Friday, 30 August 2013

Ooops... it's all a little difficult here...

We knew it would be difficult. We knew we would have problems. And yet...when our social worker forgot about us on Wed (she is on annual leave this week) I had a crisis feeling. Had text conversation with her, and said we were okay - not easy but okay, and then on Thurs things imploded and I sent a text just after lunch to say 'please come this evening' which she said she could do.

It was the adults who were struggling with how to deal with behaviour. Boyo is very caring and always has been, and as such he is in Jelly's face a lot. He wants to help, but isn't showing it in the best way. He is constantly doing things that we are asking him not to, such as holding onto Jelly, and taking his cuddly off him and countless other things. He wants to show how much he cares.

But he is also very excited and is spending his whole time showing off. And because he's the way he is, he is also been very vigilant - because his world has changed, and he needs to find his new place in this new order.

We have been reassuring him, we have let him regress as he wants, he is been fed, he is having a bottle of milk at bedtime, we have tried all our usual tricks, ignoring the bad and praising the good, rewards, bribery and threats of early nights. Nothing was having any effect, as soon as you praised him, he stopped doing what he was been praised for. Ignoring the behaviour just escalated it. Sitting him with us on the sofa has given us both bruises. I think my low point was when I carried him upstairs, put him on his bed, and sat in his chair, refusing to engage until he calmed down... I had teddies thrown at me for that one, and there are a lot of teddies on his bed.

So we reached out... and asked for help, because we could not calm him. There was nothing that we could do, that would help him, and we wanted to help him, no needed to help him.

We talked things through. We explained that we felt WE were getting into a negative cycle. And that, is what was bothering us most, we are usually good at stopping that negative cycle, but we couldn't find a way forward.

It felt better to hear that it was normal. That virtually every older child struggles when a new child arrives, no matter how they arrive. That we were doing okay, it's not a disaster.

She agreed that we were doing the right thing going out for part of each day. That we were right about gradually starting to introduce people to Jelly, because Boy-o needs normality. That we could separate them if it was easier... it was okay that they didn't spend every minute together. I'd been resisting separating them, on the grounds they need to get used to each other, but she pointed out that they are spending time together, and that they don't have to spend every waking minute together.

And she gave us some ideas. Initially to start theraplay activities again - and if we were struggling with it, she's happy to give up some time to come and help us with it. And then some ideas to work on both his life story and Jelly's... to help him understand better his story and his place in the world. She has given us some super ideas, which I will probably blog about, once we've had a chance to do some of them. I've also ordered some more books...

So I went to bed last night calmer, and woke up feeling more refreshed. And today has been a better day - and when Jelly had his nap, I got out my mysterious box that Boy-o noticed first thing this morning, which I'd loaded with some things for theraplay activities last night. And we managed a 20 minute session with theraplay activities, and followed it up with some general silly playing. I gave him the total time that we had available, and when M came home from work before Jelly had finished his nap (M is working part time for at least another week yet), we planned our afternoon... divide and conquer.

And it worked, the boys went to bed much calmer, because things had been calmer. They both went early, as neither is sleeping especially well, but they have slept so far tonight.

So I'm hoping that we can continue to be calm, and do theraplay work. I'll start the life story work soon, when I've had time to get my head round it a bit!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Adventures in cloth nappies...

Back when we were trying to get (and stay) pregnant, there was never any doubt in my mind. We were going to cloth nappy. It made sense both economically and environmentally. Both my cousins cloth nappied, it didn't seem very difficult, there was no decision to be had.

And then, we adopted, and we adopted a 2 year old, who was on 98th centile, taller than some 4 year olds that we knew. It made no sense to spend money to buy cloth nappies, when he would be potty trained before long, we went straight for disposal nappies... and on the recommendation of my friend with 4 boys we went huggies, and they were fab, never leaked, and did exactly what we wanted. Of course it was well over a year before he potty trained, and even at 4 1/2 he still wets at night, but we made our choice and we stuck with it. Plus buying cloth nappies to fit him would have been more difficult than I needed at that point in my life.

And then we started the adoption process again. And we were linked to a 15 month old (after we made the decision to for go the 5 month old). And he's a great deal smaller, an average 15 month, hovering around the 50th centile for height. And huggies no long sell nappies in the UK anywhere that it is easy to get them... you can get them at some warehouse clubs, who are importing from the USA, but we gave up our membership as a cost cutting exercise... we used to go and spend between £100 and £200 without thinking about it, on stuff we didn't need... nice things, but not necessary things.

So we started thinking about cloth nappies again. And I started talking. One of my best friends had her second child earlier on the year, and she used cloth with her first and again with her second. When she came to visit she brought me a selection to see.... and explained about using them.

I went out (to a bridal shower) and sat chatting to three other friends who all cloth nappied. One said, she always switched to disposals at about a year old, one said, 'I'm not sure, I'd change him at 15 months old' and the other said, 'oh, I've got some liners that you could have, and I think I've got some nappies and wraps left'.

I started researching on line, and decided for during the day I really wanted to use either pocket nappies or 'all in ones'. So I did some searching and researching and came up with a list of 8 different makes and styles that I wanted to try. I managed to get hold of 3 pocket nappies and 3 all in ones of my list, and only brought one new one! I also spoke to our local council who provide cloth nappy packs to babies under 6 months in the area, and after some decision they decided that I could have a trail pack with another 'all - in - one' and a two part (shaped nappy and wrap). I also brought another two part nappy for overnight use.

So there we were several weeks before Jelly joined us, and I had 7 day nappies to try and 2 overnight ones! We played a bit during introductions when he was at our house, and obviously more since he moved in. M and I both know now which nappies we prefer, and how many more we think we need to buy. Pocket nappies are definitely the way forwards in this house and I hate to say it... my friend was right, she raves about the nappy type that we are going for... BumGenius V4...although I might still mix in a couple of Fuzzibunz perfect fit as well.

Overnight.. so far we haven't actually made a full night in washable. Mostly as I wimped out on changing from disposal to washable for first couple of nights, and then last night when I did try, Jelly is starting to realise that things are going back to how they were before (with him at child minder) and had a really bad night's sleep. I'd put one on, and at 1.30 a.m., when there was nothing left I could do for him, I changed it for a disposal... more normal feeling for him. Not that it worked, but at least I knew that there was nothing else I could do to make him feel better!

So Jelly at the moment is been cloth nappied during the day, and I'm probably going to continue in disposals for overnight for a few more weeks. I am lucky, as I have some of the mythical huggies - a huge box that one of my friends did pick up for me at a warehouse shop - but it was the last box on the shelf. If he needs more nappies in that size when they run out, we'll have to start experimenting with other brands...

And if you want some second hand all in one nappies - I have some for sale...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


So I have been a bit remiss in writing this - however, not just this - but I seem not to have written any notes from foster carer. It feels odd, I have a note-book full of info from boy-o - social worker comments, medical adverser, foster parents, contact supervisor. I have some random notes for Jelly - but not anything useful in day to day life. It's possibly that I know I can phone foster carer up any time, that I have nodded, and thought, I'll remember that. Equally I have proved myself capable of looking after a child - I don't need copious notes. At some point I will possibly regret it, but not yet.

So Introductions....

The first day, we visited, just M and myself, boy-o stayed elsewhere. It gave us time to get to know Jelly without boy-o trying to get in the way. We spent an hour there in the morning, after our planning meeting, then came away and took boy-o out for lunch! We then went back in the afternoon, having left boy-o with someone else. We took lots of photos to show boy-o though.

The next day M went in the morning for an hour, and then we all went in the afternoon for several hours. Boy-o and Jelly had tea together having played together, and had a fantastic time outside. I have some lovely photos of them playing on the toddler slide.

We all went out with a picnic the following day, including the foster mum. We went to a local estate, and walked, fed ducks, had a picnic, played in the wood and played in the play area. I think foster mum was impressed (or depressed) when I just set to and changed Jelly's nappy after a poo, on the grass in the play area... Somewhere like that I don't see the need for a baby changing room, especially as the toilets there are a little ummm.  

Foster mum and Jelly came to our house in the afternoon, and after 30mins when Jelly was plainly calm and happy foster mum left, and Jelly stayed for tea.

M and I have been taking turns in going in a morning and evening to spend a bit of one-on-one time with Jelly at the foster carers. But both us and the foster mum agreed that the best thing for both boys was to be together at our house, living a relatively normal life.

More of the same sort of thing followed, Jelly came here for lunch, then we spent all day with Jelly - went out for some of the day with M and boy-o. This week Jelly has virtually been here all day, he's had breakfast at foster parent's and then bottle of milk at bedtime, the rest of the time he's been here.

If it hadn't been for a hospital appointment today, he'd have moved yesterday, both he and boy-o were ready. But we needed to get the hospital appointment sorted out, and the foster carer had to be there, to follow up from previous appointment. So tomorrow is the day... M will pick him up in the morning, and then tomorrow evening he will have his first night here.

I'm excited and tired. I'm happy but sad for foster carers and for birth family. This is our future and it is bright, but someone else had to suffer for us to get here.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


It's ironic isn't it - the week that we go to matching panel and start introductions for Jelly - is the week that the theme for WASO is siblings.

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about some of boy-o's siblings. We meet up with two of his birth brothers regularly. They have an 'odd' relationship - odd as in I don't understand it! They don't have the concept of being brothers, and yet there is an intrinsic bond between them. They have never lived together, but somehow they know that they are linked.

Boy-o and Jelly are related. They share a grandmother. I wonder if they will have a similar sort of link. There are lots of similarities in their stories. The reasons that they are in care are similar. It's not because they aren't loved, and whenever we talk to boy-o about his birth family, we give him that message, she loves you but... and I am sure we will give Jelly the same message.

So we are in the middle of introductions. The boys have met as brothers. And have interacted as brothers. And Jelly, will produce a smile for Boy-o, and Boy-o loves this. Boy-o is enjoying being the big brother and able to do things that Jelly can't.

This isn't to say that introductions are amazing and going smoothly. That would be a lie. There are issues and  we are finding our way. It's going to be tough and difficult. Not that we expected otherwise. I hate the feeling that I am upsetting the pair of them, and I know that it will be okay in the end, but I'm not sure how long it will be until the end.

In the meanwhile, I am watching cousins who don't know each other, start to learn to live together, as brothers.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Summer holidays are passing...

It's not that I've nothing to post, it's just I'm so busy and so tired that I don't seem to have found the time.

When we set off for this school holiday, I knew I needed a plan.... so we have, and I'm sticking to it. There is something free on around here most days, so that was the first thing to go on. We also arranged to meet our fellow adoptive families on one day a week. I've tried to fit a treat most weeks... this week it was to go on one of the local steam railways, last week we went to big city and went to the Lego shop! We've also had friends to see - which has helped fill time. We've visited parks, walked in different places and generally had lots of out time. We've done craft and painting, and I have some more planned.

So far it seems to be going okay. We've had some meltdowns, and some tantrums, but not as much I was expecting!

Except of course, next week it will all go wrong. We are starting introductions for Jelly (assuming we get through matching panel), which will have a lot of impact on what we can do with Boy-o. At the moment we don't know exactly what we will be doing when, but it's going to have to involve Boy-o a lot, as I am short of people to leave him with - I might be calling in all sorts of favours and travelling to random other places to drop him off, to come back again to see Jelly, but until the plan is put forwards, I can do nothing to prepare.

It's worrying me, but there is nothing I can do, until we have that planning meeting! Which is why it's frustrating, I like to plan.... so if I appear irritated, that's way.