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All posts for the month February, 2014

We got a spring back in our step….

Published February 26, 2014 by thefamilyof5

It’s been a long and difficult half term, the weathers been miserable and our moods haven’t been much better.

This morning the sunshine had his hat on and he came out to play!

We saw daffodils and tulips, there was morning dew and bird song, hell even the ponies in the field were smiling I’m sure!

Please don’t leave it so long next time Mr Sunshine, we’ve really really missed you!

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Baby Steps….

Published February 19, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Remember when I blogged about the trouble we were having with baby girl at the previous school. Remember the 13 pairs of tights she cut up in class without being noticed? the food she was able to steel from school bags? The entire sole she picked off her shoe one day in class? Do you also remember how many times the school dismissed it all and even told CAMHS there were no issues? It was a lot wasn’t it.

When we first started at this new school I wont deny thinking ‘here we go again’. To be fair to them though, they had lots of paper work from the previous school and could only go on what they had been told.

There was the shame inducing yellow card incident for lying, the helping herself to someone else’s lunch from their bag (she was polite enough to give them the wrapper though apparently I was told), the numerous tights she again intentionally ruined, the Christmas play saga and a few other things that caused me to think ‘uh oh’!

Well after lots of phone calls and emails to the Ed Psych & School a little ‘help’  from me, school have acknowledged that baby girl has some struggles. I’m not sure we’re totally on the same page yet, but we’re getting there, its a work in progress shall we say. The lines of communication are open and that’s always a great starting point. An IEP has been put in place for baby girl with various steps to support her with some emotional and social aspects i.e turn taking, getting on with her work without support, not being preoccupied by what everyone else is doing etc. She’s  also been enrolled on a ‘Socialising’ group for a few weeks whereby I presume they’ll be attempting to teach/help a small group of children how to ‘play nicely’. I’m not sure any of this will work, because I’m not sure she ‘can’ do any of these things, I suspect she is a ‘cant’ rather than a ‘wont’, but time will tell. It could just be that I haven’t been able to teach her these skills effectively, believe me I’ve tried. 

So overall I’m impressed. Its baby steps, but they’re baby steps in the right direction. I don’t feel like my concerns are being ‘dismissed’ like they were at the last school. They’re being acknowledged, and baby girl is getting the help she needs and that’s all I ever wanted.

The impact of shame….

Published February 19, 2014 by thefamilyof5

There was quite a big incident with school at Christmas, baby girl had been chosen to be ‘narrator’ in the school play, she did say straight away that she didn’t want to do it but wasn’t offered an alternative role. 1st day of the Christmas play came and baby girl was off school, worry, stress and tiredness as she’d been up half the night. After speaking to school I was assured she would be given a new role and she didn’t need to worry any more. She was happy to go in the next day knowing she had a new role awaiting her.

I’m a special helper mommy, she said when she came out of school. I don’t do much helping though, she added, I’m sure your a fabulous helper and I cant wait to come and see you helping, I reassured her.

Me and my mum had tickets to see the 4th and final showing of her play. I was devastated with what I saw. Baby girl didn’t have an alternative role at all, she was just excluded, sat on the floor beside the teacher, doing nothing. My mum physically wept as she sat and watched her Granddaughter being publicly shamed. My heart broke as I watched her sit there mouthing all the words to ALL the different roles and performing ALL the actions as well. She knew she was being excluded, I could see it all over her face. Right there and then that entire week fell in to place, the behaviors, the odd comments, the anxiety, she’d tried to tell me in her own way lots of times, but I hadn’t heard.

Aside from me and my mum speaking with school immediately after the play and pointing out how she’d been excluded publicly and how this would have effected her, I decided I needed to do something else. This couldn’t happen again. My poor baby girl who already feels she isn’t good enough should never have been made to feel this way and I felt there had been missed opportunity’s on schools behalf to prevent this. I was livid. My mum, who’s worked in education for over 30 years was shocked and devastated that this had been allowed to happen.

I emailed the Education Psychologist and asked for her help, I needed someone in school that understood the massive impact this level of ‘shame’ had on my sweet baby girl and I didn’t feel anyone did. I also set about sourcing a local company that could offer the school some training in the effects of attachment and trauma, the Pupil Premium would be perfect for funding it I thought.

Since Christmas things have improved, the lines of communication are open, baby girls needs are being acknowledged and I’ve put forward my suggestions for specialist training for all the staff, to the school governors.

I worry sometimes that teachers and teaching staff fail to acknowledge a child’s needs because they worry that it will reflect badly upon themselves. I certainly felt this was the case at the last school. Baby girls anxiety was thrust in the face of school, yet it was brushed aside and denied.
I guess birth parents would feel the same, I’d imagine that if their child is struggling with their behavior or emotions, that the parent would feel that this was a reflection on them. My children are not the same, My children don’t struggle in school because of poor teaching (although lack of understanding can exasperate things) or at home because of my parenting. The responsibility for the damage that has been caused to them by trauma and loss, lies with their birth parents and the ‘system’ that failed to protect them, that’s why they struggle.

Baby girls needs are what they are, and they can be difficult and time consuming, especially when there is an entire class of children to contend with. There’s no shame in admitting that we need a little help sometimes. I know I do and I only have 3 to contend with.

Confidentiality, Privacy, Discretion.

Published February 15, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Confidentiality, Privacy, Discretion. These are all important words to adoptive families.

Those of you that read my blog regularly will recall the incident at school a few months ago whereby someone decided to inform the school of my blog. I don’t have any issues with anyone at school reading my blog, its anonymous and truthful. However, this concerned me because it meant that someone I knew was willing to reveal our blog identity to others. Someone put their own agenda before the privacy and security of my girls.

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We adopted our girls from outside our local county, in fact we adopted them from quite some distance away. A lot of adopters have children placed with them from within their local authority meaning birth relatives can also be quite local. The idea of adopting within a local authority fills me with panic. What if we bumped in to members of their birth family, what if they turned up on our door step, what if they turned up at their school. Many adopters deal with these worries every day, they some how manage to find the strength to push those fears to one side and get on with life. I take my hat off to them.

Up until recently I never had these worries. I lived safe in the knowledge that the girls birth families were some 400 miles away. Not any more. Not long after we moved the girls to their new school I made a discovery on Facebook, gotta love Facebook eh, its great for finding people isn’t it (its also dangerous for the same reasons however)! I discovered that there are some relatives that live within our county, in fact, some live within 5 minutes drive from our house and probably visit some of the same places we do. In fact it stands to reason that these people, or people they know, could have children that attend the same school as the girls. Yes they’re THAT close.

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So this recent ‘outing’ of my blog by ‘someone’ has actually caused me much more worry than I initially realised. I’m aware that there are now many people who ‘secretly’ read my blog. Social workers, teachers, school staff. I’m also aware that some of these read my blog because they were told about it by friends/colleagues, meaning its being discussed between these people. I worry that these people may not truly understand the importance of confidentiality or the catastrophic effect that idol chatter could have on our family.

For example someone in passing mentions to a friend:

Friend: I’m thinking of writing a blog about my travels.

School staff: There are these 3 adopted girls at our school/that used to go to our school, and her mom writes a blog as well, she uses wordpress I think.

Friend has a light bulb moment and wonders if these 3 girls are the same ones their friend mentioned they were trying to find.

Before you know it there are birth relatives outside school looking for 3 familiar faces and car registration numbers being noted. Relatives turn up on our doorstep. Police are called, child protection measures put in place, school changed, house sold.

Such an innocent conversation with such devastating effects for my girls.

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When we moved to this school I made the decision to not befriend any of the other parents. Its a small school and gossip could travel fast and besides, playground conversations always get tricky and at some point I’ll end up having to lie about something, usually ‘birth’ or ‘pregnancy’ related questions, and that’s really not a good basis for friendship. Past experiences have also shown me that I’m actually not a great judge of character when it comes to friends, some people from the last school that I thought were friends and confided in, turned out very quickly not to be. So its best I leave the other parents to just think I’m miserable and unsociable, its so much easier. Since finding out about these nearby relatives, Im now relieved I made this decision.

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What I hadn’t thought about though, was school staff, past and present, and how they could also pose a risk to us. Its very obvious to me that our family and my blog have been discussed unofficially between various staff members. Whats to say that its not also being discussed when they’re at home.

I don’t for a single minute think that anyone would intentionally put our family at risk, but I’m also not sure that the seriousness and importance of Confidentiality, Privacy and Discretion is fully understood. So I wrote this blog specifically for those ‘secret readers’ in the hope that it will help raise their awareness. I have a twitter account, a Facebook page and of course you can subscribe to me here, some of you recently have and that’s wonderful. But please don’t lurk in the shadows, there really is no point, I know your there. Sign up, read what I write, talk to me about it, comment/like on my posts, but please remember the importance of Confidentiality, Privacy, Discretion.

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Also, just as an after thought, for those of you that know my name, please stop using it to search for my blog. Bookmark me instead or search ‘Mrs Familyof5’ or ‘The family of 5 blog’. I recently tried to remove ALL identifying features my name being one of them, but the good old reliable search engines of the internet will retain that information for as long as you keep searching for it 🙂

So remember everyone, shhhhh ‘who we are’ is a secret, and its a secret for a very good reason 🙂

Shhhhhh Its a secret!

Shhhhhh Its a secret!

Valentines, how do you do yours?

Published February 14, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I wrote this piece especially for this weeks link up ‘The things we do’ over at The Adoption Social.

February 2011 was the girl first valentines day with us. None of them knew what valentines day was so I told them. Valentines day is a day for you to show the people you love just how much you love them I said. That evening I cooked them a lovely meal and decorated the table with hearts and candles. They loved it!

This is our 3rd Valentines day and I wont deny that I seem to have got it a little better each year.

Today I even impressed myself. First I decorated the table with hearts & candles.

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I placed a card and a gift on each place setting.

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Next I prepared all the heart shaped food!

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As soon as they came home from school they very excitedly dressed in their newly purchased princess dresses and sat down for a banquet fit for a queen!

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After their feast they drank (non alcoholic) grape wine, ate heart shaped cookies and settled down to watch a princess movie.

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They all went to bed with smiles! (sadly the sound of the wind battering the house has kept them awake but hey, we cant win em all)

I fear I may be making it impossible for them to be impressed by valentines treats when they’re older, I imagine them saying to future partners ‘its lovely, but my mum did it so much better’! I’m secretly glad, I don’t want them to settle for second best, I want them to know that they’re worthy of so much more and that they deserve to be loved and cherished.

MAD Blog Awards 2014

Published February 11, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Every writer loves a compliment, but what better compliment than an award nomination, or better still an award!

Its voting time over at The MADS 2014, you have until 14th March 2014, Nominations close at 11.59pm BST.

Choose you favorite parent blogger and nominate them for an award, there are lots of categories to vote for, from Best Baby blog, Best food blog to Blog of the Year!

I’ve voted for my favorite blog, now its your turn!

Click the image below to get voting!

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We all have needs.

Published February 11, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I was chatting to a good friend of mine the other day and she commented on how I seem to write a lot more about baby girl than I do middle girl and big girl. She has a good point, I do.

I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I favor baby girl and that’s why I write about her the most, its really quite simply that baby girl gives me more to write about.

Her expressive speech is more advanced than middle girl and big girls so she is able to tell me or show me what she needs more easily. She expresses her emotions, albeit very dramatically most of the time, so I mostly know what she’s feeling. When she is ill, she tells me. When she is hungry, she tells me. When she is feeling insecure she clings to me, when she is feeling defiant she pushes me away. When her food tastes bad she refuses to eat it. When her clothes feel itchy she tells me. When her shoes feel too tight she tells me. When a noise hurts her hears, she shows me. When she needs me, I know.

Big girl and middle girl never need me, or so THEY believe. They’re never ill, they never have hurts that need plasters, or sad times that need cuddles, or worries they need to talk about. They don’t tell me about their day and their struggles, they don’t tell me when they’re hungry or when they don’t like their dinner. They will wear the itchy clothes without question, they wont tell me their shoes give them blisters or that their pants are too small. They never ask for anything. They never let me know they need me.

Its really hard being middle girl and big girls mom. I have to guess at a lot of things and try and proactively meet a need before I notice its gone unmet, because with each need I miss, a little more trust is lost. I have to watch them closely and try and read their subtle signals. I have to guess their needs whilst my own mothering needs go unmet.

Its in some ways harder to be a mom to baby girl. She pushes and pulls so much it can be emotionally exhausting and draining. With baby girl though my efforts are rewarded because she meets MY needs by letting me know that she needs me and allowing me to be her mom.

All parents have needs, we all have a need to be loved and needed by our children. Its innate and natural. We want to feel ‘needed’ by our children. Anything less is babysitting.

I know all my girls need me, and I intern need them.
I love all my girls equally and treat them equally and fairly.
But for now, only one of those girls meets my needs as a mother.
So I guess because I know her the most, that’s why I write about her the most.

(please be gentle with me, I’m not sure I’ve explained this in the best way, but I’m hoping you will all see where I’m coming from)

I’ve linked this post up with this weeks #WASO over at The Adoption Social

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