All About The Boy

I first met Justin, Jazz’s brother, when I took her to say a “goodbye forever” contact with him and her other brother Freddie.

Afterwards it felt all wrong. Freddie was going to be adopted by a lovely couple but Justin was in a children’s home aged seven. Considered “not suitable for adoption”.

I can’t tell the whole story here for fear of going on a bit, but after fighting for over six years including a court case, Justin came to live in a house next door to Jazz and on a long term therapeutic foster placement. The years of safe family life lost in that process and the lack of quality care in the time he waited was unforgivable.

Its been a hard struggle to take part in the parenting of two traumatised children as many adopters will know all too well, but I don’t regret it at all. Myself, my friends and family have provided security, continuity and love to him, particularly Claudia who bravely committed to being his main mum at a very young age herself.

Although living next door to each other the children were a part of each others lives every day, especially as neither of them attended school. The support they needed as individuals caused a lot of stressful and attention seeking behaviour from them both and I could see why the court made the decision they needed a mum each, as I was a single carer.

Many years have gone by and as things stand the pair of them are not particularly close due to Justin’s behaviour which caused Jazz a lot of upset when they were in their teens. I think she loves him despite this and they had many fun times together as children.

Justin is a lovely man and it’s his 21st birthday tomorrow. I wish I could have got him out of the children’s home sooner and I wish he hadn’t experienced the things he did whilst in there. I feel honoured that he considers us as home. I will always admire his gentleness despite the horrors he has experienced, as well as his amazing woodsman skills, trying his hardest to be the man of the house.

I feel a lot of respect to those adopters who parent siblings who are traumatised. I feel siblings should be together if at all possible and where there is no risk of further trauma by being together.

As in many areas of adoption so much more is possible with the right support in place.

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Absent Fathers Day

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.

History Is An Angel Walking Backwards Into The Future.

History Is An Angel Walking Backwards Into The Future

The Ships Mate. A handsome man with the blackest eyebrows. Olive skin, a sea heritage and five ladies he loved. A father and a husband. He was a brave man.

As his twenty eight year old body was ripped apart, his Young Wife sat at home nursing their baby. The Youngest daughter of four.

Did The Captain think it best they pull in the mine protecting the fishing fleets that toiled beside them…. Or was it just a deadly catch.The Ships Mate paid with his life. As the mines lethal contents blew him out of the water his family’s lives were changed forever.

The Ship Mates Youngest Daughter didn’t recall him, but held the scent of him deep within her brain. Six months lying against his chest made sure of that. She had his eyebrows and a hereditary something nobody would be able to tell her about. By the time it properly showed itself her tired, bereft Mother ( once a Young Wife) would have given up.

The Seaman’s Mission could put food on the table but they couldn’t explain why The Shipmates Youngest Daughter was different, why she raged and hit out and ran away. Not like the others they were good girls. Not her. Mental. Not all there. Subnormal.

The Ship Mates Youngest Daughter needed help for the hereditary thing that nobody knew…..but she got hell. Would The Ships Mate have murdered those that abused his Daughter in the name of care, if only he were there.The Youngest Daughter dreamed that he would and the rage grew.

The Youngest Daughter was thirty, adrift and drunk when the Stubborn Old Soldier saw the good through her defiant dark eyes and fell in love.

The Youngest Daughter became The Mother… Too many, too quick. No time to mourn the one in between that died as he came out of her early and onto the hallway carpet.

The Mother raged and cried and drank and laughed at things that weren’t funny. Like her fist in his face.

Stubborn Old Soldier was at a loss. His first wife, god rest her soul, was not crazy like this. Nor were his grown up children…had no trouble with them.

He had heard The Mothers vile tales of care and it scared the life out of him. More than the fear he felt in war. But his three young children were suffering. Wide eyed and shaking in the midst of loud and constant chaos. Their Granny (once The Young Wife) tried. Their Aunty (once the Eldest Daughter) tried. The Stubborn Old Soldier (once a War Hero ) tried.

But this war, a war in their collective minds, was lost and the challenge too big. The household crumbled under the violence and shame.

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

The only one The Mother could visit was the dead one. So she did. She howled to him of what could have been if only The Ships Mate were there.

The Stubborn Old Soldier and The Mother stayed together. He cared for her. He was dutiful. He saved The State a fortune. On a bad day he wished he had help but he wasn’t called Stubborn for nothing. The Mother felt her sentence daily, like a noose around her neck. Some nights she was sure Her Children visited her in her dreams but as the years passed their faces became mist. One unexpected day when they met Their Children, The Mother and The Father told them their story.

The Mother apologised but It didn’t make the pain go away. It sat in Their Children’s minds alongside the history written by The Strangers, that sat on their files.

Their Family History. Their Story, Their Reasons, It all knotted together to become an invisible anchor. Left by the The Ships Mate who couldn’t be there.

In Memory Of My Grandad.

In Memory of my Grandad