Sunday, 25 December 2011

Our daughter's first Christmas with her forever family

In December 2006, adoptive mum Carole met her daughter for the first time. Today, she reflects on their first meeting and tells us what Christmas means to her and her family.

4 December 2006

"Today we met our gorgeous baby girl for the first time. It was the single most amazing event of our entire lives together. We could never have dreamt that it would go so well.

We got there and I was shaking like a leaf. We took our shoes off in the hall and this tiny little girl came crawling towards us. We sat down on the floor and she stopped and smiled at us... carried on crawling until she was at her Mummy's knees, climbed on my lap and I picked her up. She cuddled into Mummy's neck and I was beside myself but held it together for Bea's sake. She then got down off my lap and crawled to Daddy, climbed onto his lap and gave him a cuddle too. The foster carer and social worker were in tears.

We would go through another 9 years of heartache for that moment - it was beyond anything we had ever expected or dreamed of."

December 2011

That was an entry in my diary 5 years ago on the day we met our daughter. 11 days later, Bea came home to her forever family on 15th December 2006. We were extremely lucky that a series of events with her foster carer, together with a fabulous social worker, meant that she was with us for her first Christmas. It did zoom by in a bit of a blur but Christmas today is even more special to us as we remember those dates and what they mean to us.

Bea absolutely loves Christmas, and at nearly 6 years old, is beside herself with excitement this year. As a family, we always make the most of the build up, and do lots of Christmassy things together, like Christmas markets and ice skating, attending local garden centres and meeting Father Christmas. It is lovely to make our own traditions and we feel so lucky to be a part of it all. On Christmas day, we always spend it with both sets of grandparents and other members of the family. We are a close family and Bea is the icing on the Christmas cake for all of us.






Monday, 19 December 2011

Our not-so-cracking first Christmas as an adoptive family

As we enter the festive season, adoptive mum Helen recalls her first Christmas with her adopted children - and explains why it didn't go according to plan!

Our first Christmas with our two adopted children was so ridiculously stressful that it was more pantomime than pleasure. And it's all my fault. At least, that's what I think. I was so determined to make it their most amazing Christmas ever I practically force fed them Christmas songs from the minute we all woke up, which was 4am, until the minute we all crashed, about 5pm. One of the most wonderful things about finally having your children is to give them a special Christmas, and I think the pressure got to me.

Firstly, we weren't organised. Putting together a Castle of Doom that had 147 separate parts at midnight on Christmas Eve with my co-mummy who had the on-set of Swine Flu (but we didn't know it at the time) wasn't the joyful and relaxing night I was hoping for. The children woke us up at 4am and I thought it would be a good idea to go open the presents 'because it's our first Christmas'. This meant we were tired and grumpy, the kids were in an absolute frenzy, and the whole event felt like a speed unwrapping contest. They were tossing box sets of books to the side and ripping open the next one. All the while Dean Martin is in the background banging on about how much he wants to let it snow.

Fast-forward about 6 hours and I'm getting on with the dinner. Something I love to do. I hear a blood-curdling scream. After running up the stairs at breakneck speed I discover co-mummy holding her eye and crying out in pain. A toy gun that fired plastic discs has cracked her contact lens in her eye. Our little girl is crying because she has had the toy taken off her. It was like World War 3. Do they even know it's Christmas? Once this was cleared up and the tears - from both mummy and daughter - were cleared up, it was dinnertime. My co-mummy couldn't taste a thing due to being ill, our son gobbled down what he could in 3 seconds to get playing again, and our little girl cried when she looked at her plate because she didn't like any of it.

Finally, we were rescued by friends and asked to go for a walk at around 3pm. This was my favourite part of the day. There was snow on the ground and we had a sledge. It was fabulous. We got back home around 4.30pm and both kids crashed out completely at 5pm. We carried them up to bed and that was that. First Christmas...done.

Thankfully, I learned a few good lessons from this and last year our Christmas was truly wonderful. This year, we have Grandparents and siblings over so it should be even better. We now have a 7am rule for getting up and more tracks on our Christmas playlist so we don't hear Mariah Carey 17 times in one day.

I bet I'm not the only adoptive mum who experienced this. The pressure we put on ourselves is immense. I just wanted it to be the stuff that memories are made of. I suppose I did achieve that. We still laugh about it now.

For more stories about adoption, please visit BAAF's online bookstore.

For the latest news and updates on BAAF, follow us on Twitter @BAAFAdoption or visit our Facebook page.







Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Truth About Adoption: your thoughts

Last night, BBC One aired the Panorama Special: The Truth About Adoption. The documentary provoked some strong reactions online during the hour - here we present some of your thoughts. If you missed the show, you can catch up on BBC iPlayer now.


@GillianMcShane
Omg. Just omg. #truthaboutadoption

@BAAfAdoption
V honest depiction of adoption starting now on BBC One. #panorama #truthaboutadoption

@kevindcraig
Recently attend excellent Family RIghts Group Annual Dinner & supportive of fosterers - so gripped by #BBC1 #Panorama -#TruthAboutAdoption

@JWilliamson1234
Beautiful kids #truthaboutadoption

@AlishaBhavika
watching the #truthaboutadoption - man its so sad.

@seasparkle_x
Are you honestly telling me they would not consider new parents for these girls if they won't get a dog?? #truthaboutadoption

@miconm
Think Panorama on #truthaboutadoption is going to upset me & be difficult viewing...

@mumscoffeeclub
@seasparkle_x #truthaboutadoption madness this is scary!

@langtry_girl
This mother looks absolutely /stunned/.....#truthaboutadoption

@janetmarland
40% more kids taken into care since Baby P but no increase in social workers to address kids' needs -shocking #panorama #truthaboutadoption

@Helencakefiend
Oh god the parents whose kids are being adopted.... just cos you can't look after them doesn't mean you don't love them. #truthaboutadoption

@alistair_sloan
Some of this is heartbreaking ##truthaboutadoption

@kirstyhalton
No records? This makes no sense - how is anyone supposed to learn anything #adoptionbreakdown #truthaboutadoption

@Em_and_Lola
65,000 kids in Care in this country. This is terrible. These kids deserve love, families & secure homes. #truthaboutadoption

@spursblogger
So far honest, realistic portrayal of dilemmas, struggles, heartbreak and joy of fostering and adoption #truthaboutadoption

@BAAFAdoption
Need info/advice about adoption? Visit http://www.baaf.org.uk/info/advice #panoroma #truthaboutadoption

@kristalsmile
No child of that little boys age should have to be taught the concept of abandonment #truthaboutadoption :(

@Helencakefiend
I know I could love a child I didn't give birth to just as much as I could my own flesh and blood. #truthaboutadoption

@rolo_d
These foster carers are heroes #truthaboutadoption

@Grumpyhatlady
adoption is such a complex issue, its never straightforward. Everyone is a victim in so many cases. So sad #truthaboutadoption

@educationgovuk
As tonight's @bbcpanorama shows, we need more people to come forward to adopt http://bit.ly/sEU3qe #truthaboutadoption

@CathyAshley
If you are a birth parent of a child in care-free FRG advice service www.frg.org.uk 08088010366 9.30am-3.30pm #truthaboutadoption #Panorama

@itsmotherswork
@tahmidurahman: #truthaboutadoption these kids can handle so much more than I would be able to, so strong” << They don't have a choice. @JoLibrariAnne
Reading over-sentimentalised tweets. Folk mean well bt have little idea about the reality of living w an adopted child #truthaboutadoption

@kathwoolf
Must have more support for vulnerable women with learning difficulties to try to prevent more #adoption tragedies #TruthAboutAdoption

@HNightingale
@BAAFAdoption confirmed to us how broken the system really is. Been waiting 2 years, nearly there now but could still breakdown.

@WELSHPAULA2
@BAAFAdoption absolutley heartbreaking I'm an adopted adult I'm so lucky #truthaboutadoption

@stewartdarkin
@BAAFAdoption I thought it was good - representative and moving. But I wonder what viewers with no knowledge of adoption made of it.

@jaseR32
@BAAFAdoption it broke me

@stewartdarkin
@BAAFAdoption BTW, a breakdown after THREE YEARS? Unimaginable trauma for those kids and their ability to form attachments. Very sad,

@Theresauno
@BAAFAdoption V gud prog 2 hi-light need for more adopters. It did nt cover difficult subjects - challenging behaviours/sexual abuse bt

@Theresauno
@BAAFAdoption showed how resilient sum children r even when facin v difficult/upsetting times. Got ppl talkin/realising wot children go thru

@Theresauno
@BAAFAdoption It also hi-lighted the fact that not all birth families r 'bad' ppl n how difficult the whole process is for every1 concerned


If you need help or advice about adoption, please call our free advice line on 0800 652 9626. Lines are open 9am-1pm Monday to Friday during December. Alternatively, visit the BAAF website.






Monday, 12 December 2011

What Christmas means to me and my adoptive family...

(c) ambernussbaum
Recently, we took to Facebook and Twitter to ask you to sum up what Christmas means to you and your adoptive family.

With just under two weeks to go until we all tuck into the turkey Xmas Day, we take a look at the best responses:


"Love this time of year, especially given that we brought home our little girl 10 days before Christmas #adoptioniswonderful"

"simply the first christmas you share with your adopted children seeing their smiles and happy faces makes all the waiting worth while."

"I am the proud God Mother to a child adopted by a fabulous woman who is a close friend, and also happens to be an adoptee. My GS was welcomed into his family just before Christmas and December happens to be his Birthday month. Always a special time to give thanks for family and count my blessings. :-)"

"family,love,happiness,smiling faces+pure joy that we are a family+thanking the powers that be our youngest is still alive"

"this christmas is our first as a family........ waited 7 years for this. Lets hope Santa visits :)"

"Christmas is the best knowing my daughter will now grow up every year with her family and be with her whole family on christmas day always."

"We've waited a long time for our little girl and now she is here with us, it feels like all our Christmases have come at once! 8-)"

"The tree is all wonky this year, the tinsel isn't straight and there is more glitter than I have ever seen, but it was done by my 2 wee angels in celebration of our first family Christmas together. Absolute joyeous occasion!"

"Adopting our daughter last year brought the magic back to Christmas for us. Santa brought the best gift imaginable."

"10 years on and we have a young man who now thinks he will get a present. Having had years of not being at all sure that he will get one, this is massive progress."

"My son's comment "I love Christmas with my family!" He has lived with us for eleven years and I still feel happy when he calls us HIS family!"

"Chocolate before breakfast, mince pies, Away in a Manger, gifts for the teachers, reindeer food, Christingles, getting the tree, hiding presents in strange places, amazed whispers at 4am, manic excitement, turkey in the oven, early glass of wine, family film on the telly... and a tired but very happy moment snatched alone with my other half watching them when they've finally crashed out."

"Xmas means...Family memories and stories to save for the kids when they're grown, as part of their journey"

"2 years on the 14th that we adopted our son, no better xmas present ever x"

Check back next Monday for more Christmas anecdotes. In the meantime, follow BAAF on Twitter @BAAFAdoption and check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BAAFAdoption






Friday, 9 December 2011

Cats: helping to raise money for an adoption & fostering charity

Perhaps rather foolishly, I have signed up to take part in (and hopefully complete) the 2012 Virgin London Marathon to help raise funds for BAAF. Come April 22nd 2012 I will be walking running just over 26 miles around London alongside thousands of participants including one of our long-time celebrity supporters, Andrew Barton.

If that wasn't bad enough, I've also pledged to raise £1,500 for my chosen charity (and place of work). As well as accepting sponsorship on my fundraising page, I have also made a cat/kitten calendar, which you can purchase to help me reach my target.

See above and below for a sneak peek at some of the gorgeous cats featured (which were all submitted by BAAF staff) - and then email me via dan.french@baaf.org.uk to place an order. Calendars are priced at £10 each or three for £25 - perfect as Christmas presents!

If cats aren't your thing, you should visit my fundraising page to sponsor me because: I skipped PE every week at school - so this really will be somewhat challenging; I have just invested in a multitude of Adidas garments - a first for me; I will give you permission to come down on the day and laugh at my sweaty self; the fundraising team at BAAF will kick my ass if I don't meet my target (and I really like this job).

You can visit my fundraising page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DanFrench






Monday, 5 December 2011

Your Tweets, Retweeted

A round-up of the news and views that BAAF thought were interesting and worth sharing around Twitter during November.

@spursblogger
RT @AdoptionFocus: Much consideration of ways to improve the #adoption process. Children must remain the focus of the debate

@NickyAACampbell
Now to Bishops Stortford to film for #longlostfamily. Back on yr screen in May.

@ClaireAgius
@BAAFAdoption Post Adoption Support / Contact with birth families (in reply to... @BAAFAdoption Anyone have any suggestions for the topic of a future Twitter Chat?)

@Jonnyhoyle1
@BAAFAdoption I would like to debate the ongoing attachment/relationship problems experienced in post care adulthood (in reply to... @BAAFAdoption Anyone have any suggestions for the topic of a future Twitter Chat?)

@EdForChoice
@BAAFAdoption We're interested in people's ideas about how to talk about adoption and fostering within PSHE/SRE lessons (in reply to... @BAAFAdoption Anyone have any suggestions for the topic of a future Twitter Chat?)

Follow BAAF on Twitter @BAAFAdoption and check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BAAFAdoption






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