Adoption Support Fund makes me want to cry

So it has arrived.

The first day of May and the first day of the new Adoption Support Fund (ASF).

For one year, a big pot of money is guaranteed on offer to provide support and clinical assessments for adopted children in the UK.

Have you applied?

Today I wrote an email to the LA requesting an assessment of our adoption support needs, so that we can access the ASF.

In particular, we want assessment of FASD, which we couldn’t possibly pay for ourselves and it certainly won’t happen unless we push for it to be funded from the ASF.

You know, if we are able to get assessment of FASD, paid for from the ASF, I think I will cry.

I may just cry and cry and cry.  I’m not sure when I’ll stop.  But I will cry with joy, with relief, with amazement.  Because I’ve spent years trying to get the health professionals to allow our children assessment for FASD.  We have the evidence of maternal use of alcohol.  We see daily, hourly, the symptoms of FASD.  But it’s been a long old battle to get the health professionals to help us get a diagnosis.

Yep, I’ll be crying.  All the way to the consultants office on the day that we finally find ourselves in the specialist FASD clinic.  I’ll be crying.

That’s what it feels to be waiting, month after month, for the long awaited funding to take our children to see a specialist FASD consultant.

I feel all our Christmases are coming, just around the corner.

adoption, education, inclusion

Why adopted children are underachieving in schools and why Education is the hardest battle for every adoptive family

Over the last week I’ve been writing our supporting information for our parents’ request for EHC Needs Assessment.

It never fails to amaze me how long it takes to write about our adopted children’s life experiences and their extensive needs.   And it never fails to weary me that we have to communicate all this so very,  very,   m-a-n-y     t-i-m-e-s.    To so MANY different professionals.

And, my weary and emotional exhaustion as I type this today, is testament to how the process of telling the story and writing the story re-traumatises me / hubby / our little family again, and again and A-G-A-I-N.

When will it be easier?  Does it ever get any easier?

A friend asked “What happens to the adopted children who don’t have parents who are asking and searching and working as hard as you are, to get things done, to make changes for them, to make people listen?”

And all I could answer was “Those children cope as best they can, I suppose.  Because they’ve had to cope in the past.  They survive, I guess.”

Yesterday, the SENco said “yes, we’ve had lots of meetings with you over the years, but what we really need is to talk with professionals…”

I took that to mean “Well, yes, we’ve sat in this room and you’ve told us all about your children and their needs and how to help them.  And yes, you may be the people who know them better than anyone ever could.  Oh yes, and you were a teacher once upon a time.  And yes, you probably have sought advice, done hours of research, lived and breathed trauma, attachment and the rest for all the years they’ve lived with you ….. But, guess what?  We aren’t listening to parents and definitely not adopters.  We only listen to other professionals….”

I’m wondering so many things right now, such as …

When will Teachers listen openly to adopters and recognise that we do know what we’re talking about?  We live with it  24/7 after all!  We can’t pick up a coat and bag, get in the car, drive home and forget it until Monday morning.

When will there be a truly holistic approach to assessing, providing for and supporting adoptive families?

When will we be able to sit in an office with any professional and receive the same respect and understanding as the birth parents who sat in the chair earlier that day talking about their child’s needs?

When will educators be educated about adoption?  Then demonstrate educated provision for adoptees?

When will educators provide for children rather than delivering their own curriculum, regardless of how it might trigger trauma / shame / challenging behaviour?

I’m ranting.  Yes.  Again.

I’m exhausted.  I’m emotional.  I would simply like my children’s unique complex needs to be provided for in an educational setting.  Hmmmm … doesn’t sound like such a tall order, does it?

adoption, childhood trauma, secondary trauma

Therapeutic Support

Today, hubby and I met a clinical psychology type person.

A professional who works with traumatised children and their families.  An experienced, highly knowledgeable, listening, professional.

I kind of need to pinch myself.

Is this real? Yes, apparently so.

We are at the starting line of therapy for our two little loves, to help them process the trauma they experienced in their early life. And we, hubby and I, will have support too.  Yes, really.  Someone to talk with, who can help us process what we are living with.  Because, as they say, when the therapy starts with our little ones, there’s likely to be some real tough days in our little family.

But we are there.  Starting line.  Therapy starting soon.  Support in place.

I feel like I’m breathing out and I could cry for days and sleep for weeks.

We said “help!” like we’ve done countless times before …. and this time there really is help at hand.

Now ……. b-r-e-a-t-h-e ………………..

adoption, childhood trauma, education, secondary trauma, trauma

Relationships and Education and Secondary Trauma

Yesterday was one of the worst Sundays our adoptive family has ever had.

Trauma was here, right here, in our family just as if it was a living, breathing person sat in the room with us.

Only not sat in the room.

Shouting in the room.  Kicking and screaming in the room.  Throwing things in the room.  Hitting other people in the room.  Rising up like the most hideous monster and destroying our family.

That was yesterday.

And why did this come about?  Why did we have such a terrible Sunday?

Well, I can make some guesses to answer that.  We are in the midst of enormous frustration and stress with regards our childrens school at the moment.  And with all the frustration that Hubby and I feel towards the teaching and leadership staff at the school, it is incredibly hard to appear normal around our ever-on-the-edge traumatised children.  So they pick up on our anxiety and they have one mega trauma-fest as a result of it.

I believe education is all about relationships.  That without quality relationships there cannot be teaching and learning.

It doesn’t appear that the staff in our school share this belief.   Because if they believed relationships were important, they would avoid teaching my child things that traumatise her, wouldn’t they?  Because every time her trauma is triggered by lesson content that is basically wrong for her, she brings it all home in a huge hand grenade of trauma and throws it slap, bang, into the middle of family life.

We are afraid.  Really very frightened.  Afraid that this school might not be the right place for our children and that we will have to make other provision.  Home Ed?  Another school? A special school?  How do we deal with the flack that will surely come from our family and friends if we choose to move the children?  None of them live with adoption, but they have plenty to say about it.

Complaints to the governors?  Complaints to Ofsted or the LA?  Are complaints worth anything at all, because we all know how easy it is for headteachers to sweet talk the inspectors….

So what now?  Suddenly it’s December and in a few weeks time all the wheels of business and social care will wind to a halt.

I would love to keep my head down, get to the Christmas holidays and then review things to see what decisions are right for our family.

And right now as I type, I’m avoiding any contact with the school.  The place, the people there, they hurt me too much to have contact with them at the moment.  Yes, that’s secondary trauma.

I don’t know where this blog post is going.  I just wanted to write something about this deeply painful experience we are in right now.


adoption, education, inclusion

Adopted Children in Education – when will they count?

Sitting in a room full of adopters and foster carers, learning how to support our children in school.  All sharing experiences of education.

The things that really stand out for me in such a discussion are

  • Whatever happened to the importance of quality relationships in education?
  • When did all those dedicated folk who enter the teaching profession to make a difference to young lives, become indoctrinated by targets and performance and lost sight of caring, nurturing relationships?
  • Why are school leaders so defensive of their provision and rejecting of the pleas of parents who just want their children to be treated as individuals?
  • Why is a child’s maths performance more important than their emotional wellbeing?
  • Why is it just so darned hard to get any individual support for this group of children who are the most vulnerable in society and the most likely to fail?
  • Are class teachers really so busy delivering their precious curriculum that they don’t notice the child sitting quietly, pulling out clumps of hair, picking her skin so that it bleeds again and again, failing, failing, failing?

That’s what I wonder.

And I’m going to keep on wondering until I get some answers and some action to support my children in education.

adoption, FASD

from the mouths of babes

So, I’ve just come off the phone to the mum of my son’s friend.

It all started with a phone message from the class teacher to let me know that our son had been playing in school today, when the teacher heard my lovely boy telling his friend how his “mummy had drunk lots and lots of alcohol when I was in her tummy”.

The teacher explained that my boy’s friend was somewhat confused by this conversation and tried to relate it to his own babyhood and his own Mummy.   Fortunately, the teacher was able to intervene and head the conversation in a different direction, before it got any more bewildering.

That’s how it happens sometimes.  Despite our adult anxieties about how our children will share the facts of their early lives with friends and acquaintances, sometimes it just happens.

And guess what?  It was okay.  Nothing bad happened.  Instead I had a lovely chat with a dear Mum who was just delighted that my boy felt so fondly of her own boy that he wanted to share this snippet of adoptive life.

Later, when he’s shrugged off the fog of school, when he’s lying on the floor immersed in Lego, maybe I’ll ask how he got on today with his friends.  And maybe he’ll tell me about the conversation and maybe he won’t.

Will I broach the subject or not?  Well, it depends.  If he’s edgy, dysregulated, yes maybe I will.  But if he’s calm and content, I may not.  Because who knows what is the right way to handle all this.  Certainly not me.  I’m winging it all the way.  Adoption is full of uncertainties and wonderments and doubts.

But one thing I do know for sure, is that my little darling boy is finding a voice.  A voice that can sometimes explore the past and tell his playfellow all about it.  My boy is finding his voice.  And in the coming months and years, he’s going to have plenty to say.