long time coming

31 03 2010

The Mostly Functional Parents SW did a home visit today, and she and GM had a brief conversation about a couple of other adopters just before leaving.  They talked about how hard it is for adopters to acknowledge, own, admit to or discuss any difficulties they experience with any given placement.  In particular they talked about what happens when the adoptive parents struggle to like or gel with their child.  This is something that they have talked about previously as both GM and CD initially struggled to like Lolly, and GM talked to her SW in some detail about the challenges this bought to the family.

At the end of Lolly’s day, she lay in GM’s arms.  She had finished her drink and was relaxing before bed, “eye” she said and touched GM’s eye.  Mother and daughter played a familiar and comfortable game, facing each other, touching one-an-others faces, with GM naming the parts.  As Lolly relaxed further, GM stroked her childs face with her fingertips, her jaw, her lips, her cheeks, glancing from her fingers to Lolly’s gaze and back.  Lolly became more and more relaxed and smiling, drifted off to sleep.

GM sighed deeply when she closed the bedroom door, thinking about how wonderful it is to feel such love and warmth and affection for her child.


talk to me, baby ..

29 03 2010

“I’m going now Lolly, give me a kiss” says aunty 3.

“Whereyougoin” says the infant.  Aunty 3 and GM pass stunned looks and then laugh.  Aunty 3 tells the child it’s time for her to go home now, and leaves.

Later GM hears Lolly’s pipping voice “ca! ca! Rmm Rmm.” GM looks and there she is not only saying but signing car quite clearly, in response to a toy she has just seen.

“oh-oh” as something is dropped

“down there” pointing to the toast on the floor

“all gone” at the empty bowl, clearly signing

“Baby” she says and signs ; “Grrrr” as she signs ‘Tiger’; she crouches to jump (but doesn’t take off just yet!); “ello” as she takes the hand of a peer, and leads him to a ball pool; “ank oo” on getting what she wants.

The list goes on, new words, clear understanding, steps forward in every area – communication, physical, social, cognitive and emotional.

GM muses on the development of her youngest daughter with a sense of wonder.  It is thrilling!

So good she did it twice

27 03 2010

Hello can I speak to crap dad?

“That’s me”

You’ve reported a camera and other items have been stolen, could you give me more detail?”

“Yes I think my daughter, who is 21 and no longer lives with us, broke into the house today whilst we were out and took my camera. She’s been coming to the house and taking things over the past couple of weeks. When she came yesterday I confronted her and she admitted it. Last week a couple of lenses for my camera, a Nintendo DS and phone were taken. Last night she stayed the night and my partner and I had to leave this morning to attend some training. Our younger daughters were being looked after by my partners sisters for the day so we made Big Sis leave with us. Just as we were about to leave I noticed my Nikon D50 was missing. I checked Big Sis’s bag and around he house. Eventually I found it hidden down the side of the house. I confronted Big Sis, she denied everything and we made her leave the house with us. My partner’s sisters left the house a couple of hours later with the kids and within 10 minutes Big Sis arrived with a lad from down the road and a ladder. My neighbour says that she saw Big Sis hanging around at the bottom of the street earlier and that Big Sis used the ladder to get in through my bedroom window.”

After a few question, “Is the lad a suspect?” “No I don’t think so, she lived here until a few months ago. I think he may have thought he was doing her a favour.”

Is there a history of drugs?” “No not that I’m aware of. Though given the behavior over the past couple of weeks I am concerned.”

Are you sure you want to pursue a criminal investigation?” “Yes, I told her yesterday that if she stole anything else from us then I would report it to the police?”

So can I summarise? A number of items have been stolen from your house, including a camera, which was stolen twice in one day and you’re pretty sure your daughter has done it.

“Yeah, that’s about it.”

OK Crap Dad, an officer will be around in the morning to take a statement and the investigation will proceed from there.


25 03 2010

It wasn’t that long ago that the Mostly Functional parents regularly left the nursery after an ISAR meeting (Inclusion and SEN Action Record) wondering what they had to do to convince the nursery staff to adopt a different approach to LML. Today’s meeting, the first with staff from the school that LML will attend from September, which included the Specialist SEN Nursery Worker employed by the education authority and the speech and language therapist, was a revelation. The nursery staff  articulated LML’s support needs, outlined her issues and were very clear about how delayed she is (she is operating in the range of 8 – 20 months – she’s 4).  Before the Mostly Functional parents could respond to suggestions from the school staff about how they might manage LML in the new setting the nursery staff regularly responded with “no, she won’t be able to cope with that, you might want to consider this…”.

All crap dad could think of was ‘by jove, I think they got it!!!’

The teacher from the school looked a little shell shocked at times but remained engaged and enthusiastic. She was keen to arrange language development, makaton and attachment disorder training for her and her colleagues. As the meeting broke up she was in a huddle with the school SEN co-ordinator and the nursery’s teacher arranging to attend the nursery and observe LML.

Since making the choice of which  school the Mostly Functional would attend the Mostly Functional parents have periodically fretted about whether they had made the right decision… today it definitely felt like the right choice.

Sometimes it’s the small things …

19 03 2010

GM had managed to secure some ‘mummy time’, and since September has been attending a sewing class once a week.  GM has loved going to her classes – it ticks so many boxes

  • ‘mummy time’ Check
  • sewing (an activity she has always engaged with on some level) Check
  • meeting new adults Check
  • having a space for creativity Check
  • being useful (making a skirt that actually fits the very slim LML for example) Check
  • learning to make better use her new(ish) and first sewing machine Check
  • gaining confidence Check
  • getting out of the house without children Check

Money is tight, and the college that runs the classes can not afford subsidise them any more.  Next weeks class will be the last one.

GM is devastated and sheds a few tears on the way home from her evening class, feeling felled and a little bit ridiculous that it is this that reduces her to tears.

As easy as ABC…

17 03 2010

“It’s pleasing to meet with parents who don’t use their child’s issues to excuse their behaviour” said the educational psychologist.

The mostly functional parents were attending an informal meeting with the educational psychologist which included the clinical psychologist and speech therapist who work with LML. The meeting’s aim was to share information about LML and to enable the education psychologist to start to think about her transition from nursery to school in September. The mostly functional parents share their experience and are open and honest about LML and her needs.  They understand that the ed psych is NOT referring to ‘bad’ behaviour, but just how LML is, and also that she is pleased because the parents have aspirations for their daughter that are realistic.

At the end of the meeting it is agreed that the Ed Psych will write a report which will be used as a baseline of where LML is at, that she’ll undertake an ‘observation’ and this will be used to access increased funding to support LML in school.  The staff at the school will be encouraged to attend training on supporting LML’s communication development and on issues around attachment.  The ‘transition planning’ will begin as soon as possible.

At the end of the meeting the mostly functional parents feel that although it was a bit wishy-washy there was some progress made and that it’s the first step to managing the transition to school.

Love it or hate it …

13 03 2010

This is the slogan for a certain brand of yeast extract.

And boy does LML love it … GM and CD laugh as LML hugs and kisses the 500g jar, cradling it like it’s the most precious baby, chanting and singing it’s name over and over.  Given LML’s ambiguous relationship with meals and eating, any signs of pleasure in food is to be encouraged, but this does seem a little extreme!

Happy Birthday Lolly

12 03 2010

It’s Lolly’s birthday and the kids are soon in the mostly functional parents bedroom.  LML is wanders off and finds Lolly’s presents within 10 minutes. She sees the child size pram and states ‘mine!’ ‘No, it’s Lolly’s birthday, the presents are for her.’ This becomes the theme of the day. Lolly doesn’t get many, indeed any, opportunities play with her pram. LML is relentless in her possessiveness. ‘Mine’, ‘Mine’, ‘Mine’ is the mantra of the day.

Even though she has to face the uncompromising LML, Lolly has a lovely day, full of joy and delight.

The mostly functional parents finish the day with a glass of champagne and celebrate the first birthday they’ve shared with their youngest, 2 year old, daughter.

Nursery blues

11 03 2010

Lolly is starting to attend nursery, and she is currently doing short(ish) visits building to 2 days a week.  She will be joining the ‘baby room’ at the nursery that LML attends, so she is familiar with the general environment (if not that particular room) and many of the staff.  Last week she was left for half an hour one day, then for about 5o minutes a couple of days later.  There were no tears, and she seemed to be taking it all in her stride.

Today was the first day that she went to stay whilst LML was at nursery.  LML spotted GM and Lolly making their way through the nursery room to the baby room almost right away.  They all said hello, exchanged kisses and hugs and GM explained that Lolly was going to spend some time in the baby room today and mum and dad would be back later to collect them both.

As soon as the pair went into the baby room, LML became utterly and completely distressed, throwing herself out of the arms of her carer; inconsolable.  This is a familiar experience for GM, but it was clear that she does not often behave like this at nursery.  Lolly was oblivious to the grieving sibling in the next room, desperately trying to claw her way into the room, though the door and the round window that the children can see through.  As soon as she was allowed into the baby room LML miraculously cheered up and she was soon exploring the space and playing with her sister.

When it was time for GM to leave the children it was agreed that LML would be allowed to choose whether she remained in the room with her sister or would go back into the main room of the nursery.  She opted to stay in the baby room.  GM gave them both a kiss goodbye, told them that she and daddy would return later and left the two children happily playing.

An hour and 50 minutes later the mostly functioning parents arrived back at the nursery and were greeted by LML’s shrieks of delight.  “Mummeee!  Daddeee!” resounded across the main room as soon as they entered.  They were told that after a little while LML was persuaded out of the baby room and happily played in the main room for the remainder of the day.

As CD and GM entered the baby room it rapidly became apparent that all was not well there.  CD immediately took the distraught Lolly from her key worker but as soon as she saw GM her wails of distress increased.  GM took her in her arms “We’re here Lolly, we’re here” she chanted as she tried to listen to the clearly frazzled key worker.  Lolly was inconsolable, hiccuping and sobbing her distress.  Eventually GM maneuvered around the key worker and found a sofa to sit on, and settling face to face with Lolly she rocked and soothed, cuddled and reassured the child until she began to calm.  As soon as the key worker began to talk to GM again, Lolly burst into fresh floods of tears, but GM could see that she had regained enough equilibrium to be soothed with rocking and cuddles and did not immediately need her full attention.

GM began to listen properly to what the key worker was saying

“She was ok to start with, just a few little moments of unhappiness, but lots of playing and fun in between;  I took her outside when she got upset and that seemed to do the trick.” she said as GM stroked Lolly, and rocked her back and forth,

“But she wouldn’t eat much of her tea and really started to get upset then.”  the key worker continued.  GM listened, looking from the key worker, to show she was attending, and back to Lolly to gain eye-contact and reassure her that she was there for her.

“As I said, she was ok at first and has only really been crying for this last bit, since tea-time.” the key worker shrugged and half smiled “it has to be done” she said, “to settle her in.  She’ll get there”.  Lolly’s little body was still shuddering a bit, but she was calmer, just hiccuping a little.

“It’s been about a third of the time she was here, that she’s been upset” the key worker explains “mostly just since tea-time..”

A little part of GM froze .. mostly since tea time .. her little girl has been crying for 30 or 40 minutes?  Inconsolably crying?

Internally she is has to steel herself, but it does not feel right …  It does ‘have to be done’, as GM will be returning to work within a couples of months, but she doesn’t want it to be so hard for her little girl.

It occurs to GM later, as she discussed it all with CD, that although they have been educating ‘the nursery’ about some of the issues that can arise for adopted and looked after children, this has not been directed at the baby room.  She had assumed some basic level of understanding of attachment, trauma and loss that actually should not be assumed.

GM knows that Lolly is not going to be less upset at being left, if the nursery staff in that room have a better understanding of what the 2 year old might be experiencing or feeling.  But some understanding has clearly helped other staff feel more empathy for LML, and Lolly needs that same chance.

Let the process of education begin … again.

wonderful words

9 03 2010

“Where monkey?” says LML, swiveling around.  She immediately spots the beloved toy “my monkey!” she exclaims with delight, giving it a big hug and smiling happily at her mummy.

GM is equally delighted, at hearing LML express her thoughts so clearly.

This next stage of LML’s language and communication development has been a long time coming, and the mostly functioning parents are very excited to hear more and more two word sentenced being discovered, with the occasional three word sentence creeping in.

She is increasingly coming out with longer sentences, which seem to be a random collection of syllables and words.  The mostly functioning parents have yet to establish the full meaning of these rambles!

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