This has been a week of issues that could relate to adoption. FASD, My Violent Child, even Call the Midwife. As well as Open Nests new video and Woman's Hour discussion about social media and adoption breakdowns. In the face of so much adversity is it surprising that so many of us living adoption, struggle with remaining calm, upbeat, informed and yet keeping our identity.
Mr L and I hadn't even heard of FAS/FASD* until we attended an adoption course, we knew nothing of neurology in infants and children and how parental behaviour could have such an enormous effect on how the brain itself actually develops. We didn't realise that emotional trauma of many sorts could affect how children mature emotionally. As an example I was very poorly after child 2 was born, 10 days post birth I was rushed into hospital where I had to be given a blood transfusion and massive doses of intravenous antibiotics to fight an unknown infection. The hospital couldn't find what had caused the infection or decide if I had an internal bleed. My only concern was for my 10 day old baby left at home. I was hospitalised for 10 days and then spent 2 weeks recuperating, with the children at my parents. Interestingly, child 2 struggles a little today with connecting with his peer group, how to deal with difficult situations. He has a tendency to over-react. I now wonder if that difficult start for him meant slight attachment issues??
Before our adoption training we had no knowledge about therapeutic parenting the only parenting we knew was that passed on to us by our parents and what I read about. Steven Biddulph and Dr Christopher Green are 2 favourites.
Listening and watching all the above this week has I think really highlighted how little we know about humanity. How desperate we are to understand what we should be doing to ensure the best for our children and yet in the next breath, society can be so judgemental of parenting and therefore have a massively negative impact. Of course most pregnant women would not drink at all if they knew about the risks of FAS/FASD, but the medical world doesn't share that information openly and clearly. Violent children would not exist if we could consistently provide the parenting they required, and I am sure that parents struggling with their children's behaviour would step forward quicker to ask for help, if they knew that help would be forthcoming and non judgmental. If people would just drop their pre conceptions about parenting Open Nest would not have needed to create their video about how to support adoptive families.
How in reality can adoptive families remain positive, we have to fight constantly for what our children need. At home we have had to change our "natural" parenting techniques, at school we have to ask staff to think differently when educating our children, within family and friendship groups we have to explain why we do things the way we do, even though sometimes we are banging our heads against a brick wall and then when we are out, society judges us based on their experiences of parenting and their expectations of how children and families should behave.
So why do we get up everyday, usually with the birds and often after a disturbed nights sleep. Why do we put on our professional clothes, collect our books and files to visit the head teachers office to sell attachment training to the staff. Why do still risk days out, meals out and holidays despite knowing that there is a possibility that it will all go pear shaped.
For me the answer is LOVE!
*FAS/FASD - Foetal Alcohol Syndrome/ Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder