If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Peace in the midst of chaos

So many things are happening so fast, child 4 will sit for his bedtime story, he now calls for us when he wakes up and allows me to cuddle him when he has had a scare or a fall. And yet we have so far to go. He still looks for approval from many people especially women that we meet and today for the first time I felt those little tendrils of jealousy tug at my heart. He is mine and I want him to look to me for approval, to come to me when he is sad or hurt not feel the need to latch on to any adult for their attention.

I would not say that I am a particularly patient person but I have found that I am following a much slower pace of life, it maybe noisier and more chaotic but I tend to not make any plans other than the routine school runs, meal times and nap/bedtimes. I allow child 4 to set the pace, to explore where he wants to explore, he doesn't tend to play and his attention span is about 30 seconds except at story time before bed, he is on the go non stop and demands my attention constantly, yet I don't seem to become frustrated or irritated, perhaps all the training and reading did prepare me for a completely different way of parenting or maybe it's age or the fact that we already have three children. I don't know, what I do know is that it's hard and sometimes it's really hard but it's fantastic, I cannot explain  how it feels when he says mummy and means me (I think), when we sing him the child 4 lullaby before bed and he looks into my eyes with such concentration as if trying to see my soul or how he calls in the morning for one of us to get him. There is still so much to show him but we have plenty of time.

I recently read an article about a photography competition illustrating peace, the obvious possible winner was a calm, still lake lit up by the sun but the picture that took first prize was one of a magnificent waterfall, overlooked by a stormy sky , not very peaceful really until you spot why the picture had been taken, under an outcrop of rock protected from the spray was a bird sitting on her nest. Perfect peace.

Do you know why this picture won?
“Because, peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”
And so I will hold close those times we find amongst the chaos and noise where for a moment child 4 and I sit, tracing each others facial features gently with our fngers or when we sing this little piggy or pat -a-cake or the occasional sharing of a story. Those are the times we can find peace, love and calm in our hearts, a time for real connections.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

New Beginnings

Child 4 I have surmised has never had a bedtime story curled up in his mothers lap, never been to a church or a school assembly,possibly not played at a mother and toddler group. He has never eaten houmous, chorizo or home made apple cake drenched in cream.

He, to child 1's dismay has the ultimate in double dipping. He dips his pitta bread into the humous, sucks it off and dunks again!!  He eats really well, trying everything we put in front of him. If he doesn't like it he just spits it out - cauliflower, parsnips and roast beef were spat out today. But Yorkshire puddings and roasted potatoes were devoured and he attempted petty theft of a Yorkshire pudding from his sisters plate. No one loves anyone enough to share their Yorkshire puddings in this house!

On Tuesday evening when he chilled out on the sofa with his milk, I suggested a story, child 3 chose Kippers Alphabet not the best of choices as it has 26 pages, but she had chosen so I sat between them and started to read, didn't even reach page 2 before child 4 was up and playing. Although tonight he sat cuddled up between us turning the pages of Brown Bear Brown Bear What Can You See? not necessarily in order but he sat and listened and joined in.

At mother and toddler group he pushed a pram around but showed no interest in playing with the toys, perhaps he is still at the exploring stage, he has so much exploring to do.

We went to child 3's school assembly on Friday afternoon, a special event as up until a couple of weeks ago I worked Fridays. She was dancing so it was fantastic to be able to watch her, not that child 4 could sit for more than a few seconds. And in the middle of child 3's performance he snuck past me with a plastic sheep ran to the front of the hall to give it to his big sister. Lovely, embarrassing perhaps but how cute.

All these things are normal for us as a family and child 4 will learn quickly I am sure, of how to work things best for him. He helped make scones on Saturday and was fascinated by the mixing and loved the cutting out of flower and apple shapes from the dough. He has already learned that if he calls someone comes. At first he would lie in his cot waiting for someone to come, the last two mornings he has called "mum". He has said all the children's names and cried a clear and loud Daddy on Friday, today he made my dad one of the happiest men alive as he called him Randad.

We I think should be honoured and excited to share so many firsts!

Friday, 27 September 2013

The trails and tribulations of being a car seat

Have you ever tried to strap a tantruming two year old into a car seat? If so, you know that they will be holding their body completely rigid but still able to thrash their arms and legs around and screaming as if you were really really hurting them. If they are lucky they will get a passing strike on your chin or your nose. In child 4's case nothing seems to distract him, tickling,toys not even blowing raspberries on his belly.

Child 4 categorically and absolutely hates his car seat but, only on some journeys, interestingly he is happy to travel by car when one of his siblings in the car, or during the introductions, when heading home from the foster carers to his new home. This leads me to wonder if child 4 has linked car seats with major home moves in his short life. It would be unlikely for us to be transporting him to a new home if the other children are in the car, so taking child 3 to school in the rain is fine but strapping him back in to his car seat for the journey home is a problem. Collecting child 3 from school is ok for the return journey when she is in the car but not for the trip down to school.

Today was sunny so we used the buggy, and I think where possible I will use the buggy for as many journeys as possible, where there is no option but to use the car, explaining our destination and travelling with one of the other children could be an alternative and could eventually help child 4 so understand that we will never be taking him to a new home.

I know some will be thinking that he needs to just "get over it" and that I am giving in to the tantrums, but whilest the weather is good and I need the exercise why not go with it. In time he will understand that he is ours and hopefully will not associate car seats with trauma.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

My baby boy and I

Today, was my first day on my own with child 4. To be honest I was terrified, I may have already had three two year olds but the last one was five years ago and memories are funny things, we tend to remember things with a smile and a beat of our hearts. I had it all planned out yesterday, child 3 and I would walk child 4 down to school in the buggy, then after goodbyes child 4 and I would take a stroll to the doctors to register him, then a stop at the supermarket for milk and perhaps a first visit to the secret garden for a run about before heading home for cake and a drink, playtime, lunch and then nap time. So I was a little put out when I woke this morning to the rain. What were we to do, our little errands would only take about 30mins by car which left about 4 hours until nap time. I really wanted to have some amazing one on one time with child 4 to start building our relationship into a normal mother son bond but was concerned that I wouldn't cope.

It was a fabulous four hours. As I am unable to leave child 4 unattended because I have yet to find out what he is capable of, we spent the majority of the time playing together, jigsaws and trains are a firm favourite with the occasional cuddle and the more cuddles there were, the better they became, in fact by bed time he actually snuggled into my neck.  Grandma and Grandad popped in for a cuppa and a cuddle adding a new excitement and some adult conversation  for a few minutes before lunch.

I was right about not leaving him unattended as he left the bathroom taps running, took a bite out of three different apples, played throw the plums and locked the cat flap. All before lunch time and that was with me supposedly watching him!

Today was really important for child 4 and myself, he let me cuddle him and kiss him better after a fall, he even cried today, real tears. Up until now he hasn't cried and any tumbles he may have had he has just picked himself up, brushed himself off and gone on his way. I don't have a particular concern on the picking up and dusting off but if he's hurt he needs to know that he can come to me or his Daddy for a kiss it better. Independence is very good but too much could mean becoming an "island" unable or unwilling to ask for help when needed, and that is so not good.

Every day that passes makes me feel more and more optimistic.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A reminder of living with a two year old

I have had 3 of them so you would think that I would remember, but I had a rude awakening today Two year olds love to explore, they have no fear, they CANNOT be left unattended because they get in to trouble in seconds. Hence the washing sat in the washing machine, the washing up sat in the sink, cups of tea went cold and at about 3.30pm I began to clock watch, waiting for child 1 to come home so that she could watch her baby brother just so I could start tea.

Wonderfully, he is already tantruming, hmm what sane parent wants a child that tantrums? The parent of an adopted child, that's who. Tantruming is normal behaviour for a toddler and i like to think that it means that child 4 feels safe enough already to tantrum when he doesn't get his own way.

The funniest two were firstly,in the middle of this morning's school event where child 3 was singing and child 4 wanted to run up to her, when I caught him he actually threw himself on the floor crying and stomping his heels. The second was when child 4, the dog and I went to see the cows up at the local farm. As he is so good at walking I just put his wellies on and didn't bother with the buggy. All was well until we reached the first field with a gate, child 4 climbed on the bottom rung and called "cows, cows" funnily enough no cows appeared so I suggested walking down to the farm buildings to see if they were there, foolish mummy! Eventually we did make our way down and found the cows (mummy is not quite so foolish!) and I had in tow, a very happy child 4 until it was time to head home. Picture this, there is me holding the dogs lead in my left hand and trying to lift a screaming but rigid two year old with my right arm, as I finally get a grip he kicks off his wellies. Now I am having to hold him and the dog and bend down to collect the fallen boots, trying very hard not to laugh. This of course meant a slow climb out of the farm yard. About half way up the road child 4 struggled out of my arms, indicating that he wanted to walk, so we stop to put the wellies back on, once they were on, yes you've guessed it, child 4 turned tail and toddled off at fast speed back the way we or rather I had carried him and he had the nerve to be grinning! Of course I caught him and had to repeat the earlier screaming and carrying bit, not quite as funny as the first time because after a while he is actually quite heavy and squirmy and the dog who was just a bit bored by then thought he'd add to the drama by wrapping himself and his lead around my legs.

Of course the tears and tantrums are soon forgotten and being allowed to hold the dogs lead kept him close and happy, for the remainder of the walk home.  I really must remember the last minutes of our walk when we next go out, so that I am not tempted to take the buggy just because it makes my life easier, this hands on sharing of an experience is probably the beginning of teaching him about real mother, son relationships. You know the ones where for now I am in charge!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


So today was the day we brought our son home for good. We have been waiting for this day for just over a year and waiting for child 4 from when I first saw him  at the begining of June. For us today is the end of our wait and the birth of a new life. Our family and community have been so excited and are desperate to meet our new addition.
For him though, it must be quite scary, daunting, confusing probably quite traumatic?  He has had so many changes in his short life. He was born and remained with his birth parents until a few weeks old when he would have been removed by a social worker and taken to his first foster home. Think about the scene he saw, even though he probably doesn't remember, but such an event will have had an effect. Try to put yourself in his little shoes. The chances are that his birth parents would have been distraught, would you allow someone to take your child without a fight! From that trauma you are loaded into a car with a woman (the majority of social workers are female) who you don't really know, then you are taken to a strange house full of strange people, noises and smells. Occasionally you will be moved to another house just for a week or so whilst your more permanent foster family have a holiday. Then one day there is a family problem in your foster home, so you are bundled up with a few things and taken to another new house, full of new people, smells and sounds. At each of these houses you are cared for. The lady of the house feeds you, keeps you clean, cuddles you when you are hurt or sad. The man and children play with you and chat with you but it's not really your home and they are not family.

One day a man and a lady come and see you and they play with you for a little while. They are called mummy and daddy. The next day they take you to the park and let you lick the lemony buttercream off the top of a cake. They like to cuddle you and tickle you. They talk to you and read to you. Then they take you to a beach where you can jump in rock pools, play in the sand and pick blackberries. At the weekend you meet 3 children who all want to be with you all the time, they jump on a trampoline and show you chickens, cats, rabbits and a dog. Each night you go back to the foster parents.  Until today, when after bath time you are put into a new cot (well new to you) and you fall asleep. So here you are in another new house, full of people, new noises and smells. Why will this one be any different than the others?

Child 4 calls everyone Mum, and will go to anyone for a cuddle. The children are teaching him their names when he calls them mum and call me so I can see what he wants me for. Only immediate family will be allowed to cuddle him so that he knows who to go to for his kiss it better kisses and cuddles. I know it sounds over the top but it is so important that he learns that we are not just a stop gap family, we are forever!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Unfounded fears

Less than 12 hours to go..................

Well, tomorrow is the big day, we collect child 4 from his foster parents and bring him HOME! It's just like Christmas Eve in our house tonight. It was really, really hard taking him back this evening, it would have been so easy just to keep him here. In fact he cried when we put his jamas on and when I left to take child 1 out he said "don't go."  Now that tugged at the heart strings.

I don't know if you read the blog update "An insight into my fears" which was about the irrational fear I had of meeting the foster mum, well I couldn't be more wrong. Child 4's respite foster mum, has been amazing. From day one when she first saw us arrive at the the practical planning meeting and recognising us from the Forever Family book made us feel so very welcome.  Having both fostered and adopted she had a real insight into how we would be feeling and she tried to make everything as easy, efficient and friendly as possible.

From the first moment we met child 4 she called us mummy and daddy, she stepped back to allow us in to take up the role of his parents. She encouraged us to take him out and shared her own experience to help pave the way for our next few chapters.

Foster carers have to be a special breed of person, they offer themselves and their homes to vulnerable children of all ages at what can often be hours notice. The average allowance paid is around £150 per week. That I know at first sounds a lot, but that covers 24 hour care for those 7 days. The children they often care for have been removed by social services in what is likely to been a traumatic experience. Then they love, car and nurture them whilst birth parents have some respite time or whilst adopters are found. Then they have to support those same vulnerable children into returning home or  prepare them for a new home.
I am sure that there are some foster carers who see this as a way to make a living from home and possibly don't live up to expectation. However the respite Carer, child 4 has been with the last 5 weeks has taken really good care of him, whilst waiting for us to work our way through all the rec tape. We truly could not have had an easier transition period or felt any more supported than we have done by this family. They have a couple of children and child 2 has swapped mobile numbers with one of them and is texting most days with updates.

I take my hat off to these types of people, those of them that carry out their roles of foster carers with each child in their care being the centre of their lives - good on you and thank you

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Tears before bedtime

Another day closer to child 4 moving in.  2 sleeps to go!!

We collected child 4 from the foster family home this morning and brought him home. Child 2 & 3 came with us, excited about spending another day with their baby brother. Child 3 is struggling with the introduction of a new family member not because she doesn't like child 4 but because she wants him to love her so much, that he only wants to be with her. She becomes green with envy if he should play with child 1 or 2. Her comments have been "I wish I was an only child because then I would be the only sister" or "I don't want a brother anymore, he won't play with me"  When I point out that she will have him all to herself every school morning and afternoon for at least an hour before the other two return home she responded "but, you will have had him all to yourself all day, that's so NOT fair!" Whatever I say doesn't matter, she is too young to understand that child 4 will do what he wants completely oblivious to her feelings and she has yet to learn that sharing is sharing with everyone not just her.

We had a quiet day at home, a normal lazy Sunday. Roast chicken and all the trimmings followed by an apple and blackberry pie, nap time, playtime, meeting the grandparents, watching two hot air balloons from the conservatory windows and a visit to see the chickens, bath time, tea time and then back to the foster family home.

He loved the hot air balloons "look" he pointed standing on the windowsill only wanting to get down to fetch another family member he could show them. We are trying to avoid much of the outside world at present so that child 4 understands that we are his mummy, daddy, brother and sisters. I cannot imagine what he thinks, sometimes he looks so very serious and thoughtful. After all 6 weeks ago he was with the family he was placed with at a few weeks old, now he is with respite carers and on Tuesday he is with us. There is nothing I can do or say to this little boy, to make him understand that we are his forever, no matter what may happen, he will never be taken away again.

Child 4 seems to show no real concern about these moves, which of course in light of all the attachment training we have done is a little worrying. I can only hope that his brother and sisters will show him what it is like to be in a forever family, that by interacting with them and watching us interact with him and them he will see and understand how a family should work, by actually living it.

As child 2 & 3 waved him goodbye from the doorstep they cried and child 1 who went with her dad to take her baby brother back to his foster parents wept when they got there. They are finding it hard to send him away each night and understandably don't understand why it has to be this way.

Although I don't want to ever see anyone I love sad, these tears have a definite poignancy about them and make me feel sure that adding another by adoption is the right thing for us to do.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

And the siblings meet

Fanbloodytastic, woke up at 4.10am, dreaming about hoovering and scrubbing the toilet!! Child 4 would be arriving around 10am along with his foster family, whose home is immaculate. Mine has that kind of lived in feel, you know the one with dust fairies, that occasionally resemble tumbleweed. I did eventually drop back off to sleep to be awoken by child 3 telling me that it was 6.30am so time to get up. When I spoke to my dad and told him that I had got up early to tidy up he laughed at me saying it was too late for me to be tidy.

Today all of our children were going to meet each other and those that currently reside in our home were certainly struggling a bit first thing. No doubt they were feeling how I was on Wednesday morning but its harder to articulate when you aren't all grown up yet.

Of course there was absolutely nothing to worry about, child 4 arrived like a miniature whirlwind, full of excitement and energy and child 1,2 & 3 took it all in their stride. If anything all they did was fight over their baby brother, they all want to play with him, read to him, share nursery rhymes with him. They want to hold his hand, cuddle him, carry him and have him sit on their laps. Hmm 2 year olds tend to do what they want! I have to say though that they loved each other on sight, child 1 keeps saying "oh he's so adorable" child 2 rapped "he may com from anover muvver, but he's still my bruvver" and child 3 cried when we dropped him back to the foster parents house this evening.

As it was child 4's birthday today we celebrated with a couple of presents and a hedgehog cake, we wanted to keep it fairly low key this year. But as promised to child 4's birth mum we all, with the dog in tow climbed the hill behind our house so we could let off the blue balloon, matching her one far away. Maybe they will meet?

I know some will have little sympathy with birth mothers who lose their children to social services, especially in the light of some of the terrible stories shared in the press regarding the neglect and abuse of children recently. But I don't believe that in our case we can ignore our promise regarding the annual ballon release. I have no influence over child 4's past nor can I predict his future, all I can do is create a present as secure, loving and amazing as possible and our annual balloon release will remind me of that, whilst linking child 4's past and present together, hopefully enabling him to forge a future of his own making.

Jody Landers said  "another woman's child calls me mum, the depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me" 

Oops the amended bringing baby home plan

Day 1 - meet at foster carers 2pm until 4pm , this was again altered to 1pm until 4pm

Day 2 - All day at foster carers 9am - 3pm ( we did get to take child 4 to the park and for a cake, all by ourselves!)

Day 3 - 7.30 am until 3pm, so we could see morning routines. Off to the beach, a picnic and a cream tea

Day 4 - 10am until 8pm, Foster mum to bring child 4 here, introductions to his brother and sisters, the menagerie of pets and the house.

Day 5 - collect child 4 from foster home and bring I'm home, hoping to bump into Nanna and Grandad whilst walking the dog. Sunday lunch (roast chicken, potatoes parsnips cauliflower and broccoli cheese, carrots and stuffing followed by apple and blackberry pie, made with the blackberries we picked yesterday.) Back to the foster family for 8 pm

Day 6 - telephone meeting with social services to check all is ok, pick child 4 up at lunchtime and bring him home until 8 pm

Day 7 - Bring baby home forever!!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Child 4's first famous five day out

An early start this morning as we had to be at child 4's foster home for his breakfast routine and then we were off to the beach for a famous 3 day out. We couldn't have asked for a better day, thick mists hung in the valleys waiting to be burnt off by the sun, giving the effect of mystical lakes surrounding the hills that lined our journey. Blue sky edged the horizon revealing the warm autumn day waiting for us.

As we walked down towards the beach two horses past, stopping to allow us to stroke them "cow, cow" child 4 said. The tide was just receding, leaving gleaming rock pools and thick strands of brown seaweed for us to explore. The way a two year old explores his surroundings is a completely new way to view the world.  When we normally visit this beach the children are off hunting for crabs, anemones and other creatures trapped by the tides or they are off exploring different routes across the beach, rock jumping. Child 4 however has never seen a beach created from rock formations started thousands of years ago. He wanted to pick up pebbles, throw them in the pools to see the splash they made, laughing if the spray got us wet, then he found the muddy sand and sat for hours touching it, moulding it and throwing it in to the pools. When we finally made it to the cliff top we picked blackberries for a homemade apple pie. Child 4 was fantastic at picking the red blackberries and eating the black ones I'd picked and put in the bag!

A spot of lunch and a cream tea finished the day. Child 4's eyes widen, like saucers when the scones, jam and cream came out, he certainly knows how to get what he wants even with the limited vocabulary of a 2 year old and it wasn't the scone, jam and cream I lovingly spread for him, no it was the cream and the jam!

The sign of a marvellous day out is a child sound asleep in his car seat before we make it to the main road on our way back!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The importance of community

So much to write about but so bloody exhausted not sure I can string a coherent sentence together.  And we are only 2 days into our 7 well 6.5 day introduction plan. I want to tell you about our trip to the park, the visit to a community centre full of gorgeous old biddies and doddery old gentlemen, child 4's amazing foster mum and of course child 4 and how he is bonding with his Daddy!

But tonight I sit with a hot and strong cup of tea (strong because I've just noticed the tea bag is still stewing in it!) thinking about my leaving work/work event meal that I have not long returned home from. What with my head still travelling the adoption road I forgot that I was supposed to be at work for 5.30pm, well to be honest I knew but hadn't really realised how time flies when you are busy and tired. I arrived a little late and took on my surprise role as quiz master with what I hope was lots of enthusiasm, sparkle and exuberance! I am sure that sometimes I must drive my work colleagues mad with my excitement and passion for life, at my worst I must be like one of those really really annoying pantomime characters.  However, they as usual go with my flow and seem to enjoy themselves. Once the quiz night, which included "Name that year" "Pictionary" and "Mastermind" had finished with team one winning by 4 points. We headed off to Prezzo for a night of catch up gossip, face stuffing and I guess from a work perspective some team building. They were so kind that they had bought our family a voucher to spend on our new addition, in our place its hard enough to arrange for a card to be signed by all the staff, that to complete a collection is phenomenal and says a lot. There were some wonderful comments about our nearly at fruition adoption plans and about us as a family. But do you know what, not one of them realised how important they, like so many of our community are, in our endeavour. My job share has taken my plan for 6 months out without batting an eyelid, the lovely girlie stepping into my smelly old shoes to "keep my seat warm" will do a fab job and no doubt find out what she is truly capable of (just don't be too good or they may not want me back). Then the other guys, some who have said that they admire me for being able to take on a little person not created by me and bring them into our family fold. Not everyone is cut out for adoption, we all have talents and abilities special to us and everyone of those within my work place have enabled us as a family to add another in what is I guess a slightly unusual way. They offer support through their enthusiasm and their interest, just offering an ear and a shoulder can sometimes make such a difference.

I truly see our adoption of child 4 as a shared and special event for all those that have a touch on our lives. We have an opportunity to offer one little boy a new beginning, a life full of love, friendship, stability and laughter (no doubt a few tears too) and everyone and anyone who offers what they can is part of that!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The first day of the rest of our lives

This morning I was up at 5.50am colouring my hair, well I couldn't sleep and who wants grey hairs when you are about to be a mummy again!

I have felt sick since about Tuesday last week but now I'm floating, content, excited, tearful and A little bit amazed. Child 4 is gorgeous, happy, naughty, cheeky and he has a really really filthy laugh.

First we had to attend a practical planning meeting, interesting I think. Definitely a bit weird as I think it is primarily a form filling/ticking exercise. It was quite terrifying walking into a conference room with child 4's foster parents, social worker and foster support workers, what if we weren't good enough?

After the meeting hubbie and I went out to the Cosy Club for a delish panini, I had pulled pork, Monterey Jack cheese and the best jalapeño chillies, hubbie had tomato, mozzarella and pesto, a couple of cokes to wash it down and the chance to dissect the meeting and to not talk about actually meeting child 4.

To soon and it was time. We followed child 4's social worker to the foster carers and bravely entered her home. Child 4 was having his lunch, sitting in his high chair with his ham sandwiches and cubes of cheese. This little blonde haired boy with enormous hazel eyes and a shy smile that soon turned into a gurgling laugh. A perfect way for us to introduce ourselves, it wasn't long and he was letting us know that he wanted out. We then spent the remainder of the afternoon playing on the trampoline, playing with the sand, reading 10 in the bed, playing pull the chain and flying around the room. 4pm came around much to quick but it did so off home we had to go, exhausted, relieved, relaxed and happy, no longer feeling sick!

Tomorrow we go back, a trip to the swings, a ride in his new buggy, catch and football in the park. Can't wait!!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Tomorrow is the beginning of a new journey, not only for us but also for child 4.  Child 4 is probably quite oblivious at the moment, where as for us we are very aware, very excited if not feeling a bit sick. Child 1 said yesterday that she was worried because adoption is forever, child 2 and 3 are really excited virtually counting the hours down, although child 3 woke at 3am this morning.

For me I've suffered no morning sickness, fantastic as I suffer from Hyperemesis gravidarum a violent form of morning sickness (I spent 5 days in hospital carrying child 3) I've not become massively fat, unable to see my feet. I've had no food cravings so I've not been drinking cream from the carton. I've not got to struggle with breast feeding or sleepless nights and there is no labour to go through this time. 

Instead we have completed courses, read lots of books shared our lives with social services. I've tried for the last few days to catch up on my TV watching, cleaning the house, finish making my blinds and clear the huge ironing pile. I am sure that my time is about to be spent making and playing with play dough, walking the dog to explore the local woods and fields, to jump in piles of autumn leaves and puddles. To learn and teach nursery rhymes and hands on games like pat-a-cake, to watch Thomas the Tank Engine and In the Night Garden. To read bedtime stories and tuck a little one into bed. There will be 6 of us at the breakfast and dinner table, 6 heading off on our famous five adventures, 6 of us decorating the Christmas tree. A whole new life full of all the laughter and tears that make a life worth living!

Wish us luck........

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Feeling a little under the weather

When our social worker warned us that this week was going to be tough and that often adopters become ill, I didn't really believe her. However, it would seem that everyone in the household is struggling a bit, sleep patterns have been effected, I am waking at 5am unable to get back to sleep, I get up for a very early cup of tea, hubbie is restless and up and down through the night and child 3 wakes in the night usually around 3am. Child 2 has a cough and cold which of course he has shared with us all.

I guess the emotional stress has begun to take its toll, it's been a tough couple of weeks what with matching panel, meeting the birth parents, leaving work and ensuring the house and family are ready for a two year old. Then there are the worries, what if he doesn't like us, or worse we don't like him when we actually meet him. How do we manage everyone's expectations, child 4 has had an unsettled few weeks so we don't know how that will impact on him moving in with us. How will all the introductions with family and friends go? For our children, they to must be worried about how the family will be affected by adding another. What will happen to the relationships within the family, will mum still have time to help with homework and to chat about a day at school, will Dad still be able to go on that bike ride.

I remember when I was waiting for child 1  to be born, I was worried that I wouldn't love her or be able to cope, I was terrified that I would become angry with the crying and that the sleepless nights would make me into a monster. To be fair I wasn't that keen on her after she was born, probably because labour was 20 hours, and she had to be delivered by ventouse leaving me with what felt like a million stitches, but I didn't get angry or turn into a monster, yes I was tired and no doubt grumpy but I grew to love her and now that love knows no limits. I guess adoption is similar. We just need time to bond, patience and time to build a relationship. Love is already there in exactly the same way it was with child 1, 2 & 3 it's just difficult to see it and feel it when so much else is going on.

I guess that it's no surprise that the whole family is feeling a little under the weather.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The first bend in our adoption journey

Finished work today, just for 6 months whilst child 4 settles in. I hadn't really thought about how I would feel. I've been a bit caught up with everything at home so hadn't really thought about work. My job share called this morning to update me with the week so far, I'll miss our twice weekly conversations, the youngsters I work with keep me young with their partying and single life styles with no responsibilities reminding me of what it was like to be 25 again. I'll miss the opportunity of just sharing life as its is with the other mums. We work hard, so can't chat as such but relationships have still been built and cups of tea are made and often go cold yet I feel that I know them all so well.

It seems so weird to be excited and sad at the same time, I was excited to share the recent photo of child 4, yet worried that when I actually meet him next week he may not like me. I am excited to be having time off, no more stress about juggling work, home, children, school and after school activities  but worried about all the changes that I know are going to happen at work whilst I am away. Working 2 days a week means that it is so hard to learn everything when you return to work.

Of course my last day was really busy, so not much time could be spent with those I won't now see for a while. Child 4 needs to bond with me before I can do the rounds of showing him off, not like a new baby where they seem to be perfectly content to be passed from one set of arms to another. Our child 4 has been passed around a little but I doubt that its left him particularly content.

They guys I work with understand that though, in fact they have been great, someone leaving always means staff shortages for a little while, but no one has made me feel guilty, in fact I feel supported and loved because they did want to make sure that I was coming back!

As a family we have reached another bend in the road that we are travelling, the only way is forward and we cannot see what is ahead, roads may occasionally be filled with potholes and occasionally debris but they can take us to new and exciting places. I wonder where we will end up?

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A little bit of bedtime reading

Getting close now,  11 days to go, so I thought I'd revisit some of the reading I did whilst we attended our adoption courses, it's a little bit like revising but this time it involves people, well children and vulnerable ones at that. The reading was absolutely fascinating, there are so many studies and examples of how parenting, when it fails can have such a huge and detrimental effect on children, then those children grow up and if they don't  receive any appropriate support so the cycle begins again for their children and so on.

Most of the books talk about worst case scenarios, I tend to be an expect the worst, hope for the best type person and we certainly have been taught all about the worst, even the book titles make you concerned "The Primal Wound" by Nancy Verrier, "Attachment, Trauma and Resilience" by Kate Cairns and " The Bonds of Attachment Awakening Love in a Deeply Troubled Child" by Daniel Hughes. Although I guess that calling a book "It will be alright in the end" is possibly a bit foolish - I must admit I am entering this whole journey believing that everything will be alright in the end.

Some parts of these books really frightened me, not just about some of the behaviours these children may exhibit but also the type of parenting that was suggested, a lot of it was so totally alien to how I parent my existing children that I frequently doubted my abilities to have the strength and patience to raise a child that had been removed from his birth family by social services.

Our social worker however, has supported us every step of the way and I sometimes feel confident enough, that I will be able to remain calm and loving no matter what happens. Of course on the days I have a wobble I am lucky enough to have a large support network and not much pride so will be more than willing to ask for help, in fact I am planning on having the post adoption team on speed dial!

Our little man, hopefully will settle with us quickly, learning to live with his past, enjoying the present and looking forward to his future. As to parenting him, I am sure that our parenting instincts will follow through, with us all finding the best way together. After all a journey is always quicker, more fun and more memorable when it is shared with those you love and a helping hand on those rough and dangerous roads is always gratefully accepted.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The accidental shopper

Ratification happened today, so nothing can stop us now. Oh the relief!

I was out and about sorting the last bits of paperwork etc so I popped into town for my last day to potter around the shops on my OWN!! (well except for next week when my mum, aunt and I are having a girlie shopping day)  at last I could look at boys clothes, toys and books. Of course we already have a house full of toys, in fact when child 3 was born I don't think we bought her any birthday or christmas presents for the first two years, we just wrapped up old toys from the attic, not because we were mean, honest. Just, that we had so much already it seemed a waste buy more. We have book shelves lined with all types of books and as a family we have our favourites All Join In by Quentin Blake, The Gruffalo and Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson, Brown Bear, Brown Bear and The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and a big favourite The Snarlyhissopus by Alan Macdonald.        As for clothes, child 4 will obviously arrive with some so really until we know what he has, buying too much could be foolish although a couple of new things couldn't go amiss could they really? 

Well, look what I purchased .........

I guess this shows how my mind works, cookies, cakes and dog walks. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

School council

What a proud mum am I, child 3 has been voted by her peers to be one of the school council representatives for her class. Tomorrow she will receive her badge and attend her first meeting.

Our three oldest children have each been a school council rep and it has been a wonderful experience for each of them. They have learned how to cooperate, compromise and persuade. They can debate, which can make conversation at the dinner table entertaining, they can problem solve and they have learnt the benefits of working in a team. Child 1 and 2 now take an interest in world matters and are confident enough to speak about their views.  School council meetings give children the opportunity to speak, present and learn to listen. Not only have they have learned that they have a voice and the right to be heard but also that with this voice there is also an obligation to behave with dignity and responsibly.

This self confidence was shown by child 2 during a social worker visit. Our social worker had come over to spend some time with the children to talk to them about our adoption. We hade been filling a jar with questions for the social worker to answer. (Really grown up questions like "will the adopted sibling love us, will mum and dad still have time for us and do adopted children fart?" Yes the children did put the fart question in the jar - funny but very embarrassing. I offered to go and tidy up some where else in the house so they could talk without me being there. Child 2 wanted me to stay and then went on to explain why he didn't want us to adopt, he was articulate and forthright and I was really impressed as was the social worker. Of course she listened to him, teasing out what his actual concerns were and then answered all his worries.

Child 2 is excited about our forthcoming addition, pleased to be a big brother already planning how he is going to be a role model for his younger brother and of course to train child 4 to join the his army in the quest of the destruction of the evil sisters!!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Dealing with change

What is it with human nature and change?  There are those that work through it, deal with it and move on. There are those that become angry and make demands that are impossible, not accepting that sometimes things just have to change and then there are those that just put their heads in the sand, telling themselves that if they pretend its not happening, it just won't happen.

Change affects so much of our lives sometimes its exciting, like getting married or having a baby but then other changes like at work can cause stress and even panic. Of course when we are stressed and panicking we are unable to think things through and life can become difficult.

With our adoption, we have been faced with all types of reactions to the change that will affect our family, those that are excited for us, those that have not really commented and the odd one that has become angry and frustrated with us.  Of course adding another will mean that as a family we will have to deal with change within our family unit, it will be interesting to see how all the children deal with the changes. Being me, I of course believe that because they will be dealing with change during their growing years within a safe and secure environment they should be confident in dealing with those curve balls life has a tendency to throw at us.

There is though always a flip side, children who deal with a lot of change in an unsettled environment can be left with a number of disorders that can effect their whole lives.  Our role will be to help our little one to recognise his behaviours and fears and how they effect the decisions he may make.  By acknowledging these thought processes he should be able to pre-empt inappropriate behaviour and deal with changes that are bound to happen in his life without them crippling him.

The amazing Maya Angelou said "If you don't like something change it, if you can't change it, change your attitude"


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Who am I to judge?

I've been thinking about people's reactions to our agreement to meet with child 4's birth parents today. Probably because there have been some very different reactions. Many people think that we were very brave, (although in comparison to the birth parents courage in agreeing to meet us, I dont think that we are brave at all). Some couldn't understand why we would want to meet them and I think that even though I said we didn't have to, they secretly thought that we must have been given little choice and then there was the odd one who just wanted to know all the "gory" details.

I have found that some of the community that we are part of (local and social media wise) have already made their minds up about the type of people, who's children end up in care. It's food for thought, what do you really think about these birth parents?

Its so hard for us to keep our emotions in check when we read that 28,220 children were taken into care in England during the year 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. 56% of those, a huge 15,670 of these children started to be looked after because of abuse or neglect. 
On average a child is killed by a parent (birth, step,foster or adoptive) every 10 days, a baby every 20 days.

According to national statistics there are are approx 10,466700 school age children in the UK so 0.15% of those have been taken into care due to concerns about their welfare.

I think that it is really important that we do not stereo type all those who have had their children taken away by social services, the majority love their children, they did not think "oh let's have a baby so that we can neglect or abuse him." For so many reasons they are just not capable of looking after their children. When I think of having mine, my parents, family and friends were all around to help. My mum was with me and my husband when all three were born, she then helped with the older ones or just babysat for a few hours to give me a break and she was always there if I needed advice or a shoulder to cry on. I relied on the midwife and health visitor asking for help if I needed it because it never crossed my mind that anyone would think I was so bad a parent that they would take my child away.  Those like child 4's birth parents don't have a support network like I do, they would probably avoid health professionals for fear of what they might do or report.

In the blog update on 10 May I spoke about how so many of those who are incarcerated, homeless, or are addicts of some kind came from being in care. I finished it with what I hoped was a thought provoking sentence about children in our care system. "Perhaps we should try to remember those captivating, innocent and vulnerable faces when we read about teenagers being sent to prison or when we walk past homeless teenagers on the street." Today I think that we should perhaps think about those young children, they will grow into adults and unless we step in they will continue the cycle of their own childhoods because they won't know any better.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying "I will try again tomorrow"

As it is now a countdown until placement (12 days to go)I thought that I'd share some of the preparation that we have had to do over the last 13 months. It's also a really good reminder for me, like revising for that huge exam, only this is a life choice!

1. Think younger - feed child 4 with love, food and attention on demand, play baby games like peek a boo. Regression is good, don't worry if he wants a bottle or baby cuddles. He is reinventing his past. Don't use controlled crying you cannot spoil an adopted child.
2. Learn/Teach play. Use sensory play to wonder. Use sand, play dough, and water, visit the park, the woods, the beach. Make collages and nature tables. Curious is good
3. Singelese - use a gentle singsong voice. Praise often, say I love you all the time, keep instructions really really simple.
4. Divert biting and hitting. Change those smacks to patter cakes, try teething rings. Teach him to be gentle with his touch. Trace the features of your faces together, talking positively about eyes, nose and freckles.
5. Take care of me - eat well, go to bed early, find time for me time.
A happy mum = a happy household. I know by experience that this is a fact!
6. Join support groups, ask for help. Have positive people around you, who can offer a shoulder to cry on and a bottle of wine to share
7. Keep life simple, calm and interesting.  Only do what you can really manage in a day. Adopted children often cannot cope with noisy households as they have frequently been left to their own devices and ignored in their birth homes. Try feely boxes to encourage child 4 senses, simple routines and visual timetables help keep things calm.
8. Constantly explain your role, I cook your dinner because I love you, I bath you because I love you, I read to you, play with you, talk, sing and dance with you, I take you out on dog walks all because I love you.
9. Be aware of signs that things are not quite right, children should be seeking out their parents for affection and play or when they are hurt or scared. As child 4's parent I should be able to calm him, soothe him and interact with him on different levels. Ask for help. That's what post adoption is there for.
10. Be positive, empathic and playful.Don't  be dragged into a cycle of negativity, have fun, be gentle, be patient, encourage him to try, after all the worst thing you can do is fail and is that so bad? And surely its better than doing nothing.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The adoption triangle

Today we met child 4's birth parents. I was expecting this to be a traumatic experience and as you would have read from yesterday's blog update I really wanted to make a good impression on this young couple. I was desperate for them to see me as an ordinary mum who would love their little boy as if I had given birth to him myself.

But, when they walked into the meeting room it dawned on me that this meeting was all about them and their son, soon to be our son and not about us. Yes, it was important that we made a good impression, but today was about us gathering as much information as possible about this young couple, so that we could share it with child 4. It is so important for child 4 to know about who his birth parents are, what their lives so far had been like and how much they loved him. For them it was a chance to see what we were like and to be reassured that we love this little boy and that we will provide him with everything that he may need.

Their biggest fears were that; we wouldn't tell child 4 about them and that if we did that we would paint them as monsters. They were worried that we would change his name, removing any claim of his origins from them. We explained that we wouldn't change his name because that was what they had given him, it belongs to him, it wouldn't be right for us to change it. We had a huge list of questions about their childhoods, their meeting, their pregnancy and their likes and dislikes so we could share all that information with child 4. We know that they are not monsters and we would never portray them in that light. Without any doubt they loved him, they just aren't capable of looking after him.

Birth mum was visibly distressed and there were tears from most of us. According to our social worker these meeting usually only last about 20 minutes ours was over an hour, so I like to think a rapport was built and I really hope that they both know that we love this little man and we will give him all the love and support we can.

It's child 4's birthday soon and his birth mum explained to us that she is going to release a balloon every year on his birthday, my husband said that we would do the same, a new tradition forever linking child 4's past and his future.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Oh what to wear

I know that it is really sad but I keep wondering what I should wear tomorrow when we meet the birth parents. I want to look like an ordinary mum! I don't want them to think that we think that we are better than them, richer than them, more educated than them. I want them to leave our meeting saying that we were nice, normal and that they believe that we will love their birth child as our own.

I am very aware that I seem callous perhaps worrying about my wardrobe, when child 4's birth parents are being brave enough to meet with us to answer our questions, they have some for us too. They want to know what our childhoods were like, do we live in a town or the country, what do we like to do, what are the schools like and will we tell child 4 about them????

I think that I just want them to be ok with us adopting their baby, I can't comprehend how hard this is for them, they didn't have him to then neglect or hurt him, in their own way they love him just as much as I love child 1,2 & 3. I am not sure that they really understand that their parenting was not good enough because they really don't know any different.

We are lucky enough to be gaining a son but its is at someone else's expenses. I know, I know child 4 cannot stay with his birth parents because they cannot provide for his needs. But that doesn't change how they will/must feel. I think tomorrow could be one of the hardest things we must do, but do it we must for child 4's benefit, for his birth parents to hopefully accept their situation and move on with their lives ( how ridiculous is that, I don't know how I would cope with my children being removed) and for us. We need to understand as much as we possibly can about child 4's life story so that we can provide him with a home that he needs and deserves.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Sweet Child of Mine

I don't know how to put today's events into words. Emotionally we are exhausted, we've been worried, nervous, scared. Then sad, filled with compassion, even shed a few tears. Then happiness, relief  and elation. Then back to worry and apprehension.

Today was Matching Panel day, we once again met the board of specialists in adoption so they could approve us as child 4's new parents. This panel despite being made up of the same people that approved us as adopters was more intimidating, not because they were unwelcoming or scary but, I think because our new addition is so real. We have invested so much of ourselves in the preparation of accepting and welcoming this little boy into our family that any possibility of us being turned down would have been devastating. Child 3 went into school today to say that her new brother was moving in, in three weeks.

Of course as our Social Worker kept saying, everything was fine, we once again received an unanimous yes along with some wonderful words of support from each member of the panel. They all felt that we would make wonderful parents, offering child 4 a home full of love, laughter and fun. One of the panel had been adopted into a family where her adoptive parents had children already and she said that it was amazing she was accepted from day one, in our case child 4 hasn't even arrived and he has been accepted, certainly by almost all of our family and by our community.

I sit here this evening relieved that we have made it through today, we can now order child 4's buggy, mattress, car seat, letters to spell his name on his bedroom door and the cute raincoat with flying monkeys on it, new wellies in size 5 and that T shirt in Next quoting Guns and Roses "Sweet Child of Mine".

Later this week we meet the birth parents.............................

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Why Five go on an adventure?

When I named my blog I was after the nostalgic imagery of  some of the favourite books of my childhood. Like the Famous Five, the Adventure series and The Twins of St Claires and Malory Towers by Enid Blyton, Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery and The little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

 The Famous Five worked really well as at the moment we are a family of five, when child 4 finally arrives we will have 2 boys and 2 girls and a dog just like the Famous Five. I want my children to be able to have "adventures" exploring rock pools and rivers, climbing big hills and rolling down them. I want them to learn to skim stones, ride a bike and a horse, to eat a meal cooked over a fire, even if its just marshmallows.  I want them to enjoy a picnic of jam sandwiches and a bottle of squash and a hearty spread of homemade pies, sausage rolls, scotch eggs and cakes. I want them to see different animals, birds and bugs, to learn about our trees and plants, to collect leaves, feathers, pine cones and autumn leaves.  I want them to fish with brightly coloured nets, to build fairy doors into the gnarled roots of an old oak tree and to play Robin Hood and Peter Pan. I want them to work up big appetites so they can enjoy freshly scrumped apples, plums and blackberries as well as cake, ice cream and cream teas and all those foods shared in Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer cook book by Jane Brocket.
I want them to have a strong and loving relationship with their family and friends, I want them to be capable, kind, happy, educated and independent. I want them to be aware of the whole world they live in and to believe that good will overcome evil. 

All these wants and desires are shared in the books of my youth and are probably why we spend so much of our time at the beach, the river, the Secret Garden. We make collages of the things we find and make fairy doors and garlands. We bake pies, cakes and biscuits and love to bring and share for picnics, barbecues and dinners. We enjoy a family movie night and Dr Who when it's on. I guess, in reality I want them to have the childhood I had. Thanks mum and dad xxx

Some of my favourite books.
Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox
C S Lewis' tales of Narnia
Charlotte's Web by E B White
The Secret Garden and The Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Railway Children and The Phoenix and the Carpet by E Nesbit
 The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian
Watership Down by Richard Sdams
The Silver Sword by Ian Serrallier
Stig of the Dump by Clive King
Carrie's War by Nina Bowden
Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys by Laurie Lykken
Willard Price's Adventure books
Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Box of Delights John Masefield
Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter
Dr Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain