It’s a rather depressive post, proceed at your own risk!
7 months into placement I came to realise a few things – in all honesty, my conscious mind knew and expected all along, I even fooled myself and others that I was properly prepared for it. Not happy to accept it all ‘sold as is’, but was willing to work with it, while deep down hoping beyond hope that our new story together as a family of four will be different than other adopters’ nightmares. What was fuelling that feeling in me?
1.) Our Christian faith (here you can insert whatever you want from cheesy Bible verses taken out of context through a loving and understanding church and christian community to the idea of you doing something good and self sacrificial, which God will surely bless and somehow make it work)
2.) The fact that we did NOT want to do it for our own need of ‘wanting to be parents’ but to help children to get out of the system and find a forever home
3.) Without a doubt our own beliefs that we are very capable people, confident in our relationship, confident in our skills and gifts (and the level of patience)
4.) It seemed we had a good support network around us
5.) Good working relationships with LAs, SWs and other professionals
+ the bonus one: We thought we knew where/what our buttons were!
Surely there are many more reasons, but these were the biggest ones.
We attended a 10 weeks long very intensive training on Attachment, Behaviour and Trauma with the PACE model and other very interesting, eye opening and extremely useful topics so we had a fairly good idea of what we are getting ourselves into. Of course they try to prepare you for the worst and after talking to fellow adopters and hearing their never ending nightmares of adoption I can even say our 2 boys are by far not even the worst! They are happy to attend and perform well in school; we can take them shoe shopping; they manage well in crowds (asda or xmas market), once the tantrums and meltdowns are over both boys are capable of coming back to apologise, although sometimes it takes days to calm down; we have been receiving play therapy and filial therapy for many months now and they do make a difference; everybody can see the improvements in both boys…etc. So, you would think it’s going well.
I suppose it’s a matter of perspective, but it is very hard to change your perspective. Especially if you feel like your own life is slowly fading away in front of your very eyes!
For the last 2 weeks it feels like the boys with their never ending needs, constant button pushing, several unreasonable meltdowns* EVERY SINGLE DAY, with no time for self-care, with no time or space for quality time with husband also with constant lack of sleep they just suck the life out of me like the Dementors** and what’s worse, they even suck the will to fight out of me! I have been sick for the last 5 weeks now with flu and I truly believe this is just my body saying you can’t go on like this any more! I have zero willpower in me left to even try to be therapeutic / understanding / patient… you get the picture. All my energy and emotions were channelled into supporting their needs 25/7 and all my tanks are dry now. Just before Christmas, when I will need it the most! 😦
Goofs (6) has always been real with us! He really struggled with the new placement and adjustments, he was in full on CPV mode attacking us on a daily basis, running away, screaming ‘you are not my real mother‘ or ‘I hate you, I want to leave this house‘… the usual stuff. It was bloody hard work, but because we knew this we somehow managed to navigate those very hard and challenging months through with him. Today he is much more lovable and he is turning into a sweet little boy. Don’t get me wrong, he still has meltdowns, but I think he was able to form attachments to us and it helps him to bounce back much faster after a wobbly moment. He is building up resilience that will help him stand firm when a meltdown is brewing.
Snoops (7) is much more complex. We still feel that we do not know him at all! Just before he came to us a clinical psychologist had the first accurate assessment on him that said his difficulties come from attachment disorder instead of autism. But now, as we see him every day I think I concur with school who says he is definitely on the autistic spectrum, the question is only where exactly. At the moment I am leaning towards 80-20. It is very strange; from his recent behaviour it seems he is 7 months late and he is only catching up now in terms of starting to push boundaries. What’s even more unusual is that he is emotionally well versed (thanks to the therapy he received when he was younger) and is able to say things like ‘I am only pushing you now and testing you with my behaviour‘. The other day after he screamed at my face that I am not his real mother I said very calmly ‘well, tell me news, not history‘ he had the presence to say ‘Why are you not upset now? You should be angry now and cry and say hurtful things back at me‘. A fair assessment of him would be to say he might present as a securely attached child, however, even the lightest feather can push him back to the deepest pit and even the most patient saint would not be able to put up with that shit he pushes me through and remain sane, let alone muster up enough will to continue to therapeutically approach him.
I spoke to quite a few older and adult adoptees and while I can’t say it was a representative research one common theme emerged: no matter how securely attached they were, how much therapy and support they received over the years whenever they faced a problem their initial response was always to regress back to the old hurts, old feelings of ‘nobody likes me / no good things will ever happen to me / everybody is out to hurt me / you can’t trust anybody’…etc. I know we are still in the early stages of this placement, but it greatly distresses me that no matter how much we do for them, it seems very likely they will never be free from this! We can work our socks off, sacrifice e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g (your life, friendships, marriage, health, future, money) and still, it will never be enough. Very depressing thought, I know…
So to reflect on the points above:
1.) yeah, right, in your dreams perhaps… 😦
2.) it surely helps, but everybody breaks at one point. Mine just took a little longer…
3.) you don’t know how rubbish you are until you faced with this. And then there is only down from there…
4.) ummm, hello, is anybody out there? Can anybody hear me or just see the smiling children and think ‘she is just complaining too much and too negative‘ but in reality they don’t bother to ask me a direct question or run away before I start to answer
5.) oddly this is the only one that’s actually remained the same and continues to go well with most parties involved.
+ 1.) FFS, I didn’t use to swear! I never had the inclination to hurt anybody (verbally or physically) until now. Husband was the epitome of patience and I used to like him…
Happy Advent, Everybody!
*yes, yes, yes, we know it is not unreasonable, that it makes perfect sense in their heads, that it is triggered by something that happened in the past
** for explanation click here