Therapy Camp

Well, we have had the most amazing time at camp. Exhausting but amazing.

We had gone because the children needed to have SAI (Sensory Attachment Intervention) assessments done. These are assessments which will go beyond a standard Occupational Therapist assessment and tap into specialist attachment knowledge to try and identify which areas flagged are likely to need sensory intervention and which may need physical support etc. We don’t have a report as of yet, but it is obvious from what they are saying that there are several areas which will require attention.

We met several other adoption families, the and due to the group nature of much of the day, I hope you will forgive my reluctance to share much in the way of information from the camp, but I am not sure how much is safe to share.

I will say, besides our individual family sessions we had group Music Therapy, Art Therapy, family and adult group yoga, adult sessions, children’s farm walks and bug hunting. The children had loads of time and opportunity to interact with other adopted children and all the adults had the chance to not care what other people would be saying – adoption and attachment related behavioural issues are just “the norm”: regression, aggression, lack of concentration, fleeing… no matter what, just children, being themselves, and parents doing their best job to parent the trauma they have.

 

Hoop Jumping: Endurance and pitfalls

Things have been intense here, hence silence… but it’s because of an appointment that was sprung on us. One we have been waiting for, but was arranged quite last minute.

 

So we left our house at 7:30 in the morning to go to a private clinic (90 minutes away from our house) for a Theraplay based assessment as a family. The week that led up to the appointment I had to fill out 19 documents to print and fill in, in order to attend the appointment. The appointment I have been thoroughly fighting for, for over a year. But, actually, I’ve been saying was needed for the best part of 18-24 months. It was intensive and lasted for over 5 hours.
The therapists witnessed stuff I have been screaming for two years. Although, we haven’t had an in-depth feedback because, as I have been saying, BOTH CHILDREN have extensive and complex issues. And, it would be too exhausting for us (as parents) to go through it on top of the day’s assessments (which are inherently designed to create stress for both child and parent, to be able to try and get to the most natural stress response from you and child). Plus, there are added sensory issues which need to be screened for and discussed before the feedback can fully take place. And the children were already far too stressed out, tired and about to break (visibly) to stay longer than absolutely essential.

 

They saw that the issues for Caitlin are based in fear and she’s coming out of “withdraw” stage (not to be confused with withdrawal) so she’s learning to go into fight mode rather than freezing and shutting down. She’s not the happy child everyone sees. She’s inherently sad and needs so much attention, support, guidance and love.
Logan – complex, and as close a quote as I can muster “the outward boy people see, the responses and reactions he gives are not reflective to how he feels”. Yes, that means, that when I have said that the compliance, polite manner, hugs, kisses, compliments, agreement/requests to take part in activity, etc. are fake and I was right. And each time people have fed into this and complimented him for it, or talked me down in front of him for it they have fed him the idea that this is somewhat fine to do. It’s fine to be fake and comply even when you don’t want to. Even when you are denying your true self. Even when you are making yourself feel insecure. Because it pacifies other people’s needs. And when you make them happy, they are less likely to hurt you. To shout at you. To intimidate you.

 

Although I don’t have full feedback, I have professionals who have said the major points to me

  • That they both have complex needs
  • That for Logan, this is having a negative impact on the way our relationship is building (which is why I started screaming for the help in the first place, I could see where it was headed)
  • That Logan’s emotions are fake, and almost all of his given actions and reactions are fake too
  • That Caitlin is just as emotionally worn down as he is, and it is just displayed in a different way
  • That both have sensory issues

So just to make it clear, everyone who shut me down and said “it’s normal kid stuff”, “all kids are like this”, “nope, this is how all mum’s feel”… they don’t – this again was talked about briefly today. Most mums aren’t battling sleeping, eating, toiletting, learning, anxiety, attachment, separation and self harming issues, teenage-level-identity-crisis (in children under 8 years old), adult issues (in child friendly format). And to top it all off, having to co sleep, without actually getting sleep, having to home educate as the school system is ill-equipped to deal with the issues, and getting very little respite.
Our life is hard. Our support is very thin on the ground. And yes I am angry. I am angry I had to fight so hard. I am angry that they’ve had to stay “in trauma mode” for longer than necessary. I am angry that I have been put down by so many people that are supposed to be there for us. I am angry that we have reached this point. Angry that I have been made to feel lonely. But most importantly, that we aren’t the only family that are in this situation. I know of at least 3 others primary caregivers (of adopted children) who in a similar emotional state to me. And that’s without prying too hard. And if you don’t believe what I am saying about it being akin to a crisis (and not normality) a national adoption organisation (Adoption UK) are saying the same… see here, over a quarter of adoptive families are in severe difficulty, or bordering on disruption (basically, placement breakdown).

 

That’s not to say we don’t love our children. Hell, if we didn’t I think we’d have chucked in the towel as soon as we got them. Adoption is hard from day 1. It doesn’t need to stay hard with the right support. But with everyone shirking responsibility and chucking you from department to department “nope this child is adopted, placing authority have to pay for this intervention”, “nope, it’s not covered by the adoption support plan AND it’s not something the adoption support fund will pay out for, try your GP”, “Nope, only the community Pediatrician can approve that”, “Nope, Pediatrics can not authorise such things, only CAMHS can do that”, “Nope CAMHS wouldn’t take on this case, it’s for Pediatrics to look at and decide what to do”, “Nope, Pediatrics definitely cannot even talk to you about this, talk to your placing adoption authority, it’s their responsibility”. And so around it goes.

 

People moaning (and saying) that children who aren’t adopted are in the same situation aren’t understanding that an adopted child is in trauma mode – until such time as they are being supported in all essential areas. Until their parents have sufficient respite to keep themselves functioning at a level where they can effectively deliver therapeutic parenting techniques. Until they are in a position where their identity is not just tolerated, but embraced and an open topic. This means that it’s not just an issue of “not getting the appointment” it’s an issue of keeping a child in a prolonged state of vulnerability, prolonging the emotional state and reaffirming their already strong brain patterns of distrust of adults, low self-worth and their inability to belong and be loved.

 

This appointment has brought about positive results. But I am angry. And I am sad. Why should they have waited until now? Why should we, as adoptive parents, have to watch them suffer for so long? Why should we have to fight so hard to get the help? This appointment doesn’t even mean we WILL get help, it just means we’ve jumped through yet another hoop on the way to getting there.

 

Exhausted. Angry. Tired. Lonely.