Friday, 13 July 2012

Friends, family and a few tears...

Yesterday my eyes leaked. They leaked because I received an email from someone who is important to me, the NC, Mini and Dollop, we’ll call him Minty. That person is having a tough time right now with depression and as a result, is seeing a counsellor.
One of the things that Minty has discussed with the counsellor is Mini’s behaviour, because he hasn’t really understood it properly and because it’s made him feel sad – knowing that Mini’s background and trauma has impacted on him the way it has.

Minty was really brave, and he sent me an email to tell me a bit about how he felt about his relationship with me, and how he felt about what we’re going through. And at the very end, he offered his support in any way he could.

We’re all really lucky that Minty’s counsellor knows about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and has first-hand experience of it, having worked with children with the disorder. She’s helped Minty by explaining RAD to him and giving him information about it. She’s listened to Minty’s worries and anxieties about it all. Mini hasn’t got a diagnosis of RAD; he hasn’t got a diagnosis at all because our CAMHS worker doesn’t believe in labelling children, but he shows many of the signs of RAD, and without doubt, he has abandonment anxieties.

I’ve kind of talked briefly on here before about how I’ve found it hard to explain all these problems and trauma to people I care about. That’s partly because it’s hard for them to understand and believe something that they don’t see - he’s often perfect, or at least fairly ‘normal’ when we’re with family and friends (and remember we don’t see anyone that often because it makes Mini anxious about moving on). It’s partly because it’s hard to explain properly without giving away lots of Mini’s background, and that’s not for me to share, it’s Mini’s story. And it’s also partly because people have their own problems and I don’t want to worry them because quite frankly some of what we endure is awful and shocking.

I’ve never talked directly to Minty about Mini’s issues, so when I received this email from him telling me that he understood, I cried.
I cried with relief that another person in our support network had got it, and not only that, but they were receiving support and counselling to help them come to terms with it because it was hard for them too.

Until now, I’ve not really thought much about how my friends and family feel about Mini, or more precisely, the problems that Mini has.
But of course things have changed for them all too. We don’t see people as often as we used to – which might make them feel rejected or like we’re not making an effort. They’re coming to terms with the fact that Mini isn’t like other children – he has experienced trauma, and that means that they have to recognise that Mini has a past that we’re not part of. We parent him differently to how they’ve parented/are parenting their own children so perhaps that makes some of them nervous about how to be around us and Mini. And also, some of them just might not agree with what we’re saying and doing – just because they don’t, or because they’re in denial, or because they just can’t comprehend it or don’t want to. But it’s OK for them to feel like that.
We’d lent the BAAF book ‘Related by Adoption’ to various members of our family, and some friends too before Mini was even placed with us, and one or two people have re-read it since too, but nothing prepared them (in much the same way that nothing prepared us) for the problems Mini now has.
I think my own experiences show that there is a need for support for friends and family too. And this was also suggested in feedback at the CAMHS course I went on. Perhaps a one-day course to explain briefly what trauma and attachment mean for adopted children? Including a session about ways they could support us, the adoptive parents?

Anyway, thank you Minty for being there. Love you x


  1. Huge hugs to you all, Minty included. A double -edged sword: knowing that somebody understands but knowing it's hard for them too. Stay strong. x

  2. Thinking of you all, Stix. It's wonderful that Minty reached out for help and must be good to know that someone understands but what an emotional rollercoaster for you all. Already I know how difficult it is to explain some of the more complex issues around adoption to friends and family and people have often said to us 'but you're adopting when he's so young, he'll forget all about it and you can get on and be a normal family' and I imagine that gets worse as they get older and there are behaviour issues. Did your LA offer a Friends and Family Day? Ours did and whilst it didn't go into huge detail, it did cover some of the attachment issues and members of both our families went. You should push for one if you didn't have one as it's vitally important to get the support you need. But, for now, just glad you have someone on side. Sending hugs and wishing Minty all the help he needs too xxx