If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Dear The Children's Minister

Dear Mr Timpson,

Initially I was going to thank you for your letter but as it was never actually sent to me I am not sure that I was supposed to receive it.  In fact I wonder exactly who the letter was for, maybe you could explain why a letter addressed Dear Adopter was never actually forwarded onto adopters. The cynic in me thinks it was written for those in your party, the adoption departments and the press and as I write this I think I can understand why you didn't write to us individually, that would mean huge numbers of responses from those of us actually living on the frontline of adoption, no doubt asking more questions or pointing out the flaws in the changes to the adoption process.

Recruitment and Matching
I am sure that fast tracking the adoption process for those who have already adopted will be of a huge benefit, but, I am truly concerned about the speeding up of the adoption process, meaning that potential adopters can be approved within 6 months. It takes 9 months for a baby to develop in the womb before they are born, giving their parents that 9 months to prepare themselves for a complete change to their lives. Inevitably those parents will be supported by family and friends many who can share support through their own experience yet in adoption you want parents to be ready to take on a child that will have been traumatised within 6 months and as there is no support or training provided by the adoption services for their families and social groups to help adapt to this huge change they can be of no "real" support - I have found that unless you are actually living it you really can't understand it. Many of our children need so much more than a loving and stable home. I have found that at best I have to be constantly pro-active in ensuring support for my son and know that at worst adopters have to fight for what their children need.

The statistics of adoption breakdowns from 2000 to 2011 show to be anywhere between 3% and 25% depending on what you read! but most studies show that the breakdowns tend to happen during the teenage years, what will those figures be between 2018 and 2028 when the 5000 children who have just been adopted reach their teenage years. Without a strong enough foundation of knowledge and expectation for potential adopters and if the right support is not in place once  children have been adopted I fear for the difficulties that could affect many families, leading to the heartbreak of a breakdown.

Adoption Support, Education and Health.
Wonderful, more support is to be put in place, the pupil premium to help support our children in school, free nursery places and access to therapeutic services, although we adopters are saving the government a small fortune not only on foster care, which costs them anywhere between £116 and £750 per child per week depending on the circumstances (that's in excess of £29 million based on £116 for the £5000 children adopted) but also on additional costs that these children could potentially create as they grow up, 40% of the under 21s on prison were in care as children.

Please, please do not just throw money at this situation, what we need is for you to ask not only us as the adopters but also the adoptees what is it that they need and want. For me just as a start I want all staff in schools to have to take part in therapeutic training so that they understand how to handle our children, I want access to CAHMS to be immediate when required and for the families that need it to be able to have the support as often as necessary and I want as much post adoption training and support that I can get but to do it, it needs to be when my husband or parents can do the childcare so a week long course doesn't work, maybe one day a week or a Saturday, we have to think outside the box.

We must share the trauma of adoption as much as the joy so that society understands why our children have different needs and don't isolate or exclude us or them.

So Mr Timpson you have the power in your hands to actually make a difference, please interact with us not via a foolish letter but face to face find out what we need and spend the £19 million wisely.

Yours Sincerely

An Adopter

Here is the link to the Children's Minister Mr Timpson's Letter


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Letters along the way

Birth parents and step siblings letters arrived this week. And for the first time I felt something new, something primal. The birth parents letters were for the first time articulate and told the story of how they were making progress, finding and keeping jobs building a life, all be it one with out their son.  When their previous letters arrived they were disjointed, short and for the some part full of rage and grief, selfishly I preferred this it gave me the higher ground, the morality that our child 4 needed to be removed from their care or lack of it and placed with us. It eased the guilt I will always feel.  It was a new and some what frightening experience to read a letter that made me question what child 4 would think when he read those letters at an age that he could understand them..

I don't know if it's just that I have fallen more in love with child 4 or that I am just seeing a new crossroads ahead but I was scared, angry and worried. Questions scurried around in my head "why was I taken away?"  "They sound nice" what would my life have been like if I stayed with them?"

I guess my feelings and thoughts are natural, I only want what is best for my children, I want them to be happy and loved and why wouldn't I worry about how child 4 is going to deal with his history and his future.  How am I going to know what questions he is going to ask and how am I going to answer them. I guess honesty, integrity and love is the way to go. He has to be the centre, my fears and feelings may have to sit on the back burner or be shared in a G&T boardroom meeting.

The road we walk is long, with bends, crossroads and uneven surfaces yet if we traverse it holding hands and sharing our experiences then we can negotiate whatever life throws at us together.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Which superhero?

Children in Need is nearly here and with it goes dressing up in school day. Fortunately or not child 3 has already completed her dressing up day today as a WW1 land girl to celebrate/commiserate 100 years since WW1. The whole school joined in, there were nurses, fighter pilots even one in his own cardboard box plane, a cardboard box tank, a trench rat, evacuees and many many more. The children could invite grandparents and aunts and uncles anyone who was alive during WW2. Of course they joined in, in their droves and took part in activities, making poppies, trenches out of lollipop sticks and clay, ID cards and writing poems. The day climaxed with the singing of those old war time favourites. "Keep the Home Fires Burning" "Pack up your troubles" and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"

  Celebrating peace is always a good thing  but if we consider that only 11 out of 161 countries on the planet are not involved in some form of conflict at the moment I am not sure we have much to celebrate but I guess that's for another blog! 

Back to dressing up, child 4 has just found the joys of the dressing up box and at the weekend he and his sister child 3 played for an hour dressing up as all sorts of super heroes, a shield on the back created a tortoise and scarves wound around the body became beautiful dresses befitting only a princess. Then they screamed and hurled themselves up and down the hallway with one arm reaching up to the sky "whoosh super B...... to the rescue".

Child 4 has to dress up as his favourite superhero on Friday along with £1 to donate to Children In Need. Have you ever noticed how many of our most well known superheroes were adopted?


Superman, Spider-Man, Bat Girl, Hell Boy, Robin, Iron Man, Wolverine to name a few and so I have made child 4 his own special cape. A bright red piece of fleece decorated with a B and some stars, all because he is my little superhero and I really, really want him to understand that everyone no matter who they are or where they come from has the chance to be special maybe not flying through the air or swarming up a building special just special because of who they actually are. This is child 4's favourite song in pre school at the moment..... I hope he keeps the words close to his heart because he like his siblings are really special, well at least to me.

I am Special
(to the tune of "Frere Jacques")

I am special,

I am special,
Look at me,
You will see,
Someone very special,
Someone very special,
It is me,
It is me.

Saturday, 8 November 2014


I have spent this week considering siblings, as that was the highlight of this years National Adoption Week. We didn't adopt siblings so I wondered if my thoughts could be included, then decided that of course they can, just because we haven't adopted all our children doesn't change how adoption has affected each and every member of our family.  Child 4 joined our noisy, rambunctious and happy household a year ago and we now have 2 girls of 15 and 8 and 2 boys of 13 and 3. Our home is now noisier, more chaotic and for the most part full of laughter, love and happiness. I am so, so very proud of our older three children they have followed us down the adoption journey road, even occasionally overtaking us at surprising moments to lead the way with a wisdom that belies their years. They have questioned and discussed our decisions, sharing their worries and moments of joy along the way with an honesty that is sometimes a little scary. Before child 4 joined us I set up support networks for everyone, I spoke to schools, friendship groups, trusted friends and supportive family members ensuring that when difficult times arise all four children could have time, support and anything necessary to their well being.

Some people forget that our child 4 has been adopted as he is so much part of the family and that is an amazing gift, however when times are difficult, which can be a lot of the time, he is the one that demands so much of our time and this can be detrimental to his older siblings. It is so different to have adopted, had I given birth to another baby there would have been the 9 months preparation then when the baby arrives they sleep a lot, they don't climb the walls or stair gates, they don't throw cutlery, books or trains, they don't hit, pull hair or bite and actually they are quite boring. We by-passed all that and went straight into manic toddler mode and so of course there is a knock on effect.

I picked up early on that child 3 was struggling, I guess that I was expecting it, after all she had been the baby for 8 years,so  her nose was understandably very bent out of joint, but actually she is thriving in school and our love bombing moments have definitely helped to keep our relationship strong. It's child 2 that seems to have slipped through the net. Maybe because he has just hit his teenage years,  maybe because he hasn't found his place yet, he isn't as secure in himself as the other children are, so I am left trying to manage what could be a sorry state of affairs instead of pre-empting an issue. Hopefully because I have laid the groundwork for asking for help, that help will be quick and forthcoming and we will be able to resolve his issues quickly and sensitively.

I could beat myself up for missing his worries and no doubt I will, but right now there is much work to be done repairing any damage that may have been done. At least he knows as I do that his foundations are strong and full of love.

Despite these hiccups along the way, adopting has been an amazing experience for us all, I cannot see anything that would change my mind on that, life is full of ups and downs regardless but adding another through adoption has truly shown us the power of love, resilience and laughter, lots and lots of laughter. And those things far outweigh the tears, tantrums and traumas.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

National Adoption Week

Last night I came home from a discussion group that I attend about once a month. It was around 10.30pm and the house was quiet and peaceful. I shrugged off my coat, patted the dogs head and put the kettle on. My husband who was in the bath quietly called out and as I walked over to see what he wanted I was greeted by a bleary eyed child 4 with two storybooks tucked under his arm. I swept him up into my arms and carried him back to bed.
"Your bed mummy?" he murmured
"No sweetheart, I'm not in bed yet" I whispered back. I tucked him back into his bed and he held out his arms "pease stay". How could I refuse, crawling onto the bed next to him we lay nose to nose, his arms wrapped around my neck his hands entwined with my hair and I watched as his eyelids became heavy, his breathing evened out and deepened and then his arms became heavier and heavier. " I really love you mummy" he murmured

That's why adoption is so important to me.................