Is there anyone outside adoption circles that 'get it'? Do i need a thicker skin?

(20 Posts)
flossymuldoon Tue 03-Sep-13 15:29:35

My DS is 4 in a week. His behaviour over the last couple of weeks has been different:
More sensitive and really anxious at times.
Bit more clingy and doesn't want me out of sight.
Wetting himself. (He is still not reliably dry but 8 accidents yesterday!!)
Lots of adoption related question and asking if he can stay with us forever etc, asking if we would only keep him forever if he was a good boy and wishing he was with me when he was a baby etc.

After trying to figure out what it's all about the penny dropped that all his nursery friends have been leaving in droves and there is a load of new kids in his room. It seems like he feels like the rug's been pulled out from under him and is struggling.

So, he is at my parents this afternoon so I went to nursery to speak to this key worker (as I usually struggle get chance to speak to her without DS being there and it's usually pretty chaotic at the beginning and end of the day). She has a masters in Family Studies and has worked in adoption and fostering so I thought she'd get it. Clearly not.

I came away feeling like I was a Mum being a bit too 'precious' and that she thinks I'm making a fuss over nothing an he'll be fine. It was the look on her face and her saying "well the kids who are leaving will be struggling with the transition too".

Am i being too precious??? I don't feel like I am. He is struggling, and as his Mum it's my job to try and help him. All I was doing was making her aware and asking that she be sensitive to it. Instead I have come home feeling like they all think I'm a fruit loop.

I get this every time I mention any adoption related behaviour to anyone not in adoption circles. I need to grow a thicker skin don't I?

GooseyLoosey Tue 03-Sep-13 15:33:37

I don't think you do need a thicker skin. You are the only one who can point out that your ds may have sensitivities that other children do not. People never involved with adoption don't really understand what a profound and pervasive impact it can have on even the most loved and well adjusted adoptees.

Far from thinking your skin should be thicker, I think you should carry on doing just what you are doing. You are no fruit loop.

StupidMistakes Tue 03-Sep-13 15:35:00

I think perhaps because he has been adopted he is more sensitive to the transitions which is very understandable. My son is no longer with me as he has been taken n adopted so I just hope he gets as good parents as you are to yours

AFishWithoutABicycle Tue 03-Sep-13 15:49:29

I don't think you need a thicker skin. It seems that this child is extremely lucky to have such a loving and sensitive mother.
Nursery staff are often blasé about everything from from nut allergies to sleep schedules (if this forum is anything to go by). I'd make sure your heard by them.

flossymuldoon Tue 03-Sep-13 15:57:08

GooseyLoosey. I will absolutely keep on doing what I'm doing, there's no question there. It's my job. By growing a thicker skin I didn't mean stop doing what I am doing, just be less sensitive to peoples reactions and not let it bother me.

StupidMistakes Thanks.
Firstly, I am sorry to hear that your son isn't with you sad.
Yes, he is very sensitive to transitions. I am not adopted myself but highly sensitive and that helps me be very tuned in to him, so I understand how he is feeling. We will do our very best for him.

Kewcumber Tue 03-Sep-13 16:27:42

Well yes you do need to grow a thicker skin - not in order to do anything differently just to avoid get wound up by people who don't get it. In my experience very few people "get it" re any out of the ordinary situation. I often found parents with children with other special needs are more empathetic and prepared to accept that children who look physically "normal" can have issues that need careful handling.

IME people who don't get it fall into two categories:

1- Mummy is being precious
2- "oh but all children do that"

I rarely discuss with anyone except other adoptive parents and if I have to (teachers etc) I am clear and confident and authoritative - almost behave as a fellow professional.

Not sure that helps!

flossymuldoon Tue 03-Sep-13 16:36:20

Thanks Kewcumber - yes that does help. Thanks.
Will try the clear, confident and authoritative approach. It works for me in my professional life.

FourGates Tue 03-Sep-13 16:37:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flossymuldoon Tue 03-Sep-13 16:57:26

FourGates and deep down I know my friends meant well too.

I have one friend who through the really tough early months just listened, nodded and all the right places, smiled and looked sad and happy at appropriate times, and gave very little advice. She is a very unemotional person who doesn't do hugs etc.
She expected nothing of me in the first few months and kept in touch with a text from time to time.
I will forever be indebted to her as she was just 'there'.

Kewcumber Tue 03-Sep-13 17:41:19

Fourgates - of course I understand where the comment comes from and often its people trying to empathise and I do try to take it in the spirit its intended... but...

all children might show certain behaviours sometimes but generally its not as often, not as extreme and doesn't come from the same place inside - that underlying certainty your child has that life is not safe, that adults are not reliable and cannot be trusted, because they've learnt that the hard way. And that whatever you do very often it feels like you can't change that.

Of course we can and often do change that but often its two steps forward and one back and sometimes you feel that you're not getting anywhere.

Supportive is good - "that must be hard, if I can help in any way let me know".

Saying that every child does that somehow diminishes the real struggle that some adoptive parents have to make their children feel secure enough to even accept being parented (if thats actually a word!). I have explained before to DS's teacher how very badly he deals with exclusion and how it really isn't appropriate to use it as a punishment on him. I have seen her smile pitying at me with that look in her eye of "oh every child hates time out". But I have also had the phone call from her in the middle of the school day to come and deal with him after he was excluded from PE for not having his correct kit (my fault). The teacher looked visibly shaken by his total loss of control (he's normally a model pupil) and fear in his face at being excluded from the lesson. If I had described it, no doubt someone might have said "oh all children have the occasional tantrum" at 6yrs old - but even his previously sceptical teacher admitted that you could see his fear and panic how it totally overtook his rational thought process.

That a bit of a lecture really and your reaction is the norm so quite understandable really - if you have learnt something on this thread I will be a happy woman!

FourGates Tue 03-Sep-13 21:40:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Kewcumber Tue 03-Sep-13 22:49:03

You're welcome... my work here is done wink

Mercythompson Wed 04-Sep-13 07:28:37

I post on here occasionally, name changed recently, but have posted about this before.

I have not adopted and nor have any of my friends, but, we have children with 'hidden'' special needs.

I think kew's post is brilliant about the whole, 'they all do it' issue (my mil is a particular offender).

I think the difference is in degree and impact which is hard to quantify and I hate hearing myself justify the differences.

I do have a point (in fact 2, honestly).

Firstly I think that other parents of special needs children will get it much more than other parents. We don't think we have any answers, we never think its down to your parenting, and we get that it's really, really hard. At most we suggest the occasional tip, that made a slight difference for us, and that you might want to try, if you think it might work, at some point in the future (I.e no pressure, no suggestion of 'solutions')

Secondly, in my, and many of my friend's experience, though to be fair not all, pre-schools are crap at this stuff. DS1 has social communication difficulties, probably high functioning autism and probably add (though the dentist who saw him for 10 mins yesterday assured me he was fine angry!

Pre school first of all denied there was any problem, then told me that non of the other children bothered talking to him any more, because he never answered, sad and then that they had fixed him!!!!

His, very good state primary, got it from day 1. Getting the support he needs is another issue, but at least they get it and are doing things to help him, they listen to me about him and really see his issues.

I don't know if this helps at all, but just wanted to say there are people out there who will get it more than most, even if they haven't adopted.

Mercythompson Wed 04-Sep-13 07:34:48

Also, sorry to bang on, I find it harder and harder to relate to parents who don't have children with some kind of special needs. They just don't get it, and ds1's needs affect every aspect of my life, and its just so much easier to talk to people who just get it, without having to justify and explain!

KristinaM Wed 04-Sep-13 12:22:01

What mercy and kew said

I've pretty much given up expecting anyone to understand except other parenst of adopted or SN kids. Sadly that includes most professionals who work with children, unless that have specialist expertise (so that rules out 99.9% of them )

Otherwise you end up wasting energy and emotion getting angry/wanting to punch the dentist who belives he's an expert on ASD.

I think it's also sexist as many of these profesionals who dismiss a mothers concerns take a father more seriously. Mothers are characterised as being over anxious, projecting their own issues on their children, being over protective, neurotic or depressed. Womens opinions are seen less important and less informed than men's . Parenst opinions and information are less valid than " profesionals " .( Even though their training might have nothing to do with the matter in question ) .

And of course adoptive parensts opinions are seen as less valid that " real " or biological parenst. Aftre all, if they had just relaxed more, they would have been able to conceive, so it proves they are neurotic ;-)

flossymuldoon Wed 04-Sep-13 20:45:40

Mercythompson I think you have totally hit the nail on the head. Degree and impact. Feeling like you have to justify the differences which in some cases are so subtle that people don't see the big deal. Thanks or you post. It helps a great deal.

kewcumbersummed up in a nutshell!!

KristinaM great post. thanks. I can't stop laughing at the last bit!!!

Today I e-mailed the nursery manager (partly tactical!) and sent a couple of brilliant articles that a kind Mumsnetter sent to me about supporting adopted kids in early years settings. I asked her to pass them onto my DS key worker and the other staff in that room.

After a few hours wait I got a great response back from her saying that she'd spoken to his key worker and they had agreed strategies to help him through it. She had also spoken to the area manager about it to keep her in the loop. She has also asked me to come and see her on Fri morning so we can chat about it.

I think what helped is the tone of my e-mail which was carefully worded to avoid them feeling likes was criticising, i sang the nursery praises and came from the angle that my DS adores going there (which he does) and I didn't want his feelings of insecurity to spoil our brilliant experience there so far. I think what also helped was the fact that they got slated in the last Ofsted report for their lack of parental engagement - which I would have pointed out to them should I have needed to.

FamiliesShareGerms Thu 05-Sep-13 06:52:20

Slight tangent to this thread, in that I could have written the OP almost word for word about my DD whois really feeling the loss of her friend's at nursery now they have all started school and she still has a whole year to wait. We are in the process of working out a strategy with nursery (happily DD still loves it when she is there, it's just that her first words every morning are "I don't want to go to nursery") and I really don't think that they "get" the point about why transitions are hard.

DwellsUndertheSink Thu 05-Sep-13 06:59:39

flossy, just wanted to give a bit of support and solidarity. Im a Foster carer. I have post grad degree in child psychology. I have my own kids. Even I was not prepared for the immense impact of eg attachment issues in foslings - how it can permeate even the most mundane aspect of a childs life and take on unbelievable proportions.

You are not being thin skinned, and I would urge you to trust your instincts as a mum!

lunar1 Thu 05-Sep-13 07:14:52

I have several friends with adopted children. I hope I am understanding of the difficulties they can face. I have seen this happen several times, people minimising things as being something all children do.

I honestly think many times it is because that person is trying hard to show that the think adopted families are 'equal'. Unfortunately this can result in challenging situations being minimised by others. Sorry that isn't worded very well, I'm not too articulate.

In this case I think the nursery worker is being really insensitive, it doesn't take a psychology degree to see that an adopted child may struggle when people change in their lives.

The one thing that is universal it the ability of childcare professionals to make all of us feel like pfb fruit loops at times. You sound like you are doing a great job and really understand your sons needs.

flossymuldoon Thu 05-Sep-13 10:37:57

Thanks for you comments Families. Part of wishes he was going to school this time. He has missed it by only 9 days.

The most baffling comment from his key worker was "but he has a new friend now". I am not very quick but if i had been quicker i would have said "He has a new Mummy and Daddy now so do you think that means he'll forget everything that has happened to him and move on?"

Nursery have now done a double whammy with the transition thing. When we got to nursery this morning that had moved the rooms around. They have 2 rooms and they switched all the stuff into the opposite rooms. Small thing for other kids but when DS is particularly anxious he sticks his toungue out and kind of swirls it around. He walked in, looked completely confused, the tongue came out, and he curled up on DHs knee like a baby.
If only they'd have explained that it was going to happen before it did then it wouldn't have caught him by suprise this morning.

Dwells. Thanks for the solidarity!!

lunar1 You are probably right that people are trying hard to show that adoptive families are equal. But. They don't need to tell us that we KNOW that. Adoptive families are most definitely 'equal' but they are not 'the same'. The dynamics are different, the methods of parenting is different, the children are different, and because of those things the parents are different.

Let me give you one example of how my parenting is different.
DS is very controlling at times. Night time nappy has always been an issue and for the first year it was an absolute battle to get it on. Once we learned strategies to deal with his controlling behaviour i realised that the nappy issue was about control. So, i take control back. He fights against the nappy, i plaster a smile on my face and in the sweetest voice i can muster i say: "that's ok, if you don't want your nappy on that's fine. You can go to bed in just your PJ bottoms". It looks as though i've given in to him but i know that is not about whether he wants him nappy on or not, it's about him wanting to take control, and control my reaction.
By giving him 'permission' not to have it on i have taken control back. And the reason i know it was about control? As soon as i say that he wants his nappy on and then complies.
So, when we are out in public i use the same tactic. It must look to other parents like i am letting him do whatever he wants (and i know my parents think so) but i know it's not about him wanting whatever it is, just controlling the situation and my reaction.

Another is when we go somewhere new with new people his behaviour is not very good (spitting, hitting, kicking things). Because i am tuned into him I know it's because of his anxiety. There is no point telling him off or threatening to leave if he desn't behave, as that's only going to increase his axiety and make it worse. So instead, i ask him if he wants to sit with me or does he want to be picked up. . But 9 times out of 10 he wants to picked up and then he presses his face to mine or he satnds and holds my hand. Once he has calmed down he gets down and goes and explores and he is good as gold.
I have had very odd looks from other parents for what they see as giving him a cuddle for bad behaviour.

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