Adoption

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My Special Assembly

Published January 10, 2017 by thefamilyof5

We had a special assembly today, some people came to visit.

Everyone was really excited to hear what it was about, but not me. I don’t really like it when strangers come in to school, it makes me feel all weird and scared inside, I don’t know why.

Anyway, today was no different, there was a man with a stripy T-shirt and a lady in a blue dress. I felt funny in my tummy. Mr Jones set up the big screen for them, everyone thought we were going to watch the new Disney film that came out in the cinema last week. But we didn’t.

 At first I wasn’t really sure what was happening, I heard lots of words but I couldn’t make sense of what they were saying, and then I realised. It was all about me! These people had come in to school to tell everyone about me. They told everyone about what it was like, you know, before I got adopted. They told everyone in my school that my birth dad used to hit me and my birth mom. They even told them about the times they both got drunk, I remembered how they did rude things to each others private parts that night, it was gross. Then they told everyone about the time they left me in the house by myself for the whole day, I was so hungry but I didn’t dare leave the house or cry, they’d have just got mad and hit me. Everyone was looking at me. I just looked down. I didn’t want to look up and see their eyes starring at me. My cheeks burned. I really wanted to cry but then they’d all laugh and think I was a baby. I just sat quietly and hoped they’d stop. But they didn’t. They got out the laptop next and showed a film. I took a peek. It wasn’t me in the film and I didn’t recognise any of the other people, but I knew It was about me. I just knew it. The man hit the lady and the little boy sat and cried, he was hiding under his bed. Just like I used to. It was definitely about me. I felt sick. I wanted to get up and run out, I wanted to ask my teacher if I could go to the toilet, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t trust her now. I thought she was my friend but she let these people tell everyone about me. My mom let this happen too, why would my mom tell them all of this stuff about me, why did she let this happen, how could she!! No one will ever want to be my friend now, they all know I’m bad.image-boy-ashamed

I didn’t talk to anyone for the rest of the day, I knew they were all sniggering and talking about me, they thought I didn’t know, but I did. When the bell went at the end of the day I got my bag ready super fast and ran outside to my mom who was waiting for me. I gave her the biggest hug, I wanted everyone to see that she loved me. When we got home I shouted at my mom, I shouted a lot. I told her how much I hated her, I hit her, Just like I saw my birth parents doing to each other. I was bad. She needed to see how bad I was!

My special assembly today was about Child Abuse and Neglect. The visitors in my school were from the NSPCC. My teachers hadn’t really thought much about me when they planned it, they didn’t consider how talking about such things would stir up my traumatic memories, or how I would feel hearing my life story being discussed in that way. My mom didn’t know about the assembly so when I went home and screamed at her and hit her, she had no idea why. She didn’t know how to help me because she didn’t know what was wrong. If the teachers in my school had listened to my mom and read the books that she suggested then they would have known what would happen and I wouldn’t be sat in my room crying now and my mom wouldn’t be sat in the lounge crying and bruised.

Events like this aren’t suitable for all children. Schools need to be better educated on the lasting effects of trauma and neglect so they can begin to have some insight in to how these things effect these children. A simple phone call to mum here would have allowed her to either prepare her child, or withdraw them. Because afterall, mum always knows best.

 

 

Trust

Published March 18, 2016 by thefamilyof5

TRUST

Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something:relations have to be built on trust

I have spent the last 6 years trying to earn the trust of my girls, we’ve engaged in services designed to encourage the relationship and promote trust. I have engaged with professionals from various departments always maintaining a very open relationship. Secrets aren’t helpful are they. Helping my girls has always been my one and only agenda.

I have spent the last 6 years trusting that the professionals and support services around us were focused on supporting us to the best of their ability. I have been open, honest and trusting. I have placed my faith in the system.

I made a SAR (subject access request – request for files) with the placing authorities adoption department last year. I also made one with our local authorities education department last month and the high school we withdrew big girl from last October.  They made for interesting reading to say the least.

Trust. Seems it is possible to be too trusting.

I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to place my trust in the very ‘systems’ designed to help and support us. It seems their agenda is different to mine. Theirs involves a lot of finger pointing, back covering, box ticking and secrets it seems.

How can I help my girls to invest their trust in me, in this world that we live in, how can they know who they can turn to for help, when even I am unsure of who I can trust and who I can turn to for help.

Our school to home ed Journey…………

Published January 8, 2016 by thefamilyof5

I have some new followers, I guess the new ‘Home Education’ tags have drawn interest from different circles so I guess I had better do a quick post to fill everyone in! are you sitting comfortably, you might want to go wee and grab a coffee before you start!

We tried school, it didn’t work for us, we now Home Educate

Of course there’s a lot more to it, so here goes……………….

The girls first came home at the beginning of summer meaning we had to get their names down for school before we’d even met them! We knew nothing of schools, or the education system never mind what the needs of our soon to be daughters would be so we had to rely on local advice when choosing the school/nursery. We opted for our largest primary, within walking distance, it came highly recommended by some of our older neighbors who had sent their, now grown up, children there. We visited, had the guided tour, I even took my mom along! It seemed lovely, they had lots of space, lots of staff and lots of experience with SEN apparently. We filled in the forms.

It was fine for about a year, well kind of, but then, so were the girls, kind of, it took about a year for us to realise that they were ‘too fine’. We soon realised this was compliance. Once they realised that we’d realised they were faking it, well the masks came off and the games began. We paid more attention to the subtle clues they gave us, we connected the dots and we noticed more. Baby girl, well she was a unraveling at school. She didn’t feel safe, there was too much going on, too many faces, too much time where she wasn’t supervised, and she knew it, she was stealing food/milk, cutting up her school clothes, being disruptive in class, being unkind to her peers, her name spent more and more time in the ‘red zone’ on the classroom wall. ‘She needs to know your watching her and keeping her safe, think toddler’ we said, ‘We are’ they said ‘So how did she manage to cut her dress up in class if you were watching her, she knows your not watching her, and your behavior system is making her feel ashamed’ we said.

Big girl was also struggling, she didn’t have any friends, she was constantly falling out with people in her class, her work was falling more and more behind, she was getting more and more frustrated, she began self harming at break and lunch times, she shouted at teachers and ran away from lunch time staff. She was scared and didn’t feel safe.

Middle girl was invisible. ‘she’s so helpful isn’t she’ they said. ‘she’s trying to please you because she doesn’t feel safe’ we said, ‘she’s got such a lovely smile’ they said. She became more and more invisible, hiding her fear behind her smile.

I cant blame it all on the school/staff, this was before the Pupil Premium, they had no real experience of traumatised children and neither did we. We didn’t know what they should be doing to support the girls needs and neither did they. But we knew the girls didn’t feel safe in school, we gave it 3 years before we realised we needed a smaller school with less faces, less space, less visitors, less everything.

So the hunt for a smaller school began. We narrowed it down to 2. One within our local area and one further afield. The closest one had a warm family feel about it, but the head openly admitted she knew nothing of attachment or trauma but would en-devour to do her best to support their needs. The school that was further away was marginally bigger, had that same warm friendly family feel about it and a head teacher that said she knew all about attachment and trauma as they had lots of adopted and looked after children in school. We signed the forms.

September came, by October it was very apparent that the head teacher, nor the staff knew anything about the needs of truamatised children, the open door policy the head teacher claimed to have was more like a door slammed in your face policy. Thankfully November bought her resignation. It took the best part of that academic year for a replacement head teacher to be appointed, it was a difficult year to say the least, a wasted year really, no relationships were made, no trust was gained so no learning took place. We then had quite possibly the worst summer ever, the anticipation of the return to a school that didn’t understand them was just too much for the girls. We entered a new academic year weary and tired. Thankfully that September bought a new head teacher and with it renewed hope. My hope wasn’t misplaced either, he was/is amazing. He listened, he accommodated and he did his very best to understand. He put measures in place, the most important of which was a Key Worker, she was/is also amazing. Between the two of them they did their very best to support us all as a family during what was Big girls last year in primary school. They used some of their pupil premium money on attachment training, removed the girls from their behavior modification systems, put in specialist support at crucial times throughout every day, added flexibility/consideration to the curriculum and vast amounts of extra learning support.

So the hunt for a high school began. We researched all the local and not local high schools, we knew a big school would be too much for her so we opted for a smaller one (same size as the first primary school but smallest we could get) outside our catchment area but everyone agreed it was the only suitable place for her, well everyone except the LEA, without knowing anything about her, they were adamant our local high school, 3 times the size, would be fine so they refused to support us with transport. We knew our daughter best and applied for the smaller one, it was there or Home Ed, we knew that much. We got the EHC plan the high school said she’d need and we did our best to make it through the year. Big girls tantrums worsened as her anxiety increased, baby girl got closer and closer to school refusal needing more and more support each day and middle girl finally found the courage to remove her mask at home and tell us and our therapist that even though she said she did, she really didn’t like school at all, she found it scary. There was a lot more to all of this, I’m simplifying it, many incidents, many indicators, many sick days due to stress, many tears and much hard work and relentless support from the school.

September came and before we even got big girl to high school, there were problems. Aside from discovering that the tutor she’d met during her transition meetings was going on maternity leave, We discovered days before school was due to start that the crucial key worker that they’d assigned to big girl, the one person that had the ability to help her feel safe in school by taking the time to build up a trusting relationship, was also key worker for many many other children most of which outwardly displayed their needs, unlike big girl who would need time and patience and trust before she would be able to even consider to ‘open up’. I feared she would become invisible, her needs over shadowed by the needs of those more secure needy children. I wasn’t wrong. By mid September Id already had a meeting with school, exchanged several heated emails and already requested an emergency review of her EHC plan. Her needs were going totally unrecognised, they were utterly unable to see past her compliance. Her anxiety was very apparent at home, once she got home and felt safe it would all come out, often in violent rages. Things were also made worse because despite her EHC Plan being in place with details of 17.5 hours worth of support including social skills support, reading support, emotional language support, classroom support, she received nothing more than a room to spend break/lunch times in, where she would build a den under the desk in order to feel safe, and a busy key worker to share with various other needy children. She’d scraped through a level 3 in SATS just a few months prior, yet was expected to do level 5 work, or at least try, without any support. By October things had become completely unmanageable for all of us. Big girls anxiety was through the roof and it was effecting the entire family. Middle girl had completely stopped ‘learning’ and was needing more and more support, she was withdrawing and showing signs of underlying anger, baby girl wasn’t sleeping, crying, clinging to me each morning and not wanting to go to school and becoming more and more ambivalent in our relationship. CAMHS had agreed to prescribe big girl with medication for her anxiety 😦

Half term came and the week was spent agonizing over what to do. Id asked both the LEA and high school for a review of big girls EHC plan several times, no action was ever taken. I was about to medicate my child ‘just’ so she could manage school. Middle girl was withdrawing from ‘relationships’ and becoming ‘shut down’. Baby girl was a mess, she was angry with me for making her go to school, but clingy and needy at the same time. All of this, just for school! We had to draw the line. We’d spent 5 years trying to get the girls to feel safe in school, things were getting worse not better. How much more of their childhoods could we spend unhappy and stressed out, just because of school!? They needed so much more joy in their lives, they deserved happiness!

So we made the decision to home educate. It wasn’t a snap decision, it had been on the cards for over a year, we’d discussed it with several professionals as well as family members, Id made no secret of it. It certainly wasn’t my choice, but I knew that we might at some point have to accept that they were just unable to manage a school environment. Id really hoped that the high school would get it right, if they had, well maybe things would have been different, if things had been going well for at least one of them, maybe it would have given us enough ‘hope’ to carry on. But it didn’t, it was falling apart from all angles, even with a super supportive primary school, baby girl and middle girl just weren’t improving and big girl, well she didn’t stand a chance at a high school that couldn’t even see her needs, never mind meet them. If we’d just de-registered Big girl, well, there was no way Id have got the other 2 in school, and if I’d forced them, the damage to our relationship would have been catastrophic. This was a make or break decision for our family.

So here we are. Big girls anxiety has reduced so much that we no longer feel she needs anxiety medication. Baby girl is happy, I can almost see her heart smiling, middle girl, well, her confidence has soared!
My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner!

PS remember the LEA that insisted our local huge high school was the best place for big girl, and as such wouldn’t support us with transport to the smaller further away school, well since I asked again for her EHCP to be reviewed in November, with a view to name Home Education and apply for a personal budget for tuition, they’ve now decided that the smaller high school, that they refused transport for, is the best place for her and are still refusing to review her EHCP (Education Health Care Plan)! Couldn’t make it up could ya!

I’m just not very creative mummy…..

Published January 5, 2016 by thefamilyof5

So baby girl sat next to me today at the craft table at the home ed group we attend.

‘I’m just not very creative mummy’ she said to me, whilst coming up with an idea and making a snow globe with no input from me at all!

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Honestly, I can’t tell you how well Home Education is working for these girls of mine! They’re flourishing!

Not bad eh…..

Published January 4, 2016 by thefamilyof5

**Bragg alert**

So this is middle girl, well, not all of her, just her feet!
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Aside from noticing her odd shaped toes (I have a foot ‘thing’, they’re all gross, yes even yours!), you will also be able to see her amazing Loom Band creation! (I hate loom bands too!!).

“So what?” you might think, but when I tell you that she went to her bedroom, switched on her Blackberry Playbook, used Google to look for what she wanted to make and then followed the instructions, not once but 6 times!!!! (Yes she’s made lots, perhaps a little obsessively, or maybe just enjoying her own ability to create something of her own). Then perhaps you’ll realise why I’m feeling so proud of those manky feet and the person they belong to right now. 🙂

She’s tackled the Internet (even this is a new thing for her), found the result she wanted, followed the instructions, persevered and worked completely without ANY help at all!! (I can’t make that weird stuff, no point in asking me for help lol)

Pretty impressive huh!  Especially given her language, memory and processing difficulties!

Feeling very proud right now!

 

Working hard…….

Published December 21, 2015 by thefamilyof5

I just wanted to write a quick update because something wonderful happened today. My big girl, the one that lacks all confidence in her ability and would rather not ‘try’ than risk failure, well, she decided to ‘write a story’ today.

It might not sound like much, but for her, this independant choice to ‘write’ and give story writing a try is huge progress! Especially since we’d decided to ‘break up’ for christmas over a week ago!

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Im so proud of how far she has come in such a short period of time, her confidence has grown so much!

She isn’t the only one. My mum today commented on the positive changes she has seen in all of the girls, they’re more focused, more relaxed and are all eager to learn. She also commented on the massive changes in middle girl who’s confidence has really grown, she’s really starting to find her voice more!

I’ll leave you with these pictures of their wonderful Christmas crafts, they may not look like much, but they each, independently carried out their own Google searches to find an idea they liked and then followed the instructions provided, with NO help!! Pretty impressive for kids that didn’t know how to use Google 2 months ago eh!

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We send you all warm wishes for a merry Christmas and new year!
See you in 2016!!

The flood gates are open!

Published December 3, 2015 by thefamilyof5

I knew it was going to happen at some point, I knew once we removed ‘school’ from the equation that the girls would all be more able to focus on the real issue at hand, their trauma and loss. I kinda expected it to start with a trickle over the next year or so, perhaps with our therapy sessions becoming more ‘productive’ without all the focus being on ‘school’. I thought maybe over time they’d slowly start to process some of their thoughts and feelings and the healing process could begin.

I didn’t realise it would be such a sudden flow. Wednesday morning of last week big girl started talking about some of her feelings about her past and since then its pretty much not stopped, all 3 girls have been sharing things with me, processing their feelings, asking me questions, telling me how they feel about things, its been quite lovely in a heartbreaking kinda way. They even, for the first time, willingly and without prompting, shared things with our therapist last week!

I knew school was hard for them, and that the anxiety caused by school prevented them from looking further within themselves, I hadn’t realised however that beneath that school anxiety was a whole load of trauma bubbling beneath the surface so desperate to get out. Listening to them tell me worries and seeing them able to process some of those feelings at last is a relief, but its also really hard. My girls have so much sadness and confusion inside them, it really does hurt me to see them hurting so much and to know that for so long they’ve held it all inside.

If you read my last post you may or may not have noticed that I didn’t mention our regular DDP therapy sessions, I’d wanted to write about all this separately. Previously the girls have had fortnightly individual sessions each, so twice a week, whilst 2 were at school, Id take 1 of them to our local community centre to meet with our therapist. Obviously things have had to change now. Having all 3 girls at home has meant that individual sessions at our local community center was no longer possible, as I had no one to have the other 2 whilst a sister had her session. Eager to continue the wonderful work she’s been doing with all of us, our therapist came up with a great solution. We now have weekly sessions at her offices and her assistant works with 2 of the girls whilst me and the other have our regular DDP work with our therapist. The downside to this is the 75 mile round trip (more expense) every week along with me no longer being able to have my own sessions to ‘chat/off load’.

I’m really feeling very positive about our therapy sessions now, I had wondered what we’d talk about now that school wasn’t an issue (that seemed to be all the girls were able to focus on) and now I know. I’m seeing the start of a new journey for them, a journey of understanding, acceptance and security. I see a new future for them now, and its one where they may have been able to heal from some of their hurt!

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