Three little words, ‘I Love You’. From most people they probably mean a lot, I know when my husband says it it’s coming from a genuine feeling of love and funnily enough it usually follows me cooking his favourite dinner.
From Girl it’s a little bit more complex than simply expressing an emotion of love. Take for instance, on Friday night Girl had a sleepover at her grandparents house. She really enjoys a sleepover, a lot of adopted children don’t, it can put the fear of god into them but I think it gives Girl a bit of peace and quiet and some one-to-one time that she desperately needs and that we can’t always give her having a very needy two year old in the house.
Each end every time she has a sleepover the day she returns is filled with some very badly acted, over-dramatised, simpering ‘I Love You’s’. ‘I Love You Daddy’, ‘I Love You Mommy’; lots of kissing of arm, hands and faces and some very over the top, dramatic hugs but also interspersed with some very sulky, petulant behaviour. Now, I am very sure she does love us but for Girl this isn’t simply a need to tell us she loves us, it’s more complex than that (of course it is, what did you expect?). She needs to know that we love her too. It simply can’t be as straightforward as her saying ‘mummy do you love me?’ because that would be far too scary for her. Girl is never good with a direct question. What if we gave her an answer she did not want to hear (we never would)? I think by her telling us that she loves us over and over again she understands that she will get a reciprocation of affection. It’s not quite so effusive (I was never good at am-dramatics) but it is genuine. ‘We Love You too Girl’. Simply put and matter of fact.
We also get this same behaviour after contact, especially recently with much more contact with her poorly grandad. She often goes into the old game of playing ‘I love you to Asda and back’ when she is struggling. When she was a toddler and we read the book with Nutbrown Hare in it Asda was as far away as she could think, so in return I would love her to Sainsburys and ba
Yesterday was different. After us all being poorly over Christmas we decided to venture out and blow the cobwebs away. Girl loved it. We haven’t managed to get out for a good walk for at least a month as that’s how long we have been poorly. She was happy and needed to show it. ‘I Love You Mommy’ she ran shouting, ‘I Love You Daddy’, ‘I Love You Boy’, ‘I Love Nanny & Granddad , ‘I Love the dog’, ‘I Love my other nanny and grandad’…It was an overwhelming expression of happiness. I would probably have ran shouting ‘woohooo I am sooooo happy, fresh air yeehaaa!’ but with Girl there was still that need to include everybody she loves in her happiness which I am definitely not grumbling about but I did find eccentric!ck and we still play the game now but sadly the game now usually comes from a place of fear but also I think from a need to regress and be babied a bit.
So with Girl ‘I Love You’ is rarely a simple expression of pure love but that’s really OK because I don’t need to hear the words to know she loves us and we love her in return. The love is expressed in her concern when we are poorly, the moments shared with a blanket on the settee, the jokes and teasing and holding hands on a walk. It’s all there and that’s enough for me.
Happy New Year x
It’s been a while since I last blogged. Plenty has been happening, some of it quite positive but I haven’t known where to start. I am very conscious that with Girl’s grandad being so poorly our life at the moment involves, you could say almost revolves around this and the effect it is has had on Girl. I am reluctant for many reasons for this part of our life, Grandad’s illness, to also be part of the blog but I think it is probably unavoidable. We have had increased contact and some pretty concerning behaviour has followed but each time we discuss and plan for the next time and I think we have it almost fine tuned.
The first important thing that has happened recently is that my counselling sessions have finished, mutually agreed with the counsellor that I am in a much better place than at the time of my first appointment.
Secondly our sessions with the PASW have also finished, in her words ‘case-closed’, also mutually agreed because we are in a better place. Girl’s behaviour has been better granted but we also deal with and understand her complexities much better than we did at the start of the year. I felt that our PASW’s time would be better spent with other families. PASW support is limited, the staffing levels for PAS is frankly shocking and there are families in much worse positions than we currently are.
So, life now? It has been a whole year since we went through our worst period with Girl. The build up to Christmas is difficult enough for a child with attachment issues but mixed with starting school and settling her new brother in it was just too much for her.
So far this year Girl has been coping with the build up to Christmas quite well, infact so well i was considering putting up the tree today and then the advent calendars came out and then the first Christmas party of the season, the party which just happened to be a PAS Christmas party. Both children decided to have full on meltdowns. Boy’s meltdown I anticipated, Girl’s I did not. I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate it. A room full of strangers, social workers, loud noise from the disco, party games, santa visits, sugar and contact with her sisters? It was inevitable really but she has been coping so well lately I was feeling perhaps a little bit over confident. I soon settled her by taking her to a quiet corner to colour and the rest of the day followed relatively well, even with a trip to Tesco on the way home thrown in for good measure (relative being our normal perhaps not your normal).
Today was the second party of the weekend. I know that two parties in one weekend is a lot for my little Girl to cope with but boy did she go for it today. We had tantrums, pinching daddy, sulks and strops. It resulted in us leaving early which is something we have not had to do for a long time. We came home feeling slightly shell-shocked and a little embarrassed in front of the school mums but this evening we have had a little remorse from her which is good.
On top of this Boy is going through a really difficult period at the moment, mostly I think down to his age but partly down to his fears following adoption. He is suffering with almost extreme anxiety over separation to the point of not being able to be in a room on his own unless of his own choosing, ie he can choose to go into a room on his own but if one of us leaves a room he is in he needs to know where we are and what we are doing and demands for us to come back repeatedly. That’s not easy to cope with when you are sitting on the loo and makes getting on with everyday tasks very difficult.
So here I am polishing off the bottle of wine I opened last night, I will not be winning any slimming awards this week!
I have recently had a lot of opportunity to mix with some new adopters. I always enjoy mixing with other adopters and hearing their experiences which are mostly positive. The one thing I find really interesting and I have done it myself in the past, is when asked how the child is settling in to hear the reply of ’oh fine, but she was in foster care from birth so we are not anticipating any problems’.
Gulp. I say nothing because like it or not from what I have read and seen and experienced all adopted children are going to have at least a few issues, the younger they are the better but I think experiencing the trauma of losing everything you know at any age is going to have a monumental effect, how could it not?
As adults we grieve for the people we love when we lose them and we know to recognise our grief, for relatives that pass away, for lost pets, friends who move away, when we move out of our parents house a certain amount of homesickness and lets face it I get homesick on holiday after a while. We experience loss and anxiety for all these things and more so why would a baby or a toddler not feel these things after moving from foster care?
I guess the important thing is to recognise that fact and understand it, which if I am honest is bloomin’ hard when you are embracing your new family and moving on and your child cannot express or probably even understand how they are feeling. It’s hard to see that your outwardly happy, seemingly settled child is probably inwardly anxious and to remember that they have felt loss that we for the most part would barely even begin to comprehend. So our wonderful, spirited little fighters are hard wired for self preservation from an early age.
I do believe that a lot of us go into adoption with an certain amount of naivety, me included, both times. Yes, it is joyful to finally make your family complete but it is not a bed of roses or a fairytale ending and it’s as well to recognise that from the start. I am not trying to be all doom and gloom or a naysayer, I love my family to bits but it is hard to adjust your life and come to terms with the fact they are sort of different from other children, that their young, tender hearts are already bruised from loss and trauma. It’s hard not to constantly be analysing their every move, is that an adoption behaviour or quite normal?
Both of my children have issues and both of them had completely different experiences of foster care. Yes they were both placed from birth, yes they were both with one foster carer throughout. One was cared for adequately and the other was not. One struggles with attachment, the other struggles with separation anxiety. Apart and with individual and constant attention they are both lovely children. Together, whew. Word’s can’t describe!
To be honest we are struggling to know what to do for the best at the moment, Girl is struggling with everything and the family is taking the impact. There is no easy solution with two children, we are just muddling through the best we can and hoping that we do a job of raising our children that is ‘good enough’. I am long past striving to be perfect!
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- Natyjoco on Executive Functioning and Adopted Children, Can’t Do or Won’t Do?
- AdoptiveMummy on Exposure to Life
- nh on Exposure to Life
- AdoptiveMummy on Executive Functioning and Adopted Children, Can’t Do or Won’t Do?
- Natyjoco on Executive Functioning and Adopted Children, Can’t Do or Won’t Do?