This month’s PAC-UK guest blog is a reflection piece from Jo Adamson-Parker writing as ‘NinjaMam’.
This photo’s quite special. To me it tells a story of a different time. Of when I was a different person. It was taken the week we became a family of four.
I wish I could remember how I felt about being a mother back then, when it was just ‘us and our boys’ and not ‘us and a variety of therapists, specialists, consultants and educational support’. I don’t think I had to juggle so much back then. Now I have many different plates that need to be kept spinning and I can’t let any of them drop. Each one is a part of my boys life.
When Squeak first moved in with us he’d just turned a year old and Bubba had started school the month before. Up to then it had been me and him, adventures every day, dancing in the kitchen and daftness, I was just loving being his Mummy. At that point there was no sign of Attachment Disorder or Autism, no SEN or CPV, no signs of early years trauma. There was no hint of what was yet to come.
But it’ll have always been there, like a bomb waiting to go off, we just didn’t know. Like hundreds of thousands of people before us, we were new parents and even though we’d had adoption preparation training we were still very much learning on the job. Still are.
This week four years ago we had to watch our new son go through the process of grieving for his foster carer, we didn’t realise it at the time but that’s what it was. And it was awful, we wondered if he’d ever settle with us. This was new to us as Bubba had practically walked into our house, trotted up to his bedroom and claimed his space leaving us thinking ‘that was easy’. We didn’t at the time realise how wrong Bubba’s transition was and why. Attachment.
With Squeak every time his foster carer left the room he screamed, every time we tried to feed him he screamed and every time we held him, yep, he screamed. He wanted her, not us. Her arms, her voice, her smell was what he’d known since he was a few hours old so of course he wanted her. To him she was his Mummy, not the birth mum he’d left in the hospital, her.
I’d never experienced rejection by a child in such a way before and I’d certainly never caused one such distress. I remember watching him as he screamed for literally hours on end and I prayed for the introduction session to end so she’d leave and take him with her.
It was hard and several times through that introduction week I thought it was too hard. But gradually over the week he attached to us. He started to trust us and feel safe. I’ve got a really vivid memory from that time of sitting on the stairs with him in my arms whilst he screamed and fought me, his foster carer in the living room saying, ‘stay with him’.
How awful is it to have a screaming, upset baby in your arms? Now think that he’s not biologically yours, and you only met him the week before, oh and it feels like he hates you? I wanted to run away! I wanted to open the front door and run out of my own house until they, until HE, had gone. But ‘I stayed with him’ and eventually he fell asleep, cuddling into my chest, his hand clenched in an iron grip onto my jumper and I thought ‘I’m staying little man’.
It wasn’t an easy time. Squeak came with some health issues and reflux, really really bad reflux – I’ve never seen so much sick in my life! There was so much that I think it actually affected his relationship with Bubba. Bubba’s vomited four times in his entire eight years of life so suddenly having to deal with this screaming, angry baby constantly projectile vomiting traumatised him.
And he was tiny. He was so small. I was playing with him today and I thought, ‘You’re doing alright son. You’re my boy’. He’s already gone through and overcome so much in his life and I’m sure there’s much more to come. He has Global Development Delay, Cognitive Delay, we have assessments and genetic testing coming up, speech therapy and possibly physio. But do you know what? He’ll do it, he’ll smash it all and like his brother, he’s pretty amazing.
Four years ago I think I was full of hope, for the future and for the future of my boys. Today I’m still full of that hope, we may have a different future to what I’d imagined but I still believe despite all the challenges my boy will face, they can still have the world.
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