Struggling at the moment

(148 Posts)
YouAreMyRain Sun 30-Jun-13 21:28:35

This will be long so I apologise. (I have name changed for this, if anyone recognises me, I would prefer not to be "outed" or linked to my usual nn.)

I have 2 Adopted DDs, they are half siblings. DD1 came home at 2.4 and DD1 came home 14 months later at 1.7

DD1 was placed 5yrs ago and is now 7yo. Her behaviour has always been challenging, she is very anxious and aggressive. Very insecure emotionally, very low self esteem.

I separated from my H 16 months ago, he was not coping well with fatherhood, his behaviours were abusive and SS were involved after one incident.

Since then I have been a single parent. A couple of months after STBXH moved out, I was suddenly hospitalised with a critical illness for 10 days. This separation was traumatic for DDs, esp DD1 who thought that I had died, despite being reassured to the contrary. STBXH refused to bring them to visit me in hospital, which didn't help.

Seven months ago DD1's behaviour escalated, I got her referred to CAMHS, before we were seen, it got to the point where I found her trying to jump out of an upstairs window to kill herself because she had people in her head telling her that she was stupid.

We got seen urgently and they are currently still involved. They decided that because her issues are connected to attachment and loss, that establishing a therapeutic relationship with her that then came to an end, would be upsetting and counter productive. So I have regular meetings with a CAMHS psychotherapist who has met her once, so that her issues can be worked with through her primary attachment with me.

The problem is that there seems very little improvement in her behaviour. She is very defiant, rude, violent, dishonest, angry etc. She still hates herself and wants to kill herself. She "knows" that I don't love her and she says that she wants to kill me, her sister etc

According to experts/professionals, I am doing everything right and handling her really well and they are very impressed with the therapeutic parenting that I am doing and how I am using "PACE" etc.

But it's so hard.

She is also soiling herself repeatedly, including at the dinner table.

Basically it feels like parenting her is a five person job but there is only me doing it. I just give and give and give and give and she constantly kicks me in the teeth. I don't blame her, I know she can't help it but I am exhausted with it all.

The status quo is shit and just maintaining that everyday is totally draining. I feel completely burnt out. Last night, for the first time, I felt like its all too much for me and that the placement may breakdown.

Post-adoption support have been useless. They offered me a handful of visits with a random SW. I asked for the SW who worked with us for 3yrs and who knows us inside out but that's not an option. I can't see how a strange SW visiting a few times will help at all, whenever I ring for advice they tell me to ask CAMHS what to do, CAMHS tell me to ask post adoption support.

I am currently pregnant with my new partner (we don't live together) after 12 yrs of infertility with my STBXH. I know that this has unsettled her but it feels like it is only going to get worse when the baby is born.

She say that she knows I will love the baby more than her and she wants to kill the baby etc, I don't react or take any of this at face value because I know that she is traumatised and hurting.

I don't want this placement to break down but I have nothing left to give sad

AnAirOfHope Mon 01-Jul-13 19:04:03

Have you tried family time? Play a board game for 10 minutes with both children? Like time in something fun to do as a family that you can keep up when baby comes?

Dvd and pizza night?

Do you have a plan of action when the baby comes? Routines, any help you will get? can you and ex split a week night so one dd at dads one with you so they get one to one time?

Could you put tv on for the 5yo when you spent time with 7yo?

Have you tried a feeling chart. Make a clock with a spin arrow and put it on the wall so dd can put tge arrow where she feels happy sad to communicate with you. Posative prase, lovebombing or five mins talking at dinner time or tea time. Pay her attention and show you value her opioins and you are intrested in her?

Just keep doing your best and ask for help when you need it.

AnAirOfHope Mon 01-Jul-13 19:09:16

Could you ask CAMH if there are any books, reasurch papers, blogs or websites that can help you understand attachment disorder and give you support for dd?

Could you ask if there are any support groups in your area?

Queen0fFeckingEverything Mon 01-Jul-13 19:21:02

I'm not an adoption expert at all so will leave that side of it to the wise MNers who know their stuff.

I am a Home Start volunteer though and can tell you about that smile They will work with families who have a child under 5 or a baby on the way, so you would fit into the remit. You can self refer to most local schemes but if yours doesn't accept self referrals, ask your HV or midwife to refer you. You'd be matched with a volunteer who'd come out to see you weekly for between 1-4 hours, and get involved in supporting YOU as a parent in whatever ways you need. Its not time limited as such - we will keep working with families until they don't need us anymore, but once the youngest child turns 5 we do have to stop visiting as the funding is carefully controlled.

Volunteers don't do babysitting (though will watch children if you need to do something else within the house) or housework (but if getting housework done was a problem for a family we'd work with you to find ways of making it manageable and help out til it got sorted out). They will go with you to appointments, sit and listen, give emotional support, help by playing with one child so you can focus 1-2-1 on another, help you if getting out of the house is a problem for whatever reason, and much more. We can provide transport if necessary but it would depend on why it was needed - I've been asked to do supermarket runs in the past, which I've refused, but I do drive my current family to an activity they wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

You sound like someone who'd really benefit from having a volunteer smile and if you want to PM me about anything else related to the project I'd happily help if I can.

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 21:53:37

Thanks Queen for that info. And thanks to everyone else too, on phone so can't check names sorry.

We do board games and card games which they love and at the weekend they sometimes choose to watch a DVD in bed with me instead of having stories.

My DD1 is getting better at telling me how she feels and is developing a good emotional awareness of herself. She will sometimes write letters to me telling me that her heart is cracked and bleeding etc (complete with diagrams!) and she can talk about feelings too.

It's hard to shake off DD2 to spend time with DD1 as she won't sit still or watch TV.

The idea of splitting a weeknight with STBXH and taking it in turns to give them 1to1 time is really great, sounds very positive.

Devora Mon 01-Jul-13 22:37:11

YouAreMyRain, you have my deep sympathy. I am amazed at your strength in simply keeping your chin above water.

Piffyonarock Mon 01-Jul-13 22:58:19

Hi YouAreMyRain, hopefully you're in bed already. Well, the car is fixed, so that's good. Sounds like you've got a few ideas of how to move forward tomorrow so that's good too. So I hope you feel better than you did yesterday smile.

Taking turns with the 1to1 has worked very well for us, better than I thought it would.

Hope it goes well when you speak to PAS, let us know how you get on.

Lilka Mon 01-Jul-13 23:06:23

It's great that your DD has been making emotional progress - you are clearly an amazing mum. Thank goodness your DD has you in her life to fight for her smile

I hope splitting 1:1 etc goes well and PAS as well if you get them involved

ByTheSea Mon 01-Jul-13 23:10:24

I know how you feel and how awful and relentless it can be. You've had some good advice. Give yourself a break. Thinking of you.

YouAreMyRain I am so sorry you are going through this. I have no words of wisdom. But I do think you need to make social services aware of how desperate you feel, for your sake and for your DD1 sake. Can I ask how DD2 is coping with all this?

Is there anything that happened 7 months ago that started this escalation?

I will PM you.

YouAreMyRain Tue 02-Jul-13 07:45:31

I think the escalation was a delayed reaction to the separation and my illness although she has always talked about hating herself.

My dear Rain I am so sorry. You have been through so much.

I wonder if this charity may be of some use?

www.papyrus-uk.org/

Kewcumber Tue 02-Jul-13 10:03:57

Heartfelt sympathies.

I too am a single parent to an adopted DS and was seriously ill about 3 years ago and was hospitalised twice (once without being able to warn DS).

DS had separation anxiety before that but it escalated his anxiety dramatically (really only calming down now) and he really didn't have any particularly serious issues prior to that so I can imagine how bad the situation could have become if he had started from a more challenging place.

I agree with making very clear (in writing) with PAS how serious the situation is.

I do think you are doing all the right things, talking, talking and more talk to help her develop an emotional language is great. Lots of talk about her being your "first baby" may reinforce her fragile ego, talk about when you first had her and how happy you were to be a mum at last and how having her taught you how to be a mum.

I can imagine how very stressful this is for you at this point. I do wonder if talk above of after school clubs and respite care might as you suspect just make the situation worse. Would it be possible (PAS may know) to get more help to support you in the home where you can stay attached to DD? Of course we all stabbing in the dark as we all know damn well that there isn't really a "right" answer.

fasparent Tue 02-Jul-13 11:24:13

Hi sorry for your situation, Think you may need a new approach.
We have Adopted 9 Children and Guardian's too others, Few have special needs CP, Autism,FASD, attachment disorders. ect., Have had no support with any after adoption but all are doing fine. Most were undiagnosed. We found best too know and learn how too understand the problem's and people who surround them need too do the same. there could be any amount of underlying Health issues that effect these children. Best if you have good pre adoption history, Would see your GP and explain issues ask for a referral too Genetics' Clinic. as a start.
We found a booklet on www.fasaware.co.uk very useful for all our children no matter what their condition in the fact that it gives an account of their understanding and feelings can download it "Reach too Teach" by Mary Cunningham.
You will find you will have too fight the establishment but at the end of the day you know your child best, sure things will work out for you

Kindest Regrds

roselover Tue 02-Jul-13 11:52:04

even though I have nothing to offer - you need to know that people are reading this and sending positive thoughts - good for you for posting and telling us - sharing - wish we could do something for you - share all you like and we will send words of encouragement - when did you have time to fall in love ???? Good for you!!!!

YouAreMyRain Tue 02-Jul-13 14:37:06

I fell in love accidentally while "researching the market" for the future. I wasnt planning on having a relationship but we have loads in common and just hit it off. He has a daughter of a similar age and some most of the time all three get on well (while I sit holding my breath on a mountain of tenter hooks).

I am now waiting for PAS to ring me back, I pointed out that they need to do this before 3 due to school run.

I met a lovely foster cater today, I was waiting for my car to be fixed (and re-moted) and we were chatting and I mentioned some of my dds mischief (lightheartedly) and she talked about a boy she had fostered who did the same. So we talked about adoption/fostering/CAMHS etc. and CAMHS are involved with two of her fc currently and because of attachment issues they only work with her not the children. Maybe it's a local policy? Anyway it was lovely to bump into her.

Lilka Tue 02-Jul-13 16:18:21

I hope PAS rang you back in time. One of the problems with PAS I always have is the slowness and them saying they will phone then and failing to do so

It's great your children and his get on well. And congratulations on your pregnancy!

I get the best support and understanding from other adoptive parent and foster carer friends (with the exception of my best friend and one sister). They usually understand so much more and know how to support so much better. Do you know many other adoptive parents personally? Might be worth feeling out for any support groups in your area

YouAreMyRain Tue 02-Jul-13 17:39:55

PAS rang me back! Spoke to a SW who explained why my DD is like this (not new info) I made it very clear that I am at breaking point and need urgent support. She is speaking to her manager and will ring me back in the morning.

The car passed it's MOT second time around and I have ordered a new washing machine (mine broke on sat and DDs decided to spend Sunday morning quietly emptying their wardrobe and drawers of clothes and dropping them out of their window into the garden) if I wasn't pregnant it would be a good time for a wine

YouAreMyRain Tue 02-Jul-13 17:43:50

Thankyou. PAS did say that it sounds like she may have underlying MH issues, which would partly explain the lack of progress.

Piffyonarock Tue 02-Jul-13 19:48:03

Well done for being firm with PAS. I hope they ring you again tomorrow.

The clothes out of the window on the day after the washing machine goes kerput sounds just the sort of thing my lovely children would do! Glad you've got a new machine on the way.

Have a virtual wine, I'll join you. Have had to stay behind after school again today because of DS's challenging behaviour, nothing I am doing seems to make much difference. I'll be on the phone to chase his CAF up tomorrow.

Have a good evening smile

Well done Rain for being persistant. I really hope that it will start to get better from here.

YouAreMyRain Tue 02-Jul-13 21:26:50

Oh piffy, that sounds tough. My DD1 is very contained at school so far. She is terrified of anyone finding out how bad she "is" (feels) inside. So she comes home and explodes.

fasparent Tue 02-Jul-13 21:51:54

Seems PAS is thinking of Underlying MH issues, GP referral too Genetics
may identify dysfunction's with testing and enable you too apply best early intervention's and strategy's , also open pathways of SEN Support
and DLA. if you are not receiving it, also carer's support and allowance's.

Piffyonarock Tue 02-Jul-13 22:36:52

Ah, that's interesting, I was wondering how things were at school. Bless her.

My DS is the same wherever he is really, it's not too bad in some situations e.g. the park, but he struggles in more formal settings. I think school asked me to stay tonight so that they could illustrate to him that they are working with me. He's only in nursery, it might all even out yet.

It's hard on you, but I suppose you might say it is encouraging that she's secure enough at home to explode.

I thought Kew made a good point about whether there might be more support for you in the home available.

Good luck with PAS!

YouAreMyRain Wed 03-Jul-13 12:56:12

PAS just got back to me. SW spent 25 mins telling me that I need respite but they don't offer it to adoptive families. No other help available. I need to sort out respite myself even thought i am a single parent and my nearest family live 80 miles away hmm

I don't need further training apparently. SW signposted me to adoption uk and that's it basically.

apatchylass Wed 03-Jul-13 13:13:52

Rain your situation sounds impossible. All I can say is that you must take steps to ensure your own physical safety. Sadly i have known three almost identical situations to yours (all three involving sibling sister adoptees) in which the adoptions did finally breakdown.

One friend held out as long as possible and was almost killed by her DD1. I really don't mean to scare monger, but having seen at first hand three different families who were ripped apart mentally, physically and spiritually by the adoption process, I want to warn you. Don't let it get too late.

Demand intervention, respite, warn SS that you feel the adoption is breaking down - threaten this to use it as leverage for more support. They'll dump you in it if they can.

Sorry not to have more positive advice but it makes me so sad and angry to see lives, marriages, families torn apart because very damaged children are not getting intervention early enough on, are not placed early enough to form attachments and adoptive parents are treated with the kind of dismissive attitude 'your child now, you deal with her.'

Whatever you do from now on, the first rule must be: put your own life jacket on first. Please. And eat, lots, and weight train, and take martial arts classes. I'm not joking. You need to be big and strong physically to deal with this. Don't shrink to a skeleton.

Finally, and you haven't raised this issue, so sorry if it's out of turn but it was relevant to the other families I know in your situation: they all came to the same conclusion that the loving, nuclear family set up was not what their DDs needed. It was too much for them to cope with. Being loved was such a duty, and they felt a duty to return love, when they didn't know how and didn't love themselves.

Can you set up a fairly cool and businesslike way of building a relationship with your DD? It will be underpinned by love, but without the pressure on either of you to dredge it up when you don't feel it. Lower expectations to basic but crucial levels: physical safety being the first and absolutely fundamental one, for both of you. Then once some level of that is in place, you can add fun and health and trust and conversation etc.

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