Thursday, 31 March 2016

Our First Year (and a bit more because it took me so long to write)

I warn you as a reader, this is a mega post. I asked twitter and most people said i should do a mega blog rather than 12 smaller ones goes nothing! I'm actually really pleased that i've been taking a photo of each of them every day, i can look back and remind myself about the stuff we got up to!

Month 1

When we arrived home from the foster carers, it go very real very quickly. Big went into a meltdown and became violent within about 30 minutes of coming home, it was awful. Little was either quiet, bouncing off the walls or cuddling us so the two things were completely different.

Car journeys started to become an issue, Big would try to hurt anyone and everyone in the car including themselves within minutes of getting in. They would also get incredibly violent with me over a medical procedure that needed doing each morning, the first day it happened, i naively took a picture of the hand print that was left on my arm thinking it would be something i'd look back on and laugh. It went on consistently for weeks/months on end.

These were the things that made us want to reach out to family and friends but we couldn't yet. That bit was so hard, you're thrust into a situation where you have these strangers living with you who are terrified of you and have no idea if they can trust you so try to control every aspect of your life. They're in a routine that isn't familiar to you, they have things that you wouldn't necessarily have bought for them, they've experienced things that you don't believe they should have done or that you wanted to experience with them for the first time.

You feel like you're going mad, the smallest of things irritate you to the point where you want to shout and scream at them, at each other, at the world. You feel like you're losing the plot but you've brought it on yourself.

I changed a lot in the first few weeks, i'm not sure i'd recognise the person i was before. You learn so much and the reality of life hits you in the face and there's nothing you can do to stop it whether it's positive or not. You see the behaviours that aren't mentioned in the CPRs, they start disclosing things with behaviour as well as verbally and it's heartbreaking and yet i felt so upset that i was being beaten by my child and that our home life had been shaken so dramatically that i couldn't really feel it properly.

In our first week Little was ill, we were planning on going swimming after lunch when Little announced that they didn't want to eat anything and they didn't care about going swimming because they didn't want to go there either. We thought they were being fussy until they projectile vomited twice. I am not good with sick. Wife cleaned it up and L slept for hours on the sofa.

During the first month we visited lots of attractions locally and tried to adjust to family life. We went to every park we could think of as much as possible and had so much fun together. It was so essential to have the time just as a family without anyone else dipping in and confusing the situation but it was the hardest thing ever.

We did visit my elderly grandmother really early on because i needed her to see them both, it wasn't the perfect visit but that didn't matter to me, i managed to get a picture of me and the kids with her by bribing them with a mcdonalds. Not my proudest parenting moment but it worked and we'll always have that picture now.

We had to start shopping for school uniform and this didn't go down well, Little had their first major meltdown in the supermarket which was more funny that anything, we got those first few judgy looks from other shoppers.

The dogs were completely and utterly freaked out by the whole thing, they wouldn't leave our side at all and when Big got violent, they were even worse. For the first time in their lives, they were scared of kids. The evenings were made for dog cuddles and dipping into our cupboard of joy.

We had our first haircuts and that went surprisingly well even though wife had to do it alone. On that same day we had their cousins round for a couple of hours. Big idolised the oldest one. Little and the youngest got on like a house on fire, it was brilliant!

We slowly started to introduce our parents and other family and both kids handled it well until people were leaving. Big tended to go into a big meltdown at that point.

We had easter and set up a treasure hunt for them. They were completely confused by it and didn't understand why we'd take them round the house and give them things. They enjoyed it though and loved having new books to read and chocolate to eat.

Big lost their first tooth! We were really surprised that the process hadn't started before they came home so were really happy when the first one came out after they came home. We left them a note from the tooth fairy with a gold coin and they were really pleased about it!

We started to get the earliest bits of babying with the both of them. They wanted to be cuddled like a baby but couldn't verbalise it so they were coming to us for cuddles on the sofa and slowly lying down more, it was brilliant.

Month 2 

By the time month 2 hit, we were all struggling with the intensity of being together constantly but school was just around the corner so we knew that it would give us all a break. I was back at work and finding it difficult coming home to the stress too which wasn't helping matters.

The first few days at school went really well, they did a half day to start with and gradually built up to a full day on the Friday. They both took to it really well but Little was struggling with leaving us each morning, the teachers and teaching assistants were amazing though and without us having to say anything, read the situation and took the lead. They're all amazing.

We even got our first bump on the head letter for Little in that first week, we've kept hold of every one since, we're getting quite a collection!

School helped things at home more than we realised it would. Big was still being violent but not to the same extent and Little was opening up more and showing the start of a decent attachment to us. Both of them were exhausted from school which was helping at night.

We were getting more and more playful as a family and the kids were loving it, we were always on the go together. Whether it be walking the dogs, playing on the trampoline or going to a park, everyday we had something new planned. It was exhausting but it was the only thing we could do, if we dared to mention having a quiet/lazy day, they both got very anxious almost immediately.

Big also lost their second tooth quickly after the first and was very impressed with their second gold coin.

We measured them both and in the 6 weeks they'd been home, they had both grown an inch, we were shocked and then had to go clothes shopping because the clothes that they had were starting to look a little short.

Big got their first birthday party invite but because we weren't expecting anything that quickly, they couldn't go because we'd booked the weekends up. Little got their first love note from someone in their class who had developed a bit of an obsession with them in the last few weeks, it's so cute to look back at it.

We got the first thing from school that they were going to have printed too, they'd both designed a mug so naturally we ordered about 6 of each to give out as presents to everyone. Each of them have their own special place in the kitchen, never to be used!

Our agency had a fundraising event held by another company so we went and met up with some of the people who we went through our training with who had their children there. It was amazing to see everyone and all of the kids hit it off really well and even to this day they have a decent friendship going on.

Month 3

Big started jumping up through the reading grades really quite quickly, it really is one of their strengths.

We started doing more and more day trips further afield and they both managed it really well although we did struggle with the build up and had to abandon a few trips before we'd even set off.

We had our first evening spent somewhere other than home together. We went for a eurovision party at Wife's parent's house and it freaked them both out. Big inhaled an adults portion of food in less than 5 minutes and couldn't relax at all. Little was very quiet and clingy. Neither child would give in to sleep at all, Little made it to 10pm before they could no longer fight it. Big didn't give in for the whole night. We were always coming home so that was fine but at 12:45 when we did get home, Big had a big meltdown over not having a bed time story. We dealt with it and put them to bed but it meant that we were completely done in.

By this point we'd been to pretty much every park in a 25 minute radius and they were starting to get bored of the same ones so we were trying to mix it up a bit. It worked initially but then we realised that we just need to calm things down a bit.

We had hospital appointments to attend and were told that Big's condition was improving dramatically since coming home which obviously made us really happy.

We managed to meet up with the foster carers and their LO during this month. It went pretty well overall but their LO was still bullying Big and it was getting to us. After the visit i remember Big being upset and kept getting quite tearful and Little had a big change in personality. They suddenly wouldn't accept any sort of comfort or affection from us. I remember them falling off some playground equipment straight onto their shoulder and they wouldn't let me check that they were ok even though it was obvious that it hurt them. It took a week before it changed again but it was really upsetting.

Both kids went full on into regression this month. We got bottles and dummies and baby cuddles and baby talk from them both and it was brilliant! It was perfect for us to offer that bit of nurture that they'd obviously never received.

I remember looking at Big and smiling whilst stroking their face when they frowned at me. I decided to leave it and let them voice what they were thinking, it happened the following evening. They asked why i smile when i'm giving them a bottle so i explained that it was because they're so wonderful and i'm so lucky to have them in my life and i love them so much. This was greeted with more frowning and confusion. Just shows how little normality they've actually had until this point.

Little started having more and more toddler style tantrums suddenly. It was clear that the amount of activities we were doing with them plus school was getting to much so we started to slow down a bit and let them have more downtime in the evenings.

This was also the month that Big got a black eye at school, still no idea how it happened but it was a corker! We were just pleased that it happened at school so nothing could have been said about us.

We attended our adoption agencies summer picnic and the kids met one of our social workers children and their friends from the fundraising day. It was really good fun even thought the parent and child relay race was far more competitive than i'd ever realised it was going to be so when we came absolute last i was quite shocked. People went all out! It was a really good day though and we came home with at least 5 new teddies!

We also went on our first date night and had our first babysitter since the kids came home, we went to the cinema and came back. Kids were ok but anxious and didn't end up going to sleep until about 9:30pm. It went better than we thought it would though.

Month 4

This was the first big family celebration for us to face and it was a house party. They handled the present opening stuff very well despite getting jealous a few times. The party also went well apart from their food anxiety coming out and they started stealing food. I found it quite stressful over all so couldn't relax much. I enjoyed it but it was definitely intense.

The food anxiety was becoming more and more of an issue for us. We found that Big was looking at the scraps from any meal, they were both picking up crumbs from the floor and eating them and they were stealing food and/or putting their fingers through the butter etc whilst we weren't in the room and it was really getting to us.

Big managed to get to their first party and did very well, they asked us to leave and only asked for us once which is a bit of a mixed bag really but there was very little fall out from it so we took it as a win.

We went strawberry picking!! We bought about £20 worth of strawberries but it was so much fun that i think it's going to have to be a family tradition.

School had their sports day and they both loved it! Big came 2nd in a throwing event missing first by about 3 inches but they were so happy with getting a medal that they didn't care. Little dipped in and out but had a lot of support all the way round, they pleasantly surprised their teachers and TAs, it was amazing!

The food anxiety reached a crazy level so we decided to go for the food box option (check my other blogs for a full run down on that one) and it worked. We had to explain it to school and they were very understanding despite Big spending a LOT of time on the toilet. They both took to it well but Wife and I found it really hard to watch them go through the food in the way they did but it did work. since then we've had very few food issues and the ones we have had have been very much manageable.

Our social worker ordered us out on a night out so we went for some drinks an a meal and really bloody enjoyed ourselves!! It was just what we needed after a difficult time with the kids food anxiety and more violence coming out again.

Month 5

Little had their first birthday party and it was with a child that they'd been pretty much inseparable with for the last few weeks so it was really good fun and really good to see some of their friends out of school.

We also did our first pizza express visit which went really well apart from Big getting really angry about why we had big pizza's and they had little ones. The service was terrible though so we complained and got a free meal for 4 of us out of it!

We had a LAC review and professionals meeting just before the end of the school year that sent us into a tail spin. We received the kids life story books and they were horrendous. So much was wrong with them that we sat and cried about it. The placing LA were also refusing to offer any additional help with the children despite the difficulties we were having, they were actively denying that the children had experienced various things they were disclosing to us and the situation was becoming toxic.

We decided to have a day trip to the coast on the most miserable day possible but it was really good fun. The kids enjoyed it and it filled one of the first days of the holidays.

We attended our first pride during the summer and marched. It was such an emotional day for Wife and I, it made us realise just how far we've come as a couple and how far the country has come since we got together. Lots of emotions flying round close to the surface that day!

Both kids were really struggling and the stress that the LA were putting us under wasn't helping. One night things really exploded after a solid day of extreme behaviour from both kids, it was horrendous. We were at breaking point, we sat up sobbing for ages without being able to talk at all. We contacted our agency at 10pm on a Sunday night and collapsed as soon as we'd sent it. The next morning we had a social worker out to see us and they came out 5 times that week as well as offering phone support. The kids LA weren't in touch at all during this time and when they did get in touch, they couldn't care less that we'd come as close as is possible to disrupting without actually disrupting.

The kids were feeling the atmosphere in the house so intensely that Big's food anxiety came back with a vengeance and we found them eating tea bags and all sort of other stuff. We re introduced the box and it sorted it out but it wasn't easy again. We also put them in separate bedrooms to try to help ease the situation more, it helped straight away even though that set Big's anxiety off big time again.

We managed to get Big onto some multisports days to help easy the tension in the house, Little needed some one on one time and Big needed to get out and be their own person for a while. It helped but Big was still very tense and ended up strangling another child whilst there. They were fortunately accepting of the behaviour and didn't ban them from coming again because Big was incredibly apologetic after it had happened.

We had our first trip to the cinema together to see inside out, the kids loved it and couldn't stop talking about the characters for weeks afterwards.

Our agency was doing some urgent work with both kids to try and help us through the difficult period and that was going very well. They saw what our difficulties were and how hard it was to try to help the kids regulate when the rage came in. It was really validating for us and helped the kids too.

We went away to the coast for a few days and had such a good time. Tensions were rising again though and we were getting some big meltdowns from both children.

Month 6

We ended up having to come home from holiday a night early. It just became too much for all of us so we packed everything up and left earlier than expected. It was definitely the correct decision though, being home helped both kids to calm down straight away. They slept straight through for the first time in a week which was bliss.

We had an 80th birthday to attend for the oldest member of the family on that side and it was a chance for Big and Little to meet their 3rd cousin who wasn't even a year old at that point. They had loads of fun with everyone that was there and we got some stunning pictures of the day. The strangest thing happened though, we took a picture of the 3 cousins together and they look like they're related. Beautiful to see under the circumstances.

We went to a women's super league football match with them both and they loved it. They got to shout as much as they wanted without and judgment. It was brilliant for them!

We had a big meet up with some of the other families from our adoption agency and had such a fun day. All of the 5 kids get on so well and us parents do too. One of them is a single adopter and she was having lots of the same issues with anger and aggression with her LO as we had been having. She was so grateful when i offered to help her with getting her LO's shoes on when they started melting down that it gave me an entirely new perspective of what a single adopter goes through. I'm in awe of every one of you!!!

We filled our final few days of the holidays with lots of trips to the many parks in our area. The kids loved it but were very, very ready to go back to school!

The day came and we armed them with books about their holidays and all of the fun stuff we did. Both kids had a new teacher but they went back without any issues!! They were so much more happy being back in the routine of things and settled into it all very well. Big even had their first school trip that went really well and they both started after school clubs.

Month 7

Little had their first school trip which again went really well. Things generally seemed to settle right down for all of us which meant that it was a quiet month.

On the weekends we had day trips to see some family, visited a zoo, a fun fair and a theme park. Little started getting invited to lots of parties and they seemed to be growing more and more so we had to do another big clothes shop.

We also did quite a lot of play dates with new school friends.

We started to realise just how much they have both changed since coming home too.

Month 8

This started party season, we had 4 in 2 weeks or something crazy like that and because of the time of year, they we all fancy dress parties. The kids both decided that they wanted to be skeletons after looking through the choices available so we got them skeleton onesies and they were really pleased with them.

We had the kids harvest festival concert and it was amazing!!!! Both kids sang really well, Big was at the front with their class and coped well with it because they had the teacher very close by at all times. We got some cheeky waves from both of them and i'm not going to lie, i welled up more than once!

We also had our very first parents evening. We were told that Little was on course for catching up with their peers by the end of the year and Big was making some brilliant progress. Big got big stickers for their work and was grinning like a cheshire cat at the end of it.  Both kids had come on so much in the time they had been there, it was amazing to see the results that the teachers were getting.

We started Dinovember and both kids loved it. They were completely confused about why we would have put the dinosaurs out but then allowed their imaginations to take over and loved running downstairs each morning to see what they were doing.

We started to notice a big difference in Big, they were suddenly softening lots and being generally more happy. We'd reached the point where we could cuddle up on the sofa for a movie day no worries.

I did the stupid thing in this month which meant that the placing LA were involved and potentially getting the police involved. It took ages to get it sorted, i didn't hurt anyone but i did worry someone with my actions and regretted it instantly.

We got our first school photos through and they are so gorgeous!! Both of them look so happy in them, we were so pleased with them that we bought them instantly and got loads of copies for Christmas presents for our family.

Our first trip to the walk in centre! Little was scooting through the playground and one of their friends was running towards them when they collided heads first. Little had an enormous egg on their head almost instantly. They were surprisingly calm. We were at school when it happened and i went into freak out mode, fortunately our favourite TA is a first aider and was in that day so she sorted them out but then because it was such an obvious injury and not really improving with a cold compress on it, we were advised to take them to the walk in centre. It was a long night but all was well at the end other than them being tired.

Month 9

We had our first social media scare thanks to one of our best friends not checking her photos from her childs birthday party. Little, front and centre and all over Facebook. I freaked out and messaged her instantly. It's bad enough when it's someone you don't know that well but when it's someone who really knows you and knows the situation very well (she was one of our references!) it really made me angry.

We met up with the FCs again and it went so much better than ever before and there was one key difference, Big was suddenly an inch taller than the FCs child so obviously more intimidating and no longer fun to bully. Great for us and Big's self esteem but i hate that it all changed because of that.

We had the most beautiful moment of empathy between B and L. Big was really upset (i forget what about) and sobbing their heart out at the table when Little decided to put their arm around them, stroke their back, cuddle them and wipe their tears away. Utterly gorgeous and completely unprompted. So proud of Little for wanting to do that, doing it so gently and kindly and so proud of Big for accepting it. A huge leap forwards for their relationship.

We had a photoshoot done as a family by one of our friends and it was brilliant. We very much a family that take a lot of photos (thousands and i mean THOUSANDS since we became a family) but to have our first professional shoot was incredible. They came out ridiculously well, so much so we got a huge canvas done for our living room and then put a DVD together for family for a christmas present.

We had a hectic day with 2 kids going to 2 different parties and both getting jealous of the other one before we even left the house. Once we were out and they were separated, it worked really well. The only downside was that Big was hoovering in food like no ones business and i had to bring them out of the room to calm down and do some PACE. It worked but then they were annoyed that i wouldn't let them eat an enormous slab of cake after they had almost been sick with how much they had eaten.

As christmas was getting closer, we decided that the only way we could do the tree etc would be to make them think that it's their idea and throw some fun in with it. We went to get a real tree and let them choose it and ended up with bloody brilliant tree. We also let them choose a brand new decoration each for the tree and made a big deal about them placing it somewhere really good on the tree so that everyone could see it.

We also took them to see santa, they still believe (although we fear that we have some major doubts setting in) and they had a decent chat and then ripped their presents open before we even had chance to get their picture taken.

We did have a bit of a dodgy afternoon, took us about 4 hours to get the tree up and sorted.

Month 10

We started to get some undesirable behaviours coming out, Big did an enormous wee in the corner of their room and it went bloody everywhere. Covered everything and really wound us up. Not a good start to the christmas wind down.

We had the kids Christmas concert and it was magical. Big did so well doing their line and being where they needed to be. We got waved at loads and the smile on their face was incredible to see. Little sang louder than the rest of the school, it was hilarious! What they don't have in ability to sing in tune, they make up for with how loud they sing. So proud of them both, i think we were both grinning from ear to ear by the end of it.

We road tripped to see my Mum and go to a Christmas market together. Food, good company, great atmosphere and family. It really doesn't get any better. Kids loved it especially because we got to go on a train. Little was ill once we got back with a temperature but it meant lots of gorgeous cuddles.

A couple of days later and Big's extreme behaviours were getting worse until we got a huge meltdown, shouting, screaming, banging, crashing, trashing a bedroom, peeing all over the place and trying to hurt us. I had to walk away before i got dragged into it any more than i already had been and Wife went upstairs to see them. She opened their bedroom door and they were directly behind it. They ended up with a line and a big bump on their forehead and we had to go to get them checked out at the doctors.

We had to inform SS about what had happened and they called the doctors to let them know what they needed them to do when we got there. When we did arrive, the doctor had been given instructions to check Big over top to bottom for signs of abuse. He had to strip Big off down to their underwear then he had to call SS and explain his findings. All of which happened with us in the room. The doctor was horrified that we were being put through it all and kept apologising. He is an adopter and was in total shock about what the LA were doing to us especially just before Christmas.

After the doctors appointment, we had to have a social worker visit on Christmas eve. CHRISTMAS EVE!! We were furious. Fortunately, it was a social worker from our agency who had spent time with the kids at one of the activity days our agency run and it was quick and painless. Still a bloody pain in the arse though.

On Christmas Eve we watched the international space station go over and told the kids that it was Santa. They didn't believe us until they heard the sleigh bells (Wife's sister was hiding behind a hedge next door with jingle bells) and then they were so excited. We then set out the drink, snack and carrots and read them their own personalised christmas story books and put them to bed.

Christmas morning arrived and i was so excited that i woke up an hour before the kids. We'd laid the law down about getting up the night before so they knew exactly what to expect from us. Neither of them woke up until 8:12am, brilliant and yet disappointing for me being awake for so long.

Big emerged first and smiled at us before saying happy Christmas and coming for a cuddle. Next thing they noticed that there were stockings filled with presents at the bottom of the bed, Big said, "Wow, Mummy!!  You've got a stocking on your bed with presents, do you want to open them?" I asked them to check whose names were on the stockings and then we saw a big smile whilst Big said said their name. Little appeared within about 2 minutes of Big and came for a cuddle and then they cracked the stockings open.

It took us about half an hour to get through everything in the stockings and then i disappeared downstairs to set the camera up whilst Wife convinced them to come down at the same time. It didn't quite go to plan but they were amazed by the amount of presents in the living room and i managed to get both of their reactions on film.

We opened presents for about 20 minutes then had some food. We then played a game and opened some more. We went on like that stopping and starting for about 2 hours in the end. It was brilliant and they were both doing so well.

Next was Christmas dinner, we all got our christmas jumpers on and got the crackers out whilst listening to christmas music and had a bloody good afternoon!! Kids loved every moment of it and Big even sat before bed and sobbed that they were 'so happy for everything' and gave us lots and lots of cuddles. We were expecting meltdowns left right and centre but it just didn't happen, we were so relieved.

On Boxing Day we realised that the kids needed to get out so we went on an organised nature walk, put them in their waterproofs and let them jump in each and every puddle they wanted to. It was really good fun. We started getting some of the unwanted behaviours sneaking back in before the end so we had to break off from the group and make our way back to the car but we still managed 90% of it.

The more the day went on, the worse the behaviours were getting with both of them which was wearing us down. At the dinner table, Little suddenly screamed that their ear was hurting and that set the tone for the night. No matter how often we gave them medicine to help, every couple of hours, they screamed the house down.

The following day we went to the walk in centre. Note to all of you reading, never go to the walk in centre on the first day that it's open after christmas. it was hell!!! 3.5 hours, a massive Big meltdown and more sobbing from Little and we find out that it is an ear infection and get some drops. Little hated the drops, they hurt them and they didn't seem to be making any difference at all.

That night we had much the same, screaming every couple of hours and by this point we just didn't know what to do. We dosed them up religiously, did all we could to occupy Big and hoped that it wasn't going explode on us at some point.

The following day Little was completely wiped out and slept on the sofa for most of it. We did manage a 20 minute scoot but Little screamed the whole time because their ear hurt and Big was just not in a good mood at all. That night, Little screamed that their other ear was really hurting.

The following morning (after yet another pretty much sleepless night) i got Little down to the walk in centre as soon as it opened and had it confirmed that the drops weren't doing anything and that they now had 2 ear infections. That was why we were struggling so much. We started the antibiotics as soon as possible and within 24 hours we noticed a huge difference.

I decided to arrange a babysitter for that evening because Wife and I were so stressed that we just needed to get out. I sent some flowers with a note saying we had a babysitter and she was really pleased (she cried!! Wife never cries!!) We got the kids to bed when the babysitter arrived and then went out. It was brilliant, we had a really chilled out night and decided to go home a little early to snuggle up together and go to sleep.

When we arrived home, we said goodbye to Wife's sister who had babysat for us and went up to bed. When i went in the bathroom, it was a disaster zone. Bottles and bottles of lotions, gels and creams poured away. Shaving foam everywhere and god knows what else. I saw red and got Big out of bed (SIL had said that they had got up a few times asking about us) and marched them to the bathroom. They confessed to everything we could see and after a few stern words, i took them back to bed. At this point i noticed a quality street wrapper sticking out from under the bed and shaving foam all over a play table. I then got them out of bed and moved it only to find about 10 wrappers. My Mum had bought Wife and I some quality streets and that was all of them that we had in the house. I asked if there was anything else we needed to know about and they said no. I then found more stuff in our room and was just so passed being annoyed by it all that i told Big that i was going to have to leave the room because otherwise i was going to get really really angry with them for stealing our presents and wasting loads of stuff.

I'll openly admit that i wasn't therapeutic in the slightest, i really did shout about it. That night Big sobbed themselves to sleep and i honestly could not have cared less. I was so pissed off with the whole situation.

The next morning, more and more stuff came to light. Big had basically, silently ransacked the whole of upstairs without SIL knowing. God knows how they did it! When we told SIL, she was gobsmacked.

Both kids were so tired from the last few days that they barely knew what to do with themselves. we planned some calm days with a little more structure and some outside/soft play fun. It worked and things were easing slightly but we were desperate for school. It had all knocked us for six and i was so snappy after it all for days on end, i needed to push the reset button on my emotions but i had no idea how to do it.

Things got so tense that we took all signs of christmas down really early (before New Year and that's completely unheard of for us) and it really helped. It didn't fix everything but there was a definite shift  after we'd done it.

We finally got through the New Year and got to the first day back at school and we were so relieved. It was such a difficult 2 weeks for the 4 of us that we needed to be back in the routine of it all again. Wife and I walked out of school, hugged and high fived. We had made it through our first christmas!

I managed to get my reset when i went to see our social worker and another one that has been working with us during the difficult moments and she just managed to say the perfect thing at the perfect time. She said, "The behaviours don't change unless the response changes." It was exactly what i needed and proved to be the reset that i was so desperate for.

Little started their swimming lessons and pleasantly surprised us. They love the water and have really taken to it, they prefer to play rather than listen to the instructor but so long as it's building their confidence in the water, we 're not all that bothered.

We had our first real sickness bug with Big so they had to have time off school with Wife and because of the whole 3 day rule, it meant that they got almost a full week off. Wife was frustrated because they were absolutely fine in themselves but school wouldn't allow them back in.

Little had a nightmare one evening and ran downstairs to us. I picked them up and cuddled and rocked them. They never say anything when it's a genuine nightmare, they just panic and stare when they've done with the running. This night though, Little snuggled into me and said 2 words, "I'm safe." i'm not going to lie, i welled up instantly.

Month 11

Big started Aikido and absolutely loved it! We were really impressed with the Dojo and the Sensei's there.  Not only do they get our situation but they're very respectful of it and they treat Big like any other kid there (all in a very positive way). Big really has taken to it, they started counting to 5 in Japanese pretty quickly and made a start at learning to creed. Money very well spent as it also wears them out.

One of the best things to happen so far this year was the kid meeting the oldest member of the family, she's a fabulous 91 (honestly, you should see her, fabulous sums her wonderfully) and the kids are really good at helping her with stuff. It's amazing to see. She came to see us in a soft play place which was quite a shock to her system! When we finished there she came back to our house where Big asked if she'd like to see their bedroom. She said that she couldn't because she couldn't manage all of those stairs and added, "I'm 91 you know!" Big, without blinking, replied with, "91? You should really be dead." Well fortunately she has a brilliant sense of humour and almost couldn't breathe because she was laughing so hard.

Big had a school trip that i went on. I was assigned 3 kids including Big and i spent the whole day panicking about where they were and whether or not i'd lost them. Very strange feeling, made me feel like a Mum though.

Big also did their first picture of us and brought it home with them. This has never happened before, it's always been of the dogs or the house, never ever us. Massive leap forwards.

I've been doing this thing where i take a picture of each child every day and if i forget to take one i generally go into their room and take a picture of them asleep. Normally they stir because the flash comes on but they normally go straight back to sleep. This one night, Little didn't and they were really freaked out by it. I went into their room, picked them up and rocked them like a baby. For the first time they really truly snuggled in and completely relaxed like it was the most natural thing in the world to do. That was the first moment i truly felt like a mother and i came really close to sobbing. There's only 2 people in the whole world who can do that for them and i'm one of them. Gorgeousness.

The biggest challenge yet was now just upon us. We were going abroad less than a year into placement. Everyone called us crazy and no one really thought that we'd pull it off successfully, even us if i'm honest. We decided that we were going to need to do a booklet with photos in of the area and the apartment where we were staying so that the kids could look at it and share it at school. They did and that really helped them to see it as a positive thing, they were even doing countdowns with their teachers.

We packed clothes for the 4 of us in our big case making sure that we sandwiched the kids stuff in-between ours so i'd say that we need underwear, put mine or wife's in, then the kids and then whoever was last. We did this with everything we needed so that they could see that we were going together. It worked a treat and they didn't question it at all.

The drive to the airport was pretty good. We had to make one unscheduled hard shoulder stop when Little started kicking the back of my chair. It was sorted really quickly so we were back on the road again and got to our hotel for the night nice and quickly. We ate dinner and went to bed. The kids were so excited that it took them well over an hour to get to sleep and then Big woke up after about 4 hours sleep and Little about 5. It was going to be a really tough day!

The flight went really well, we got little backpacks for the kids that we filled with pound shop tat and wouldn't allow them to have until the seatbelt signs were off. It kept them entertained for the entire flight, we were really relieved. Things started to go a little south when we were waiting to go through passport control when we landed though. Big was getting grumpy with tiredness and the warmth. We got through as quickly as possible and then collected our cases and our car and got to the apartment.

When we were there we realised that we needed to go shopping ASAP so we went to the local supermarket. We'd been in there about 5 minutes before the kids literally started throwing stuff across the shop and slamming fridge doors etc. It got worse and worse until i snapped and shouted at the both of them and Wife ended up back at the car with Big. We got the shopping and went back to the apartment, fed the kids and had them in bed by 16:30 UK time. They slept for 14 solid hours!

After that, holiday was incredible. The kids both melt when they're near the sea and the nearest bit of beach to the apartment is a pebble beach so we spent hours throwing stones into the sea. Amazing family time like none other we've experienced yet.

Month 12

Whilst we were on holiday we watched the sun sets, threw stones in the sea, splashed each other, played in the pool, went for ice cream, ate out, went fishing for a Mummy (using pool noodles), buried each other in sand, saw local landmarks, played mini golf, went shopping, picked and ate fresh fruit and generally had the absolute best time we could have done. It was the best holiday we could have had and it really felt like it brought the 4 of us together more than we could ever have imagined.

Both kids were asking to come back even before we had left, none of us wanted to leave but the kids were looking forward to telling all of their friends and teachers about the holiday. We promised them that we would get them some photos sorted to take in to school.

Coming home went well. Little actually slept on the plane and we had the best air hostess ever. She really was amazing! She asked the kids if they'd like to see the cockpit at the end of the flight and arranged it so we could pop in before we got off the plane. The kids loved it!

We arrived home and got the kids to bed ASAP because in 12 hours, they would be starting their school day.

Both kids told their friends and teachers everything about holiday, no one could get a word in edge ways, it was brilliant! We got the photos sorted and then they took them in and the staff went crazy over them, people kept coming up to us and saying how beautiful they are and how Big and Little had been telling them all about the stuff that we were doing in them and how much fun it all was. It's amazing.

Little started getting really really clingy at the school drop off, so much so that we had to leave them with their teacher or a TA whilst they were screaming for us, it was horrible. We did some PACE work and all they could say was that they wanted to spend more time with us. This coincided with the first time that Little told us that they love us.

Each morning both kids come and climb onto us in our bed for a cuddle before going down for breakfast. One morning Little crawls over me and puts their arms around both of us and very quietly says, "I love you both." completely blew us away! A couple of nights later they also said it just to me,  a very very quiet i love you. I pretended i didn't hear and they said it much louder with a big smile on their face. Such an amazing moment.

Since then there's also been a big difference in the way that Big says i love you. They've said it 20 times a day since they came home at least but it's always been a bit hollow and not quite genuine. It's like they've now seen Little giving in and saying it and it's given them the confidence to.

The weirdest thing about it all though is that it never really crossed my mind that they ever would love me. It's not that i feel unlovable as such but it just didn't register as a possibility. Completely bizarre! It's wonderful to know though, it's a mutual and very positive thing for the 4 of us and something that none of have ever experienced before. Our kids don't know what it is to be truly loved and to be showed that love through words and actions and we've not got any other kids so it's all new and amazing.

Little is really clumsy.  Well Big is actually far clumsier but Little always gets hurt from their exploits. One evening whilst Big was at Aikido, Wife took Little for a hot chocolate. Before you know it, they have jumped over a sofa and smashed their eyebrow on the edge of a table splitting their eyebrow open. Another few hours in the walk in centre, a few steri strips and all was well in the world.

I had the absolute scariest moment of my parenting life in this month too. Little was tantrumming about the strawberries that they had just dropped on the floor so decided to storm off to bed. On the way they went to the toilet so i popped up to make sure everything was ok and saw them emptying a load of shower gel into the sink. I took them by the hand and marched them out of the bathroom, as a i came out of the bathroom i tripped and given that our bathroom is directly at the top of the stairs, i went straight down. I freaked out completely because i still had Little's hand so i let go and somehow managed to stop them going down with me. I went almost top to bottom on my shin and when i got to the bottom and Wife appeared, i really didn't know what to do with myself other than ask Wife to check Little. I was so scared that i'd hurt them, it felt like i'd come down on top of them so i really thought that i'd killed them. Wife confirmed that Little was ok and i sobbed uncontrollably through relief.

This freaked both Big and Little out. Big started crying in the next room and asking if i was ok and what had happened but at this point i was trying not to pass out or throw up which luckily i didn't. Little was stood above me on the stairs staring at me really confused about why i'd be upset because i thought i'd hurt them and when they came down to see me, they hugged me tighter than they ever had done before.

Later that day i spent nearly 4 hours in the walk in centre whilst Wife took the kids to a soft play area not far away. As she pulled off they both burst out crying and asked if i was going to die. It took Wife a while but she managed to convince them that i wasn't and they relaxed a little.

When i got home Little wouldn't leave me alone. They hugged me and had to be in contact with me permanently but it was a very positive thing. It wasn't a clingy toddler sort of thing, it was almost their way of saying that they thought they were going to lose me forever so they need me to know that i mean something to them. I'm not even sure if that makes sense to you lot reading.

We celebrated our first real Mothers' Day too. Both kids had chosen something for each of us and Wife and I had got a big present for each other. The kids chose really well and were really proud of the presents when they were giving them to us. They were really excited about it being Mothers' Day but they were then a little disappointed when we said that Childrens Day wasn't a thing.

We went out for food together and really saw just how far Big has come with their over eating. We went to an all you can eat and they only had 1 plate and half of the pudding that they picked out. After that they said that they felt sick so we explained that it was probably best that they didn't eat anymore because they really don't like being sick. Big actually agreed and didn't eat another bite!! We were gobsmacked.

Little got chicken pox. We had a scare before we went away but apparently it was doing to rounds at school so it was bound to happen. We initially thought we'd managed to get away with a milder dose but we were oh so wrong. They were riddled with huge angry looking ones and nothing we did was helping.

Month 13

The chicken pox were getting worse and worse, so much so i ended up stripping Little off and showering them down for 10 minutes with cool water at night just to get them to sleep. It was horrendous. They were absolutely riddled. It just so happened that Wife was supposed to be back at work 5 days after they came out to ease back in to full time but it just wasn't possible. Wife was frustrated because it now meant that she would be going in to doing a full week straight away but there was nothing we could do.

Forever family day was great, we picked Big up from school and went to take a photo in the same place as one we took a year earlier so that we could compare them and hopefully keep the tradition up for years to come. It came out really well and highlights the physical differences in them both so much!! They really aren't recognisable as the same children any more.

Little had their spring concert and it was amazing. They used to be very shy about speaking to anyone they didn't know really well and would never stand up in class and say anything. Well, how about this, they introduced the whole thing in front of everyone from their year, all of the teachers and TAs and a hall full of parents!!! Mega proud of our little one!

We also had parents evening which went really really well. Little is doing incredibly well compared to the beginning of the school year, they're very intelligent and able to do all of the work that their peers are. The only thing Little really struggles with is writing things down independently, they can do it with an adult there but not on their own.

Big is coming on in leaps and bounds especially in reading and writing. We've gone from indecipherable scribbles to being able to read every word now so it's amazing. In other things they do struggle but they are finding that they can do more now if they don't realise that they're doing it alone. They are starting to enjoy working alongside their peers which is huge!!

On the emotional side of things we're not there yet but again there are some huge differences in them. Little's confidence is improving daily because they're feeling safer and safer and that's showing at school. They're really popular too, everyone loves them and the kids in their class all try to help them if they're feeling upset at all, its amazing to see the level of empathy from their peers, amazing kids! Big is getting there emotionally, still very much hyper vigilant but starting to settle down more and more now. They really adore their teacher and school aren't putting any pressure on us at all to do homework and/or reading etc at home. They know that we have a lot on and don't want us to over do it with either of them. I really truly love everything about that school!!!

Sums it up really when both teachers were falling over themselves to tell us how proud they are of the both of them they are.

We had our LAC review. We had been waiting for this because we were told that we should be allowed to apply for the order at this one after a massive disappointment last time. We got the ok! All we have to do is send the paperwork off to the courts now and wait for a date, it's all happening!!!

We sent in the videos of a year in pictures of each child to school and they were amazed at the difference. We got more crying from everyone that's seen it and everyone is absolutely shocked at how different both of them are compared to a year ago.


I've deliberately omitted a few things from everything up top in the name of anonymity and because i don't want some stuff to be out in the open if it could potentially disrupt any legal proceedings in the future.

Big's birthday....

Big's birthday was brilliant. We had a bowling party with lots of school friends and family. They all seemed to really love it! They bowled for well over an hour and ate some food and played some party games. We did party bags and cupcakes and everyone seemed really happy when they left. Big was overjoyed! They got to keep a bowling pin that has "Happy X Birthday Big" on it (obviously with the age and actual name) so we got all of their friends to sign it. The perfect keepsake that will last forever!

One Big's actual birthday we got up really early and watched them open their presents. Little got really jealous but managed to verbalise it (thanks to the Trace Moroney book 'When i'm feeling Jealous') then helped me take pictures. They were really grateful for everything they had and couldn't stop thanking us.

They took sweets in to school and wrote all about their birthday party and their presents in the biggest and clearest piece of writing they had ever done.

Little's Birthday....

Little had a really great birthday. We had a party in a soft play place with face painting and party games, everyone really loved it! Little got to sit in a big throne sort of thing to eat their food and they loved it. Lots of family and school friends came and everyone was brilliant.

We got up really early again on Little's birthday and got the presents all unwrapped. They were so happy with them all, particularly the DS as it meant that they have one each (no arguing now - phew!). We had a really lovely day together.

Little also took sweets into school and loved sharing them out with all of their friends.

To finish...

We've been through a hell of a lot in the last year. I really wish that i'd done a blog a month for the first year because there would have been so much more detail in it than i've managed here although if you do manage to read this without stopping then i think you deserve a medal.

Its been the best year of my life in the most incredible and worst of ways if that makes sense? We couldn't be where we are now though without the massive support of our agency and school, both of they together have been completely unstoppable with their support. We love them all so much.

What does the next year hold for us?? Hopefully we'll have the order through before 2017 and we're looking to move house. We've been planting seeds in the kids minds for a while now. They like the idea of having a bigger house with a play room and getting another pet (something we have promised will happen if we move) and being able to walk our dogs more. Fingers crossed the reality isn't too much of a shock to them!

Wife is back at work so we are all currently adjusting to that at the minute. My hours have changed dramatically from this time a year ago too. It's completely manageable though so i really like it.

Year one....DONE!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A few days in the life of parenting traumatised children

Saturday 7th November

I got up this morning and both kids were doing their normal thing. Arguing and nit picking at each other in the way they always do. I got ready for and went to work as normal knowing that i would be home at about 12pm.

Work went well, nothing out of the ordinary, good day.

When i got home, i called Wife to find out if i had enough time to get some stashed christmas presents out of the car before she got home from shopping. She didn't pick the phone up so i gathered that i had the time i needed and hid the presents in our bedroom.

Wife called me about 15 minutes later and i knew straight away that she was having a very difficult day.

When she finally got home i knew that things had been really bad. Big was in the front of the car and Little was in the back. We've never done that. She carried L into the house too as their shoes weren't on.

Once we set both kids up with lunch Wife told me what had happened. They were in a supermarket when L snapped. No obvious trigger, no warning, just a complete rage filled meltdown. It was so bad that Wife had to sit on the floor with L, restraining them for 20 minutes. During this time Big was getting more and more upset because L was hurting Wife.

Fortunately the other shoppers weren't judgemental, they were actually quite supportive of Wife. One even gave her a shoulder squeeze.

After they left the supermarket, L went again. This time wife had to do the same at the side of the car. It didn't last as long this time.

Once they were in the car, L went again. Full on rage and trying to hurt B. Wife ended up removing L shoes and putting B in the front. She drove home with a lot of anger and aggression coming from directly behind her.

This is what i was confronted with as soon as Wife got home. I hate this bit, i don't fully know what's gone off and talking it through in front of the kids is hard especially when you have a child that is constantly on the edge of pure rage and another who is so hyper vigilant because of the other ones rage that there's no easy way to do anything.

I was calmer than Wife because i hadn't had to deal with anything really today. To top it all off, L had been in the defiant toddler stage all day in-between the rage and would/could not listen to a thing that either of us were saying. Wife was exhausted and it was only 1pm. She was shouting at the kids because of the stress and needed to get away. She ended up going to bed for an hour or so, i went up to see her and she sobbed.

Before long i had to come back downstairs because i could hear an argument between our children escalating, i've no idea what it was even about i just know that it was getting worse. Fortunately, L had decided that whilst they wouldn't respond to a thing Wife was saying, they would for me so it was easier.

Wife came downstairs and I managed to get a moment with L. I used some PACE and spoke to them about how they were feeling and if there was anything that was bothering them. I got a good 10 minutes of rage mixed with a distraught child and back again in 20 second cycles. All of which was down to birth family and having to leave etc.

I went with my instincts and did what i could to sooth and support them. I then decided to get the new Todd Parr book out (The goodbye book) and we went through it. I think i did the entire thing 4 times in the end and had both L and B really snuggled into me whilst reading it. They seemed to relate to it and L has asked to read it over and over again since.

After that we continued with our day. L was right on the edge the entire time and B was starting to really push us both. We went for a run around a country park together. L ended up being taken back to the car after spitting (something we don't accept at all, ever) and again calmed down but still had stuff bubbling under the surface whilst we sat in the car.

Wife came back to the car with B and we went home to have some snacks and prepare for the fireworks display that we were going to later on.

Both kids were all over the place, L was especially hyper active and couldn't regulate. B was getting more and more cheeky.

We managed the fireworks and managed to get both kids home and to bed relatively simply considering.

Sunday 8th November

As soon as we got up, we knew we were in for a rough day. Kids were bickering and being generally nasty from the word go. We went to do breakfast, got through that then it all kicked off.

We don't even know what started it, again there was no obvious trigger, nothing that we could think of that started it but before we knew it L was swapping between sobbing hysterically and utter rage. L spent a good 30 minutes screaming at the top of their lungs so much so that they all but lost their voice and 3 days later they're still croaky.

Once L calmed down (ish!) B started. From nothing to all out rage in absolutely no time. Wife and i were holding up ok until a good 20+ minutes in of B screaming at us, at one point they got up, came less than 2 inches from my face and screaming at the top of their lungs.

We do carpet time to calm down here, staying relatively close to us so it's a form of time in. B kept going and going so i got down on the carpet to talk to them and they punched me in the eye. Full force, straight in my eye. I'm not sure how i did it but i kept my cool enough to stand up and tell them that they'd just really hurt me. I then put up with another 5 minutes or so of being called a liar.

I'm not going to lie, i didn't keep my voice down at this point. I did shout back a few times but i calmed down again quickly. Once i was calm, the stupid thing happened. I didn't do anything out of anger or anything like that but i pushed B. I didn't do it hard and i didn't do anything to hurt them or anything like that. I pushed them 3-4 inches as they were sat cross legged on the floor and it was enough for them to lose their balance.

Holy crap did that escalate things!!! We had so much more anger and aggression then (understandably) that along with my immediate guilt and we were in a really toxic cycle.

I decided that i needed to talk to our social worker about it so sent her a text and she said she'd call.

Wife and I had a little down time whilst the kids seemed a little more settled. We all got ready and went out to sort out a reward for L for something else we had been doing with them. We went into our town centre and sorted some food and L's treat out.

After that i had to visit an elderly relative so Wife took the kids to the supermarket. Once i finished with my relative, i called Wife to see where she was. Yet again things had deteriorated and i could sense from her tone that things were really tough yet again.

When she finally got to me it turned out that B had decided to torment L almost to the point of yet more violence. They kept getting in L's face and telling L that they're no good at X, Y, Z and generally being horrible. It escalated to shouting and screaming at Wife and being completely defiant and nasty towards L.

Once back in the car they had calmed because Wife refused to get anyone in the car until they had calmed down.

We had a quick pit stop to make at another relatives and whilst i popped in, B started trying to hurt L yet again. Wife had to get them out of the car where they started threatening to hurt her and me.

Once we got home we called our social worker and talked her through the incident. She was confident that i hadn't hurt B or deliberately meant to but had to inform the placing LA which we were expecting. She also said that she would call and speak to school to explain it so that if anything was said, they knew what was going on.

After that we kind of had a decent evening, we had a carpet picnic and watched a film. L was hyperactive as normal but nothing too bad. B was wonderful, very much the child we know and love. They were showing no obvious signs that the incident had upset or worried them significantly.

Bed time was uneventful and pretty straight forward, both kids were exhausted as were we so we were pleased that it went well.

Monday 9th November

Both kids were still not great this morning. Lots of bickering and aggression between the two of them.

We explained our weekend to the kids teachers and warned them to be on edge. Every single time we talk to them, they are amazing.

We got back from the school run and our SW called me. She had talked everything through with the head teacher at school and the head teacher had said that she has absolutely no concerns with our parenting, if anything she is quite on the opposite side of the coin and can't praise us enough. She also said that she would talk to B about it during the day and report back to us. Our SW then thanked her and everyone at the school for supporting us so well in the last few months under very difficult circumstances.

Our SW had also tried to call the placing LA and low and behold, no one was in or available. No one. Not a single person was available to talk.

Now this would be a good time to explain that a few weeks ago B disclosed that they were significantly sexually abused completely out of the blue. We reported it and were told that the police had been contacted and someone from the placing LA would be in touch to interview B very soon. This still hasn't happened. Nothing was previously known about any form of sexual abuse before this, it was hinted at during various behaviours that have come out since coming home but nothing solid. Their SW has actively denied all knowledge of anything ever happening despite the warning signs that we were seeing.

Eventually we got a call from one of the senior practitioners at our agency. She explained that she would be visiting us that afternoon to discuss what happened on Sunday and to speak to B. A couple of hours later we got a call from the placing LA saying that someone is on their way to attend with the SP from our agency.

I also spoke to the head teacher at school and she was amazing, completely understanding and supportive and reiterated her support for us and everything we've been doing with the kids. She explained that she'd spoken to B about hurting us and spoke about different parts of the brain with them (in a very much child orientated and impressive way - your brain has a sensible owl and a silly monkey and sometimes the silly monkey doesn't listen to the owl or just takes over on its own) and then mentioned what happened with me, B didn't mention it until the head teacher mentioned the specifics and then they told her exactly what happened.

At this point i was furious, i openly admit to doing wrong and overstepping the mark but the fact that they were rushing out for this and not the disclosure is absolutely disgraceful. The person in question is known to have a significant level of contact with other children so could be part of a much wider scale of abuse.

When the SW from the LA arrived, our SP had been here for at least 45 minutes. We questioned the lack of response to the sexual abuse disclosure and all she could respond with was that the police were handling it. I got agitated and explained that actually they had promised that someone would be out weeks ago and our SP backed me up and took it further. She didn't like it then told us that she would be talking to them about it that night but was quite blunt about it.

B & L were eating dinner when she got here and because she was there, B inhaled all of their food.

Our SP had to leave before we even got to the point where the SW interviewed B. She asked about the incident and B said that they punched me and nothing happened after that. She pushed them for a little more and B explained it all and demonstrated exactly what i did.

After that she started on the sexual abuse. She asked one question. She asked B if they remember telling us something about someone a few weeks ago. B said no, she asked if they were sure, they said yes and that was it.

Unfortunately i had to go out to work before she could leave so Wife was left to hold down the fort. The SW said that she has no concerns that it was a violent incident or that there's any concerns for the placement. She said that she still has to talk to her manager but doesn't see that anything else would come from it.

Honestly, I'm pleased that it looks like it won't be taken any further but completely and utterly disgusted with them over the sexual abuse stuff. They're beyond incompetent. It's terrifying that they make key decisions in abuse and neglect cases.

Big got up during the night and sobbed that we weren't in bed, it was 8pm.

Tuesday 10th November

Big got up again in the early hours, got within an inch of my face and said in a really loud voice, "SEE YOU IN THE MORNING MUMMY." I screamed.

Other than that we had a decent morning. The school run was ok and i managed to sneak a word with teachers in the playground to explain about last nights meeting. Again, they were amazing. One offers to do anything at all possible to help us in anyway they can, the other says that she wanted to give me a big hug and stroke me. A tad random but it was all very positive.

Wife had a work day today so i called the SP from our agency and spoke to her about it. She's pleased that it doesn't look like it's going to go any further but she is disgusted with the handling of the sexual abuse disclosure. So much so she's in talks with the agency manager to come down on the LA hard.

There's also concerns that the kids are reacting to the introduction of life story work and that the fact that the LA has done 2 sessions with them and have nothing extra planned is ridiculous. They're going to push for our side to take it over now, we all feel strongly that it's time to move away from the LA, they're doing nothing for us that is benefitting our family and are working against at every possible opportunity.

We've been advised to get a complaint in once the order is sorted.

The stress from the last few days has taken it's toll. We're exhausted. All 4 of us. There's a black cloud hanging over us and it's in the shape of the placing LA. We're hopefully applying for the order in the next few months so hopefully it shouldn't be too far off. I just hate that my kids are being put through this crap again and again. It's not fair and it is not right.

I've rambled a bit but i think i've only covered the main things. Adoptive parenting is damn hard, nothing compares to it, nothing at all.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

6 months in...

How the hell has that happened!? Goodness knows.

It's been tough but i figured that i'd do a top tips and things we've come to realise sort of blog.

Ask the foster carer(s) every single question you can think of. Foster carers know more than most of the other professionals involved but don't necessarily know what you want or need to know. Our LOs FCs were great but were surprised at how many questions we asked. They've been foster carers for over 20 years but have never been asked so many questions.

You will be blamed for everything the kids have been through. They don't realise and in some cases won't intend to but each time they realise that something was off or start coming to terms with something that happened with BPs, you will be blamed in every way a person can be.

CPRs have only half of what you need to know in them. Ours are horrendous. Things that happened that are extreme are no where to be seen. So much information missing and potentially (although we have no way of proving it) some lies from Voldemort.

You will have to fight for support. Do not rely on the kids social worker to inform other people involved, Voldemort didn't and as a result we really had to fight and if it wasn't for the support of our agency i really don't think we would have had any support yet.

Adopting is work. All day everyday you will work your arse off and the chances are it won't feel like you're making any progress for a long long time. We're just starting to see some steps forward now and that is quick.

Please, please, please choose your agency carefully. Our agency are always going above and beyond to ensure that we have everything we need. We've come so close to disrupting in the last couple of months and they've saved our arses over and over again, i can not stress that enough.

Talk to and keep in touch with as many adopters as you can. Friends, family, teachers etc may get it but they aren't living it day in day out and the only people who truly appreciate what it takes are other adopters.

School can make all of the difference. Our school is amazing, they respect us, our ideas and our parenting style. They never question us and are always keeping us up to date with what's happening with both of our kids. They don't pressure the kids and are constantly readjusting what they already know.

This is only really brief, i could go on for hours but i think these are the key points.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Food For Thought

Our children came to us with no known food issues. There was never any indication that they had ever been without food, i'd even go as far to say as there seemed to be too much.

Shortly after they moved in Little started eating toothpaste and alarm bells started ringing. We soon realised that neither of them would chew their food and that if there was food around, neither of them could relax. We began to think that they had definitely not been fed consistently especially after Big started eyeing up the scraps after having eaten a huge Sunday Dinner. We went to a party with your standard buffet food and before long they were stealing stuff constantly.

We mentioned our concerns to our social worker and Voldemort but it was only our social worker that showed any sort of concern. Eventually our SW decided to tell Voldemort that she believes that the children had had lots of food for a very limited time then had to go without for days/weeks on end. Voldemort then responds with, "yeah, that's exactly how it was." Nothing is mentioned in the CPRs at all.

This was when we decided to go behind Voldermorts back and try something that our agency had told us about all through our training.

Basically, we got a small cool bag (the sort you'd have for an individual picnic) and took the kids to the supermarket and allowed them to choose things that didn't need cooking, no sweets, no chocolate and no crisps. Once we got home we filled the bags as full as we possibly could by taking everything out of the wrappers and explained to them both that this is their food. They don't share anything, swap anything, the don't need to ask to have it, they can have as much or as little as they want at any given time. From that moment on we ignored the existence of the box until it needed refilling.

The first day, Big sat and ate for almost 3 hours solid after having a normal lunch. It didn't take long before the sick bucket came out and the nausea started. 5 minutes with their head in the bucket and it was back to eating without having thrown up. This 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off cycle for the next hour or so. Then it was time for dinner. Big's face was a picture, the thought of having to eat a full meal seemed to scare them!!

We encouraged them both to eat their meals normally saying things like, "we're a bit worried because you've not eaten much today" etc. We told school all about it when they went back (the box stayed at home and was only available whilst they were home) the next day and explained why we were doing it. They were incredibly supportive.

Little started to get bored of it first but we always knew that it would work that way. After about 5 days it was only at night that they would want it out and it would only last a few minutes.

Big took about an extra week. We realised that it was only last thing at night and first thing in the morning that they would want it so we started saying that we'll see them in the morning for breakfast whilst we were wishing them goodnight. The very next night Big announced that they didn't want it tonight and gave it to Wife to take downstairs. We were in total shock.

We then took some advice from our agency about how to remove it. We didn't want to phase it out because the theory was that it was always full but we didn't want to surprise them with it not being there. We were advised to talk to them about how they don't seem to want it at the minute so we're going to put it away and if it feels too strange then we can always bring it back.

We did that on Thursday which was day 19 and so far neither of them have been too bothered. Big has been a little anxious about where it is but hasn't wanted it.

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster, the initial few days really got to us both. Absolutely no idea how they didn't throw up after eating for so long, seeing them doing it made us both feel so ill. We got so angry with it but it wasn't anger aimed at the kids, for the first time since they came home it was anger at their BPs.

At one point Big had left the lid open and because the food had got warm, some stuff had started to go furry. Big wasn't bothered, they were sat in bed with both hands full of food eating without thinking about what it was. They were pretty much forgetting to breathe and only gasping for air every minute or so. What the hell happened for them to want to do that?!

We're much better off for it, the kids have responded really well and are hopeful going to continue and if not, we'll just bring it out again.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Fighting for Support

Last week our social worker made an official request for theraplay for us as a family. To say that the LA were shocked would be an understatement. Apparently, (despite our social worker updating all involved after every meeting and message with or from us) there is absolutely no need for it and it was an absolute no.

After receiving that email our social worker decided that the best thing to do would be to call them and have a chat about it all. From what our social worker told us, it descended into absolute chaos almost immediately. The therapeutic support woman repeatedly spoke over her, wouldn't let her explain our side and said that there was absolutely no reason to believe that Big and Little need any sort of additional support at this time. Our SW said that when she put the phone down, she actually screamed.

Fast forward to this week and the manager of our agency rings up the LA and demands a professionals meeting after having a phone call from the TS woman's manager. That meeting happened on Thursday just before the LAC review.

We were asked to attend after things had been discussed. When we got there it had been decided that the way forwards is to assess the children's attachment type with each of us and either get us to work on what we already have to develop it further or to help us gain new skills that will help us to help them and make it easier for us all overall. That then has the potential to follow on to theraplay. They are also going to do some direct work with Big and Little on life story work, personal space, road sense and stranger danger.

The TS manager has said that she will send us details of some courses that offer a very practical approach to parenting traumatised children.

It all sounds good, if nothing else we are actually being acknowledged. If it wasn't for our agency, i'm not sure how we would have got to this point, they are fighting for us every step of the way.

During the meeting it was noted that Big and Little's social worker wasn't paying attention. In fact, she was looking out of the window and writing a report about something different all together. How the hell can we be expected to work with someone like that??

When we arrived we were told about everything and then we were handed life story books to have a quick look through now and take home. I went through about 10 pages of Big's and pointed out mistakes on each page. Now i have a memory for dates and ages so when it said that BM was x years old when Big was born and i know that she wasn't i flagged it up. Voldemort (as she's more commonly known) instantly snapped "It's right, i worked it out." i held my tongue as much as i could and reasonably quickly responded with, "Well you didn't work it out very well because it's wrong." And you know what, it is!! stupid woman. After that TS said that they would send the originals through on email for us to edit and send back so that they could re print and laminate everything for us.

The LAC review went well, the thing that made us both really happy was how amazing school are. Every single thing we've been telling and have told the LA school then said without prompt or knowing that we'd said it. Our SW is amazed by how fantastic school is. They know what they're doing, they know their stuff and they are doing everything they can to get what they need to help our children thrive.

When we got home that evening we looked at the later life letters and realised that there's at least 1 significant mistake in there and there's definite information missing.

The following evening i started looking through the LSBs to edit short, they are shit. 104 pages between them and 62 pages edited. Some of the main reasons for removal and half of the story are missing. These are documents that have apparently been checked over by multiple professionals that know Big and Little's history. Quite frankly it's disgusting and as a result we've decided to do it ourselves and we will be sending an email detailing our reasoning behind it and slating the LA.

Since the LAC review, Big and Little have been absolutely awful. This is the worst few days for a while now and i am completely and utterly sick of being a Mum tonight. I miss being relaxed, i miss the woman that shouted probably once every 3 or 4 months. I miss quality time with my Wife. I know it'll pass but right now i'm just completely fed up of the stress of having to deal with an entire organisation who refuse to do their jobs unless you pull out the big guns.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Moments of beauty

In the last few days and weeks we've been getting more and more really positive signs of a growing attachment/desire to be close and some trust with both of our children and i want to share some with you guys.

Whilst walking them both to school the other day, Little asked for my hand and looked at my when i gave it to them and said, 'you've got a son/daughter* on your hand" and smiled.

Big has started having really long and beautiful cuddles where they really snuggle in to us.

Both children are searching for us frantically if we're not immediately where they think we are.

Big is asking for more and more cuddles and kisses and makes sure they get plenty in with both of us each day and will get upset if we haven't had enough that day.

Little has started completely rejecting anyone but us for comfort in their time of need. Wife's BIL went to them twice in the same day recently and Little ran to find us and clung on for dear life.

We're getting disclosures more and more from Big. We had a 5 minute long very intense, very descriptive group of disclosures a few days ago that kind of knocked us for six.

They both search for us and look to us for reassurance in new situations. Big goes as far as coming back to us repeatedly.

They seem to be far more relaxed. This probably sounds weird but they do, something has changed with them both and they aren't so anxious all of the time, they're more happy to know that this is what we're doing right now and we're not having to constantly tell them what we'll be doing next.

When we're out somewhere, they both ask to go back to our house. Little even announced the other day that "our home is over that way". Neither of them have ever said home before.

During every cuddle, Little will stroke/pat us in the way that we do to them. Big is starting it but not in the same way just yet.

*Little didn't say son/daughter, they only said the one that they are.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


Things have been trundling along at quite some pace really, we're 3 months in since forever family day today and i can't quite believe it. I don't really remember what life was like before kids but i do miss certain snippets that are fast disappearing.

Big is doing much better at the minute. I'm not sure if they're doing better generally or if we're getting better and dealing with stuff and not letting it escalate. School is going really very well! They love their school and are making lots of friends and being invited to lots of parties (cue lots of anxiety from us about photos etc) and other kids are saying hello more and more on the walk home.

The only thing Big is struggling with at school at the minute is playing. They'll approach a group of kids to play with and need instant and unconditional acceptance and reassurance or you'll find them stood at the side of things looking in or wandering off. School are being brilliant though and putting support in place to help.

We're getting a few old habits creeping back in at the moment but we think father's day is having a lot to do with that. Big in particular is expecting to send cards and presents to BD as they did when they were in foster care but obviously that won't be happening. We're planning a chat about it tomorrow to clarify some things. Big also is fantasising a lot about BPs and the things that happened when they were with them. One day there wasn't a lot of food (Little and their histories confirming it) the next day it'll be, "we did have food. My x/y/z had food." It's tough, they both need to hear a blunt version of the truth but they aren't yet ready and when we don't have life story books, it's really difficult.

Little is swapping between toddler and teenager at the minute. Sometimes we have the most wonderful little human on our hands but a lot of the time we have the terrible twos in a child that is no where near 2. It's hard and it's worked it's way into school but we're all doing the same things and they're responding well.

Other than that Little is doing really well. I say that but this week we've had hay fever, potentially asthma and potentially impetigo. 2 trips to the doctors and Big is pissed off about it, they just don't realise that having to go to the doctors isn't good thing.

The thing that is striking us as the most difficult at the minute is that Little gets stuff better than Big. the difference in the intellectual maturity between them is astonishing. Big is a classic example of an adopted child, you name it and we see it in them. Little is the 'average' child who does have some stuff going on but it's nothing like what we see with Big. Little let's things go appropriately but Big is completely hyper vigilant with everything and everyone but them to the point where they've had 2 major wee accidents in the last week. None before this.

We're definitely getting there though, we seem to be getting more and more in tune with them with each day that passes. I'm getting some daft Mum sort of instincts kicking in, i went shopping for a new top for me and came back with loads of stuff for them and nothing for me etc.

I feel like i'm starting to become a mum, how long it will actually take or last, i don't know. Thing's are getting easier though and i'm happy. Everyday isn't a struggle anymore, we live week to week unless something happens and then we only seem to go down to day to day. it's good. And you know what, we're feeling just about ready to apply for the order, we just need some stuff to be in place first.