Thursday, 28 February 2019

An Unexpected Contact...

So the letters arrived from birth mother.

I wasn't sure how I felt as I opened the letter within a letter. But what I found and my own reactions surprised me immensely.

Birth mum had written a very basic letter - but it wasn't emotional, very matter of fact and, amazingly, a simple thank you letter to Papa and I for taking care of 'her' boys. She talked about her favourite things, her family, her pets - it was as if I was reading a letter from a child. Then I had to remember that she wasn't much older than KC when she became pregnant.

Then I opened the other letters - they were thank you cards, one for me and one for Papa and a separate card wishing the boys all the best for their future, may they follow their dreams type thing...

TJ had said that he didn't want to read it and I told him he didn't have to. He has every right to be angry with her but, in the end he wanted to look at it. He said it 'intrigued' him. He was very matter of fact about the whole thing. Then he wanted to look back at his 'Life Story' book. I've always edited this before whenever I've looked at it with him. But this time he read it by himself, including the really 'difficult' bits about the abuse undergone by both boys and what 'neglect' actually meant.

After he went through it all - he gave it me back and asked me to put it away. He simply shrugged and said, "I don't remember any of that.' For that I am very grateful.

He then went to play on his Playstation - life continues as normal.

Then it came to KC. I left the letters out and told him he could read them by himself if he wanted or with me, it was up to him. He shrugged and went out.

I left the letters and his Life Story book on the dining table for a few days.

Then yesterday, as I took him to his cadet club, I asked him if he had had a look at the letters.

He simply stared ahead and quite calmly said, "I have no interest in that woman. TJ told me what she said and I really don't care.'

I started to take to him about it and he stopped me. It was his calmness that worried me most.

"Don't use the 'therapy' voice", he said, "I'm old enough to decide if I want to read a letter... and I don't. I don't want anything to do with her and I'm not interested in her card."

The idea of my 'therapy' voice made us both laugh.

As he went into his cadet group I told him I was proud of him and would support whatever decision he made.

He looked back and said, 'That's all I want, for you to be proud of me - not her."

I sat in the car for a while before returning home and putting the letters away.

I still don't know how I feel...

On the one hand I am sorry for her but on the other she was instrumental in the abuse and neglect of my children. It's a tough one... but it must be much tougher for our boys...

Friday, 8 February 2019


Sometimes adoption throws up the strangest of challenges designed to push all of those 'parenting' buttons.

We've had a busy couple of weeks. TJ's 'emergency' CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) finally came through - it was originally referred by the GP last June when TJ's anxiety became so heightened that he threatened suicide and refused to go to school (see School Refusal post) and the GP signed him off school whilst we awaited his EHC plan to be completed, thus allowing him to attend a specialist school. During that wait TJ gained his plan and obtained a place at an ASD specialist school - I wont say he loves it there but he had a really good parent's evening where he was seen to be a popular child who is meeting all of his expected educational milestones - they even have him on a GCSE pathway - something his previous schools had all discounted.

Anyway, the CAMHS meeting finally happened, where we were told we were doing al the right things and that the change in school had obviously had a major impact on TJ's mental health and that he was settled now and could be discharged from CAMHS - although they would offer a recommendation of a referral to a sleep clinic as TJ told them he still has trouble sleeping.

Thank goodness we weren't relying on that appointment - for us to have waited 8 months, as an emergency, reflects that state of mental health care at the moment - its not the fault of the professionals - they simply don't have the resources. I dread to think how long we would have to have waited if if wasn't an 'emergency'. Sigh...

So we thought TJ had finally turned a corner and then.... I walked into his room... and the stench hit me. It smelt not unlike a gents toilet and not one of those fancy new toilets with lovely air fresheners and background music playing. Think more of a gents toilet in a railway station circa 1985 - horrendous.

I spent the next hour on my knees sniffing various parts of the room. He hadn't wet the bed, he hadn't been seeing into a box or the bin (these are usual occurrences). No, he had wee'd directly into the corner of his room - all over a pile of teddies and bags. It was everywhere. For a thirteen year old he can certainly hold a lot of urine.

So he was duly called in for a 'chat'. After a long period of listening to a variety of stories involving each of the pets coming into his room and wee'ing on his toys, alongside his brother doing it to get him into trouble, or even a stranger breaking in during the night. Eventually he admitted he had done it, but he didn't know why. I reassured him that he wasn't in trouble -I just wanted to help him an to make sure it didn't happen again. Maybe he had been in a deep sleep and thought he was in the bathroom (which is next to his bedroom), or he was caught short - but no, he was quite happy to tell me he got up and wee'd on his stuff - it was bizarre. So he helped me clean it all up. I say clean - we can clean up the mess but the smell remains... its horrendous. But a quick google and trip to the supermarket has enabled me to find a new carpet cleaner and urine neutraliser. The mess is easier to clean up. the mental issues less so.

A chat with my online support group led me to the conclusion that he is anxious and is possible going through a period of regression. As a child in his birth family he was locked in a room for hours on end with no food, toileting - anything. When he first came to us he used to peel wallpaper off during the night so he had something to eat. Food is a huge issue for him. He has to know that fridge is always stocked. The smell of urine was probably a comfort to him - reminding him of being a baby. in the same way we only have to smell Johnson's baby powder and we feel warm and cuddly - for him urine has the same effect.

I don't know - the damage that was done early on in life is so difficult to both understand and impossible to correct - for both him and us. But I guess that's adoption - trying to teach the young people how to deal with their past trauma. how to recognise that this is a throwback and isn't going to happen again. And just when you think you've sorted it all out - it rears it's ugly head again.

Then, to cap it all, I had a call from social services. Birth mum has decided, after years of not showing the slightest interest, that she would like to get in contact with 'her boys' again. i'm not going to deny her that - maybe she's changed, maybe she's remorseful, regretful, whatever. I'm all about forgiveness. But it's easier for me to forgive, I didn't suffer because of her neglect. I don't have Foetal alcohol syndrome because she drank so heavily during her pregnancy. I didn't sit crying in my room unattended and having to eat wallpaper and sit in my wet nappies for hours on end.

I always said I'll support both boys if they want to meet her eventually. But I'll also understand their decision if they decide not to.

Not that it's my choice to make...

But not until they are ready.