Siablo Week 7

SiABlo week 7 is open!

Our little single adopter community is becoming stronger week by week. The support we have for each other is something I cherish deeply. How many more of us are there out there that we don’t know about? Find our list of single adopter accounts on twitter here.

And now, here are the blogs for this week. Find the thumbnail code to put onto your page below:

MeandMiniMees: Through the fog – this blog written after a night of searching the streets for his missing son captures the internal tension of keeping our teen kids safe.

ImperfectlyPerfectMother: Pre-adoption me versus Postadoption Me – explores life and the changes she has seen with a post that looks at things through two sets of eyes.

Angie via Caritas: Dear Adopter, Love Angie – a single adopter reflects on becoming a mum.

Befuddled Mum: Testing boundaries and planning to contain – how setting limits and following them through worked for this single adopter of a teen.

Suddenly Mummy: Sensory processing; after the assessment – explores the insights and impacts of a sensory assessment completed by an occupational therapist.

mumdrah: Three legged stool – exploring the three main pillars of being a mum in an adoptive family.

 

mumdrah

Mother love

Today I can’t help but think of my little girl’s mum; her wonderful, beautiful, fragile, misunderstood mum. I hope I do you proud; for the both of us, but mostly for our little girl. We miss you.

Today I can’t help but think of all those adoptive mother’s and foster carers who struggle with the traumas their children carry and relive day after day. Those who find and give love even while under fire.

Today I can’t help but think of my own mother, who listens when I’m failing, when I’m angry and tearful. When I am afraid. Who fills me up with love when i need it the most.

Today I can’t help but think of those mothers I meet at the foodbank who struggle to feed, clothe and warm their children. Who fight fiercely to put the food on the table, to get their kids to school. To sing them happily to sleep at the end of the day with full bellies, while their own growls with hunger.

Today I can’t help but think of those mother’s forced to flee war and persecution, only to find themselves shielding their little ones from razor wire, tear gas, the baton and yet more hatred.

Mother’s day marks our recognition of the nurturing compassion, kindness, open hearts and open arms of that special kind of Mother Love.

Yet so many of the Mothers I meet are left alone in their times of need.

SiABlo Week 6

It’s SiABlo Week 6 already!

Here’s hoping we have a good line up of blogs for you to read through. Here’s hoping that couple adopters realise that the trials and tribulations of single adopters have a lot of helpful advice and insight that is deeply relevant for their families.

I’m wondering – shall we have a theme week for #SiABlo week 7? Message me or leave a comment here if you have any suggestions.

ImperfectlyPerfectMum: The single adopter’s guide to birthday survival - birthdays aren’t easy in adoptive families. Here are some great observations on helping the day along.

MeandMiniMees: Saturated - dedicated to all those who are trying their best with their children.

SuddenlyMummy: Fists of fire“if you could have a superpower, what would it be?”. SuddenlyMummy explores her son’s response to that question.

AdoptiveBlackMom: An anxious life – this single adoptive mom has been learning to live with anxiety since her daughter arrived.

Another Mountain: A thank you – matching is hard. Failed matches are a rollercoaster, and even harder when you go through them alone. Support is vital.

mumdrah: Bin Bags – it’s eleven years since cht arrived at my door with bin bags full of her things; and it still happens today.

Three legged stool

I realize mumdrah is a three legged stool; with each leg distinct in it’s character.

The first is ‘therapeutic mumdrah’.

She understands. She needs little, and she’s happy to give. She moves naturally and empathically – from the heart and mind – with ease. She soothes even in the maelstrom of a scathing attack. She is patient, and calm. She sees things through the eyes of a yogi. She plays the long game. She makes hot chocolate while objects fly, covers post it notes with heart shapes. She sees the trauma for what it is. She is the amygdala tamer to a little girl who hurts.

The second is ‘stepford mumdrah’.

She labours. She uses huge amounts of energy. She goes through the motions; does what is expected and hopes it is enough. She wears thick protective armour. Her lips are tight in attempt not to let anything slip out. She is not natural, or flowing, or easy. She is tightly in control, forced and robotic. She is born out of sympathy, but also of exhaustion and self-protectiveness. She clings to knowing what is right, but she doesn’t get it right. She is sometimes a little withdrawn. She survives. She is the amygdala tamer to herself.

The third has no name.

She hurts. She is the traumatized wounded sister to cht. She is deeply hidden. She rises to the surface rarely and explosively. She craves the signs that everything is – or will be – okay. She buckles under the pressure of getting everything right while being pilloried for getting it all wrong. She comes when she can no longer ignore the hurt, or the blame, or the selflessness. She is needy, and can no longer put other people before her self. She cries out for acknowledgement, for help, for understanding. She is the amygdala tamer to no one. She is her own amygdala gone bad.

The stool doesn’t stand right without accepting all three parts of mumdrah. They each rely on and inform each other in some way, and they each help me understand my role as an adoptive parent that little bit more.

Each and every aspect needs acknowledgement, and love, and nurturing. Perhaps some forgiveness too.

SiABlo Week 5

The weeks fly by! SiABlo Week 5 is open for business.

Here we try and collate all the blogs from single adopters under one roof for easy reading. If you are a single adopter or an adoptee to a single parent and want to contribute, please message me with your blog post URL to be added; no technical link tools here yet – but we do have a thumbnail button to add to your post; grab the html code below.

Old posts or new; we don’t mind! Maybe next week we could even set a theme (suggestions welcome).

ImperfectlyPerfectMother: Too many words means the well runs dry - sometimes as a single adopter there is so much to express that you can’t find the words to say it all.

AdoptiveBlackMom: Hope and worrya self reflection on this single adopter mum’s first 1,140 days of being a parent.

Befuddled Mum: 2 steps forward and 1 step back – on stepping back, picking up the pieces, and supporting our older kids to move forward in their lives.

Another Mountain: I imagined youa deeply intimate description of how the matching process takes us on imagined emotional journeys with children we will never meet.

mumdrah: Fake news – exploring how life is when your inner voice is a high alert saboteur. On amygdalas, guard dogs and the size owl.

mumdrah

Bin bags

I opened the door to chaos.

Two foster carers, two social workers and two foster children. They piled in, bringing nappy bags, baby carriers, lunch coldkeeper bags, handbags, backpacks and briefcases. Bags everywhere. Bags fit for purpose. Bags for everyone.

They all talked over each other, babbling and organizing and whirling about. The baby needed changing, the boy had been sick in the car on the long journey. The social workers hadn’t met the foster carers.

I stood to one side, trying to ignore the requests for drinks, the hellos, the opening gambits for conversation. Because just inside the door was someone else. A frightened, rigid, silent little girl, all alone. She was the centre of it all – the reason we were all there – yet forgotten by the immediate demands and priorities of everyone but her.

Next to her was dumped a pile of three oddly shaped, split and squashed black bin bags.

Her bags.

I pushed through all the people, and offered her my hand. I kept my back to everyone; wishing i could make my shoulders wide enough to block out everything else that was happening in the room. I knelt down. We looked straight into each other; her eyes wide and seeking, mine as soft and as safe as I could make them. I led her to the stairs, and sat on the second step. I gently pushed an unruly curl behind her ear, and she made the move to sit beside me.

“It’s very noisy” I mouthed, smiling gently. She nodded.

“Is that your stuff?” I asked, tilting my head towards the crumpled pile. She shrugged.

“Shall we take your things upstairs to your room?”.

“They’ve lost my teddy” she whispered. And burst into tears.

 

Madlug believe that no child in care should carry their life in a bin bag. For every bag bought, they donate a travel bag to a child in care.

 

The BuddyBag Foundation supply bags to children who find themselves in emergency care after a traumatic incident

 

 

Fake news

Fake news: Her story and my story are never alike

The differences in our stories are not just those of opinion; they are rooted in the chemical hardwiring of our brains.

My memory: that time when she stepped off the curb as a six year old right in front of a bus, and I snatched her back safe from harm.

Her memory: that time when I grabbed her and hurt her shoulder.

My memory: the time she kept running into the wall head-butting it while trying to throw herself down the stairs, me stood trembling in the way to block and protect her, when she pushed me and I fell all the way down.

Her memory: the day I slammed her against the wall and made a big bump on her head.

My memory: The time she turned her room upside down in a rage, lunged at me with scissors, tripped over the upturned broken chair on the floor and scraped her head on the edge of the table.

Her memory: the time I threw her against the table and cut her head open.

My memory: the time her sister’s FCs failed to make arrangements for our visit in the summer despite attempt after attempt to make it happen.

Her memory: the day I stopped her from seeing her sister.

My memory: the time she chose to miss the last train (again), and was angry at me for coming out to collect her; grabbing at the wheel so we swerved off the road on the long way home.

Her memory: the time I tried to kill her.

Her story and my story are never alike, and yet each of our stories is true.

Her experiences are framed always by her constant perception of being in danger. Her sense of truth is shaped by a worldview that sees everything and everyone as perilous; to be fought against tooth and nail.

No part of her rational brain can pierce the memories forged in those moments. No period of quiet, calm reflection can balance these truths for her in any way that helps her see or embrace the safety she now resides in. She lives forever in the maelstrom of hazard. Her ‘stories’ aren’t designed to mislead, to misinform, or to manipulate an outcome. They are pure survival born out of fear. She is obliviously locked in to the perilous world her amygdala presents to her, and every day this fake news filter sabotages everything for her; reinforcing the story of a dangerous world just that little bit more.

The truth of her fake news is what scares me the most.

 

#Siablo Week 4

Here is the weekly round up of Single Adopter Blogs for #SiABlo Week 4

To link up, message me with the URL of your post, and grab the button code below to add the thumbnail.

ImperfectlyPerfectMother: The fortress of solitudewhen managing your own internal reactions takes over the managing of external events.

MeandMiniMees: I’m sorry – an honest list f the things adopters find themselves saying sorry for to those people that don’t understand their kids.

Another Mountain: Matchingon the wall of silence one single adopter experienced between the process of approval and matching.

Suddenly Mummy: It’s all gone quiet over here – about the peace that has descended on the house of a ‘dual role’ adopter and foster carer between placements.

Sarah Fisher: De-escalation: will it solve all our problems? on how de-escalation is just a part of the jigsaw of NVR

AdoptiveBlackMom: My triggerson snapping, and digging deep into a situation to understand what is really going on for us.

My Single Adoption: Joy that comes from letting goabout recognising that you are ‘carrying more than you can handle’, and stripping it down.

mumdrah: Holesa post describing the holes we can all so easily fall into every day while dealing with trauma.

SiABlo Week 4

#SiABlo Week 3

For week three we are attempting some high tech wizardry:
you can add your blog direct to the #SiABlo Week 3 page until Midnight on Sunday 5th March. We are about 60% certain it will work! So we will also add them manually as a back up plan.
ImperfectlyPerfectMother: ’The weight (and I don’t mean the song by The Band)‘ - on parental overwhelm and carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
BefuddledMum: ’How school can get it right!‘ – on how this single adoptive mum supports adopted children in school
MeandMiniMees: ’An epilogue?‘ – third in a series of posts on a terrible weekend of Mate Crime.
StarfishandMe: Singled Out‘ – what nobody told me about beng a single adoptive parent.
Sarah P Fisher: ‘When it becomes a struggle‘ – on the little things that help us cope when things get tough.
mumdrah: ’Ducks in a row‘ - on the importance of positive reinforcement for single and couple adopters.
And here is our low tech Linky tool option as a trial run::


Ducks in a row

Single adopters can’t get their ducks in a row.

I’m not even sure we have any ducks. We have no one to positively reinforce our choices, our actions. Or even that we are good people; or good parents. Our day to day parenting stands alone, with no comment or reflection from anyone but our children. Their trauma responses and feelings of being under attack are not balanced within our homes by another person reacting differently to us, lovingly, appreciatively, understandingly, supportively; nor showing anything different to their negative feelings. The view our kids develop of us is left unchallenged or mitigated through the eyes of another, and they spiral down into an unshakeable negative stereotype.

One single conversation with an adoption support consultant brought this deficit home to me. Lack of positive reinforcement has now been pointed out as our biggest logistical problem, and her view of me has become a substantial block to moving forward. This  bombshell clearly needs to be shared, because it seems there are lots of layers to consciously reframing the picture our children may hold in their minds.

Positively reinforce the existence of everyday acts of safety and family:

“Hasn’t mum cooked a great dinner for us tonight”.

“Awww, look, Dad made sure all the washing we needed for tomorrow was done.”

“Aren’t we lucky – mum did the shopping and brought home all the things we needed

Positively reinforce good, simple interactions and empathy:

“Hahahahaha – dad’s joke was funny”.

“I’m going to help mum clear up the kitchen because I can see she is tired and a bit grumpy today”.

“I think it’ll be fun if we play a game with Dad”.

Positively reinforce the constant offer of loving acts:

“Well done Mum for coming to collect us when she felt poorly”.

“Dad is so kind – he’s going to let you borrow his bike because yours is broken”.

“Wow! Mum’s been at work all day, and she still came back and tidied up the mess we left”.

Positively reinforce what is happening in a challenging situation:

“Dad is doing everything he can because he wants to help you work this out”.

“I can see how much mum loves you even though you are mad at her”.

“I hear you saying that Dad is making it worse; and yet i can see he is being very calm and listening to you to try to help.”

Positively reinforce the truth in the face of accusation or gaslighting:

“I know you don’t think anyone cares that your mobile doesn’t work, but I heard mum on the phone for over an hour trying to sort it out”.

“I saw the money was on the table too, and it’s definitely gone; dad hasn’t made a mistake.”

“I heard that conversation, and mum didn’t said it was okay to go to the skatepark today.”

Positively reinforce the process of therapeutic parenting:

“I think dad did a great job of keeping you safe when you felt angry at him last night”

“I see that feeling frustrated is making you cross; I’m going to go outside with mum. There is a hug waiting for you from both of us when you are ready.

“Dad is not going to argue or fight back; this is not okay, so we are going to walk away for a moment. We are here when you need us”.

How much do you do this; randomly reinforce your partner as a positive, loving person and parent? Not simply when a challenging situation arises, but knitted into the ordinary everyday comings and goings of life. However much you do, my consultant would no doubt say you should do it more!

Living without this reflective back up is hard, because the power of positive reinforcement is profound.

So, back to my fellow single adopters and ‘what can we do’? Not much really. People outside the home often inadvertently negatively reinforce our children’s belief through trying to be kind. Inside, trying to do it yourself – or through the dog – mostly seems to feel sarcastic, or obviously pointing something out. Briefing even one close friend or relative on how to do this for you would make a big difference.

In advance of more input on this from the consultant, ideas welcome!