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.