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Four months down… Parents evenings, Reviews, social worker visits, PEPs and Medicals…

24 Oct

**Warning – this is a long post… but hopefully intersting/useful and I’ve left a nice bit at the end! ūüôā **

I am so proud of what our kids have achieved in the past four months! New parents, new family, new house, new school, new bedrooms, new friends… just about everything in their lives changed and their world was turned upside down in June and yet, yesterday we were the proudest parents in the world when they both got glowing reports from their teachers at parents evening. ¬†To be honest – Our Kids ROCK!

To top it all off our big little one stood up in assembly at school yesterday – in front of the whole school, all the teachers and the head teacher and read out a piece of writing done in literacy and received an achievers certificate from the Headteacher for the stone age house and model homework we had completed together as a family.

I realise that I have neglected the blog a little over the past 3 weeks or so, but family life kind of took me on a little bit of a whirlwind for a while. Not only have we experienced our first bout of child illness in the house hold – this also spread to both us parents. I can confirm that the delightful Hand, Foot and Mouth virus which many kids pick up from school environments is really not very delightful for children or for the adults they pass it on to! We somehow managed to contain the infection from spreading to big little one, but little one is still showing some signs of spots on the face and mouth, although everything else has cleared up. I was surprised that the Nurse said there was no need to keep them off school and they could go straight back in – considering how contagious it is.

Despite all our household illness and some other difficult news from the wider family – things are going really well in our adoption journey and we genuinely couldn’t ask more of our beautiful children.

We have recently had our formal ‘Review Meeting’ with the social worker team, which all went very well. It is one of those parts of the process of adoption that you don’t think about when you start out on the journey. Everything is focused in the early days, on prep/assessment/approval/matching/approval…. but what about life after the children are placed.

We haven’t found it intrusive or problematic at all – but I have heard adoptive parents getting really frustrated with the schedule of social worker visits and reviews etc… But we have a very positive and strong relationship with the kids social worker, our social worker and the school so it has all been quite a nice opportunity to meet and discuss things with them. I think having a good relationship and using the opportunity to lean on the experienced professionals at the right moments is crucial.

We now have home visits from the social workers every 4 – 5 weeks currently, we’ve had two formal review meetings in 4 months and as we now have a court date set in the diary where our adoption order will hopefully be made… fingers crossed there won’t be any need for further review meetings.

The review meeting is a formal record to discuss every aspect of how the placement has been going (The children are not present for these review meetings) and it is our chance to feed back and record any issues or areas of concern and update how the kids are doing at home, in school, health wise etc.

The more regular social worker visits are at home and with the kids, so the social worker can visibly see how the kids are interacting at home and talk to them about how they are feeling and what they’ve been doing. Our kids enjoy these visits as they feel very important and centre of attention – although it can lead to them getting a little over excited and hyped up.

We also had the kids PEP meeting at the school last week Рthis is the formal review for education purposes which all school age looked after children should have every term (I think)  РPEP stands for Personal Education Plan and it is a chance for the school to feedback how the child is coping/developing and performing in the school setting and also the outline what they as a school are doing to support that development. Every looked after/adopted child also benefits from the Pupil Premium funding which allows the school to spend additional resource directly on supporting them. It was really interesting to hear what the school were doing directly to ensure our kids transition and future development is safeguarded.

Finally we took the kids for what will hopefully be their last ‘looked after medical.’ This was an interesting experience and one which I appreciate is a necessity but also felt completely pointless.¬†¬†Having had to drive back to the county where the kids were originally from (ours was an out of county adoption) and to that social services team’s preferred medical advisor and having had to take the kids out of school for the afternoon the nurse said herself “these medicals are pretty pointless now really, but we have to do them…” The kids were weighed, heights measured and a brief examination (superficial if you ask me) was completed we were free to go. The whole thing took 45 minutes between both kids but they missed a whole afternoon of school. I’m still not quite sure why our family doctor couldn’t have done it and forwarded the results? But I try not to do negativity on this blog so I’ll stop that now.

Anyway – this has become a mammoth 1000 word post, so not many people will read this far down I’m sure – ¬†but if you do, then you’ll be excited to hear that my better half, our social worker and I are going along to BAAF’s National Adoption Week Awards the week after next in London and we’re really looking forward to it.

I’ve also written a guest blog post for BAAF which will be published during National Adoption Week and I also did a magazine interview for an LGBT magazine about same sex parenting and 2 dad families which I was honoured to do.

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School Life & Special Friday Sandwiches

12 Sep

I just thought I would share a quick post as we come to the end of the first full week of both kiddies being back at school.

They have both coped incredibly well considering, although we have had tears a few times on the playgound this week – it has never lasted long and the teachers and other kids have been so lovely and supportive too.

I’ve had a great time finding my feet as a new face on the playground too, making new friends with some of the other parents (we’re off out for dinner tomorrow night with a family from school which is lovely!) and I feel like I’m getting a little fitter with all the extra exercise walking backwards and forwards to school every day… I think I should get myself a pedometer!

Oh and I joined the PTA (Friends of the School group!)

Both kiddies have continued to embrace extra curricular activities too. This week we had the first week back at Beaver Scouts for Big Little one, both monsters turned in to gymnasts at their new gymnastics club (Big Little One got a sticker as ‘Gymnast of the Week’) and the second swimming lesson of the term went, well… Swimmingly!

Our littlest one has made a great first impression with teachers and us too by reading books, when the expectation was just to be able to hold it correctly, look at pictures and turn pages!

We discovered this week that Big Little one is rather long sighted and probably should have always had glasses for reading and school work – but it had never been picked up before now. This is really frustrating as a new adoptive parent, to think that our little one has been restricted in their learning potentially because of something so simple to fix, the new glasses arrive next week and hopefully this will really help with focus and attention in class and when reading.

Finally – it looks like I have started a new tradition in our household… Special Friday Sandwiches! I promised both of them a special packed lunch today and now they’ve asked if they can have something special every Friday. This was today’s sandwiches:

Thank goodness it is Friday! Cheers for the weekend and lets see what next week brings!

 

School, Swimming and Surprise attention

4 Sep

This has been quite a week, as it was the kids first week at their new school, which we were anticipating would be overwhelming and exhausting for them. But I’ve been amazed and in awe of how they have taken it all in their stride.

I think I was the most nervous on their first day in the school playground.

There are so many little¬†¬†things you just don’t think about becoming part of your life so quickly when you adopt older children – you go from no children at all, to needing School shoes, shirts, sweatshirts, PE bags, lunch boxes, etc…. But we never had to buy a nappy or a potty or a dummy…

We were warned of some of the ‘adopting older children’ side effects for adoptees, which I will elaborate on in a future post all of its own, but so far I don’t feel like I’m worried/anxious or depressed about the things we’ve missed in their lives – and I really was expecting some of that to come and maybe it still will. They’re keeping us so busy and filling us with so many happy memories for our new family of four that I guess we’ve not had time to worry about what we missed in their lives before us?¬†

I’ve never had to stand on the playground before, ¬†I’ve never had to¬†wave a child off in to their classroom and leave them for the day! Now all of a sudden I’ve got two to get up/get washed/dressed/fed/bags packed/lunches made/walked to school. My admiration goes out to all parents everywhere, that have been doing it all this time!

Our Big Little one came out after the first day at school and told me it was “Horrid, Boring, Hated it!” But also told everyone else it was “Good, Fun, Brilliant!” They must just like getting a reaction from their Pappy I think. At the end of the second day back Big Little one came bounding out of class full of it – having got 4 stars for doing great work and telling me everyone else had only got 3.

Both Kids also started swimming lessons at the local pool this week – and following on from my recent post ‘Our Little Water Babies’¬†I’m pleased to say that they both nailed it and I was so proud of them!

Another example of how resilient and well rounded they are, beaming with confidence they both went straight in to the lessons without a hesitation or glance back to me in the viewing area. Big Little one gave us all a surprise when the instructor said “Your too good¬†for arm bands” and promptly slid them off Big Little one’s¬†arms. But as I now would expect from Big Little one it was straight in to the rest of the lesson with 100% effort and energy and no hesitation. It gave them both such a boost of confidence and energy and was so lovely to see them both parading around afterwards like proud pigeons.

 

In the shadows while all the real life stuff has been going on and I’ve been enjoying my first week as a Pappy on the school run, this blog has been getting quite a lot of attention which has just been bonkers. The story of our Adventures at the Breakfast Table¬†hit UK national press on-line with the Daily Mail and Metro featuring it followed by the Telegraph. The news spread around the world too with on-line articles in all corners of the world from Belgium to Australia, Brazil to Paris. I’ve been overwhelmed by the comments and words of encouragement and the emails that I’ve received from people sharing their own stories. I’ve tried to reply to most of them and will do my best to get round to all of them.

The one request I am most proud of having received off the back of this added attention, is that I’ve been asked to be a guest blogger and Media spokesperson for BAAF (British Association of Adoption and Fostering) and support them during National Adoption Week later this year! I started this blog to share our story and hopefully to help other people who are thinking about adoption or currently going through the adoption process, so I am truly honoured to have been asked to help BAAF!

I’m proud to be able to share our story and see that so many media outlets have taken it on board in a positive way. I’m happy to be able to promote adoption, particularly of older children and children in sibling groups – that was my primary aim for this blog. The adoption of children is the most important thing, the fact that we happen to be a two dad family is secondary – but I’m also pleased to think that we can help shine some light on two dad families here in the UK and in other countries around the world, where it might not be so easy for Gay couples to adopt yet!

What a week indeed – this one¬†isn’t over yet, but I’m already looking forward to the adventures our little ones have in store for us next week! Their first time at Gymnastics club for one, are they going to be natural tumblers?

Our little water babies

31 Aug

I’ve been meaning to update the blog with further stories about how the kids have been developing over the last 2 months since living with us.

We have tried to make swimming an important part of our weekly routine as a family – and almost without fail have all been together once a week to one of the local swimming pools. We are blessed with 3 public pools to choose from in the area, so this has been great for keeping them motivated.

I have once again been overwhelmed by the improvements that both little ones have made in such a short space of time.

The first time we took them swimming was a little bit daunting for us as very new parents, because both little ones didn’t really behave in the most appropriate manner. But we were very keen to persevere, as we had been told in our adoption training that swimming with your adopted child could help build strong physical attachment. This is particularly important in the early days of placement and especially when adopting children, as we have, that are slightly older.

When adopting school age children there are not many opportunities to have close physical contact, skin on skin with your child – which is ultimately one of the best ways to replicate the baby/mother (or baby/father contact time in our case) that has been missed out on in the infant stages of the child’s life. This became very true during the first few times we took our little ones swimming.

Littler little one has gone from literally clinging on to one of our necks for dear life, screaming, physically shaking and shivering in the first couple of visits – to now swimming widths of the pool (and lengths if we would allow) and challenging bigger little one to how deep they can both dive under water and how high they can be thrown by Pappy or Daddy in to the air – before splashing down in the water!

Bigger little one has also leaped forward in confidence and ability – from the first few visits only wanting to play and splash around in the water, but reluctant to actually swim from a to b; to the contrast of during our last visit at the weekend actually swimming (albeit with arm bands and doing doggy paddle) more than 150 metres with only a few short rests during this mammoth accomplishment!

We couldn’t be prouder of how they have taken to swimming with our support and care. We know that they had been taken swimming before, but we don’t know how frequently or whether they were pushed to really try and swim properly, or just splash about in the water.

We’ve now laid some very strong foundations and helped to build their confidence and most importantly their enjoyment of the pool… the next challenge begins later this week when they start proper swimming lessons. Watch this space!

on your bike – #2

14 Aug

Today I had a bit of a lump in my throat, it was one of those happy sad moments really!

The kids have continued to make fantastic progress in riding their bikes over the past week or so, asking to go out and practice on a daily basis.

Today we took the bikes (helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist pads) to a friends house in the car, so they could all ride round together and it seems each time there is someone new to impress with their skills they take another leap forward in their abilities!

Both big little one and not so big little one were now able to start themselves off without me holding the back of their saddle and also turn corners – within 5 minutes of being out their today they were zooming around, doing circuits of the street.

Another big hurdle was that both of them have seemingly taken on board our encouragement for practising the “pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again” lesson. There were quite a few scrapes and bumps today (thank goodness for the knee pads and elbow pads!) which a week or so ago would have caused utter hysteria, screams and defiant stamping of feet – but today, determined and gritted teeth saw them both straight back on the saddle.

In a way it made me wish that they hadn’t done such a great job, because it was nice to have them both reliant on us for a bit, teaching them how to ride their bikes has provided us with a great opportunity for building attachment with them.

Building attachment with adopted children is critical and when they are the age ours are (4 and 7) there are very few opportunities like this to do so. Finding something that is a true first in their little lives is exciting and a moment to cherish!

I hope we continue to find new things to support them in conquering and help to build even stronger bonds as a family unit!

on your bike

6 Aug

Today was a very special day in our becoming pappy journey – as the kids both went from riding bikes with stabilisers to riding on just two wheels.

It is actually one of those occasions I had always dreamt about having with my children, the special moment when they first make that little, wobbly journey on their bikes – just a few metres – was so fantastic to see.

It all happened quite unexpectedly, but the motivation came from the kids themselves – having seen a neighbour’s granddaughter of a similar age, peddling herself around on two wheels was all it took to make both of them (4 and 7 years) ask me to remove one stabiliser first and then after a short while the other one too.

Anyway – I wanted to put a post up about this special day, to mark the occasion for prosperity. It is incredible how quickly kids learn and develop new things – it was only 3 weeks ago that both of them could barely pedal a bike at all.

I would like to think that our love, attention, encouragement and support has helped them crack this in such a positive and speedy way!

Every day they do something that amazes us, makes us proud and surprises us.

 

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