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Showing posts from 2015

Preparing for Christmas

It's lovely in my house at the moment. We've got decorations up, strings of cards over the mantlepiece to remind us the wider world still exists and hasn't forgotten us, and a massive and ever-growing pile of presents under the tree. Fairy has returned from a couple of days with her dad, and Tickle has been glued to her side ever since. At the moment they are packing bags to go on a pretend holiday, and it's making my tummy go all funny listening to them - Fairy is being the perfect big sister, supporting Tickle in the game and enjoying herself completely, and Tickle is following her round lapping up her every word. Just now T sounded a bit unsure of something, so I called out to let me know if he wanted help, and Fairy comes straight back with "He's got help Mummy!"

As for me, I'm snuggling up listening to my children play, having sent Husband out for some last minute shopping, and I thought I'd take a few minutes to write about our preparations …

Looking back...

It's that reflective time of year, so, encouraged by the fabulous Adoption Social and their weekly link up, I'm taking a moment to look back at how far we've come.

Christmas has been a particularly emotional time of year for me over the last few years - I lost my beloved Granny in 2012, who was the lynchpin of our family Christmas, and it hasn't felt the same since. 2013 was the year of the maybe-baby, who was confirmed to be a definitely-not-baby on Christmas Day itself, with surgery to look forward to on the 27th. In 2014, after nine months of the adoption approval process (which had its ups and downs) it all hit me like a ton of bricks on Boxing Day, when I spent most of the day in bed crying.

So (understandably, perhaps) it was with no small amount of trepidation that I started preparing for Christmas this year. In some ways, there's even more pressure on us this year than any other, as it's Tickle's first year with us. Barely a day goes past without so…

All the small things

As with most things in life, with adoption you spend a lot of time preparing for the big things, only for the small things to creep up on you and remind you that you don't actually know everything after all. Here are some of the small things I have noticed about my son in the 26 days I have known him:

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Husband and I have had to repeatedly reinforce that (1) it is ok for Tickle to cry if he hurts himself, and (2) he does not have to apologise afterwards. The foster carers had made quite a bit of progress with this, but yesterday on the walk to school Tickle tripped over (like, total face-plant) and instead of automatically bursting in to tears he went rigid and started shaking silently, as if he was trying his utmost to hold himself together. He had so much tension throughout all his body; it was quite scary. I scooped him up in a big hug, stroked his back and said "It's ok to cry" in his ear and it was like a sudden release - he absolutely howled.

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He doesn'…

Flexibility

I'm having to slightly rethink the strategy from my last post. I'm ok with that. Flexibility is the key word, learning from your mistakes. (Yeah. Lots of that.) I still think that the main purpose of Tickle's mad moments is attention seeking, but his behaviour is starting to escalate and I'm not comfortable with the things that (under the previous version of my strategy) I was accepting without reacting. No hitting as such this evening, but I did have a variety of things thrown at me, books torn up, clothes pulled, screaming right in my face, hair pulling, spitting, things stuffed inside my clothes etc.

Part of me is wondering whether there is a little part of Tickle which is trying to work out how far he can go before I snap and yell at him. Or perhaps how far he can go before I decide I don't love him after all and send him away. Or how far before I throw something back at him. That is what he's used to, after all.
I was having a lot of difficulty getting thr…

Birthdays, anxiety, and lots of shouting

It's been four days since I didn't quite finish my last post, and once again I've snuck away for a slice of me time, trying to line up my feelings enough to type them in to the tiny keyboard on my phone while Husband entertains Tickle and Fairy at soft play. (Or they entertain him, one of the two.)

Tickle has been with us for nine days now, and today is his sixth birthday. We tried to keep things quite low key, but naturally there was a little pile of presents for him when he came downstairs, as well as a lovingly-Mummy-crafted (if slightly wonky) Thomas the Tank cake. Tickle has been looking forward to his birthday for the last week, and even shouted "I'm excited!" as he came down the stairs, so I wasn't quite prepared for the total lack of reaction as he looked at his cake, presents, and balloons. I don't know what sort of birthdays he's had in the past, but he clearly didn't know what to make of it all. First he sniffed the cake, and had a …

Has it only been a week..?!

I have stolen a few moments to myself, curled up on the sofa whilst Husband, Fairy, and Tickle play in the garden, joyfully buffeted by the wind of 'Storm Desmond' which is about to ravish us all. (I do hope they manage to finish their game of Giant Jenga first.)

It's been five days since we picked Tickle up from his foster carers for the final time and brought him home to stay. I'm struggling to put in to words how I feel about this - lots of cliches like "It's been the longest week of my life" are trying to wriggle their way on to the keyboard, and I really don't want to go there. It is a strange combination though, of *knowing* it's only been a few days, and *feeling* like life has changed so dramatically that time must have somehow warped itself and the last five days have actually taken a month.

There's been a temptation to carefully record every second of the last week, write down everything that Tickle says and does, so that we don'…

This is it, then.

A fair amount has happened in the month since my last post. I had intended to keep this blog bang up to date (best laid plans, and all that..!) but when it came to it, I really struggled to find the words to describe how I was feeling. It took me about a week and a half to really process what happened at panel, and even after that it just didn't seem real. Husband and I pretty much just carried on as normal, as if even mentioning our forthcoming introductions might somehow jinx them..!

I'll go back a little way to bring you up to date. Our panel was amazing - so unlike what I expected; friendly, supportive, and a really positive and affirming experience. They were trying a new thing, where the potential adopters attend the whole panel meeting (unlike our approval panel, where most of the questions were directed at our social worker and we just came in at the end) so we were in there right from the start and made to feel a real part of the decision. The panel chair who came out…

Thank you!

I would just like to take a quick time out from the work I am procrastinating from doing, and say thank you to everyone for all your messages of love and support. I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes even to have someone just send a 'thinking of you' message after reading one of the posts. Don't worry if you don't know what to say - there really isn't much you can say really, but it makes such a difference (particularly at emotional / stressful times... which is all of it to be honest) to know that there are people out there thinking of us, and rooting for us.

Quick update on next steps as some people have been asking:

We have our matching panel on 6th November. Panel will interview our social worker, Tickle's social worker and family finder, and us, and make a decision whether they recommend us to be matched or not. It is possible for them to say no, but it's not very likely and they'd have to have a *really* good reason - and if the …

Talking to people who are adopting: A Quick Reference Guide

Husband and I on the whole have been very lucky to have fantastic support from our family and friends throughout the adoption process, but sometimes even the most well-meaning of people really just don't *get* it. We have read a lot of books on children in care, attachment, the neurology of parenting, parenting adopted children etc etc - obviously we don't expect all of our family and friends to have done the same, so I have provided a quick reference guide to help you navigate your way through some common 'what not to say' situations.

Example #1

We say: Tickle is very frightened of shouting.

Unhelpful response: Oh, all children are like that. Remember little Mark, he used to be terrified of hand driers, and Rosemary was always jumping at loud noises!

Helpful response: OK. What do you need us to do?

Why this is important: Imagine for a second that your child (if you have one, or any other child you know) gets frightened by something. What do they do? Most likely, seek comfo…

I'm... so... tired...

I really hadn't realised quite how draining this part of the process would be. I think, when I imagined what it might be like once we'd been matched, I had visions of us happily decorating a bedroom, and then just twiddling our thumbs until panel. Oh how wrong I was...!

(Mind you, when I look back at the whole process, each bit has been just that bit harder than the last, and certainly harder than I was expecting. I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere...)

Earlier this week we attended a 'Life Appreciation Day'. Whoever came up with the idea of these was an absolute genius - essentially it involved as many people as possible who had worked with Tickle and his family in various contexts, all sitting round a table eating cake and talking about him. It was *so* helpful and absolutely fascinating to hear about him from so many different angles and perspectives. We had about a dozen people turn up, from the lady who had done the initial assessment of the famil…

Birth dad

I've spent the last 36 hours in a bit of a daze. The revelations about Tickle's birth father, the case being in the national press, and that awful letter just left me reeling. I've had some lovely messages of support from friends and family who read my last blog post and rallied round with virtual hugs and a lot of jokes to cheer me up! That was unexpected but lovely, and it did really help.

I had a long chat to my social worker yesterday afternoon and she was great. All through this process Husband and I have been so well supported by her, and given some of the stories I've read about adopters and their social workers I am so grateful!

First things first - Tickle won't be shown that letter from his birth dad unless he asks to see it. There is a thing called a later life letter, but apparently this is something written by the social workers. Parents can contribute photos etc and I think they can sometimes write a letter to be given to the child later.. if I'm h…

Many, many, updates.

Oh my goodness. I've just looked back at my last blog post and realised quite how much has happened since the last time I wrote anything. Blogs are funny like that - in the early days I found myself wanting to post multiple times a day, I had so much *stuff* that I wanted to get out, and I found writing really therapeutic. Nowadays it's more about updating the family and friends who are following our journey, and to be honest I'm just too blimmin BUSY right now to have time to sit down and write a decent post!

However this evening I need some therapeutic writing. But I'm going to update you all first so you know where we're at.

Any of you who have been following our adoption saga on Facebook will probably know that everything has been moved forwards, so that our panel is now at the start of November, with introductions starting some time around my birthday (yay!) and the plan is for Tickle to move in with us around the start of December. We are absolutely over the …

So what happens now...?

This is the million-dollar question, and the one we have been trying to answer to various friends and family members since we told them our news. In summary - more waiting.

I tried to explain it to Fairy by using an analogy that there is a long line of people, and we have to work our way down the line persuading each new person that we are a good match for Tickle, and hoping that they will agree - but we can't move on to the next person before the one before them has said yes.

Our first yes came from Tickle's social workers - hurrah! Had we not had that we wouldn't have been anywhere near the line at all. Our second yes has come from - I think - Tickle's social worker's bosses and extended team of professionals. Apparently they had some sort of internal meeting where Tickle's social workers told them all about us and then they were allowed to express opinions and doubts about us, these people they have never met. But anyway, that was fine, they are happy to pro…

A story about a match

There have been a number of times over the last month that I have thought about updating this blog, but haven't quite done it.

The first time was on 4th August; Fairy and I were staying at my best friends' house for a few days at the start of the summer holidays, and I'd had an email notification from the Adoption Link website that there was a new profile to view. When I clicked on the link and looked at the profile I got butterflies in my stomach. I don't know what it was about this child, but something *got* me. I remember thinking "This is my child" followed immediately by something like "What a ridiculous thing to think. Don't get your hopes up. You *know* there's more to it than that". It might sounds like I was being a bit hard on myself, but I had a point - matching is a fairly clinical, objective process, and at the stage of looking at a child's profile it matters very little whether I instantly fall in love with him and consider…

Rejection

Here is a list of reasons that we have been rejected as potential matches for children (so far):

- they are already looking at other adopters (multiple times) who are more local to where the child currently lives (multiple times)
- they just want someone more local to where the child currently lives
- they are worried that my back problems mean I won't cope with a toddler (because Fairy came as a fully formed seven year old and I have never had to cope with a toddler before..?!)
- they think we are not enthusiastic enough about this particular child (a little hard to let yourself be too attached when you know there's a good chance you're going to get rejected)
- they didn't think we'd be able to cope with the child's needs (two I agreed with, one I have no idea why they thought that for this child as there was nothing in his profile that looked remotely difficult)
- they just decided to go with someone else (multiple times)
- the child is being taken out of the…

Hard decisions

I've found this great site called The Adoption Social; it seems to be a kind of communal blog, with lots of blogging adopters linking up to share stuff. It's great, though it's very easy to lose entire days trawling through other people's blogs, and in fact, I think that's where my supposedly productive morning has disappeared to...

It's been a very interesting week for me on TAS as they have been discussing Child to Parent Violence. Obviously, we haven't yet adopted and F is just about the least likely child to be violent, but although I haven't really got anything useful to say about the subject, it is something that's been very much on my mind at our current stage in the matching process.

If you've been following our story recently you'll know that we met a child (C1) at an activity day a few months ago, who we made a real connection with. Although we had actually decided to continue to pursue a link with another child (C2) who looked lik…