Friday 31 October 2014

Three cheers for social media

Where would we be without the Internet? Me, I'd probably would have imploded right now into a sticky mess, having already developed a large lump on my head from too much wall banging.  I didn't put 'the Internet' on our Support Network spidagram when we did this for our home study - it didn't even occur to me to do so and I would probably would have been questioned if I had.  Little did I know that that the Internet would prove to be one of our best forms of support over the last couple of years.

I love social media. I'm not active on everything the internet has offer, preferring to stick with Facebook, Twitter, the odd foray into Instagram and, of course, blogging.  I started my blog as a way of keeping family and some friends updated with our adoption process and as a diary for us.  I then discovered other adopters on Twitter and started sharing my blog there too.  I'd been on Twitter for some time under my own name and business, amassing several thousand followers in the process, and knew how good it was for conversation and connected with like-minded individuals.  However, I need to keep my blog confidential and so set up another Twitter account.

Soon I found many other adopters and prospective adopters and over the last couple of years we have built quite a nice little community.  Some followers I have now met in 'real life' thanks to the recent Open Nest conference, some I know because they are local adopters to me and others I feel I know so much about even though we have never met and may indeed never meet!  What I love is that if I'm having a bad day I can tweet a comment and somewhere out there in Twitterland will be at least one adopter silently nodding their head as if to say 'yes, I understand'.  In Twitterland there are people who 'get it', who understand why I'm feeling the way I am or get why Missy might be behaving the way she is.  Likewise, it's great to support other adopters out there, many of whom are still on the journey to approval and matching. Twitter is also great and helping things go viral, like the Kids Company campaign 'See The Child'.  I bloody love Twitter.  If you are an adopter or prospective adopter reading this and not yet on Twitter, then join! Now!  Come and say hi.

Facebook is pretty good too.  I don't put too much info on my personal account but have a Facebook page linked to this blog, on which I post my blog udpates and also other adoption related news that I see.  Facebook also helps me keep up to date with other adoption bloggers and there's two great support groups too.  I don't always post on them but just reading some of the posts and knowing there are others experiencing the same issues is comforting.  Obviously it's not nice we experience these problems in our families but at least we aren't doing it alone.

And of course, I'm linking this blog post up with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO on The Adoption Social, a brilliant online resource for adopters and umbrella for adoption blogs.

Three cheers for social media and for all my lovely friends, real and virtual, on Twitter.

Wednesday 22 October 2014


In Missy's spellings homework last night was the word 'one'. 

She thought about 'one', her eyes lit up and said "I only have one mummy". 

Sunday 19 October 2014

The Open Nest Conference - Taking Care

I've just spent the weekend in gorgeous York, attending the first Open Nest conference entitled 'Taking Care'.  It's the first one the charity has held and hopefully there will be many more. Attended by mostly adopters, there were also adoptees, social workers and foster carers in attendance.

The Open Nest was founded by the inspirational and very lovely Amanda Boorman who adopted Jazz 15 years ago. It was Amanda who started the day off with her documentary about her life with Jazz, including video clips of Jazz over the years.  It's not all been rosy for them, and Amanda wasn't afraid to show that in her video. Thankfully there were tissues on the table because there were a lot of tears around the room. I cried. A lot.

Next to speak was Al Coates who writes at "The misadventures of an adoptive dad".  He talked about his life as an adopter and social worker, speaking with a mix of humour and seriousness. I think it's important us adopters use humour because without it we quite possibly would have imploded by now!

Fran Proctor is an adoptee and, in the form of an interview with Sally Donovan, she explained about her experiences as an adoptee, finding out the truth about her birth mum and her struggles to come to terms with her trauma. Again I cried. A coupe of things she said were lightbulb moments for me and will change the wording I use with Missy. I've also been considering future life story work with Missy and Fran's experience will be helpful to me in that regard.

Next up was Sally Donovan. I love her book "No Matter What". If you are haven't yet read this book and have an interest in adoption, whether a prospective adopter, adopter or professional, I urge you to get a copy. Sally's talked to us about taking care and what I was reminded was that I must not feel guilty if I need to take time out. The only way I can parent therapeutically is if I have the energy to do so. If that means an hour on the sofa rather than a hour cleaning then so be it.  Sally also made me feel much better about the dreaded school run and gave us some great tips for being an advocate for our children at school.

We also heard from We Are Family who are doing a fabulous job in London setting up parent support groups - something that is vital for adopters - and from Ella Harris who introduced the concept of Open Space events, a platform for brainstorming ideas and discussion.

Finally, Sarah and Vicki from The Adoption Social talked about how they came to form this wonderful resource for adopters, what they can offer and what the future holds. They do a wonderful job and have really brought the adoption community together under the adoption social roof.

By the end of the conference I was drained. So much to take in, all the while thinking of my daughter, her future and how to apply what I learnt.  I was grateful for the lovely calming 20 minute walk along the river to the YHA where I was staying, even if I did end up with blisters.

An hour later I was back out again, for dinner with @iris7summer before heading back to the hotel for the evening social. Now, I do like a bit of a boogie, particularly if 80s music is playing but tiredness and blisters conspired against me. I had to admit defeat by 9.30pm and return to the YHA and bed. 

This morning I was up earlier than expected and decided to make the most of my extra hour by having a look round York Minster. The last time I was in York was with my late Dad when we visited the Minster and climbed the tower. Being in the Minster brought a tear to my eye whilst I lit a candle for him, a candle conveniently near the organist who was practising for Matins. Dad loved the sound of church organs. I loved the sound of the bells that were ringing out across the city, such a joyous sound. 

I've been truly inspired by the conference.  I've learnt I need to take care more of myself, I've learnt that it's ok not to do the cleaning (phew!), I've learnt I need to take more care in how I parent therapeutically, I've learnt that I'm leading an 'epic life', I've learnt it's ok to say no to the PTA (I really need to practice this one). I laughed, I cried. I loved meeting people who up til now I only knew as a random twitter handle. I loved meeting people who 'get it'.

I, for one, cannot wait for next year's conference.  Take care.

Friday 17 October 2014

Reminding myself of the positives

I have to keep reminding myself how far we've come since Missy came home a couple of years ago.

One battle I've decided not to keep fighting is over hair.  I now allow Missy to do her own hair in the morning as long as it is tidy and appropriate for school.  Actually she does a really good french plait, better than I could do.  Now, this time last year if I'd asked her to do her hair again, or if she didn't like what I had done, there would have been a huge meltdown with screaming, crying, "I hate you", verbal and maybe physical abuse.  Earlier this week I asked her to do her hair again and whilst she had a strop and a huff, she immediately did her her again, beautifully.  

Other things also elicit a much calmer response from her than would have been the case a year ago.  A meltdown only lasts five minutes, 10 minutes tops and I can sit quietly near her until calm Missy is 'back in the room'.  

We no longer have to sit and plan the week ahead on her wall planner (in fact I might take it down) and she talks to me non-stop on the way home from school now instead of the stony silence or "don't talk to me" mood she used to be in.

Her reading and spelling is fantastic and she's becoming a lot less controlling, particularly when we are playing games.

We're doing ok and I need to keep reminding myself this.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Monkey Business

Well it's been a while since I've updated my blog. Sorry blog to have ignored you but I've been feeling quite 'meh' lately.

The summer holidays were great and the two weeks when Daddy was off were two of the best weeks we've had in the last two years, so we are planning on doing exactly the same next year. But then school started and Missy's anxiety ramped up. Her attitude changed, she refused to do things, was rude, same old, same old.

Usually the Autumn term for me is also a time for change and new things but this year I just haven't felt like that, I've just felt flat again. However, I've recently found out I'm seriously anaemic so that no doubt contributes to my lack of energy. I'm on iron tablets now. I've also found out that my cholesterol level is high - no surprise as my diet as been crap over the last couple of years and I haven't been able to run, plus it looks highly likely its genetic - so to help lower the levels I'm taking Co-enzyme Q10 which is also good for boosting energy levels. So, hopefully in a few months time my energy will be topped up and I'll be full steam ahead.

After a few weeks of being back at school, Missy came home with the class mascot. I didn't even realise they had one, I thought it was just Nursery, Reception and Year 1.  Now, obviously it was lovely for Missy to be recognised by the teacher for doing something well and therefore receiving the mascot, a monkey.  However, whilst in earlier classes she only had the mascot for a night or, if lucky, at the weekend, this year they get to keep the mascot for a whole week! Monkey went everywhere with her; in bed, swimming, a party. She got very attached to the monkey, too attached.  But I couldn't do anything, I couldn't tell her to take it back. I knew there would be fall out.

The night before she had to take the toy back in, she got very upset at the thought of having to part with monkey and the next morning she sobbed all the way too school. Even her friends in the playground couldn't cheer her up and she stuck by me whilst we waited for her teacher to open the classroom door.  When the door was opened, she walked in crying her eyes out.  One of the TAs asked what was wrong and Missy replied that she didn't want to give monkey back.  "Oh, don't be silly", said the TA dismissively.  I took a deep breath.   By this time Missy was sobbing uncontrollably.  Thankfully her teacher is empathetic. I don't how much she knows about attachment but she seemed to handle it fairly well, immediately seeing that Missy was upset and taking her aside.  I like her Year 2 teacher, she has time for me and has already put in place a couple of things to help Missy.

Three weeks later and Missy is still getting upset every now and then about not having monkey. She can't accept that it's only fair monkey is shared around the whole class, of course she can't.  All she can think about is the loss. I think I'll have to ask her teacher  not to give the monkey to Missy again, but recognise her in other ways that build her self-esteem.  No surprises what's top of her list from Santa. Do Toys R Us sell monkeys?

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