The Gap… Part 2: Winter ’19-Spring 20

Out hardest part of the year is always the last couple of months as birthdays (which trigger the children), Halloween (which scares Caitlin as she still has that young belief that things are real – and the props and decoration could burst into life and get her), fireworks (sensory nightmare) and Advent/Christmas (mega trauma trigger) occur. So to combine that with the aftermath of a safeguarding enquiry (see The Gap… Part 1) whilst fighting the LA for funding for the perfect school. UGH! If I wasn’t burnt out enough already, these months definitely added fuel to the fire! The LA were shocking. Delays, saying one thing toy face and doing another in action.

My sanity was saved by our Post Adoption Social Worker; this type of social worker can be referred to as a Family Support Worker because of the stigma attached to the phrase “Social Worker” but that is what they are, Social workers, however they aren’t there to judge the safety of the family (although they would definitely need to report and relay any safeguarding concerns) they are the contact point for support following the placement and adoption of a child. In some circumstances they will have very little contact with the families they are allocated to as they family are able to go on as normal. However, in cases like ours they may need to be heavily involved as the children’s needs require a high level of support and intervention that can only be arranged through post adoption services. She attended meetings with me, visited me frequently between meetings and generally acted as a sounding board, the fact that she was hearing and seeing the same discrepancies and lies from the LA and was as frustrated with the situation as I was made it easier to keep fighting for sure. And I have no doubt in my mind that her letter/email to the LA tipped the balance for us gaining funding. The letter wasn’t something she had to do, but was something I had asked her for, I never saw it but I know it highlighted the cost of a therapeutic foster placement on top of the school placement and pointed out that I was doing the job of multiple people with no respite… so at some point a family breakdown was inevitable and that was why we were so intent on fighting against it now. And I know she personally spoke to the LA’s SEND team on multiple occasions to fight on our behalf.

Mess ups within Logan’s process means I managed to back them into a legal corner, to avoid court (which I would have won as I had clear evidence of a lack of legally required action from them) they agreed to a tutor for him whilst the continued investigation, and hunt for suitable school provision occurred.

After 6+ months of fighting Caitlin got her placement at the school. She had about 4-6 2 hour transition sessions of school and then… BAM! Pandemic!

The Gap… Part 1: Summer-Autumn 19

So I’m back… A couple of posts over the coming days will explain my absence, some changes will be made to our blog and much news and updating necessary! Here we begin…

With all the issues surrounding the children’s needs (lack of sleep, high maintenance behaviour issues, needing constant 24 hour supervision, the fact there’s 2 of them and only 1 of me) combined with home education and so forth I was fast burning the candle at both ends. I was screaming for additional support, in terms of respite really. I didn’t mind how that respite came so long as the children’s needs were front and centre; I don’t mean that the person/people looking after them paid them and only them attention, I mean that the actual function of the respite was beneficial for the children and a consequence of whatever it was meant that I got a break, rather than me getting a break and the children dealing with the consequences. However, as they couldn’t attend regular classes and groups unsupervised, I needed professional input.

For example, if they were able to attend a class, special needs group or even an alternate provision where they didn’t need me to supervise then activity would be for and about them, but I wouldn’t need to be there. But I needed someone with the correct level of skill and understanding regarding Logan and Caitlin’s needs, no easy feat.

It was fruitless and disheartening. They aren’t the only children out there with these needs, why was it impossible to access services and support? That’s another debate entirely which I shall side step and maybe come back to on another day.

But… A random Google search (something I do often when trying to do fathom what my brain is trying to figure out) brought up a school one with a more therapeutic approach. I visited, it seemed perfect! No other school (in a reasonable distance) had the same approach and level of understanding, combined with a low impact sensory environment, flexibility to adapt curriculum based on emotional state, and individualised curriculum pathways to ensure that all needs of both children would be met. Their approach to behaviour management mirrored my own beliefs and strategies. And after less than 5 minutes in room with my children, the said “what lovely children” (initial internal reaction “here we go, another person who sees their charm and is fooled by it”) but it was immediately followed up with “but they are very anxious aren’t they?” (Hoooooray! She can see past the superficial front). Also, the kids were hesitant to leave the building. They had been separated from me in a new building, with a new adult whilst I had a tour and a chat. Not only did they not want to leave, but when we did they were not dysregulated!!!

So that was it, I knew I had to fight to get in… But in the interim a safeguarding enquiry had been thrown against me all blown out of proportion by a community organisation who simply did not have the training to understand what they were seeing with my children.and through a process of asking leading questions they built up a case against us. An accident lead to an injury, albeit an avoidable one, but definitely not something that was intended and that was enough for them to start a witch hunt about how unsafe I was as a parent. The level they had presented it at to Social Services called for immediate investigation as to whether the children were safe to remain in a home with me. It was all very unsettling for them (and unpleasant for me). And whilst our therapy team were able to step in and point out discrepancies and the whole safeguarding enquiry was thrown out pretty quickly, it didn’t stop the damage that had been done to the children; whilst the children were able to remain with us in the initial stages, they understood what was happening and were scared they were leaving the only place that had actually felt safe.

And so began the challenge: fight the LA for funding for the school and settle the children back into the sense of safety and permanency they had found with us.

30 Days Wild – Day 7

So… Ummmmmm…. Yeah….

Day 7. We enjoyed some time outdoors… We laughed and we tried to kill eachother…

We had a go at the Da Vinci bridge.

Turns out it’s quite difficult, especially with a child that is incapable of understanding instructions I mean quite literally can’t take them in), and one that is but has no strength… And with bent knobbly branches. But we tried. And got covered in dirt.

One to retry when Bruce is about… And with the wood I couldn’t get to in the cellar… Hehehe

Raw, unfiltered, unedited: Sleep deprivation and manipulation.

Another night of no sleep with a child refusing to, in order to manipulate and control. A fear response. They aren’t in control, they are not safe, an adult cannot provide safety.

So manipulate adults in to getting what you want (note, the want and not need there). What they need is sleep… not this strained and stressful rubbish night after night. What they need is a sense of security in the knowledge that it’s safe to hand over control to an adult, not maintaining control and manipulation. What they need is understanding, compassion and time.

How as a human being can you be expected to provide a constant source of nurture and attention, patience and tolerance, empathy and understanding when you are so utterly and completely burnt out?

I don’t know the answer, I search for it daily. I wish I knew it. I want to be that person. But I feel you have to almost be a robot to not get weighed down by the exhaustion of the lack of sleep. The mental exhaustion of having to untangle these levels of trauma daily. The physical exhaustion that comes from the mental exhaustion of the day. Then the exhaustion that comes from other people and lack of understanding or compassion (or even will to understand the situation, or accept your words at face value). You can’t provide that nurture as a robot though. So in short, you can’t provide it. So you are setup to fail surely?

There is a term “good enough parenting” the name of the person it belongs to escapes me, I’m tired and I have no energy to search… This is an “in the moment” post. Raw, unplanned and developing with my thoughts, but the name Winnicott comes to my mind. Effectively you don’t need to be perfect, you can be flawed, be human, and not provide more than they need. But I do question it in our example. I mean, I’m confident that you don’t have to be a perfect parent to be the best type of parent… But it appears that even if we are perfect 99% of the time, the level of trauma our child has experienced means they ignore (or can’t retain) what you HAVE done, just what you haven’t. And it gets stored up and we’re held to ransom over it.

Would have helped if we’d had early intervention with therapy. But the Adoption Support Fund application wasn’t forthcoming, or rather the application process was not only not forthcoming but convoluted and shrouded in politics that it took ages to get approval once we finally did get it underway. I can see how therapy may help. But, it’s quite late in the day to start. I for one need to go in fresh and motivated. I’m barely motivated to poop when I need to, cause “effort”, let alone attend 3-4 hour intensive and exhausting therapy sessions. But hey, that’s the state of Adoption & Mental Health Services these days right?

And self care could help with the motivation I’m told… Well, if so many professionals hadn’t messed up consequently leading my child to see, even though they can’t trust me wholly, I’m definitely the person that understands them the most, so keep them feeling the least vulnerable and the most safe. Perhaps I’d be in a position to separate and go fill my cup up. But, alas, here we are.

In the meantime I’m left like a tyre with a slow puncture, after almost 3 years of deflating I’m more flat than inflated. But I get a little bit of air added now and again, not enough to fill me back up, but enough to just keep rolling a little bit longer, sometimes depleting that top up and a little more before the next lot. Rolling onward, focussed on the destination and ignoring the miles still to go. (Cause I would just explode if I had to think about it).

Anyhow. This is how it is to think and feel when living these moments. My raw, uncut thoughts and feelings. In my exhaustion. Just here trying to provide a little insight (not complain) over what it means to parent a child of complex needs and such trauma.

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas day this year was kept relatively small – it had to be, we were going away and had to fit everything in our boot.

It meant that we were literally left with stuff from Santa and our stockings. Everything else given before we came away was opened ahead of time. Anything else had to wait until we were back.

The plan: lock ourselves away in the lodge, interact with no one else. Take it easy.

It worked. Well, there was some mummy-ninja style morning action; the children are scared to get themselves out of bed for any needs to be met at night, or even in the morning. So after going to the loo, I played some sleigh bells on my phone by their door… it didn’t get them moving. So from the side, I managed to flick their door ajar, and run back to my bed and pretend to be asleep. That got their attention and they actually managed to brave investigating themselves. And discovering that “santa had been”.

Not knowing how Christmas day would go, I prepped all the food the night before. Everything then became a relaxed leisurely doddle.

We opened presents at our own pace. We ate and moved and dressed and crafted and played at our own pace. No pressure from the outside world. And soon enough it was bed time.

Bed time posed some problems, as having such a positive day left the children cotemplating. For Logan, all we could get out of him was that he missed our cat – that’s the only loss he’ll openly deal with – that was indisputably beyond his control. But according to his logic, everything bad that’s happened to him (aside from our kitty’s death) could be, or is, his fault. For Caitlin, it’s confusion or frustration over why we can’t be her birth parents, or why her birth parents couldn’t “sort themselves out” and be her parents – why did she have to change families? or why couldn’t he just have been our daughter from the start?

So we zipped off on the golf buggy, around the tournament field, through puddles, under stars. We filled our lungs with fresh country air and giggled and got wet. And then went home to bed. So far, it has been our best Christmas as a family.