It’s been one of those weeks in an adopted family. The ones we all have. Everything went wonky and I feel as though I am living four lives all at the same time. It’s 11.52pm on Sunday and I had a great blog planned for The Weekly Adoption Shout Out. Instead all I can do is add a nice photo and know that that’s OK!
My Name is Jazz
blog number 10
when I was little I got taken away from my mum and dad and got put in lots of different foster homes and my last foster dad died.
So when mummy bear came to my foster mums and tuck me home with her
it was hard for my mum to go out with her friends because she had me at five years old and I found it hard to let go because all the shit that happened before all got stuck into my head. I guess I was pretty fuck up i think I throat she was not coming back or getting rally drunk.
I all ways felt Guilty for that because it is porsesiv but I never meant it in that way.
when I was 18 as u all no I moved up to my new house and I went to get a tattoo for my mum and it also was for to to keep going and knowing the fact u have got to have hopes.
my new sport workers was starting and because he was a boy I was terfind because of what happens to me when I was 16. I thort he was going to be a rally horribel guy but he wasent.
But he dissent work with us Ey more and we got a new person but it hard for me because I fell I cart be my self yet because she a girl and I think like a boy and fell I have to impress her like a peecox or a cemelion.
this week has been rally hard because I had to say bay to my dog Madge and we war best friends and mum had to go to London. and its the first time I have said goodbye and it is the first great time I have coppt with goodbye or death on my on and I’m not saying it was easy because it wasnt at all. I cry for a hour and more but it was the kindist thing u could do.
my faveent saying at the moment is
bigger better stronger power
My blog number 9
When I was five I met one of my best friends Emma and she has stuck bay me non stop when I got hurt she was sticking bay me pushing me thorugh it but when she was haveing a tuff time I was the same back.
my other best friend is Erin I met when I was eight. She is the same as me in some ways.
And we all stick to getter but now we are all rally good mates one of them just had a baby girl calld poppy she is a buttefull little thing I could have as a niece and my other best friend has just got engage Whooooo!!!!!
When we wear all little we usto play and mack plays up and we usto go to festivals and we usto help run the La rosa cafe it was grate fun and we been to see bands together.
Emma is the oldit’s then Erin then me but I like to think I’m top dog lol !!
I also like to think I’m their little brother haaaa!!!! Emma cols me uncle/anty Jazz to her baby poppy.
but the hard it’s thing about haveing them is crying in front of them but thay seen me cry and I seem Emma cry And Erin and it horibl but it good to let go. we never fallen out for long.
Here are all good bits off haveing friends
1. Felling loved and u fell that u love them back
2 all init together
3 protecting one and uther
4 been friends on Facebook
5 Been loyl to one anuther
6 playing together
7 crying together
8 texting one and uther
9. Felling prowd of one anuther
10 all ways been together no matter what
I fell rally prowd to bee ther friend and grow up together.
Its not always easy the whole friends and social thing for adopted children and adoptive parents. In our case making friends proved difficult for Jazz and keeping them hard for me.
Because our lives are not quite the same as an “average” family the things that are tricky for us are not often considered at all by others and why should they be. Things like the fact that your child may not be able to cope with generally accepted “age appropriate” topics in school or socially. We struggled continuously with television that despite being on before 9pm, tackled head on, subjects like drug use, violence, abuse and drinking…..oh how society loves to talk about and portray drinking and drunkenness like its the best and most amusing thing in the world. (In reality alcohol causes some of the worst problems in relation to health, crime, violence and child abuse).
As alcohol was a real problem to Jazz’s birth family it has remained a problem to her that is ingrained and almost impossible to shift. This makes content on television and out in the world socially, a minefield of potential triggers. Some of our worst moments have been having planned an event to within an inch of our lives, somebody is really drunk on the bus on the way there, or on the train or at the event when we get there. Why is it that they always want to talk or sit next to us?
Sometimes an innocent attempt at friend making by Jazz, for example to try to chat to a trendy young (under 18) shop assistant or fellow party goer results in them saying stuff like “Im so hungover I got completely trollied/stoned/off my head last night”
This is then followed by cries of “why can everybody else drink and take drugs and not me you’re ruining my life…its not fair…I hate you”. This would I guess be classed as normal teenage behaviour if it wasn’t for the fact that it was usually followed by hitting, spitting, breaking and melting down for up to a week.
The same thing happens with mobile phones and Facebook. We tried over and over allowing a mobile phone for years but each time it resulted in the desperate ringing, too often, of the few people I could trust to be in her address book. Then whenever she was feeling anxious a call would be made to 999. The last one resulted in the police turning up at my door (I didn’t know she had called) and as she was sixteen, them telling her the next time it happened she would be arrested.
Facebook has just entered the world of Jazz as she is chronologically 18. Its OK so far but I’m on pins wondering what she may see and how vulnerable she is to potential public criticism.
Its not that Im some old fashioned puritanical mum. I was a rebellious teenager myself (sorry mum!) and went out into the world with gusto as soon as I could. But for traumatised children the world has a different feel to it. Innocent people can cause triggering without having any idea what is going on for you, and this can include close family. At times I felt we had changed our lives to suit staving off trauma triggers so much that we were almost Amish.
In our therapy sessions we described me as being like an editor for Jazz between her and the outside world. When she was younger we had a code word to be used in public situations. If she felt triggered to anxiety she would say “spiders” to me and we would find a quiet spot to have a chat and try to breath back towards calmness.
This whole situation has made it hard for Jazz to make friends over the years as they soon drop her when she displays what seems like peculiar or embarrassing behaviour in public. The extent of this problem made school impossible for her and an overall nightmare for me. The overriding feeling for me was one of great sadness watching her innocently putting her little cheeky smiley self forward and being confused and sad as she was rejected by both individuals and peer groups.
Having a traumatised child also made it difficult for me to be accepted socially especially in new situations. Without explaining our whole life story by the school gate or at the sports day or by the hotel pool on holiday I would be judged as the “bad” mother who had parented my child in a away that made her thump their little treasure, poo in the bushes or kill the stick insect on the nature project.
In my own friends group some just found it too hard to stay around. Having been the friend with an open house and an open ear for years, suddenly arranging to see me was like a military operation…and at times a top secret “Hello Hello” style affair. Don’t say this, don’t mention that, whisper your information, excuse me whilst I keep half my eye, brain and concentration on what she’s doing whilst we try to speak. It some ways it has been like having to keep up the vigilance of a mother with a new born baby, but longterm.
The really positive thing out of it all is that for both Jazz and I the friends that remain, who have stood by us through years of ups and downs, are the best friends in the world. It makes me feel very emotional, in a good way, as Im writing this to think how much they have supported us and taken the learning and tricky bits out of our situation and turned them into gold. Im not sure they realise how supportive and crucial they have been.
I especially have the utmost respect for Jazz’s young friends who have shown their wisdom, knowing and loyalty from being very young and despite being tested to the limit. One of them is now a young married mum and the other newly engaged. We will always be there for them and support them in their family lives as they have done for us.
The journey of adoption has ups and downs for all. Last year was really tricky for us but we made it!
Furthermore we are stronger than ever. We took this photo after a big positive chat about how nothing was going to beat us.
Because its Father’s Day today I want to repost a previous blog about Jazz’s family. Family history can be a difficult issue in adoptive families. Sometimes information that comes via files, assessments and court proceedings is not enough to fill in the gaps or give a fair and rounded perspective on what led to such a major separation.
I feel we were lucky in that we could safely trace Jazz’s family and be given their story directly. This isn’t always possible or safe and adopters are not to blame for this. The local authority didn’t make it easy for us and I was extremely aware that it was a risk I was taking on my own.
Parts of Jazz’s family history are really sad. It’s not all hearts and roses and it is full of what if’s and if only’s. I have to constantly balance my anger at what Jazz’s Mum failed in and my empathy for her, and more importantly so does Jazz.
We have managed though and if it is at all possible to do it safely I recommend looking beyond the files (without informing your child at first), and doing some “who do you think you are” detective work of your own. Sometimes bits of information from beyond the point of ultimate tragedy striking a family can be very helpful in a child’s identity. Things like a grandparents name, a birth place, a family trade, a photograph.
These can be used positively to make life story work more rounded and perhaps a little less based in endings and separation.
My blog number 8
When I was a baby I think I was left hungry so when I was adopted mummy bear gave me a tin with food in it like
Fruit and bisects and stuff so I new I always had food.
If I get hungry I get rally upset and moody and angry I never like been hungry.
But them I got some meds
that mack me rally hungry all the time and it rally upsets me because when I was 5/15 I was fit and had a rally mussily body.
now I’m not fit and mussily but I will all ways love food but I rally dot like salad never have done never will lol!
my favourite helfey food is artichok and not helfey food is chip tea.
Me getting caught stealing food lol!
I remember thinking about it all during my preparation. I had decided to do a degree as a mature student before making the biggest commitment ever. My social work degree done as a young woman had taught me lots about work practices, organisational structures, social care and the politics of exclusion. I wanted to take that knowledge further and examine it in a more selfish and creative way to help inform my own personal future.
One of the themes I examined was the creation of narratives through the media and arts. Going back through history to the different representations of people’s voices and the creation of a given and fixed cultural history in that process.
In this country our adoption narrative is one which fairly consistently presents the idea of a fallen woman given “charity” through the permanent separation of her child from her. This progresses into the more emotive stories of children being removed from “feral” or “evil” families under the threat of death and being given to “good” families who look like models in the DFS catalogues.
Of course in stories there are truths, however buried under the “no grey area” headline or sound-bite presentation.
My daughters mother was cruel in her ignorance of appropriate care. My daughter was at risk of harm and was seriously harmed by this parenting. Her family and next of kin should have been supported much sooner. Her parents were not evil. However, with a permanent lack of budgets and a punitive social care system unprepared to mentor or invest, removal would have been kinder if done sooner.
For a young adopted child working out the complexities of their position is really tough. The set adoption narratives present themselves in everyday ways. Most adoptive parents know how often this can happen through the media, children’s stories, television, films and other people’s attitudes and opinions.
“You’re so good taking her on like you have.”
“Aren’t you a lucky girl getting such a good mummy”
I felt I would be helping my daughter prepare for her future identity as an adoptee if I could teach her the ability to question perceived and given truths and history. This could be done in lots of areas and in an age appropriate way. Why is something good or bad, a boys toy or a girls toy, a rich life or a poor life, a weakness or a strength?
I tried not to do it in a strident way but just opened up the possibilities to question and allow in the powerful feeling of personal choice.
In the quite early days this meant the ability to have a little mini me was short lived as my long haired, dress wearing daughter soon refused to buy girls clothes and became as certain as any fashionista in her individual shaved head style.
I also, as a vegetarian, had to cater for a prolific sausage and bacon eater.
We went to as many different cultural events and settings as possible. Art galleries, theme parks, classical music, pop concerts, Macdonalds, posh restaurants. Out of these experiences she was able to consider a wide choice of likes and dislikes, beliefs and disbeliefs.
As in any family the history and culture of that unit is strong and I’m sure as any parent I have forced my opinions in some areas. This has often been about what we consider to be good manners. She laughs to this day about me being a “posh twit” because I think spitting in the street is not cool or burping at the table is distasteful. More serious rules existed around behaviours or opinions which show racism or sexism. I feel proud and certain she carries with her good moral values in these areas that are of her own choosing.
Now that my daughter is eighteen and despite her struggling in many areas of her emotional development, I am sure she knows herself and has a strong self identity. She has, against the odds, successfully bridged the cultural gap between her two families and does not see one as “good” and the other “bad”. She has more of a sense of social politics than many people her age. She is confident in questioning and forming opinions.
Most importantly she can position herself in her own life story as a survivor of the unfairness and inequalities in life rather than a helpless victim born of bad blood.
Being an adoptive parent is a difficult balancing act at times. A natural wish to see your own family traits pass down but wanting to see your child’s heritage and genetic history remain intact and not be squashed or hidden.
We share lots of likes and dislikes and disagree on many things. She revels in her identity as a “Chav” and her view of me as a “posh twit” but we have one important shared personal and political view. We both love fairness and hate cruelty and we both love peace and hate war.
My blog number 7
When i was five and up I wasent aloud Facebook or twitter because its an 18 years old site.
But when I was going out in the real world I usto get rally annoyed because thay usto bee on face book or playing army games and it usto bee rally irating
I would bee putting on a brave face on like I said last week but I just fell rally Jelluls.
but then me and my mum would have a talk about it but some times
I will kick off Wich is horibal for my mum because she stars to fell quilted
for not letting me Wich is not nice for
Me or her.
when I see 13 to 18 yard old people holding hans kissing in the rain or in the snow like Spider-Man It marks me rally Jesus because I would do Ey thing to do that or have that.
now I’ve got Facebook but to walk down holding my love of my live hand and one day getting down on one leg in a hot tub saying will u marry me and been a mum/dad lol it will be the most perfect thing ever and i would fell prowd.
I some times Feel its because I’ve got specially needs In a sense like with my echamont desorda or am I rally ugley or would it bee ease to bee a boy and to shave all of my hair of but then I look at some pictures of me and I think Im looking rally fit pictkeley when I’m cruising with my cap backwards and with my eye brow shaved and the side of my head shaved to. I think that skally look is rally cool.
I think Facebook is reely good and reely bad for teenagers.