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Church and reasonable adjustments?

(28 Posts)
RatherBeIndoors Mon 28-Nov-16 13:14:50

Gently with your answers please, I'm a bit raw on this one still smile:

Recently our church has had a huge placard (think "Golf Sale" size grin ) around the place, indoors, that says "please adopt me, please adopt me". I had absolutely no idea what it was for, but did get a huge reaction from LO (home 3 years) who was scared it meant a) adoption might not be for ever if you have to ask again, b) someone in church had lost their family, or c) if you're adopted that means you had to beg for a family. LO is old enough to sort of understand words can be used different ways, but not totally, and anyway when under stress regresses back to 2-3 yr old level of understanding. We are doing lots of lifestory stuff just now so this was particularly triggering.

We had to leave the church that day because LO became too distressed. I later asked the vicar if the church could store the sign elsewhere, or change the wording (just printed onto paper and tacked on, not signwritten or anything). The vicar replied it will be good for my child to learn resilience and not be over-protected and that such things can't be avoided. The signs are only to encourage people to have a garden notice-board apparently, so not life-or-death. I have sent the vicar some links about early trauma (LO has PTSD and attachment disorder) and some links about adoption and church. A week on, I've had no reply. (I know it's advent and people are busy.)

I do get that this wouldn't be an issue for the majority of children. But it is for mine, and has made LO scared to return. If the vicar won't listen, what can I do constructively? I don't really want to have to find another church, but if this is the attitude of the leadership perhaps it's better to discover that now... Agh.

Poppystellar Mon 28-Nov-16 13:53:11

I'm so mad on your behalf rather. This kind of attitude is what gives churches and religion in general a bad name. I can't believe the vicar's attitude (or rather I should be surprised but I'm not, experience has taught me there are sadly plenty of religious types who don't practice what they preach and seem to completely miss what, to me, is the whole point of Christiantity - love, tolerance and compassion for others.)

Anyway, rant over, constructively I think you've done exactly the right thing so far in speaking to the vicar. If it's a c of e church I would suggest contacting local diocesan office or the Bishop's office (poss start with the safeguarding officer or the director of education). I know it's not an education issue but these people tend to be ex teachers or at least have previously worked in some education / children and young people capacity and so should have some idea of why this is so much of a trigger for children who've been adopted.

I'm absolutely aghast at the bloody insensitivity of the vicar and his utterly crass reaction. I would be raging if I was you (and I'm also a churchgoer so not normally prone to raging against religion) and I think you are absolutely right not to let either the posters or the vicar's attitude go unchallenged. In my opinion his attitude and response is utterly unChristian.

flowers for you

RatherBeIndoors Mon 28-Nov-16 14:02:31

Poppy you don't know how much that means, thank you - I was really doubting myself because on the one hand I felt totally dismissed and belittled, but on the other I looked at my child and there was such genuine distress. I really don't think the church needs to teach my child "resilience" - they have a hard enough time surviving everyday life, I kind of hoped the church might be a refuge from that!

bostonkremekrazy Mon 28-Nov-16 14:06:41

I recently left our becomes too hard to fight every battle.

Sorry to read of this sad

flapjackfairy Mon 28-Nov-16 14:26:13

I am a christian. It is so dissappointing when churches get things so badly wrong because as you say these places should be refuges from the harsh world out there.
I also would complain to bishop or whoever is next in the heirachy. And finding a better church might be worthwhile in the long term. X

Poppystellar Mon 28-Nov-16 14:39:41

Sorry to hear you've had a similar experience boston. It's absolutely crap that attitudes like this still permeate the church.

Fwiw rather I totally agree church should be a refuge, we know our children have to be extra resilient, but they shouldn't have to practise this resilience at somewhere that should be a place of comfort, sanctuary and support.

Grrrr. Probably just as well this is an Internet forum not RL else I might be round the church to give said vicar a verbal kick up the arse.

tldr Mon 28-Nov-16 14:50:44

Do you know, I get incandescent about tv ads asking me to adopt polar bears or FB posts asking me to adopt dogs, and I really do have to accept that that really is me just shaking my fists at the sky whilst I try to distract the DC from the snow leopards.

But that? My god, I don't know how you didn't chin him. YANBU. Keep fighting. And if you do end up elsewhere, make sure they know damn well why. Suffer the little children, indeed.

2kids2dogsnosense Mon 28-Nov-16 15:07:36

OP - I am also a practising Christian - and I am disgusted at your vicar's response to your very reasonable request. To suggest it would "good for my child to learn resilience and not be over-protected and that such things can't be avoided" , is crass and ignorant in the extreme.

You aren't an idiot - you are aware that things will happen that will distress your child, but you are trying hard to provide a safe place for him, so that he can develop resilience. A wound doesn't get less painful when you rub salt into it - it needs time and tender care to heal over.

Your vicar sounds like the sort of person who tells grieving and depressed people to "pull themselves together", or tells children who are being bullied "that's life - get used to it - if you didn't cry they wouldn't do it" and blames the victim for their response.

Your child is understandably terrified. A priest with even an ounce of compassion wouldn't subject your LO to this distress - especially when it's about nothing of importance - a child's peace of mind is more important than a garden notice-board for goodness' sake.

I've met many wonderful priests - but I've also met too many like this one. I would also contact the Bishop and the Safeguarding Officer and explain the situation. There is a huge attempt to raise awareness in churches of all types of child abuse and their repercussions nowadays, so hopefully something will get done.

Churches everywhere are worrying about falling congregation numbers, but attitudes like this are very instrumental in people dropping away from the church. Church should be a place where everyone feels welcome and safe, and your vicar isn't providing that for your child.

ficklesticklebricks Mon 28-Nov-16 19:50:49

He is an idiot.

However, I would recommend moving churches. I know this may feel huge (I have had to do this in the past). Someone wiser than me said that arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon, they'll just knock over all the pieces, shit everywhere, and strut around like they won anyway.

A certain personality gets 'called' to such a vocation, and I don't think it takes easy to criticism, especially when they're in the wrong.

What sort of church is it? Is there a hierarchy you can go to? Could the PCC over-rule him, or the Church wardens? Or try the Bishop?

catsnickedallmypens Mon 28-Nov-16 19:54:25

I'm really sorry to hear about that Rather. It absolutely not acceptable and displays both a lack of insight and awful arrogance on the part of the vicar.

I'm not a Christian myself but I don't see that that is an issue here.

Anyone representing an organisation that is supposed to promote understanding, tolerance and humanity should not be behaving like this in his professional role. Doesn't matter if they are a teacher, vicar or medic. It's not on. That it really upset your LO is terrible.

tldr, I understand how you feel about the animal adoption ads, I particularly loathe how they are on the children's channels. However, interestingly, my adopted DC likes the fact that we also have an adopted cat ( from a cat rescue centre). My DC seems to view it as practical and caring way to resolve the issue of 'young ones' without a present or able adult to protect them and the best place for them is with adults who will love and care for them. I know that's a bit of a different issue to the tv ads but somehow it's a bit of a gentle joke in our house.

How's your LO now Rather?

2kids2dogsnosense Mon 28-Nov-16 20:25:10

Anyone representing an organisation that is supposed to promote understanding, tolerance and humanity should not be behaving like this in his professional role. Doesn't matter if they are a teacher, vicar or medic. It's not on.

^^ THIS x 1,000 ^^^

conserveisposhforjam Mon 28-Nov-16 20:28:56

Poor you rather.

This reminds me of a post here yonks ago (when all this were fields and Adoption posts still came up in active convos) where someone was told they needed to toughen their child up and let them know that 'life isn't all cupcakes and bunting'.

I think it stuck in my mind because it just betrays so much ignorance of the reality of adoption and what children go through.

Your vicar is the same - what does he have to tell your child - who has been through so so much - about resilience? I really feel you should point this out to him. LO has had a million opportunities to build resilience in the face of experiences no child should have. You are asking for a tiny adjustment to ease lo's obvious and unnecessary distress. His suggestion is patronising, ignorant and shows no willingness to empathise with lo's situation. And for what? A garden noticeboard.

And then I think you should burn the fucking sign in the font but this may be where I diverge from practicing Christians...

ficklesticklebricks Mon 28-Nov-16 20:34:39

I'm practicing.

That sign sounds flimsy. It would have found the bin by now if I'd seen it! wink

(I have been known to tear down sexist signs at work, too, while on night shifts.)

2kids2dogsnosense Mon 28-Nov-16 20:40:35

And then I think you should burn the fucking sign in the font but this may be where I diverge from practicing Christians

I'm a practising Christian, and I would be tempted to burn the fucking vicar in the font! angry

RatherBeIndoors Mon 28-Nov-16 20:45:57

I am now picturing a Basil Fawlty style sign smashing grin

Thanks everyone, you've made me smile and restored my perspective - I am not asking for anything hard or disproportionate. I've emailed the diocese asking for copies of the safeguarding and equalities policies. I think you're probably right that I need to find a new church, but I don't plan on going quietly!

And thank you for asking about LO - it's been over a week and things are calming, but that's due to loads of nurture and re-visiting theraplay games, and I'm frankly exhausted from a very intense week that was entirely avoidable.

tldr Mon 28-Nov-16 21:30:30

And that last para is entirely the point. Your church shouldn't be making stuff harder.

conserveisposhforjam Mon 28-Nov-16 23:02:39

If you want me to hop on a train and come to your church waving a pitchfork Rather just say the word.

conserveisposhforjam Mon 28-Nov-16 23:03:39

Tldr will come too. She can't resist an angry mob. grin

comehomemax Mon 28-Nov-16 23:15:09

Bloody hell! So, your vicar thinks your child needs to learn resilience rather than move his stupid sign in to a cupboard??? Can I have a spare pitchfork too?
Conserve, I remember the cupcakes and bunting idiocy too ! Some people really have zero empathy skills!

tldr Mon 28-Nov-16 23:20:50

I can be an angry mob all by myself. grin

Also remember the bunting comment. [old as the hills]

tldr Mon 28-Nov-16 23:23:45

I've just got angry about this again. Anyone who would claim to be compassionate has no business putting his lame arsed stupid marketing above a vulnerable child.

Ilikethedaffodils Tue 29-Nov-16 00:56:05

Hi Rather,
I read your op earlier but didn't have time to post a response then. Just wanted to add to the chorus of people telling you your vicar is an idiot. It's one thing not to be very clued up about adoption, but in another league altogether to be unconcerned that you had inadvertantly caused such distress to a child in your own congregation that she had to be taken home! I am outraged on your behalf by his ignorant and insensitive comments when you tried to talk to him later.

Have you come across the charity Home for Good? It is a Christian charity promoting and supporting fostering and adoption. Their website has a lot of really interesting resources, and they have some local support groups, depending on where you live. They produced a very useful little booklet called "Supporting those who adopt and foster - A Care for the Family guide for churches" Of course your current vicar probably wouldn't be willing to read or take notice of such a booklet, in which case you could use it for kindling when you build the bonfire with his garden notice signs! I got loads of copies of the booklet a year or so ago and handed them out at a church meeting but of course I don't know how many of them were read.

I'm not an adoptive parent btw but I am a practising Christian and one of two foster carers in our Church congregation. There is also a family in church who adopted two boys and the Mum is a good friend of mine. We have both had fairly dumb things said to us occasionally in Church, but not by the minister himself who has been very supportive and very willing to learn.

RatherBeIndoors Tue 29-Nov-16 13:19:40

Update in the interests of fair reporting: since yesterday evening, there has been a re-think. The links about trauma I sent them have been read. The sign (I am promised) has had its words removed. And I have been sent more info about the types of seasonal activities coming up in case any of them are especially interesting to us/might be triggering.

I still feel a bit bruised and wary about the whole thing, because it was very tough reaching this point, and it's hard to forget how it made me and LO feel. I am not sure how much energy I've got to keep putting work into this, but they have made an effort to belatedly understand, and they did say sorry. So maybe put the pitchforks down but keep them within reach?!

tldr Tue 29-Nov-16 13:24:13

Vicar's a mumsnetter? <waves to all passing clergy>

Good. I'll keep my pitchfork to hand but dial my anger back to grumbling.

2kids2dogsnosense Tue 29-Nov-16 13:46:04

I'm so glad I don't have to immolate your vicar. I rarely even burn heretics these days, smile

It's good to know that your priest is prepared to reconsider.

(Course - your bishop's wife might be a MumsNetter, and have drawn his attention to this thread . . .)

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