Saturday, 28 April 2012

Being Mum

"Mum"

Three of the most influential and emotive letters in my life thus far.  

For me those three letters represent struggle; pain; misunderstanding; confusion; loss; rejection; and the most overwhelming love I have ever known.

For me the word "mum" has two strands; two paths that have crossed for many years.  That of my phenomenally complicated relationship with my mother and that of my pursuit to become a mummy.  In some ways, for many years, the two were so intertwined that it was difficult to see where one started and the other stopped.  I walked both paths simultaneously for many years.  The word was the most evocative and emotional word that existed for me; within me. Becoming a mum has helped peel away the layers of these emotions and has led me to a peace that I didn't know I could have.

My mum is no longer a part of my life.  That has been her choice mostly, I think, although now I am reconciled with the fact that she will never again be a part of my life.  People make choices for many reasons; often out of what they fear to lose the most.  I have found peace with that.  I won't go into the why's and wherefore's here.  They are no longer relevant.  Since becoming a mum I know that I could never make the choice that my mum made but I understand why she has made the choices that she has and why they mean that we can no longer be a part of each other's lives, although we will always be a part of each other. 

For me, becoming a mum was a journey that took 15 years of my life.  It stripped me away to the core and literally ripped my insides out.  Becoming a mum was something I knew I had to do as part of my journey in this life.  I knew that to heal my child within that I had to be a mum myself.  I was right and it was worth every single second of pain that I experienced.  Katie fills my life and has helped me heal my heart.  The giving of myself to this person is like the marriage vows I made 18 years ago, "til death do us part".  I made those vows to my husband and they are vows that I have held close to me since that day.  My relationship with my daughter is the same.  Adopting Katie was not a decision I made lightly.  It is for the rest of my life.  She may not have been born from me but she has definitely been born within me.  My love for her runs through my veins and is a part of me.  I cannot imagine that ever not being there now.   It is something that I would fight to the ends of this earth for.

Whatever life may bring my way, Katie I am your mum.  I promise I will always be your mum; your mother and your mummy.  Whenever you need me.  No matter what.

xxx


Friday, 27 April 2012

Life Story Book

It looks like things are getting moving on the production of Katie's Life Story Book (LSB). I had a lovely conversation a couple of days ago with the Social Worker who is going to be creating the book and am now sorting out photos to send to her to be included in the section on her life since joining us.  I'm really excited about getting it ready for her now because she has lots of questions about her birth family and I know how much she loved the book we made her when we were matched together.  She still loves to show people the Upsy Daisy Meets Mummy and Daddy book now.

I  will be honest and say that Life Story work can feel quite emotive at times.  There is a part of me that wants to think that Katie's life started when we became a family.  I do get a little pang in my heart around the subject.  I think it's a myriad of emotions though and it's probably hard to explain eloquently.  I will try as best I can.

I love Katie to the moon and stars and back again.  There is nothing I wouldn't do for her.  There is a part of me that would love to spare Katie any confusion as she is growing up; any feelings of being different.  We try to offset that possibility by ensuring that Katie knows lots of other adopted children and answering her questions to the best of our ability.  There is part of me that wants to protect Katie throughout her entire life and that includes the time she wasn't and isn't with me.  I'm a mother.  I would roar like a lion at anyone who harmed my girl.  I hate to think of anything that may have happened to her before she came to us.  I can't protect her from everything though.  There is part of me that wants to ensure that Katie grows up with a measured picture of her birth parents.  I am never negative about them and tell the truth about them to the best of my ability and knowledge.  I want Katie to grow up with a balanced and realistic picture in her mind.  They are a part of what makes Katie all the amazing things that she is; as are we; as is she.  She was meant to be with us but I wasn't meant to give birth to her.  That I know and understand both psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.  

The longer that Katie is with us, the further away her past seems in some ways but that won't necessarily always be the case for her.  There may come a time when it preoccupies her mind.  I can't protect her from that, I can only prepare her.  That is the essence of life story work.  It's all part of her life story. It is all a part of her. It's ongoing. It's not just the past.  It's all part of the complex; amazing; wonderful and sometimes painful, baggage that we carry with us through our lives.  How heavy that baggage is will depend a lot on us trying to get it right and on how Katie responds and reacts throughout her life.

So I'm glad that we are now taking a step to having something tangible to help us all in that journey and a big thank you in advance to the Social Woker who is creating it for us.




Not quite back in the Saddle!

I'm trying to decide how I feel about a call from Children's Services yesterday about our adoption process.  Fairly resigned I guess. Or maybe I'm just so busy with spring cleaning; getting my spare room ready for my Reiki practice; getting Katie prepared for Big School and writing this blog and networking with some amazing people on Twitter, that it's not bothering overly me at the moment.

I took a call from the Duty Social Worker who explained that they weren't yet ready to allocate us a Social Worker for our home study but that they wanted to get other parts of the process underway in the interim i.e. the medical checks.  I said that that would be fine but noted that I'd contacted the department prior to Easter regarding the collection of our CRB forms and hadn't had any contact back from them regarding this.  This in turn led the Social Worker to realise that we hadn't even signed the paperwork officially applying to adopt again and giving permission for agencies to share information with us. This would pretty much put a stop to the whole process anyway.  I think I feel the need to sigh here.  Yes, there is a slightly exasperated sigh!

I'm actually really understanding of how stretched our Childrens Services Department is. I used to work within that Department so the understaffed pressures and restructuring are very close to my heart. On an admin note: perhaps there should be a little tick sheet at the start of each adopters file showing what paperwork is contained and clearly highlighting what has yet to be included? 

I am a big believer in things happening when they're supposed to happen.  Our second daughter will be ready for us when the time is right.  I think I just get tinsy bit frustrated with the little reminders of how stalled and incontinuous and slightly disorganised the adoption process seems.  During our first adoption all those little stops felt intensely frustrating because I ws champing at the bit and wanted to be a mother so much but this time round I'm so busy that I can't raise the energy to worry about it at the moment.

Funny how the addition of an amazing little person can change your attitude to a process isn't it?



Edit update: Just had another call from the same SW to say that they are very close to allocating a SW for us: just waiting for the right person to become available. She is going to send the forms out in the interim and the CRB checks will get collected from us by our SW once that person has been allocated to us.  All heading in the right direction.......



Thursday, 26 April 2012

Unexpectedly Dry!

Well, what a turn up for the books! Katie was totally and completely dry last night!  I lifted her around 10:30pm when I headed off to the land of nod and then she went through the rest of the night!!

Wow!!  

One gold star awarded on the star chart to 

a very 

excited 

and happy 

and proud of herself 

young lady!



 She's now decided that she likes the monitor so hopefully tonight she'll also go off to bed nicely (instead of spitting on it to make it go off again!!!).  I'm half wondering if the fear if the alarm waking her up again was what encouraged her bladder to keep the wee wee in!

Fingers crossed that this dry spell wasn't simply a one-time work of magic!


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

What Katie Said....

I've decided to keep a running blog post with little comments that Katie says. Partly I want to remember them in years to come and I forget things so easily but also some of them are so funny I think it's worth sharing them:

8/4/2012

On Being Adopted:

This morning however, a very happy Easter Katie, was taking her nappy off and feeling very excited because the Easter Bunny had left her an Easter Egg hunt.  
This is what she said.....
"Mummy and Daddy, I couldn't wait for you to adopt me.  I was waiting and waiting and crying for you and then you adopted me.  I love you and Daddy soooo much"

Who needs chocolate with a statement like that eh?

---------------------------------------


21/4/2012

On why she couldn't sleep:

I went up to check on my darling little pickle last night because she didn't appear to be settling.  She was snuggled up in bed face down and I thought I was mistaken and she was asleep.  She suddenly looked up at me and said "Mummy something is very very wrong!"  I almost laughed out loud at the expression but had to be sensible Mummy and ask her what was wrong. "My jewellery is moving around all by itself" says Katie.  "That's strange" say I thinking maybe its our resident ghost moving stuff around again and wondering how on earth to deal with the situation. "Yes" says Katie "I put it under my pillow and it keeps moving!" 

I had to chuckle.  No ghost, just a cheeky little monkey putting all her jewellery under her pillow and wondering why it was moving about as she was fidgetting!

-----------------------------------


24/4/2012 
On the subject of Katie's new Wet-Stop monitor:

Katie: "Mummy I think we should buy one of these for my sister when it's her time to stop wearing nappies at night."
Me: "Well we could just keep this one for her couldn't we?"
Katie: "No Mummy, this one will be rusty by then"

 ------------------------------------------

26/4/2012

On the subject of her first dry night:

Katie: Mummy I like my monitor now!! (this was a welcome statement after two nights of hystrionics over wearing it!)

--------------------------------------------- 

26/4/2012

On the Aftershave she bought Daddy for Christmas
(and he's only just started wearing today)

Katie: Oooooh Daddy that's disgusting!!!


-------------------------------------------------

22/5/2012


On wiping her own bottom for the 
 first time after doing a Poo

Katie: I'm like a human now that I can wipe my own bottom!


---------------------------------------------------

13/6/2012

On the prospect of being offered a sticker 
for good listening this morning

Katie: What's listening?

---------------------------------------------------
17/6/2012

On the subject of her children 
Molly (aged 15 months) and Jack (aged 14 months)

Katie (complete with hand gestures): ......We all went on the train, and I was like, Oh my lord......
 
---------------------------------------------------
10/1/2013

On Daddy going to a Conference

"Daddy make sure you go to the toilet but if you wet yourself go to the toilet and get changed"

 ---------------------------------------------------
5/3/2013

On drawing a picture for Daddy

Katie: "I'm doing Daddy a bannister"
Me: "Really? That's a lovely picture but what do you mean by bannister? A bannister is something you hold onto when you climb up the stairs."
Katie: "Ummm like a Christmas picture Mummy."
Me: "Do you mean like a Valentine Katie?"
Katie: "Oh yes Mummy, a Valentine!"

Glad we got that sorted out then......

 ---------------------------------------------------
 7/4/2013
On not spending some time 
watching Bolt with me

Mummy (sitting down to watch the beginning of the film when Bolt is a puppy): "Oh I love this bit"
Katie: "Mummy can you leave me alone to have some privacy. You've had me all day and now I need some quiet time. Go and see Daddy in the kitchen. He's prettier than me"  

*she then gives me a cheeky smile*
 
---------------------------------------------------


Wet with Dry Spells

Today's post mirrors the weather in the UK pretty well.  In fact I doubt we could have chosen a more metaphorical time to combat Katie's night-time wetting.  It is raining non-stop here at the moment!

Last night was our first night trying the Wet-Stop 3 alarm system.  Katie was very excited at bedtime.  Beside herself almost.  So excited in fact that she decided to try and make the alarm go off as much as possible by making it a bit wet (she admitted this morning that she was spitting on it!). What can I say? My daughter is gifted and talented!

Katie initially seemed to think that the aim was for the alarm to go off as much as possible but I explained to her was the ultimate aim was to get through the night without the alarm going off.  Excitement subsided Katie went off to sleep very nicely.  I snuck off to tap-dancing leaving Daddy holding the fort.  No accidents on my return.  Katie made it through to mid-night (just as I was doing a meditation CD) when the alarm went off.  It made the whole house jump.  Quite a rude awakening for my meditative brain!  Sadly it was too late to avert an accident (although that doesn't worry me) but more sadly was that it scared Katie so much that she was in tears.  Poor little mite.  On the plus side, it definitely woke her up!!

We cleaned her back up, did a wee on the toilet (several wees in fact) and then I turned the alarm on to vibrate only so that Katie wasn't so worried.  After lots of reassurance that it wouldn't scare her again she went back to sleep pretty quickly where she stayed for the rest of the night until 7:30am this morning.......completely dry!  We gave her a silver star on the chart that comes with the alarm to boost her confidence.  She is feeling very proud and motivated this morning.

I am having the dilemma now as to whether I lift her at bedtime or leave her for the alarm to wake her up if it senses the wee. I suspect we stick to the latter otherwise it will undermine the alarm system.  


Let's see what tonight brings.......I'm hoping that the weather in the UK will dry up alongside my beautiful daughter.




Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Play It Again Sam.....



This is our family song.  We played this incessantly in the car before we met Katie and now we all sing along together.  Katie often asks to have this in the car......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AJmKkU5POA





This is the song that I dedicate to Katie. Adele says it so well.....







This song is from Katie's current favourite film Disneys "Tarzan". When I heard it I knew this song would be added to my dedications to Katie:




This song by "Everything But The Girl" is a song that I listened to many times during our battle with infertility and miscarriage.  "Apron Strings" sums up my feelings at the time.......







This beautiful song by Katherine Nelson called "What's Mine Is Yours" is about miscarriage, infertility and adoption.  You might need a hanky when listening......

 



This lovely song by Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift was the song we dedicated to Pip during our Introductions Week.  We played it as we were going up and down the motorway and sums up our feelings wonderfully.



Monday, 23 April 2012

It's all a pile of ......

Firstly I can't believe I'm actually writing this in the blog, although in years to come I think Katie and I can have a really good chuckle about it.  A good friend of mine said I should write this down because she thinks it's really funny.  

The subject is poo!

Feel free to stop reading at this point, especially if tucking into something chocolatey!

We (Ok Daddy doesn't necessarily hail from this camp so for "we" translate that as "I") try to be very pro poo in our house and when we started potty training Katie, back when she was 2 and a half, we wanted to ensure that she didn't feel distressed about pooing in the loo.  I also wanted a way to help her link the sensations in her bowels to what was about to happen (and it also helps pass the time in the bathroom - as well as the poo).  I wanted to make sure she wasn't embarrassed (although she will be if she ever reads this!).

It started off as me rubbing her tummy to help her along when things were taking a bit too long.  This works a treat by the way.  The "rock and pop" technique is also really good (the child rocks back and forth and this encourages the poo out).  We have also been known to use our magic incantation "Abracadabra Alakazam, Make me a poo poo as fast as you can".

Katie and I took this one step further and we started making up stories about Daddy Poo, Mummy Poo and the Baby Poos.  Katie has to guess who's coming out and "diving in the pool" (yes it's gross, what can I say?) and makes up a story about what they are doing whilst we are waiting.  It's actually a great way of understanding how she comprehends the roles of her key carers.  Daddy usually takes a while to come out because "he's at work".  I have to say it has made bathroom time more fun and it helps her put a mental link to her bodily functions.

I guess we could think up one to help her stay dry overnight as well eh?

Am I really about to hit the "publish" button?




Wet Weather Baking!

Katie and I celebrated the wet weather today by making Back of Beyond Baking Mrs Vander-Cave's Gluten Free Banana and Chocolate Cup Cakes

We had a wonderful time weighing, baking and tasting of course! Katie is currently covered from ear to ear in chocolate frosting!  

Here is a pic of our attempt!:





I would post a pic of us eating them but it's far too decadent to post in a public forum!!


Getting Dry is a Tiring Business!

Katie is now 4 and a half.  We took her out of nappies when she was just over 2 and a half. If I'm honest I think she'd still be wearing them now if we hadn't.  She's simply not overly bothered about it all.  She took to being dry during the day really well though and now, apart from the odd accident, she's doing well.  She's not dry at night though.  It's not something I'm really concerned about as I know it's common but we would like to get her sleeping without nappies if possible though.

I think there are various reasons why Katie still wets in her sleep.  She is a fairly deep sleeper so might not feel the trigger in her bladder.  Katie is also quite happy wearing her nappies.  She is in the habit of being able to wee in her sleep and it's been hard to tell whether that wee is appearing during the night or first thing in the morning.  It may just be that Katie isn't ready to go it alone at bedtime yet.  To try and work it out we have decided do an experiment; take the nappies off for a week and see what happens.

The first night we tried going without nappies Katie was dry until very close to the time she wakes up (I woke up around 4am to check up on her *yawn*).  Last night it was suggested that I lift her when I went to bed to see if having an additional wee might help.  I successfully did that around 11pm but she woke up at 4am to say that she'd wet the bed.  That's not a problem.  I wasn't expecting it to be plain sailing if I'm honest.  But it's good that she woke up I think.  That's progress.

The trouble with Katie waking up at 4am though is that she is wide awake.  The sort of awake the means she doesn't have any plan to go back to sleep within the next 12 hours.  I put her in our bed whilst I stripped the wet sheet off her bed and then had a bit of a quandry.  When Katie is awake in the early hours she generally gets full of mischief.  She will annoy the cats; take all the clothes out of her drawers and wardrobe and generally find ways of getting herself into trouble.  So I decided that she could stay in our bed for the rest of the night in the hope that she might go back to sleep.  This isn't something that we do generally.  I am very strict about whose bed belongs to whom.  

Did this plan work? ...........



Of course it didn't! ........



I probably didn't need to even contemplate answering that question...did I?

Katie set out to be as annoying and naughty as she possibly could. Kicking the duvet off the bed and being very mouthy and rude to Daddy. This mouthy, diva-like attitude is one we are starting to get familiar with.  I'm hoping it's just that "I need to start big school now" attitude I've heard from my friends about (I'm hoping that's all that it is as she is pushing every boundary imaginable at the moment).  She's behaving quite rudely at times and  thinks it's funny to keep screaming as loudly as she can or shout/sing on time-out.  It's an ear-piercing scream that she can keep going for ages!  She'll put her fingers in her ears when we're trying to speak to her.  All negative attention-seeking behaviour I know so I'm getting very good at letting it run its course and reminding her she stays on time-out until she sits quietly.

As a result we are all pretty bleary-eyed today.  Katie is doing everything she can to look for naughty things to do so far this morning.  She's been on time-out about 5 times already!  (She's sat playing game on the other laptop now so I hope she will calm down for a while).

I aim to try and find my thinking brain (that's hiding underneath the brain that would prefer to go back to bed) and see what I can think of for us to do today.  Katie has a swimming lesson around lunchtime so I'm hoping she might feel tired enough for a nap afterwards. She's asked to do some baking today so hopefully that might keep her focussed on something positive.  Personally, if it wasn't going to be so wet today, I'd like to get out of the house for a long walk.  We may well do that if we get a break in the weather. I might see if her swimming school has a spare place in the lesson beforehand so we can do one of the catch-up lessons we are due.

I've been advised to give Katie at least 5 big drinks each day to try and get her bladder used to being fuller and holding more fluid.  So we have started doing that.  Being extra hydrated can only be a good thing in my opinion.  I'll give this a week.  If we've not made progress within that time then I think it will be time to stop and try again in a few months time.



Edit: On the advice of a friend, have just ordered the Wet-Stop3 Bedwetting Alarm which gets excellent reviews on Amazon. Will use this and see how we get on!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

What Katie Said Last Night!

I went up to check on my darling little pickle last night because she didn't appear to be settling.  She was snuggled up in bed face down and I thought I was mistaken and she was asleep.  She suddenly looked up at me and said "Mummy something is very very wrong!"  I almost laughed out loud at the expression but had to be sensible Mummy and ask her what was wrong. "My jewellery is moving around all by itself" says Katie.  "That's strange" say I thinking maybe its our resident ghost moving stuff around again and wondering how on earth to deal with the situation. "Yes" says Katie "I put it under my pillow and it keeps moving!"   I had to chuckle.  No ghost, just a cheeky little monkey putting all her jewellery under her pillow and wondering why it was moving about as she was fidgetting!

Gotta love her.  I really do!


Friday, 20 April 2012

My week in tweets!


A challenge was issued today by Britmums to write a blog called

My Week In Tweets


I've had a sporadic week on Twitter.  Some days more twittery than others. Here is my week:

Monday 

On getting an appointment with my GP:

Getting through to the GP on a Monday morning is worse than trying to phone for tickets to see a boyband!

On the weather:
Are we having a late winter or an early one in the UK?
Can't quite work it out!

On my chocolate addiction:

I was so desperate that I ate the egg from a Creme Egg easter egg. :-p LOL


Tuesday

On celebrating the end of the Easter holidays!:

I like the idea of the peace!! Have offered to help out at pre-school tomorrow for an outing! Am I mad or what? xx

On things I have achieved this week:

 I ate over half a box of gluten-free chocolate fingers whilst watching Tru Blood. 
Does that mean I've achieved more? ;)

On things that seemed like a good idea at the time instead of celebrating the end of the Easter Holidays:

 I very stupidly offered to help out at pre-school this morning so my dance will have to wait until tomorrow!! Enjoy!!! :-)

We went to visit a local pensioners home as they judged an Easter picture comp for the children. Very sweet x

On the things that children repeat:

*giggles* K was reading at GPs today; making up story "That behaviour is unacceptable" she cried. Lots of tittering in GPs! 
Indeed! I've had to rethink some of my parenting lines after hearing them repeated back at me!! LOL


Wednesday
 
No time for chatting today:

Just popping in for quick hello to all!! Busy day today - soft play followed by an evening with my Reiki circle. Will check in tomorrow!

Thursday  
(busy Twittery day!)
 

On smashing the screen of my phone by dropping it in the rain after 
finding out which infant school Katie was going to 
(am gutted as my contract doesn't run out til Sept!):

The screen is really smashed. *sigh* Will pop to the shop this afty and see what they say. Will dig out an old mobile I guess.

  Have sellotaped it together and am hoping for the best!! LOL xx



On housework and spring cleaning:

Well done!! The alleged spring is having a positive effect on us all....or is it just the rain? x

On Stephen Fry's Monumental Confession (IMO):

Just to be clear, I can't read an excerpt from the Hitch's Ĺ“uvre that's much more than 5 minutes. So "Hitch 22" not v helpful!!! :) xxx 
And there was me thinking that there was nothing that you 
couldn't do. I need to rethink life the universe and everything now!


On Evita:

Am I the only person ever not to have realised that Don't Cry For Me Argentina is the same time as Oh What A Circus? 

To be fair, David Essex might have have made you never want to listen to that song again so you can be forgiven!! LOL

On city transport:

Why exactly would you need a Hummer to navigate the rough terrain of Notting Hill?  
Those speed humps near the schools play havoc with the 4x4 suspension!! Next step in the school run?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Big School!



Feeling relieved and delighted today as we heard that Katie has been given a place at the school we all wanted her to go to.  It is our catchment school but I'm now hearing of children in our area not getting into their catchment schools so we are doubly pleased (although when did my little girl get big enough for Big School?). 

From 2013 there is a change in legislation in England which will give adopted children the same status in education as looked after children (Adoption UK Statement). This means that they will be given priority places in education.  This is great news because adopted children don't change miraculously overnight on the day their adoption is approved and shake off all their past and any residual issues and anxieties and behavioural difficulties.  Those issues are often still very prevalent, and may take a long time to resolve.  This change in legislation means that our children can access the education that is best for them to enable them to grow and develop and support the love and care and work that their adoptive parents are able to offer them. It also means that they can remain with their friends and people that they are familiar with, thus ensuring continuity during their school and social lives.  We feel that this is vital for long term stability and growth.

I recently mentioned this issue to a friend of a friend who was horrified that Katie and other adopted children would have priority in education over her child.  She didn't think it was fair!  My reply was that it wasn't fair that Katie had been put in a situation where she needed to be adopted in the first place and that she deserved every opportunity available to help her succeed in life.  I don't think it's fair that any child is denied access to a high level of care and opportunity to succeed in their lives.  This change at least recognises a marginalised group of children who may need additional support throughout their educational lives.

So we are very happy here today, despite the fact that I dropped (and smashed) my lovely HTC Legend mobile phone whilst walking in the rain to school and reading the email informing us of Katie's school place.  Multi-tasking isn't necessarily a good thing I suspect! Do they teach that at big school? 


.......Hmmm thought not!






Sunday, 15 April 2012

Adoption and the Social Network

Like it or not social networking is a big part of life nowadays. It's a great invention because it offers you a way of easily keeping in touch with people.  I use it for keeping contact with friends and family around the world and maintaining links with other mums that I've met at toddler groups and out and about.  It's also been useful for connecting me with people that I met at school and work many years ago.  I often joke that Facebook is a way of keeping in touch with people without actually having to speak to them.

What are my concerns as an Adoptive Parent?


There is a ying to the yang, as there is with most things.  There are many anxieties that parents share about social networking sites namely cyber bullying and being used as a platform for contacting and grooming young people by people whose intentions are not purely social.

For adoptive parents, and for parents who have family breakdowns, social networking sites have an added layer of concern.  Unwelcome contact from birth families and the posting of photographs of the children on sites.  This is something that has happened to us when Katie's Birth Mother put pictures of Katie on her Facebook site and also used a picture of Katie as her profile picture, after we had adopted her.  Her privacy settings were set so that anyone could see those pictures so Katie was afforded no protection.  Katie's Birth Mother has a lots of friends on Facebook.  How many of them live near us and might recognise Katie in the street and pass that information back to her Birth Mother?  What rights to anonymity does Katie have?  What rights do both Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents have?  This is a really difficult and emotional issue for everyone concerned.  We felt quite powerless to react.  If we contact Facebook administrators we reveal our identities.  We contacted Social Services and asked for the pictures to be removed and have made it clear that we will not send any pictures of Katie, as part of our contact arrangements, if they are going to be put on Facebook.  As Katie's legal parents we did not consent to those images being put on Facebook but do we have the legal power to give consent for images that were taken prior to us becoming Katie's parents?  We want contact to work and be positive for everyone involved but not at the cost of Katie's safety.  At that time I did not feel our Local Authority were really on top of the whole social networking issue although I know that this is now being discussed and examined.

 

A tiny confession.....


Obviously here I have to admit that I have looked up Katie's Birth Parents on Facebook and the Internet.  Is that actually fair on them when that is not a two-way option?  Fascination and information gathering was my motive however this is something that I no longer do out of respect for their privacy.

Contact and protection regarding social networking

 
I do not see contact as a necessary chore but actually hope that it will help Katie and her Birth Parents.  I want Katie's Birth Parents to have a record of her life and achievements but not at the cost of Katie's safety or anonymity.  Obviously I do not use Katie's real name here in my blog and ensure that I never post images of Katie's face here.

I genuinely feel for Katie's Birth Mother.  I cannot even imagine how she feels about the fact that Katie has been adopted. It must be so difficult to reconcile yourself with and accept.  Even though Katie is still very young we have said to her that she can have contact with her Birth Parents when she is older, if that is what they both want.  I would never put Katie in a position of having to choose or even feel that she has to make contact behind our backs.  I do have concerns about this being initiated via a social networking site though for several reasons:

1) There will be so many emotions involved for everyone involved in such a meeting.  I feel that Katie and her Birth Parents would need proper support to manage the contact positively.  Social Services Post Adoption Teams have the ability to put all the right professionals in place to help everyone involved in the contact.

2) If not managed properly then Katie might end up totally confused and overcome with emotions that she doesn't know how to handle.  What path might that take her on?

3) Safety.  I would protect my daughter to the ends of this earth and beyond.  I don't want anything else to hurt her.  I can only do that if I'm aware of what is happening in Katie's life (as much as any parent is ever able to do that). 

4) I want Katie to know that I will support her throughout her life and that we totally accept that her Birth Parents and any siblings are part of that life.

What can we do?


I know how I felt when I saw those pictures of Katie on the Internet.  I felt sick to my stomach and so worried about her safety.  I have the highest settings on my Facebook account so that only certain people can see the images I post of Katie.  All my friends and family know not to post pictures of Katie on their accounts.  Many other people do not have such settings however so images of our children are widely available when friends and family also post pictures on their social networking sites.  Many adopted children would be at real risk if their location was discovered.  This is an issue more generally at pre-school and at group gatherings, such as parties.  Parents freely take digital images at parties and put them on their social networking sites.  How do I protect Katie from those images being widely available without ruining her fun or making her anxious?  

In the future, when Katie is old enough to join the social networking revolution I think we will help her set up her account and security settings; be friends with her; but hold onto her password so that she can only use her account at home in a visible area, until she is old enough to take responsibility for the account herself.  I hope that this will allow her to keep in contact with her friends and not be singled out as being different but maintain her safety whilst she takes her first steps into this world.

To help me prepare, I have today ordered the BAAF book "Facing up to Facebook" by Eileen Fursland (ISBN: 978 1 905664 98 6) in the hope that this publication might give me information and support on this issue.  I will blog about this once I've read the book.



Sunday, 8 April 2012

What Katie Said......

At the moment Katie just seems really happy and jolly and full of love.  It is a delight to see because we've been a little worried about her anxiety that I will die.  We know that children do start to become aware of death and Katie has known one of my friends who died and also one of our puss cats.  Recently she has been asking tons of questions about heaven and what it's like to die so we've been discussing this (to the best of our ability) and have bought some childrens books to help her understand it all a bit more.


This morning however, a very happy Easter Katie, was taking her nappy off and feeling very excited because the Easter Bunny had left her an Easter Egg hunt.  


This is what she said.....

"Mummy and Daddy, I couldn't wait for you to adopt me.  I was waiting and waiting and crying for you and then you adopted me.  I love you and Daddy soooo much"


Who needs chocolate with a statement like that eh?


My cup runneth over today..........






Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Goggle Box!

When I was growing up (in the days of only three channels, before Channel 4, when dinosaurs freely roamed the earth) there was a saying about watching the "goggle box" and that it would give you "square eyes". Nowadays, since the invention of those amazing things called satellites we have mobile phones and endless amounts of drivel on the goggle box to distract ourselves from things like housework.  I am a big fan of films (I still go to the "pictures" rather than the "movies") and love quite a few American TV programmes, brought to me by the wonders of digital and satellite TV.  The world will never be the same since Jack Bauer graced our screens, in my opinion, and I love every episode of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", owning all the episodes on that other amazing invention, the DVD!  I used to love "Friends" and currently love "Desperate Housewives" amongst other favourites.  My daughter is growing up in a technological age.  I love the computer/laptop and taught her how to use it when she was around three years old (partly to stop her pressing all the buttons randomly).  She is a whizz (if ever a whizz there was) with the mobile phone and has taught me a few tricks with the Sky remote control.  She is exposed to so much technology.  She will probably never know what it's like to sit at home waiting for a boy (or girl) to phone on the landline because mobile phones weren't invented and we used to talk to our friends, in person!  I embrace the changes the world has gone through since I was a teenager and have an up-to date HTC mobile touch screen phone.  I text; tweet; I use social networking sites and I'm now about to risk sounding like Mary Whitehouse...........

I am happy to let Katie watch TV (in addition to reading lots of books of course!).  She watches a bit in bed in the morning and likes to watch TV on the computer.  I vet most of the TV that Katie watches.  I like to know what she is watching; what the story lines are and what the characters are called.  I can sing the theme tunes to far too many Cebeebies and Milkshake children's programmes.  I fully expected that some of the programmes she might watch would drive me a little but nuts but I never expected that I might actually ban Katie from watching some programmes.  

The first item to make it onto our banned list was Curious George.  Now I rather like Curious George if I'm honest.  He's pretty cute.  I quite enjoyed the first few films, although what on earth were they thinking when they made the A Very Monkey Christmas film?  OMG it's in a league of its own! The reason it's on our banned list is because Katie decided that she would become Curious George and we were subjected to months of her making monkey noises.  This is what drove us to distraction.  You couldn't have a sensible conversation without having to speak monkey (and I'm not talking about the Monkey TV Series) either.



The second item on our "not on your life" list is Baby Jake for pretty much the same reasons as Curious George.  I suspect it's good for babies to watch but I didn't care to watch Katie regressing and singing Gogi Gia and Yacki Yacki Yacki over and over again.  I thought I was in The Twilight Zone. 

The third programme that I take issues with (but haven't banned) is Peppa Pig.  I have several issues with Peppa Pig if I'm honest:

1) Peppa is actually quite ill mannered a lot of the time (Humf and his friends are much better).
2) Daddy Pig can never do anything right (except jump into a swimming pool without making a splash!).  What sort of message is that giving about Daddies?
3) Peppa makes lots of jokes about his big tummy, which Katie has started saying to her father.
4) Peppa and her family don't seem to use suntan lotion at the beach (although I'm glad they now use car seats!)

We had to stop Katie watching Peppa for a while because she was blowing raspberries and imitating Peppa.  (I will just say that I love Mrs Rabbit though because she does so many jobs and loved the episode when she was ill and everyone else had to do her jobs for the day.  That was brilliant!). I also love the fact that Brian Blessed appears intermittently!

On the plus side, I do quite like Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom although Nanny Plum gets the "most rude" award on that programme and we really love Grandpa in my Pocket.  Recently Katie has really got into watching Andy's Wild Adventures which is pretty educational.

I'm not a Grumpy Old Lady (OK sometimes I am a bit opinionated) and like to think I'm open minded and moving with the times but I do sometimes wonder how some programmes make it onto TV and what the creators were thinking at the time!  I won't moan about In The Night Garden (although what on earth is it all about?) because I have a soft spot for the programme.  Katie loved it when she came to live with us and we embraced it and could sing every single bloomin song!  Daddy bear often came home complaining about singing the songs in his head during particularly boring meetings and I often find myself humming the theme tune to Igam Ogam when I'm feeling stressed or in a bit of a rush!

I could write about this topic for ages (which might show that I watch far too much TV so I'll restrain myself).   I do think that there is a lot of great stuff out there on the old Goggle Box but that the creators of children's TV programmes need to stop and think about what they are creating from the perspective of a child (and their poor parents!) and the impact that their programme will have on the children and their imitation abilities.

P.S. We still love Mr Tumble.........Goodbye goodbye!!!