Newsletters as a “home ed project”

Finding therapeutic parenting strategies that work is so imperative to life with adopted children, not least because they need to not feel like they are “bad” or “naughty”; you’ll likely find that most adopted children have at some point felt like they are inherently “bad” and that it’s their fault that they can’t live with their birth parents. And that certainly is the case in our house!

Logan in particular struggles to see the good in himself, I mean, Caitlin does struggle with it but she does have rational moments where she can see her try self. Logan is barely able to see anything good about himself at all. And if you can’t see the good in yourself, you surely cannot value the good of other people. And if you cannot value the good of other people, you cannot feel the love given to you and accept that good things happen to you at the hands of other people.

This causes us no end of battles, we do lots of positive things with Logan and Caitlin. And so we have (read “I”) have been thinking of ways to reiterate the positives with him. And as we don’t see the Grandparents often and the children love having pen pals, we decided to make it so that the children write a newsletter of the things they have been up to each month to the Grandparents.

They have to look through the photos of what they have been up to in a month, and then select their favourites and provide a caption for each one. The selection process really forces him to be faced with a concentrated whack of “Wow! Mumma sure has arranged a lot of fun stuff for us this month…” and it’s hoped that the reiteration if that message in his brain will allow him to remember that positives are occurring from outside sources. They then write a “paragraph” in the cover letter (literally a sentence or two) on the laptop so are getting familiar with the keyboard. And if we have done something special in the month (Halloween being the last one) we do a “special” on it together.

On top of this, the grandparents send the kids a challenge each month. It could be something academic (like a book review), something craft-based (making a dream catcher), something physical (going for a walk), something nature based (counting bugs/birds), research based (finding out who the Wombles are). Anything, in short.

And everyone wins. The kids get a lot of therapeutic feedback, and reminders of how good things are now. Despite the stress of actually getting the task done, I get a lot of positive back from the children and I inadvertently get to see how they are coming along (caption creativity, spelling, memor). And the Grandparents, who see us infrequently get some insight as to what we are up to.

Below are some examples of challenges they have had to get up to.

Aching muscles, processing pain.

It’s hard for Caitlin to understand pain. Well, her and Logan both in all honesty, but her more so. When she first came to live with us I remember her being jabbed with 2 needles and not even knowing if it had happened. She genuinely asked me if they had done it yet. Or when she fell over, she might cry as a shock reaction, or even have a panic attack if it triggered a violent body memory. But she never could express, or recognise the pain.

Slowly through melodrama, lots of plasters and overreactions on her behalf, and lots of sensory input about soft touch. She’s started to recognise these things. So, when she was younger, and her mobility and muscular issues were still an unknown problem, she wasn’t able to alert anyone. However, she’s able to tell us about her aching muscles a little more now. Not always in time for us to be able to prevent her getting too bad, but significantly more than previously.

This weekend, she tested her climbing frame, she had a few falls, she was running back and forth, we have steep stairs. It all adds up. I look at it like someone on a diet – if you have had a fat slab of cheesecake, you can’t really get away with a sneaky glass of wine and a bar of chocolate, hips don’t lie! 😉 For her, each activity would be representative of food. Walking on the flat, whilst wearing supportive shoes and her orthotics is relatively low impact. And whilst she cannot walk on the flat indefinitely, it’s not the most taxing. Going up and down stairs is like a having something out if a box of chocolates, in moderation is ok. Rock climbing, soft play, the park… These things are all like the fat slab of cheesecake, you can technically have the other bits with them but “hips don’t lie” (in this case her muscles) and so she’s woken up today on the wrong end of activity binge.

This morning we have had tears, screams, drama. Today is going to be low activity, low impact. Wheelchair restricted when out, sofa/bath restricted at home. These are the days people don’t see. That people say I exaggerate for my “life of luxury”. I’d give up any of the things to not have to see her suffer, to watch her be included at the same level as her peers. But for today, I’ll just give her what she needs. Rest and nurture.