food she is stealing is always junk food.

Not only have we tried to talk to her and reassure her we, against our Social Worker's advice, have punished her too (no treats or TV). Some of you may disagree with this but when you are at the end of your tether and are desperate you will try pretty much anything. Despite all of this though, this morning two boiled sweets had gone missing again. After a couple of hours she admitted to taking the sweets and we had a cuddle whilst I tried to label her feelings and behaviour to help her understand and to see if she could help me to learn. 

The reason I am writing this now is because despite our best efforts and involving our social worker she is still taking items that she shouldn't be. I would welcome help from adopters or professionals who have experienced the same or similar and have found a way to help their children.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Response letter to Mr Timpson

Dear Mr Timpson,

Thank you for your letter (to view the letter click here) which you published during National Adoption Week, although it was good to see some government input during this important week I am still left with some concerns and many questions.

Firstly, I do not feel that the letter you wrote was publicised well enough, I only happened to see the piece due to an adoptive parent sharing it online. I believe that if your views are to be taken seriously and that we will see the change you write about, then it needs to be shared with Local Authorities, Adoption Agencies, copies sent out to all adoptive families and shared more widely with the media.

As an adoptive parent to a sibling group of three, reflecting over your comments on recruiting and matching adopters, it throws up some thoughts. I feel that aiming to get adopters approved in 6 months, whilst there are some benefits to this, I worry that prospective adopters will not be prepared sufficiently enough in this time. Learning from our own journey, the preparation leading up to the adoption was poor and inadequate. I do not think that the ‘one stop shop’ that you mentioned is widely known by those thinking about adoption. Having looked at the site I feel that it is okay as part of ones initial research. However, there are some idealistic statements on the site such as ‘It’s a long process but over time they will learn to trust you and it will transform their lives – as well as yours!’ I don’t feel that blanket statements such as this can be made, as for many the journey is relentless, under supported and the trust that is mentioned does not arrive.

You comment about the money that is being poured into both the voluntary sector and Local Authorities. However, what you have failed to mention is how this money will be spent to benefit those of us who have taken on the biggest challenges of our lives, parenting these often troubled children, whilst saving you money by taking them out of the care system.

At the end of this section you evidence how many children have found adoptive families and detail the 63% increase in the last three years. Whilst this may be positive, you have not addressed how many of these placements may have broken down or are on the verge of collapsing. The focus should not be on how many children were placed but what is being done to keep these children within their new homes.

You then begin to discuss the ‘Adoption Support Fund’ to improve access to therapeutic services. Again I do not feel that this scheme has been publicised well enough. I do not know which ten local authorities or voluntary agencies you are working with to trial this. I am interested to know if your findings will be shared with the public, when exactly this may be rolled out to us adopters who desperately need the specialised support and what hoops we will need to jump through in order to be approved for it.

 When looking at how to support adopters more thought needs to go into the daily issues that slip under the radar during the preparation stage that have a massive impact on adoptive families. Issues such as Post Adoption Depression, managing behaviours, complexities of the attachment and bonding process from the child’s and parent’s perspective etc. In our experience we have had a social worker sat in our house while our daughter has thrown a big tantrum and they have not known how to respond. But yet we as her parents are left to manage this and expected to manage it appropriately taking into account their past, feelings and fears. Post adoption social/support workers need better training and need to have a clearer insight into the problems that we are battling with each day so they can confidently share this knowledge with not only the parents but those supporting (ie: grandparents) too.

Due to health reasons we have needed to move our children to a different school, this was needed as a matter of urgency and we believe that them having an adoptive status made this process easier and gave them an advantage over other applications. For this we are grateful, as they are able to continue with their education in a stable and well-equipped environment.

Whilst we are on the subject of education, I do believe that head teachers, teachers and support staff should be trained on issues that may arise for adoptive children within the educational system. For instance, issues such as struggling to concentrate, finding certain subjects or conversations difficult or the stresses that homework places not only on the child, but on the parent too.  I feel that this would better equip our teachers and would provide a more comfortable learning environment for the child.

The pupil premium funding seems to be unclear in my mind. The money in your words, ‘is to help make sure vulnerable and disadvantaged children get the support they need to thrive at school’. However, at both the schools my children have attended they do not seem to look at their individual needs and then put resources in place to assist them but rather put on activities for the whole school or year group such as a breakfast club. I am not sure how this enables my children or helps them with their education, development or self-confidence. Surely the aim of this funding needs to be re-addressed and schools need to be taught how to better spend this form of support for adopted children!?

In reference to your comments on health and the CAMHS service which is available, I feel that whilst we certainly need a service helping our children with their mental health, the CAMHS workers need to have a much deeper and better understanding of attachment problems so they can help children and their families to tackle and address the issues. I believe that the waiting list for a service such as CAMHS is far too long. I think this can put people off accessing the service and I also believe that further problems can occur or problems grow deeper whilst people wait to receive help.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on a subject that is close to my heart. I look forward to your response.

Adoptive mother of three.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

National Adoption Week. Life with a sibling group.

As it's National Adoption Week and the focus is around adopting sibling groups I wanted to share our experience and join in the discussion.

There are so many things I want to share shout from the roof tops, but not all of it is appropriate to detail in a blog and some of it you would just not believe. 

I have read a few articles and blog posts this week on adopting sibling groups and surprisingly a fair few posts from adopters who have taken on sibling groups of three.  Sadly, there is a concurrent theme - family life has been turned on it's head, life is hard and challenges are presented daily. Their stories are filled with pain, disappointment and uncertainty.

Our story is no exception.

Perhaps my husband and I were naive thinking we could manage the various attachment issues that we would be met with, maybe we were not given the full picture by those caring for the girls whilst in foster care or possibly it was the lack of preparation by the Local Authority. It could be an assortment of all three elements. Either way it has resulted in our dreams of taking on our diamonds has not become our reality thus far. 

So what are the challenges?
  • Never being able to split yourself equally.
  • The fight for attention - as my husband said 'from day one we were outnumbered'. 
  • Trying to understand whether their behaviour is linked to their past, their present or their age. 
  • Then deciding within a split second the best way to respond. Therapeutically? Empathetically? Super Nanny style? What was that sentence my post-adoption social worker said to use? 
  • The behaviours that take you by surprise and send you into a mild panic ie: stealing food and cutting hair.
  • The intensity of one or more of your children always wanting to be close, always presenting a need to be met and once that need has been met presents another one. 
  • The exhaustion. 
  • Lack of understanding from other people on adoptive parenting and people questioning us as to why we are parenting differently.  
  • Being able to bond and attachment difficulties. 
  • Feeling disappointed in your parenting and therefore feeling like a failure.
  • Finding and holding onto the correct form of support.
Are there fun moments? Sure, we have moments were we laugh like crazy, sing our hearts out, cuddle and have vague thoughts that we are making a difference.  But if I am 100% honest these moments are less than I would like.

One of the purposes of writing this post was to raise awareness into the realities that us adoptive parents can face on a daily basis and the need for more post adoption support. Far too many families are left to just get on with it and fend for themselves after taking on children who are traumatised.

I would say that in some respects we have been fortunate in that we have had a post adoption worker and she has helped us enormously and more importantly truly cares about our well-being. However, I still feel that more should and could be done to support us and I think this may be an ongoing discussion battle!! I tweeted earlier this week stating that I want to raise awareness, make a difference and demand more help for adopters, but like others I don't know how best to go about this. As one of my fellow adopters of three put it beautifully, 'how do we get them to see the pain behind our eyes?' Other than them walking in our shoes and feeling the pain I'm sad to say that I don't know what the answer is.

Surely, we have to keep on raising our voices and helping others to see the pain and challenges that we face daily in trying to love and care for our children who have had such a harsh start in life.

We must keep on hoping and believing for the best - for all of us.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Sweetest Place...

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
What higher service could you for Him fill?
It's hard! Ah yes! But choicest things must cost!
For lack of losing all how much is lost!
It's hard, it's true! But then-He gives you grace
To count the hardest spot the sweetest place.

 J. Danson Smith

Friday, 19 September 2014

Dark Days....

I have been quiet on the blogging scene for awhile, the reason I hear you ask is because things are difficult in our household at the moment. I often like to write about things in hindsight, once it is all done and dusted. I worry that people may judge us, criticise or just simply won't be able to understand the complexity of what we face as adoptive parents. To be honest I am not sure that I will press 'publish' once I have written this post and I am sure there will be plenty of editing and if I'm brave enough to press publish, I will await people's responses with apprehension.

However, these difficulties we are experiencing are not clearing up. The longer they go on the harder it seems. One way I have found help in order for me to cope is to reach out to other families, especially adoptive families. The online community of adopters has been great and I WELCOME any help with what we are facing.

So what are the issues?

Where do I start?

I desperately want this adoption to work.

I desperately want to make a difference to her life.

I desperately want to love her.

I desperately want to bond with her.

So why is it so bloody hard??

For over a year I have struggled to bond with my youngest daughter, KS. I have worked and worked on this issue with a counsellor and my social worker, not to mention reading various articles, books and talking to friends and family. However, I am still unsure of exactly why this is case. Things over the last few weeks have hit crisis point and I have asked myself a few times whether I can carry on. Needless to say it has taken my husband, social worker and friends to put me back together so I can keep on going.

Since spring last year KS has been wetting herself daily. It started with just once or twice a day, but this has slowly built up and pretty much she only uses the toilet if promoted or if she needs a no. 2. To say that I have been frustrated is an understatement. She used to be potty trained in the day and was doing really well. Thoughts of why she has regressed have plagued my mind. My husband and I have tried everything we can think of - reward charts, praise, anger, asking her sisters to take her and sticker charts. Nothing seems to work or hold her attention for long enough. She will be four in a couple of months and as time goes on it leaves us feeling more and more desperate. Our social worker has explored the reasons behind the wetting and why the above may not be working. She has suggested that I need to work on my relationship with her and then, God willing, the wetting will cease. This sounds easy in principal, however, how do you do this when you feel so low and you are struggling to build a relationship together. Many people have said it maybe due to her little brother arriving, and this may not be helping, but it started before he arrived and I don't think it is as simple as that.

KS for a long time now has been displaying intense needs. Given her past it is understandable but funnily enough that doesn't always make it easier when dealing with it in the moment. Over the last couple of weeks, with the help of my social worker, I have been working hard on trying to meet her needs, sadly this is often through gritted teeth. Interestingly, once I have met one need she immediately displays another. I can find this extremely exhausting as she keeps on moving the goal posts. As a result I am left feeling drained and as though I cannot meet her needs. My social worker and I discussed this at length this week and it is a possibility that she is trying to sabotage the relationship as on a macro and micro level this is what she has been used to. This behaviour can often throw me and at times I have sat there overwhelmed, feeling inadequate, with tears in my eyes asking myself again and again, how can I meet her needs and I am the best mommy for her?

Some good news to throw into the mix is that she has begun to settle down at night. She had got into the habit of lying in her room singing at the top of her lungs until 9pm or beyond! We are not sure what has changed to make her go to sleep quietly. We are just happy that she is quiet!

It may sound silly and I hope the point of what I have learnt does not get lost in translation whilst trying to explain. Recently I spoke to an adopter who has experienced the dark days that we are currently negotiating our way through.  She was full of good advice and one thing that she said that stood out was that we would never be a 'normal family'. It suddenly hit me that I had been subconsciously striving to be 'normal'. I have thought that if I can just solve the wetting and the intense needs, then all will be fine! Well that's a load of rubbish because actually, as parents of adopted children, there will probably always be some complex, deep-seated issue that we are trying to help them with.

I was also advised by an adopter to try and separate my feelings for my daughter from her behaviours. This is something again that had become deep rooted in my thinking that I didn't realise. Again, I thought that if I could just solve her current issues then perhaps it would be easier to build a relationship.

I haven't wanted to admit it for months as the shame of not coping has felt too great, but I have had to face it recently. I am at times battling depressive thoughts. I have started some herbal medication and I hope this can take the edge off the low feelings. I have also built in 'me' time which seems to have helped as it recharges my batteries and gives me a chance to relax and smile.

We made the decision this week that little one will attend nursery full time. This has felt like a huge weight has been lifted and the anxiety reduced. This will hopefully allow me to better meet her needs when we are together.

Time will only tell if these changes will help sustain us through the hard times. I desperately hope so as we did not enter into becoming adoptive parents lightly and ideally my husband and I want this to work. We want to look back when they are older and think "yes that was hard work but well worth it."

There are two reasons why I am sharing our story with the world. One is to gain any help and advice from those who can relate to the above and secondly, to let others know if they are experiencing the same that they are not on their own. It would be lovely to connect with you if you sit in either camp....

Thank you for taking the time to read this looonnnggg blog post....

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Our Summer in Pictures....

Our summer has been a little crazy, but we have made it to the other side. Thought I would share some pictures so you can see what we have been up to....

Lazy days on the beach...

Day trips out

Bank Holiday fun

Picnics in the cold

Fun in the Park
Plenty of this stuff to keep us going....
Birthday Celebrations!!!
& finally I am learning to have a bit of me time.....

Friday, 1 August 2014

Story of My Life

Since having E.J. the girls curiosity has naturally grown into their birth family history. The questions have been more frequent and you can see their little minds trying to make sense of who they have lived with and the time frames this all falls into. They have included questions such as, 'Where was I born?' 'Who's tummy was I in?' and 'Which hospital was I born in?' Whilst addressing these questions the best I could, my eldest daughter told me that she could not remember what her birth mother looked like. I thought now may be an appropriate time to tell her that we had been given a photo and then asked her if she would like to see it, to which she replied that she would.

Taking down the life story books from the attic, I felt nervous to share the information as I know in the past they have got upset and on occasions, experienced nightmares when confronted with their past. Sitting down at the dining room table with my oldest two daughters we opened the books. My oldest daughter only wanted to look at the picture of her mom, cried, cuddled me and then put her book away. My middle daughter however wanted to look through the whole of her book. Sitting next to her I nervously turned the pages and sat anxiously while she scanned the photos. Again, she cried and needed a cuddle. Since looking at her book she has been struggling with missing her birth family. I found it interesting to listen to her as it is clear that she does not understand time frames or when people were or were not present in her life.

My youngest daughter sat on my lap earlier today whilst looking up at a blown-up picture taken from on our wedding day. She asked me where she was when that photo was taken. I wasn't quite sure how best to answer, as at the time, her birth mother would have been pregnant with her and how do you explain that to a three year old?!

What I have found to be positive is the fact that the girls are able to talk to my husband and I about their feelings and feel safe enough to ask various questions. We knew at some point we would need to address these topics and I would rather have an open conversation with the girls over the years rather than deal with it in one go when they hit puberty! Another positive is that they have taken to their little brother and are keen to cuddle him and to help me with little jobs that need doing. I believe that the girls feel included and this is important for them. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Key...

I've been a little quiet on the blog recently, not because it's been quiet but just the opposite. I feel as though I am in a place where I can share some of what's been happening and where I am at now.

You may or may not know that I have been receiving counselling over the past few months. During this time I have not found the sessions to be massively helpful but it has helped me to see that the difficulties I am having are not just one sided. It is complex, layered and each element plays it's part. With the help of my Social Worker, husband and a friend who I am working closely with, I feel as though I have found the key I was looking for.

That key is forgiveness.

It is not an easy key to use and at times I would rather hold a grudge, sulk, throw a tantrum, walk away or just cry. But I am learning to let things go, pick my battles, forgive many times a day (some days) and to move on. I have learnt that forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a choice. I think for me that has been the hardest part, letting go of how I would like to respond and choosing forgiveness.

Another area I am addressing is to have faith in my parenting and my decisions. Okay, I'm going to get it wrong. I'm not saying I am, or can ever be, perfect. However, I am not stupid either. I know my children (some things still come as a surprise) and with a little guidance (Okay quite a lot of guidance) we are doing a good job. You only have to look at the girls to see that we can't be massively off track.

I still feel as though I have some way to go and I may even find myself in that place of unforgiveness and resentment again. But I feel as though as an individual and as a family we are making progress, building bonds and moving forward.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Our Celebration week...

Half seven on Wednesday morning we all woke, ate breakfast and then the task of bathing three kids began. Once clean, they got dressed into their matching two piece outfits. They looked beautiful and I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride as I looked at my daughters.

Cute outfits bought by Godparents.
We were then off to the Court to attend our 20 minute slot for our Celebration Day. The mood in the car was playful and light, mixed with a bit of apprehension. Once we had arrived we were shown into a room full of big, stuffy looking books on law and a large chairs facing inwards to make a circle. Our two Social Workers met us there and while we waited for the judge we made small talk and tried to keep the girls entertained with the pictures in magazines on law.

I had presumed we would be taken into a large court room but instead we were called through into a smaller, less formal room, with a large dining table, fire place and another circle of large chairs all facing each other. The judge had a grand red chair which the clerk politely made clear was for his honour and not for us. There was part of me that was disappointed as I quite fancied going to a court room in all it's glory, however, I think the less formal room and all sitting round together probably worked better for the girls.

The judge was friendly and asked the girls to draw him a picture each which he promised to keep, along with the other pictures he had been given by children, on his wall. As the judge placed the large felt tip pens on the table I did panic a little as I thought felt tip pens and clean children in white tops do not mix. My face must have been easy to read as my Social Worker looked at me and laughed, while the judge assured me that the ink was washable.

The judge then presented the girls each with a certificate of their new name and matching (thank goodness) teddies. He then took his wig off and asked the girls if they knew what it was made out of. We all guessed sheep's wool, but we were all wrong. It is actually made out of horse hair. Two of the girls tried on the wig and posed for pictures, while our middle daughter hid on her daddy's lap and stated that she did not not want to try it on. The judge continued to speak to us and the girls about family life, school etc. He congratulated the Social Workers on finding a couple who were willing to take three children and then the ongoing support they had provided. We took pictures to remember the moment by and then said thank you and goodbye.

Once outside into the cold air we felt a sense of relief and a wave of tiredness. The girl's Social Worker told us that this was the first Celebration Day that she had attended that had been so relaxed, informal and she has not known a judge to give out teddies before. After saying our goodbyes to the Social Workers we decided to pop into a local cafe. We all sipped on our coffees and hot chocolate while the girls opened the presents they had received from the Local Authority.

We decided to go back home in the afternoon. The girls put their pajamas on and watched a film. We were so tired, I think we had underestimated how tiring the whole experience would be.

Once we had recharged we got back into our glad rags and headed out for a nice meal, followed by slice of cake at home. We gave the girls a bracelet each to mark the day which read 'Daughter, a little girl who grows up to be a friend'.  

The day went by quickly, but it had been a special day and one I don't think any of us will forget. The long process is now complete. We are legally and officially a family. We share the same surname and the girls no longer have a 'looked after status', no more visits from their Social Worker, no more educational and health reviews.

Today we threw a little party to mark both the adoption and the fact that the girls have been with us for 12 months. We had a buffet, drinks, opened presents and cards and then the kids played outside in the rain! The atmosphere was relaxed and as we sat by the log burner I think we all felt a little dozy. We finally took lots of photos before coming home and once again feeling completely exhausted.

What a week! 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Thoughts on Mother's Day...


Today was my first Mother's Day. It has been special. To hear my daughters say 'Happy Mother's Day' and 'I love You' has been something I have been waiting for and something I hope I will treasure. To watch them open my presents as they jumped up and down on my bed made me smile. To see their excitement as they showed me the pictures that they had drawn and the cards that they had made.

My beautiful cards

However special today is for me, I am reminded of those who wish to be mothers and for one reason or another, this dream has not yet come to pass. My thoughts and prayers are with these woman and families, for I have felt the heartache and it's not something I want to become insensitive to.

My thoughts also turn towards the girl's birth mom. Wherever she is, whatever is happening for her in her life at the moment, I am sure that today must be a difficult day for her. I wonder if my girls' have thought about her - maybe this will be something we face on future Mothering Sunday's. 

However difficult this parenting journey has been for me, I am thankful and I am blessed to have been given the gift of motherhood.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

This isn't what I expected!

It's 8am on a sleepy Sunday morning and everyone is bed, so I thought I would take the opportunity to off load my thoughts and update you all.

The last six to seven months have been hard for me (and my family) and, although I can feel a shift in my perspective and feelings, I still feel vulnerable to going backwards. The last twelve months have been a whirlwind to say the least.

On reflection and with hindsight I do not believe we received the right support or advice when the girls were first placed. (As a result our social worker asked us this week if we had any advice for another couple who are about to take on a young sibling group of three, so that they would be able to better guide and support the family). There were no in-depth, open and personal discussions or accounts from the social workers around the difficulties of bonding and how the first few months may look feel like. From the beginning we persevered with routines, boundaries, homework and 'normal family life'. Our intentions were pure, as we wanted to try and maintain the stability that we saw the girls have with their foster carer. We knew about parenting in an empathic and understanding way, but it was all theory to us. When faced with a behavioural difficulty, on top of sleep deprivation, we simply reverted to a reward-punishment style in the hope that it would work.

Whilst trying to maintain a 'normal family life' on top of settling three children into our home, I began to feel as though I was failing, failing as both a person and a mommy. Questions of 'why this wasn't coming together as I had imagined it' and 'can I carry on' haunted me and I believe at my lowest point I faced Post Adoption Depression (PADS). I can recall my social worker trying to bring the subject up with me and I responded by shutting her down. Surely someone like me, who chose to take on three, who can do it all, who can keep going would not, could not, be labelled with depression?!

So what has happened to challenge my perspective?

I have weekly visits from our post adoption social worker and I have built a comfortable and open working relationship with her. I have been open in my struggles, both emotionally and practically and, as an adopter herself, I feel as though she truly understands. We have talked through a mass of information and this has helped unearth some baggage. She has literally been by my side when faced with behavioural difficulties to talk me though the best approach. This has then led me to feel more confident, that with time and practice, I will be able to parent in a calmer and more empathic manner. 

I have been seeing a counsellor over the past few weeks and although it is early days, I feel that this too can help answer some of the more deep-rooted issues that have affected my ability to bond.

The Adoption Order being granted has helped me to feel secure in the fact that these are our children, they will not be going back to birth family and I am free to bond. The weight of uncertainty and our lives being in someone else's hands has been lifted. 

Through talking to other adopters and the professional team working with me, I can see that my expectations were way way too high and my perception of how family life would look like were unrealistic. I have opened my eyes to the fact that I probably did have PADS at my lowest point and that's okay, it doesn't make me a weak person.

I am now adopting an attitude of managing the day in sections, I can't do it all, I'm not 'Supermommy' and I MUST accept all offers of help - even when the mother-in-law wants to do our washing! If I get cross and shout it doesn't mean I am nominating myself for the worst mommy of the year award. I must forgive myself, apologise and move on.

 I have made Wednesdays 'My day', this means that I don't want to talk about anything adoption related. While the kids are at school and nursery I take some time out for me to have a mid-week recharge and an opportunity to care for myself. In preparation for childbirth I have invested in some relaxation material that I am finding useful day to day to use to take me to place of calm and rest.

Although I am feeling more positive that things are coming together I still feel vulnerable. It very much feels like hard work to stay in the above mindset and to challenge my feelings throughout the day. What keeps me going? The commitment that I have made to my children. My husband, family and friends who are at times carrying me through. The hope one day that this will all be completely behind me and that I may be able to help others.

It has taken me an hour to write this post and, although the kids are still upstairs, I can hear singing and floor boards creaking - so I better leave it there for now and get breakfast ready.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The call we have been waiting for...

Since early December it has been unclear as to whether birth parents are contesting the Adoption Order and, although their circumstances have not changed and there was little chance of the judge ruling in their favour, it was still a weight that we were carrying around.

At the end of January the judge did indeed rule in our favour and the Adoption Order was made. Hearing this news was positive, however, as my husband explained the outcome, I could feel that there was a 'BUT' coming. The 'BUT' was that birth parents could appeal! This was not something had been explained to us and as a result, we could not help but feel let down by the girls' Social Worker. We also felt let down by the court system for allowing birth parents this chance. It almost seems cruel to offer the possibility to parents that they could get their birth children back when nothing had changed in their lives and the children have been told that they have a new mommy and daddy and a whole new future!

 On Friday we got the call that we have been waiting for...

The courts phoned my husband to arrange our Celebration Day! When my husband phoned me to get my view on which date would suite us best I felt excited, relieved and keen to get the date booked in.

I was a little taken back, but pleasantly surprised by my feelings. As some of you will be aware I am struggling to parent. It is not all coming naturally to me and the emotions that I thought would be instinctive, have not been.

I have given some thought as to why I am feeling excited about the prospect of the Celebration Day and I believe the feelings come from the thought of them becoming legally ours. We will no longer need to answer to a Social Worker in the same way that we are now. We will be freer to make decisions concerning their needs, welfare and future. They will not have the label of being 'looked after children' and will have been given a permanent home. They will take on our surname and have asked to be called by the middle names that we chose together. My hope is that we will be able to breathe and relax more into the 'normality' of family life.

We have yet to explain to the girls about the Celebration Day. I think there is a part of me that is waiting before we involve them in the preparation just in case the courts have got it wrong and in fact birth parents have appealed and we need to sit through another court date before we can move forward.

So, if all goes according to plan, our court date has been scheduled for early April, which will fit nicely with celebrating a year since the girls arrived. I have started to think about what we will wear, whether I can get away with buying new outfits or to recycle a current one. We are also thinking about how we will celebrate afterwards, both as a family of five and with our nearest and dearest. 

Thank you to everyone out there, both people known to me and those who are not, who have offered kinds words and encouragement. Also to those who have shared their stories in a hope that it will spur us on and to think logically and positively.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Still in one piece!

I am writing this blog as I sit at the kitchen table painfully trying to remain calm whilst my middle daughter struggles with her math homework and my youngest scribbles all over her art pads rather than colour the pictures in. I am torn in my reactions towards my middle daughter as I can remember crying over my math homework and to this day I will try and avoid any form of calculation!

Anyway, the purpose of this blog is to reflect upon the half term week. We have made it and it has actually gone better than expected. Sure there have been moments where I have wanted to scream and run them down to the school in a blind panic but I learnt from the summer holidays that as a family we need to have activities to do, we need to be out of the house and most importantly we need to have fun!

So I made the decision to put the housework on hold and to schedule a fun-packed week. Over the week we have spent time with family and friends, going out for lunch, visiting soft play areas and parks, baked cookies (and ate them), watched films and squeezed in a little homework. I must admit I am not a fan of homework during the holidays, I personally think that kids need to have some time where they can switch off and play! 

I felt that it was just as important for me to have some fun and make some space for me to relax and recharge. Early on in the week I met with three lovely adopters and their children, whilst being pushed and shoved by the countless kids running around the soft play area we tried to catch up without spilling our coffee over the little ones. Mid-week I escaped the bedtime routine and went out for a meal with a friend - I always find our time together lifts my spirits as we have a good old natter!

 As it was the half term we thought it would be a good idea to move the youngest into the girls' bedroom to make way for the pending arrival. Well that is the last time we have a good idea!! We knew that she would be excited and that the first few nights may be full of giggles and silly behaviour. However, I think we underestimated how much the stress levels would rise by the kids not settling down until 9pm and last night it reached an all-time low of 11pm. As a result we have decided that her move can wait and that she can move back into her own room. Hopefully normal bedtime routines can resume tonight and we can have a restful night too.

So all that is left to do now is to complete the dreaded math homework (which my husband has now taken over), dig out the school uniforms, pack the lunches, bath the kids and put them to bed and life can resume as normal.

Thank you to all my family and friends who have supported me through this week, who have encouraged me, fed us and helped me with the practical tasks - much appreciated.

Friday, 7 February 2014

A Year On...

This post has been written for The Adoption Social, this week’s theme is ‘A Year On’. #WASO         

This time last year my husband and I would have probably just got home from work and eaten our dinner sat in front of the T.V. We would have been planning and discussing the meetings that were taking place between our social worker and the girl’s social worker to discuss our suitability as possible parents for them. We would have been getting excited, planning their rooms, thinking about how our lives would change for the better and putting the finishing touches to the welcome book.

Well, nearly a year on and we have three little girls upstairs settling down for bed. To say it has been interesting and challenging is an understatement. Relaxed dinners in front of the T.V. are few and far between. Lie-ins and weekends away are no longer part of our lives. I don’t think anything could have prepared us for the change that was, and is still, going on in our lives. In hindsight I think we were idealistic and naive about adopting a sibling group of three. I think I thought I was superwoman, that I would be able to cope with anything, have bundles of energy and would have the patience of a saint. WELL, I couldn’t have been more wrong!! Ha! Having said all that I believe we made the right decision to bring them into our family and they do bring light and laughter into our home (sometimes).

A year on from now, where do I hope we will be?

God willing we will have four children, three girls and one boy. I hope that as I continue to receive the support I am currently seeking that it will enable me to become a happier, more relaxed and playful mother. I hope I will be able to give myself a break, expect less and laugh more. I want to be able to let the little things go and focus on what’s important.

It will be interesting to review this post in a year and see if I have been able to achieve the goals that I would like to – Here’s to the next 12 months! 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Game of Limbo anyone?

Friday morning my husband and I glared into the roaring fire. Sitting side by side we could barely utter a word.

The day had arrived.

Birth family were in court appealing the decision for the adoption order to be made.

Our stomach's churned, we felt so anxious, so helpless, so out of control.

We watched the clock, waiting for the hearing to begin.

We tried discussing holiday options, birthdays and anything else nice that we could think of. However, it did not shake the nerves.

As the morning rolled on my husband left for work and I went to pick up our youngest from nursery. As my phone vibrated I anxiously slide my finger across the green line. "Hello", I said nervously. It was my hubby ringing with an update. He said "Do you want the good news or the not so good news?" My heart sank. What had gone wrong? Had the court date been postponed again?

The adoption order had been made - Phew!! So what was the 'not so good news?' Birth
family could still appeal the Order!! WHAT??!!! Neither of us could believe it. This hadn't been explained to us.

Later on that day I spoke to the courts. A nice woman explained to me what would happen next and tried to reassure me that things are moving forward and that the family may not even appeal. Our paperwork can still be processed and a Celebration Day date can be penciled in to the court's diary.

I wanted to relax, to switch off and celebrate. However, it all feels too early.

We are now in a position where we are waiting to hear if the family will lodge an appeal and. if they do, we will have to sit through another court date and wait for another judge to make a decision.

The whole process seems unfair, drawn out and unnecessary. I'm all for the birth family having rights and a chance to change and to have their birth children returned to them. But surely not after their children have been given a new family and told that this is forever.

To top it off the girl's social worker was not able to attend court and is away for the next week. So we are not able to talk this through with her or have any direct contact with the team.

So the waiting game continues at least for another week, but this could stretch for another month or so. We will continue to bond and care for these children with this cloud of uncertainty hanging over us.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Pitter Patter update....

Today we had our 20 week scan. We were thankful that all appears well. Baby was not playing ball on our first scan and stood on it's head for most of the time. This time round baby played ball and behaved!

Hubby had put his foot down and said we were going to find out the sex. I was secretly glad as I am not the most patient person. 

Soooo... we found out that we are going to have to make some room for a bit of blue amongst the pink! We would have been happy with either sex, but to hear we were having a little boy was a nice surprise as we already have our three pink diamonds.

Following the scan I had to buy something - just something blue!! So I bought these little booties. Too cute!!

We told the girls over dinner that they would be getting a brother. I thought they would pull sad faces and moan as they have been asking for a sister. However, they seemed thrilled and reeled off a list of possible names (some of them were a bit random and included suggestions such as cucumber). 

So it would appear I will need a new name for my blog. If anyone has any suggestions I am open to ideas.

Any boy's names would greatly be appreciated too, we can't seem to agree on anything!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Waiting Game....

 I have pondered over whether to write this blog or not. I wondered if I should write it in the present tense or as a reflective piece.

As things have been delayed for the second time I have decided I needed to blog about it in the present tense. My hope is that it will be cathartic and if others have experienced the same they maybe able to offer support and advice. 

We sent off our adoption application a few months ago. The first court date was set for early December. We were under the impression that the Adoption Order would be made and we would hopefully be able to adopt the girls before Christmas, if not definitely early on in the New Year. However, one of the birth family members is appealing the adoption, the judge did not have time to hear the statement so postponed the hearing until January. A date was set and we thought, okay, this isn’t pleasant, we were not expecting this, but at least we don’t have to wait too long. Today we heard that the date has been set back again. As I read the email my heart sank, more waiting and more days of uncertainty.

On the one hand I can understand, and even empathise, with the birth family. This is their final chance to get their biological family back and it may also say to the girls that they tried, they are wanted and they fought to the bitter end.

In all honesty when I first heard about birth family appealing I felt an overwhelming sense of protection over my girls! I thought there is no way I would just hand the girls back, I would fight with all I had first! As time has gone on all sorts of emotions and thoughts have been evoked. I won’t go into detail but I have been surprised by some of my feelings.

As time goes on I am learning how to deal with stress better and better. I know that this will get sorted and I trust that this is all in God’s hands whatever the outcome. I have comfort that the Social Worker believes the Adoption Order will be granted and hopefully we can put this behind us over the next month or two. I also have amazing family and friends who will support us through this. I am not on my own. The girls have touched a good few people’s lives since they have been with us and they are very much loved and wanted.