The F***** Up Kid

When I was 4 I was all ready damage but I got put in a foster home and then when I was five I got adopted by mummy bear and I felt like I could not trust Ey one. I still dont and what has been left in this damage person is nothing but Under denial anger and I fell so angry with how I was left buy mum fuck up mum and I just hate her so much but love her to. I have rally dark thoughts like chainsaws blood clown and and fell like a big massive ball off anger and Anxiety and I’m left with felling scared. I so fucking angry the fact I was born in to a crap mum and born with the hobble feelings ad left with fear off every one leaving me and not been there.

And I lash out a lot atm because I keep on having these felling shite and I hate been like this to all off my FRIENDS and I crave not felling like this ad I fell I just won’t to bee normal and not to have Under denial felling and I keep on try my best and be brave ad carm and strong then it hits my rally hard it like a masive cut all over my chest and it herts like spiderman has and fell like it’s not going to go a way.

And a plaster not going to help or Stitches or ey thing I fell like an x army person and I fell so much in pine and I’m hurting and I blame my berth mum because if she tried hard in nuff I would not have this masive cut on my chest and it’s not small it right a cross my chest and I fell like runny a way from it and go and try and heal it some how and I cart sleep when mum is not hear or next to me and this is so pine full ad I cart deal with it ey longer and its my mummy bear get the shite end off the stick from stupid mother fucker or sould I say the head fucker.

And it’s not fear on mummy bear but she is the one how I can show it to and Kat gets the shite end off the stick to and I sick off felling like it. I just going to say I do not deserve my mummy bear how is so good to me and my berth mum will never hear that from me or the words hey look Iv for given u or the truth is I love u ad need u. what she will hear is I hate u I will not bee your kid u will never be as good as mummy bear and it’s all your folt ad I still fell like this after 15 years so get out off my life. I still burning ad hurting after 15 years and my anger has not been solved.

hang on I think I need to cam down but I’m just f**** off

I need to pull up my socks ad get some help. that girl needs therapy lol

But I fell if I don’t have berth mum I would not be a live but I won’t to cum out off mummy bears tummy I also need to get some help ad ad to be brave ad srong and put the past in the past and tack risks and be a better person and count my blessings and be thank full I’m loved and got rabbits ginny pigs dogs cats the not like some people high rise with nothing ad I’ve got support workers and a good strong stable Friends and family how love me and would do ey thing for me

The end

Developing Community Awareness As A Charity

In the process of developing our charity The Open Nest over the past eighteen months we have had to consider what our longterm aims and intentions are to be. What did good adoption support to families in crisis mean to us as a group of trustees?
We knew it meant many obvious things like therapeutic input, expert school support and regular short breaks, but we also knew that adoptees and adopters first needed true acknowledgement of their stories in order to be offered the correct support.

My immediate research focus a year ago, having survived a near adoption breakdown and the intense parenting of a child with severe attachment disorder and developmental delay, was to raise awareness. I had felt so isolated and stuck in a cycle of seeking non existent help. I wanted to speak out and find a way as a charity to tell ours and others stories.

I had watched and got frustrated over fifteen years at how little some of the big players in adoption policy forming and support had achieved in giving families such as ours a valid voice. A voice that wasn’t hidden in consultation rooms, select committees, university research papers or the odd shock horror ‘violent adopted child injures poor parent’ feature.

As a minority group being acknowledged at all, even if a bit behind the scenes, is better than nothing. But then sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the denial of the whole truth of your existence makes things a lot worse. It means our stories are stifled and unable to become normalised enough to be accepted in the mainstream community. The effects of this is that well meaning folk who are teaching, practicing medicine, doing social work and doing our assessments, can’t recognise what attachment and trauma stuff, looks, feels and sounds like. Well meaning ignorance can be dangerous. It leads to adopters being perceived as failing or to blame for their child’s struggles. This in turn makes seeking help from professionals fraught and very unhelpful for either side. The adoptees basic human rights to support are often completely lost in this structural failure.

It’s not easy to describe supporting a child with serious anxiety and mental health issues around loss and fear. Some of it is ugly and scary and profoundly sad. As parents we can sometimes present as negative and irritable. This is because we are doing an intensive care job without a managed structure of support or supervision and mostly without a break. We are often scared. If you listen carefully and for long enough to hear us properly through the strains of pent up desperation, you will hear something important to modern adoption in the UK.
Many of us are filled with love, commitment and fierce protection of our children. Despite the difficulties we are inspired and improved by our children and their will to want to succeed. We are the ones most aware of the potential within our children (and sometimes their birth families) if given the right support. As such, it is heartbreaking not seeing your child thrive and your plans for nurturing them turn into basic survival and damage limitation.

I have spoken to lots of struggling adoptive parents over this last year and there is a theme that runs through the very individual and different stories. The parents want the best for their children whom they love but are seriously frightened that without the correct help they may lose them. The irony of their children facing the potential loss of two families in their childhoods is not lost on them. These particular thoughts used to keep me awake at night paralysed with fear. During those times I often thought of my daughters mother and realised something we may have in common. Struggling within our family to the extent we think social services might come and take our child away from our home and family rather than fully and meaningfully support us. I often wondered how that would be explained to my child when she was grown up:

“Your first family were not able to keep you safe. Your emotional and developmental needs were not being met. We tried everything to help them but they could not accept or work with our interventions and were not cooperative. We removed you for your own safety under child protection guidelines.
Then your second family were not able to keep you safe. Your emotional and developmental needs were not being met. We tried everything to help them but they could not accept or work with our interventions and were not cooperative. We removed you for your own safety under child protection guidelines.”

Knowing her as I do, she would definitely blame herself. She’s super bright despite the labels attached to get her through the system. She understands systems and complexity. But as default she ultimately blames herself when she can’t see the honest responsible adult.

I would of course have explained to her in detail that it was certainly not her fault. I would answer the many “why”? questions and find myself blaming the social services or the government or her mother or culture or society, or our family, or a mixture of them all which I guess is about near the truth.

So with all that in mind our first works as a charity have been aimed at awareness raising. For adoption support to be relevant, effective and empathic it takes adoptive families who struggle to share information with both policy makers but also importantly to support charities and a wider society.

We plan to use the mediums of film, written word, spoken word, photography, animation and artwork to tell our stories in a way that is fresh, new and accessible to all. Some of our productions are hard hitting in the sense that they address difficult truths but they are also dignified, positive, without blame and delivered with great hope for change. Slowly but surely.

We welcome all families and individuals touched by adoption to contact us if they wish to work with us on any of our future projects. We are currently accepting ideas, photographs, films and artworks on themes of loss/trauma for our travelling exhibition ‘Severance’ which is booked to be shown in The University of Sunderland Art Gallery in September 2014 and then at Family Futures in London in November 2014. We are also negotiating future bookings in Leeds and Newcastle.

For further information please email us at



My Name Is Jazz: Attachment And Security

Mummy bear is my bestis right hand girl
When I was a baby I was left quite a lot and if I’m left even for a mint now I panic and it gives me flash backs to mum leaving and fell like no one cares and they going to die or get mederd are hert them self and then I get silly and lash out and I chew a lot and say things I don’t men. my mummy bear is my life and she is like my body when I hear her Harte beet and I smell her it makes me fell safe and can be carm and my self and not fell pankey and I think some times wen I’m without mum I fell more like a tuff guy and I have to bee.

I rally don’t like Monday whenday Thursday firday because I don’t Like been in my own
And pitkley on a Monday because I fell more a wake and uther peppel are a wake and that pankis me because I fell temted to to wake them up and jump in with them because I love to fell uther pepels Harte beets and Abel to smell them and I’ve allwhys loved skin to skin baskley u could hold hands or head to head or bum to bum or leg to leg but it could be clashed as unappropriet and I hate I cart be clouse to peppel but the number one person I love to do that with is my best mate Erin or mum or my dog coco she is my staffie.


Wen mum is not hear my chest berns and it feel like a grate big war wood and when I see her it goes. she is like my drug like some peppel like weed or codeine or herring and when she is not hear I crafe her like I don’t no what so I chew more say and say things I don’t mean a some time atack peppel wich is mean but I some time crafing the moment with my mum I will just do Ey thing to see her she Is my right hand man and she is my onley person I would tell Ey thing to and I will have no shame of telling when it’s to do with some think rally bad and she is the oley person I don’t tell lies to or be dissobits to but some times she has to push me to the limited.

I crafe her kiss and her hugs all week and I think about 24 7 and I’m so sked she going to die or get merdond i totrters my self and I all ways say I don’t love my mum and I hite her but I love her more then my self and my uther firends and famley.

I some time think if my dad can die than mum will and it hertz so bad to the pont I some times hert my self on pepuss and atcley sick and shaky and That’s when I look up bad things and crave weed because I need some think to replace it and keep out of my head.

To this day I fell so qultey that she could just say right I’m going out for the night and see a fiend or some one I’m like one of the guys who are so psevive because I’m so sked she won’t come back.

But she went on holiday and left me for a frew days and I did rally well but don’t get me rong it was tuff and I love it at 6 on a Tuesday night and 11 on saturday morning because I so happy to be with her and fell supper safe we are like a married cuppel just with out the sex and songing lol



£150 Million And Counting

Like many of us involved in adoption I watched Channel 4’s programme about the process on Thursday.

Its hard not to comment in some way when the issues highlighted affect your own life and those you love.

What I feel most comfortable doing is telling our own family story, which for most of us is what informs our opinions. There is no one set right opinion just as there is no one set experience.

I feel my own personal experience makes watching adoption programmes very difficult. I have come to see many flaws in the system that I feel can potentially dehumanise those involved.

I trained and qualified as a social worker several years before I adopted and after working in the voluntary sector went on to further my education by doing a cultural studies degree. This was a discipline that analysed the way in which groups and ideas are presented, and at worst demonised, through popular culture and media including newspapers and television.

Having gone through an amicable divorce from my school days sweetheart I felt, in fact I felt I needed, to become a parent. I believed my knowledge of the care system and open mind would stand me in good stead to adopt. My assessment highlighted my strengths in knowing how to ask for support and from whom. In my naivety I believed once my adopted child and I were settled I might meet someone and have the birth children I had always planned as well as maybe adopt again.

One of the first questions I asked when at the point of matching was;

“Are you sure you have done enough to help the mother. I don’t want to be in a situation where a struggling working class family lose their child to a middle class family because we have more resources and they weren’t supported”

This question came directly from my experience of seeing and taking part in social work assessments where, without doubt, some class judgements were made despite “anti oppressive practice” training.

I was reassured that everything possible had been done. The reassurance definitely came with the half smiling ‘oh one of those feminist, loony lefty poor souls with misguided empathy’. (And who would need empathy in the adoption process!).

Once my adopted daughter arrived the enormity of dealing with her needs was overwhelming. Without going into it (again) I struggled for years begging for help which never came. I became the single mother that wasn’t managing. The mother whose child couldn’t behave or manage school, the mother who was unemployed and couldn’t pay her bills, the stressed out angry with the authorities mother.

During that time I worked like a trooper to better our situation. I remortgaged my house, I home educated, I visited the Doctor about stress related illness (for both of us). I did car boots to earn money. I also read lots of Dan Hughes and Caroline Archer and tried to parent therapeutically the best I could in the circumstances.

People tut tutted at us in the street as my little girl picked fag buts off the floor to smoke, banged into people, swore and spat on the floor. I knew what they were thinking of me.

A couple of years into the placement I had an overwhelming feeling that if I were to be a good parent to her the chasm of nothingness and disjointed paperwork that was the history she came with, had to be better informed. I needed the back story. I had the ‘knowledge’ that her parents were horrible, uncaring, violent, dangerous. I couldn’t go to certain towns that were quite near us in case the devil people might bump into us and god knows what might happen.

I searched for her parents without her knowing. I felt that I might be a bridge between her past and future, I felt it might shock me, but I knew I had to see the ‘truth’ with my own eyes. I was pooping myself in case they might want to hurt me for ‘stealing’ their child.

I found them to be warm, friendly, poor, uneducated, unable to admit their faults very easily, proud, stubborn, funny, annoying and bluntly truthful.

Eventually after meeting them on lots of occasions and talking to them often, I took Jazz to meet them when she was eight years old. The omnipresent spectre of her ‘ghost parents’ disappeared that day. It wasn’t all hearts and flowers and it never will be. She didn’t love me less or them more. She did forgive herself.

The rest as they say is history, our history of two families who have worked together for the three children involved. It hasn’t been easy and there is nearly always fall out after contact. It’s the goodbyes that are hard. Of course we argued and had different opinions and sometimes fell out. But what family doesn’t. There have also been moments of intense and overwhelming love between us all.

Finally, this year, aged 54, my daughters mum got her learning disability assessment. It took us years to fight for it together. Despite all the local authority involvement in her life, being in care as a child, going to a ‘special’ school, nobody had bothered to do it even when she fell pregnant with her first child. Now she has benefits and the sympathetic daily support that may crucially have helped her children over twenty years ago.

The mistruths and judgements in her records have also been challenged and sit more honestly for her daughter to read one day.

In the new adoption drive £150 million pounds was taken from the fund that does early intervention work with struggling families. Some of it has shifted to adoption promotion. Adoption of a removed child saves the Government on average £25,000 every year of that child’s life to adulthood. It IS an industry with budgets at its heart in MY opinion. If it were truly all about the children many of the questionable practices we see as adopters would change.

I do not advocate contact in all circumstances and especially if there is no professional therapeutic support for ALL involved…which there isn’t at a time of no budgets to even get basic help through CAMHS and Education for adopted children. But I believe in the right circumstances it can help development, healing, history, identity and can resolve some of the ‘gaps’ in knowledge children can feel. Sometimes it might ultimately provide a more healthy goodbye from a child than was previously possible.

My adopted daughter has certainly gained from contact, warts and all and some of that has simply been transferring her feelings of failure to her mother where they rightly belong.

So my personal questions about Channel 4’s latest adoption documentary are;

1. With one child removed every 20 minutes from its birth family how are we as a rich and ‘civilised’ society going to successfully address the needs of failing families on behalf of all children?

2. Do many of the parents and extended families of the approx 26,208 removed children a year deserve to lose seeing their children for good? It seemed to me that at least three parents shown were compliant enough to have assured and legal rights of therapeutically managed contact even if adoption is considered best.

3. When adoption with little or no birth family contact is considered best, why is there still no legislation to give guaranteed and appropriate support to adopted children and families who struggle?

4. Where were the parents social workers, especially the young mum who seemed to need safeguarding herself?

5. It surely would have been more empathic if the adoption team workers didn’t look quite so happy at receiving a grieving woman’s baby whilst describing it as being an ‘easy adoption’.

In adoption circles, the community and professionals often emphasise the need for parents to be looked after, healthy and mentally well themselves in order to do their best for the children. I wholeheartedly believe this to be true……for all parents.

We Are Not Having A Breakdown….But

It’s been a week of talking to adoptive parents who have called The Open Nest in very very difficult circumstances. People who really don’t know what to do about keeping themselves and their children safe or how to successfully access the support they desperately need. Not one of these parents blamed their children but some of them felt they were living half lives.

That’s the thing about research that shows that approx 5% of adoptions break down, it doesn’t account for the half lives.

Then a fellow Tweeter asked the question “what constitutes good post adoption support?”. The responses in general showed that no matter what the intended changes to adoption being discussed by focus groups (and mainly men in suits), the help is needed now. Many people can’t wait for pilots and politics. Children who have had no choice in their destiny need good, empathic and meaningful support as and when it is needed. These children can be seriously damaged by the fumbling about in the dark policy and practice that many local authorities seem to try and pass off as post adoption support.

I spoke to a lovely social worker recently who made what I think is a really valid point. She said that it seems that there is loads of professional expertise out there and many very knowledgeable adoptive parents but somehow nobody seemed to be able to bring the two parties together. As if parents and professionals were on opposite sides of a big divide.

We hope to work together on trying to at least cross this divide in our area. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime I keep asking myself, why is it so difficult?

Dan Hughes (poor Dan, I always use his name in vain…I do believe in Dan Hughes, I do I do…) seems to be the main attachment and trauma guru that we parents and professional in the field of adoption pay to read from and listen to. There can be nobody, not even Mr Gove, who doesn’t believe and understand that many adopted children need attachment and trauma based therapeutic interventions at home and in school and yet it becomes like the holy grail when many of us try to access it. It has to be about the money. There is no other logical reason I can think of. If we had the money we could buy support.

We will have to see if we get the money through the planned adoption personal budgets scheme sometime in the undetermined future.

In the meantime we can’t pay the ferryman to cross the divide towards expert support and some of us, most importantly our children, are left wandering the shores of trauma waiting….and it can sometimes feel like a hundred years.

In the meantime we are going to keep our resilient chins up and fight the good fight. There is an amazing adoption community on social media, all sharing our individual experiences. We can effect change if we shout loud enough and our voices are valid.
To help us develop a user led support service which we can hopefully then use to become part of the National debate on post adoption support we have started an independent survey. Please take part if you can and/or register with us via email if you wish to become part of a parents campaigning group.

Apologies for lack of live links in this post. Still learning on that one! Any advice gratefully received.

My Name Is Jazz: My Work

Me At Work


I work at a animal recque place. I some time find it hard because it brings some fellings up like me been recque by mummy bear bear but I love it because it giving not tacking all the time. I all so find it hard because the animals have been mist triad so like I said it brings flash backs but my favour dog is Harry he is a staff+ Rocwrler+ German Shepard and he loves me and he likes going on long walks with me and he likes hugs and kiss.                                                                                                        But he is like me he dissent like his head been touch and cart have his water in with him because when I’m not ther he throws it a round the place lol! then there is Rusty he like to walk to. he is my second fav because he a staff+. Ridgeback and when he Duse a poo he spins around in serculls 3 time wich macks me laugh. he barks a lot then there is Tyson he is a Gary Hound he like to jump a round and pea up every thing. then there is Roma he is a lurcher. he is very cuddle and soft and ten ther is 7 ginny pigs but my fave is rusty and patch. patch is my best fav because he is inquisitive he like to explor and go in my hat and sit on my hear and be hold like a baby. Rusty like to be on his on like a popper man lol! then we got 3 geese and hens and ducks they do what birds do. then we got a blind goat. he got the foot and math desees and then 3 cats smokey Tom and stripey and finly 3/4 rabbits. I just love it

Standing Up For Adopters

As adoptive parents we become aware of loss quickly. The process of adoption may or may not begin with personal loss but certainly the day somebody else’s child arrives in our home we are acutely aware of their loss. Sometimes we can feel it in their rigid bodies or see it in their eyes.

Even more naive and less prepared adopters understand that the challenges ahead will require parenting skills and nurturing above and beyond that which is usually required.

I believe adoptive parents are on the whole, big hearted, brave, resilient and good humoured people. We come to adoption for individual and varied reasons. With much mindfulness and faith we open our arms and hearts to children who very often cannot accept our love or trust us very easily.

Many of us have more empathy for a birth families loss than we are given credit for. This lack of credit for our emotional intelligence often extends to the way we are viewed by the professionals that “deal” with our children at school, in health services and social care. Sometimes sadly this even extends to our own wider families. It is still very difficult, despite years of public reporting, political rhetoric and charity awareness raising on the issues that adoptees may face, for those not immediately and directly involved to truly get “it”.

As well as awareness of birth families loss, adopters are highly aware of the loss of budgets to schools and mental health services. We are aware of the publics loss of faith in social workers and social workers loss of training and confidence in their authorities to back them fully.
We understand the loss to local authorities of adequate government fed resources to deliver quality services to those in need.

However, as adopters we need to be able to concentrate fully and exclusively on responding to our children’s individual loss and need without concerning ourselves too much with how difficult, expensive or time consuming it is for everyone else to deal with the issues of adoption or adopted children.

If you are parenting somebody else’s child who is traumatised, has development delay or was considered to be “hard to place” it is life changing. It truly is intensive care and there is rarely anything in the process of adoption assessment or preparation that actually prepares you for the enormity of the task.

I have been an adoptive parent in an open adoption and a long term therapeutic foster parent over many years. I have seen most sides of the care and adoption story. It has been confusing at times to consider the merits of foster care above adoption or adoption above local authority care. It’s a difficult balance to understand a birth parents feelings whilst taking part in healing their traumatised child.

The single most confusing issue I feel I have had to deal with is the astonishing and offensive disparity between professional discourse and inter agency spending to create discourse around adoption issues, and any enshrined duty to support and train adopters who are essentially the expert frontline workers for adoptees, regardless of the politics of the day.


Right Hand Girl



I banged on about support and lack of it, to us and others last week and sometime soon will write a more positive post about support options.

Today though, I wanted to point out that one of the greatest sources of support to me has been Jazz. She has always been able to laugh in the face of adversity and is one of the most honest people I have ever met. I know I’m a better person for having met her and she is my biggest teacher.

Her smile would get me through most things and I’m so glad we’ve had each other in our lives.

It’s All In My Head

When my daughter was really quite young and struggling a lot, she used to say to me “there’s something wrong with my brain….if you opened up my head and looked inside at it you would believe me “.
I knew there was something wrong but all medical checks showed no brain damage as such and no physical reasons for her lack of impulse control and rage.

I was happy, at first, to see her behaviour as an expected, perhaps reasonable response to the lack of control and choice she had endured and resulting in her becoming adopted by me wether she liked it or not.
After researching about attachment and trauma I was lucky (and it was luck) to find a brilliant therapist through the NHS. Geraldine was a practitioner of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. Part of a fairly elite institute headed by Dan Hughes, she worked together with my daughter and I on strengthening our attachment and problem solving.

I was cynical at first as previous therapies such as art therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy as well as reward systems had made the situation worse.
We had the therapy with Geraldine over eight years, it then had to stop as Jazz reached adult age. I believe it was our only professional guiding light. We miss it and need it to this day. Our sessions were sometimes filmed and sent to Dan Hughes for feedback. It made us proud to be told we worked well together as a team and although I find it a little bit embarrassing we gave our permission for some of our film to be used to train others in positive attachment based parenting.

I am now convinced that if children experience constant chaos, fear, violence and uncertainty it does affect the brain development.
Once Jazz was old enough to understand the concept we went to see Camila
Batmanghelidgh speaking about brain development and trauma. It really helped Jazz to have an explanation for why she found things difficult. It meant she wasn’t “bad” or “naughty” as she had often previously felt. She met Camilla who has since been a great icon and support to her personally and our also to our charity.

The cure for this “brain damage”? The only cure it seems is consistent therapeutic loving care. The research shows that the brain can change and wired in, trauma based emotional responses, can be rewired, given the right therapeutic support. It is believed the brain is more flexible to change up until a person is in their mid twenties. This knowledge gave me hope and kept me going through some dark times when I felt I wasn’t capable of helping my daughter at all.

The difficulty is in getting this specialist support as an adoptive parent. Some big adoption charities bring Dan Hughes over to train and speak to us at a price, but mention him to your local CAMHS service and they may not have even heard of him. To get training in a group is costly, to get an assessment and intensive support for your child from a specialist agency can cost up to £30,000 per year.

Trying to explain trauma based behaviour to friends, family or school teachers without professional agency backup can bring about the glazed look that tells you they are not convinced or willing to commit to “your” strange ideas.

Not all adopted children have faced traumatic experiences alongside the obvious one of losing your family, but as society changes the chances of substance abuse, alcoholism and resultant child neglect leading to adoption is increasing. Professionals at , report this as an adoption support agency who also bring Dan Hughes in on courses to train professionals and parents.

I’ve said it before, many times, and I’ll say it again. If attachment theory, developmental trauma and therapeutic parenting are concepts that are supported by government funded charities, and organisations working with these concepts are praised by the adoption tsar, when are us on the ground going to be graced wholeheartedly with this support on behalf of our children?
Why are we still having to ask for post adoption support around trauma and treated as if we are being unreasonable, as if it were a new fangled concept we had come up with from an obscure specialist book in a tiny specialist library.

I know of parents of autistic children who have fought over many years to be supported and their children understood. Autism is now, after much campaigning, an understood condition that at least people have heard of if nothing else. That alone can help in getting empathy and understanding in everyday life.

Us adopters talking about trauma and violence, and difficulties and fear, does not match well with government funded agencies such as the current government funded advertising campaign to recruit more adopters. The general brief seems to be to promote positive stories of happy families and new opportunities.

As an adoption community who parent children with emotional difficulties we must be allowed to keep talking and not be told we are the unfortunate few. At best we are seen in the media as “charitable” long suffering martyrdom people and at worst hysterical and incapable middle class parents.

If we truly are in a minority of incapable naive carers, then why is funding services for us to be better for our children’s sake so scary? Surely a small amount would fix the problem…a drop in the ocean to keep traumatised children safe.

If the majority of adoptees reach adopters well adjusted and happy, why does Dan Hughes keep being expensively wheeled out, and flown across continents, year upon year to teach us…. the ignorant minority?


Who Mothers The Mothers?



When I told my Mum I was thinking of adopting I’m sure she was worried but graciously hid her concerns. I’m sure she was aware of the naivety with which I set foot but encouraged me every step of the way.

It began and has continued with adoption and childcare related articles arriving in the post. She was like a one women research unit sending facts, figures and examples, both good and bad. Like a strange sooth sayer, articles from her would arrive on subjects I was just about to consider, or inspiring stories precisely when I needed cheer-leading.

Other times parcels would be sent or given. I had become unemployed very quickly as my daughter could not manage school and money was tight. Cat food, homemade jam, socks, wellies, cake, vegetables, children’s books, vitamins, seeds. Quirky but perfect if you know us.

She didn’t get cross or even mildly irritated when my six year old put weed killer all over her store of home baking in the freezer. Nor did she bat an eyelid when the window got put through on the day we dog sat.

Very quickly my Mum became a key figure in my daughters life. Like a Zen Granny, patient, curious and non reactive. Where others more expert and professional would flounder in the face of extreme behaviour she just was. Gentle and unflustered. It was as if she had graduated with a PHD from the university of Dan Hughes  in between the supermarket and cooking everyone’s tea.

At the times when I was so pushed to my limit that I wanted to explode, I would bring her to mind. I would also say her name to my daughter when she felt the same. At the moments we wanted to kill each other I would say, “Imagine Granny was here”.  It was as if in our atheist household she was the head of The Karma Fairies, an omnipresent but forgiving goddess.

I hid lots of things from my Mum. The extent of our struggles and the intensity of the drama that played out over the years. It felt like one of those necessary  lies. The type that kindly prevents the worrying and sleepless nights that particularly Mothers are prone to. But the truth was revealed quite suddenly and without edit when we hit a crisis so major it was undeniable.

As ever she took it on the chin and loved my daughter more at a time when others struggled with feelings of protecting me above all else. The non judgement was precisely what was needed. The articles that arrived became more political and in them an unsaid encouragement to me to fight back, to not give up, to know we were right.

As my daughter is transitioning into adulthood I am reflecting on what we have learnt and using that to inform us on how we may best be able to support others.

Part of that reflection is the realisation that I couldn’t have survived without the support of my Mum. It makes me wonder about the mothers who do not have the support from their Mums (or mum figures) either in the present or through the maternal lines of their history.

My Mum could teach me because her mum taught her and with this I can be a good enough mum myself.

It makes me worried that some mums, birth, adoptive, and foster may have to rely on the state for support in the absence of an available/financially solvent parent. The state as the surrogate mum that is at times more a cruel and stingy nanny. A morally bereft mum that judges and ignores and doesn’t listen properly.

Us mothers are often pitted against each other in the complicated dialogue of neglect and care. But the more we fight together for early intervention to mother the mothers, the more the wheels of karma may be oiled and the safer our children and our children’s children will be.