Wednesday, 16 July 2014

When I grow up...

It was when I was talking to Dollop in the car about what she wants to be when she grows up, that I realised just how much our children think of us, how much of a role model I am to my children.

And by that I mean more than just modelling good behaviour, or manners, or kindness. And more than helping them develop thoughts, opinions, dreams, aspirations and ideas.

"I don't want to be a ghost anymore, or a chef. I want to be a mummy. Just. Like. You."

And it made me realise that we must be doing something right if our children want to be just like us.

I do mean children by the way, not just Dollop. For as long as I can remember Mini has wanted to be a daddy....as well as a cowboy, building and fireman.

But until Dollop told me she wanted to be a mummy just like me, I hadn't thought about how much of a compliment it was that Mini wanted to be like the NC.

It is a challenge parenting my two, and I'm finding it even harder with the black dog by my side but I love my kids so much and I think it's proof they love us too.

Oh and I just want to tell you about the heart melting moment I had with Dollop yesterday when she stroked my face and told me her heart was full of flowers and her head full of hearts - all because she loves me. Love that girl.

Friday, 4 July 2014

GUEST POST- Natural health: Some ideas for adoptive families

Today I'm thrilled to bring you a post from Sezz who usually writes over at Dear Daughter: Our Adoption Journey. In this guest post Sezz shares information about natural health, and some therapies that I'm keen to try with Mini. And as a depression sufferer, I'll be looking into homeopathy now...

I am delighted to have been invited to write a guest post about natural health.  I’m a big fan of holistic therapies, also referred to as complementary therapies. Therapies look at the root cause of an illness, not just the symptoms.  Note the word ‘complementary’ – they complement traditional medicine and although some people use them exclusively, it’s important to get a diagnosis from a GP if you are unsure at all about any symptoms you or your child are showing.  Complementary therapists do not diagnose and nor should they ever claim to cure. 

Depression is one thing I see talked about a lot amongst adopters.  I’ve had levels of anxiety and depression over the years and through this last winter.  There was also a report out this week about the level of depression rising amongst children.  For me, homeopathy is a winner.  I first tried homeopathy 20 something years ago when I had chronic fatigue and then again 15 years when I first had depression.  It really does lift that dark cloud off my head. I don’t know how it works, but it does for me.  It’s perfectly safe for children too and very easy to administer, you can put a few drops of the remedy in their water bottle.  I recommend seeing a homeopath to get a remedy tailored for you rather than just picking one up at a health food store.

I’ve talked about meditation before, on my blog and also via the book review for Ladybird’s Remarkable Relaxation on The Adoption Social.  It’s something that definitely has a calming effect on me and my daughter.  She often asks for it just before bedtime and, bless her, she decided to do a meditation for me in the back garden last week. It was very relaxing.  You can find lots of YouTube videos with guided meditations on them but with Missy, whilst I’ve learnt to do meditations, she loves listening to a particular CD containing 15 minute meditations and she will listen to one after we’ve read her bedtime story.  It definitely helps her relax and sleep well. For me, although I’ve learnt to meditate, I also use an app called Headspace which will lead you through a 10 minute daily meditation. You can also find local classes and meditation groups.

Bowen Therapy is a fabulous therapy.  It’s still relatively unknown although it’s been around for years.  It’s a very light touch therapy that can be done through light clothing.  I’ve had treatments for back and shoulder pain and many therapists do see lots of physical ailments.  However, it also has great application for children.  There is a wonderful man called Howard Plummer who has done lots of research into Bowen and children, particularly with autism and cerebral palsy.  As the moves are short, it’s ideal for children who can’t lie or sit still for long.  I know of one little boy for whom Bowen just took the edge off his ADHD, so much so he could sit on the classroom carpet and remain calm, and another boy with autism whose balance improved considerably such that he could then learn more things in gymnastics like standing on one leg and hopping.   It’s also a tremendously relaxing treatment and I always come away very much lighter in my head.  A bonus is that many therapists won’t charge for children, or just ask for a donation.

Reflexology, the art of working pressure points on the feet to bring about a positive change in the body, is ideal for stress relief.  It’s not a massage, although the therapist may begin with a few massage strokes to get you relaxed.  If you are feeling stressed and need that all important ‘me-time’ then a reflexology session is ideal.  Additionally, if you have an ongoing issue then weekly treatments over a couple of months may well reduce the symptoms considerably.   As far as children are concerned, reflexology is perfectly safe even for babies.  There was some excellent research done by a Chartered Physiotherapist called Jenny Lee who carried out a 15 year research into effect of reflexology on children with asthma.  The effects on the children included improved sleep, relaxation and child/parent bonding.   Much has also been written about the positive effects of touch on the children in orphanages in Romania, all of whom have some degree of reactive attachment disorder.

The last therapy I want to mention in this post is EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique.  That’s a bit of a mouthful and most people will call it Tapping.  It’s a very simple therapy and one that you can learn for yourself or see a therapist if you need more support – think acupuncture but without the needles.  Negative emotions will create disturbances in the body’s energy systems, leading to physical and mental symptoms when the body is not at ease, ie it’s dis-eased.   Essentially, you tap using two fingers on a set of the body’s energy meridian points, whilst focussing on the negative emotion or anxiety, which helps to restore balance in the body.  There have been two very good pieces of research showing how the stress response is lessened when energy points are stimulated, and how levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are reduced.   Obviously with our children, you wouldn’t go straight in at the root of the trauma; you start with the top layer of emotion, a bit like peeling the layers of onion away. Perhaps they are feeling  sad, worried or fearful and don’t necessarily understand why or are not ready to remember the trauma.   They might have a general feeling of sadness or perhaps a fear of a spelling test.  For children who have suffered trauma, the fear of the spelling test will be the tip of the iceberg and this is what you start to work away at first.  Adults, who have learnt to understand their feelings and can regulate, can go deeper into their emotions and feelings straight away when they start tapping.  For example, someone who suffers stress, anxiety and pain as a result of a car crash ten years ago could start to work on emotions relating to the car crash.  Equally, they may just want to work on that iceberg tip and that’s fine too. 

Whilst I can take my daughter through a tapping routine, she likes to follow videos by Brad Yates on You Tube.  He’s a worldwide expert in EFT and has three or four videos specifically for kids in which his daughter does the tapping and my daughter particularly likes to watch her.   At the moment we just do five minutes tapping on things like sadness or worry and whilst Missy can’t really measure how she feels, I can certainly see an instant switch in her demeanour to a more positive state once she’s tapped. 

I hope the above has introduced you to a few therapies that you could use for yourself or your children.
If you want to know more, then do drop Sezz a line at adoptiondiary@gmail.com

Friday, 27 June 2014

Forever for #WASO

"Something happens, and it stays happening and won't ever stop. Like us. Our family. Adoption."
- Mini

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Dad's having a tough time

The NC and I went to see our counsellor a while ago. It was our first joint session in a while. We talked about something quite difficult to our normal sessions...

Before we discovered our inability to conceive naturally, the NC and I had lighthearted discussions about what our future child would look like - curly like me? slim like him? And what skills they might have - musical like me? sporty like him?
Once we found out that we couldn't have children, we had to put aside those pictures and thoughts, and instead were given a tick list of attributes, abilities and disabilities to consider. Some we could cope with, some we felt we couldn't, some we needed guidance on, some we did a bit of research on, and in the end although we hadn't created a picture of our future child, we had established some things that we felt we would be able to deal with.
It sounds callous and heartless, because after all, if we had given birth, we would have coped with whatever illnesses or disabilities our child would have had, but this is the way it is in adoption - there is an element of choice, or at the very least elimination. But still, there is always an element of risk, more so than a birth child would bring because often family background is unknown, or chaotic circumstances have led to the removal of the child in the first place.

And now we find ourselves in a position where we are facing some of those things we ticked as 'couldn't cope with', or at least the NC is.

Connected to this is the frustration and anger that the NC feels towards Social Services and towards
himself. There are many things that weren't disclosed that could have affected our decision to adopt Mini. We'll never know, but for the NC those questions still linger, he's unable to move on and just accept what has been, and look forward.
And now, he feels trapped, unable to lead a 'normal' family life, because everything revolves around Mini. Even Dollop's birthday party was carefully thought about and booked to ensure that Mini would have a good time and would not disrupt everyone else, and he was the eldest there so could feel useful and important.

And of course there are thoughts about how our family and Mini are perceived. It's hard because, if we were parents to an obviously disabled child - physically disabled, a wheelchair user, or visually impaired, then people could see, would maybe understand, could accept the many doctors appointments and justified time off work. But with Mini, he doesn't have those obvious signs - he is emotionally disabled, but no-one can see that. And these appointments that we have - we'll they're with softies like therapists and counsellors - not *proper* medically trained people...aren't they?

Because of this, the NC feels under pressure at work, unjustified in taking time off when much needed, unable to commit to the same level as others - like not being able to travel overseas easily because we need some time to prepare Mini, not being able to cover the on-call shift at short notice, because that will mean having to change Mini's routine. Don't get me wrong, the NC has a great boss, and a lovely team but he can't help thinking that if they could just see Mini 'in action', they'd understand that bit more and realise that he's not just being bloody-minded by saying no to certain things - it's just that they have a massive impact on Mini and then in turn on the rest of us.

Way back, the NC correctly identified he'd struggle to cope with some of the things that Mini now displays, and now he's working really hard on trying to support Mini as best he possibly can, but with all that worry about work, he's not having the easiest time. I need to be emotionally available to the NC, but I'm not sure I can do that so well at the moment, so luckily we have Ada the counsellor, and for now she's helping us through.

We never expected this to be so hard, we'd engaged well in our home study and thought our heads, hearts and minds were ready to parent. But now, I really wish we'd done more to get our heads ready.