Sunday 31 January 2016

Crease: Addendum

I was sent this by  Stephen (@ivavnuk) from his little girl.

It needs no explanation.

Friday 29 January 2016


  1. 1
    a line or ridge produced on paper or cloth by folding, pressing, or crushing.

I lay in bed listening to the wind, it's almost a pleasure, laying listening to the wind pull at the house and thrash the trees. I feel safe in the warm and the dark. I'm programmed to feel safe, it's my experience of life, I can assess risk, apply controls if necessary to negate the hazards and know that it will probably be ok.

As I lay in bed I think of some of my children who have limited capacity to feel safe. No amount of reassurance dents the anxiety and tension that sits on them.

Like a crease in a piece of paper, it can't be undone. I can flatten it, smooth it out by hand, crease the opposite way to limit the effect or try to iron it out.
The crease remains, the structure of the paper is permanently altered.

Tensions hover round the house and all issues feed like a giant hopper into that lack of perceived safety, that I or Mrs C can't keep them safe. Ripping control off untrusted adults to keep themselves safe resulting in conflict and Raaagh. Letting the Raaaagh take over and feeling safe in the power that it brings the power to hurt by word or deed. Pumped on the adrenaline that the lack of safety can bring crazy behaviour sometimes follows.

The feelings are denied and we gently investigate, 'has someone upset you?', 'did something happen at school?', 'are you worried about something?'.
Usually the truth has out but it takes time, hours, days or weeks.

The paper is still paper, it still has value and use but the creases remain.

Friday 22 January 2016

Over My Shoulder

Back in the early days when we were young and the Big Three were the only three we looked differently on the world. There were parts of the city we wouldn't go as a family, even when we were in the city centre there were times when for no reason I would start to feel uneasy, watched, conspicuous.

Surely among the thousands of people that we would pass someone must recognise the children, someone from their old life. We've all had the experience of being on holiday and bumping into someone we know, a mutual friend or an old neighbour. So surely someone would recognise us it seemed inevitable.

Once we were in our home town and all of us hand in hand going swimming and as we walked into the centre Birth Mam walked out of the door. She wasn't, it was someone who looked like her but for a split second we thought it was. Our world froze for a second,  the children oblivious, but Paula and I shocked.

The edges of our family have blurred and the line between adoptive and birth family is ragged and in part dissolving. I found out today that we had been seen. Sat in a city centre restaurant two years after the Big Three joined us my children's aunt and grandmother had watched as we sat and played out the usual family scene. They watched not malevolently but frozen transfixed by the sight of their children. Observers of this scene unable or unwilling to act or intervene so close.
But then leaving and letting the scene play on.

Speaking to the aunt last night she was sure I knew and I saw, I can't recall.
I don't look over my shoulder anymore.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Ready to learn

My job today was to collate the views that I'd collected from adoptive parents on education and joining other adopters, some from the Adoption Voice initiative, bring them to the halls of power.

As always, we'd all received many thoughts, stories, opinions and perspectives on the challenges faced by adoptive children in school and their parents in helping navigate the educational paradigm and system. Though rich and varied they could be condensed into a relatively small number of points:

  • Staff training  - Who could and should deliver it and the benefits across the school for all pupils.
  • The role of Virtual Schools in supporting adopted children and families - Should they and could they offer support in the use of PP+ and guidance in relation to the training of staff? Could  they facilitate a continuation of Personal Education Plans (PEPs) that fostered children in education would have and could have under the adoption support plans drawn up at matching.
  • Pupil Premium Plus - How it is used and how the potential uses can be clarified with school staff through various routes.
  • Education and Health Care Plans - The challenges faced by families in gaining plans for adopted children 
  • Ofsted - The challenges that school face and to have the needs of adopted children understood by Often and the inspectors.
I can't and wont bore you with the 'he said she said' but there is a genuine sense of momentum and optimism that we can influence some of the identified areas for the good of adopted children. Of course there was a range of other issues that were touched on and apply to many and some to few such as home schooling and international adopters. Overall it was a positive meeting but as always it's complicated, some of the issues lay at the intersection of legislation and guidance and further complicated by being in the domain of other departments. We'd all like to just make it happen our way but we have to acknowledge that there are paths we must walk to get there. Right now we've been given a voice and like minded and informed people of influence are listening.  

So, a stepping stone in the right direction. Thank you to all those who contributed and I shall no doubt be asking for your views and thoughts again in the near future. 

Friday 15 January 2016

The Rise of the Adopters

I've had this feeling that's been brewing and festering that then turned into a title for a blog 'The Rise of the Adopters'. It's been a struggle to turn my feelings into words that make sense and accurately express how what's going on in my head. So, I've been reading, thinking, talking and pondering.

Adoption is not a human right, for adopters, it's a choice and a privilege. Adopters come to adoption for a myriad of reasons through different routes, often painful routes, with different expectations, hopes and dreams. These factors all impact on what we actually want and expect. I sometimes meet prospective adopters and I'm nervous for them as we talk and their expectations are shared with me. The views of adopters, and prospective adopters, are valuable and useful but should they be used to inform policy? Of course they should but the weight that they are given is where my thoughts linger. Adopters punch way above their weight in many regards, emotionally, culturally and politically. We rarely see anything other than agreement over adoption announcements in the press? The nation is outraged when we read the headlines:

'Too fat to adopt, too thin to adopt, too old, too whatever'

But as I said adoption is not a human right. However, for whatever reason the dynamic is that adopters are placed on a pedestal as saints and children are labeled lucky to have been adopted by them. Laws are massaged to suit adopters with approval times reduced and the requirement to consider the culture and ethnicity of children when matching removed. Pragmatic realism or pandering to popularist views, we could, and should, argue the toss. But the balance of power remains with adopters. Adopters have a voice. 

Children are given no, or very little choice in relation to their adoption. This is the history of adoption favours the adopter. Children are the victims of circumstance, policy and culture. My children had no choice.

Where are the voices of adopted children?

Though few and far between adult adoptees do have a voice but we rarely hear the voices of children. Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children have the right to say what they think should happen in decisions that affect them and to have their views taken into account. I'm not sure that's what it looks like on the ground.

Of course gathering anybody's views is hard let alone children especially those perhaps more vulnerable than their peers.  All parents know the challenge of weighing what we think is in the best interests of our children with what they want, a challenge that we as a family face on what seems like a weekly basis.

So, what am I saying?

I'm an advocate for adoption but I see that it's a system and model with flaws and for some children and adults it falls short of the ideal. I believe that for many the security, love and safety of adoption is the best option. I also believe that it can and should be better and that it could be different.

To be honest I'm thinking aloud. Adoptive parents fight like lions for their children on a daily basis and we promote the best interests to a myriad of friends, family and professionals. The DfE is investing in the views of adopters through the Adopter's Voice initiative to influence policy and practice. I would suggest that those who can use this opportunity to not only share our experiences but to share not only the experiences of our children but where possible the views and wishes of our children.

Lets be a voice for the voiceless. Let's shout louder.

I've not mentioned first families but as you can imagine I have thoughts. 
This blog was a lot longer but in the interests of sanity I cut it to nothing.

Saturday 9 January 2016

We longed for you.

We longed for you
by Jac Campbell

We longed for you. We dreamed about you. We waited for you.
And then you came. You made us complete.
You brought love and happiness and laughter into our home and made it your home.
You grew in our hearts and we grew in yours.
We were blessed and grateful.
We belonged together.
We were a family.
Always and Forever.

In our hearts we knew that part of us was always meant for you.
We shared so much joy. We played. We held each other.
We read stories and made our own stories together.
And our love grew and grew.
We belonged together.
We were a family.
Always and Forever.

But we did not know. How could we know?  
That pain, and grief, and the echoes of the past cannot be healed by love.
No matter how great.  
Or so we thought.
The bright sunshine of the early years clouded over. And there came much rain.
So much rain we almost drowned. All of us.
But we belonged together.
We were a family.
Always and Forever.

But somehow we swam, and we found some others. And they gave us a boat, with a roof, and some oars.
And then we were moving forward.
And instead of looking down at our feet, we were looking up to the sky.  
And behind the rain we could see the rainbow and behind the rainbow we could see the sunshine again.
And we were still in each other’s arms and each other’s hearts.
We belonged together.
We were a family.
Always and Forever.

But the storm did not pass.  
And our love was tested over and over.
And sometime the boat rocked from side to side. And sometimes you fell right out.
But we picked you up again. And calmed your fears and dried your tears.
We were there for you. And you were waiting for us.
And though we doubted many times, we kept faith.
We belonged together.
We were a family.
Always and Forever.

And even now.
Sometimes the nights are dark. Black as pitch.
But if we look hard, really hard, we can see the guiding stars. Steadfast.
And we think about how wrong we were.
Love has depths we never imagined.  
And powers so great that they reach us from Heaven.
Love conquers all. And builds all. You are the labour of our hearts.
Our precious child.
Without us, what would you be?
Without you, where would we be?
We belong together.
We are a family.
Always and Forever.

And soon you will need a boat of your own.
We will help you build it.
And the others, who also love us and love you, will help you build it.
And we will launch it together.
And you will set sail.  
Knowing that you are loved.
And love will make you strong.

Days may not be fair.
Your boat will rock from side to side.
But we will pull alongside, and others will pull alongside and help you stay on course.
And you will be free. And happy. And loved.
And we will remember all the miracles we have seen.
And love is the greatest of them all.
Reach out and take it. It is the easiest and the hardest thing to do.
Our precious child.
Our Blessing and our Gift.

We belong together.
We are a family.
Always and Forever.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Dysregulation Hangover

I had a hangover once when I was 15. I remember vividly the subtle blend of seasickness, feeling like I'd been  hit in the face with a frying pan and of someone using my mouth as an ashtray.

It was a profound moment, I thought this is hellish I'm not doing that again.
So I haven't been drunk or had a hangover since and I have no intention of ever feeling like that again. Mrs Cs happy I'm always the designated driver. You could say I'm a control freak I prefer to think of myself as dull.

To be honest I was feeling quite optimistic and hopeful about 2016.  Lots of plans and schemes for the new year. Then like a rolling storm it all unraveled in glorious widescreen technicolor with dolby surround sound.

It arrived like a Catherine wheel of emotions, arms and legs flailing, insults spewed and threats made. The whole house kicked in the emotional teeth, things broke, threats made and bags packed, we were all impacted by the magnitude, if you weren't directly involved you heard it. The blue touch paper had smouldered for a day in the lead up,  then this Catherine wheel went off and lasted a couple of hours at it's height.

Mrs C tag teamed me after a few hours and brought it down,  it was over, wailing, sobbing, shower and bed. I say over though the sparks and fire had gone the dysregulation hangover was left.

We're emotionally and physically drained. Then we have an enquiry, what was the cause, could we, should we have seen it coming. But what had lit the touch paper and set off the raaaaaagh? It could have been the build up to Christmas, the lack of routine, the Xbox, the sugar overdose, the lack of exercise, the present jealousy, the this and the that.
I'm tired of trying to work it out, overanalysing.

Who said what and who did what. The scuffle, the kicking, the punching,  the argy bargy. I'd rather not talk about it, I'd rather not think about it but Mrs C and I did. I'm tired of trying to make sense of the senseless.

So, the next the dysregulation hangover remains, we move delicately around the house. I've put work back a day, it's raining outside and a delicate peace hovers inside.

I choose my first words and tone carefully.

'Get lost' is the reply.

I walk away, to tired to fight, nervous, are we going to play this out again?

My body aches from the argy bargy, the tension, the raaaagh, my heart aches from the argy bargy, the tension and the raaaaagh. I think about the future the whats and ifs. It's ok now but what about in a year or five or ten? The hope and expectation I'd had for the year have dissolved and worry and tension lays like a blanket over us all, we become a one narrative family.

We get through the day without incident.

Like all hangovers, it lifts, slowly but surely, 12, 24, 36 hours and we dare to feel better.
I have no intention of ever doing that again but I'm afraid this one is out of my control.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Random blog post generator

I've started up the random blog post generator today, the first words out................