Saturday, 1 November 2014

Why I love spending time online

This week's #WASO theme is 'Embracing Online Support' and we've also announced that The Adoption Social has been shortlisted for the 'Digital Champion Award' at BAAF's National Adoption Awards during National Adoption Week.

So guess what I'm writing about this week?!

I just really wanted to share all the reasons why I use online and digital support, and perhaps you might too...

  • I write this blog to share our journey, and hope to help and inspire people. I also get useful and supportive comments and emails via it.
  • It keeps me sane - I can tweet and blog about the serious to the silly, and it doesn't matter.
  • I have found a wealth of other people involved in adoption via Twitter. They all understand, and I know that a simple 'help, I'm having a bad day' will be met with support and empathy, without judgement even though I haven't met most of them.
  • Facebook enables me to share my blog with a wider audience, and share other titbits of
    information to my followers. 
  • I've learnt to be more concise - you have to be when Twitter limits to 140 characters!
  • Through blogging and tweeting I have found so many people, some of whom I'm proud to call my friends, and have developed amazing relationships with them. 
  •  Without social media I'd never have met my friend Sarah from The Puffin Diaries, and therefore the Weekly Adoption Shout Out and The Adoption Social wouldn't exist.
  • Through setting up The Adoption Social and tweeting, I met Amanda Boorman, who invited me to be a trustee for The Open Nest - what an amazing experience, and I'm very proud to be involved.
  • I'm no longer isolated. I can reach out and meet people who know what me and my family are going through. 
  • I've learnt lots - I can follow conferences without being there using #hashtags and can take part in Twitter chats and parties. 
  • I have found different websites to help me online like PicMonkey for editing images and Google drive for storing and sharing documents.
  • I've found recommendations for apps on my phone/tablet like Whatsapp - another way of connecting with people.
  • More websites are springing up, and I can now find them easier, these also support me and others in my circles.
  • I've been invited to guest post for other organisations and bloggers - I get a great sense of achievement through this, and validation too. 
  • I've had a poem published in a book, which I'd never have known about if it wasn't for Twitter. Again - another sense of achievement and validation.
  • My blog has been shortlisted for several awards (though I haven't won any yet), which gives me confidence and inspiration to continue writing. 
  • I've found a whole host of other bloggers - a brilliant, supportive community, where people are writing about their lives, so many similar to my own. They pick me up when I am down, they make me realise that my life could be worse, they make me laugh and cry. 
Without the internet, and especially twitter, facebook and blogging, I wouldn't have any of this.  Are there any cons? Yes, I've had a couple of trolls, but they're easily blocked, and I've found a new addiction which involves sitting on my bum for several hours a day.
But the things I now have, far outweigh those couple of cons. If you're in any doubt about stepping into the social media arena, then I hope this helps you see why it's so important to me.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

In the words of Stevie...

Heather Small I thank you for this amazing song. At the moment I'm feeling pretty proud of myself, of my friend Sarah, of the entire online community of adopters, adoptees and those working in adoption that I find myself a part of - many of whom I'm also proud to call my friends, and especially of my family. So today, there's not a lot left to say - just, be proud.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Rediscovering old tools

Many parents speak of their toolboxes - a physical or metaphorical toolbox that is, full of useful tips and strategies.
Adoptive parents are no different, except perhaps that we need to have a mini version of that toolbox strapped on at all times! And some of the equipment might be a little...different.

Over the years we've adapted our tools and equipped our toolbox with many different things. Some work for a short time, others work for a long time, some we can swap around so they don't become ineffective. We also have some tools that didn't work at all, but we've kept to hand...just in case.

In fact, only this week, Mini himself has instigated the use of two such tools that didn't really take off before...

The Worry Eater
My mum bought Mini a Worry Eater - a little stuffed monster that has a zip up mouth, in which worries can be placed, without the need to talk to us. Mini liked the novelty of this for a few weeks, but then it just became another stuffed toy on his bed.
However, this week Mini's sought it out and used it several times. He knows that we read the worries he carefully, but not discretely pops in the mouth of the monster. This week, a big worry was put inside, and he sat around waiting-but-not-waiting for us to read it. We did, and managed to reassure him that although he was worried, now he'd shared it with us we could work on it together....he clearly was reassured because he triumphantly threw the paper into the fire.

Fleece blanket
During our time with Dave-the-therapist, we came to realise the importance of fleece blankets. Dave used them to cover the sofa in the therapy room, we used one to blanket-swing Mini in, there were theraplay games involving a big fleece and the softness and warmth provide a lovely, but not overwhelming sensory experience. So we bought a special Lego fleece for Mini. We explained that he could sit under it, wrap in it, hide under it, talk from behind it - whatever he wanted. Effectively we were giving our then 6 year old a safety blanket/portable den. It sat folded up in the living room for months.
Today, Mini asked for it. He was ashamed about something that had happened this morning, and wanted to just hide and feel safe. Through the blanket we could hug and talk, but without that scary eye contact.

So there are two of our tools that were useless a year ago, but even if only for this week, have proved their worth. Have you got anything that you use regularly, or things that have only worked once or twice?

Counselling and claiming

Well, we've come to the end of our attachment focused counselling. We've had 20 sessions, less than half actually included Mini.
It's such a shame we haven't got more sessions, because Mini was just starting to trust the therapist, and we were starting to explore some issues and actually feel like we were getting somewhere. The therapist was starting to make little in-roads into Mini's thoughts and feelings, and although it was  slow going, it felt very positive. Mini enjoyed the activities so much, that he was keen to take as long as possible over them, which is why progress was slow, but at least it was progress.

However, the therapist and I agree that further counselling would be useful, so we're requesting more funding for more sessions, and also for a six month package of support for me.

I've also had to fill in the renewal application for Mini's disability living allowance. It's hard going because you have to write about how much support is required on a bad day - this means you are required to focus on the negatives throughout the form-filling, and that's a pretty difficult thing to do. It's very draining, and checking it through makes for very depressing reading. However being in receipt of DLA allows us to support Mini, buys extra clothes and uniform (desperately needed because of the wetting and soiling) and also helps towards the petrol costs I now incur on the school run...previously we could walk to school but the very necessary and so far successful transfer to 'new school' is too far to walk.

In other news, my depression is winning the battle at the moment, but hopefully only because I'm weaning off of one type, and will shortly be starting a new type. The NC has bronchitis, and is feeling pretty shit too.
But I'm very much looking forward to going to Taking Care - the first conference from The Open Nest which takes place this coming weekend, and finally getting to meet so many of the people I've chatted and tweeted to online! If you're going to be there, make sure you find me and say hello.