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Struggling at the moment

(148 Posts)
YouAreMyRain Sun 30-Jun-13 21:28:35

This will be long so I apologise. (I have name changed for this, if anyone recognises me, I would prefer not to be "outed" or linked to my usual nn.)

I have 2 Adopted DDs, they are half siblings. DD1 came home at 2.4 and DD1 came home 14 months later at 1.7

DD1 was placed 5yrs ago and is now 7yo. Her behaviour has always been challenging, she is very anxious and aggressive. Very insecure emotionally, very low self esteem.

I separated from my H 16 months ago, he was not coping well with fatherhood, his behaviours were abusive and SS were involved after one incident.

Since then I have been a single parent. A couple of months after STBXH moved out, I was suddenly hospitalised with a critical illness for 10 days. This separation was traumatic for DDs, esp DD1 who thought that I had died, despite being reassured to the contrary. STBXH refused to bring them to visit me in hospital, which didn't help.

Seven months ago DD1's behaviour escalated, I got her referred to CAMHS, before we were seen, it got to the point where I found her trying to jump out of an upstairs window to kill herself because she had people in her head telling her that she was stupid.

We got seen urgently and they are currently still involved. They decided that because her issues are connected to attachment and loss, that establishing a therapeutic relationship with her that then came to an end, would be upsetting and counter productive. So I have regular meetings with a CAMHS psychotherapist who has met her once, so that her issues can be worked with through her primary attachment with me.

The problem is that there seems very little improvement in her behaviour. She is very defiant, rude, violent, dishonest, angry etc. She still hates herself and wants to kill herself. She "knows" that I don't love her and she says that she wants to kill me, her sister etc

According to experts/professionals, I am doing everything right and handling her really well and they are very impressed with the therapeutic parenting that I am doing and how I am using "PACE" etc.

But it's so hard.

She is also soiling herself repeatedly, including at the dinner table.

Basically it feels like parenting her is a five person job but there is only me doing it. I just give and give and give and give and she constantly kicks me in the teeth. I don't blame her, I know she can't help it but I am exhausted with it all.

The status quo is shit and just maintaining that everyday is totally draining. I feel completely burnt out. Last night, for the first time, I felt like its all too much for me and that the placement may breakdown.

Post-adoption support have been useless. They offered me a handful of visits with a random SW. I asked for the SW who worked with us for 3yrs and who knows us inside out but that's not an option. I can't see how a strange SW visiting a few times will help at all, whenever I ring for advice they tell me to ask CAMHS what to do, CAMHS tell me to ask post adoption support.

I am currently pregnant with my new partner (we don't live together) after 12 yrs of infertility with my STBXH. I know that this has unsettled her but it feels like it is only going to get worse when the baby is born.

She say that she knows I will love the baby more than her and she wants to kill the baby etc, I don't react or take any of this at face value because I know that she is traumatised and hurting.

I don't want this placement to break down but I have nothing left to give sad

Ledkr Sun 30-Jun-13 21:41:08

Gosh what a lot to deal with.
Firstly I work in post adoption support and it has to be one if us who goes out to support adopters as your original sw is probably in a different team. Frustrating I imagine but we are also most up to date on post adoption issues.
So do give them a try.
The new baby is massive for all of you and needs handling really carefully imo.
Have you been on any parenting courses? There is a good one called "safe base" which your local authority may provide.
Sorry I can't be more help but please give your post adoption team a go. You may get a good one.
I've even managed to get finding for private therapy for some of my cases.
Good luck

grandmainmypocket Sun 30-Jun-13 21:48:37

You're inspirational and I hope you get the support you need.

YouAreMyRain Sun 30-Jun-13 22:12:59

Thanks, in our LA all adoption SWs do everything now, including post adoption support so our SW is still technically available.

I have done Adoption UK's "piece of cake" training and use that as much as possible (apart from the putting on your own lifejacket first maybe)

Mimishimi Mon 01-Jul-13 03:11:29

It's not a 'placement' like foster care. You are legally her parent as is your ex (even if he has left). What do you want to do?

NeverendingStoryteller Mon 01-Jul-13 08:01:32

Speak to your post-adoption support worker and insist that you are given the same kind of support that they provide to foster parents. Make it clear that if you don't get some kind of respite on a regular basis, the adoption is likely to break down. Start being clear with them about exactly what you want, how often you want it, and tell them when it's going to happen. Make it clear to them that your other children are in danger and that you will hold them legally responsible if any of your children are harmed, now that they are aware of the danger.

Don't put up with this shit from them - your self esteem is probably at rock bottom, and you might be a tiny bit depressed (just guessing from the self-doubt evident in your OP - apologies if I've got that one all wrong). Take care of you, otherwise you're never going to be able to maintain the empathy levels required to care for this little girl.

Hope the LA actually bothers to do something useful for a change - I have my fingers crossed for you brew

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 09:26:44

Mimishimi I am fully aware that I am legally her parent. I am struggling at the moment. Sadly, sometimes adoption "placements" (that is a term regularly used) do breakdown many years on. I have stated that I don't want that to happen but if I can't cope and am unable to parent my children adequately, what do you suggest?

NeverendingStoryteller thank you for your helpful post. I will contact post adoption support again but my experience with them so far has not been good.

Ledkr Mon 01-Jul-13 09:50:06

Tell them you are at breakdown point.
That might get you further services and spur them on to hep you. Good luck

Piffyonarock Mon 01-Jul-13 10:35:19

Anyone would feel overwhelmed in your situation. It's going to be important to look after yourself in order to be able to look after everyone else and get through all this.

I second contacting post adoption support again and being very clear that you are getting to breakdown point. As Neverending suggests, make a list of the help that you need, respite is going to be vital I think, for you and your DD. I have had negative experience of post adoption support as it seemed unfocussed and they didn't seem to recognise that our issues needed addressing fast at the time, but I wasn't very pushy and I don't think I really knew what support they might provide - I should probably have just thought about what I needed and told them. I have a friend who has had an awful lot of support from the same team, she was at breaking point and told them so and has had lots of help. She is very clear, to the point of demanding, but she has got what she's needed that way. I'd do that ASAP.

Next, how much support do you have in RL, e.g. does STBXH look after your DDs at all, do they go to any relatives or childcare? Do you plan to move in with your DP or will you be looking after the three children by yourself? You need to plan how you and all the children will get some breaks from one another and how you'll all have one to one time. I have often felt like I should do it all, but once mine got used to spending time with people other than me I think they benefit from more one to one attention with someone than both being with me all the time. It was a process though, as they were very unsettled by it to begin with. Best to start before the baby arrives. Do you have Homestart in your area, or Surestart? We have had lots of support from them.

I'm no professional so I might be wrong with this, but the psychotherapy being done via you seems like a massive amount of pressure on you. I can see the argument re primary carer, but how will that leave DD1 if anything happens to you? If the placement breaks down, or if, God forbid, you were hit by a bus? Might it be a good idea to work on some additional relationships for DD1? She will lose people throughout her life, I'd have thought the psychotherapist wouldn't be the worst of it and would have the most chance of being a carefully planned loss. Ignore me if I'm talking rubbish, I just think you're in no postion to shoulder the whole therapeutic burden.

It is very very hard to work with a traumatised child all the time, the relentlessness and the feeling that no progress is being made are incredibly difficult. It will probably take a long time for things to seem better with DD1, life is always changing so there are always setbacks. The key is probably to keep plugging away with it in the background but to try to bring more positive things to the foreground - easier said than done! Try not to worry about the future too much, it will be what it will be.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, when are you due? Keep posting, there is lots of support here. Do something that makes you smile today.

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 11:20:44


STBXH has them every other weekend but has been on holiday so hasn't had them for three weeks. I might ask him to have them overnight midweek as well.

I don't have any family local to me and it seems a lot to ask of other people to have my DCs because of their difficulties. I am concerned that respite may unsettle her more and that she may see it as rejection. Also would she go with or without her sister?

STBXH has got them for a week in the summer and his parents have offered to have them for the week before that. While I desperately need the break, his parents are not emotionally literate and I am not sure how dd1 esp would cope with two whole weeks of not seeing me, so I feel guilty for even considering it.

I do feel a huge burden of responsibility for her therapy, I really wanted CAMHS to take some of the responsibility, not add more to me!

No plans at the moment to move in with DP, mainly because of DD1, she is quite nasty and violent to him (which he copes with really well) and she may feel threatened by him moving in. Also, I don't want him to move in just because of the pregnancy. Also, If he moved in we would have to pay lots of money to STBXH or sell and move which would be too much for DD1.

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 11:22:18

Would homestart or sure start be involved with 7 and 5 yr olds?

I am due at the end of November.

Piffyonarock Mon 01-Jul-13 12:06:44

Well, there is a start, if STBXH can start having your DDs one night a week that would take a bit of pressure off you and they are with someone else very familiar, and who is familiar with DD1's issues. Will help a lot when your baby comes along. Will DP be able to do similar with the baby, so that you time with just the girls? (I know this might not be suitable initially, but in the longer run?).

I understand what you mean about asking other people, I'm reluctant to ask for help becuase my two can be v. challenging. But for someone else to have them for a couple of hours and know they are handing them back can give you a welcome breather so it worth it sometimes even with the guilt! My brother is a foster carer and looks after a boy who was adopted by a single carer, they have him for the weekend every month - I think his mum was worried about how he'd feel about it, but he has enjoyed it so far as its a change. I suppose whether your DD1 would go with or without her sister would depend on what you intended to get out of it - would DD1 and DD2 benefit from one to one time? Might depend on funding too I guess.

Could you take your inlaws offer up but perhaps not for a whole week at a stretch? What might work best for you and the girls, and for them? My inlaws have been invaluable with half days, sometimes they just take one child at a time.

I was thinking you might not be all moving in together and you're probably right not to. Homestart and Surestart are for upto 5 year olds, they'd be involved in your family because of your new baby, this might help all of you?

Don't feel guilty for considering help, or if you do feel the guilt and do it anyway! I find this really hard but it accepting help has definitely helped us all. Now I know that if I'm ill or something that the children are happy enough to go with my inlaws, rather than it being an additional trauma.

Maybe get back onto CAMHS? I would have thought anyone knowing your situation would see that you need all the support you can get to avoid your adoption or you yourself breaking down!

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 12:16:58

STBXHs parent live a three hour drive away and he was going to drop them off and pick them up so I don't have to see his mum.

My concern re respite is if DD1 goes alone and DD2 stays with me then DD1 would be very jealous and feel rejected. Do you think they would alternate so I get some 1to1 with each of them?

Would surestart/homestart be involved before the birth or only after the baby is born ?

Piffyonarock Mon 01-Jul-13 13:35:41

Sorry, went to collect DD from pre school.

I didn't realise your inlaws were so far away. What about trying them for two or three days? A week would be a long time if they haven't stayed there before. Is that relationship a bit strained already though? It sounds like you could do with some more local support really, for little and often bursts of help.

I don't know how it would work with respite - why not get the ball rolling and find out, any respite would do you all some good. You can worry about managing how it's presented to your DDs when you know if and what the respite might be - don't let worrying about how it will play out stop you from getting the help you need. Both the DDs would be getting one to one with someone.

I think Surestart/Homestart is different in each area - our midwives are based at the Children's Centre, so you would tend to start getting involved with them before baby arrives, and then there are various groups and activities once the baby is born that you can go to. I would make enquiries now so that you know what is available where you are. If you've not had a birth child before you'll benefit from meeting other new mums. Is there are local adopters support group?

You sound very sensible and you obviously love your DDs and want the best for them. You've got a bit of time before November to get some new strategies and support in place. If it seems too overwhelming, just try to make one enquiry at a time.

I'll be off the omputer until this evening now, but have a good day. And have these, you deserve them flowers

NeverendingStoryteller Mon 01-Jul-13 13:43:50

Just re-reading my reply and it seems very bossy - so sorry if it came across like that. I just feel so angry on your behalf! It is typical of post-adoption teams to abandon adopters - my own experience has obviously left me rather bitter.

I do hope that they take you seriously if you contact them again. I have sent you a resource via PM.


Lilka Mon 01-Jul-13 14:04:35

Anyone would be exhausted and thinking about having their child leave the home at this point. I have been in this position too

I think you definitely need much more than you've been given so far, especially since your DD has been feeling suicidal. I'm a bit concerned that you are the only one seeing a psychotherapist. Yes, psychotherapists can support parents and sessions alone can be helpful, but normally they are alongside joint sessions where your child is seen with you present. They are still leaving you to do the work at home alone, and it seems to me that you already have a good grasp of parenting techniques - you've already sought out the training from AUK and are using things like PLACE etc so what new things to help DD can you get from these sessions? Can I ask how many of these sessions you have left?

I have had post adoption support heavily involved with my elder two. They can be very unhelpful sometimes, other times they come through and provide things we need.

Because so much of the help available, you need to be referred for, I think you don't have much option other than to tell PAS that you do want to be seen by them now and take up visits with a SW, even one you do not know of you can't get your old SW. It's a possibility that a new SW will be knowledgable and helpful like the old one.

Tell PAS the extent of your DD's difficulties, and your worries about the new baby. Be clear you are considering disruption, but also be clear that you don't want it to come to that, but you need help to avoid it. The sessions with you do not seem to have helped DD herself.

Honestly what's helped my girls the most is referral through to a specialist therapy centre, for assessment and psycotherapy. It seems a bit odd to say that your DD shouldn't see a therapist because she might be upset when the sessions end. Realistically, if you can't help a child alone at home and they have serious problems, then therapy is the next step. If you think your DD should be seeing someone and CAHMS don't, then maybe you can ask PAS to refer you on somewhere else? Impress the seriousnes of your issues because they are usually reluctant to do that because of the expense. But the older a child gets, the less likely it is that therapy will have a very positive effect.

I agree with Piffy, make a list of things you need to say or you want.

If you don't mind my asking, are you getting any financial support with your DD's issues, like DLA? It you think that might help it might be worth making claims.

Also...try and look after yourself. You need and deserve little snatches of time at least to yourself. Maybe you could find friends/family/ExH to take DD1 or both your children for a day or two and then go and do something for you. You need little breaks from this stress. Your wellbeing matters as much as your DD's does.

Lilka Mon 01-Jul-13 14:06:31

Neverending I feel the same way!

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 15:15:09

Thank you everyone. Not contacted PAS today as I've been busy getting the car fixed so I will ring them in the morning.

AnAirOfHope Mon 01-Jul-13 15:41:34

I feel sorry for your dd1 in 7 years she has left her bio mum placed with you and ex, had a sister, been thru your split and now you are pg with your own baby and have a boyfriend sad

Thats alot for anyone but a child that has attachment issues is even worse. The poor mite needs you now more that ever. She is very unsettled.

she needs lots of reassurance and I think you should take all the help you can get but dont send her away. She needs to be involved with the new baby and bigging up about being a big sister and how you are all a family. Praise the good stuff ignore the bad and disapline and inforce the house rules. Stick to a rountine and tell her what will happen and when each day. Try and spend 30 minutes per day with just her. Facilate external and extended relationships via phone calls, skype and visites.

She is your dd dont give up on her. She has issues and needs even more love from you.

Hang in there it will get better (hugs)

AnAirOfHope Mon 01-Jul-13 15:50:58

If CAMH is not working ask for a review and to try something different. Get a second opioin. Resurch what help you can get/support your dd needs.

Homestart works for 12 weeks in once a week visits for 2 hours but they do not provide childcare or transport.

Could ss pay for after school club to give you a break, help dd make friends, gain confidence.

Does dd do any activities out side of school like dancing or brownies. This might help her build friendships.

The family unit is changing and she needs your help in finding her place in it.

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 16:11:34

I tried after school clubs, she hates it. I can't really do 1to1 time with her as I am a single parent. I feel for her too, she has been through an awful lot and I am trying my hardest to do my best for her.

Lilka Mon 01-Jul-13 16:44:32

Of course you are trying your hardest for her - you don't need to feel guilty about wondering how long you can carry on. It's because you love so much and because you try so hard that you are burning out under the stress of it all.

I'm a single mum as well, I've got 2 at home aged 17 and 8. My 17 year old has a lot of issues. She has also never been able to cope in after school clubs or activities like brownies/gymnastics etc. Far too busy/noisy for her, her social skills are poor, and her anxiety rockets because she feels very threatened when not in a low-key and calm environment. She functions as an 11/12 year old max a lot of the time. Trying activities results in either her refusing to go after a few sessions, or her getting kicked out because of her behaviour sad

Getting 1:1 time is definitely very hard. I get quite a bit of time with DD2 only because her bedtime is obviously much later than DS's bedtime.

However I do try (when she is in the mood and not being aggressive etc) to get little bits of time alone with her. Ditto DS. How old is your DD2 now? Can she be trusted to play or do something alone for 15/20 minutes a day or not? If she can and if your DD1 is ever willing to spend time with you without getting angry etc, you could try and get 15 minutes with her doing something fun or soothing? I do know it's sometimes just not possible when there's one of you!

Something I've done which has helped DD2 a little is 'rocking time', so we have 15 minutes where she just sits on my lap and I rock us back and forth. She finds rhythm soothing. Mind you, she's quite a huggy tactile person when she isn't aggressive and dissociated. If your DD just doesn't do affection unless it's all on her terms then that might be a total non-starter.

It does sound though to me like you are doing everything you can and seeking out techniques (the training, the PLACE method etc)

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 17:59:44

My two DDs are joined at the hip. They are very aware of how I divide my attention between them etc. also DD2 has FAS/FAE and hardly any concentration so the only thing she will do by herself for 20mins is something mischievous that she is trying to be quiet about.

It was easier when DD2 used to nap in the daytime. They share a room now so separate bedtimes are tricky, and there's only two yrs between them. I think she needs 1to1 so I will rack my brains about how to do it.

YouAreMyRain Mon 01-Jul-13 18:02:00

Like you said, activities are difficult due to her anxiety. We have booked so many terms worth of activities (ballet, swimming, dance, gymnastics etc) only for her to panic after two lessons and so we drop it.

Italiangreyhound Mon 01-Jul-13 18:17:17

No words of wisdom or suggestions at all, just to say am thinking of you.

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