Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kids say the darndest things...

I was at Brownies today and Mr Spouse brought Baby Spouse by to pick us up (as I have hurt my back and can't really walk or lift stuff).  One of the girls said "ooh yes, that's the baby you've adopted, isn't it". That's right. "Where did you find him" (very tempted to say - under the gooseberry bush). "Well, sweetie, sometimes babies' first mummies and daddies can't look after them, so then they have to find a new mummy and daddy". My other (very down to earth) Brownie asked "so, why do people have babies in the first place if they can't look after them?"
Why indeed.
Anyway I told her "sometimes people don't plan to have babies, and that is something you should perhaps ask your mummy and daddy".
I bet I'm going to be so popular.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This is not a very exciting post

But I went shopping today in our nearest BIG city (just over an hour on the train) and I bought:

2 plates (to replace the top tier of a cake stand I sold on Ebay that broke - but our plan is not going to work. Boo)

1 tank top and 2 pairs running shorts for me (AA, I wear them as warm weather pyjamas, causing Mr Spouse great mirth)

2 bodysuits (onesies), one black and one bright green, as well as karate pants and a wrap top, for Baby Spouse (all AA, particularly pleased about the black onesie)

A salt grinder, a navy and green maxi dress, two size 6mo+ (HOW is this possible) grobags, a light green onesie and a romper with a lion on (TK Maxx)

6 more bodysuits and a London bus romper (Next)

4 bras and 2 swimsuits (Bravissimo)

But no shoes.

And I was home by 4.15. All made possible by the power of Dad in Charge. Plus he took baby out of the bedroom at 7.30 am and I went back to sleep.

We got a voicemail from Nella to say she needs to give us her new address (so, housing situation has as predicted not stayed stable but she still has a phone). Mr Spouse doesn't really like talking to her on the phone - it is true, she finds him a little hard to understand.

I told him that IF we adopt again and it's from the UK he should do this kind of call as his accent is easier for people from our region. He did not say No we are not adopting again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

And on a more positive note...

I had a witty title for this but it's gone...

Anyway, Baby Spouse continues to be delightful and one of the most wonderful things about this whole being a parent thing is just how besotted Mr Spouse is with Baby Spouse.  He said the other day he wasn't sure about having a tiny baby as they "just lie there all day and sleep". Even given how addicted to sleeping Baby Spouse is, he is a delight to be with and incredibly rewarding to interact with* and very very smiley.  Daddy is the funniest person in the world EVER, apart from Mummy.

Our social worker is also a big fan of Baby Spouse and loves coming for her visits to us because she gets to hold him (much older adopted children who are not sure who they are supposed to be parented by will try and sit on social workers' laps, and this is to be discouraged; slightly older adopted children who are firmly attached to Mummy and Daddy would be scared of her; but he's too young to mind yet).

He still naps quite a lot (he's napping now, and I should be making my lunch, but am blogging instead) but there are moments when you think "what can I do with him, he doesn't want to sit in his bouncy chair and I can only amuse him for about 2 minutes with a rattle and I'm not about to put the TV on for him" but thank goodness for parent and baby groups I say, as I've settled into a routine of going to a few of these and he loves looking at the other babies and parents, and he is at least calm when in the pushchair or sling going there. We have a weekly (but highly interruptible) routine, and I'm thinking of being brave and going for a day's shopping in The City on the train soon, which he should be OK about as he'll like going on the train and looking at the people.

I still have not told any of the parents that I've met through these groups that we are adopting him** and it has not yet happened that any of the parents I knew already have been to the same groups as me, but our church has just started organising one and several people at church know we are adopting him so it's only a matter of time.  

I have said to people that it's not the first thing I say about him but it's not a secret, but now I'm second guessing myself as perhaps I am deliberately keeping it quiet? There is one baby at the main group I go to who has a hearing impairment, and when people find that out, they always want to talk about it, not in a negative way, but it is natural and I am as nosy as the next person.

*Except when he wakes up at 4.45 am to whinge about how he's just woken up, but isn't hungry, but would like someone to do something please. And then goes back to sleep 20 minutes later but I don't.

**At the moment, we say "we are adopting him" because we have not yet adopted him finally. But I'm not sure what we'll say in the future. I incline towards "we adopted him when he was a baby" rather than "he is adopted". 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Worth repeating

I got an email today from a reader who is an adoptive parent. I won't share their name and I feel slightly bad sharing their comment but I really, really think this is information that needs to be out there in as many places as possible.

The reader says "I'm seeing lots of comments about him being quiet, not fussing, very little crying etc. I just wanted to share my thoughts with you. Attachment springs to mind. I'm not sure if you know much about attachment and if you do forgive me but if you don't it might be worth looking in to."

Short answer (and actually slightly rude): why is it bad for a baby to be quiet and not fuss? this sounds like something my mother would say! Baby Spouse is actually one of the happiest, sunniest babies that most people we know have ever met. And premature babies are often quiet and don't cry. That's what the NICU staff told us and I'll take their word over someone who hasn't had any newborns in the house (and that's not just rude because it's flippant but also because I know many UK adopters would love to adopt a newborn, but can't. So I am sorry).

Long answer: I am very very worried by what adopters are being told in their adoption preparation about attachment. I am not posting this to make people look ill-informed but in case I can help someone who has not had good information.

Background: this reader said she hadn't read back beyond January, so does not know that I teach people about children's development, and research children's development, for a living. So can be forgiven. But even while I'm off work, I can't help trying to make sure people are well-informed about children's development. The reader does know that Baby Spouse was a newborn when placed.

In our adoption preparation, the timescales of attachment were clearly gone through.  Infants first become properly "attached", in other words they know who their caregivers are and they miss them when they leave, at the earliest at about 6 months of age.  I won't copy and paste the Wikipedia article as that would be a bit pointless, but it is up to date on current research. We didn't go into attachment styles or attachment in adults at our prep course, as it isn't appropriate. The most important facts though, are those on early time scales, and those were strongly emphasised.

Irresponsible people point those in the adoption triad to the book The Primal Wound, which I won't link to.  The thesis of this book is that any separation, however early, disrupts adoption.  I've looked for articles in respected, peer reviewed* journals cite this book (as most of the citations of this book are by the author, a sure sign of a one-person theory) and did find this article in what is really the top journal in my field. From this article I quote:

"Mainstream adoption researchers and specialists
(Brinich, 1980; Brodzinsky et al., 1992; Nickman,
1985) do not believe that infant adoption constitutes
an immediate loss at placement that inevitably disrupts
early attachments."
Most other articles I could find were in minor journals I hadn't heard of, or in journals that don't deal with child development. 

I shouldn't be too surprised that some prep courses don't cover it properly, though, as at our adoption approval panel, one of the members asked us what we'd do if we had a child who had attachment difficulties. I was very well behaved and did not say "write a really famous paper overturning everything we know about attachment theory" but charitably assumed they had not read the bit saying we'd be adopting a baby a few days or weeks old.

Adoption involves loss, in the same way that death of a parent involves loss. But there's no evidence that adoption in the first few weeks or days involves disruption of attachment and there's no reason it should because attachment has not formed by then. I do see a lot of adopters writing on message boards that their child will be sad/will have a disrupted attachment because of moving to a foster home at birth. They may well be sad later in life when they know more about what happened to them. But they won't experience it at the time and neither will they experience a disruption to attachment since it hasn't happened yet.

Of course things that happen before birth affect children and of course genetics matter - both are important for Baby Spouse. And there is information in what we know about that that could lead to him being quiet, but which we aren't sharing.

But since attachment is formed in the first six months of life, this is when inconsistent caregiving can interfere with it. I hope we are consistent caregivers, but a fair few children who spend time in foster care in their first few months don't spend all their time in foster care, but shuttle back and forth to birth family, or between carers.  This is one major reason why the UK assumptions that children will go to foster care while their fate is decided, and then to an adoptive family, is bad for children. Children who spend long periods of time in hospital are also at risk of attachment problems, as although they have loving carers in hospital and at home, the carers are not consistent.

If you are interested in a readable and accurate account of the actual facts behind attachment (not the pseudo-facts behind the attachment parenting movement), I highly recommend Understanding Attachment by Jean Mercer.