It will be years until you read this (if you do at all) but I needed to write this down.
Dear Danny, thank you.
When I was younger (in the olden days) I used to dream about what my family would be like. When I look back on those dreams I realise I not only met them, but in my eyes exceeded all expectations for what a family actually is.
You have brought a light and excitement to my life, given me a purpose and I couldn’t be more proud to be your mum.
I love that when writing birthday cards for family the amount of kisses you give is whatever your age is, I love the cuddles we share everyday and I cherish every moment you say I love you.
I love the fun we have together, I love teaching you new things and I love watching you grow and learn (but I’m secretly searching for a way I can keep you 8 forever).
I love how you still want to hold my hand, I love how you rush to me in the playground everyday after school and I love that you tell me that you missed me even when you were sleeping.
You truly are the best son I could have ever asked for and I promise to love and protect with all my heart forever.
Thank you for being everything we wanted, thank you for being you.
Love you Always,
I remember staring at a profile of this gorgeous little boy with the biggest eyes I had ever seen and picturing what life would be like with him in our family.
When we got to learn more about Danny they told us that he has Global Developmental Delay, that he struggles in all aspects of his life but we didn’t care. We wanted Danny to be part of our lives, part of our family.
We were told of all the uncertainties for Danny, whether he would catch up to his peers, progress through school, live independently etc etc. None of these mattered to us, we already had a connection with him and would fight for him everyday.
He was 5 years old when we first saw his profile but nearly 6 when we got to meet him for the first time. He does struggle with things that some children might learn quickly or find easy but we take things at his pace. He loves sports and is a very active little guy.
The progress he has made in the last 2 1/2 years is OUTSTANDING.
- He has gone from not being able to read to reading Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger to me in 4 days.
- He’s gone from a fear of water to passing his Stage 1 Swimming.
- His writing is fantastic and he gets complimented on it often.
We were told in our prep training that adopters can’t just be good parents they have to be great parents. We’ve put it in a lot of effort with Danny, having countless meetings in school being his advocate and ensuring he gets everything he needs and that we are supporting at home. We do this because he is our son and we will do anything for him. We’ve always said we don’t care if he isn’t the highest achiever as long as he tries his best and he does that everyday.
My husband and I work well as a team and instead of being fearful of the uncertainties we embraced it and I’m so proud of Danny everyday, he has already achieved so much and we know this will continue.
Danny, I love you always and forever x
Pretty much from the moment we saw Danny’s profile at the Exploring Adoption Event we were attached. We loved this little guy and couldn’t wait for him to feel the same way about us.
It came very easily for Daddy and Danny to build a bond. Sadly, I had to work very, very hard to build an attachment to him. Luckily I was the one who took longer Adoption Leave which gave me the opportunity to bond while Daddy was at work. Probably because Danny’s female foster carer was the disciplinarian, he immediately saw me as the ‘not so fun stranger who was going to tell him off’. In reality, although Daddy is the sportier one of the two of us, I think I win the award for ‘Most Fun’ (not that Danny knew this at the time).
The first thing I tried was tickling. He repeatedly pulled his t-shirt up when he was playing in the garden so I said to him if I saw his tummy 2 times he was going to get tickled! I thought this would be a way of getting close to him but if he didn’t want it he just didn’t have to mess with his t-shirt. As it turned out, he loved it. Tickling became a special game that the two of us played throughout introductions (the period when a child moves from his or her foster carers to adopters).
Another thing I did during introductions was the bath time routine. This was a great opportunity to combine fun and close contact in a way he was perfectly happy with. I remember the first bath time I did with his foster carer when she told him to clean his teeth and he said “Mummy can do it”. I nearly cried. This was the first time he’d initiated contact and it was a sign of trust. A bathtime game that lasted a long time after introductions was to play with his 3 toy boats. At first we used them to re-enact the latest episode of Fireman Sam. But this soon changed to talking about our days through the boats – which was really lovely.
For the first few weeks he would always favour Daddy for most things and I took my opportunities when it was just us. Luckily the summer holidays arrived after two months of placement. This was the time I began to teach him how to read and we worked on his writing. We also went for long walks together. Precious time alone when we would hold hands. I think that, as he started to see all the progress he was making, the realisation that I was 100% on team Danny sunk in. He understood how much I cared for him and that he was with us forever.
I’m not going to lie and say that this process was easy because I did struggle initially. But, when this happened, I’d just take a moment to think what I was asking of the little guy. I wanted his trust, his love, his affection and he didn’t know me. I was grateful for the connection he’d made with my husband and knew that with patience and perseverance I would have that with him eventually.
Three years down the line we now have a strong connection. I love how excited he is to see me after school and the giant hug I get every day in the playground.
This was written for and published by First4Adoption – Thank you for the opportunity
Well with everything going on in the world 2016 doesn’t seem like it’s been the best year.
On a personal level many of you on twitter will know I’ve not been in great health the past few months with various things suggested from the doctor.. Hiatus Hernia, Stomach Ulcer, Coeliac Disease.. Turns out it was Stress.. Stress mainly caused by worrying about what I cannot control so I’ve decided to focus more on the positives than the negative..
These are 5 of our successes for 2016, in no particular order…
• Danny passing his Stage 1 swimming class
• Getting agreement from both the Head Teacher and Local Authority that Danny can remain in the year below for his entire education
• Joining Cubs and getting stuck in
• Having his first overnight stay away which was a success
• Making great progress at school have having excellent reports from his teachers.
Well done my little man, I am so proud of you each and every day. I love you x
As it is National Adoption Week I thought I would share my Top 5 moments about being Danny’s Mummy…
The enthusiasm I am greeted with in the school playground at home time
The way he says Mummmmmmmyyyyy when we are doing silly things together
The fun we have playing board games as a family instead of staring at the box (which normally seems to have Sky sports news on it these days!)
Playing ‘I’ve got no teeth’ when out walking and get those awkward looks but we don’t care, we are too busy laughing!
How much progress he’s made in every way, so very proud of him
I love you Danny, more than you will ever know, thank you for these moments xx
Do you think that reward charts in schools are a good idea? Do they encourage the children to behave / try harder or do they just lower the children’s self esteem without realising it?
I can’t tell you how many times Danny has come home from school saying “I wasn’t on the Happy Face today mummy”. I think it’s ironic that the reward chart at Danny’s school is called the ‘Happy Face’ when it seems to do everything but make him happy.
Whenever he mentions not being on the ‘Happy Face’ which is at least once or twice a week, we always have the same conversation.
Me: Have you tried your best today? (I already know the answer to this but ask it anyway)
Me: That’s all that matters to me, you are always on my happy face
It’s a way for me to try and boost his confidence and retain some of his self esteem. It doesn’t always work.
I don’t understand reward charts, especially the ones in Danny’s school it’s not all related to behaviour and it’s a very easy way (as I’ve found out) to single out children and make them feel uncomfortable.
I’ve tried to turn that frown upside down but there is only so much you can do once the damage has been done.
I think children’s needs need to be taken into account when creating these charts, I’m not saying I want Danny to be excluded but they know that he struggles with certain tasks and therefore his confidence can be low so why then punish him because that’s certainly how he sees it when other children receive ‘treats’ and he doesn’t. I’m not saying he’s the only child that isn’t on the ‘happy face’ but I’d bet a lot on the fact that he is the most affected by not being on it.
I did bring this up with school and I was advised they also have a sad face, Danny has never mentioned being on the sad face (not sure what you do to be put on this!) I felt like saying Danny has a sad face every time he isn’t on the happy face. We did agree that he would be put on the happy face a few times a week regardless but that was a couple of months ago and we are now back to “I wasn’t on the happy face again mummy”
I understand that behaviour needs to be managed and monitored in school but I think it needs to be done appropriately. I think what I struggle with the most about the ‘happy face’ is that it isn’t all about behaviour. If he was an unruly child that was distracting everyone and misbehaving then I would understand but he’s the little boy in the corner that just wants to make you happy.
I’d appreciate your comments and stories, I brought this up on Twitter earlier on in the week and I know others have had issues with reward charts in schools. I’m glad that I’m not alone but also don’t like that this is affecting others.
The Struggles – Not just for our children but for us as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been into Danny’s school asking for work to be sent home so we can work on the main things he’s struggling with, only for it to fall on deaf ears.
Danny has Global Developmental Delay and is currently in the class below his peers to help him catch up. I feel really bad for Danny, he wants to learn and enjoys going to school but I fear as things get harder that will change.
The battle first started at the beginning of our adoption, the local authority where Danny was in foster care had put in a statement, all the paperwork had been submitted and we were just waiting on a decision but because we lived in a different local authority the original LA refused to progress with it, all down to budgets no doubt.
This meant we then had to put it through our local authority, we fought for months to use the all the paperwork from the previous LA but eventually gave in and had to do all the paperwork again, all the Ed psych visits, meetings all had to be done again – what a waste of time and money! It was 12 months after placement that we got the letter from our LA, just before the summer holidays to say that they didn’t think Danny required a statement. Are you kidding me???
So, another year has passed now and I’ve had more meetings with school and although Danny is making progress in school the gap between him and his peers isn’t closing so we are now in the process of applying for an Education Healthcare Plan. I feel horrible writing the parents comments, I think I was too positive in the previous application so I’ve taken a more realistic however slightly negative angle this time.
I just hope and pray that Danny gets his EHCP I cannot tell you how much stress this has caused, I know his primary school do all they can for him but I really want this in place before he starts high school.
There are enough ups and downs and twists and turn in adoption without the added stress of having to fight for what is right, and also very obvious!
I know we aren’t the only parents fighting this battle and I just want to say for those going through it, I feel you pain and I’m sending hugs!