Archive for August, 2013

Introductions Day 5

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Today we had our daughter at our house for the very first time

It was amazing and went so well I panicked (only for a few seconds!) that it was going too well. But we needn’t have worried, she had a little grizzle here and there and then once we got her beck to the FC’s house she treated us to a full on tantrum….which we dealt with like pros!

We’ve started to bring some of her stuff home as well now so when she arrived we showed her and the FC her new room with her clothes in her wardrobe and her toys downstairs so things are familiar! She loves her new room and obviously feels very comfortable in it because she asked to get in her cot! And she loved the little stickers we’ve put on her wall. It also helps the FC feel comfortable and, as we all sat on the carpet, she looked around and said she felt that this was our daughters home. She’s said such lovely things to us in the last few days, one of which that she felt like our daughter had begun to really shine because she was obviously happy. Even the physiotherapist who we saw today said she’d seen a marked change in her since she’d last seen her 6 weeks previously.

My anxiety has disappeared, I feel like we can do this now and I’m not so scared of everything. But, oddly, even though today went incredibly well and, relatively, smoothly I got home and was violently ill. It definitely wasn’t something I ate, I suspect it was a mixture of anxiety, accumulated emotions over the past 5 days, holding it together, travelling a long way every day, tiredness, exhaustion and just the intense roller coaster we’ve been on for the last 5 days. It’s been very very hard and it’s coming to an end and I think my body just reached saturation point tonight! I am now crashed out in bed, barely able to move and I’m hoping sleep will come quickly so I can feel refreshed again tomorrow. We also get a lie in tomorrow too, which I’m quite looking forward to….

…..but I bet I’ll still be awake at 6:30!

 

 

 

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Grandparents and Other People

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The role of a Grandparent is usually seen as a simple one. Spoil them rotten, shower them with love and let them do what they want. 

Actually, I’ve never agreed with that but that’s a whole other entry right there and I want to talk, solely, about how Grandparents, and all other people, should try and behave when there is an adopted child coming in to their lives.

A few days ago (seems like a lifetime ago now!) we spent a lovely afternoon with our Mum’s and Dad’s having a celebratory afternoon tea before we met our daughter for the first time. The conversation headed in the direction of a Grandparents role, specifically how they should behave (now, when the child arrives and in the future). My Mother-in-Law told us that she’d even Googled to see if she could find anything to help her know what to say, what to do and how to behave and act with us and with, eventually, our daughter. It got me thinking and I decided to add an entry in to my blog solely to help new grandparents, other family members and friends of new adopters understand what to do in this very strange and unknown territory.

 

Listen: Adopters learn a LOT through the adoption process. They know a lot so listen to their advice and follow their lead. They know more about adoption and adopted children that anyone who hasn’t been through the process so respect that and respect their needs and the advice they give you.

It doesn’t help to have anyone laughing at them when they’re trying to explain the complex issues of attachment and how they may have to deal with that. Or how they’re going to deal with discipline because their child was beaten, or how they’ll deal with nappy changing because their child was abused. None of these things happened to our child but I have heard too many stories where other people have dismissed an adopters advice about how to deal with their children and simply laughed and overruled them. We do not say these things lightly and we say them for the sake of our children, not for ourselves.

 

Hold back: As hard as this one is you just have to hold back. Although it is seen as an exciting time the adopters really only have space in their heads for themselves to take on their own feelings. In fact, as we are 5 days in to our introductions as I type, I can honestly say that it’s most definitely NOT an “exciting time”. Sounds shocking doesn’t it? We’ve waited all this time for a child to come in to our lives and now we’ve got that chance how could we possibly not be excited. But there are too many other emotions flying around our heads to have any room at all for excitement. In this short amount of time I’ve been scared, had a panic attack, couldn’t stop crying, petrified of the future, anxiety levels have reached an all time high, I’ve felt low, depressed, bleak (that one’s for you L & M ;) )
I haven’t felt excited, happy, relaxed, calm or content in the last 5 days. It’s been really hard, emotionally draining and we’re exhausted by it. By all means get excited but don’t bombard the adopters with loads of messages, excitement and questions. Give the adopters space.

 

Try and get the balance right: A bit contradictory to the above statement….but send messages of support at crucial times. For example, the approval panel date, the matching panel date,  meeting the child for the first time. Just a little message of acknowledgment without any hint of needing a reply goes a long way, trust me. And reply to the adopters, pick the phone up if they call, respond to texts, emails and all other forms of contact which they initiate. I know this helps because this is what our families and friends have been doing. It really does go a long way to making the adopters feel there are people there at this utterly petrifying time. In fact, one really good friend actually phoned me after I sent a particularly distressing text to her as they (her and her husband) adopted 2 years ago and knew exactly what I was feeling so she managed to calm me down. That helped so much.

 

Don’t add more stress: It’s very hard, we understand, as someone close to us who wants to get involved and get stuck in there. There’s no point in you worrying about something and letting the adopters know you’re worried. Not in the early stages anyway. Talk amongst each other and realise this is a worrying time for everyone, not least the adopters.

 

Be selfless: This is about the adopters and the child alone. SW said to us we had to be “mindful of the grandparents feelings”! We have no room to consider other peoples feelings at such a crucial time. This sounds utterly selfish when said out loud but it’s really not. Why anyone else would want to be thought about by the adopters at this time must be mad.

 

Meeting the child for the first time: This is the most crucial piece of information I can give you if you know someone who is adopting……………It’s going to be a little while before you get to meet their child.
This is where adoption is so different to having a birth child. Apart from stressing out the parents, a crowd of people visiting a new born is going to have no impact on the baby at all (apart from picking up on the stress of the parents…..which is, I might add, a good enough reason not to have loads of people around anyway!)
With an older child, who is more than aware of their situation (whether they understand it or not) this is going to have a huge impact on them. The most important thing is that the child and the adopters settle in to their new life together, alone. This is crucial to forming those attachments and bonds. So you can imagine if anyone else starts coming around within those first few days it’s going to get very confusing for the child.
Depending on how old a child is the adopters will make the decisions on when people are able to meet their child. With our child being 15 months we’ve decided on a (flexible) plan of 4 days on our own, seeing nobody at all. We will go for walks but we won’t have anyone actually meet her. On the 5th day we’re then having the first set of grandparents round and on the 6th day the second set will come round. This will be for an hour at the most, for a cup of tea, relaxed chat, nothing over the top or exciting. Just nice and easy.
We are then planning to have 3 weeks where we don’t introduce her to anyone else and the only people we will see are her grandparents. On the 4th week we will then start introducing other family and friends. This may change but only if we feel our daughter will cope with other people visiting (all down to how we feel she’s attaching to us)
It seems such a long time to make people wait and we are as desperate for everyone to meet her as they are to meet her, but we just have to be patient for her. The wait will all be worth it in the end.

 

Gifts: Go for it! If you want to shower the adopters and/or the child gifts go for your life! There are no rules here…..apart from one; When the child moves in don’t be offended if we don’t open the gifts right away. One thing we have learned about this is that we don’t want a child thinking every time someone turns up there will be a present! We acknowledge that such a lovely gesture can have such negative connotations but, as mentioned before, we’ve learned a lot and we need to use that knowledge for the benefit of our daughter. Don’t worry, she will always know who her presents have come from. And of course, this is where the grandparents will differ…..she will be opening your presents while you’re there :)

 

How to behave around the child: The simple answer to this is ‘normally’. Behave how you would with a birth child but always be mindful of what an adopter has told you. If you’ve been told not to rush in and be loud then don’t do it. If you’ve been told not to give a child sweets, don’t bring any. Remember the first point I made about listening….this is where you use it.

 

Don’t turn up uninvited: Although we’ve never had an issue with this anyway I thought it worth mentioning after reading and hearing horror stories about how Grandparents have been waiting on the driveways and doorsteps of newly adoptive parents as they bring their child home for the first time. Please, please don’t do this. As lovely an idea as it might be at the time to surprise the new family with banners and balloons and yourselves it will just add misery, bitterness and resentment as well as stress, anxiety and (later) guilt. There would be nothing worse than having to tell your nearest and dearest to go away while you’re trying to deal with moving your child in for the first time. As I mentioned, I know this won’t happen to us personally, our parents, family and friends have all been incredibly supportive and brilliant. But I DO know it’s happened to other people and it makes me shudder.

 

Don’t interfere with the attachment: I thought this might be worth adding as a little extra. I thought about this the other day and I think it makes a lot of sense but might not be as obvious as we imagine. If a child is crying or distressed and the Mum and Dad are in another room, what would yo do? I know what I would do. I’d comfort that child immediately. Not necessarily any child but a friends children or my sisters child I would not hesitate to comfort. But , while we are trying to attach to our daughter, if we are in another room or, in fact, there but our daughter is just closer to the other person in the room, she may very well reach up for you for comfort. That is going to feel so lovely for you because it’s going to feel like she needs you and wants you. But it is absolutely imperative that you do not react. We have to be the ones to comfort her for those first few weeks and months. If anyone else does this it may damage that bonding and attachment to us that we’re working so hard to achieve. To see this happen is going to be just as hard for us as it will be for the other person to not be able to comfort, which is such a natural thing to do. But you must try, as hard as that will be, to hold back and let the adopters do it.

 

The future: At the end of the day, even after everything else I’ve mentioned, our daughter is, quite simply, that! She’s our daughter, she’s your granddaughter, she’s your niece and she’s your friends child. Treat her as such. She’s no more special, or important, or different to any child on this planet.

Although, to us, she is! 

 

 

 

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

Introductions Day 4

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Today was a very very long day.

We had to get up at 6am to leave the house at 7am to get to the foster carers early. We arrived and did the breakfast routine, tried to change her nappy and tried to dress her. I say “tried” because she decided she didn’t want these things doing and had a tantrum! Full blown! So the FC took over and, guess what? The tantrum carried on! That simple act and the resulting situation, for us to witness, calmed me beyond belief. I didn’t get stressed while she had her tantrum but the anxiety was there slightly and then, when we witnessed the tantrum carrying on (and, in fact, getting worse!) with the FC it made us feel much more confident. It wasn’t just us she was having tantrums with, it wasn’t us who were upsetting her. I think that was my first turning point. I felt in control of my emotions again. I didn’t feel like I was going mad.

We then went to our midway meeting to discuss how things were going and to sign parental/medical consent forms. That went really well but I felt anxiety raise its ugly head again and I actually felt like I was shaking while I was talking. The FC talked sense in to me later by saying that it was the last time that we would be under any huge scrutiny. Even though the social workers will carry on coming to our house for some time after she moves in, that was the “last official, formal scrutiny we will have to experience”. And I think she was right. After the meeting we walked out and something had happened to me. I felt more confident, more my old self and with an ounce of happiness creeping back. The FC left us to our own devices and we went for a walk in a park. As we walked off our daughter was screaming (tantrum!) but we just carried on walking and she soon calmed down. We found a lovely shady spot in the park and ate pasties (the FC had treated us) and she had cheese straws. Out of the buggy she loved it on the grass with us. She chewed her straws, played peek-a-boo with my husband (around me I might add – I became an object to hide behind!) and then she started trying to do a roly poly! It was so lovely and it all started to click in to place. I thought “I can do this, I can love this”.

We then decided to get her back in her buggy and we were dreading it because we knew this was when she’d scream again…..but she didn’t! We made a decisions to just “get on with it” and I think that was the key because she didn’t bother. She had her water bottle and her teddy (which we brought for her on the first day) and was quite happy to sit in there, looking around. I punched the air with jubilation! And even more so when we managed to get her in to the car seat without any fuss either. The best was yet to come because, as we started driving to our next planned destination (a nature park for a walk) she fell fast asleep in her seat. She’d been dancing away to the music which we’d put on (very cute!) and the next time I turned around she’d fallen asleep. So we just had a lovely, calm, relaxed 45 minute drive around the countryside and took it all in. We had a relaxed, trusting and happy little girl with us and it melted our hearts.

The rest of the day went really well. We got back to the FC’s and carried on with the day as we had been previously. We also chose her clothes which she’s bringing with her and her toys so they can be here when she arrives tomorrow. Her FC is sending her with lots of all her things and this is going to really help her settle and feel ‘at home’.

We also went to the supermarket before heading home to pick up loads of her favourite foods for the same reason, to make her feel secure and homely. All in all it’s been a lovely, positive day. So different from how I felt 2 days ago and I really hope it continues.

And as we drove off she was smiling her head off at us! 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

Introductions Day 3

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Today was slightly better than yesterday but my anxiety levels are still sky high.

We’ve had another lovely day with our LO but there are elements that I just don’t seem able to cope with. One of the main things being that she is coming to me more than my husband. That’s very normal, for all children be them birth child or adopted, but it really makes it very hard if you feel for each other and care about how the other one is feeling. My husband has reassured me that he’s fine with how things are panning out but that doesn’t stop me from feeling scared, guilty, bad. We spent quite a bit of time on our own with her today and she was an absolute star but all I felt was sadness. I felt so low I just couldn’t see how I was ever going to enjoy her in our lives. How could I feel like that after going through this whole process for a whole year and then not want what we’ve done this all for at the end of it? I didn’t feel any excitement, no happiness, just gloomy and sad and down and like I wanted to say “stop this right now, I don’t want to carry on with this, I can’t do it, I don’t want to give my life up, I am never going to be happy again”.

But then I took to twitter. And my lovely friends on there (people I have met, solely through twitter who I feel I can now call friends – aka “Sanity Savers”!) really helped. I tweeted a very honest account of what I was feeling and I got such wonderful advice and honesty back that I felt a shift, ever so slight, in how I was feeling. I wasn’t going mad. It was ok to feel all the things I was feeling. It’s normal to feel everything I was feeling. Some people came back and said what I was feeling happened on day 4 of intros, others said it was on the 1st day. They told me that I had to look after myself, that we had to keep talking honestly and openly with each other. They told me I was normal. I read all their responses out to my husband who, although quieter about it, was obviously feeling similar (but maybe not as intensely) as me. In fact, the amazing messages I received helped us so much I’m going to quote them at some point when I get time (in 18 years time!) so I never forget them and for anyone else who feels the way I did over the last 2 days. I am very grateful for the family and friends who text me on a daily basis offering support but, in a situation such as this which is completely alien to all my friends, you need people in your life who just ‘know’ and ‘get it’.

To all my twitter buddies, quite simply, thank you xxx 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Introductions Day 2

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

I am writing this on the morning of the third day of introductions because I couldn’t face it last night.

I still can’t face it now to some degree but I felt, if I didn’t write it down now, I’d lose the feeling I’ve got forever. Not that that would be a bad thing. In fact, it would be a very good thing. But this process, and all of what we’re feeling, is our story and how we’re feeling is just as important as what’s happening. And last night I lost it. I felt dreadful. Scared, upset, panicked, worried. I actually had a mild panick attack once the light went out and my husband had to put it back on again to calm me down. I felt like we wouldn’t be able to do it. I felt we were losing our lives as we now know it. But what does that mean? We’ve been on this road for so long now I think you forget what you’re doing it for.

As I lay crying (sobbing) I wondered (out loud) why people  have children when they (certain people) moan about them all the time. I panicked that, once home, she’ll reject us but at the same time worried she won’t. I just, simply, wondered whether we can do this and whether we actually want to. The big difference, and I’ve been trying to explain this but not even understanding it myself until now, is that when you are pregnant you can’t back out, you have to see it through, all the way. But, when you’re adopting, you can back out at any time. And that is part of the problem. I wish I could have signed a legally binding document that said “This is it, there’s no turning back”. But, of course, that’s never going to happen because it wouldn’t be right. But how do you know if it’s right? This little girl is stunning. She’s fun, happy, contented, has obviously made a connection with us and we to her. We’ve bathed her, fed her, cuddled her, played with her. She’s sought both of us out for cuddles. To see her cuddle my husband was amazing, I was so pleased. Apparently that very rarely happens, where a child will go to both, and although she is coming to me a bit more she is going to him too. That’s another worry, what if when we get her home she only comes to one of us, that’s going to be so hard for both of us. All these things whirring and whirring around in my head. No wonder I had a panic attack last night.

It does not help that it’s the time of the month either (any of my family/friends reading this will know what I go through! – its horrendous!) so not only are my hormones all over the place but I’m in agony too and I feel really hot and very very bothered!……..And having typed that it’s made me think that maybe it’s not so different to actually having a baby anyway. Hot, bothered, panicked, in agony and hormones all over the place. It’s just that we’re going to end up with a fully formed, individual, characterful little person who (definitely) knows her own mind. And, oh my god, she’s beautiful.

Yesterday was intense, we were there for just under 8 hours and we had a lovely day with her but we didn’t get out of the house again in all that time. We sat with her, gave her lunch, bathed her (that was fantastic fun!) and then tried to put her to bed but she was having none of it so we brought her back down and she fell asleep on me for an hour. That was amazing, apart from the blood supply to my arm being completely cut off! We then had tea with her as well and left about an hour after that to her having a complete paddy because (we like to think) she didn’t want us to go. Lol Probably more for the fact she didn’t want to be picked up to wave goodbye to us!

And as we drove the long drive home that’s when my mind started whirring and I started feeling panicked. It hit me like a ton of bricks but came on very gradually and built up as we got closer to home and then *bang* it got me and I panicked and all those feelings came out. We are very tired which doesn’t help either. We feel jet lagged (very odd!) and it doesn’t help that we received a feisty text message from our SW which upset me (won’t go in to detail but it wasn’t a nice text to receive at the end of a very hard and very long day)

Having written all this down I do feel a bit calmer. I went on to twitter to chat with my amazing tweeps on there last night and they really helped, telling me my feelings were absolutely normal. I needed to hear it from people who know.

I’ve come downstairs, it’s 6am and I’m feeling a bit calmer. My lovely friend bought me a bottle of Neal’s Yard relaxing ‘Mothers bath oil’ but I’ve bypassed the bath and I’ve just lathered my arms and my chest with it and it’s actually worked! With a mixture of relaxing oil, writing, paracetamol, hot water bottle, a cuddle from the cat and my husband hugging me I think I’ll be ok.

And we’re taking her out today so it’ll be a different day and now……I can’t wait! 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

Hello! First Meeting….

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Today we met our daughter for the first time. 

It was a strange morning, a feeling of utter calmness yet deep fear, of what I do not know. As we drove towards the foster carers house we joked about other things, didn’t really talk about meeting her. What could we say, no use in analysing something that is so alien to us that we wouldn’t know where to start to imagine what it was going to be like.

As we arrived the foster carer answered the door and took us through to the back. We gave her a huge hug because we get on so well with her and we know how hard this is going to be for her, she’s absolutely brilliant and such a gorgeous person.

It was then that we saw the back of a little girls head, bobbling about while she played with her toys. The foster carer shouted her name and she turned around to see what all the fuss was about. She looked at us with big, brown, startled yet curious eyes and we melted. She came crawling round her toys to see who had arrived. We could tell, by the way she was looking at us, that she recognised is from the photos and photo album she’d had for the last 2 weeks. But couldn’t quite work out how she recognised us. She stayed with the foster carer, in her arms, for about ten minutes while we talked to her from a (small) distance. And then she made her move.

With help from the foster carer she walked towards me (stumbled – cute!) and then lent on my knee, cuddling and looking straight up at me, then at my husband, then back at me with a couple of backward glances at the FC just for a bit of reassurance. She stayed like that for about ten minutes, just looking up and staring. It was a magical moment, one that we will never forget. Her social worker was there when we arrived to take photos of us meeting and she caught that moment forever. I will be eternally grateful for that because, even though that moment will be burned in to our memories forever, we can now share that memory with our families and we can look back on it whenever we want. Gorgeous!

The rest of the afternoon was the most positive experience of the last 18 months of our lives running up to this moment. She allowed us to play with her, smiled, giggled, cuddled, sought comfort (having been whacked in the face by an extremely happy and friendly family dog!) but also kept seeking out the foster carer, which we took as a total positive. It’s a funny thing adoption, you actually don’t want a child to be too keen because it could mean attachment issues, but we felt the balance was just right and that the FC had done an absolutely sterling job of showing her our photos and talking about us.

We had lunch then and experienced her food enjoyment which was a joy in itself. She eats EVERYTHING! And loves tomatoes, carrots and cucumber. She also got rather a lot of it in her hair! She then had fruit followed by a bit of my chocolate eclair which, not surprisingly, she also loved!

We were there about 3 hours in total and we had a lovely time. We get on so well with the FC that everything about the day just felt very natural. We chatted about everything and our daughter just got involved with us. It was amazing!

The last thing we did, before we left, was put her to bed for her afternoon nap with a bottle. We took her up, put her in her cot, lay her down, walked out, shut the door and that was that! This FC has done such an incredible job!
I just want to get everything down, in print, so I never ever forget it! But I don’t think I will…..

The memory of meeting our daughter for the first time will be engraved in our memories forever! 

 

 

 

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

The Silly Things People Say

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

I wrote about this when I was having IVF and the silly things that people said to me then

I knew I’d get some people saying daft things when we eventually told people about our adoption plans and, to be fair, it probably hasn’t been quite as bad as the IVF comments. But, there are still some silly things said and I thought it would be good fun to get them down on here. I’m sure I will be adding more in the future.

“It’s not just adopted children, you never know what you’re going to get when you have a child, they could turn out any which way, you just don’t know.”

Although technically true this statement shows an utter lack of understanding of why children are adopted in the era that we live in now. “Yeah, you’re right” I tend to say in response because I can’t tell them what’s happened to our little girl and I find that really frustrating because actually what I want to say is this;

“Did you abuse your child, neglect your child, beat your child, starve your child, take drugs while you were pregnant, drink copious amounts of alcohol while pregnant, smoke while pregnant? Did you shout and scream at your partner while holding your baby every day without realising the damaging consequences of doing this? Were you beaten by your husband while you held your baby on a daily basis? Did you keep your baby in his or her cot for days on end in a filthy nappy while throwing pieces of toast in every now and again?…….No?”

I find it increasingly upsetting that people genuinely think that they can make sweeping statements about how children are going to be just because they think “all children are the same but, ultimately, different”. No, you don’t know how any child is going to be when they grow up but our children, adopted children, have a much bigger question mark over their heads and, unfortunately, it was completely out of our control.

 

“She’ll be fine, once she moves in she’ll forget all about her foster carer”

Very dismissive and flippant. Our little one will be 15 months old when she moves in with us, leaving the only “mummy” she’s ever known. No, she won’t ‘remember’ her in a few weeks or months and she, very likely, won’t remember her in 20 years time. But she will know, in the moment, that she’s frightened and scared and with 2 strangers.

*laughing* “You’ll soon be moaning when you’re not sleeping and tired!”

This one always shocks me, especially when it comes from people who know our situation. We have waited 3 years for this. If I was worried about being tired and having sleepless nights I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m actually really looking forward to it, as is my husband, and that includes the “fun” of sleepless nights, tiredness and all that goes with having children. We are doing an amazing thing and we’re going to love every single second!

“Is that what happened to her/him?”

Or, in other words, trying to guess what happened to your child. I find this the most frustrating. We can’t tell people what happened to our child, the main reason being that it’s none of their business. Most people have been Ok about me having to say “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that” but it is embarrassing being put in that situation. It’s not the asking that bothers me though, it’s when people say, a bit later on in the conversation when I’m giving examples of why children are taken in to care “is that what happened to her/him?” Having already told them I can’t tell them about our child’s history I then have to repeat myself. That’s when I get annoyed. It’s simply rude. And I’m normally having that conversation because I’m trying to explain why adopted children have more of a question mark over their development when they’ve made statement number 1 ^above^


“You’re not thinking of an older child are you because they……*fill gap in with crap they’ve read in the daily mail*

Basically, this one boils down to people who think they know it all about adoption and children who are adopted because they “know someone who knows someone” or they’ve just read a sensationalist story in the Daily Fail.

One woman, when I told her we were adopting, immediately asked this question about whether we were considering an older child and then rambled on, with feigned concern, about how many issues and problems an older child comes with. She also ‘enlightened’ me about drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect, the issues about taking on sibling groups and then proceeded to tell me about a “couple she knew” who’d adopted two children and they were “a handful and a nightmare”. At this point I wanted to ask her if she’d taken a good look at her own 3 children lately and if she realised what wild, rude, obnoxious, dirty individuals they were! I certainly wouldn’t be proud.

I also had this from another person who, immediately on hearing we were adopting, fired off a 20 minute story about a couple she knew who had adopted two boys and how they’d “turned out to be bad apples because they’re adopted”. She tore those boys apart for the 20 minutes I was subjected to, about how they’d stolen from their parents, been violent, taken drugs, disappeared for days when they were teens. All the while I was thinking, surely this isn’t ‘just’ because they’re adopted. And then in the last 5 minutes she told me how they were, in fact, brought up by a live in nanny because their parents had jobs where they worked away a LOT and they were never there. To me, that made more sense why they’d turned out the way they had but she put ALL their behaviour down to one, solitary fact…..they are adopted.

I’ve spoken to many “experts” along the way and it gets ever so slightly annoying but these 2 women have been the worst.

I want to just remind them that we’ve done more than any parent I know to prepare for this. An entire years worth of study. I’m not saying that that alone makes us experts either but we know a lot of the facts as prospective adopters and being told what is, basically, regurgitated chip paper material, is insulting.

And, oh, how I secretly hope these women stumble on my blog!

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Statutory Adoption Allowance

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Dear reader, please excuse me if I forget you are reading and rant…..I may very well do that right now. Brace yourselves!

Dear Mr Cameron,

I am self employed. I am adopting. I pay my taxes. I pay my class 4 National Insurance contributions of 9% and my class 2 voluntary – (*rolls eyes*) National Insurance contributions.

Yet I don’t get statutory adoption allowance of (at the time of press) £136.45 per week for up to 39 weeks. I get nothing. Nada. Diddly squat! I am the only section of society that doesn’t get this help which everybody else is entitled to.

If I was an employed birth mother I would get it.

If I was an employed adopter I would get it.

If I was a self employed birth mother I would get it.

And, if I was on benefits, paying no tax and not working then I would get something.

But, because I am self employed and adopting I do not get it.

Total anomaly in the system.

Every single person I know has had it. People on more money than me. People who don’t really ‘need’ it – not that I begrudge them….Oh, ok, maybe a bit…..but only because I don’t get it.

I wrote to you [David Cameron] I had my letter hand delivered to 2 MP’s in the houses of parliament by the CEO of Adoption Uk. I wrote to my local MP. And all I got back was a letter saying that they “knew about the situation” but that they “weren’t going to do anything about it”

Nice.

They even suggested that we go to the local authority of where our child is from and ask them for the money…but that this would be means tested. We’ve just been assessed and because we’ve got savings we aren’t entitled to any help from them either. Talk about passing the buck. But, as I believed, maternity pay isn’t means tested….is it? And I’m almost certain that the people I know who have received maternity pay have also got savings!

Total and utter discrimination.

Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT going to change our mind about adopting….as one department that our social worker had to deal with suggested. How crass and disgusting that they even imply that not getting £136 per week would make us turn our back on a little girl who, even before matching panel, we’ve fallen totally in love with already. But, to me, that shows the lack of understanding and, actually, how these people think is all wrong.

All we’re asking for is what everybody else is entitled to. We’re not asking for much. The numbers are so small that it’s barely going to register in the expenses of the government towards maternity/paternity/adoption pay – but maybe that’s why they’re not bothered about us self employed adopters, not enough voices to be heard! And if one more person tells me that we’re (the country) short of money which is why they’re probably not going to change it I suggest they give me their maternity pay…..they’d soon be moaning!

I suppose, as one government/local authority website stated, we can;

“look on the brightside, I can have as much time off as I want”

*grabs hair and runs round in circles screaming*

 

 

 

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Matching Panel Questions

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

As we sat down in front of the 8 people on the matching panel my main concerns were that we would answer ‘correctly’ and that I wouldn’t faint

Fortunately, the fainting didn’t happen and, because the chair woman had already told us what they were going to talk about, we were prepared. This is when we realised just how important it was to have been completely honest and open throughout the entire process. We feel you have to be approved on your own merit, not just by what we thought they wanted to hear.

They asked us several things:

Uncertainty
The main question they asked was about the uncertainty that our daughter may (or may not) face because of different factors that she has experienced. This is not uncommon for adopted children unfortunately. Gone are the days where babies are “relinquished” (hate that word) by young, unmarried Mothers who would have, in fact, been fantastic Mothers had it not been for their embarrassed, forceful families making them give up their precious babies. There are a lot of factors involved now, in adoption. Adoption now involves a lot of negative behaviours from neglect and abuse to drugs and alcohol, as well as a lot of other negative factors, and we just don’t know how these will effect adopted children in their future. I believe, as a prospective adoptive parent, if you can’t accept uncertainty then how can adoption be the right thing for you or, more importantly, the child. For us, we are as prepared as we can be for any uncertainty that might arise in the future but we can’t predict what might happen. All we can be prepared for is to do all we possibly can to help our daughter if anything does start to show up in the future. We’re jumping in, feet first, with eyes wide open!

Social media
The second most important issue we discussed was about social media and how we were going to protect ourselves, and our daughter, from it. We agreed (a while ago) that we would change our surnames (already done it!) and that there would never be any photos put anywhere on the internet, ever…by us anyway. We’ve still to ask our friends never to put photos on facebook but, if they do, to never ever tag us in them and certainly never to geo tag us in anything. We are never going to use her real name on any social media platform and, so far, everyone is “getting it”. I have never used her name on facebook, I’ve never even used the word “adoption” on there so we can’t be linked with anything, and so I expect people to follow suit. One person did use her name so I deleted it straight away and politely explained why. This got me thinking and we’ve decided to start calling our daughter a pet name on facebook so people can do the same. One of my lovely twitter buddies helped us with that one and we love it! She needs to be protected for as long as possible. Unfortunately, facebook is a minefield for adoption so we’ve just got to do all we can to prevent anything happening without losing that support platform (facebook really ‘works’ for me) and this is the best way to do it. We’re going old school again and going back to printing! Of course, we will be emailing certain photos to certain family members who live a long way away but, at the moment, I’ve only done that with one photo and to one person and I made it very clear in the email that the photo was not to be shared with anyone, anywhere other than by printing it out and showing it to people. Stick in the mud? Maybe. Safe? Absolutely!

Managing introductions to family and friends
They also asked about other people, family and friends, and how we were going to manage how and when they meet our daughter for the first time. We explained that we’d be on our own for at least the first few days and then slowly introduce our parents over time. We’ve decided on having a plan which can (and will, if we need to) be changed at the last moment. Then, at least for the first 2 or 3 weeks, the only people she will see are us and her grandparents. We will then introduce people very very slowly and for very short moments (cup of tea and a piece of cake anyone?!) We are both taking a substantial amount of time off together (6 weeks) so we both have that chance to bond with her and she to us. I’m hoping this will give her time to be upset/scared about leaving the only person she’s ever known and to give us the time to deal with it so both of us can give her comfort, love and security without one of us not being able to be there for her. People have been saying to me, when I try and explain how important this time is going to be for us to all bond, that adopted children aren’t ‘more’ important than a new born baby when it’s brought home and the Dad has to go back to work after 2 weeks. I’m going to clarify now that I have never said they [adopted children] are “more” important but I certainly think that their situation is more sensitive than a birth baby and needs to be dealt with very differently. A newborn baby has no idea if there are 20 people visiting per day. Yes, the parents do and I think it’s still a nightmare for new parents to be bombarded with visitors. But throw in to the mix a 15 month old who has been taken away from the only person she’s ever known you don’t have to be a genius to understand that we have to get this right, for her. So having this time off, together, mostly on our own with her, is crucial.

The cat
Finally, they asked about our cat. This was very straight forward as all they wanted to know was if our daughter was allergic to cats and we’d already been told she lives with 2 cats and a dog. After we answered that one it was done and dusted!

Acknowledgments
As well as the questions we discussed in panel they also acknowledged a few things about us, which was really lovely. They acknowledged the supportive families that we have and the diversity we have experienced in our families including disabilities and adoption. They were very happy about our financial stability, that they saw we are hard workers and hard savers and that we’d got a ‘cushion’ if anything went wrong.
They also acknowledged the experience we had with children and the extra experience we’d gained from going to a nursery for 5 sessions together. They also discussed our daughters progress and how she was developing which is all looking very positive.

And that was that. I think we were in there for about 30 minutes but it could have been 2 hours. I wouldn’t put money on it….but then we’re not the betting sort anyway! ;)

 

 

 

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

 

Matching Panel Day

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Today was matching panel day. I woke up at 6:30 in the morning….feeling sicker than I have done so far! 

I was petrified, at the same time as being strangely calm. I’ve had all sorts of things whirring around my head thinking what it’s going to be like, what they’re going to ask us, how they’re going to be with us. I ran through scenarios in my head that involved us walking in and being scowled at with nobody smiling and then being barked at with questions that would ‘test’ us and trip us up on purpose.

How silly was I being? Very!

The anxiety I felt for the couple of months running up to this day was, quite literally, all for nothing. They loved us….and we loved them!

It was, possibly, one of the most positive experiences we’ve ever had. They were warm, friendly, kind and welcoming. Of course, it helped that we’d been totally honest and open throughout the entire process about ourselves, our lives and everything in between so we simply didn’t have anything to hide….or hide behind! And they were really lovely about our support network and found lots of lovely positive things about us, our lives, our relationship and family diversity.

Our matching panel time slot was in the afternoon and so I thought we’d be waiting around, not knowing what to do. But in the end it was nice just to be able to get up and potter around without feeling rushed. We arrived at the building where the panel was going to be held about half an hour before we were due to be seen. That was good too as we could sit and “relax” (yeah right! – but we did pick up some odd magazines to read which took our minds off what was about to happen!)

Our social worker then turned up and then the little one’s social workers turned up along with a couple of others. It was all quite relaxed and it was a nice time to sit and look through the little one’s Life Story book which we were really touched by. The social worker who has written and created it has done such a wonderful job. We then looked at some more photos and chatted a bit about what they thought they would be asking. We were waiting for about 40 minutes in total but, actually, the panel were only running 15 minutes later than expected.

When the chair woman came to greet us she came in to the room and I immediately felt a lot more relaxed. She was the loveliest lady. Very welcoming, friendly, smiley and came straight over to us and shook our hands. She asked us how we were doing and I said I might faint! She laughed…..thank goodness!

She then told us how positive they thought the match was. She even said that it was one of the most straight forward she’d  seen and that they had very few questions for us. This made us feel really positive from the start and, I think, helped us relax and deal with being in the panel room more than I ever thought we would. She went on to tell us what they would be asking and what they wanted to talk about, so that was a great preparation for before we walked in to ‘that’ room!

We were all then taken to the room where there were a panel of 8 people, so including our group there were a total of 15 people in there. The entire panel of people were lovely. We went around the room introducing ourselves and every one of them was really smiley and friendly. What a big difference it makes to have that connection with the people who are going to decide your future.

What was so lovely about how they asked us questions was that it wasn’t really aimed at us like questions. It was more like a discussion, which is how it should be, I think. It made us feel a part of it rather than outsiders having to defend ourselves. Everything just went so smoothly and calmly and we really got in to our stride with it. Afterwards our SW said how proud she was of us which made our day.

They then sent us out for a little while (5 minutes…..seemed like hours!) and called us back in for them to tell us the decision. The entire experience could not have gone better. It exceeded my expectations and I wish I hadn’t worried so much through the weeks/months leading up to it, but then that’s just me. They even wished me a happy birthday (strangest birthday ever!) and we went for a drink with our SW afterwards.

And in the end?…………….

The match was approved…..and I didn’t faint! 

 

 

 

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved