Saturday, 15 October 2016

3 months on

In many ways it is odd to think that it's been 3 months since we met our little man. It feels like forever and no time at all.

This last month has been very challenging, school has had a huge impact on his behaviour at home. We have seen extreme physical and emotional outbreaks as he has struggled to control his emotions and tries to control as much as he can.

We had a meeting with the head of CAHMS and he offered some great advice about how to deal with the emotional breakdowns. In essence he said to "not care so much" - obviously we still care for him and stay present when he is upset but we are trying to stay calm and not take it personally. With our LO he seems to occasionally need to have a good vent of frustration. We have also started to exercise him more after school to run off the excess energy. These changes have started to have an impact, he struggled with the change but it has made the big meltdowns much easier. We have daytime star charts and a bedtime chart. These allow him to stay focuses on good behaviour and not be reminded of bad behaviours - previously we had been "loosing privileges" now it's "good behaviour gets good stuff". We also only focus on four "rules" - follow instructions, be kind, be calm and be gentle. (We need to add in be honest as there are some issues around telling the truth!)

There have been some lovely moments, he is very funny and says some amazing things, watching him improving at swimming and cycling has been great. Seeing him sing and dance to his favourite songs is wonderful (currently mika's lollipop - take a listen and imagine it multiple times daily!). he is an oddly brilliant child and I can see the sort of boy he could grow into if we are able to help restore some of the damage done from his early life experience.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

2 months

i have consciously chosen to step back from blogging since LO came home with us. This has been for two reasons, safeguarding concerns are the main reason but also wanting his journey not to be detailed online. I could have blogged most days about the ups and downs but it feels wrong for me to write so much about him without his choosing to be involved.

So I have decided to keep updating with catch up blogs to hopefully help others looking into the process and also to keep some sort of timeline for us in the future to look back on.

We have known our little man for 2 months and I'm not sure we really remember life before him. When he moved in we had a few nights of extreme behaviors  at bedtime but that settled fairly quickly and after a few weeks he was sleeping well and settling into family life. There were testing times but they felt like "normal" summer holiday tantrums/tiredness. Then as we built up to going to school his anxiety came back and we had issues around bedtime again, the difference was we also had issues during the day. Short, quickly to resolve and move on but he was very stressed about new school. It didn't help that every day there seemed something else to get or sort out for school so he was always thinking about it - and his old school/life. Term has now started and we are at the end of week 2. Bedtimes are settling (introduced a superstar bedtime chart, 4 points to get a superstar night, starting at bath time- follow instructions, be kind, be gentle, be calm) the reward chart seems to focus him and we hope to continue with it. He is doing well at school and coping better with mainstream education. We are all getting to know each other better and Ben and I are getting better at finding time to talk and connect with each other.

At LO worst (spitting, swearing, throwing and screaming) it's been very difficult and exhausting, I have sat on the floor of his bedroom with him in a bear hug tying to get him to calm down thinking "will this ever get better". But it does, he calms and we chat and laugh and hang out and he is great fun.

Adoption is a daily challenge - as I am sure having your own children is. The difficulty with adoption is the unknown trauma that the child has suffered. It can't excuse bad behaviors but it does help to understand why things happen.

We are trying to let negative behaviors flow through us but it is very difficult to stay calm.

Friday, 29 July 2016

End of intros and first few days at home

Apologies for the lack of posting but the end of intros and moving in was hectic and full on. It is 11.55pm and I have finally sat down and am able to type this up.

The theme for the end of intros and first few days at home are pretty similar. Lots of amazingly lovely times with feeling of bonding and love growing with big moments of being tested and pushed and thing what the hell are we doing!! Those moments are brief and totally outnumbered by the good stuff.

the hardest moment has been driving away from the foster home - the look on the foster carers face broke my heart then asking LO if he was sad and he breaking into massive sobs was so hard to watch. I was sitting in the back of the car with LO and could only cuddle him and say it was good to cry and that he was so brave. Speaking to the foster carer later in the day she was so upset it was really tricky. They have really giving our little one the start in life his birth family couldn't.

If I thought the roller coaster of adoption was tough before introductions it is NOTHING compared to the roller coaster of introductions and the moving in.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Day four

Day out today and can be summed up with the 5T's.... Trips, tantrums, testing, trains, tears.

But overall it was a good day and we are learning all the time. It is hard to find the line between issues from a disrupted start in life and being a "normal" 6 year old (although developmentally maybe better to think 5 year old). The best thing about LO is his ability to repair and be aware of his naughty behavior.

Today was the first day when he gave us both s kiss and cuddle out of the blue (not saying goodbye) and these moments of connection and bonding make up for the 3 or 4 difficult moments - all three of us were very tired today and this had a huge impact.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Day three

our first outing just the three of us ... It wasn't on our plan but LO wanted it to just be the three of us, foster carer agreed that she thought we could cope and he promised her he'd be a good boy. We went to a swimming pool with slides and water cannons. It's fair to say LO can swim but he has no fear and wants to get in the pool and not hold on. Swimming lessons are now top of the list ... Thankfully mother in law is a swim teacher!

We then went out for dinner, and he was pushing boundaries and there was lots of testing but the lovely thing is that he will repair, he's great at saying sorry, for listening when you are correcting him. I think we will need to toughen up but we were able to address and deal with issues as the arrived.

Another tiring day, but some real moments of connecting and feeling real affection for him.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Day two of intros

We started the day with a meeting with a worker from the fostering team who had supported the foster carer when LO had moved in. The worker hadn't met him so it was a theoretical approach to reported behaviours some we know the foster carer has taken on and some haven't fitted into her approach (mainly because of other foster children in the placement). We had read the summary but this meeting helped because having met him it was easier to relate, also the worker was able to fill in the gaps more theory. We found it helpful to remember what we know about attachment and also think of how we can best support his transition.

Then we picked up LO at 11 with foster carer and went to the beach until 6.30. This was a really good experience (first swim in the sea for me this year and not too cold!). The three of us spent some good time in the sea with lots of bonding taking place - we had to carry him pick him up when he fell because of a wave, get sea water out of his eyes etc. he was shouting daddy and dad lots and looking to us to "protect" him when he was "nervous" - to be honest he have very little fear of physical danger and is a real thrill seeker, we taking this as 6 year old boy but trying to build in "keeping safe". After the beach we went to an arcade and fun fair, this started to show us some more defiant behaviour "I want" not listening (or choosing not to hear) again this felt fairly normal 6 year old stuff and we were able to toughen up a bit with him ... One more ride meant one more not a haggle over another one. After this we went to a splash park near the car park. Again this showed us some more challenging behaviour around not listening and following instructions, he was getting very tired and we would have probably taken him home sooner, but it was good to explore how to deal with issues as they came up. We took the approach of highlighting back the good behaviours we watched and just mentioning the naughty bits (he always says sorry if you mention or see naughty behaviours).

It was a long day, and very hot but so valuable to see different sides to him. He is a lovely, chatty, outgoing child who just needs a lot of input to help him developed.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Day one of intros

What we've learnt about our LO .....

He has learnt what is said on each page of our talking intro book and loved the teddy that went with the book.

Because we put our real names in the book he was struggling to call us daddy and dad (this changed during the day (but I would advise others not to put names book and have a single image of each of you with the name you want to be called).

He likes playing football but didn't have one at foster carers. We are going to the beach today and said we'd buy him a football to take today. He asked for a blue one .... We managed to find one last night, phew!

He will listen to everything and copy and adopt sayings, phrases etc. we were playing hide and seek in the part and at one point I sat next to where he was hiding saying how sad I was that I had lost him then the next time I hid he said the same thing with fake tears and everything! I had to come out of hiding saying don't be sad and he ran over and gave me a huge hug .... Melted my heart.

LO is very energetic and we are going to need to be fitter!!!

He hasn't 100% grasped the moving and permanence of what is happening and this will need to be worked on this week.

He is a cheeky monkey and we will need to be very firm and make sure he knows the boundaries.

We managed to get some great photos and videos during the 4.5 hour visit (was supposed to be two but we just stayed on as it was going well) foster carer is very relaxed and welcoming. LO didn't want us to go and we had to reassure him that we are coming back today.