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In The Cut

So, been thinking for a while about sharing our story of adoption in the hope that it might help other families and because it is such an incredible journey, it feels somehow important to document. Maybe one day it will also be important for our daughter who shall remain anonymous as this is her story too and she may not want to share it. I’ll call her Angel as we called her our ‘angel child’ for the first six months of her time with us, knowing full well that as soon as she felt safe enough, a more fully rounded two-year old would emerge. She was also referred to as an ‘angel child’ by her birth mum and dad who had lost a previous pregnancy and so were very grateful when they fell pregnant with her.  Angel is 9 and will be 10 in July. Right now we are what I call ‘in the cut’. We have just come out of our longest spell of equilibrium (about 3 months) and I felt a new baseline of her self-worth had been reached. It probably has but when the wound opens up, it’s incredible how deep it g
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F***ing Summer

  Never mind ‘lean in’ parenting, how about some lean out time! This might be common to a lot of parents having taken a straw poll among friends; the summer holidays are bloody hard! The difference in having an adopted kid is that it's often even harder. I look on jealously as neighbours and friends pack their kids off to camp, cousins and grandparents. We know that Angel wouldn’t manage more than a night away from us. In fact, she doesn't even weather an activity day camp very well. Too many other personalities to navigate. The reality is that even school is tough for Angel and if she could, she would like to be with both me and hubby all day, every day and recently that’s just what she’s had. We got back from a week in Weymouth a few days ago. We stayed with my Mum, which Angel loves and my Aunty came on the last night too, whom Angel also loves. We went to the beach every day, despite some windy weather, braved the sand storms, went to the arcade, the fair, shopping and the

The Cricket Ball

Every time I think I might be able to go back and recall earlier stuff in our adoption story, something happens that propels me to write about what is happening now. There are so many big things going on all the time that I need to process. I sometimes wonder if all parenting is like this? Or is it just adopted kids or maybe it’s just some adopted kids?  Anyway, we are at our annual street camping weekend in Sussex. Lots of excitement and late nights but Angel seems in good form. I spent a lot of time with her and her friends in the woods behind the campsite  just hanging and messing around. ‘Lean in Mum’ in full effect (-;  Later a group game of cricket is called for. Angel finds a very nice cricket ball nestled in grass. Rosie, another little girl on the trip, asks me if It’s Angel’s.’I don’t think so,’ I say. ‘She says she brought it from home’ Rosie says, narrowing her eyes, suspiciously. Angel comes over. Angel - I brought it from home. Me - I’ve never seen that before Angel - It&

Bouncing Back

  We are returning from a school trip. I am here as we have agreed that on long school trips me or hubby will go, so Angel doesn't get so anxious. As the non working parent, this is usually hubby’s department but England are playing (football for the uninitiated!). Don't think I need to say more lol. So I’ve taken the day off work and Angel has loved having me here. On the way home, she is messing around with a friend taking their seatbelts on and off. The driver is stressed as traffic is bad and the noise in the mini bus is increasing. Me and Angel’s class teacher keep asking them to stop taking off their seatbelts and then the driver intervenes and says very sternly, ‘Can you please keep your seatbelts on! If the bus jolts you could easily fall forward and if you get hurt, I will be in a lot of trouble.’  This seems directed at Angel as she is in his direct line of sight when he turns around but the whole bus falls silent. I see Angel emotionally shut down, she sits very stil

Fire Jumping

Angel goes to a Steiner school. She was in a regular state primary until half way through Year Three when she announced she would ‘rather die than go back to school’ after the Christmas holidays. I figure when a 7 year old tells you they would rather die than go to school you know it's time to try something different.  We thought at the time she was dyslexic and that this was what was causing her such massive anxiety. We realise now that actually she just wasn't ready for focused academic work. Since going to Steiner, where they work in a much slower, more child-centered and holistic way, she is doing really well and we realise she isn't dyslexic at all. She has gone from throwing a book across the room because she felt so stupid and frustrated to happily reading. Part of what Steiner does so well is create rituals and traditions throughout the school year which really hold the child. One of these is St. John’s Fire, which is a celebration of midsummer in which the whole sc

True North

  I am reading ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ to Angel at bedtime. The mole says to the boy, ‘we all feel lost at times.’ Angel - That's how I feel in school and sometimes at home.  Me - What do you do when you feel like that? Angel – Mummy I breathe in deeply and out and if I have a cuddly toy, I squeeze that tight and I say to myself, ‘I am love, I am loved by everyone who knows me.’ I well up. Angel peers at me Angel - What Mum, are you actually crying?  Me - They’re happy tears.  I laugh it off. I am happy that she is learning to be a friend to herself although, in reality, I know it's not often she is able to remember that affirmation. I love that she has transmuted it from ‘I am loved’, to ‘I am loved by everyone who knows me ’. Brilliant. But I am also heartbroken and as she’s lying in my arms, twitching her way to deep sleep, the tears come thick and fast. How sad it must be to feel lost in your own home. I realise that I’m crying for me too as I too felt lo

Protective Shells

  We have a new therapeutic children's book; ‘Rosie Rudey and the Very Annoying Parent’. It’s by Sarah Naish and her grown up adopted daughter and is  based on real things that happened in their family. Angel loves it and wants us to read it every night.  Rosie Rudey is about a girl who walks around with a very hard tortoise shell on her back to protect herself. I think about when Angel arrived and her hard shell and it makes me cry. She was so vulnerable and yet so emotionally self-sufficient, even at 22months. Sure, she was attached to my hip for the first six month but when she went to sleep, you could literally put her in bed, give her a muslin, which she would use the corner of to tickle her face, and leave the room. This is the routine the foster carer had put in place and if she had been ours from the start, I would have given myself a pat on the back.  However, my gut felt we needed her to allow us to soothe her rather than her doing it for herself. It felt like a wall we h

Heart Day

  Today Angel was going on a school trip. They have been going to a farm every week for the last month. It's quite a drive (1.5hrs each way) and a long day as they don’t get back to school til 5pm. Hubby has been going on the trips but couldn't today and I couldn't go either. We told Angel Dad couldn't go on the weekend before the trip and she said she wouldn't go if he couldn’t. I talked about the film we had just watched in which a character says sometimes it's good to be brave and challenge ourselves and that maybe if she went, she will feel pleased after.  Angel - Well, how are you going to make me go? Me - Umm, I could say ‘no telly’ this weekend (she only gets telly on the weekend during term time) but I don’t want to make you go. I want to find a way that feels OK for you to go . Angel - I know you're going to make me go. Me - What could we do that would make it feel better to go? What about if I text your teacher and let him know that you are feeling