Thursday 29 October 2015

There's a kind of hush ....

There's a kind of hush, all over the world, sang The Carpenters.  Well, there's a kind of hush in our house at the moment.   There's a distinct lack of meltdowns and major tantrums, no screaming like a banshee, no horrible language, no hitting.  As rollercoasters go, we're in the dip.   We have a chance to take a breather.

It changed a few weeks back after what I affectionately like to call The Big Weekend.  Two events happened that weekend - Missy's birthday and Brownie Camp.

At first we decided that Missy would only attend Brownies during the Saturday daytime.  We felt a sleepover was too soon, particularly one that wasn't at a family members house.  Anyway, we had her birthday as an excuse and told her we had things planned, like grandma coming over.  But then her best friend joined Brownies and best friend was going for the whole shebang, for both nights. Missy begged me to let her stay over. So, we ummed and ahhed and digested and cogitated and decided that, if she really wanted to, Missy could go for one night.  Two nights just wouldn't work anyway, what with her birthday.  She was over the moon.

Then the build up started.  Missy had already been overly excited for her birthday since the beginning of the year.  I'm not joking. She's already talking about what she wants to do next year and who might come along!  Then the meltdowns started, about three weeks before the weekend.  Worry at bedtime, screaming at the top of her voice, meltdowns, trashing her room, anxiety to the nth degree, backchat, threats, hitting, biting, throwing things at me.  You know what, I can't even describe it.  I'm sure other adopters will get the picture.  Maybe think of a feral cat angry at being caged up.   We knew what the anxiety was about - birthday and her first sleepover without us there.  She cried that she wouldn't get a cuddle or hug from us at Camp, we knew she'd be worried about finding the toilets at night, worry about would we miss her.  She even asked if we would have a celebration party when she came home.  We tried our best to be therapeutic, talk about every scenario, talk about what we'd do when she came home.  I had a word with Brown Owl and ensured she was in the same dorm as her best friend.  I spoke to her keyworker and explained how anxious she was.  I apologised to neighbours for the hideous sounds coming from the house every day and, no, nobody was being strangled.  Bless, they were lovely, always are.

We started to think it was a BAD idea suggesting she could go for a night and we should have stuck by our first decision.  I felt guilty that we had put Missy in this position.  We should have just stayed with the original plan of her only going for the day. But we couldn't go back - any suggestion  of not going, of it being fine for her to decide to stay at home was ok by us, just made it worse and she'd be sobbing and begging to go.

So the Big Weekend arrived.  Naturally she couldn't sleep the night before her birthday, or the night before that, or that..  But she had a lovely day.  A quiet day on the whole, we just went out with one friend for tea.  The next day we had to be at Brownie Camp for 10am.  Missy was a little quieter than usual.  We knew she'd be ok during the day, it was just nighttime was the big worry.

We arrived at Camp - a place where the Brownies had been before so at least she knew the layout - and immediately saw her best friend.  We unpacked her stuff, gave her a massive hug, took a deep breath and left.  I kept my mobile phone close all day.

Daddy and I enjoyed a rare night out together, just local though, no more than 10 minutes away.  No calls from Brown Owl thankfully.

When we walked in next day to collect them, Brown Owl tapped me on the shoulder and told me she had been absolutely fine.  And indeed she had.  She LOVED it.  What a MASSIVE RELIEF.   I think the fact she'd missed her group's washing up duty had pleased her from the start.  She'd made lots of arty crafty stuff, ate lots of sweets, made new friends and gone to bed very late after watching Annie (yeah, I know, bet Brown Owl didn't think about that one - luckily Missy loves the film).  She can't wait to go next year for two nights and, you know what, all being well I think she'll be fine.

So since then, there have been no meltdowns, no violence, no piercing screams - just a calmer Missy*.  There are no eggshells to avoid.  Nothing is being thrown or broken.  It's a happier house to be in.

* Missy's 'calm' is of course not a usual 'calm', still a level of anxiety remains.

Friday 23 October 2015


The theme this week on The Adoption Social is smile. So on the way to school this morning I casually asked Missy what makes her smile. Missy told me she smiles a lot when:

- her best friend makes her laugh
- when Daddy tickles her
- when Mummy gives her a big hug

So I hugged her tightly and she beamed and she giggled.

We then walked the rest of the way into school singing:

When you're smilin', keep on smilin'
The whole world smiles with you
When you're laughin, keep on laughin'
The sun comes shinin' through.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Top 10 adoption books chosen by children

Coram, an adoption charity, have put together this National Adoption Week a wonderful list of the top 10 children's books chosen by adopted children.  Most of the books have an adoption theme, some have the theme of being different. The children, of many different ages, have picked books that they can most identify with.

It's a great idea, particularly as the list has been compiled by children, and not by adults who might include what they think should be included.

From Coram's list, we have the Nutmeg books, which I know Missy likes, although we haven't read it for a while. She also loves Charlie & Lola.  Interestingly, although Charlie & Lola are not adopted, the author, Lauren Child, is an adopter.

There's a couple of books on the list that I think I'll get for Missy which are 'The Most Precious Present in the World' by Becky Edwards and 'Morris and the Bundle of Worries' by Jill Seeney.

Interestingly, Missy's current book of choice that she picked from the library is called The Abandoned Kitten, about a family who look after kittens from the RSPCA, kind of foster parents to the cats.  Another favourite story of hers is Matilda by Roald Dahl in which Matilda's parents really don't care about her and in the end she is adopted by her teacher.  Missy also loves Paddington who ends up living with another family.

So what's your favourite adoption themed book to read with your children, or be read by them?  Do you use books to help your child understand their worries and anxieties related to adoption?

To find out more about the work of Coram, please go to

Monday 19 October 2015

National Adoption Week - 'Too Old at 4?'

It's National Adoption Week and the theme this year is finding home for older children aged four and upwards. Older children may be in siblings groups, having additional needs or from minority groups and there is currently a shortage of adopters coming forward.

This image, taken by Mary McCartnery, is being projected onto various buildings around England this week to promote National Adoption Week.

It seems crazy to think of a four year old as an older child but that's the way it is in adoption.  I didn't even realise that until after we were matched with Missy.   Many adopters would like a baby or toddler, for lots of reasons - experience having a baby even if the mother didn't give birth, maternal instincts, not missing out of 'firsts'.

For us, although we were approved for a child aged 0-5, I think we always swayed towards an older child and as soon as we saw the photos of Missy, we knew she was the child for us.  Government figures have shown that, sadly, older child can remain in care far longer than those under 4, a fact which makes me so sad when thinking about Missy in care.

Having not been removed from birth family until she was an older pre-schooler, she has vivid real life memories of the home she used to live in and what it was like at times.  I'm not saying babies and young toddlers won't but their memories will be further in their subconscious.  But in a way this has helped us when helping Missy with her anger and anxiety and understanding of why she was removed.

If you are thinking about adopting an older child and worried about missing out on firsts - don't worry! There are still loads of firsts, some for just the child, some for you as a whole family.  We still had the first tooth to come out, first advent calendar and Christmas stocking at Christmas, first time on a plane, first time she said "I love you" to us, first time she swam 5m and many many more.  Then there's a big one for all of us - first time she called someone Daddy.  There are really so many firsts.

Whether I would have had post-adoption depression if we'd adopted a baby, who knows, but having an older child who soon went to school meant I soon had the invaluable me-time that I needed.

Missy came to us having already had five years to form her values and beliefs and it has certainly not been easy at times - regular readers of this blog will know that for sure! - but we've had some wonderful times so far, lots of laughter and smiles with many more to come.
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