I need to say bye and tell them I love my new family.

I haven’t done a blog post for about 6 months as things have been hard and I’ve just not been able to write about it. Also my Twitter account hasn’t been working properly so I’ve lost touch with that amazing community (I think I have it back now).

My boys are growing up, we’re settled in our new home but school is hard and our eldest Tom (5) is starting to understand that his start in life wasn’t “normal”.

Tom has been getting very angry and asking lots of questions about his early life, unfortunately we can’t answer these as well as we’d like as his social worker and life story book (which was 2 years late) are crap.  He’s starting to explore what it means to be adopted and what it means to be part of our family.

Yesterday at lunch I think we reached a turning point, the conversation went like this:

Tom: I need a phone.

Me: Why?

Tom: Do you have tummy mummy & daddy’s phone number?

Me: I don’t, but we can write to them soon, what do you need to ask?

Tom: I need to say bye bye and tell them I love my new family.

We just sat there unsure what to say. He had clearly given this a lot of thought and wanted some closure. His birth mum hadn’t turned up for contact for at least 6 months before he came to us (over 2 years ago) something I didn’t think he would remember but clearly he had a notion of a need to tell them he was ok. We talked again, like we have many times, about his birth family and I could feel his positivivity about his future. It gives me hope.

I feel sad that he won’t get the chance to make that phone call (at least not for many years), we try to embrace his background and birth family but it’ll never replace the conversations he wants to have with them and the questions he wants to ask them. 

On a final note… he loves us!

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How I feel loved in a home where the ‘L’ word is too scary.

  

In our home love is a scary thing. We tell our boys every night before they go to bed that we love them, we don’t often get a response. If we mention love during the day we can sometimes be met with screams. (See my previous post about the trampoline). However I have come to learn that our boys do love us in their own way even if they can’t say it. (James can’t even say mummy so if he came out with “I love you” I would probably faint!).

Here are 10 ways I know my boys (mostly Tom) have accepted me and love me:

1. Tom gives me a kiss on the forehead when I put him to bed.

2. James gives me his bear (the love of his life) for me to kiss when I put him to bed.

3. Tom says “you’re my friend mummy / daddy”. This is a big deal for him.

4. We share a bowl of grapes together, trying to take it in turns.

5. Tom gets excited when going shopping with daddy as he likes to choose me flowers then carry them home.

6. On a Saturday the boys try to be quiet to enable me to have a cup of tea in bed, this is not always successful but they both give me a huge hug when I see them after.

7. This week Tom admitted he missed us when at nursery.

8. Some mornings when daddy is at work, Tom will climb into bed with me and ask to make a little den together under the covers while holding me tight.

9. Both boys join in our “love hugs”. This is where all four of us have a hug together, each of us with a child on our hips so we’re close to the same head height, it is amazing every time.

10. Both boys hold onto me while we dance around the living room with massive smiles on their faces.

It’s all a work in progress and there have been a few occasions where Tom has told us he loves us but it is still such a scary thing for him to say, however trying to break it down and look at his actions and reactions we know he feels something strong for us and even if it’s hard to admit he wants to be part of this family.

The unexpected benefits of camping.

  

Last weekend we took the boys on their first camping trip, we are seasoned campers but this was their first trip and our first holiday (excluding grandparents’ house). 

The boys loved the tent and being outside, they loved the beach, just loved it. That is until it came to going to bed, it was noisy and unfamiliar. Both managed about 4 hours sleep a night and ended up in our king size sleeping bag with us eventually. Despite the lack of sleep both were amazing during the day.

Them being on their best behaviour was great, however this then lead to an argument with my mum as she was starting to say there was nothing wrong with Tom and we were over-reacting etc. I tried to explain he was doing well because we were putting a lot of work in and he was likely not feeling safe enough to express his emotions when camping, she didn’t get it.

After 2 nights we drove home Sunday night with the boys ready for bed, they fell asleep in the car and we put them straight to bed. The next morning was one of the best ever. Both woke up around 5 having had a better sleep, but the best thing was they were so excited to be home. James sat in his cot for an hour after he woke up playing with some toys and ‘reading’ his favourite book, he loved it. Tom came into our room smiling and excited about being home, he told us he missed it and missed being just the Four of us, he was also really happy this was his home.

Monday morning despite still being sleep deprived I felt refreshed in my mind knowing my boys feel this is their home and they want to be here, they miss it. 

Since being back from camping Tom seems more settled, he seems to be appreciating us and our home / things. We have had a few episodes of violence but he has ‘come down’ within 30 mins which is such a change (previously it was 90 mins+ ).

I know we still have a long way to go but it was lovely having a bit of respite and seeing a change in the boys’ attitudes to home.

Not my favourite week!

  

So this last week or 2 things have not gone the way I thought. I have really struggled to write anything as it’s hard to think logically on so little sleep.

Firstly let me address a problem I come across regularly from people I love, yes I am very lucky to finally have 2 beautiful children after a long wait but that doesn’t mean I am going to like them all the time and I can’t complain about things related to them when I want to. Some times they are a pain in the backside! We never entered into adoption thinking everything would be rosy from the start, however some of our friends and family did seem to think that and have been added to my ‘pain in the backside’ list (it’s got quite long recently). I shared with some friends and family a link to a article called “10 things adoptive parents wished their friends and family understood“, I thought it was a helpful summary but wasn’t well received. That feels better to get it off my chest.

We have had some big challenges in the last 2 weeks. My uncle passed away unexpectedly so my emotions were on edge, never a good start, the boys were able to pick up on this especially as I haven’t had time to grieve properly. For a few weeks Tom (3) has been screaming at length over very small and inconstant things (teeth brushing, steps, flowers etc.), this we think is related to some regression and have been going with it (thanks to some lovely twitter people’s advice), we had just started getting the hang of this when it all changed. Last week Tom started to get really really angry, this cumulated in violent outbursts usually hurting myself or his brother (rarely daddy), this unfortunately was witnessed and affected some other children from church (the parents were amazingly supportive). We tried all the PACE stuff but he didn’t seem able to regulate himself and just couldn’t stop. Fortunately (or not depending on how you look at it) this coincided with a social worker visit who witnessed the dramatic change in our little boy, she was fantastic and went through some play therapy bits with him to help identify some motivation – he really wanted to hurt me. The social worker was quick to offer support from CAMHS which was such a relief, she thinks it is likely an attachment issue. We had spent the whole week feeling like failures unsure if we had understood everything we’d read right, it was great to get some reassurance. We are also really lucky that we had help offered so quickly, within the first week of violence. Now the violence hasn’t stopped but we feel more confident in doing what we do knowing help is round the corner.

James (1) has been sat quietly observing everything that’s gone on, the screaming, hitting, kicking etc. and in the last few days has started to think this is normal behaviour and tried to join in – ahhhh!

Then as if I wasn’t fed up enough already I find out a friend has used something she found out accidentally about our boys and been telling people without our consent. This had lead to some confusing conversations. Then to top it off the Tories are in power again so I can say goodbye to a decent education system and my job (I am an NHS professional).

After a frustrating few weeks I just felt like it was too much and I couldn’t carry on, I wanted to hide away, then they both show their winning smiles and give me an amazing hug and show real affection. Then when Tom was ill this week a friend took James for the day to give me a break and focus on Tom, it was a great relief, my faith in humanity was restored in a few simple gestures.

Today I feel like everything will be manageable in the end and that I am not alone. I also got the chance to meet up with a lovely lady to pray with from Home For Good using their local link up (here), never underestimate a real life person to share with who doesn’t judge you and will pray without prying.

Sorry it’s a ranty post, but putting it down helps me process it. Any survival tips greatly received!

The story of mummy and daddy.


When I was a little girl my mum used to tell us ‘dream starters’ to help us go off to sleep. These involved us coming up with names / people / locations and she would start the story off, we would then continue it in our heads as we were going off to sleep.

Recently I found myself putting Tom to bed and I had forgotten to bring a book up so I offered him a ‘dream starter’, he wanted a story about mummy and daddy, a real one. Now this was a bit of a shock, I was expecting it to be about him and dinosaurs!

So I told him a ‘real’ dream starter about how we met and came to find him. This is an edited version of the story and some of his, and my, responses in brackets as I feel they add to it. (As a note I used mummy and daddy all the way through as it was easier for him to understand at this time).

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful mummy and a slightly weird daddy (lots of giggling).

Beautiful mummy and weird daddy saw each other across a room and decided they liked each other and wanted to get married. (He was fine with the concept of love & marriage at first sight – we didn’t get married for over 2 years!).

Mummy and daddy loved each other very much, they had a big house but it was very quiet and there were no toys (gasps of shock and disbelief at this house be quiet and there not being any toys).

Mummy and daddy decided they wanted some little boys as they had lots of extra love and extra space in their house (“space for toys mummy?” “Yes and 2 spare rooms” “that’s good”).

Mummy couldn’t be a tummy mummy so they decided to see their friend the social worker Doris (“I know Doris, I know her, I know her” he was excited!).

Doris went looking for 2 really special boys with her friend Mandy (boys SW) and met Jane the foster carer (“that’s my Jane”, getting more excited).

Jane was looking after 2 gorgeous little boys called Tom and James (“it’s me, I’m in the story, it’s me, it’s me”, slightly over excited now & I was starting to think he was going to be too excited to sleep).

Mummy and daddy met with Doris, Mandy and Jane to talk about the boys, mummy and daddy liked the sound of the boys and thought they were the most gorgeous boys in the world (he just nodded his head as if to say “well obviously I’m gorgeous you tell me every day”).

Mummy and daddy decided they wanted Tom and James (“good idea mummy”).

Mummy and daddy then met Tom and James, they liked them and they all decided to live together in their big house with lots of toys, so Tom and James became part of “Team X” (we used our surname and sang the “everything is awesome” song from the Lego movie with added “when you’re part of Team X”).

Then ……… (“What’s happens next mummy” “we’re here now, what happens next is up to you” – long thoughtful look- “you can dream about all the exciting adventures the 4 of us will have together” “I liked that story mummy”).”

Since then he has asked to hear the story several times, he likes the idea that we had a story before the boys came, it has also helped him understand he has a story. He has tried to tell us “the story of Tom”. Obviously “the story of Tom” would be easier if we had his life story book but we are still having that battle with the LA! Tom also enjoyed being able to finish off the rest of the story, knowing he has a say in what happens next in our lives.

I keep thinking it would be nice to do our own life story book of how we came to have the boys, hopefully it will help the boys understand we all come from somewhere different but are together now.

While I write this Tom is smiling and looking gorgeous and happy watching Shrek and James is fast asleep, it reminds me of how much our lives have changed and how exciting our story is. On the other hand they were both screaming nightmares an hour ago and I was thinking how quiet and tidy my house used to be – but I wouldn’t change it for all the headaches in the world.