Before I start I apologise if you have read some of this before but it’s sort of an ongoing story (story? actually not a story but our life) and newer readers may not be aware of the details so I’ll try to make it brief.
When we adopted Girl we had to fight to do so. The first matching panel was postponed indefinitely while tests were undertaken, Girl was significantly delayed in her development. We were heartbroken and actually a little surprised especially when the social worker mentioned the words ‘possibly cerebral palsy’. We were three days away from panel and this news was a bolt out of the blue. We had, as most adopters do fell in love with what we knew. We had pictures, we had a profile, we had met her sibling’s adopters who had regular contact with Girl. The pictures that we had showed a sparky baby girl with a twinkle in her eye and we knew, absolutely knew she was the one for us and so our fight began.
For almost a year we coped with delays, waited for an inept social worker to make appointments with the paediatrician doing the assessment; in the end my husband made the appointments himself to speed up the process. Once we had seen the paediatrician ourselves it was clear that the were issues but future development was unclear. The report that followed outlined that Girl would possibly need a high level of support in the future. Panel were still not happy with this and a question mark hung over the whole adoption.
At the time in our LA, matching panel was closed to adopters. We pleaded for the opportunity to have a voice but it was refused however they did accept from us a letter stating our very certain wishes to proceed with the adoption. The letter outlined the fact that we were clear that Girl’s future development was uncertain, that we had done a lot of research into special needs and would seek support wherever possible if necessary, we stressed how strong our support network was and that we would provide a secure, safe loving environment for any child, special needs or not.
The letter did the trick. Some time later our social worker told us that because of us in our LA they now invite adoptees to matching panel. (Yes it’s our fault you have to do that bit.)
When I wrote the letter I never envisaged how hard getting support would be. In a lot of ways Girl is like a lot of other children but in other ways not, like the apples and onions quote that some adopters are aware of. Essentially apples and onions are the same; they both need light, water, food to grow, they are both edible but in other ways they are very different. Apples have a core, onions have layers (and layers and layers) and they taste quite different too.
For quite a long time we had some pretty violent episodes. Every now and again that temper comes to the fore and at those times I am frightened of my little Girl but apparently it’s not enough. It’s also not enough that she wets the bed pretty much every night. It’s not enough that she is anxious and stressed a lot of the time and struggles to deal with her emotions. It’s also not enough that Girl has speech and social issues. It’s not enough that she has tics and obsessions, that she can lose herself, that she can become frightened easily, that she has little self-confidence and is behind at school. It’s not enough that she can’t retain information and I have to explain things to her over and over again. It’s not even enough when after completing the BRIEF the adoption family therapist wrote to us stating a high level of support required. They have now questioned whether we need their help, after two 45 minute appointments and not even meeting Girl.
What are we doing wrong? Are we coping too well? Am I not making her disabilities and abilities clear enough? I am totally confused. I am utterly convinced that Girl’s problems are neurological but we are being passed around and around. Nobody gives a flying flan (polite version). If I had a list in front of me of female autism traits I could probably tick every box for Girl. If Girl was diagnosed with Autism we would have masses of support but I fear that because she is adopted she is looked at differently and because we are not being beaten up on a regular basis and Girl is behaving (disappearing onto the background) at school we are not in need of support. The amount of crap we are given about self-esteem is unbelievable, I’m not saying the advice of boosting self esteem is crap but I am given reams of paper advising us about it but I feel they are missing what I am trying to tell them and disregarding the signs.
At every turn we have been told to boost self esteem. CAMHS, SALT, PAS, the school and the family therapist. Do they think we are stupid? The only way I could try and boost Girl’s self esteem any further would be to put her on a pedestal in the centre of town, paint her gold and shout from the rooftops look at my amazing girl, she is utterly terrific (which actually I would love to do) but if she has neurological problems no amount of boosting self-esteem is going to work is it?
So six years on and we are still fighting for support for our Girl and I never imagined for a moment it would be this difficult. Do I just accept her difficulties and battle on and hope and pray she doesn’t get bullied later on? Other children are already starting to notice that she is different. If she had Autism would I be expected to roll over and receive no help? I don’t think so. So what do I do? Once again I feel like my concerns are being disregarded and I am back to feeling like a crap neurotic mum.