Guest Blog – A Christmas Message

I joined in with The Adoption Social and their Secret Santa arrangement for a guest post. Thank you to Suddenly Mummy for writing this and sharing with me as my first guest posting. You can read more on their blog at http://suddenlymummy.blogspot.co.uk/ and many more blogs, advice and other information is available on The Adoption Social.

As I hang each bauble on the Christmas tree, I’m thinking of you, little one, and all those who have passed through our home on their way to their futures. What will your Christmas be, I wonder?
I’m sure you will have a tree with baubles too, and special food and presents. But what other traditions have you grown to know? Christmas stockings? Carol singing? Family games? Perhaps this year someone special thrilled with pride as you were an angel or a shepherd, taking centre stage, star of your own world. Maybe you have siblings that helped you with your costume, or grandparents that took photo after photo, lighting up the room with their smiles and their flashbulbs.

Perhaps you have faced troubles this year, and maybe there will be more to come. But there will have been successes too – some of them small, barely noticeable to anybody on the outside, yet meaning worlds to you. I hope that you are surrounded by champions who are cheering you on in good times and bad.

At Christmas-time my mind wanders into the past, and maybe yours does too. Perhaps you are troubled by dim, half-formed memories of Christmases past that reach out into your present. Unwelcome, like cold callers on Christmas Day, they intrude, scattering you once again until someone notices, reaches out to you and draws you back together.

I don’t buy your toys anymore, or arrange your presents under our Christmas tree. I don’t lay a place for you at our table or tuck you in, exhausted, at the end of an epic day. You have your forever family now, and your forever home and I am especially glad of that at this time of year.
But if I could see you this Christmas, I’d make sure I said this: from the day they brought you to our home until the day I took you to your forever family and beyond, you were loved. If you wonder why you didn’t stay with us, know for sure that it is not because we didn’t love you or appreciate you, or that we were wanting to be rid of you. No. We wanted a forever home for you – family you could call your own and a last name that fitted with all the others. And when we found them, we waited anxiously to meet them to make sure they were good enough for you, and when they were, we rejoiced for you and for them.

And after we left you with them, we cried, and we looked over your pictures and ran our hands over your pillow. And we prayed that your future would be secure, and that you would have hopes and dreams and some of them would come true. And we missed you.
You were always loved.
Happy Christmas, sweetheart.
Suddenly Mummy

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Reframing Christmas

Over the years we have done a lot to set up new traditions for our girls and our family and also to reframe their early experiences and expectations.  Seven years on, we are still carrying out some of these whilst changing some and adding new ones too.   Here are some that I am doing:

Picture advent calendar
Take pictures of lots of simple regular things that are included in christmas in your family.  I actually think the pictures I use are a bit naff however from a child perspective they serve as useful reminders!   The pictures we have include: making cards, sausages wrapped in bacon, a pile of xmas tree chocolates, christmas crackers, the christmas tree, some wrapped pressies, cards hanging on the wall and an advent calendar.

The first year I just wrote numbers on the back then stuck them picture side down on the wall with blutack. Then the girls turned over one each day.  In later years I’ve got  more organised so have got one of those plastic hanging picture pockets.  It comes out every year now and they still seem to need and welcome it.

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The Christmas Story
My mum bought us an Usborne Christmas book which not only had the proper Jesus story in it, at young child level, it also had a little card nativity model in the back of it.  Getting the kids to put this up each year has become a family tradition which they like.  I still keep reading the story to them.  It adds a tradition and good memories.

Of course, I also add in little anecdotes about how we can see that baby was so loved and looked after carefully; made comfy and warm in the manger; how all babies are so gorgeous and lovely that people have always wanted to come and see them.  I have found that this helps them because they believe or used to believe that they were bad and ugly when they were babies.  Such a shame but when mindful of the attachment cycle it makes sense and so I take every opportunity I get to reframe their thoughts.

A Christmas Activity
In town every Christmas there is always a little fayre with a helter skelter slide and a couple of other things.  It is only there at Christmas, so when they much younger I used to take them each year and let them have a go on that.  They began to remember that as something they do at Christmas.  Once they got bigger we changed that and I used it to explain and reinforce that sometimes in life some things stay the same and some things change.

Advent Calendars
My mum made my girls a fabric pocketed advent calendar so each year we put chocolates in the pockets and that makes them feel special and adds tradition of something which is their very own.

Santa
We learned the hard way!  Our very first Christmas was simply awful!  Full of tantrums, terror and trauma.  We very quickly realised that Santa had quite a lot to do with it and he was most definitely a bad and scary man. The best we could do was for them, that first year was to leave their presents in the porch (thank goodness we had a porch!!).  Over the years we discovered just what a bad man they think he is and what terrible things happened in their birth family. So he continued to be scary and we could not even put up cards with a picture of him or mention his name.  Therefore the truth about Santa and where present come from was revealed early on and he is now firmly referred to a “that bloke” and banished from our house for ever.

I never cease to be amazed at what will bother them.  This year, as well as “that bloke” we also had to deal with Herod!

My little J came home from school a bit upset the other day.  Through lots of exploring we discovered that in an RE lesson they had been learning about Herod.  She had a very disjointed idea of what happened and I can only surmise that she became so distressed that someone was going to kill the baby that she “missed” a good part of the lesson by being caught up in her own thoughts and worries.  So I needed to tell her (at an appropriate level, of course) the story of Herod and Jesus.  Needless to say, it included lots of “safe” words and ended with some comments about how Mary and Joseph were such safe parents that they did everything they needed to, to keep baby Jesus safe – just like we do for you!

Each Christmas-time does get better each year and so I firmly believe we are doing the right thing.  I wouldn’t want Christmas to happen more than once a year but I do feel it would be useful if we could have a few more chances to work on the reframing and re-learning!!  I often wonder what age my girls will be when we are able to have a Christmas without trauma.

Meeting with School

So, since 6th November, made five requests for a meeting with current secondary school. Three refusals (“a meeting is not necessary”), one made then cancelled by them and now we may finally have a date – although that’s still a week away yet!

This morning I have telephoned two other schools, first school put through to Inclusion and appointment made for end of this week! Second school, left a message and call returned within a few hours and appointment made early next week!

Speaks volumes. I will say no more for now ………..

Going to bake

Autobiography – All About Me

Following on from my earlier post about the distressing time we had with this piece of work.  She still had to do it with only my help for adaptation.  She was keen for me to “put it on the blog”. So here it is:

I am 11 years old and I have a mum, dad and sister. When I came, my mum and dad were so happy because I looked so beautiful and they had waited a long time for me. Mum and dad read me bedtime stories.  I still remember some, such as Give me a Hug and No Matter What.  I still read them now occasionally and they give me nice memories.  Mum also used to sing me to sleep and because of this I am a very good sleeper. My sister is really funny and in some cases annoying.  Once she bit into a tomato and all the seeds went up her face which was really funny so it sill makes me laugh now.  However she comes into my room and takes my stuff, which is really annoying. The primary school I went to was lots of fun.  My two favourite teachers were Miss Winston and Miss Smith.  The understood if I wasn’t feeling safe and as a result of this they were kind and helpful. My hobbies that I like now are horse riding at the weekend and swimming.  I also like to do hockey at school which I am really good at. Now at secondary school I don’t feel safe because I am getting bullied.  I think the teachers aren’t helping me at school and in lots of cases I feel upset because I don’t know what I am doing and feeling confused and upset and sad. I am so glad I have got the mum and dad that I have, although I find things hard I know that they love me and will listen to everything I have to say.