My Adoption Statistics

It’s been a hell of a week and we’ve been increasing the adoption statistics.

Adoption Statistics image

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about I Can’t Believe It but this is the biggest time of disbelief I’ve ever had.

A while ago Julie Selwyn published Beyond the Adoption Order.  The report showed that children from adoption and foster care who were most likely to become disruptive were

  1. Children aged 11 and up
  2. Who had come into care aged over four or over and
  3. Those who experienced delays and multiple placements.

The reality in our family is:

  1. She’s 13 and we’ve been struggling for ever really but definitely since starting secondary school at age 11! Tick!
  2. She went into care at 3 years 6 months- almost a tick
  3. She wasn’t placed with us until she was 5 years 7 months after 3 foster placements and a previously matched family who backed out at last minute. Oh I think that’s a big tick!

The report also talks about the harsh reality for the minority of families where placements collapsed under the strain with too little support from social services and adoption agencies.

Our Support History

Within the first 6 months of being placed with her sister we had running away, kicking, biting, punching, spitting and more. Our local (very good at the time) CAMHS psychologist told us they should not have been placed together!  The placing LA told us it’s both or none. We delayed the adoption order to try and ensure we had the right support in place. It didn’t help in the end. The placing LA social workers were so obstructive that I began to wonder what their real priority was – helping the children or covering their backs?

We got no support, so paid privately for therapy. That business is now recognised provider under the Adoption Support Fund. Therapy helped and we discovered just how desperately and horridly neglected and abused my girls were.  This came from their therapy, not from files and LA information. When we got to the really big stuff she got so violent that we were asked to leave! So therapy stopped.

Skip forward to the last two years when I started writing this blog. The list of blogs which highlight the issues, struggles and fights I’ve had to get support. All this takes effort and there have been times when I have to decide where my efforts need to go and I stopped doing blogs for a bit or stopped fighting for a bit.

In the last two years – since she was 11 (there’s that statistic again) her violence and difficulty have escalated and escalated.

She already regularly attacks me which I’ve written about in Child to Parent Violence.  She’s re-enacting everything from birth family and she totally hates her birth mum and what she did yet now, that is being played out again but directed at me.

She’s threatening her little sister and that’s scary – for her and us. She carries out most of her threats these days.

School Issues

School (her second secondary school) have said they can’t cope and even though I put my cards on the table with suggestions she ended up under the PRU- Pupil Referral Unit (for those who don’t know – that’s the school where children go if excluded or with severe emotional / behavioural issues when all other schools cannot have them).

Even when I am working with the Local Authority to try and get City-wide help for all adopted children in school, it hasn’t been fast enough for Biggey.

Part of the answer for schooling was to leave her home with me Monday morning and All day Friday’s!  Didn’t help us at all. Where an entire school of staff cannot cope, the little alone me is supposed to!  Its ridiculous.

Adoption Support

We have repeatedly asked for support and mostly been offended by their responses.  The latest request in March was a bit more successfully and we thought change would be coming when we persuaded Social Services to allow us to apply for the Adoption Support Fund (even to get to that was a struggle).  I’ve repeatedly told our SW we are struggling, we need respite only to be told it’s not available under the ASF. I don’t care who provides it – we need it. No-one listening.

Earlier this week she stropped, kicked off and ran away (again). We found her, got her home but still violent and aggressive. I escalated (again) through Social Services and eventually two Social Workers came.

They asked her what she wants. She wants to go into care. She’s asked this before, several times.

The SW offered to see her daily if necessary to help her and us.  Where was that when I was on my knees?  When I kept asking for it?  No matter, Biggey was adamant, we are knackered / traumatised / worn out and same as last September, wondering Why Bother?

So there we have it.  We met the final statistic.

Placements collapse under strain with too little support from social services and adoption agencies.

She’s in “voluntary care whilst our family is in crisis” they said. I don’t know how long for, I don’t know what will happen next.

It’s calmer and quieter in the Safehouse, although Littley is still terrified Biggey will be home any day now to carry out the violent threats.  I don’t know where this leaves us except feeling sad, let down, disappointed and failed.

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Abandonment

I’ve got abandonment issues you know.

Even my mum needs to be told this, so I shout it at her so she hears me.

Abandonment Pic

It’s two weeks to end of school and then everyone will leave. All the teachers will leave. My safe person has already left me. It doesn’t matter that people tell me she’s gone to hospital for an operation. She’s left me. I don’t believe them that she’ll be back. Loads of other people have said things to me and left me anyway. My mum calls it “endings” sometimes. Why can’t I remember that people do come back?   It’s all going to be so different. I’m really worried about being alone and I won’t know my teachers and I can’t manage Year 8. I don’t want to look like a baby but I feel like a baby and I need my mum and she’s not there at school because it not cool to do that. I fuss a lot when I feel like this and so my friends walk off and then I’m alone again.

It’s so very tiring living this way. Wondering who will be there are the beginning and end and middle of the days.

So on Monday morning when I wake up tired and grumpy and say I don’t want to go to school my mum hugs me and says

ok baby. Don’t go.

I look at her a bit funny because she doesn’t usually say that.

We crawl into her bed and she puts her arm round me. I think I go back to sleep.

**

My arm is numb but I daren’t move it. I’ve got loads to do today yet here I am laid in bed with baby attached to me like a limpit. She’s boiling, but if I move she moves with me. She needs to “feel” attached. Even in her sleep she  knows if we move and will follow us or wake up.

It’s 8:55 am on a Monday morning and the abandonment issue is well and truly in force.

In that split second this morning I made a decision – I really did not want tired girl. Tired girl means she’s feels unsafe anyway because she never got much sleep when she was little. Tired girl thinks she’s back there and has to work much harder then she already does to make sure we know she’s there. Then she’s even more tired. Most of all, Tired girl has the most enormously loud cry. We’ll, it’s a wailing actually but still incredibly loud and you really really cannot ignore it.

I don’t want her to wake up. She’s so much better when she’s not tired (aren’t we all!) and she can deal with things better when she’s not tired (so can I). So she’s laid asleep beside me (the dog at the other side). Ideally I’d like to rearrange the pillows so I can be comfortable. I’d also liked to have had chance to get a cuppa but I didn’t. So I stay here, drafting this on my phone, being uncomfortable, so that she sleeps.

Then eventually, hopefully, we will be able to get up and cope with the adandonment that the day throws at us.  The other stuff I was going to do probably won’t get done.  It wouldn’t have got done if there’s been an  almighty kick off which took up some time and left me feeling drained for rest of day either!

All the transition / keep in mind tools are already in use again. She has a photo discreetly tucked in her bag. She wears my perfume and sometimes I put a plait in her hair or a pony tail and tell her that she’s got a little bit of me with her all the time in her hair and she can feel it.  She’s got extra money for toast at break time to help her regulate. She takes pack-up so she doesn’t have to wait for the food at lunchtime and can get straight into a calming sensory soothing strategically made lunchbox that is also filled with love and kisses and crunch and sucky things.

She will meet me again at the end of the day (and oh boy I will have to remember to do the big hugs and full on attention).

Then we’ll start all over again.

The good news is that we don’t have to do this all the time. After 8 years, we don’t always need to ” do the perfume and stuff” (as she calls it). Now we just do it when things go wobbly until the wobbles stop for a bit.

I Can’t Believe It!

I can’t believe it!  I can’t believe it!

The first words we heard from our beautiful daughter when she came running out of the foster carers house.  She was fairly closely followed by big sister who stumbled towards us saying nothing and keeping her head down. They couldn’t believe their new family were finally here to meet them.

Well, we couldn’t believe it either.  After about two years going through the process of approval and matching, we were finally meeting our girls and becoming a family.  This weekend we went out for a family meal to celebrate our 8 years together.

Littley is still chatty and dramatic about events although much quieter than when we first met; Biggey still, mostly says as little as possible and although she doesn’t keep her head down these days, it’s very quick to go down at any given moment.

In those 8 years there’s an awful lot of things that have happened that I can’t believe I’ve lived through and experienced. It has been the most incredibly steep learning curve and one that I was not prepared for and could never have imagined.

When I began learning about effects of attachment, trauma, neglect, abuse, loss and how the children respond it made perfect sense to me.  Yet even when it all made sense, when I went to more conferences and training events I got to know more, I implemented everything I could, there’s still so much to content with.  I’m glad I know what I do, goodness knows what state we would be in as a family if I didn’t!

We lost friends and even family support along the way, yet we’ve gained some truly wonderful, supportive friends too.  Adoption has filled our lives in more ways than with just the girls.  It has also restricted our lives too and we certainly live life very differently to that which we imagined when we started the process.

So, here’s my top 10 things I can’t believe.

I can’t believe:

  1. That we were told “they just need firm boundaries”.
  2. That in 8 – 10 years since we entered the process things haven’t changed much.
  3. That it’s apparently OK that even now we are finding out crucial information from files which would explain just how terrible their early life was.
  4. That the education system is not able to accommodate my girl even with a Statement of Needs.
  5. That we are well known to the police (but they are very nice and helpful about it).
  6. That I have had to learn to restrain my children – I certainly wasn’t told that on the prep course!
  7. That there are so many days when I say I can’t do this anymore, then get up again the next day, finding strength from somewhere to carry on.
  8. That instead of continuing to work in the corporate world that I now have my own very small, but very flexible business.
  9. That I am campaigning for change in our LA so that the Virtual Head is involved with adopted children.
  10. That we have dog!  This really would never have happened if it wasn’t for Biggey’s intense needs but he’s almost the best thing we have done since the girls came.

Our Puppy

Matters of Life and Death

What an eventful day I had on Monday!  It was already planned to be a fairly eventful day as I was due to attend the PAC-UK / Yorkshire Adoption Consortium Conference on Education (more of this in another post).

Whilst ploughing through the usual Monday morning routine, my Littley was a bit of a mess with fussy difficult behaviour.  Often I will stop everything and give her the attention she needs, however, I didn’t really have time, so was doing my best to jolly things along and just get them both to school.  We were nearly there and she breaks down, wailing, weeping, (she’s very dramatic)

I think I’m going die.

Oh god.  Here we go.  Does it really have to be today?  This morning?  Of all mornings? (and some silent swearing …..) Whilst I’m busy drawing breath, composing myself to do some wondering she went on

There’s these big boys at school, keep saying they’re going to kill me …..

I manage to grab her and just cuddle, holding tightly to her shaking sobbing body and she continues

But they can’t really can they …

They would need a gun, it’s really the only way I can think of to kill someone, and you have to be 18 to have a gun don’t you?  So they won’t have a gun, so they won’t be able to kill me, will they?  Oh, I didn’t think of it like that.

Oh darling.  Well done.  You sorted that out yourself, just by talking about it.  Isn’t that amazing.

Inside my head, as I’m sure you are thinking – she hasn’t figured that there are more ways to kill someone, that this is just a saying, that if someone is going to commit murder they are not going to be concerned about whether they are the right age to have that weapon or even if it is legal or not!

So here’s an 11 year old, thinking of things in a 3 year old way, expected to go to secondary school and function, safely, on her own, under threat, fearing for her life because of the stupid phrases that people use and the mindless threats that big boys make.

We avoided death – for that day.

Later, whilst in the conference, I got a text from school asking if I could give them a call.  Erm, no actually I can’t, can they text me?

Oh, just wanted to update you.  Biggey is saying to people she is pregnant.

Marvellous!  School said, we haven’t discussed it with her, cos she hasn’t said it direct to staff.  Oh well, that’ll be fine then.  I suppose you do the same response if one of those big boys is saying he’s got a gun in school????  More silent swearing, mid-conference.

Here is a girl who runs away, associates with the ones we’d rather she didn’t, is a prime target for exploitation and this could (if she ever went anywhere) be true.  Lying is also a classic reaction in attachment difficulties. So they ignored it.  Great.

I sent a long text back with detailed wording of what to say, how to say it.  They did but oh, it needs so much managing that again I wonder if it’s worth it.

 

We are not pregnant.  No new baby.  No choosing baby names.  No knitting.  No reason to keep her off school!!!!!

Death and new life is not happening in the Safehouse just yet.

How ironic that all this happens on the day I’m at a conference about how to help these children in school.