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All posts for the month March, 2015

The Secret & The Lie

Published March 17, 2015 by thefamilyof5

Remember ‘The Secret‘? well last night I learnt something new that completely knocked me off my feet.

I’m still in shock so bare with me whilst I try and explain.

When I collected the girls from school last night Middle girl came out looking anxious, I asked if she was ok and she told me some of the girls in her class had said something about her being adopted, the words she said they used instantly struck a chord with me as they were my words, something I’d said relating to one of their older siblings, but they were my words. Baby girl has often repeated those words so I instantly thought, ‘Baby girls been saying something in school, those are my words from Baby girl.’ I reassured Middle girl that it would be ok and we asked the teacher if she’d have a quiet word with the girls in question and ask them to stop.

Just to recap, over the last 3-4 weeks people in school have been asking Baby girl and Middle girl questions about them being adopted. Both girls have been distressed, both girls adamant they haven’t mentioned anything to anyone and didn’t want people to know. Some girls in Middle girls class have been quite persistent and she’s become increasingly more upset. She doesn’t want to answer their questions, she’s sat with her head in her hands sobbing and telling me things like ‘I had forgot I was adopted until they reminded me’ ‘I never wanted anyone in school to know’ ‘Why has someone told them’ ‘I only want to think about happy stuff in school’. My heart has ached for her, she clearly found it particularly difficult and was angry, angry that ‘someone’ would tell her story, angry that people were asking her questions, just angry.

I needed to find out what had been said. They were asking me to help them, to sort it out with school, but I knew now that someone wasn’t being straight with me, my words were being branded around school and I needed to find out how they got there. I needed to get to the bottom of it. I knew big girl told people last Easter so I couldn’t be sure that something hadn’t been said more recently. My initial thoughts were that it was Big girl, she’s been feeling quite out of sorts what with SATS and High School on her radar at the moment, I wouldn’t have put it past her to have blurted something out. She assured me she hadn’t but I made it clear that I wasn’t sure if I believed her. Next on my list was Baby girl, she often blurts things out without realising what she’s saying or the implications. Baby girl also lies constantly, usually quite impulsively so not very complicated and usually fear based. Plus If I’m honest this whole saga didn’t seem to be bothering her so much, yes she was telling me that she didn’t want people in school to know that she was adopted, but she wasn’t crying or worrying endlessly or even angry, it seemed to wash over her head in fact. So I grilled her, even tried to trick her in to owning up by telling her ‘I knew she had told someone’. It didn’t work, she was still adamant that she hadn’t told anyone.

I sat them all down, I explained that no one was going to get in to trouble, that I knew they wanted my help but I needed all the information if I was going to be able to help them. I promised no one would even get in to trouble for lying so far. I assured them that it would be ok. I gave Baby girl the ‘I know its you look’. Still nothing. I gave Big girl the ‘Come on tell me look’. Nothing. New tactics. I suggested I’d be impressed with whoever it was that was brave enough to tell me, I suggested I might even reward the person. Still nothing. I repeated the above, emphasizing on ‘how proud I would be of the person to tell me’. I waited.

It took a while but then she mumbled something, I asked her to speak up because I couldn’t hear ‘I told XYZ in my class because she’s my best friend’ Middle girl said.

I’ve been shell shocked ever since. The lies, the complicated, manipulative, heartbreaking lies, the tears, the anger, the lies. I have no words. She played me, and school, like a fiddle.

Needless to say the ‘Plan’ that we had, to tell their classes ‘The Secret’, its not going to happen now. Rightly or wrongly I’ve decided that in the same way that Big girl had to deal with the consequences of her actions last Easter, so would Middle girl. I have given her the narrative she’ll need but that’s as far as it goes. I kept my promise and praised her and thanked her for her honesty and just like I’d assured them, she didn’t get in to any trouble. I  did however insist that she apologise to her sisters, which she found incredibly hard, and I have also apologised to both Big and Baby girl for not believing them (whilst chucking in a quick lesson about lies and how if they always told the truth I’d have been able to believe them). Both our key worker and head teacher have also been left lost for words after hearing this new piece of information this morning.

All my girls lie. Usually I can see through those lies and even make sense of them.  I can rationalise they’re coming from a place of fear. I don’t like being lied to, I don’t like that I cant believe them, but I ‘get it’.

I don’t get this. I don’t get it at all, and the magnitude and complexity of this lie scares me. I’m scared for her. Terrified in fact.

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‘The Secret’

Published March 12, 2015 by thefamilyof5

The girls have this secret, except its not really a secret, they just wish it was.

Let me explain!

The girls started at a new school 6 weeks after being placed with us. We talked to them about their story and how they might like that to be known in school. They all decided they didn’t want anyone in school to know they were adopted, I don’t think it was because they felt ashamed of their adoption, I think it was more to do with them not really understanding it all and it being too much for them to think about at that time, remember we’d only been a family 6 weeks at this point.

Each new school year and many of the bigger half terms we asked them again if they’d like to share their story. They always said ‘no’. Whilst I thought it would be a positive step for them to be open about their story and have encouraged them to share it, I also respected the fact that it was THEIR story to tell and not mine. I’d like to point out, that outside of school, with friends and family, they have always been very open about their adoption, although admittedly they do, even now, find it difficult to talk about sometimes  (one of the reasons we’re having DDP therapy). I don’t think they have the emotional resilience or understanding to feel confident enough when telling ‘their story’ and I think this is why they have chosen not to tell it yet.

Last year, around Easter time, big girl decided to tell a boy in her class that she was adopted. The boy told a girl and the girl told another girl and that’s how it went. We didn’t know anything about any of this until last years Summer holidays. Big girl was having a hard time preparing for the transition to her new class and tantruming  A LOT. During one of her outbursts she revealed that she’d told people at school that she was adopted, I cant recall the exact reason why she suddenly decided to tell me, but she did. I’m not entirely sure why she told people in her class but I got the impression from talking to her that she thought they would feel sorry for her and give her lots of attention. I guess she was trying to make friends!? She said they asked her lots of uncomfortable questions, some of which she didn’t know how to answer and had felt quite upset.

Middle girl and Baby girl were very upset to learn that people in school knew their story. They were also understandably angry with Big girl for making that decision without their knowledge. I vividly remember Baby girl saying ‘why would she do that Mommy, why would she tell people without talking to us first, we’re a family we talk about things together, why would she do that mommy’ before bursting in to tears. Middle girl appeared too disgusted to even speak, she was very angry. Anyway, we managed the fall-out and talked to them all about how they might handle questions and comments in the new term, we gave them the narrative they may need, and they made a promise to each other that they would decide things together in future. Things were soon forgotten and smoothed over.

Until recently. A month or so ago Baby girl said to me that a boy in year 5 asked her if she was adopted, she told me she didn’t know what to say so just ran away. She told me about this incident sometime after it happened I gathered. Then last week Middle girl said that some girls in her class had told her that Big girl had told them that she was adopted. Middle girl also didn’t know what to say so walked away and told the teacher. That evening Big girl assured me that she hadn’t mentioned anything since last Easter but it seems the same girls had spoke to Big girl that day telling her that Middle Girl had told them, who of course was adamant she hadn’t, Middle girl even said ‘I hadn’t remembered I was adopted until they told me’. So we all had a little chat again, they still didn’t want to share their story so we devised a ‘shoulder shrugging plan’ should anyone ask them any more questions.

Middle girl came out of school today and told me more people had been asking her questions, she was obviously distressed as she hugged me, properly, and she never does this unless she’s anxious. So our wonderful key worker/teacher came up with a plan and we went home to talk it through. When we got home Big girl also said that yesterday the same girls from before had asked her some questions again.

So the plan, which I’m going to talk to school about in the morning is: On the last day of term, right at the end of the day, Baby girls teacher and Middle girls teacher will tell their classes that they are in fact adopted. They will also tell the children that this is something that they find hard to talk about so don’t want to talk about it or answer anyone’s questions. I guess there will need to be something about questions being directed to the teachers rather than the girls because some children will undoubtedly have questions. The hope is that over the 2 weeks Easter holidays, ‘The Secret’ will have become far less interesting once its no longer ‘The Secret’.

I don’t know if this is the right thing to do, but I don’t know of any other way, I have always tried to respect their right to share ‘their story’ with whoever they do or don’t want to share it with, whilst also showing them how proud I am of OUR story. Because I am!

I stand quietly

Published March 12, 2015 by thefamilyof5

Let’s raise awareness of this hidden disability!

Dirty, Naked & Happy

I stand quietly while you do somersaults on the bed as you aren’t being naughty, you are just trying to get your out of sync body under control.

I stand quietly by the toilet door every time you need to go, and come with you around the house, and sometimes even just across the room, because I know you can feel truly frightened when you are not near me.

I stand quietly at the supermarket checkout while everyone stares at you barking like a dog and blowing raspberries on my arms to cope with the buzzing lights.

I stand quietly while you tell the baffled shop owner that you are looking for shoes that feel hard like splintered wood because your skin can’t bear soft things.

I stand quietly when the attendant gives us scornful looks when I ask for the key to the disabled toilet because the hand dryer…

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My therapy.

Published March 6, 2015 by thefamilyof5

Writing this blog IS my therapy. Its supposed to be a safe space that I can off load all of my thoughts, feelings, wondering’s and anxieties that I’m unable to just say out-loud. Its also a place that I can share our journey, the ups the downs and the downright ridiculous.

I started to write this blog around a year after we became a family, It was at this time that I started to realise that things weren’t quite right, I cant tell you what It was that wasn’t right, it was just a feeling, I just knew things weren’t right. So I read more books, I talked to more professionals and asked for support. It didn’t matter how many books I read or how many appointments we attended, I needed to talk about what I was feeling, what we were experiencing as a family, I needed to get stuff off my chest. I tried counselling, what a joke! So instead I’d write things on my Facebook page. This didn’t go so well, I was judged and critisised a lot, some people that I’d considered close friends didn’t know how to respond to some of the stuff I wrote, it scared them I guess, was too far out of their comfort zones maybe, the fairy tale adoption that they’d been following suddenly got very real, the idea that ‘love’ isn’t always enough was just beyond people. Most of them left. So anonymous blogging seemed the next best option, a place that I could offload without the fear of being judged or criticised. Or so it was supposed to be.

On the 20th May 2011 I published my first ever blog. I never imagined that I’d still be writing it now, nor did I know how it would change my support network so dramatically. Since beginning my blog I’ve been welcomed in to an online network of over 300 adopters, that’s 300 new friends!! I’ve linked up with local adopters, I have a twitter social circle, I have received heartfelt messages of empathy, messages from other bloggers and adopters thanking me for my honesty and for writing the things they’ve been too afraid or ashamed to write or say, I’ve even received the odd free item in return for an honest review, but the thing that kept me writing, the thing that spurs me on the most is when I receive those messages from adopters who are feeling alone, unsupported, and in their desperation reach out to me for help. Knowing I’ve been able to help those adopters means more to me than anything.

When my identity was compromised last year I considered for a long time how it might be best to just delete my blog, knowing that people were reading my words, about my life and judging ME, not just anonymous MrsFo5, was hard. No one likes to know when people are talking about them behind their backs. In the end, obviously, I decided to continue. I decided that writing my blog had given me so much, bought so many lovely people in to my life, touched the lives of other people in a positive way and given me a much needed space to offload my thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t delete it, I needed it.

My blog has been read almost 100k times, Its read in more countries than I even knew existed, Its been shared over 400 times and I’ve received over 2k supportive comments. I’m not a writer, I’m not an author, I’m just a mum, so I feel immensely proud of these achievements.

More recently I created a Facebook page and Twitter account that are linked to my blog. I use these for sharing useful articles, important facts and supportive messages (you should follow them if you don’t already). You can also read shorter and usually sharper real time updates from me. These are like little snap shots of our lives, snippets of reality and they’re not always pretty, although at times they are very funny. In the context of our whole story, and for those that have followed our journey, they are understood for what they are, mini moans. But outside the context of our whole story I can see how these might on occasion seem quite worrying and even cause for concern. I’d like to reassure all my readers, both the well meaning and the judgmental, that as a family we are very well supported by various professionals, we also now have a great relationship with the key members of staff at school (who read my stuff regularly actually) and I receive regular support from the post adoption team. We are not a family in crisis, but we are a family, like most other adoptive families, that are doing the best we can to manage the trauma baggage that our girls came with. I guess the difference is that I’m just very open about how difficult that can be some days.

The phone calls to social services, no matter how well meaning they may or may not be, not only infringe on our right as a family to blog anonymity but they really do just give everyone, including social services adoption team whom already support us as a family, a great big fat headache, so please stop.

What is ‘Normal’.

Published March 5, 2015 by thefamilyof5

I sat here the other day wondering ‘what is normal anyway?’

Before MrFO5 and I met I was married to a much older man, he had 2 children, I was their step-mom. They were around the ages that my children are now, slightly younger if anything. They were pretty typical kids, refused to eat peas, got angry, got sad, had headaches, told fibs, gave hugs, played games, relaxed. All pretty ‘normal’ really.

Which is why I know things here are quite ‘normal’.

I read on Facebook the other day about a fellow adopter that had been playing monopoly with her children, I love that game! I remember playing monopoly Saturday mornings with my step children, yes they cheated, yes they tried to sneak more money from the bank than they should, we laughed and played, in fact they chose to play, and anyone who’s played monopoly before will know its a game that can take hours to complete, I loved our Saturday morning Monopoly! I remember playing games with my family as a child, most weekends we’d get out a pile of games and work our way through them. Great family times.

Games aren’t fun here. Time spent playing a game is filled with competitiveness, control and sulking, no one enjoys it.

I saw a picture on Facebook of a friends child just sitting and chilling, gazing out of her bedroom window, still in bed, having a lie in on a Sunday morning.

There is no chilling here, I don’t even know what a lie in is anymore, there always has to be some sort of ‘doing’ or TV. There’s no snuggling on the sofa and chatting. Boredom takes over after no more than 5 seconds of not having something specific to ‘do’ or ‘watch’. In fact the only time they’re content to ‘do’ nothing, is when the TV is on or they’re eating.

I don’t know of any other families that have to create a rota for the TV. I remember just watching whatever was on the tv in my mom’s lounge, even the news. Me and my brother may have had the odd disagreement about what to watch but we didn’t battle for control of the remote, or intentionally try and ensure the other didn’t get to see what they wanted to, or go out of our way to clack our tongues through their favorite show, well not until we were teenagers anyway!

My mum didn’t have to frantically scan every programme for possible themes of loss, or violence, I watched the A-Team for goodness sake and News Round with John Craven, yeah I know it was aimed at kids but it had ‘real’ news stories and it wasn’t all good. Scooby Doo causes nightmares here, I recently discovered ‘Home & Away’ does too and don’t even get me started on Disney films.

I don’t know any other moms that have to find the answer to the same question being asked continuously all day  (excluding mom’s of 2yr olds that ask ‘why’??) every day ‘what shall I do now?’ I scream the answer in my head, words of utter frustration, words that I dare’t say aloud, instead, out of my mouth comes the same response every time ‘what do you want to do’, shortly followed by ‘well do that then’. Sometimes, when I’m really fed up I just shrug my shoulders hoping that they will come up with the answers for themselves,they dont though, they just wait.

I know kids that write Christmas and Birthday lists so long that their parents either have to remortgage or disappoint their kids by only buying a select few. I’d love to be given a list, I’d love to hear ‘I want XYZ for my birthday’.

I dont want to still have to put the toothpaste on toothbrushes, I don’t want to have to watch the every move of an 8yr old to ensure she doesn’t smear tooth paste or shampoo. I don’t want to have to keep a track of where all the scissors in the house are.

I just want ‘Normal’!

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