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Thomas Kitchen Carving Challenge: Tomato Ladybirds with a Cucumber Rose

After a few attempts, this blog post is my entry for the Tesco Blogger Fruit and Vegetable Carving Challenge to win £150 meal voucher from Red Letter Days.   This week is the first time I have tried vegetable carving, so I’ve found it difficult, challenging and fun at the same time.  It’s easy to see why carved fruit and vegetables are so popular in Thailand.  The kids eyes popped open when it was ready to eat and sat on the table with dinner.

The kids gave me some inspiration to make it and the suggestion for marzipan when white icing didn’t work was genius.  I decided on Tomato Ladybirds and a Cucumber Rose.

Tomato l

I’ve already written a post about the vegetable carving that showed just how difficult I had found it.   Tesco sent me a set of Thomas knives to carry out the task with, and my first attempts failed miserably.  With a plan, and deciding to still have a last try, I decided to take it from a different angle and create decoratively carved food that my kids would enjoy picking off a plate.

I needed Philadelphia Cheese, Tomatoes, a Cucumber, some White Marzipan, Fruit Flakes, Chocolate Sprinkle Drops, Lettuce and a Carrot.  It took 6 bamboo skewers in all, with three for the tomatoes and one to make my cucumber rose with a carrot topped centre.

The marzipan sticks to the dried tomatoes very easily, so was perfect for the spots and base for the eyes.  I could have also used it for the top of the antennae, but I had fruit flakes so used them to have something different.

So, here goes.  My finished attempts and the photographs of how it turned out.

My cucumber rose in a container of lettuce for the decorative setting.

Tomato Ladybird Cucumber and Carrot Rose

My ladybirds on a bed of lettuce with carrot and cucumber decorations.

Tomato Ladybird 4

Tomato Ladybird 5

Tomato Ladybird 7

If you would like to find out more about the Thomas Kitchen Knives and win a set for yourself, head on over to the Giveaway post to enter.

If you shop at Tesco, you’ve probably noticed that they are running a sticker promotion between 3rd March – 1st June 2014 where you can save up to 70% on exclusive kitchenware products at Tesco. For every £20 you spend online OR in-store you can collect a sticker, once you’ve collected five stickers you can use these to save up to 70% off professional kitchenware items of your own.  

Stickers can be collected from 3rd March 2014 – 25th May 2014 and must be redeemed by 1st June 2014.  

I’ve already got enough stickers to get the chopping boards and the roasting tin, so I am a happy bunny right now.


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National Adoption Week 2013

This week is national adoption week.

It’s no secret that we adopted 3 boys a decade ago.  Looking back on the long and invasive process that often made me feel like I was an errant schoolgirl giving evidence of playground tomfoolery, we nearly fell at the first hurdle.  My husband found the intrusion very difficult and repeatedly having to go over and over and over previous deaths in the family and how that made him feel seemed more appropriate to a crime interrogation than finding out if we were possibly going to be good parents.

Birth parents don’t have to undergo such intrusive techniques or trickery to try to catch you out in case you are lying and I know there are good reasons for trying to spot the chink in the armour of every prospective adopter, but it doesn’t make the process any easier to go through.  I found IVF much more simple and with less stress and worry than the adoption assessments.

I became obsessed with whether our house was clean enough for social worker visits, and whether I had just the right amount of biscuits to not be classed as a potential over feeder.  I cleaned the spare rooms before every visit, just in case it would be the week they would ask us without warning to have a look at the rooms that children would live in.  The medicals the financial assessments, the family skeletons discussed – nothing was left unvisited.  I felt under scrutiny in all parts of my life.

Family was visited, friends were visited, and each time I worried they might recite some long forgotten incident from my youth that might have me seen as unacceptable to adopt.  Long phone calls afterwards asking what they said, how it was said, and how did the social worker take it ensued, and I am sure I must have driven my references absolutely mad with my questions.

By the time we reach adoption, most of us have finished with the long rounds of treatments and invasive technology to try to have our own birth children.  There are those who adopt to add to their birth families, but for the most part, the majority of adopters and potential adopters I’ve known have been people who couldn’t have children naturally.

I’ve been told I am lucky to have adopted, yet those same people don’t understand that adopting children is only the first real rung on a possibly very difficult to climb ladder.  The children might be still with birth parents, languishing in children’s homes, with foster parents, or they might have already been to one set of parents and rejected there too.  There are few babies up for adoption that haven’t suffered trauma, alcohol or drugs while they were in the womb, or with the after effects living with birth parents and it’s only right that we should have some preparation of what life might be like.

For some adopters, receiving their child or children might go smoothly at first, and it might stay like that for ever.  For the majority, there will be a lifelong commitment to children who will need help to understand their past and their new future. There are so many considerations that birth children wouldn’t face, but the support is very lacking for parents that take children who struggle.

Imagine the older children in foster care, or children’s home waiting for a forever family that might never happen.  What does that say about us as a nation that so few of us actually take the plunge and bring a child into our families and homes?

For many, adoption is by no means easy.  There are so many considerations to take into account.  For us, we’ve recently been exposed to some birth family through the wonders of Facebook.  We’ve met lots of siblings, for whom the process has been positive, yet it could have gone so differently.

My children, a teen and two rapidly approaching the teenage years have lots of questions, worries and stressors.

I don’t love them any less.

My boys are growing tall, their blonde hair floats in the wind with their blue and grey eyes.  They look like my husband so nobody ever guesses they are adopted, yet they have no problem telling people about all their brothers and sisters.  I’m ok with that, but other adoptive parents have to think about how they are going to cope with it as their children grow.

Our assessment seemed to be just like the pregnancy of a woman.  One bad experience of labour doesn’t put women off getting pregnant again and again and again.  In the same way, I’d do the same thing again, no matter how difficult it can be with one of my boys diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome who is unpredictable and often aggressive for no reason.

I’d do it all again if I was in the same situation and the world needs more families who are willing to change their lives and make a very real difference to a child in waiting, waiting for that forever family they can call their own.


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Life doesn’t have to be “normal.”

It’s taken me a while to think about how to write this.  I started off making jokes all through the draft and then stripped them out again.  It’s more serious than that direction would have indicated and is in danger of waffling on a bit.

Who said that life has to consist of mum, dad, grandma, or any other combination of perfect parenting in the “normal” sense of the word?

These days, even single parent families and kids living with grandparents are considered absolutely normal and acceptable by all walks of life.

” Doesn’t have a dad,” my eldest says in a completely matter of fact way when he’s talking about one of his friends.  None of them think that is in any way out of the ordinary.

Our own family is “different.”

Why do so many people find it so difficult to accept adopted children?  People make comments in passing like “I don’t know how you can take other people’s children into your home,” or put you on a pedestal as some unwinged angel for doing such an obviously horrific thing to contemplate.

On one hand, there seems to be the extremely pro inclusive groups who think that never a bad word should be said about adopting, the lifestyle, or the children themselves.  Our kids can’t afford that militant stance with fairy lights and lava lamp ideals.  It gets them no help with life and assumes that all adopted children should be treated exactly the same as birth children.  They can’t, and neither can many of those living with grandparents, aunties, step parents and more.  They could have attachment and familial needs that require help to live positively and accept their perfectly normal differences.

On the other side of the fence, we have the sceptics.  They are negative to adopted kids.  They use their position of power in life over the kids and the families by assuming that adopted kids all have a chip on their shoulder.  I recently heard about an adoptive child (not mine) who was upset over a teacher who allegedly said they were fed up with his excuses about fighting with other children after being called names, and that he was using adoption as an excuse for behaving badly.  I don’t know if he was using it as an excuse or not, but bringing that up is only likely to make the child even more sensitive to it, not less.  I am hoping that was just a child exaggerating as I’d hate to think that anyone in education actually came out and said that.

In the middle we have the realistics.  People who realise that “different” families often have huge issues to overcome.  Issues that few birth children in dual parent homes have experienced.  With adopted or placed children, many have not had the same level of nurture as babies and that affects their relationships as they grow.  Some adoptive families settle in instantly together and it may be a decade down the line before the big issues rear their head, but they usually come out somewhere along the line.  Similar issues come to front with any other family that isn’t part of the “normal” group.

I have no idea why children from care, fostering and adoption are often looked upon so negatively by their peers and educators.  One of mine who is diagnosed with foetal alcohol syndrome and has a forgetful memory constantly battles with education authorities who insist that he doesn’t have a disability or learning difficulty, yet he is so far behind with schooling that I worry about his future as an unprotected adult whose expressive ability belies his receptive understanding.

A little while ago, I was in a discussion on Twitter that didn’t go well.  My opinion is that not everyone can adopt every child and that it takes a specific skill set to adopt the children who are severely affected by drugs and alcohol in the womb.  I don’t think I have all the right skills to cope with it either, and I admit that there are times while my boys have been growing up that I have struggled massively.  I’m not ashamed of that as without expressing it, I would have bottled it up and the kids might have suffered.  I don’t think it’s awful or terrible to admit that – it’s being realistic.

We don’t have the benefit of nurturing a baby for 9 months in our bellies and learning to love it before  it arrives.   Our kids arrive with no planning, often no childcare experience and it takes time to bond.  The younger the child, the easier it is to bond and there are so many kids out there looking for homes.

Parents by other means do often end up with a form of post natal depression, just like any other birth mum or dad can.   People who say, “you wanted this, so why are you complaining” just don’t get that we are often asking for help and advice, and not always moaning.  Birth parents can ask the questions when they are unsure and nobody sees it as moaning so I’d like to see the same courtesy extended to parents by other means.

My biggest bug bear are the parents who jump in with how they wouldn’t put up with “whatever behaviour” we ask for help from.  As soon as that sentence is uttered or written, I know how little they understand and how under qualified they are to respond at all.

One tweeter once said that she’s not a real parent as she’s a step-mum, which I found sad but indicative of how other people probably address her concerns.  It doesn’t matter how you come to parenting, it’s still a long road to walk alone.   Lets all walk it together, not divided and pick up the kids with no families to join our own where we can.

We’re different in that my kids have a shed load of siblings that are adopted out elsewhere, but that now just adds to the fun of the family life.  They’ve recently met some new older siblings and are having a fabulous time getting to know them.  I wouldn’t miss this for the world as it’s just magical.

Can we embrace the different but great families around us all and forget the differences to acknowledge that it’s ok not to be normal?

Posted on 30 Comments

A Trip Down Memory Lane. It’s Messy.

My boys are fine for pictures of the early days of their adoption going online.  I don’t mind as they are completely unrecognisable now and they love to look through some of them.  I will always regret not having a decent camera when they were little and always being so busy that I rarely found time to take any pictures.

The kids arrived and we just got on with it.  They were foster children as a last minute favour placement while we looked for our own family children and we thought they would be moving on.  They settled in really quickly and just took over.   When social services and the courts decided they were to go up for adoption, it just didn’t seem right to ask them to move on.

It took the dog a while to adjust and I love the picture of her sizing up the noisy thing in front of her.  They used to cuddle up with the little one fast asleep in her stomach and I so wish I had managed to get some pictures of that.

Kids 1

There’s not much difference here is there?  How much effort does it take to use the spare room for a cat before the kids arrived, and then sleep anywhere you drop once the kids arrive.

Kids 2

Those were the days that the animals were young, fit and healthy.


And the last time that mum was a fit healthy gym bunny with plenty time on her hands that evaporated with the arrival of the boys.  I have no photos of me at the moment and I hate meeting people who knew me a few years ago.  I look nothing like this now, but you won’t see a pic of me online 🙂


The early days when we had a party with sweet treats, before the days we knew they were laden with bad stuff that send you bananas.  Yes, I know that colour is well out of date, those walls are almost white now and the wrecked table and chairs saw the skip long ago.

Kids Chocolate

What that sugar rush led to.

Kids Mess


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Adoption Week Part 2 – A Sibling Thing

I saved one of the nicer parts of adoption to this week for a very special reason.

The official adoption week focussed on the negatives but for our family we had a fabulous adoption week.

I received a phone call last week from a woman who is the adoptive parent of one of my boys younger siblings.  After asking periodically for nearly 7 years to, have some kind of contact set up, a mutual acquaintance put us in touch.    It was a short conversation as I was on my way out to pick up on the school run, so I arranged  go and meet the other adoptive mum on Wednesday last week.

It turns out that our local social services department has been telling porkie pies to some of us, and I imagine that it wouldn’t be an unusual situation.  I have to wonder what the issue would be about letting us be in touch with each other – especially when all the public information seems to point to keeping channels of contact open.  Whatever the reason, I doubt that we will actually ever get to the bottom of it.

I was a little apprehensive on the way to meet her as this is all new territory to me and I didn’t know if she would be totally open to the boys meeting.  I shouldn’t have worried.   I was introduced to her daughter who helps her care for adoptive and foster children and I immediately felt at home.

We chatted and reminisced about the things that we had both been through to adopt and then we chatted about the boys.  Her son and my boys had never met, but the similarities and behaviours were incredible.  The same medicine that doesn’t work for my boys doesn’t work for her son.  He has the same sleeping and eating patterns and much much more.  Nature really does play a huge part as their lives have been so different.

After time whizzing by for a couple of hours, it was time for me to leave, and I asked if the wee lad could come to the club we go to on Saturdays as I felt that would be a good place for them all to meet.  A fleeting meeting in a crowd is soo much easier than being faced with each other in a room and not knowing what to do.

I told my boys that their little brother would be at the club on Saturday and I tried not to get their hopes up, just in case his mum didn’t manage to get him there.

Saturday came and my boys talked about nothing else.  It was all about the little brother they were about to meet.    They had football matches, and it was middlers birthday, but that all paled into insignificance with the prospect of a sibling meeting on the horizon. Thinking back, it just have been quite daunting for them all.   At least my three had safety in numbers on their side.  The poor little toot that was about to face my pack had to do it alone.

My boys door watched for the first 10 minutes of the club and then went to play badminton.  When I saw their little brother arrive with his mum, he looked so little and scared.  He sat with middler for a while to play Lego, although they ignored each other, but each aware of the other sitting across the table.  Littlest and elder plucked up the courage to go and speak to him after about half an hour and from then on, tootie, littler and eldest were joined at the hip.  I’m not sure middler really understood and he was happy to puddle on with what he was doing.

Tootie and my boys chased each other, played football and their faces smiled non stop.  It was lovely to see them getting on so well for a first meeting.  One of the other mums who is lovely was choking back the tears as she watched them playing.   It was a long time coming.

On the way home in the car, I asked the boys if they liked their brother, and two of them said yes.

Then littlest pipes up:

“he didn’t act like a brother.”
“why not,” says I totally confused
“well he was too nice to me to be a brother.”

That had me stumped.

Little bro is planning to come back to more sessions at the club and although I am waiting to hear from his mum to find out how he was afterwards, I am hopeful that this is one contact that will remain forever in their lives.






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Adoption Week Part 1. Not the Step Forward I’d Imagined

It has been adoption week this week, and as someone with three adopted children, I thought I should add my tuppenyworth to the discussion and share some of my “ranty wisdom”.  I will also do a jollier post later this week about more of the positives.

I felt like taking my remote control and throwing it at the TV when I began to see some of the coverage that adoption was getting this week.  The Cameron man on the telly moaning on about the process just got my back up, but that’s not unusual for me.

And to top it off, my hackles rose when I watched the segment about the woman complaining about the process and how long it takes to be assessed here, but who had plenty of dosh and managed to find the readies to go abroad and adopt the youngster she wanted.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would have gone abroad if I hadn’t managed to find my forever children in the UK, but come on, complaining about the system you have to follow to get those children is just plain wrong if you don’t even adopt from here.

Let me tell you about how the adoption process was before they made it that little bit tougher.  We went overnight from no children to 3 children who were not fully socialised.  Foetal alcohol babies are hard work, I can tell ya.  Imagine your trouble with a crying baby with colic who doesn’t sleep, and multiply that by a factor of 1000 x 1000 with knobs on and that could be the potential.

All those wannabe mums out there think that a little bit of love is going to make it all right – well it doesn’t.  Those cute little bundles may very well end up as aggressive, troubled tots who don’t get the help they need to survive.  Lots of families disrupt, even now when they can’t cope with the changes that children with high needs means.

Make no mistake, if you have a diagnosis of Autism, or an “acceptable” condition, the world will sympathise and help you with your children.  If your children have a diagnosis of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome or your child is Drug affected, you are going to hit your head up against a brick wall to get help.  And if you do say what the diagnosis is, people will think you are a raving alcoholic and start crossing the street and avoiding your kids party invites.

The bottom line is that most of the young children in care nowadays are disabled, alcohol or drug related births.  There are some who are orphans or young mums not wanting the responsibility, but they are certainly not the norm, and potential parents HAVE to get it through their heads that love is NOT enough to bring up drug and alcohol affected children.

I HATED the adoption process.  With an enormous passion.  I thought it was too long and I thought it was ridiculously monotonous and repetitive, but the authorities HAVE to try to suss out as many of the nutters who try to adopt for other reasons as they can.  If they handed over kids to a ring of child abusers, we would all be up in arms that the process wasn’t comprehensive enough.

Lets get down to the nitty gritty.  Adoptions take so long because there is NOT ENOUGH MONEY in the pot to get the work done that needs to be done to keep everyone safe.   Social workers have too many groups to assess, and to be frank, lots of approved adoptive parents sit waiting for the phone to ring rather than being pro-active and finding their future kids across the country.  There are also some fabulous homes not being used because there are not enough staff to get the meetings set up, organised, pulled together and finalised.

I do think the inflated considerations about race and ethnic backgrounds are pretty crap to be honest.  Lets just chuck kids into uncontrolled and often violent childrens homes eg just because they might be black and christian and a council only has white protestant adoptive parents on their books.

If I get the religions wrong, I apologise – as being a non-believer I just don’t care what religion anyone else is as long as they don’t try to sell me their faith.  That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t happily support a child who needed to learn more about their own faith and culture.

I’d like to see the kids put into homes that will stick with them through thick and thin, support their race and ethnic backgrounds, and to hell with the rules of what colour skin, race or nationality we should be before we can help a child escape from institutionalisation, temporary parents and abusive homes.

After care is rubbish.  Yes, there are “supposed rights” but considering post adoptive care says there is no money in the pot to provide anything, then it really is an empty promise unless it is desperate in my experience.

I am afraid that the negativity far outweighed the positivity that it should have showed, and would put people off finding out more, or moving forward with a process that needs to be shored up.

Right down to basics, adoption is about being parents.   In the same way that parents take on responsibility for children and have to fight for their needs, there is nothing different.    There is no special treatment in being an adopter once you are there so think about it long and hard, and treasure the preparation process because it is there for a reason.

If Mr Cameron wants to make the system work, stop complaining and support the Councils who are mostly doing their best with the means they have at their disposal (money, people and imposed rules) and ringfence pots of money for adoption and disability.

Yes, there are problems and yes, there are always nasty people who don’t do their jobs right, or get in the way of things happening, but they are in the minority.

I saw those segments, and rather than feel good about what was being said, I was conscious that if I were a new potential adopter, that it would massively put me off if I thought that the system was as difficult to breach as it sounded.

Mr Cameron needs to put his money where his mouth is to find alternative methods of moving adopters through the system and helping approve positive matches for families with support to help families cope with the potential problems they will face.

I’ve said my piece and now I will settle back and sort out my three adopted boys photos for christmas cards.   The whole process was worth every rotten moment it took to get through.


Posted on 8 Comments

Guest Post – Adoption & Drug Users

Firstly, thank you very much to Scottish Mum for letting me guest post on her blog.

I wanted to write something relevant to her readers and I wasn’t sure which route to go down. However, I was listening to a debate on a radio show the other day about adoption and the lengthy process it has become and how this in itself is causing more potential trauma to children in care and I thought this seemed a good topic.

According the BAAF statistics, from April 2010 to March 2011, there were 3660 children under the age of 1 in care. Yet, only 60 babies under 1 were adopted in the same period. The average age of a child at adoption is 3 years and 10 months. To me, this seems rather old to have such a massive change of circumstance. They will have started at nursery and be not far off starting school by that age. If children were placed earlier in their lives, surely there would be less risk of them being scarred mentally by the whole process.


Whilst the adoption process is long for prospective adoptive parents, it needs to be, to ensure that the right number of checks have been carried out, and steps taken to prepare those wanting to adopt. However, the court process to get a child into an adoptive family is what seems to hold the process up. The reason for this is that the court puts the mothers needs above that of the baby. Whilst this is reasonable (they might be able to look after their children once they have dealt with issues), what kind of impact is it having on the child? What, I thought, about the babies born to drug users who are unable to look after their baby? Well, it appears that the interest of the mother comes first in these cases too. The courts will keep the baby with the mother (or in foster care) whilst the mother sees if she can ‘get clean’.

Now I may be cynical but, having worked with drug users (and previously covered the topic on my blog here), I have never once met someone addicted to drugs who didn’t put the next hit before everything else in their lives (however much they insist otherwise). So should the interests of these babies not be taken into account? They have potentially already had a rough start in life, like many babies born to drug users, they might have already had to withdraw from the drugs passed to them in the womb by their mother. How many times does a baby or toddler need to be taken into care whilst the mother ‘gets clean’ and is then returned to the mother only to be taken back into care when she falls foul to addiction again?

Research by Drugscope back in 2003 suggested that there were between 250,000 and 350,000 children born to drug misusing parents. With the numbers of drug users rising year on year, the number of children affected is increasing. The only way to stop this, is to offer effective, realistic treatment to the parents.

Whilst I appreciate that there are drug users out there who desperately want to stop taking drugs and will do anything in their means to make sure this happens, they really are the minority. Unless the mother moves away from her current situation, contacts and friends, she will find it all too easy to slip back into the old habits. It is possible to beat addiction and fight for your children, as the article here shows. 

I am absolutely not advocating snatching babies from drug users as soon as they are born, but maybe the balance needs to sway towards what is best for the baby. The first three years of their lives are so valuable in how they are shaped as individuals and how they judge the world in the future.



Written By
@helpfulmum from You”re Not From Round Here





Posted on 42 Comments

Judgemental Parents – Lets Tone it DOWN a notch….

Image: Naypong /

I am putting this post up as a result of something I saw on twitter yesterday.

This IS my space, and I am not falling out with anyone because of it, but I’d like to set the record straight about some things and hopefully it gets taken in the right vein, as a mainly educational post, although it does have a hint of rant.

I do feel that we can all learn from the things that we read and see, and it makes one person more understanding as a result, then I have done what I need to.

We all need to learn to live with each other, and have a responsibility to try to understand why things might happen, and not just jumping to conclusions.    I don’t want to make this a difficult park to play in, but it does need addressing.

In summary a little girl, about  6 or so was being effectively called names because she did something childish and upset another child. It was a simple enough start, but the reactions were a tad ridiculous.

The parents were blamed, the sibling was mentioned as a possible blame factor, and the girl was seen as a future pariah.    This was someone else’s 6-year-old girl people were talking about – NOT a willfully angst ridden teenager sitting in a jail cell.

I didn’t want to get into the timeline and talk about it, because that might have ended up with me getting a good amount of hate tweets, and I would probably have posted on my soap box.   I did say that I didn’t like it and I did stop reading my timeline for a while so that I didn’t have to see any  more.

We can call our own children what we like, but we shouldn’t jump to such ridiculous conclusions about other people we have never met.

I can tell you a little bit about BEING a parent who is blamed so easily…  And don’t even get me started on people blaming a sibling.   Is there such a word as familyist, or siblingist, because there should be?

I AM one of those parents who gets the blame – often….

I have been called that, pretty much since the day I adopted my boys.    My boys struggle a bit with etiquette, expectations, body language and just plain old sentences that don’t literally mean what they say.  That’s not their fault, or mine, yet I am constantly derided as I “MUST” be one of those parents who swear at their kids, as one of mine swears as much as any Coprolalia Tourette’s sufferer.

I don’t swear – I never have.  How does that make me, or people like me feel, being judged to be the cause of my sons swearing by people who live in their little sheltered bubbles and have never had to deal with neglect, abuse or disability on a daily basis?

My 3 year child once told a woman of at least 25 stone she was “fat”.   He asked her what she ate to get so fat.   She accused me of bringing him up badly as that was obviously what I thought before he said it.   Hmmmmmm.    My ventriloqy act must be getting better.

Instead of blaming the family, could we start looking at daily influences on our children.

The TV programmes with the kids in them, all tantrumming, backchatting, and looking for status.  The older children up to 12 + in the playgrounds, of which, probably more than half of them have unrestricted internet and you tube, and could be playing games like Grand Theft Auto. They really DO pick up on all of that you know.

And we may like to think our little angels don’t know swear words, but if they are in a school playground, believe me they do, they just don’t repeat them in front of you, but they know them.  The problem is that some children are more mature in their actions and abilities at younger ages than others (both boys and girls).  It’s not wrong, it’s the diverse world that we live in – but adults have to accept those influences and guide that, so that children have a chance to grow up as responsible adults.

The Government is even getting in on it – and this idea of making a parent responsible for a child at secondary, or senior school not attending.  Well excuse me for putting a spanner in the works, but how are some teensy little mums going to do it?  You know, those ones who are over shadowed by 6 footer sons who’ve been told that they can do what they like by the telly, friends, leaders, and that they have “rights” to choose how they live.  THEN, in the recklessness of youth, they decide they’re not going to go to school, because what’s the point, there’s no jobs for them anyway.   How are some mums going to get them to school?   Could you drag a 6 footer kicking and screaming to school?

It’s all the same thing, blame the parents as a whole and don’t look at the individual circumstances.

What about the possibility that the girl is having a terrible time, or that she could be under stress, or that she needs support and isn’t getting it?  What about the possibility that she is upset about something and has taken it out on another child that she is comfortable enough with to show it to.

Yes, there are times when it “could” be the parents, but why judge someone as a bad parent when you don’t know if it is true.

My point is that the responders had no idea of any of the background, or the child, and had no way of knowing what caused an incident, and certainly had no reason to blame the parents or the siblings for it.

It was a very sad conversation, and hopefully by reading this, people will think a little more before dismissing a whole family in one fell swoop.

Lets all just imagine ourselves in the shoes of the 6 year olds mum.  One day, that mum could be YOU.

Comments are open – feel free to add one, whatever your point of view.  I have a steel helmet on today.



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Adoption at Heart – The Beginning Part 2

Image: Kookkai_nak /

There we were, waiting to hear about some children that we were interested to hear about, when a phone call came for us to have the three little boys that social services wanted us to do them a favour for (the boys I talk about in Adoption at Heart, The Beginning).   The phone call says that they are bringing them round the next day.

I panic and nearly shout into the phone that they can’t arrive the next day as we’ve got nothing  for them, no cots, bedding, utensils, clothes, bath stuff, bottles, food, nothing, nothing, nothing.

That afternoon, cars start arriving in my driveway by the multiples – laden down with buggies, cots, bedding, some clothes, bottles and nappies, highchairs, the works.  Boxes and boxes of stuff on the driveway.  I could see the neighbours window curtains twitching, as I hadn’t told ANY of them what we were doing, or why I had stopped working.

Emptying the big spare room at speeds that Max Wall would be envious of, we decided to put the three of them into the same room to start off with so that they would have each other for company.  You live and learn, but we didn’t know any better back then.

Something or other happened and the boys couldn’t come for a few days.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and we had the weekend to ourselves to organise everything before the boys arrived, which is just as well, as I now know that there is no way I would have managed to get everything set up and organised and cope with three little boys as well.

On the Tuesday morning, a loud knock at the door in the morning was the signal that they were with the social workers.  Three boys under 3 years old.   I said goodbye to looking for my forever children hunting on the internet for the time being and had to buckle down to looking after the boys.

The first day didn’t go too badly, but bedtime was horrendous.  They didn’t sleep.  Children don’t sleep in our world.  Everyone knows that you bathe children, get their jammies on, read them a nice story, put them into their cots, sing them a lullabye, say goodnight and they go to sleep – that’s right, isn’t it?   The boys weren’t interested in what grown ups want, oh no, no, no.

That night, middler cried, and cried and screamed.  I slept by the side of his cot and he screamed and cried some more.   Littlest did eventually fall asleep giggling about midnight, and eldest dropped off about 1am.    I needed sleep, I wanted sleep, I didn’t know these children, and I was already exhausted.

After eldest fell asleep singing nursery rhymes with me, I lifted middler and put him in a buggy.  I walked the floor for two hours and he eventually fell asleep about 3- 4 am.  I put my head down to get some sleep, and at 6am it all started again.  He wanted up, and no-one was going to persuade him that it wasn’t morning.  I’m sure lots of you can identify with that one, it’s what most toddlers seem to do.

For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t have a shower, I didn’t wash my hair.  Actually, I didn’t even brush my hair.  Multiple toddlers at once certainly keep you on your toes.

I found myself up at the field behind my house at the end of the first week, walking the dog in the evening to give myself a break from the chaos that had taken over my home.  I had called a friend who met me in the field, with a pack of cigarettes.  I had stopped smoking, but that night I had 10, one after the other.  So much so that I vomited on the way back with the dog.  I had sat on the wet grass in that dark and dirty field for a few hours, and the tears streamed down my face.

I was doing all this work for children I didn’t know.  When these children walk into your house, they are strangers.   I convinced myself I could cope with that.

Somehow I did.

Somehow we also had fun.

There is something just so delicious about being able to jump about, and wave your arms and hands like a jellyfish wobble in time to a never ending nursery rhyme.  And the faces, well, there is no excuse for making silly faces quite like having kids around.

Social services asked us to keep them longer, and we put off looking for our own children for a while longer, as I just didn’t have the time to look.   I kept trying to keep the kids memories and meetings with birth parents alive to prepare them for the eventual handback if things all sorted themselves out.

Time passes very quickly when there are multiple children, and middler was enough work to count for 20 children on his own as a toddler.  I kept my feelings for them at arms length as they were not my children, and would be moving on.  They called us by our first names, and not mum and dad, as that is what I felt their birth parents would be more comfortable with.

Contact was difficult for them and their birth parents.  Sometimes they would turn up, and sometimes they wouldn’t.  When they didn’t show, the disappointment was hard to watch on eldest.

After about 9/10 months I began looking on the internet for children, and approached a few places about adopting children from oversea.  It’s a slow process, but because we were approved in the UK already, it wouldn’t be too bad.    We were looking at finances, and how much it would cost to go through procedures in three different countries, and I had started searching through the BAAF magazines again to see if there were any children on there that might fit in with us long term.

I did tell you adoption is a very clinical process once you get going.   Many potential parents have to look long and hard to find their children.

The day came, well over a year after they had arrived, when we were notified that the social services had decided that the children would be put up for adoption, and would not be returning to their birth parents.

We had to make a choice.   Did we start preparing the boys for a new move to another home with another set of adults to get used to, or did we want to take them on?   It wasn’t as easy a choice as people might think.  Going from fostering children to being responsible for them forever is a very big step to make.

We talked it over, and decided that they were in our home, and if they weren’t going back to birth parents, that they should stay with us if we were allowed to have them.   The social workers applied to Court for the freeing order and we put in our request to go to matching panel.    Both were approved.  After the freeing order was granted, the boys birth parents appealed it, and it was overturned on a technicality, so the process began again through the childrens panel system.

At the point the freeing order had been granted, and the matching approved, we began to plan for the future, organising the boys staying with us, school moves to suit us, replacing social services equipment with our own and returning theirs etc.  When the order was overturned, the potential of having the boys living with us permanently, which I had allowed to creep into my feelings after it had been legally decided, took a huge blow.

We were suddenly faced with the position of  having let the kids in further than I would have feelings wise, and had begun planning a future with us.  We suddenly faced the possibility that we might not have a future.  It was an awful time for everyone involved.

It was over 2 years that the boys had been with us before we became a legal family.

That day, when the papers were stamped, my boys began to call me mum after a lovely judge told them to look after their new mum.

I am mum.

Adoption at Heart – The Beginning Part 1






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Adoption at Heart – The Beginning

Saying goodbye to the fertility merry-go-round after three rounds of IVF and one donor cycle felt strangely liberating.   A long 12 months months later, we  climbed aboard the slow train to adoption.

Approaching social services after my second round of fertility treatment proved fruitless.  They refused to allow us to embark until we were finished with fertility treatment, AND waited for about a year from the last treatment.   Being of the opinion that I just wanted to be a mum, I really didn’t care where my children came from, and I would happily have adopted a child as well as having some of my own if I could.

“They” said no.   Well hello, some of us could cope with both you know.  Why they always try to slot us into boxes is beyond me.    There should be more room for manoeuvre than there is at the moment.  There are lots of children out there who need homes, and putting barriers in the way of them finding a forever family is not the best way forward in my opinion.

Yes, I totally understand the need to make sure a family can cope with everything that might be thrown at them, and I also acknowledge that I have met potential adopters who I know would never make it past the first year if they are matched with children with high needs.  BUT, if the powers that be are happy to throw three toddlers at a couple when the going gets tough, then why aren’t that same couple considered good enough to potentially have an IVF child and an adopted one?  I will never understand that logic.

In the endless year between finishing IVF and being allowed to get on the train for adoption, I started researching adoption, child behaviour and potential problems with children we might be responsible for.  It’s what a lot of us do.  It’s all really quite clinical when you start down this path.   You want children, you can’t give birth, so you go searching out other ways to be a mum.  I considered surrogacy, overseas adoption and spent many many hours looking for children, researching and getting together all the information I could on it, both good and bad.

I had spent nearly 2 years looking on the internet in total.  I had read all the child development books that I could lay my hands on to make sure that I knew what I was likely to be faced with.  In the end, none of them made any difference.

Juggling a career that was going places, I struggled with the fact that I would be expected to give it up to adopt children.   All the literature that I read pointed to having to give up work.   Remember, this was nearly 10 years ago.  Perhaps the rules, and guidelines have changed now.

Did the social workers appreciate that I had done so much research?  Did they hell as like.

We were told afterwards that they had almost written us off as potential adopters because I had put on the feedback form that I already knew what they had covered on the initial information day, and that I felt like I had wasted 6 months waiting for the information day to get on the adoption trail, as I could have begun the assessment process much sooner.   I had  also said that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the adopters at the talks, but I hadn’t learned anything new at the session because of how much research I had done.

I was also frustrated at how many people were at the information day who just wanted to “do good” by taking a child into their family.  Well blow me, we all want to do good, but it doesn’t involve a lifetime commitment to be “seen” to be doing the socially acceptable thing.   I really do wonder how many of the “do gooders” end up as adoption disrupters, ie they give in when the going gets tough, and send the kids back, because they expected a timid little yes child who would be at their beck and call.

Reality check.  Adopters have to want to be parents, and nothing more in my opinion.  How on earth is it possible to commit to x years of 24 hour days, all your finances, and increased risk of high needs children otherwise?

Coming back off  my hobby soap box and back down to earth !!!!!

At the very last minute, we put in for approval for foster caring as well as adoption, as we were told that to get a young child, it would be better to foster one, and that would mean giving up work.   It also meant that we could do the odd emergency weekends to get some practice in for our own children (whenever they arrived).

A couple of brief weeks after being approved to adopt, we had a phone call asking us if we wanted to know about some children, so we said yes.  Three days later, we received a phone call asking us to do them a favour with three little boys who were coming into care and they had nowhere to put them.  We had approval for up to  3 children so it was a little blackmail there.   We said ok……  for a week or two until the social workers got themselves sorted out…………. and the fun began………….and no, it wasn’t as straightforward as it seems.

That’s all for another days blog.

If you want to read more about adoption, IVF, IVF Donor Cycles etc, leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to know.

Adoption At Heart – Part 2




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Bloggers Adoption Group on Brit Mums



Brit Mums have had a facelift.  Formerly known as British Mummy Bloggers, they have updated and extended the facilities they have on the get together site for those of us who live and breathe in the blogosphere.

I have set up a new group on Brit Mums for bloggers who have an interest in adoption, or would like to support those who are affected by the issues surrounding adoption.

There must be quite a few of us Adoptive mums (or dads) (or grown ups with their own children). Even those of you who have questions you always wanted to ask, or just if you want to give an adopter some support on the parenting front.  Everyone is welcome.

I suppose with 3 children, I am in the almost veteran category of adoptive parents, and it can be hard to talk about our issues among non adoptive parents.

Perhaps there isn’t a need for a group for us, but if there is a mum / or dad / or child out there who wants to talk about adoption in any form, I will be around, and hopefully there will be others who feel confident enough to put their hand up and join us for the occasional chat when they need it (or even when they don’t).

Anything adoption and blogging related is welcome.  At the moment, I am billy no mates in the new group, and I’d love a few of you to pop over and join me in saying hello, and perhaps opening up the area of parenthood that is often silent in the blogging world.

Join me by clicking on Brit Mums HERE.