Forks

There are now three forks left in the house.

They are becoming a metaphor for my life: forks as allegory for our lives.

She packs one when she takes a salad to school. Then she just throws it in the bin because ‘her bag is heavy’. Then she screams when she needs one, because there are no forks in the house; with utterly no clue about her role in that.

Because her amygdala, her trauma, her attachment, her FASD all think that forks – like everything else (money, socks, coffee sachets, homework, friends, me) – are magic and ‘should just be there’; available, ready and waiting the instant she needs them. Be there seamlessly. Be there unimpeded by thinking, or planning, or asking, or decision making, or responsibility, or action; no obstacle or challenge blocking the way. Sometimes, even the opening of the cutlery drawer is too much an obstacle; too much a challenge. There can be no intermediate steps to the fulfilment of the need, because they too are experienced as threat, and their very existence summons her amygdala into protective action.

The lack of a fork – directly to hand, exactly when it’s needed – is perceived as a clear and extreme danger that will be fought with the same all out ferocity of hand to hand combat with a lunging sabre toothed tiger. Any interruption to her thinking process, any delay in a need being answered, and her amygdala is there to fight her way out of the problem.

It’s not just things either. The train she needs to catch, the movie screening, the skate session timetable, the click of the boiled kettle, the Saturday job shift, the dinner arrival, the lift; all required by her amygdala to be available and ready exactly and only when she announces she is in need of them, the instant she needs them.

Like magic.

And likewise, if she doesn’t like the bread in the crock, her amygdala throws the whole loaf away. If the shampoo smells funny, her amygdala empties the whole pot somewhere in the bathroom. If the season of her favourite programme comes to it’s end, her amygdala smashes the controller. The mince I defrosted yesterday to cook with today has already vanished like magic because … her amygdala must have seen it, decided it doesn’t want it, and thrown it away.

If it’s night when she needs it to be day, if it’s Monday when she needs it to be Thursday, if it’s Winter when she needs it to be Summer; amygdala springs overzealous and armed to the teeth to her aid. This amygdala – her protector – was once her biggest friend. It is now her greatest foe.

Her home, her life, her body, her actions, her thoughts – as well as mine – are ruled and ruined by this tiny almond shape misfiring button in her limbic system.

And it hates forks.

 

 

Blogging

Blogging helps me feel connected. It helps me rally and collect my own thoughts. It helps me feel stronger about my parenting, and it helps me grow and learn and find better ways over time. It helps repair my shattered psyche when events have destroyed my confidence and morale. Blogging helps me hone in on what is important to me as an adoptive parent. Blogging helps me seek answers to what is often unanswerable in this conundrum that i live beside – and often within – called trauma. Blogging helps me gain insight to my actions and my thoughts from others as a single adoptive parent with no one to talk to or help me reflect. Blogging helps me feel less alone in the wee hours of the night after a day that has taken me to the very brink of despair. Blogging provides an outlet to my frustrations, my hurt and my wounds. Blogging helps me gain perspective when my world view of a situation becomes distorted and destructive. Blogging often helps me find the humour in the bleakest of moments, and reminds me to see the strange beauty that lies hidden within the torments. Blogging helps me take a place amongst my peers in this fraught and flawed community made up of adopters and adoptees. Blogging breaks the silence in the times when I experience suffering at the hands of the trauma and a wider world that doesn’t understand it or care about it and it’s carriers enough. Blogging helps me feel like the trials, tribulations and lessons of what my family goes through can have some tiny effect on the shape and style – the politics and framework – of ‘adoption future’.

Blogging sometimes is the final shovel full of dirt that buries me beneath the weight of my responsibility that makes it all too heavy to bear. It can reveal the subjects that are still fully taboo – or at least too scary – to talk about, and lay bare the things I’m just not ready or equipped to talk about fluently.

Blogging gives me – the me that lies beneath what cht requires of mumdrah – a voice to my needs when my day to day experiences demands they sit unanswered in silence.

But most of all, blogging helps lift the weight of the thoughts and the challenges that I carry. Blogging reminds me that I am the writer of my own thoughts, and I can chose to take the blue pill or the red in how the extreme demands of my everyday sit within my soul.

Back to the future

I find myself wondering more and more often: how will we ever be able to look back to the future?

How will we tell the stories of our lives? Will we remember things with fondness? Will we be able to laugh at all that has happened between us? Will we ever be able to revisit the painful moments with positive reflection? Will we have anything good to say about it all?

Family is so much focused on retelling.

Sat around the Christmas table, the best man’s speech, pouring over the family album. Each gathering prompts the spilling out of all the personal tales; the moments that made us proud, the embarrassing stories that make us who we are. The successes, the mistakes. The serious and the funny. The adventures, the times shared. The events that make us grow weave a shared past that knits us together without edges or seams. Families explore each other, and gain understanding into how and who we came to be. We laugh, we cry, we get lumps in our throats; we share. All of it.

But how will our future family navigate that retelling? Will we remember all the things we did together differently, and not as shared?  Will we be able to spin yarns about our family’s tapestry without hurting each other with the painful truths that underpin each and almost every event? And how about the parts of our family history that we didn’t share together? The years before we met? How will we find shared meaning in those huge, gaping holes?

Will I ever be able to laugh at the memory of things that – beneath the understanding, and the empathy, and the therapeutic parenting – still felt so hurtful? Will I ever be able to talk about my Love without feeling the sting of sword hidden amongst the pinions*? Without hurting her more? Will she? Will honesty in recounting the events of our lives ever be appropriate, or allowed? Will we ever be able to reflect back on our lives together with anything close to the truth? Will we simply leave out all the trauma from every tale, or dare to open Pandora’s Box on the pain we invoked in each other? Will our memories of events always be tormented by shame (and will our retelling always reopen old wounds, unearth new ones, or create new layers of pain)? Will these ghosts of our past and our present inform the way we can look back on our lives in the future … forever?

When every story we have comes with a dark side of trauma, will we dare to look back to the future at all?

And perhaps worse; in the future, will we even be together to reflect at all?

*thanks Kahlil Gibran

The Keys To The City

As an adopter, looking back to the beginning I understood I’d been trusted with ‘The Keys To The City’.

Those keys represented a commitment to fight for this child. For this child’s rights to a life; a life after her early years, the decisions of state intervention, and the adoption process itself imposed on her a world of pain and trauma over which she had no choice. Each of those keys on that huge and heavy fob represents a life that forcibly handed her more than any person can cope with alone. The keys – I thought – were her pass to access everything she needs to help her through.

What I didn’t understand was that the responsibility for those keys would not be shared. That in truth doors would be closed, barred and locked before us; the keys would become mine and hers alone.  Social services, support agencies, the state, doctors, teachers – all of those people that took decisions which culminated in a life of turmoil – would stop recognizing her past, her present and her future as in any way ‘their responsibility’ from the moment those keys were handed on to me. As if she had suddenly become a different child. As if she no longer needed those keys. As if adoption alone had become the answer – their answer – to the chaotic life their decisions had once taken a part in creating.

I do not understand this. I do not understand how the fight I was trusted with also includes fighting for support from the institutions who time and time again work against her, add to her trauma. Institutions that now see her as the problem. Institutions who choose to forget what made this child, and their role in that.

When ‘the process of adoption’ allows society to relinquish the keys and close the doors to our children’s progress, then it’s time to question the process of adoption.

Because it takes more than one set of Keys To The City to make a difference.

SiABlo Week 12

Its here again; the weekly round-up of adoption blogs from single adopters.

We’ve tracked down all the single adopter bloggers we can find, and we always welcome newcomers so please do get in contact.

MeandMiniMees: The chat – the vulnerabilities of our teen children are gut wrenchingly exemplified in this post.

AdoptiveBlackMom: My 4th Mother’s Day – a post about how complicated this day is for both mum and daughter.

 

SiABlo week 10

And so SiABlo is into the double figures!

This is our tenth week of rounding up the blogs from all the single adopters we have scoured from across the land.

ImperfectlyPerfectMother: Time zones - about the complex layers of reenactment in which our kids attempting to recreate the chaotic schedules of their early life.

MeandMiniMees: Be kind - when social media gets out of hand in your house.

SuddenlyMummy: It’s just parenting – on the realities of being a foster carer.

BlackAdoptiveMom: Here we go - about how being a trauma family presents in public, and the endless cycle of trauma.

 

News item of the week from the Mountain Family column: Childhood trauma has lifelong impact on health. Via Al Coates.

SiABlo week 9

It’s here again! SiABlo week 9 kicks off today.

At the start of the long Easter weekend, what have all the single adopters been writing about this week? What were our challenges, and what stories do we have to share? What can we learn from each other, and what insights do our experiences have for couples and prospective adopters?

Message me to add the link for your blog to the round up below.

SuddenlyMummy: Sensory processing: after the assessment part 2 – a post that looks at the physical implications for our children; a topic not often talked about.

Starfish and Me: Dear church family – a heartfelt plea from a single adopter to her church family on why her life is different, and how she needs their support.

AnotherMountain: The darkness – about the darkness that comes from waiting for a child to come into your family from a single adopter in the process for the second time.

My Little Lady and I: Dear mummy; remember this letter – a reminder of what it’s like to be a toddler written from a toddler’s perspective.

Sarah Fisher: Refusing to give in - The 4th pillar of Non-Violent Resistance.

mumdrah: Hot smoked mackerel – this adopter’s feelings about what self care is, and how it helps restore a sense of who she is.

Hot smoked mackerel

Hot smoked mackerel.

Two mackerel, hot smoked in my bucket smoker. A boiled egg, laid by my girls just this morning. Three salads with a slice of tough sourdough smothered in homemade butter. Tonight, this meal is a reminder of who I am.

The swallows my ears tell me are swirling high above. The newts i watched with a contented smile, busy in my squatted shadow over a newly cleared pond. The single stem of cuckoo smock carefully left to stand  in the lawn freshly moved. Today, these are the moments that I let define me.

The kindness a neighbour sought from me. The help a friend asked for on a deep worry. The trust that was placed upon my loyalty. This morning, this was the reassurance of who mumdrah is.

Self care for me is no treat; no simple indulgence or tidbit. Self care is a reset; a reminder of who I am, away from the chaos of adoption. Some reminders I seek out and create for myself; some come unbidden through the eyes and mouths of others.

This is who mumdrah is.

Away from the shaking, sweaty palmed sense of failure during the crisis. Away from the self doubt and the questioning and the fear. Away from the worries, the dilemmas, the quandaries. Away from the insults and raised voices and the threats that come when she cannot cope. Away from the challenge which – however high you climb to meet it – has little or no feedback of success, or progress.

Reminders are needed. Of who I am. Of what I am worth.

And the hearty taste of those smoky mackerel on my tongue – the first of the season – are reminder enough.

SiABlo week 8

SiABLo Week 8 – our single adopter blog round up is open for the eighth consecutive week! A few new ones this edition.

Much love and patience to you all over the Easter holidays.

Adoptive Mum Battling: A battle too many – all those cracks in the services and support our families need that our kids can fall into, from a single adopter of teens.

BlackAdoptiveMum: My Triggers Pt2 – the frustrations of academic learning, school, and grades.

MeandMiniMees: Hide and seek – this post explores and unpicks a fascinating insightful theme for our kids. It’s a must read!

Sarah Fisher Coaching: Understanding de-escalation – a look at some NVR techniques around de-escalation from this single adopter and coach.

mumdrah: Hemmed in – when all attempts at finding solutions to the root causes of conflict fail. Because there is no immediate solution to trauma.

 

Shall we add a weekly ‘important single adopter other news’ slot?  Why not!

Feel free to suggest entries for this in future.

Here is the final report on CPV published this week, via the wonderful Al Coates’ blog ‘Misadventures of an adoptive dad’. Great work!