Sunday, 28 December 2014

Annie

The 1982 film Annie holds a unique place in the story of our family.

After a year of several Social Worker's scrutiny, three Panel days, 10 days of introductions and most of it being filmed by the BBC the moment finally arrived that we shut the door on them all and we were alone with Sarah, Gracie and Ginger. The palpable feeling of relief and sense of arrival was profound and as I savoured the moment the kids en mass approached me and asked if they could watch a film. Of course I thought, it would be our first unscrutinised and observed  'family moment'.

"Can we watch Annie" they asked

I was genuinely lost for words, the hours of preparation had not prepared me for this, my mind raced trying to comprehend the potential for irreparable harm.  A tale of loss and orphans just seemed inappropriate for this moment.
I sought wisdom from a higher power and she said it was fine, I was being stupid and anyway they had watched it dozens of times with their foster carers.

They went on to watch it dozens of more times, as did I, and as a result song's and scenes are hardwired into my brain and permanently linked to those fledgling moments as a family. Ginger at 20 months had uncannily 'Anniesque' curly ginger hair and the anecdotes of him singing 'the sun will come out tomorrow' at the top of his voice at every opportunity is a cornerstone of most family gatherings.

So to the new film.

In light of my history with the original I am clearly the wrong person to review this film. Furthermore, I'm a total film snob and don't approve of remakes at the best of times. Consequently, I have cast dispersions on the remake and flippantly dismissed it with limited knowledge.

But I thought I should go and Flossy and Lotty were up for it, so after the usual fighty shouty stuff we set off.



I have to say I loved it, this version felt like a contemporary fairy tale. Of course it's not realistic by any stretch of the imagination but I don't watch Jack and the beanstalk for horticultural advice.

Like all good films we watch it through the lens of our own experience. I saw a man who needed to prioritise his life and grab hold of what is important.

Flossy, when asked, described it as a film about a girl that needed to learn to trust.

Lotty just loved it, there aren't many films with characters and heroines that reflect the person she sees in the mirror.

It is non comparable to the 1982 version, that one is a classic musical with outstanding song and dance routines. However, this version had an air of magic that I was surprised at and perhaps the '82 version did not.

Perhaps I'm growing sentimental, on several occasions I stoically held back tears for fear of needing to be stretchered out due to emotional collapse. It pressed my buttons, but as a man of a certain age I am increasingly sentimental and this film hit the mark for me the adoptive father of six.
But I did enjoy it, the music was not great but I forgave it's shortcomings in light of the strong performances from the leads.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

And hello to Jason Isaaks.


Saturday, 27 December 2014

2014: A review of the year.

It has without doubt been a most interesting year. High highs and low lows.

A few days into the new year and Gracie returned herself to the system that had passed her to us 15 years earlier. Looking back now it seems surreal, the events leading up to it and the act itself both laden with strong emotions and difficult experiences. We continue to wrestle with the what has happened and I'm sure we will for many year to come.



Days later we went en mass to the court for the celebration hearing to finalise Peanut's joining us. A great and remarkable day.
The high and low point of the year already set within the first weeks of January 2014.

The rest of the years has been the usual roller coaster of events with managing increasingly challenging behaviour being the constant underlying theme. We've broadened our range of theraputic support, without any assistance from Post Adoption Support services, more through conventional and unconventional means (Equine therapy). We will try anything, we have to.

I was nominated, with Mrs C, for the Happy list. We attended the subsequent event the most remarkable party I've ever been to, a room full of the most inspiring and humble people you'd wish to meet. I have spent the year clarifying that I did not have to 'be' happy to be on the list as I had not nominated myself, thanks BAAF.

Opportunities to share my experience of adoption have come through social media and blogging. However, my personal views on adoption have shifted more this year than I would ave anticipated. I still believe in adoption but increasingly I see orthodoxies in practice, thought and ethics that sit uncomfortably with me. I'm ruminating on how, where and if I should express them.

As the year draws to a close we watch the joyful, painful and delicate steps of reintroduction for our older children to siblings unfairly cast adrift 15 years previously. As we watch we consider our role in this new landscape and reflect on unexpected feelings and thoughts.

So that's our year in the vague.

Best TV: House of Cards (2nd year running).

Best Album: Ozzy Osbourne - Tribute (it wins every year).

Best book: Ruthless Trust (it wins every year).

Favourite colour: Red

All the best for 2015








Thursday, 18 December 2014

Just a word of advice

'Just a word of advice'

It's an expression that fills my heart with dread. It usually means that someone is going to offload their opinion about what I'm doing wrong or how I should at least do it their way.

I much prefer advice that I've asked for than advice that's offered unsolicited. I don't take well to the tutting pensioner in the food isles offering wisdom whilst one of my offspring has a freakout over the lack of Peppa Pig shaped ham or some such.

A recent twitter thread highlighted the 'interesting' advice that was being given and how it was being received.




We all come to this adoption malarky on the back foot, our Social Workers are 'experts' and every suggestion or piece of advice is loaded. It's loaded with the bureaucratic authority they hold,  the unspoken reality that they are gatekeepers to what we want and need. So we nod politely and take on board what is said, after all they're the 'experts'. In different circumstances we wouldn't feel so amenable to advice offered but in this case we are.

If we chose not to follow the advice then we perhaps 'hide' what we intend to do.

The experiences and knowledge of others is invaluable but we must weigh it and measure it against our lives, our knowledge of ourselves and our gut instincts. In social work parlance we are experts of ourselves and our own experience. The approval process should lead us to this understanding so we can use it effectively.

Advice and guidance can be life changing and at times has been essential to us as individuals and as a family. But the spirit that the advice was offered and received seemed to be the essential factor. And not just professionals, family friends and pensioners, the same applies to you.

If you want to listen to me, get to know me and have a conversation then you've got a chance of being asked for advice.

We've been given a truckload of advice but standard' advice trotted out from 'standard' professionals is for 'standard' families and 'standard' children.
I don't know about you but I'm many things but it's increasingly clear that I'm not 'standard'.

For the record:

If anyone ever advises me  to 'relax' cos my child is 'picking up' on my anxiety, I will become the embodiment of the exact opposite of relaxed.

If you advise I use a 'star chart' to help her focus on not being 'angry', I might staple said star chart to your forehead.

If you advise that Flossy 'twangs' an elastic band around her wrist if she feels angry to distract her then I'll let her 'twang' it off your wrist to distract you.

And finally, if you advise Mrs C that she has 'control' issues, I WILL NOT restrain her. You were warned.


















Thursday, 11 December 2014

Outwitted

For this to make any sense you need to be familiar with Chief Inspector Dreyfus of the Pink Panther films

P (Peanut): Daddy?

Me: Yes.

P: What time is it?

Me: Errrr.......(Thinking she is 3 and has no concept of time), 10 o'clock.

P: Thank you......................... Why?
 
Me: Well(Not sure where to start)...................it just is.

P: Why?

Me: (Slightly perplexed) Do you really want to know?

P: Yes.

Me: Well, the world spins. (Smart arse patronising voice)

P: Ok. (Sincere voice)

Me: So, a long time ago people divided up how long it took for the world to spin one full turn. (Getting into it now)

P: Ok. (Interested voice)

Me: The people decided that they would divide it into 24 bits and that how we measure the time.
(I am über dad,  and she is going to be a genius)

P: Ok. (Understanding voice)

Me: So that's why it's 10 o'clock.

P: Ok, (Smiling).....................Daddy?

Me: Yes.

P: What time is it?

Me: 10 o'clock (Hoping this will be the end of it)

P: Ok,....................................Daddy?

Me: Yes. (This is wearing thin)

P: What time is it?

Me: I've just told you, you tell me. ( I can feel my inner Dreyfus rise)

P: 10 o'clock?

Me: Yes, I've just told you! (Dreyfus has arrived)

P: Ok (Smiling).................... Daddy?

Me: Yes.

P: What time is it?

Me: (Sobs)


I am broken, defeated and owned. I am Dreyfus, thwarted, destroyed and outwitted by a by a lesser intellect.

Throughout my parenting years I've been bitten, punched and kicked, insulted, slapped and wedgied, laughed at, offended and sabataged.

But this takes the biscuit.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Dark nights

Today it never seemed to get light, wet grey clouds hung low over the dark North East townscapes.

New job this week, with all the pressures and tribulations. The high hopes competing against new systems, procedures and policies. Not bad just hard.

Our good old people carrier died today. Yes, it's a financial and logistical pain and challenge. But I feel sad, to the point of crying because it has been such a blessing, a great price at the right time. It carried the 8 of us round when everyone was little. Puked and pooped in, fought and cried in laughed and shouted and shouted in. RIP purple slug.

Tonight the Xbox died. Nuff said.

It's that time of the year, Christmas isn't here but the summer is a distant memory.
We feel constrained by the dark nights. Through the spring, summer and early autumn normally we'll be busy outside til 7, 8 or 9 but now we're struggling to get home from school before it's dark.
Arriving home from my dark winter commute  I almost inevitably walk into 'something' happening or its aftermath.
My negotiation and conflict resolution skills would make Ban Ki Moon weep with admiration.

Entering the house the steamed up kitchen windows evoke my own childhood, but we are non comparable to the nuclear family I grew up in. We accept conflict, negotiation and challenge as our daily work. Emotions constantly running high linked to events out of our control or jurisdiction.

We all feel caged, restricted and mourn the light.

It's our hardest time of the year, the days are still getting shorter and the hope of spring is a long way off.

We enjoy Christmas,  but for Mrs C it is a mountain of work and it holds no great religious significance for us as a family. Though we classify ourselves as believers religious festivals and associated traditions are not part of our journey to or through faith and have held limited meaning to us.

This week on Twitter I read a seasonal faith comment that I'd heard a 100 times over

"the light draws near in the darkness"

But this time it filled me with hope.

Spring will be here soon.










Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Just say no

If you can imagine the scene I’ve managed all day to avoid fights and strife. I’ve smoothed the path before my child at every turn. As I tuck them up in bed, about to kiss them lovingly on the forehead I can almost taste the relief, relaxation and few hours ahead where all I have to worry about is me.

Then she asks:

“Can I have a hot chocolate?”

Time slows to an almost stop and before me.
I visualise the potential outcome dependent on what I do next.

Option 1

I say “No, it’s a bit late now”, it all unravels, we fall into a dysregulation freefall of biblical proportions. Anything is possible, from fisticuffs, one sided slagging matches to bolting out the front door in PJs. Sleep is postponed for at least 90 mins.

Option 2

I say “Of course poppet, should we put cream and marshmallows on it”. Not ruddy likely. I frame parenting in terms of winning and losing and in this option she’s won. From this night on she would consider bedtime hot chocolate a basic human right and demand it every night.

Option 3

I say anything but the word “No”. I might say, “Of course you can. How about we put sprinkles on, oh (slaps forehead dramatically) what about your sister Peanut? She would love a hot chocolate but she’s asleep. (Pause for effect).Do you think tomorrow you could make one for her? Do you think you’re big enough to make a hot chocolate? I’m not sure, well perhaps, would you like to try tomorrow?”



I go for C, distraction and choice, I appeal to her better nature; a bit of flattery and challenge. All the while stalling for time hoping that the moment will pass and a different part of the brain will wake up.
I’m the master of saying “no” without saying “no”, the non-answer distraction technique.

Yes, I do sometimes just say “no” and it’s ok.
I sometimes say it because I can’t be bothered or am sick of being so damn wishy-washy. 
I sometimes say it and it kicks right off.

The word “no” provokes a response in my child like nothing else. Clearly, nobody likes being told “no” to a request, I don’t and Mrs C doesn’t. But for some children who’ve been ‘through the mill’ it can provoke an extreme response. A simple word that seems to provoke an avalanche of emotion and a crushing sense of being unloved and being unlovable.

If that how it feels then no wonder she doesn’t like it.


Friday, 21 November 2014

Today

I enjoying writing my blog, playing with thoughts and stories, turning them into little windows into our life. I enjoy the opportunity to reflect on the ebb and flow of our daily family life and some of the broader issues that impact on adoption.

Today I feel the need to write, but I've nothing to say, not because there's a lack of things to tell more that I'm struggling to bring a little light. I try to write with hope and humour to side step the 'other stuff' but today there seems to be more of the 'other stuff'.

Nothing out of our ordinary has happened; trips to school to talk to staff; unending negotiations/fights about 'screen time'; hyper stress and anxiety over what to wear to school on children in need day, near psychotic sibling rivalry and a bit of violence.

But today I'm struggling to see where the future lies. This week I confessed to a friend that my greatest ambition for one of my children was that she'd still be living with me by the time she's 16.

In another life she'd be the head girl, she's bright, athletic and focused. But were not living that life and in this life she's all those things but terrified and frequently dysregulated as well. My hopes are a set lower.

Today my head hangs low, my heart is heavy and I ask Mrs C 'is it all going to be ok?'.

She says 'Yes' and I'm choosing to believe her.

'Hope that is seen is no hope at all'




Maybe tomorrow the tables will turn, she'll be asking and I'll be answering.

We've been in darker spots, days when we both asked and there was nobody to answer.

That's what I've got to say today.











Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Five Steps

Fear ye not, this is not a post designed to give you the steps to therapeutic parenting Nirvana. It's about a little journey I make, five steps in fact.

After I've been called this and that, roughed up a bit in heart, soul and body my inner 7 year old can surface. My internal monologue is peppered with thoughts unrepeatable I find myself busying myself around the house chuntering like Muttley from the Wacky Races.

Flossy calms and an uneasy and delicate peace is restored, usually assisted by Mrs C.
Bedtime comes and I tuck Lotty up in bed and Mrs C tucks Flossy up and we normally cross over the landing and say our goodnights. But more frequently Flossy's door is shut and the light is off. Be this shame or residual anger and resentment the message is clear 'Dad, you are not welcome'.

It's five steps to the top of the stairs, then down to a few hours calm.



Five step that take me past Flossy's door. The temptation is to keep going, to put another storm behind me.

Five steps where I make choices and decisions, where I banish the 7 year old me and shake the grown up back to life.

I'm not always welcome but I know that it matters that I'm constant and there is always a way back.
I don't always feel the love, given or taken.

But I knock, go in and say 'I love you, we'll have a better day tommorow'

Friday, 7 November 2014

National Adoption Week: Time machine

So after all the shouting and balling NAW14 is almost over and I'm sure I speak for many when I say it feels like it's been a long week. 

Challenging images and interviews on daytime and morning TV bring conflicting emotions as I consider the hopes of prospective adopters and the needs of children. Naturally I compare this to the stories that I hear in my day job and are piped into my consciousness through Twitter, blogs and Facebook. Good, bad, mundane stories of lives lived in parallel to the oblivious world around us 51 weeks a year then thrust into the spotlight for a week in November.


NAW is a good news story the politicians, of all sides,  and the media love adoption, it's a golden subject that reflects well on those who discuss it. But though the challenges of contemporary adoption are explained and laid bare I fear that the man and woman on the street hold fast to the orphan Annie fairytale*. 

I am confident that good comes of it and if one child is found a loving home then it is more than worth it.

So, tomorrow when the brouhaha is over I'll wake up, dust myself off and get on with my life slipping back into anonymity. 






However, I can't help but consider the future, how will the adoption landscape shift over the next year and the next 10, 20, 30 years. 

Practice that we consider as normal will be examined with the benefit of hindsight. 

What will be the long term implications of the recent rulings in relation to Placement orders and subsequent reductions in their number?


What will be the impact of the much publicised adoptions support fund?


Thinking further ahead will we look back with horror and shame as we do when we consider the circumstances, practice and societies seeming indifference of the 50's and 60's?  


Reading the BASW magazine this month the issue of Human Rights and adoption was raised with the reality that we are in a minority of nations that still place children for adoption without the consent of the parents. What will be the implications for the future?


Will we be aghast at the expectations placed on adopters in light of the experiences and needs of the children they parented?


Will there be any adoption re union programmes looking back through the years?


Will adoption be seen as a side issue compared to the number of children in care that need stable and secure long term homes?


Ifs and buts.


I'm not sure where we'll be and if we'll be seen as villains, victims or saviours.

I'm pretty sure I'll still be dad.

*In my retirement I intend to write my own musical "Annie: the Truth", with swearing, singing and fighting.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

National Adoption Week: Quotes

At running the risk of never being asked to speak to the media again I would like to share with you a little experience I had earlier in the week.

A few days ago Mrs C spoke to a press officer at length for an article on National Adoption Week. The press officer asked if I could add to the article by emailing a paragraph explaining what I would say to a prospective adopter.


So I sat down and my mind went blank, then filled to overloading with all that I should say. I sat and looked at a blank page and was at a loss what to write. Harsh truth or Disneyesque stories of giddy joy.


Both wrong: both right. So what do I say?


"Adoption has been the most amazing experience of our lives and has built a wonderful family around us. It has been exciting. I can't think of any downsides and we could not imagine our lives without any of our children and would certainly not hesitate in doing it all again."


There are moments when this is true but our story is more complex


"Adoption has been the most difficult experience of our lives and we feel like a truly dysfunctional family. It has been challenging and I often wonder how I'm going to get through the day. I wonder if the pros outweigh the cons  and we often reminisce  at our lives before our children came. We would certainly not hesitate in doing it all again but we'd do it differently"


This is how I felt recently after being kicked, punched and slapped, but it the truth is more complex.


So, after what seemed like an eternity I came up with a form of words:


"Adoption has been the most amazing experience of our lives and has built a wonderful family around us. It has been challenging and their have been difficult days. However, the pros outweigh the cons  and we could not imagine our lives without any of our children and would certainly not hesitate in doing it all again."


It feels like a compromise, bland and meaningless. 

If you've met me and spoke to me you know the truth. 
I am for adoption.

Monday, 3 November 2014

National Adoption Week : Questions

I believe in adoption, the majority of my adult life has been significantly influenced by my decision to adopt. I’ve actively promoted adoption, through TV, documentaries, radio and the press. I’ve contributed at prospective adopter preparation courses and spoke at length to strangers, friends and acquaintances about the virtues and challenges of adoption. I have a blog and my mam reads it.

But, I have questions.


I see that the landscape of adoption has changed the nature of the vast majority of the 28,000 children adopted in 1968 are very different to the 5,050 adopted in 2013/14.
The adopters that step forward are very different now to those who made the journey 45 years ago.
Society, law and culture have shifted almost beyond recognition. 
Research has rendered received wisdom and best practice as defunct, detrimental and dogmatic.
Policies and systems that seem to be trying to catch up with this changing landscape.


Is this week the right week to be asking questions?

I have to say yes, this is the week to raise the difficult questions.
If the community of adopters and adoptees can’t ask these questions then who can?
If we don’t ask them now then when will people listen?

Approved and pre placement adopters are nervous of the questions they ask for they have everything to lose.  They accept injustice, incompetence and delay because they have no choice. They do not have the power.

Can the adoptees ask the difficult questions? No. They have no power.

The questions that birth families and parents ask are often discounted and marked as invalid. After all, they don't deserve to ask questions. They have no power.

Post order adopters sometimes keep our heads down, we need access to services, so we are careful, # are our cloak. We do what we can.

So, those who can speak have a duty and responsibility to ask difficult questions, challenge accepted wisdom and policy.
We are the experts of this experience so we must speak.

This does not mean we are against adoption.

There are voices, #flipthescript, The Open Nest, Adoption UK & individuals like Sally Donovan are asking hard questions, raising adoption's profile and we should throw our collective weight behind them.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Railway child

Lotty saw me across the crowded rail station, shouted ‘Daaaadddyyyy’ at the top of her voice and sprinted across the expansive arrivals hall.
Six feet before she reached me she left the ground and propelled herself into my waiting arms that enclosed her around into a spinning embrace.

Not a heart that witnessed this reunion could remain unmoved. The scene from the railway children loomed large.

I confess to being slightly overwhelmed at such a demonstration, a little lump was felt in my throat.
Lotty hadn’t seen me since breakfast that day.

For Lotty I occupy a space in her heart that only a father can, right then I was fantastic.

Reflecting on each of my children I see that I occupy a different place on the spectrum of parenting for each of them. It’s not static, it shifts and moves to accommodate, age, circumstance, emotions, reaction etc. At times I’m a father at times a commandant. I’m guessing that to be true for most parents.

But for my children this spectrum has a few places on it that go beyond ‘normal’. Their age, pre-care and foster care experiences have all influenced their expectations of dads and consequently of me. Their Internal Working Model  and attachment strategies colliding with their idea of who I am and what I represent. Sometimes I’m perceived as the cause of all their woes, historic and present. I place myself as the rock that their pain, hate and anger crashes against before it reaches shore. I become the personification of all that they want to fight against.

But so what? There was no contract with my children, they gave no opinion on who they wanted to be their parents or even if they wanted parents. They didn’t get to read my Prospective Adopter Report or ask me how I was going to meet their specific needs. They were passed from pillar to post at the mercy of circumstance, parents, police, Social Workers, solicitors, barristers and judges.

Sometimes my children find it hard to be sons and daughters.

But I am always their Dad, regardless of how they see me I am their Dad.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Men

As much as I enjoyed the Open Nest Taking Care event, and I did, I came a way with more questions than I thought I would.
Please don't perceive this as naysaying because it isn't, I thought the day was fantastic and everyone I spoke to shared a similar view.

I confess to being perpetually confused by the disparity between Twitter names and 'real' names. Next year I'm coming in disguise as I felt significantly disadvantaged being an 'out' member of the community. I have being pondering the nature and reasons for protecting our identities and the underlying concerns and fears.

But my resounding question was, 'where are the menfolk?'.

In a room of over 80 attendees I counted perhaps only 7 or 8 men which clearly makes them significantly under represented. However, the attendees reflected the online community built around the excellent work of the Adoption Social and The Open Nest and the Twitter network that gravitates around them a predominantly female community.

I don't like stereotypes, however they can sometimes have a shadow of truth at their heart, 

Generally I find talking about my worries, stresses and strains, unhelpful. I prefer to escape on my bike and blow the proverbial tubes out. Like coming home from work the last thing I want to do is talk about my day, I want to leave it at work. This is true for the scrapes and bruises that I face with the family. Often I just need to be alone with my thoughts and only rarely do I talk to Mrs C or post to Twitter.  Perhaps I don't want to be perceived as not managing or or struggling. Maybe I just want to bury my head in the sand for a few hours or not to have every waking moment consumed by 'the kids'. 

But I dare not presume to speak on behalf of all the adoptive fathers and dad's. They're probably not even reading this so what does it matter. 

Are men struggling? I'm sure some are, I know I do. We have unique stresses we see our, generally female, loved ones bear the brunt of pain and anger. If we work we often are rendered impotent receiving texts and calls recounting behaviour at home; walking into homes after or during conflict or seeing our loved ones harmed emotionally and physically.
So, how do we provide support, how do we target support and do men want it? I'm just not sure.  
I'm not sure what I want. 

I spoke to a few women and they hinted that their male partners were perhaps on a 'different page'. Maybe that is part of the problem.
Maybe there is no problem. 

Maybe I need a ride on my bike to think it out.






Sunday, 19 October 2014

Kenya

A few Photo's from my recent trip to the Sure24 Orphanage and primary school. 
Challenging days and thought provoking encounters.

Click on each image for a better view.
(Clearly, my blog is in format hell)

Mr Ouku holds Friday assembly
The candidates are given a pep talk by Mr Ouku, and the Mazungus


Best friends, born on the same day







Sammy
Chilling after school and chores
View from the office




Flip flop football



Sure 24 children have first ever collective meal with soda!


If you’d like to know more about the work of Sure 24 then visit

Friday, 17 October 2014

Empathy

Having experienced a wide range of professional support over the years our experience has been to say the least, mixed. 

From the worse than useless at one end with professionals suggesting that extreme behaviour was a result of our anxiety and it may help if we relaxed a little. We left such encounters worse than when we arrived, our perspectives, views and emotions undermined and questioned. 

At the other end of this spectrum we've come away from meetings with no answers, strategies or helpful insights. But we've been touched by the empathy that we've been shown. We've felt supported, validated and encouraged that how we feel and what we think is right and that we're not alone. 

Em-pa-thy
Noun
1. The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

You can't learn it in book or classroom. 

With this in mind I'm looking forward to The Open Nest conference 'Taking Care'.  
Sharing stories of the highs and lows of the adoption journey with Type C's, those who get it. 
We don't need to give long winded explanations or lessons on child development and the impact of loss, separation and trauma needed as caveats to anecdotes or stories. 

I'm sure we'll share horror stories if stupid comments, bad behaviour and 'interesting' Social Workers. More that this we'll share the joys of adoption orders, matching and breakthroughs and moments with our children. 


I'm pretty sure that nobody will ask me if I've got any children of my own. 








Sunday, 12 October 2014

Dust on my Shoes

Our Matatu came for us at 3am and we started the 22-hour journey home from the Sure 24 orphanage and school, Nakuru, Kenya to my front door.

It’s a long journey, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to slowly unpack the experience of spending time with these remarkable children and the adults who give themselves to care for them.

There are many things that I’m bringing back, stories,  feelings, thoughts, experiences, trinkets for my children and dust, lots of dust, everywhere, in my clothes, in my bags and on my shoes.

However, the enduring feeling is one of hope.

Through my eyes I’ve struggled to see how many of the children can overcome their experience and I am astonished at the sense of hope that permeates the home and school.

Yes, I’ve seen children on the fringes that are deeply affected by their experiences.  I wonder about the therapeutic value of shared trauma and loss and the mutual support that the children give each other. Those on the fringes are not falling through the net, but resources are limited.

Staff work ceaselessly to primarily meet the children’s needs as well promote a route for the children out of crushing poverty. Almost everyone, adults and children, has a collective gratitude for what they do have and they believe that things will get better. They have a hope, born from a personal and collective faith and a belief in the transformative, and proven, power of education.

With two street children now at University and others training for employment they see that there a route from where they have come to a different life. Many of the children are moving onto high school and the Sure24 Primary School rated by the government as the best in the municipality.

What I want to bring back is hope.

I need a little hope for my family, it feels almost absurd to discuss my circumstances in the same post.
But I have mentioned them and I know this, without  hope then our hearts grow sick* and everything is too much.

So, I’m bringing back hope and like handful of dust I threw in my bag, a little bit goes a long way.




If you’d like to know more about the work of Sure 24 then visit



*That’s in the bible that is.