Sunday, 20 November 2016


I'm sure that there are many parents, particularly adoptive ones, who notice that as soon their little ones arrive that they begin to put on a small amount of weight.
My own narrative of my ever expanding waistline has given me many opportunities to write - usually with great comic abandon - after all, if we can't laugh at ourselves then...
But this week i really had to bite my own tongue as the lovely lady who runs the Friends group at our boys' school asked me if I would do the honour of being the school Santa this year - apparently they have a costume that will fit!
At first I was a little offended but soon took it in my stride. After all, I have been Santa before, but that was in Singapore where my main casting quality for the role was that I was caucasian rather than obese. There people laughed and said what a scrawny Santa I was - something tells me that won't happen this year.
Anyway, once I had accepted the situation I came home and asked my youngest if he wanted to go and see Santa at the school fair on Sunday.
He looked at me and laughed ( at first I thought he was going to tell me he didn't believe anymore) but no it was far worse...
"Don't be silly, Daddy," he said, "it's not the real Santa, it's just the fattest, stupidest teacher in school dressed up!"
I was gutted.
The my eldest son popped up. 'I think Daddy,' he said, ' That my Christmas list this year will just be one big thing that I want - obviously if 'Santa' is real then he will get me that one big thing - if not - well, I may have to break the news to TJ...'
So my youngest son sees me as a fat, stupid elf and my eldest sees the ability to blackmail based on the existence of said overweight elf
Needless to say that as soon as I told Papa about the entire episode I was placed on a very strict diet - no processed foods, reduced sugar, no alcohol (except at weekends - and then slimline) I negotiated that last bit...
It will soon be Christmas!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Holiday - without the kids!

We did it!

We went away without the children.

I'm still not quite sure how we persuaded my sister to look after the both of them - but once she had said yes there was no turning back. Tickets were booked and we headed off to the big apple to have some quality adult time...

Except that I spent the first two days worried about the children - would they be ok? Would my sister ne ok? What would happen if either or both children were rushed to A and E? What if we were both killed in a freak taxi collision? Who would look after our kids then - had I put my sister down as their guardian in the will? how would they cope? How would she cope?

Suddenly the whole idea of a holiday without the boys sweemed far more stressful than one with...

Luckily, Papa had it all in hand. He produced a bottle of gin and a wifi subscription- on the proviso that I only checked in once a day to make sure everything was ok. I could do this whilst he caught up with some work  - he is a work-a-holic, but thats something both and the kids have come to accept and understand. If Papa doesn't make contact with work on a regular basis then he too can become stressed and any benefits of being away are quickly lost.

It turned out the kids were having a great time - they went to Harry Potter World, they stayed up late, they went to the movies - they ate too much pizza and junk food - they were having so much fun!

So I eventually relaxed and we spent the rest of the week eating and drinking far too much.

When we got home my sister said she had a great time and would happily have the boys again, although maybe only for a long weekend next time - perhaps a week was slightly too much - for all of us. But all of my fears were unfounded - they all had fun.

What was lovely though, and I suppose is the main point of my ramble, is that TJ, for the first time ever, told me he missed us - he even came close to using the 'l' word - but thats still just a step too far for him at the moment - who knows maybe the next time we go away he may be able to say it.

But, I came to a realisation as well - although i loved spending some time alone with Papa (and we needed it) I also love spending holiday time with the boys - even though they moan and complain and generally make most holidays as difficult as they can - having them there still makes it worthwhile.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Olly Murs Broke my Lightbulb

It's been a while since I've written anything. I think I needed some time out - to deal with my own emotions since the passing of my mum but also to deal with the emotional turmoil that happens when a child begins therapy.

To be fair, TJ has coped really well and therapy now seems to be helping him. He is more settled and can handle his emotions in an appropriate manner - even school are pleased with him - which makes a nice change.

However, one recent incident has prompted me to put the proverbial pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) once again.

It involved TJ, his best friend, a football and Olly Murs - yes, Olly Murs, who broke my lightbulb!

TJ and his friend were playing outside the house on Saturday - they were kicking the football up and down the driveway - doing 'tricks' apparently. Anyway, I needed to pop out to the local shop to get some milk - I asked TJ if he wanted to come. 'I'm ten now," came the repy, "I can stay here by myself."

Well, I would only be a few minutes, so I told him it was ok as long as he and his friend stayed at the house. I also knew that my neighbour was in - she's a retired lady who single handedly runs her own branch of neighbourhood watch - if it happens on our street then she knows all about it.

So I nipped out.

Ten minutes later I pulled into my driveway to see both boys rapidly sweeping and shovelling bits into the bin.

'What's happened?" I asked.

"Well," TJ began, "We were playing football when this boy came and 'toe-punched' the ball upwards and it hit the garage light and broke it."

Sure enough the two boys were sweeping up thousands of timy bits of glass.

I took over. "It's ok boys," I said, "I'll do it - you just make sure there's no glass on you." There wasn't.

Afterwards we had a chat about what had happened.

'You see," began best friend,' We were just minding our own business when this guy came up and asked if he could play. We said he could and he toe punched the ball and when the bulb broke he ran away."

"Who was this boy?" I asked in my best Hercule Poirot manner.

"You don't know him," came the reply.

"Try me", I said.

"It Olly," TJ chipped in, "Yes, Olly - Olly Murs!"

"Olly Murs?" I said, "Olly Murs the singer?"

The boys looked blank - 'Erm, Yes - thats what we call him!" said best friend.

"Really?" I said, "Would I know this boy?"

"Erm, probably not, " said TJ, "He lives a few streets away - we just know him from school."

"Right," I said, "Let's go and have a look down the park and see if he is there."

The boys began to look worried and started shuffling.

"Then," I said, "When we find him we can get his dad to pay for my lightbulb."

"When I said he lived near by - I think he was actually from somewhere else," came the measured reply from TJ, "I think he was on holiday here."

"Yes," said best friend, "He was on holiday."

"But', I carried on, now enjoying myself, "You said you knew him. You said he called himself Olly Murs."

"He's probably not even called Olly at all," said TJ. "I bet he made that name up."

"I'll bet he did," I said. "Anyway, maybe we should take the ball to the park where it won't do any damage and I can walk the dogs."

I finished sweeping and through the remaining glass away.

Suddenly, the lady from over the road popped her head out. "I don't know what the boys have been saying she said, but there was no other boy here - just the two of them - they broke the bulb - not this Olly Murs chap."

"Thanks," I said, "I had worked it out - I'm going to make sure they tell the truth eventually."

"Oh good," she said, "I'd have hated for you to have gone round to Olly Murs dad's house and accuse him of something he hasn't done."

"Don't worry," I said, "Olly Murs is quite safe from me."

She smiled and went back inside.

Something tells me she doesn't know who Olly Murs is...

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Therapy Begins...

Therapy is a funny old thing, often dismissed as 'mumbo-jumbo' or words to that effect. I'm not going to chat about everything that happens - as it's also a personal thing. But I hope that by sharing some of the more 'general' things that I can help show just how beneficial it can be.

A couple of weeks ago we had our 'family' session. Where Papa and I, and the two boys, attended our first group therapy session. We went into a small room and were given a number of tasks to complete. Games to play, cream to put on each other, feeding each other etc. All the things you would expect after reading a little about theraplay - Dan Hughes is the go to person for this.

This was all videoed and a week later Papa and I were called back in to go and discuss the therapist's findings.

We sat down in another little room, clutching a cup of tea as if it was Dumbo's magic feather and hoping that everything had been ok. We hoped that we had come across as lovely, caring parents and that we would, therefore, have passed the therapist's test.

It's funny - it doesn't matter how long you have been an adoptive parent for, you simply can't get away from feeling that you are constantly being judged. I wonder if birth families feel the same way when they ask for external help - do they automatically enter a room expecting to be told that they aren't really very good at this parenting lark and maybe they should try something else, like fly-fishing? (Believe me, there are times when I wish I did find pleasure in the solitude of fly-fishing - although I don't think the waist high waterproofs would suit me.)

So we sat there and watched...

It took me about ten minutes to get over the fact that I looked so fat on TV. I know the camera add ten pounds, but this one was obviously faulty as it had added at least fifty!

But, once I remembered it wasn't all about me, we got down to the nitty gritty and assessed our behaviour as a family.

It was pretty much a lovely scene. We played well, we were age appropriate in our responses. We worked with the children and allowed them the room to explore whilst retaining the necessary boundaries - it was all good.

Then our eldest boy, KC, left the room for a while with Papa whilst TJ and I completed a couple of activities - one of which nearly had me in tears, as it showed that since the loss of my mum, one of his biggest fears is the death of either Papa or myself.

Then, a little while later, I left the room and TJ was left alone. I told him I was only going for a minute and that it was all ok. But it was obvious that as soon as he was on his own he became anxious - something I didn't realise he did. I've always assumed that, as he sees the world differently, that he would prefer his own company. But, I was reassured, this was trick that an adopted child becomes very good at - pushing away the very people he/she needs without our being aware of it. In our case, I felt he didn't want or need me, when in actual fact he was screaming for us.

I became upset. "It's ok," the therapist said, "children who have experienced trauma become very skilled at this - they need to feel that they have been abandoned - it justifies their sense of self. They are not worthy of anyone's love. That's what we are here to help him with."

I realised that my assumption had always been that he was very much self sufficient - but, of course he is exactly the opposite.

Back to the video and a little later both Papa and I are back in the room playing with TJ. A lovely game. Then KC entered - and it was like a whirlwind had come into the room. A whirlwind that simply took over. Everything. Including Papa and I. TJ retreated into a corner as KC played the games and ensured that Papa and I were focussed entirely on him. A little later he did try and involve TJ in the game - but by then TJ had already retreated into himself and was sitting as a passive observer.

My heart broke.

We had bought into the image the boys had been projecting for so long. That KC was the sociable, outgoing, chatty one whilst TJ was cold, distant, insular.

It was a lie that had been perpetuated by the children and had been fed by us.

I felt so guilty.

But again I was reassured, that this was a survival technique - this was how they had managed to survive in care. KC used this as a means to protect his younger brother and, being born into chaos, TJ had no idea of any different form of family.

But now, even though there was no reason to play these roles, they had simply begun to live them. For KC this was hard as he now no longer wants his younger brother hanging round him and his friends, which is age appropriate I guess. But for TJ this is a massive rejection and, as he hasn't built a real bond with us, then he is left floundering.

So now it is time for us to focus on TJ. To build that bond - even if it does mean starting from scratch. We start theraplay properly in the next couple of weeks - and I, for one, am looking forward to the next stage of our adoptive journey.

But first of all... I need to lose weight!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, 5 May 2016

Why Did You Choose Us?

That was the question I was confronted with in the car today on the way home from school.

I often wonder why these conversations always seem to happen on the move, I guess it's simply because we are in an enclosed space, with nothing else to do. I looked out of the window pretending to see where we were going.

'Don't do that,' KC said, 'don't try and avoid the question... I'm asking you a question. Why did you choose us?'

'Well,' I started, ' we looked at profiles of lots of children, ' (I wasn't going to tell him we spent nearly two years ploughing through profiles, that we had three failed matches and that their profiles were our last attempt at the whole adoption thing).

'When I saw your pictures then I knew you would be our children,' I stopped him from speaking, 'I can't explain it, but when I saw you and your brother's photo I just knew it was right.'

I expected that to be the end of it. But no.

'But why have children, why adopt?' I looked at him. Had he heard the countless arguments where we had asked ourselves that very question. The times we had nearly given up, the times when it really didn't seem worth it. Of course, we came through that phase, but what parent doesn't occasionally miss their years of pre child freedom, although you cannot underestimate the pressure that adoption places upon a couple, upon a family.

'I mean, adopting children is hard work,' he went on, ''Normal kids (his words, not mine) don't go to therapy, they don't cause as much trouble, they don't get angry and break things, they don't make their parents quit their jobs. You gave up everything to be our dad,' he said, 'Why did you do that. You love acting why did you stop?'

If I wasn't driving I would have burst into tears, purely at the depth at which he had obviously been thinking about all this. I wondered how long he had been playing with these ideas.

'but, we have you,' I said, 'Yes, it can be tough and yes we do have our problems, but all families have problems at some point. We just have to remember to be able to talk about them.'

'I want to look at the picture,' he said.

I looked at him.

'The picture in the magazine that made you choose us,' he went on, 'I want to see it. I want to see what you saw.'

'Ok,' I said, 'I have it still. You can see.'

He nodded. We came home.

He walked through the door.

'Let me know whrn you want to see the photo,' I said.

'It's alright,' he replied, 'I don't really want to see it."

He then rushed on out to the park to play football with his brother.

I sat down and wrote this.... My therapy.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Therapy... Again...

We are currently on our Easter holidays.

Indeed I am typing this from somewhere above Spain as we fly to sunny Majorca. 

We hadn't intended on taking a trip this holiday, in fact Papa had booked his leave so that we could spend time together as a family.

I had to go up to deal with some things at my mum's house and after just one night alone with the children, two full days, I came back to the news that Papa would 'go spare' if he had to spend two more weeks trapped in the house and had booked a last minute break to Majorca, Port Soller, to be precise.

I wasn't complaining.

But before we left had an appointment with the therapist that worked with KC, and did wonders! But this time for TJ. He has been struggling at school and it was felt an assessment was needed. 

The therapist was lovely. It was completely different to KC. Where KC needed to come to terms with his past, TJ now needs to come to terms with himself. He also needs to deal with so much change, change of school, my going back to work and, of course, the loss of his Granny.

In hindsight, had we known everything that was to happen, then I wouldn't  have gone back to work quite do soon, but, as they say, hindsight is always 20/20 vision.

We chatted for our given hour, the school SENCO came along and gave her views as to TJ's coping in school. He isn't. It's hard to hear your son has no friends, and that he doesn't look for them. He pushes everyone away. I thought about his old school and realised that was probably the same, but it's easier to hide in a class of 30. In a class of 12 he has nowhere to hide, and everything is spotted. Which also means that everything is examined and taken care of.

We talked about how he gets anxious when I am away, how he self harms when being reprimanded. How he can't deal with anything that is perceived as failure. Even a full stop In the wrong place results in a complete breakdown. Itw as heartbreaking to listen to, but not a surprise. There was no one from post adoption support present. They had signed off on the funding as part of our agreed adoption package and therefore, had nothing new to bring to the table. 

Then we talked about things TJ enjoys, his football, his maths, his pets. All things that can't judge him. It was at that point we talked about the 'spectrum', about foetal alcohol syndrome, about trauma. 

Then we talked about Dan Hughes, about Theraplay and about how they could help my troubled little boy begin to like himself. Suddenly, things began to make sense. Suddenly, there was hope.

So today I am flying off to an unplanned holiday, clutching books about Theraplay, Autism, Trauma... Most of drive I have read before, but with KC in mind. Now I will re read them with TJ as the main focus.

The symptoms are completely different, yet the causes seem to be the same... And the keys to help our children deal with themselves, their past and their present seem to lie with the same people. Hopefully it will help them unlock a door to their future.

But for now, I'm going to relax in the (hopefully) Spanish sun! 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Moments to Treasure

"What was it like in the olden days?"

So asks TJ, as he sits doing his homework.

I wasn't sure what he was working on, so I figured that I'd better ask for more information before I regailed him with my knowledge of Tudor England or the Industrial Revolution - I am sure he will find both topics thrilling. So I asked which period of history he was looking at.

'I mean when you were young?"

I looked back at him - "You mean in the 1980's?"

'Is that the same time as 'Call the Midwife?'

So my youngest son now thinks I was born just after the war and lived in a poverty stricken East End.

I can see why he would be interested though. Recently we have been clearing out my mum's house, getting it ready to put on the market and, naturally, whilst going through the loft I found all the 'stuff' that I had left there over the years - forty years of accumulated sentimental tat that I was happy to leave at my mum's as long as I didn't have to fill up my own attic with it. My mum often asked me when I was gonig to clear it all out and I always promised I would... eventually.

So eventually finally happened and we have made two trips, so far, with car loads of afore-mentioned 'tat'. Much of which has consisted of old photos, school books and records - lots and lots of records.

It was going through the hundreds of singles and LP's that I became nostalgic for my lost youth, showing the boys cover after cover. I can't claim to be 'cool' - I havent found lost copies of Bowie or the Beatles, no, my collection is of trashy 80's pop - a collection of Madonna 'shaped' picture discs, Five Star albums and A-Ha - my favourites at the time were Bucks Fizz (I'm sure my parents knew I was gay long before I did!). But as I pulled out each record, I remembered my dad yelling at me to turn it down, or my mum comparing everything to the music of her youth, the Swinging 60's. Or my running down Blackpool sea front desparately trying to get an autograph from one of the afore-mentioned Fizzers on their UK tour. (I managed to get Bobby G's - I still have it in a photo album - that I also bored, I mean enthralled, the boys with.)

Each of those records brought back a treasured memory - even if we don't have a record player at the moment (you may note I said 'at the moment' - plans are afoot!), I'm not sure if I'll still be as fond when I play them all again.

But then I thought about what our children would have to treasure - a download? an internet game? an app? - who knows?

I do know I wouldn't change my childhood for anything - I had a great time. I only hope I can give my own children, who have had such a tough start to their lives, something that they can treasure, if only memories.

And if that means acknowledging that I lived in some ancient pre-historic time then so be it.

But one thing is certain...

I'm not swapping my ABBA stand up, gatefold sleeve of 'Winner Takes it All' for anything!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Mother's Day - Yet Again...

So Mother's Day reared its head again this week and I really wasn't sure how I was going to take it.

It's the first Mother's Day since we lost my mum and so I always knew it was going to be difficult - which meant I was prepared - or so I thought.

It was also going to be difficult for the boys and for school.

After a couple of dodgy decisions made by school in past years, including the pink handbag card with stuck on flowers that TJ was so upset he had to give to me, it had been agreed that the boys would make cards and gifts from Granny. You can relive that experience here:

Only, of course, this year that wasn't going to be possible.

TJ still hasn't really grieved for his grandmother, whom he adored, and that still worries me - I thought this could be the day that he finally cracks.

He didn't.

In fact, I don't know if either boy made a card this year, for anyone. I didn't receive anything. I asked Dylan if they were trying not to upset me. His reply, 'They haven't even mentioned it."

Suddenly the avoidance of Mother's Day was just as upsetting as the inappropriate ways it had been marked before.

So Mothering Sunday was treated as any other Sunday - we had our roast dinner, we walked the dogs - everyone was very careful around me.

The next day before school KC came down to breakfast holding a box. In it was a stone painted as a ladybird. "It's for you,' KC said, "I didn't want to give it you yesterday as I thought it would upset you."

It was so sweet of him. I put it into the cabinet with all the other precious things he has given me - on display for all to see.

We went to school.

And it was Monday that I found difficult - everyone talking about their own weekend, most people chatting about their day spent with their mum's,  some people even moaning that they had to travel to see their mum. I smiled and nodded and told everyone I had a quiet day.

I thought that if I was struggling then the chances were the boys may be too.

I wasn't wrong.

TJ had a difficult day. By lunch he was sitting in the corner of the classroom crying. I was called to go and see him. He and I sat there holding hands as he cried. I didn't have to ask him why he was upset. We both knew.

Eventually he calmed down. He didn't want to go back into the school dining room though - he wasn't hungry. I told him that he couldn't go back to school hungry and I had to teach that afternoon, but I would sit with him while he ate - he liked that.

So the two of us sat in the canteen together - I didn't go to the teacher's table, or skip the queue (as teachers are allowed). We sat and ate. We didn't talk. We didn't need to.

Afterwards he got up and went back to class.

When I collected him at the end of the day - the barriers were back up. The incident at lunch wasn't referred to - in fact, as far as he was concerned, it hadn't happened. He told me he was upset because he lost at football. I nodded knowingly.

His teacher is concerned for him. So am I. I think that even though the grieving process is tough for us all, for children who have had a string of losses, be it birth mum, foster carers etc that death can have an even stronger effect. Maybe its time for him to talk about his own sense of loss, in a child friendly way.

So it's back to post adoption therapy - this time for TJ. We know how successful it was for KC so now maybe TJ is ready to talk - maybe not - but we need to try.

On another note I went to KC's parent-teacher evening and... it was amazing! He was a different child - gone was the unhappy, angry little boy from last year - the child who hated school, life - everything. Now he was making good progress and was not only prepared to enter senior school but would, in his teacher's opinion, thrive and excel.

My mum chose this school for him.

Mum was right.

I only wish I could tell her...

But then again, I tell her everything, every day - just like I used to.

Saturday, 6 February 2016


So it's been a while since my last post.

Forgive me.

It's all been a little bit frantic.

I guess I've been putting off writing this for too long now - there's no easy way to say it.

Unfortunately, just before Christmas, my Mum, the boy's Granny - who has featured so much in this blog, alongside ASBO dog, died. She had just turned 68.

She had been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier in the year and in August they operated on the effected lung and successfully removed the tumour. Thye had caught it in the very early stages - it hadn't spread, everyone was very happy. It looked like Mum would make a full recovery.

Unfortunately, life had other plans. Mum caught an infection whilst in the hospital and ended up staying there for over a month in Intensive care but she finally came home - relieved and ready to start her recuperation.

Again, that was not to be. She managed to contract pneumonia and ended up in hospital - again. Pneumonia turned into fibrosis and by the end she decided she wanted to die at home.

Hospitals don't make it easy to discharge the dying. We need to ensure there is care at home - but with all the cutbacks the NHS simply can't give that. So we booked a private nursing company to look after her alongside her family and the district nurses. Now the hospital needed to see proof and get written statements from the private company - all before midday as the registrar left then - it was a Thursday after all. But, luckily, my brother had a contact who sorted everything out - without that Mum would probably have died in the hospital - alongside deaf Betty and screaming Susie who were both in the beds beside her. It wasn't much fun.

But we got Mum home and laid her in a single bed in the living room only to find out that the hospital had cancelled the hospital bed we thought had been booked as, in their words, 'Mum was probably not going to last the night." When the district nurse heard this she was horrified - I've never heard such language from such a seemingly nice lady when she called the hospital to see if why we had been told was actually true. But whatever she said worked, as the bed arrived at about 10pm that night and mum could at least sit up to watch tv or listen to the radio.

Mum had a stream of visitors - even when she had pretty much lost consciousness. We didn't realise just how many friends she had. But they came from far and wide to say their farewells. Everyone commenting on how peaceful the house was - the more religious felt that the Holy Spirit was present - I was convinced it was my father, coming to collect his dear wife. Although he had been gone fifteen years - almost to the day that she died - she never loved anyone else. 'How could she?' she would say - she married the man of her dreams and that only happens once in a lifetime.

I had my final chat with her on the Friday. We had listened to Cliff Richard's new song, 'Golden' - she was a huge fan - and she liked it. She smiled when we played it and said he was back on form. Then my brother and sister popped out to the pub.

It wasn't a long chat - but she wanted to plan her funeral. It seems strange now, my sitting there writing down what she said, the hymns she wanted - the fact she wanted her vicar (she was a church goer) to conduct her service and that she didn't want to be buried with Dad. She didn't like the church were he was lain, and nobody visited anyway, she said. She wanted to be cremated and for us to scatter her ashes together, as a family. She didn't mind where as long as we were together. Regular readers will know my brother and I have had a difficult history, but she wanted her death to allow us to draw a line under our past.

She didn't want any pop songs at her funeral - she wanted it to be traditional, solemn. A time to reflect. A time to pray and give thanks for her life and for our own

She died on the Monday - the day before KC's birthday - the hospital were wrong - she used their bed for a good four days.

The next day I raced back home - a four hour drive in order to be there for KC's birthday - I even had a present from Granny for him. We decided not to tell him until afterwards. It was strange watching him open Granny's present, in the card she had told him to share it with his brother, knowing she wouldn't be there for TJ's birthday.

The church were amazing, they helped us with the undertakers, the arrangements... everything and we had Mum's service sorted out just before Christmas. The undertaker called me as I drove up to Cheshire the day before the service. We hadn't chosen a song for when the curtains closed on the coffin and the congregation left. The organist was coming from the church, as we had held the first part of the service there before the committal - but I said, we need some Cliff Richard - but one of his gospel songs - not a pop one. The undertaker said, "How about Miss You Nights - does that work?" 'No," I replied. "We have Golden - his new one if you want that," said the undertaker. So Golden it was. The words are beautiful and really fitting. My aunt told me later that she was fine all the way through but when she heard Cliff, it just reminded her of mum and that was when she cried. For my brother and sister and I, I think it had a completely different meaning, it was the last time we all sat and listend to a piece of music together.

It sounds strange but it was actually a lovely day. Lovely to see so many friends and family and to hear so many stories about her and know how loved she was.

Now life is returning to normal - well, as normal as it can be when you are talking to probate lawyers and estate agents and all the stuff that happens when you become an orphan, as my brother put it.

But grief - grief is hard enough for adults but for children...

Children who have already lost so much...

It's funny but through my own grief I can finally understand a little bit of how they must have felt to have had to leave their birth mum, their foster carers. Adoption agencies talk a lot about the grieving process in looked after children - but it is only now that I can even partially relate...

By the way - ASBO dog is fine - she is living with my sister and terrorising their cat!