Star and the London Bus

Star was very excited to be visiting my brother and his wife in London.

Despite growing up in suburbia I have never driven through central London, we always use the train and tube instead.
So we set off one chilly December morning, with our warm coats, hat, gloves and a backpack full of Christmas presents. For the hour and a half long journey to “Uncle Robin’s.”

“Oh that will be so exciting for the children,” said lots of our friends.

And it was exciting.

Public transport is also fairly challenging if a you a child who struggles with transitions.

We spend a lot of our lives thinking about, planning for and dealing with transitions.

On some days, literally

every

single

one.

Going to the toilet, washing hands, clothes off, clothes on, slippers on, slippers off, shoes on. Eating breakfast, drinking juice, finishing breakfast.

On the days when I do the morning school run and then go straight into work I feel like I have done a full day by 9.15am!

We try to use lots of strategies: “now, next” boards, signing, encouragement, giving Star a choice where possible, but there are some days when nothing seems to work.
At school, they have similar issues. And it was strangely therapeutic for us to hear experienced teachers tell us how they had used all the strategies from the professionals (the Ed psych, the SALT, the SENCO) to no avail.

We were sat at parents evening to be told of a morning when Star would not stop playing with the mud kitchen.

For forty-five minutes she had been happily scooping mud from one ladle to other and she didn’t want to stop.

Her Teaching assistant tried everything.

The sand timer.

The now and next board.

Signing “finished.”

Then the teacher was called

And then, Headteacher was called out of a meeting.

She came in her high heels down to the reception playground, to tell our daughter it was time to stop playing with the mud.

And what do you think Star did ?

Completely ignored her.

Another day at school, another transition. She was asked to do something she didn’t want to. So she ran into the toilets, locked the door went under the cubicle to the next stall, locked it too, sat in the far corner and LAUGHED at the teacher.  [It is a mark of how much Star has changed me that instead of being completely mortified by this defiance, I thought – that is actually really clever. She had managed to get the only place in the reception classrooms where they could not reach her.]

So I think you can imagine why, with some trepidation, we set off on our journey of one overground train, two underground trains and half a mile walk.

On the whole Star did pretty well.

On our way home, we decided to board a double-decker bus for three stops to save the children’s legs from more walking. They were so excited to climb to the top and watch the hustle and bustle of Islington High Street below them.

We tried to prepare Star that we needed to get off soon.

But predictably, it was far too short a trip on the top deck for her.

Some of us had made it to the pavement, when the bus driver was about to pull off with an unhappy Star and Eddie still on the top deck. My sister-in-law alerted the driver to wait and Star was told us with some urgency

“We need to get off now, Star.”

At which point she turned around and addressed all the passengers of the top deck of the bus

Off NOW”

 

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I first saw Star’s face two years ago today…..

Adopting Star

It was a very ordinary Friday in mid December . I came home after a brain-numbing day at work, collected the children from school and they settled down in front of the TV and I snuggled on the sofa and got out our I pad.

We had been approved as adopters just over a month before. We had created a profile of ourselves for a site called Adoption Link. It included some pictures of us and our house, a paragraph about us and the child we were looking for, we had to put ticks and crosses in little boxes regarding the sorts of problems we might be able to manage in a child, looking for a forever home.
You can view stats on the site. Such as how many people had viewed our profile. How many children we were linked with and how many links each child had.
For the…

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A Tale of Two Nativities

Two years ago, our son Ben was cast as Joseph for the reception class school nativity. The two weeks beforehand were incredibly nerve-racking. Little Ben would come home from school crying that he didn’t want to be Joseph.

He wanted to be a sheep. I spoke to his teacher and she assured me that he was really enjoying rehearsals and knew all of his lines.

But at home the tears continued. The lines were rehearsed the costume was bought, Ben agreed to be Joseph and then changed his mind, then agreed again.

He was so nervous on the morning of the dress rehearsal that they allowed me to come into to school to watch him.

He was fabulous.

Mary was played by a four-year-old who did a brilliant impression of a stroppy pregnant teenager, complaining, “But I am tired do we have to go?”

In came Ben right on cue:

“I’m sorry Mary but we do, our little donkey will carry you.”

On the night of the main performance I arrived a little distracted. I had checked my phone every five minutes all day, as I was desperately hoping to be called by a social worker, regarding a little girl with Down Syndrome who needed a forever family. Her name was Star, I had seen her picture and spoken to her social worker, who had seemed so enthusiastic, but then had not called back.

As I sat in the chair waiting for the performance to start, I wondered where Star was, who was looking after her and where she would be this time next year.

4 months later, Star came home to us.

Continue reading “A Tale of Two Nativities”

“She Adopted a Downs Kid”

It was a sunny summer’s evening when I walked up the lawn of my colleagues’  front garden to join the celebrations for his wedding. I was greeted by a group of retired doctors and their wives.

Aneena, a retired practice nurse, asked after my family and especially Star. I spoke about what they were getting up to now, how Hannah had been in a dance show, Ben loved football and how Star had loved our holiday on the beach, was learning new words and getting ready to start school. I am not sure if some of the group could hear me above the noise of the band and the celebrations. The conversation came to a natural close and I said goodbye and went to find the newly weds to congratulate them. As I walked away I heard Aneena say loudly to the group:

“She adopted a Downs kid.”

Continue reading ““She Adopted a Downs Kid””

What No One Told Me…

From the perspective of a foster carer. So thankful for those foster carers who love the precious lives entrusted to them like this .

lovingtheleastofthease

Before we started doing Foster care we had a somewhat ‘butterfly and rainbow’ view of Foster care and adoption. Our so called training only exemplified that view.

No one shared the nitty gritty painful horrible reality that could lay ahead. No one told me that babies brought into care in the first year of life can be so broken, so hurt, so battered, even as much as their older counterparts. No one told me that damage done in utero and in the first year of life could have detrimental lifelong impacts. No one told me about secondary PTSD, about the nightmares, about the strange and horrible feelings I could have from hearing about and seeing the effects of the horrors this child went through. No one told me about the judgement from others. The judgement of the first parents, the judgement of how we are raising this child, the judgement…

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