Having had 24 hours to think about and reflect on my meeting with the Primary Mental Health Worker, it’s time to share the details. My apologies if it’s a bit disjointed –there was a lot to take in, and lots of explanations of behaviour, and like many conversations we went off at tangents sometimes. I’ve tried to pull it all together into something that makes sense! This post is intended to record what happened, not necessarily provide interesting reading!
I had been getting increasingly nervous and starting to doubt whether I was right or wrong in trying to get help. But the lady (we’ll call her Glenda) put me at ease and reminded me very much of the social worker who did our home study and took us to panel. She wasn’t at all scary, or aggressive or dismissive and was certainly more empathetic than any other professional I’ve approached so far.
She started with wanting a brief description of Mini’s background, which I gave her. Briefly and without telling you the ins and outs of Mini’s story; he was removed within weeks of birth having been on the child protection register since before birth. He should have been removed earlier but a lack of communication between the professionals and birth mum about her due date and his subsequent birth led to a bit of a delay. He was then with the same foster carer until he came to us at just 13months.
Generally we talked and it was felt that Mini realises that he is different to Dollop in terms of background, age, everything. Glenda felt that some of his bad behaviour and copying was to test whether we treat them the same. This is partly because he doesn’t remember how he was treated at Dollop’s current age, and so he’s acting that age so he can see how he’d be treated – would it be the same as Dollop? This is the primary reason for his regression.
Then Glenda asked questions about some of Mini’s behaviours. The first on my list was wetting and occasional soiling. She asked when it occurred and when I explained that often it was on the way home, she deduced that he was getting scared of what he might find at home. Or not find. This was also part of regression – Mini is regressing back to a place when he wasn’t potty trained.
Since my pregnancy with Dollop, Mini has become a lot more interested in where he came from – whose tummy etc. We spoke about Mini wanting to know more about his birth family, and I mentioned that he has spoken of meeting them. Glenda feels he has rather an advanced understanding of his background for his age, and although this is good, it could also cause us future issues. He’s likely to at some point retort with ‘but you’re not my real mum’, and so Glenda suggested contacting post adoption support now, to prepare ourselves emotionally for this… She also told me that she’d speak to the rest of her team with a view to some theraplay, particularly around life story work. Mini’s good understanding is also leading to his anxieties – his age means he is now able to understand what we’re telling him about his background, but emotionally he is not advanced enough to make sense of the feelings that information evokes – the result is bad behaviour, which is a means of expression. It might also mean he feels some of the things that he felt when he was taken into care, and when he moved here from foster care. These – to him – are strange, horrible, scary, unexplained feelings which don’t have names, but just feel awful, and Mini is not old enough or emotionally articulate enough to deal with them.
This led onto a chat about feelings generally, as Mini has never been able verbalise how he’s feeling. Again, theraplay might help with this, and we need to continue helping him by describing his feelings to him which will give him words to use in future.
Glenda feels Mini is avoidant in his attachment style because he is internally worried (although may not know it, and if he does, can’t verbalise it yet) that we’ll reject him, which is how he sees his birth mother and foster carer…they gave him up so they rejected him. She suggested that when Mini fake hurts himself it’s because he wants affection but doesn’t feel able to ask for it –again for fear of rejection, so this is a way of getting it without asking and without risking that rejection.
It is not unusual for school to not see a problem – it’s us, his family, that he is scared of losing, and so it is us that see the fallout from this. This also explains why he’s increasingly misbehaving and ‘showing his true colours’ with the NC’s parents, as they are the next most important care giving figures in his life, and therefore another set of people to worry about with regards to rejecting him.
We’re doing everything right, and need to continue and be consistent. Clear rules and consequences for screaming etc, time in and cuddles for meltdowns, lots of affection even if it is rejected, and above all, constant reassurance that we love him and we’re his forever family.
I feel reassured that we’re already doing the right thing, but a little frustrated that we’ve been doing this for 4 years and it doesn’t appear to be enough for Mini. I hope that we do get the theraplay arranged soon, and I really hope it helps Mini. We do love him, he is our son, and he will be here forever! Mini came to us 4 years ago, the honeymoon period is well and truly over, now it feels like we’re beginning as a family…