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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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It is still a struggle but rather than punching through newspaper, Angel is going to the park every evening, sometimes twice! ‘Mummy, I need to go out,’ she mouths silently to me across the kitchen. The longer evenings help. Just keep moving.  I’m not sure if we are emerging from ‘the cut’ or just learning to live in it, but change is afoot. A wise person once said that you can’t change other people, you can only change yourself. I realise I need to change.  It starts with a podcast. It is an interview with a woman called Mary Joy who is a therapist specialising in helping adopters. She is also an adopter. She says there is very little provision for adopters and all the support is aimed at adoptees; that parenting children with trauma can cause secondary trauma particularly for those adopters who already have childhood trauma of their own. She finds many adopters who have coped for years reach a threshold where suddenly they can’t. She ends by saying you are not going mad, you are not

Back in the Cut

We are back ‘in the cut’. I am exhausted.  It started with a tough re-entry to school following the holidays because Angel did a silly thing with a friend and rubbed something off the blackboard in her class. The teacher asked who in the class had done it and her friend made her confess at break time. Confessing is anathema to Angel and something she would never do on her own accord and even though I’m sure the teacher was gently correcting, the anger, shame and self-loathing that followed are extreme.  I suggest our new anger expelling trick (suggested by the GBB course leaders) of punching through newspaper. This makes an extremely satisfying snap and you can make it harder by adding layers.  Angel loves it, ‘More mummy, more!’ There are demands for Simon Says, cartwheels, jumping jacks, handstands, ‘More mummy, more.’ I can see how hard she is trying to dissipate her demons, just keep moving, moving, moving. Eventually I call time. It’s bedtime although it feels she could go on fore

The Great Behaviour Breakdown

We are on our way home from school in the car. I remind Angel that she still has a letter from her birth Mum to read, when she is ready.  Me - There is also something else she has sent. Angel - Really?  Me - Yes, it's only something small. I can see her thinking.I don’t want her to get too excited thinking it’s a massive present so add, ‘It's edible’. I’m not sure it was the right time to mention it but I have been feeling bad it’s taken so long to give it to her. I think at least we have the rest of the afternoon together so if there is fallout, I can catch it. It’s hard to find the right time to share contact letters and this has now been in my possession for four months. First of all I needed time to process my feelings around it (see previous blog, ‘Contact Part 2’) . Then Angel wasn’t in a great place, then when she was, I was so relieved to have some respite that I didn’t want to upset the apple cart again and then I forgot! I had meant to do it on the weekend.  Angel wan

Shining a Light

It’s been tricky going back to school. Angel’s designated person, Mary (someone she also had a one on one with every week), left at the end of term. We arranged for Angel to do a weekly art therapy session with another teacher she loves to replace her session with Mary and they did a four week crossover with both present, which was brilliant. Angel seemed to be taking it all remarkably well but was beyond excited about our first abroad in two and half years so don’t think she fully absorbed that Mary was leaving until her return to school.  On Monday, she tells me, ‘I’m worried about Mary’, so we text and Mary sends a lovely voice message reply. We hope to meet up soon (she still lives locally) but it is still another loss in Angel’s life. On Tuesday I have to go to a work event. I can sense Angel’s stress as soon as she comes in from school. She wants this, then that, then something different. ‘Are you feeling worried?’ I ask.   Angel  - Yes I’m worried about Mary and you.  Me - Are y

The Good Place

Angel is back at school after a three week break. Last term was hard and along with contact, it took it out of me. Five days into the school holiday something shifted and we got back our easy, breezy Angel. The one that can play by herself while I clean up the kitchen, who isn't demanding three different things all at the same time. It’s ironic that when our kids are in a good place, it’s lovely to spend time with them but it’s when they are in a bad place that they need us most.  I feel Angel’s stress return as school approaches. We talk about it….. lots. I give her the homeopathic remedy that helped before.  Night before return and she is up in the night  with an upset tummy. Uh oh, I think. This is anxiety. I say she can stay home but explain that lots of kids may be anxious on the first day and it might be better to go in when others are feeling the same (although truth be told, I don’t know any other kids in her school who worry in the way she does). Then the miraculous happen

Contact Part 2

I thought I got away with it this year. I thought contact would be easier. It was, to write my letters. Then wham! Six page letter back from Birth Mum to me, four page letter to Angel, 30 photos of what looks like a lovely, large family unit: birth mum, fiancĂ©, two baby sisters, one older sister, grandma, 4 cats, 2 dogs. Even grandma has a dog. Talk of happy holidays with them all in Cornwall. Angel here with us, desperate for siblings. I picture that home, can see how happy Angel could have been in it, the siblings she is missing, the extra pets she wants. Next time she says she feels she’s ‘in the wrong family’, it will be harder to contradict. I sob. I never considered I would look at a picture of another family and feel the only thing missing from it was my daughter. I didn’t know it would be this hard to bear. Hubby looks at the photos briefly and throws them down on the table. ‘I’m not reading the letters’, he declares, ‘that's enough.’ I know he will in time but I get it. I