DDP part 2 – using the ASF

This week we had our second DDP session provided under the Adoption support fund (ASF).

You can read about our first session here.

Some changes:

Since our first session I took part in The Adoption Social Twitter chat on the ASF which you can read about here. This lead to us getting further clarification on what the ASF can provide and what our LA should have done initially. 

To cut a long story short there are very few providers of DDP locally and those around have long waiting lists so if we tried to change we would likely not be seen for some time. Fortunately following our first session our psychologist also came to the conclusion that it would not be in Tom’s best interest to do 3 hours of travelling for a 1 hour session just as he starts school. Between us we have a plan which she is going to take to the LA (so pleased not to have to do that again), my husband and I will continue to see her on a consultation basis and she is going to work with her colleague who lives near us and will see Tom to do some life story work (this other lady is not DDP trained but very experienced and will be working with our psychologist). This means we will not have to restart and be put on a waiting list. In all it looks far better for Tom than this time last week.

Knowing that we don’t have to deal with negotiating school and travel is a big weight off our minds. 

The second session: 

We were a little early this week and again got a much needed cup of tea, we then spent 20 minutes sat in the waiting room discussing our disgust of wallpaper made to look like distressed wood paneling in a magazine. Now this may sound silly but to have 20 minutes to discuss such trivial things and drink tea was lovely.

Dr S started by asking how the last few weeks had gone, we said “not a lot has happened, it’s been good actually.” We then spent an hour telling her how hard everything had been, she did point this out to us that maybe things were slightly harder than we suggested in our opening statement!

This session was similar to the first in that we talked about what had happened and how we felt about things Tom was or was not doing.

Generally we feel he is showing significantly less violence and when he does it is for a short time and he now spends more time talking about being sad or people dying (in a strange abstract way). 

We have found the sadness easier to deal with in some ways but also very hard to watch and we were unsure if it was progress or just another thing to deal with. Dr S reassured us it is progress as it shows he is starting to understand his emotions and seeking comfort in a more appropriate way.

We do feel the violence is better with the sensory things we’ve been doing but the sadness is far more complex which is why Dr S suggested we try the life story work, we still don’t have the life story books and he did not have any life story work before he came to us. Tom has so many questions about his siblings and has started making up lots of stories about “when I was a baby…”. Having some expert support on how to help him express and understand his past should be great.

What next: 

We have 2 more sessions booked in before Tom starts school (when child care is easiest). Dr S is going to try some mindfulness things with us next time as she pointed out we do think about what / why / if all the time and I especially never switch off. There was an interesting discussion about how adopters are trained to analyse and potentially over-think every aspect of their child’s behaviour! We’re also going to look at how we respond to different behaviours.

So far it has mainly been us talking about our experiences and it will be nice to start think about different strategies and have a few more tools under our belt.

P.s:

Special thank you to @PsychGina for advice re. different providers, @NadjaSmit for ‘higher up power’ and @AdoptionSocial for providing an amazing platform to discover what we can do if we try and don’t blindly follow what LA tell us.

All about Bear.


Slightly different post this week. It is all about Bear (above) and the trauma associated with soft toys!

Attachment is a word we hear a lot about, primarily we think of it with regards to people and parenting, however for children who have been adopted and / or in foster care a soft toy or something similar can provide comfort in a changing world and they form many different sorts of attachments.

Bear is the love of James’ (1) life. He has had him since he was born and will not sleep without him, Bear needs to be within 2 inches of his face or he wakes up! When James is upset he cries for Bear. Bear is so precious he doesn’t leave the house.

Bear has been chewed a lot (good for teething) and his nose has had a few repairs however this week the nose had to come off as it was at risk of being a choking hazard.

I took off Bear’s hard stud nose and replaced it with a fabric one (took me over an hour as Bear’s fabric had been chewed too much).


Now I think I did a good job on the nose, it looks like the original and is at the same weird slant, but it’s different.

I gave James back Bear, he chewed the nose, it didn’t feel right. He then threw Bear across the room (much to the shock of his brother). He then spent the rest of the evening pointing to his nose then Bear’s. He just sat there distraught and confused at how his most precious thing was different.

Watching this acute trauma reaction was heart breaking. I would go so far as to say Bear is one of his main attachments and seeing this little boy deep in thought about the changes was so sad.

His elder brother (Tom -4) was also upset to see his brother not playing with his precious bear and decided to help them re-attach! Tom spent lots of time sat next to James cuddling and stroking Bear, talking and signing to him in the way James does. This was beautiful to watch. Eventually James went to bed with Bear and seems to be learning to love him again, though he still touches the nose with real sadness on his face.

It was horrible watching the distress but beautiful to watch Tom’s reaction and understanding of his brother’s needs. (If he hadn’t been able to cuddle Bear by the time he went to bed he wouldn’t have slept, as we know from washing day).

Seeing how they now play together and respond to each other is lovely, something I didn’t think we would see at one point, let’s hope it continues and Bear remains in one piece.

DDP part 1

 

This week we had our first DDP session provided under the ASF. I thought there might be some benefit in putting what we learn each time into writing, firstly to help us reflect and secondly in case anyone else is interested! 

DDP stands for Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy and you can find out more about it here.

The ASF is the adoption support fund and you can put more about that through Adoption UK here.

The background: 

We first asked for help with increasing levels of violence from our eldest son (now 4) back in April. This was pre Adoption Order and we were told they would put an urgent referral to CAMHS for support, we never heard anything. In June the Adoption Order was granted and we suddenly came under a different team! Our SW (this is our SW who’s been with us all the time, we never made it to the post adoption SW team) referred us for support from the ASF and we were told we would see a psychologist in a few months time. Now there were a few things I was angry about at the time and we made it clear we weren’t prepared to wait any longer due to concerns about our youngest son’s safety. Eventually we were given an appointment for this week. In the 4 months since we first asked for help things have got a lot worse, then better. The reason things have been getting better is due to spending most evenings on the internet researching things and reading every book we could get our hands on, also a little bit of help from the Twitter gurus! 

We came to the conclusion that Tom was experiencing issues due to his attachment to me and possibly some aspects in sensory processing disorder. Our SW felt along the same lines and did help point us in the right direction with a few things (she is lovely but unfortunately powerless in this process).

Here is a link to the post I wrote in May about the violence we were experiencing. I bruise easily.

The first session: 

We were a little put off to start with as we had to travel over 90mins to get there then find somewhere to park, however on arrival I got a cup of tea – good start!

I should point out the first 3 sessions are my husband and I, Tom joins us after that and James doesn’t come at all. Obviously this causes a few childcare issues, fortunately the grandparents live halfway there and are having the boys for us (I think I was more anxious about leaving them than the actual appointment).

This first session was a bit of getting to know us and talking through our concerns and expectations. The psychologist is lovely (we’ll call her Dr S) and put us at ease, she listened and was interested in our own efforts to support him.

It was so lovely to hear someone say “you’re doing a great job”, it was a relief to know we had been trying the right things. It gave us some hope.

Her conclusion was that the problem was due to attachment trauma and he is in effect rejecting me because of that and hurting his brother and daddy mainly as a way of hurting me or getting my attention.

Even though it was what we were expecting to hear it still made us so sad to hear the words “rejecting you”.

It was very strange talking for an hour and not being given some “home work” or a list of things we should do. It some ways we felt strange that nothing was offered (I did check before we left) but on the other hand it was nice to just talk and be reassured.

What next: 

We now have a few weeks break due to holidays. In that time we will continue to support and nurture our son and try to identify any other triggers.

We’ve had a few rough days recently amongst some amazing times but we feel better about everything knowing we are now being listened to and being shown some respect for the things we are doing.