All posts tagged secure

‘Taking Care’ with Photo’s and the Internet

Published October 19, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I’ve linked this post up over at The Adoption Social for this weeks #WASO, the theme this week is ‘Taking Care’ in honor of the Taking Care conference held at The Open Nest  in York this weekend. This post is about how I try take care of my family on the internet.

One day in the summer holidays we were enjoying a walk in a local Gardens. There was a photographer, maybe from the press or the gardens own publicity department, either way, when he pointed his long zoom lens in our direction MrFO5 and I didn’t hesitate to ask him to delete the photo of us. Big girl gave me one of those  side ways glances that she often gives when she’s wondering ‘why’ about something but isn’t brave enough to ask. She’s given me those looks many times in the past about photo related incidents and generally I’ve just moved along and avoided her ‘look’. This time I felt she was ready for an explanation, she was now a little older and had been showing increasing interest in the ‘whys’ around her story before she came to us. So I explained. I only told her what she needed to know, for example I didn’t tell her about the birth family we’d discovered that lived less than 3 miles away, or the threats her violent birth father had made to snatch them, or that her traumatised older siblings were plotting to ‘find’ them. What I did tell her was that where we lived was a secret from her birth family because we needed to make sure they were safe, I explained that social workers knew where we lived, and where their birth family lived and they were able to share information and letters without sharing our addresses so that we were all safe. (I use the word SAFE a lot when I talk to the girls because their own safety is their main focus). I went on to explain that it was also the reason we didn’t allow their photo’s to be taken in school for newspaper articles or putting on the school website. I explained how these could be used to track down which school they attended and how we wouldn’t allow that as we will always keep them safe. I explained that school also knew this and would never allow their photo’s to be put on the internet which is why sometimes she’s been asked to do something else whilst a photo is being taken.

I thought she’s understood. I was wrong it seems. Last week a photographer came in to school to take photos for the school prospectus. Her teacher commented how she noticed the look of panic in Big Girls face the minute he entered their classroom. She attempted to reassure her that it was ok and she didn’t need to worry, but that glazed over, switched off look told her she wasn’t listening. And she was right. shortly after the photographer arrived it was morning break time. Big girl in a panicked state, it seems, proceeded to track down her sisters and inform them that they were not allowed to let the ‘man take their photo’s’. She even rushed to tell the head teacher that Baby Girl, who incidentally had been loving the attention of a stranger on the playground with a camera, had allowed him to take her photo, lots of times.

I collected 3 Rather stressed out children that day. Baby girl and Middle girl thought they’d be in trouble with me for having their photo’s taken like Big girl had told them, and Big girl was angry at me for not telling her there would a photographer in school. Of course I reassured Baby and Middle that they were not in trouble and it was absolutely fine for them to have their photo’s taken and they mustn’t worry. I also had a stern word with Big girl about interfering, whilst I understood why she behaved that way, she also knows that she isn’t allowed to ‘boss’ her sisters about in school, that’s the teachers jobs not hers, its been a big problem for a while. I also talked to her about why she felt the need to tell them off for having photo’s taken and reassured her that she didn’t need to and that the teachers and head teacher were all aware of the ‘rules’ we have for photo’s. I also told her that I hadn’t been aware a photographer would be in school and also that I didn’t need to know that either because I trust her teachers to keep them safe and not allow photo’s to go on the internet and that she should also. I think she understood, but I guess we’ll find out next time there is a photographer about!

Photos and the internet are a big worry for many adopters and its surprising how many non-adopters struggle to understand this. I’ve been sat in school assembly’s as the teacher has announced ‘no photography please’ followed by a long groan from the parents/family in the audience and quite often a parent has shared their thoughts with me about how ridiculous a rule it is and how unfair it is that they’re not allowed to take photo’s of their child. I sympathise, I really do. I also would love to be able to film or take photo’s of the girls in their school productions or sports days, but I cant.

It would just take one parent in school to upload to Facebook a photo with my girls in the background to bring our world crashing down around us. Without knowing every single parent in school and who they are friends with on facebook, and who their friends are friends with,  it would be impossible for me to know that there are no birth family lurking in those friend lists. Birth family in their friends lists is quite a possibility actually, remember, we recently discovered them (via facebook) living just 3 miles away. Its a real possibility that I stand on the play ground next to someone who lives in their street, or who’s child attends the same club as theirs or someone who drinks with them every Friday night in their local, its THAT possible.

I’m very careful with photo’s of the girls, I do upload photo’s on to Facebook, but they are stored in a very secure album that is only visible to certain people. There are lots of security settings on Facebook and knowing how to use them is vital. I’m not naive, I know that uploading photo’s to the internet is a risk even with the Facebook security, but I’m a mom and I want to share our family  photo’s with the people that we don’t always get to see that often, I want them to still be able to see the girls growing up. There have also been times that I’ve had to ask for a photo of the girls to be removed from a ‘friends’ page, and it isn’t that I don’t trust them with photo’s of the girls, its more that I don’t know who they’re friends with or even who they’re friends are friends with.

Facebook and the internet in general is such a worry for us adopters and we work really hard to keep our children, their identities and locations secure, but we also want to just be parents and do what other parents do, we want to be able to share and enjoy social networking like everyone else, we just have to be extra careful about it.



Published October 26, 2013 by thefamilyof5

This weeks Theme for #WASO is ‘Future’.

I spend a lot of time worrying about the girls future and also our future as a family. I’m sure all parents worry about their children’s future, will they get a good job, will they marry, will they have a family of their own etc.

I worry about all of the above, but I also worry about some of the finer details of life as well.

Will big  girls infatuation with being a mom lead her to become one too soon, will she continue the cycle of self destruction that she was born in to, will she ever trust any one enough to be able to have a loving relationship with them, will she have friends, will she allow herself to feel loved and have learnt how to love. Will she return to her past and the path she was on. Will she be happy!

Will middle girl ever open her heart and let us in, will she ever trust the world around her or will she continue to hide and avoid the world, perhaps behind a bottle or a drug induce state. Will her academic difficulties hold her back, will she ever feel ‘good enough’. Will she be happy!

I worry that baby girl may never feel she truly belongs, will she always feel she has to compete to fit in, will her need for attention and reactions get her in to trouble, will her thrill seeking land her in hot water, will she be too controlling for friends, will she learn to be happy without chaos. Will she be happy!

I worry about the present too, I worry that I’m not doing the right things, that I’m not saying the right things, that I’m not giving them what they need.

I worry that i’ll never be able to ‘give’ enough, that i’ll never be able to fill those gaps from their past.

I worry that i’ll never be enough!

I Doubted Myself

Published August 25, 2013 by thefamilyof5

You know those moments when you doubt yourself, you wonder if actually it’s all just in your head. Are the issues the girls have just a figment of my imagination, a product of my overprotectiveness?? (yes, I made that word up).
Well today I had one of those moments. The weather had forced us to change our plans so we decided a trip to the cinema and lunch would be a better idea. Smurfs 2 was on, I remembered an adopter friend warning me about the storyline and how it may trigger some fears in ‘adopted children’ with a history of loss , but I also recalled another adopter telling me they’d been to see it and their child had loved it. ‘maybe it’s me just being over protective’ I thought, ‘it’ll promote resilliance, they’ll be fine, I can’t keep protecting them’ I told myself.

So we went.

I cried at several points in the film, well I fought back tears and lump in my throat I should say. It was a film with a strong storyline line about ‘loss’ ‘identity’ ‘belonging’ ‘being part of a family’.
It was also very funny, and we all laughed, a lot.

We left the cinema and seated ourselves in the neighbouring Mexican restaurant. I busied myself with menu’s and finding out what everyone was going to eat and drink and ordering our food. Whilst I was sorting out the food order I became aware that baby girl, who was sat beside me, was becoming increasingly hyper. Once I ordered the food I turned to baby girl and suggested she calmed down.
She wasn’t able to look at me, her muscles tense, her body flinching, she wasn’t really there.
I held her hand and asked her to look at me, I softly stroked her hand and asked her what was the matter, she was wriggly and fidgety and was still unable to look at me. I lifted her chin and looked in to her eyes, she looked sad and scared. I asked her again what was the matter. She cried. She cried a lot, she cuddled me and clung to me and cried some more.
Eventually I asked her again ‘what’s the matter?’
‘I don’t know’ she sobbed.
And she probably didnt.

I really could kick myself, I should have known better, I should have trusted my instincts. It was only a few weeks ago that I linked a downturn in the girls behaviour with a different TV channel. We’d change the channel on the TV in the playroom from Cbeebies, which is aimed at toddlers and pre school children, to the channel aimed at children a little older, Cbbc which amongst other things, does have its own ‘news’ feature, which is real life news presented in a easy to understand child friendly manor, but it’s still REAL news with war, death, accidents, fires etc. Their behaviour became increasingly worse, they were constantly bickering, impatient and irritated with each other. We reverted back to Cbeebies after a couple of weeks and the calm descended upon the playroom once more.

They don’t need to be reminded that the world around them is scary. For now they just need to feel safe.

I may sometimes protect my girls from the world around them, and I may sometimes make choices that seem odd, maybe even controlling, to others, but never again will I doubt myself.

My girls are not emotionally strong enough to cope with the real world and all its diversity. They don’t yet feel safe and secure, they’re not sure who they really are and where they came from, they don’t know why bad things happened to them in the past and I don’t think they always feel like they ‘belong’ anywhere.

They smile, they hide, they comply.
They rarely show their emotions because it’s just too much, they feel too vulnerable.
They still need me to protect them, to wrap them in cotton wool and tell them stories of fairies and princesses and happy ever afters. They don’t need to hear about death, destruction and loss. They’ve felt the real world before, and it was scary. They’ve felt emotions before, they were scary too.

When they feel safe and secure they’ll be ready to deal with their complex emotions, they’ll be ready face the world and all its diversitys, and I’ll be ready and waiting to help them.


This feels like a good time to tell you about some decisions we’re currently making/considering.
We received a letter from camhs, it was kind of a reveiw about their veiws on the last few meetings we’ve had with them. It became clear in this letter that they don’t really understand the girls and they don’t really understand us as a family and our needs. So we’ve had some discussions with the placing authority and have expressed our concerns about CAMHS and how we don’t really feel like the girls are benefitting from seeing them and how we feel that we’re no further along as a family than we were 18 months ago when we first started with CAMHS. So they’ve offered to fund some commissioned therapy and life story work for the girls with an alternative service/therapist. This is great news, this will be someone that will look deep in to the girls past and help them and us, make sense of it and help us to move forward as a family.

Perhaps then, they’ll be ready to watch Annie 🙂 or maybe I’m just being optimistic!

Watch this space………….

Time for change……

Published June 29, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Well we’ve made a huge decision, we’ve decided to move the girls to a different school.

The girls go to a big school, one of the biggest in the area, it has the capacity to educate over 500 children. It has an excellent reputation.

Moving them is a decision we’ve been considering for over a year now and not one we’ve taken lightly. We first considered moving them in 2011, but then Ofsted put our school in to ‘special measures’ and most people ‘jumped ship’, so we decided to stay and actually thought the smaller classrooms and additional training the staff would receive would benefit the girls. But the new head master is just too good, he’s turned the school around and ofsted re-assessed several months later as ‘good’.

So the other parents are happy, elated in fact. Me however, I’m worried. The school is once again the best in the area. With the capacity to take over 100 more children and I’m sure those places will be filled quickly.

So what is my worry, you may be wondering, well I have many. There are many things that I’ve been disappointed with over the last 3 years. Out of date IEP’s, CAF meetings cancelled over and over, lack of understanding of the girls needs, not enough time to speak with me about my concerns, messages that never get passed on to teachers, confidential paper work that gets ‘lost’, the day they all managed to excuse themselves from class, issues with dinner time staff the list goes on, but the most important thing is that significant behaviours go unnoticed, and the girls know they go unnoticed, and subsequently don’t feel safe.

Its a big school, there’s a lot of children and like every school teachers have so much to fit in to each day that it doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

Baby girl is currently in a year group with many difficult children, many of them present the teacher with all manor of difficult behaviours every day. Baby girl is by far no where near the most difficult child in her class, or even her year group, but I won’t deny she is difficult, however, she is the most traumatised and this goes unnoticed.

Middle girl spends every day being helpful, smiling and being generally compliant. Her teacher is obviously grateful of her seemingly good behaviour, but I know its driven by fear, and that needs to be acknowledged.

Big girl is actually having a great year for the first time since arriving, she seems settled. So why move her, you may wonder. Well I feel her ASD diagnosis has played a big part in this as its a ‘title’ teachers know, and its largely followed by actually having teachers that ‘understand’ her and appreciate her struggles and make her feel safe. But what happens next year and the year after, she’s had 1 good year out of 3, her security shouldn’t depend on a lottery of teachers.

So now is the best time to move them, big girl has 2 years to settle and make some friends before she starts high school. Baby girl has 5 years left, and middle girl has 4 years left at primary school, that’s time for them to feel noticed, feel safe and make some ‘real’ friendships.

So we’ve chosen a tiny school, its a church school that is less than a 3rd of the size. The class sizes are smaller, there are less teachers, less rooms, less space, less noise! Its calmer and has a more therapeutic feel. They currently have an autistic child and a looked after child on their register and I’m confident their approach with the girls will be better suited.

Am I confident that this is the right decision, no I’m not. Am I confident that a smaller school is definitely what they need, no I’m not. But what I do know is that the current school the girls attend, isn’t the right school for them.

Baby Steps

Published April 28, 2013 by thefamilyof5

It was almost 3 years ago that we travelled across the country to meet the girls, amongst many other memories I distinctly remember how baby girl clung to me like a baby monkey on that first day and whimpered in to my ear ‘when can I come to your house?’ ‘When am I going with you?’.

Over the next year or so she impressed everyone with her independence, her ability to dress herself, fold her clothes even tidy away her toys, there were no supermarket tantrums, no nagging for things endlessly, no whinging and whining. Her first day of nursery went without a tear or tantrum, unlike the other children she didn’t cling to her mummy and beg her not to leave. Instead she confidently walked past her crying class mates and went off to play. ‘She’s so well behaved’ people would say. ‘Too well behaved’ I would think.

It didn’t take me long to realise my girls were not ‘well behaved’ they were ‘compliant’, too scared to show themselves to us and the world around them.

(Extract taken from Adoption Voices Magazine)
‘For the compliant child the situation can actually be devastating. As a compliant child who is either not causing problems or actually well engaged and visibly successful, she is not seen as having any problems at all. Parents see this child as well adjusted to life, including being adopted, and with no outwardly troubling signs of concern, this child is often overlooked and not given any form of counselling or assistance in dealing with life or emotional wounds. It is difficult for anyone to see that the child who is often referred to as, “mature for her age” or “pleasant and articulate,” is actually in equal distress to the child who is acting out. Both are hurting, both are devastated by the trauma and both have no way to articulate, understand, contextualize or grieve the loss they have endured’

More recently baby girl has been testing some of the boundaries, she’s argued her point, sulked and even stamped her feet. She’s expressed her needs of hunger and tiredness, she’s told me of the foods she doesn’t like and asked for the foods she does. She’s asked for things in a shop, almost nagged for them in fact. She’s expressed her ‘need’ for the latest toy craze that her friends at school have and she must have now! She’s left her toys out and moaned at having to tidy them away, she’s chucked her clothes on the floor and forgotten how to dress herself. She’s left the bathroom without washing her hands and she’s even sometimes come out of school having forgotten something. She’s protested at having to brush her hair and sprayed my perfume all over the floor. You may be reading all of this and thinking ‘well she’s 6, this is what 6yr olds do’ and I’d totally agree with you, however for the last almost 3 years, she hasn’t done any of these things. There is still an element of compliance, its a work in progress for whilst she may protest at doing things, she generally protests whilst doing the very thing she’s ‘refusing’ to do. Baby steps!

So is this regression? Is she going back to being the stroppy lazy 3yr old that she should have been when we first met? Or is this just her feeling safe enough to relax now?

Either way I love it, I’m embracing the fact that she is starting to show me some of her true personality rather than the fake robotic compliance she’s given me before.

However I must try to remember how wonderfully normal this expression of defiance really is, when she next stamps her feet and rolls her eyes at me 🙂

My blog can also be found alongside some amazing blogs at The Weekly Adoption Shout out #WASO this weeks theme is ‘regression’.

2 Sides to Every Story – The Schools Side

Published March 22, 2013 by thefamilyof5


So it seems my 3 girls did all managed to excuse themselves from class just like they told me! The series of events they described to me actually happened.

The deputy head at school approached me on the playground today, I braced myself for a defensive story. What I got was an admission of guilt and an explanation as to how it had happened.

As I suspected the teachers had each assumed that the girls had been summons by the office to attend their dentist appointment and allowed them to leave class.
We now know this was not the case.

School has assured me that this will never happen again and that ALL staff have been advised that they are not to release a child from class based on the child’s hearsay and that a member of staff or parent should be accompanying them out of the classroom.

I do feel confident that this particular scenario won’t happen again, however it has raised huge concerns within me about the unpredictability of the girls, this wasn’t a group decision, they didn’t collaborate a plan during their lunch break, they each individually made these choices, albeit the same choices.
Something inside them that day told them that they had to be responsible for themselves, they had to make sure they got to the school office ready for their dentist appointment themselves, they couldn’t trust the grown ups around them so needed to take matters in to their own hands in order to survive, just like before.

They did it remarkably well too, not that I’m surprised, not a single bag or lunch box was left behind, they remembered everything themselves, big girl immediately took on the role of carer and the other 2 followed her lead they didn’t NEED anyone’s help, they know how to survive.
Once I arrived at school and took over from big girl they relaxed, they were safe again, and the anxiety they’d held in became obvious almost immediately.

My girls can survive, they can keep themselves safe and they can take care of their own needs. But they need to see that the world is a safe place now and the grown ups around them will take charge and keep them safe.

That day, the school failed to show my already insecure and frightened girls that they would keep them safe. Instead their teachers allowed them to be in control which made them revert to those survival instincts once again.

Needless to say I will be making sure ALL their teachers keep a closer eye on my unpredictable frightened little girls in future!

And so it starts, again…..

Published February 11, 2013 by thefamilyof5

In the 3 months that middle girl slept in our room baby girl thrived, she grew so much she skipped an entire clothing size, she even seemed more content when she was sleeping, her schooling improved dramatically, her behaviour was much more ‘normal/appropriate’ and more importantly she started to develop more ‘healthy’ and ‘secure’ attachments. We saw a completely different child which told us this early waking thing had been going on much longer than the 12months we’d thought it had.

2 weeks ago we moved middle girl back into baby girls room.

The last 2 weeks have been a constant barrage of the familiar interrupting, antagonising, provoking, dropping, pushing, forgetting, not hearing, not seeing, objecting, not doing, controlling and re-traumatising.

Baby girl is tired. She has a tornado of tiredness wreaking havoc within her, she feels out of control and is sinking into chaos. She projects her inner state to the world around her. She’s feeling chaotic, therefore we’re all feeling it too.

I’d hoped those 3 months of secure, safe, chaos free lovely-ness would have been enough to keep her grounded through the tiredness.

It wasn’t.

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