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Our new adventure!

Published November 8, 2015 by thefamilyof5

We made a tough decision over half term, it had been on the cards for quite sometime, over a year in fact, but the issues we were experiencing with high school made it all just feel like it had become ‘too much’. So we de-registered all of the girls and have decided to give ‘Home Education’ a go.

School has always been an issue for the girls. We originally started with a large primary school, after 3 years we made the decision to move to a smaller one in the hope the girls would begin to feel safer. Even with masses amounts of support and understanding from the amazing staff at primary school, the girls still struggled. Then big girl moved to high school, and well, the less said about that experience the better I think!

So here we are. We’ve just completed our first week. Its actually been much better than expected. I expected exhaustion, frustration, an unkempt house, a piled high laundry basket and bickering kids! I expected it to be an absolute nightmare!

Its been nothing like that! When we made the decision, which the girls were all involved in and given the choice about, they instantly relaxed, their sleep that evening improved dramatically! (I think that says it all really). There has been no bickering, at all! I’m not exhausted and the house and laundry have all been managed! There hasn’t even been any of that stressy, sweaty stinky pong (there was lots of it half term, they were worrying about going back to school they said! In fact, its actually been quite a lot of fun! The girls stress levels have all reduced dramatically and life feels so much easier and happier in our house right now. I can already feel my relationship with the girls blossoming and MrFO5 has been able to become more involved too.

I didn’t really plan on doing much ‘learning’ for now. I thought we’d spend some time getting out of the routine and practices that school came with. It hasn’t quite worked out that way because the girls have all wanted to ‘do learning’. So along with baby girl insisting that we keep ‘morning break’, we have already put some structure in to our days and have devised somewhat of a timetable for our week, it doesn’t look much like a school day, its much more flexible, we even did some learning (Sunday) today!

We’ve included daily diary writing, swimming, science experiments, math, spellings, hand writing practice, and have even joined some local Home Education groups!  The girls have been amazing, they’ve become so eager to learn. They love writing their diaries each morning and showing me their sentence structure or neat writing or how they used a good ‘describing word’. They sit at the table for written work without fuss, they listen and they hear, even baby girl! We’ve incorporated learning into nearly everything we do, so much so that they all keep pointing out the ‘learning’ or asking what the ‘learning’ is. When MrFO5 gets home each evening they’re all super excited to show him their work folders and tell him what they’ve learnt that day and what exciting adventures we’ve been on.

There is so much that we have done this week that I couldn’t even begin to list it all, so here is some of it:

I’ve accessed online resources both free and paid for

We’ve carried out experiments about colors and noted our findings

Learnt about what some of the vital organs in the body do

They’ve played educational games on their tablets and even learnt about ‘algorithms’

We’ve been learning a new song that we found on youtube

We written some poetry about popping candy, that was a lot of fun because of course we had to eat it first!

They’ve all learnt how to spell at least 7 new words each.

They’ve swam over 100 meters each

Had fun with paint and glitter at an Art Club

Made new friends

Learnt about different types of measurements in the park with tape measures

We’ve laughed, smiled, and snuggled a lot!

Like I say, there is just too much to list, and that’s just this week!

We plan to get a math tutor in the new year. We have music tuition lined up. We have plans to visit science museums, art galleries and historical places. We may even do our own Christmas performance for friends and family to watch. I’m hoping to finally get round to being able to do some baking with them as well. We’re even hoping now they’re sleeping better that they will be more able to manage some extra curricular clubs and activities. Middle girl really wants to go to a Dance class! We do hope to get them back in to some sort of formal education later on, perhaps for college. We may need to look at getting a cleaner in once a month, we may need to employ the services of an ironing company (only for Mr FO5 work shirts, us girls are happy to wear creases). We may even need to change our car to one that’s more economical now we’re doing more than just the school run each day. So we may also need to do the lottery more often too!! 🙂

I’m not naive enough to believe it will always be this easy or that they will always be this willing, or that it wont get exhausting either but for now, it really does feel like we made the best decision for our girls and I just wonder why we never did it sooner!

Homework

Published September 16, 2015 by thefamilyof5

So big girls homework tonight, after a whole 6 days in high school is ‘draw a time line of your life from birth to now including any special events’.

So here is a timeline of an adopted child (I’m making it up so you get the idea of why this homework was so inappropriate). I wonder how they’d feel if this was what she handed in.

Born in 2004 I had to stay in hospital for a while because I was addicted to heroin the nurse that cared for me was called Mary.

Christmas 2004 I was hungry and left to cry for 8 hours in my car seat whilst my parents got drunk and smoked weed.

Jan 2005 The police came to my house because me and my siblings had been left home alone.

May 2005 I was abused by my moms friend, he said it was a secret but I think its ok to tell now.

Christmas 2005 my dad hit my mom until she was unconscious and we spent the night in hospital, the nurses were kind and fed us, I had coco pops.

March 2006 the social worker visited and found me and my siblings wearing dirty clothes and dirty nappies. Mom was asleep upstairs drunk, Dad was out.

November 2006 was the first time my dads friend showed me porn on the tv.

June 2007 my dad was sent to jail for stabbing my grandad, my grandad died.

Feb 2008 my mom tried to kill herself by cutting her wrists. There was a lot of blood. My older sister called an ambulance. At the hospital I had a cheese sandwich.

March 2008 my baby sister was born, she had to stay in hospital for a while because she was poorly and kept crying.

July 2008 I had to go to hospital with a broken arm, my mom told the doctor I fell, but I didn’t.

November 2008 the social workers and the police came to my house and took me and all my siblings to another house and said we had to live there. My mom didn’t come with us and I forgot to get my purple teddy.

June 2009 the social worker told me I’ll be having a new family.

November 2009 my baby sister went to live with a new family, the social worker said I’ll never see her again.

Feb 2010 I went to live with a new family, my brothers and sisters didn’t come with me, the social worker says they’re too old to have a new family and I’ll never see them again.

September 2010 I started at my new school, it smelt funny

March 2012 is the last time my birth mom wrote me a letter, it was on flowery paper and smelt of her

Feb 2013 my birth mom killed herself, they told me she took some pills

April 2014 I got a letter to say my older sister hanged herself because she was so sad

September 2015 I started high school

I don’t think I really need to say any more about this do I.

** Edit**

I urge you to share this fictional timeline post far and wide, spread the word, lets educate our educators.

I’ve linked this up with #WASO over at The Adoption Social where you can read lots of new great adoption blogs.

Siblings & Trauma by Force Four Coaching

Published May 21, 2015 by thefamilyof5

Parenting a traumatised child is incredibly hard. Parenting two or more is practically impossible – whether it’s only one of them who has significant trauma or if it’s all of them. It can result in issues that can be painful, exhausting and guilt-inducing, and decisions that are emotionally agonising.

http://www.forcefourcoaching.com/siblings2.html

This is a really great article. I found it to be very validating. Big girl is really struggling right now and meeting her extreme needs as well as the ever increasing needs of her sisters is hard, too hard. I feel like I’m failing. This article helped me today. I’m not alone. I’m not a failure. I’m doing the best I can. It’s not my fault.

Secondary Trauma in Adoptive Families

Published May 19, 2015 by thefamilyof5

This is a really great article and the more of it I read, the more I understood and the more. I felt validated.

“Regular exposure to their child’s trauma leaves parents vulnerable to secondary trauma.”

http://www.amysugenocounseling.com/secondary-trauma-in-adoptive-parents/

Half Term (Part 2)

Published April 19, 2015 by thefamilyof5

Half Term Part 2 is over, I feel really very sad about sending them back to school tomorrow. We’ve had an amazing time, the transformation in the girls has been remarkable, especially middle girl, she’s surprised me the most!

So, here’s how our final week went.

Sunday, it rained, a lot, so we went with my sister to see Cinderella at the cinema, in hindsight it probably wasn’t the best choice of films. All 3 girls found the ‘dying mother’ bit too much to handle. They’ve lost so much already in their little lives that any kind of loss overwhelms them. Baby girl found it particularly difficult but was able to talk about it straight away unlike her sisters her pondered the story line over night and eventually told me about how sad it had made them feel the following morning. After our movie we enjoyed a lovely meal, the girls were very impressed that they got to take home the funky straws from Bella Pasta.

 

 

Monday we had plans to meet in the park with a friend of mine and her 2 adopted children. The girls enjoyed a great time scooting and chatting with them and they all even had a game of ‘tag’ afterwards whilst us mom’s sat chatting and slowly freezing to death, it wasn’t as warm as we’d hoped!

Tuesday we were expecting a dishwasher repair man between 10am and 2pm. So we snuck out for a cheeky McDonald’s breakfast first thing and then the girls played in the garden, it was a gorgeous sunny warm day. Baby girl even set up (a very easy) crazy golf course! PS dishwasher repair man couldn’t fix it so he said we could have a new one!

 

Wednesday was set to be warm, and it didn’t disappoint! The morning was spent doing crafty stuff, mostly painting!

 

When Daddy got home from work we dusted off the BBQ and enjoyed the first family BBQ of the year, fizzy pop and everything! Baby girl, sipping her drink through her new funky straw, said ‘mommy this Orange is fizzy and its tickling my tongue’ .

 

The tickly tongue comment gave me an idea. I gave them some popping candy after our BBQ, their first ever experience of it! I wish I could show you their faces, or even the video I have of them with it crackling in their mouths. Needless to say it was a new experience for them, and a fun one at that! Oh how we laughed!

 

Thursday was a tad cooler so we warmed ourselves up with an ‘Unlimited Breakfast’ at our local Brewers Fayre pub, it really is a favorite of the girls. Then home for play. Middle girl and Big girl opted for crafty type play whilst baby girl decided to get out the water play, she really does like ‘water play’. Later on we added some ‘Gelli Baff’ to the water and they all enjoyed playing (big girl said it was gross and chose to watch) with the yukky sludge.

IMG-20150419-WA006

Friday was sunny but cool so we made plans to meet some of my family and spent a couple of hours in the park, a quick lunch in the Harvester before heading to the shops to do what girls do best ‘Shop’.

Saturday was spent at home again waiting for the new dishwasher to arrive. We decided to have a BBQ for tea but hadn’t taken in to account that once the sun left our garden around tea time, it was going to be quite chilly. So we wrapped up warm and soldiered on eating our burgers and sausages whilst shivering and wiping dripping noses! yum! We managed to keep ourselves warm laughing!

 

On Monday a lovely couple in the park had asked when the children went back to school. This was enough to plant a seed for my girls, school was officially back on their radars. Thursday, at breakfast, the lovely manager in the pub asked the girls how they were spending the last 2 days of holidays. I’d say that’s when it really hit home. The ‘I don’t want to go back to school’ started, sleep deteriorated and their irritability returned. On a positive note they were all able to talk to me about how they were feeling, even Middle girl, and she never tells me anything, ever!

Today we’ve encouraged the girls to play separately, and I know this may sound like an odd tactic given how well they’ve played together this half term. You see today their anxiety levels were at an all time high, Big girl’s voice was so high pitched only dogs could hear it, Baby girl was clingy and controlling and Middle girl seemed to be ‘disappearing’ again. Id imagine many people that have adopted siblings will understand what I mean by a ‘Trauma Bond’, but for those of you who don’t, I’ll try and explain. The girls share an intricate bond which was formed during a traumatic time in their lives meaning they ‘feel’ each others negative emotions and have the ability to ‘re-traumatize’ each other in times of heightened anxiety. So today we decided to try and prevent as much upset as possible by encouraging them to enjoy their own space and activities.

We did break up the day with lunch at a local world buffet, they even had a chocolate fountain, Baby girl thought she’d died and gone to heaven! In the car talk of school raised its ugly head again with all 3 declaring they didn’t want to go and wanted to be ‘home schooled’ instead like our friends children. It was quite a moment as Middle girl has NEVER once indicated that she doesn’t like school, in fact she’s often been the one to tell me she’d rather be at school than at home. But, she doesn’t always say what she means, or mean what she says, so I’ve never been sure of how she really felt about school, her anger tells me she hates it but her words say she likes it!? So when Middle girl declared she didn’t want to go back to school I pointed out that she’d always told me she likes school. Her reply, ‘I like being with my family’. This is a really big thing, she’s always been so angry that I genuinely thought she hated us all! I’m not kidding!

Tonight before bed we’ve had strops, sulks and tears. I don’t think it will be long before the anger and tantrums and bickering return. The next half term is in sight but its only one week long, I’m not sure that’s long enough. This school holiday was 2 weeks long yet it took Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday for them to ‘come down’ from the hype of school. Given that the build up started around Thursday of this week I’d say that leaves us with Tuesday and Wednesday of the next half term as possible ‘good’ days! I really wish school didn’t have such an impact, or that I could pin point and fix whatever the issue is!

Baby girl had a good idea tonight, she suggested I have an invisibility button installed so I could go to school with her! I think its a brilliant idea!

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

 

 

Half Term (Part 1)

Published April 11, 2015 by thefamilyof5

Its Easter half term here at the moment, so far its been a real success. Sleep has improved, tantrums have all but disappeared and the girls general mood is just much ‘nicer’. MrFO5 and I have both remarked on the difference in middle girl in particular. Prior to half term she’d been very angry, stroppy and irritable for, well, as long as I can remember to be honest, yet this week she seems to have found her smile again! So, this is a quick run down of our week so far……………..

We had an Easter dinner with my Family on bank holiday Monday and enjoyed a lovely walk to the park afterwards.

Saying Hello to the Donkeys en-route to the park.

On Tuesday MrFO5 was back at work so I’d prepared by booking up some activities at the local leisure centre to give the girls a break from each other and me a break from them. The original plan was a 2hr activity Tuesday for Middle girl, one Wednesday for Big girl and one Thursday for Baby girl, then on Friday all 3 were booked in activities for the majority of the day. We all know things never go to plan though eh! Sadly after collecting Middle girl from her club on Tuesday I noticed that procedures were not being followed by the leisure centre staff and as a result I didn’t feel my, or anyone else’s children, were safe. I made a formal complaint and cancelled all further sessions. However, during middle girls activity Baby girl and Big girl were able to enjoy some time together with me at the park.

Wednesday was not such a good day. It seems sending Middle girl to a club on Tuesday was too unsettling for all of them and they didn’t sleep much Tuesday as they were worrying who was going to club next, meaning Wednesday was a bit tricky. However once Daddy got home from work we did manage a lovely evening scoot around our village and park (something I wouldn’t have been able to manage by myself given their difficult/tired moods). Middle girl had a tantrum close to bedtime, but even that was different, it was more of an ‘upset’ tantrum rather than the usual ‘rage’ filled tantrums she has. Thursday was back to being good, all girls slept well once I’d reassured them that no more clubs were booked in. We enjoyed an enormous breakfast, some fun in the garden and another evening scoot.

We do love our Brewers Fayre brekkies!

We do love our Brewers Fayre brekkies!

Middle girl loved having her nails painted!

Middle girl loved having her nails painted!

Thursday night MrF05 and I were very lucky, my mum and sister offered to babysit so we could enjoy a film and meal, without kids!!!

A beautiful meal in Bella Italia followed by a movie!

A beautiful meal in Bella Italia followed by a movie!

Friday we spent some more time with my family and the girls enjoyed a stroll along the canal with their favorite Auntie and cousins. Saturday (today) we finally got round to taking the girls to see ‘Home’ at the cinema, they really enjoyed it.

Excited girls looking for the right 'screen'.

Excited girls looking for the right ‘screen’ at Cineworld.

We also tried a new restaurant after our meal, baby girl wasn't keen on the decor, it looked messy (exposed pipes/ducting) apparently!

We also tried a new restaurant after our meal, baby girl wasn’t keen on the decor, it looked messy (exposed pipes/ducting) apparently! Didnt stop her scoffin her pizza though, which actually she described as ‘the best ever’!

Overall its been a real success! I really cant believe the difference in their moods compared to ‘term time’, I’m exhausted, but happy! Lets hope part 2 is just as good! I’ve linked this up with #WASO (Weekly Adoption Social) over at The Adoption Social

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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