Friday, 15 December 2017

December

December is a funny old month for us.

Alongside all the usual festivities we have a barrel load of family issues to deal with.

December is a month of birthdays (not just Jesus') and also marks the deaths of both my parents, so all the talk of family celebrations can really hit home.

I swing from Christmas love and festive cheer to a Scrooge like bitterness on a daily basis. Today as I listened to the radio I was suddenly gripped by a dreadful sense of envy as we listened to various celebrities telling us how they were dreading the trips back home to see their familes - for whatever comical reason, mum's cooking, dad's jokes etc etc and yet I was filled with a sense of sadness that we haven't got that family to go back to.

Of course we have Ed's family and they are amazing, but a Singapore Christmas just doesn't quite hit home for me (maybe that's my problem) and Ed would rather go home for Chinese New Year (which is completely understandable).

When we first adopted the boys we always said we would spend Christmas with my family and CNY with Ed's - so the boys had a sense of a cultural link with both families.

I wish the boys would have known my dad and they loved my mum, so at least they have memories - it was strange when we were Christmas shopping the other day, KC turned to me and said, 'The last time we were in this store was with Granny.' - the strangest things remind us.

We didn't tell KC that Granny died the day before his birthday - we saved the news until after, I don't know if that was a good idea - one day we will tell him the truth I guess.

So we go from anniversaries to birthdays.

KC has just turned 13 - and boy do we know it! He still hasn't got a school at the minute so I'm in the midst of battling the Local Authority to make sure he has a placement in the New Year - although that now seems unlikely as the council begin to break up for Christmas - honestly, our local authority seems to have more holidays than school!

But they now have placed a tutor with us and he is back in therapy - so we must count our blessings. Although sometimes I don't feel particulalrly blessed.

Still, TJ is doing well - he breaks up from school today and last night he went to his carol service - by himself - he was so proud of that! I had to stay home with KC, who is on self harm watch... more festive fun!

Next week marks the anniversary of my Dad's untimely death, he was only 53 and I am fast approaching the same age - as Papa keeps reminding me. I know he is only joking but it dos worry me. I'm now on a pre Christmas keep fit binge!(my goal is not to be asked to be Santa at next year's school fayre!!!!)

I do have incredibly fond memories of childhood Christmasses - big family events, parties with my cousins, all linked by grandparents, although they were inevitably organised by one of my industrious Aunts. We never had a house big enough to host everyone (or that was my Mum's excuse anyway).

Maybe I'm just over romanticising things - but I do worry that the boys won't have the same fond memories, just boring Christmasses at home with us.

I guess we have to create our own traditions.

Then we have the big day itself closely followed by my nephew's birthday on Boxing Day and TJ's birthday on the 28th - all before New Year kicks in.

It's Papa's bithday in January that marks the closure of the birth day/death anniversary mix up for us - and then we go into Chinese New Year - where we can hopefully, relax and enjoy a family event and the boys can enjoy being with their grandparents and Papa's family.

I want to focus on the positives, on the joys of Christmas but every now and then I have to stop and indulge in a little reminiscing, maybe as we get older that becomes the focus of this time of year.

I love Christmas but I dread December.

I miss my parents.









Thursday, 2 November 2017

How Did I Miss National Adoption Week? Oops!

Blimey - how did that happen.
It's November!!!!!

I've just been catching up on all the National Adoption Week News, we were away for it this year, our first trip to Malta, and I have to say that if you are looking for a laid back, family holiday then Malta really delivers. After the few weeks we have had it was lovely just to relax as a family and remember that adoption is only part of who we all are and that, despite all the problems, the boys are struggling just as much as we are with everything and that they need a break from it all as well.

It was lovely to see KC run off with some other children his own age and... smile! I don't think he has smiled for a long time. The problem with school is it doesn't allow children to be just that... children.
The jump from primary to secondary education can just be a step too far for many children but for children with significant difficulties it can be really difficult.

We kept both boys at the same school from primary into senior - it seems to be working for TJ but KC struggled, as you know.

Homeschooling does seem to work in some ways - he is definitely more relaxed, but I know its not the solution to our problems - he needs to learn how to socialise properly and, more importantly, appropriately.

So I have to provide a series of reports to prove to the LA that his EHC Plan now needs adjusting to take into account his emotional needs rather than his educational ones.

It was funny that the Post Adoption Social Worker called me this week to ask for advice to help another family in a similar position to ours - but thats adoption for you - we are all just muddling along, hoping somehow the answers will suddenly appear.

I had mixed feelings about the theme for this year's National Adoption week, if I remember rightly, it was sibling groups back in 2014 as well - but now, three years later, I sometimes feel like saying - 'don't do it - sibling placements don't work!"

Then I watched the boys playing together over the holidays and perhaps I changed my mind - for a while...

Friday, 29 September 2017

Just when you thought it was safe...

So my positive post from last week has gone 'tits up' - to quote someone or something.

Last week we were happy in our new school bubble. A week later its over - excluded and no longer funded. KC is showing signs of depression and has been self harming. He has already asked me why we bothered adopting him - after all, he says no-one really wanted him in the first place, we should have just left him where he was. It was after he said that that I noticed the marks on the backs of his hands and up his arms - scratched he had been making with the blade he removed from a pencil sharpener. Great.

Then yesterday came the news he had been excluded from school pending an investigation - an investigation into the type of event I had been warning both school and social services could happen at any time - given the poor boy's past abuse.

But now it has happened and I'm lucky we have a great relationship with our post adoption social worker (I know some of you reading this will be pointing out that I'm lucky to even have a post adoption social worker). But I can't fault her, within 24 hours of my calling her she had therapy in place and fully funded, ready to go. Her advice was the same as before, which the SEN team ignored, take KC out of school for a while, let him undergo some serious therapy - school can wait. He can't learn if his head is full of his other stuff anyway - he needs to clear his mind then focus on studying.

There is an obsession to keep kids in school whether it is good for their well being or not - and in this case it wasn't just KC that ended up damaged, but other children as well. I am no doubt going to have social services on my back and the SEN team around my house as my son is categorised as a 'child missing education' but I'll fight for him - he won't go back into a school situation until they fully recognise his behavioural needs as well as his learning needs - he needs to be seen as a whole person, not just a funding requirement.

But my youngest is happy enough - although he begins testing for his needs at the end of next month - but for the time being we will just focus on KC and let TJ trudge along - then we can swap over afterward I hope.

To say I'm exhausted is an understatement.

It was my birthday yesterday - so I chose not to take the exclusion personally and just got on with having a nice meal in our local pizza restaurant (the boy's choice of course!!!!).

Onwards and upwards...


Monday, 18 September 2017

Ch...ch...ch...Changes...

Is it still cool to quote David Bowie song lyrics - probably not, but we have definitely been through a period of great change over the past few weeks.

KC changed school, we managed to get his new school named on the EHC Plan the day before he was due to start - it was as if I had spent the whole summer holiday trying to get hold of various different agencies, the local authority, the school, the virtual head, post adoption social workers...  and everyone was on holiday at different times then, the day before school restarts, wallop! They are all in at the same time and I spent a full day on the phone co-ordinating KC's start at his new school.

It had even reached a stage where I was seriously considering home schooling him - I had joined Facebook groups, taken advice from friends who home school and was setting up a mini classroom for him - I even quit my job (but that's another story). I told KC of my plan and he looked horrified - 'But, you'll make me learn stuff!' He exclaimed - "That's the point,' I replied.

Apparently school isn't about learning its about having fun and sitting in the classroom chatting - maybe the change of school was a good thing after all.

Anyway, the boys are now in different schools again, which was actually in line with their therapist's view anyway - although we hadn't planned it that way. Her feeling was that TJ would be more able to grow and become more resilient if he wasn't in his brother's shadow - plus, as their relationship was still quite a dysfunctional one, it may be a wise choice to allow them both to lead separate lives and then come back together after school to share experiences etc. I don't know if it will work - but I do know I now spend around 45 minutes on the school run twice daily!

But I don't regret leaving work at all - it has made me re-evaluate stuff - I know we are lucky to be able to afford to have me at home (even if it is just for a short while whilst we 'reset') I had forgotten how much adopted children in particular need you to be there for them - and how much stuff they were missing out on. So we shall see what happens next - ideally I can find something part time that allows me to get out and meet people.

But on thing is certain - I am now free to blog again and so I'll be looking at how to rework this existing blog to adapt to the boys growing up - they no longer want their lives put on line for all to share - unless, they have agreed it first! Which is fair enough I guess...

Watch this space!!!!!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

School holidays - bored, bored, bored

Wow! It's been over a month since my last post and I wish I was teeming with positive stuff to write. But, alas, it's just not to be.

I'm looking for the positives wherever they may be - but today they just seem to have flown away, sitting just out of reach.

The last few weeks of term have been really difficult - I know adopted children often find this time of year hard but for my two it just seems to have been more difficult than ever.
KC has managed to get himself into a mountain of trouble  resulting in a formal written warning and a probationary period of six months - which I find excessive and unfair - but I'll come to that later.

TJ, on the other hand has made himself so ill that he simply could not go to school for the final few days - which, on hindsight, was probably a good thing as he doesn't cope with goodbyes at all and this was his final year at primary school before he takes that huge step into secondary.

So I'm now in he process of looking for a new school for KC before he moves into year 8 - today emails have been written to his post adoption social worker and to his SEN co-ordinator, who issue his EHC Plan - its all very complicated but we will get there - my feeling is that there inso way he will make it through the next school term without losing his probation - and he will be out. His 'crimes' chewing gum and farting in class - I kid you not. In my opinion it's obvious the school want him out - they can't cope with his needs so its easier to get rid of him and use behaviour as the excuse. to be honest, he is probably better off out and I've found an amazing school nearby - but now have to go through the paperwork of changing the EHC Plan - which is funded by the local authority in order to get him into the other school. It's a headache I could do without.

TJ on the other hand, is thriving at the same school and wants to go into the senior school with his friends - it seems the strict rules of the current school suit him - he thrives on it. And, at least with my still working there I can keep an eye on him.

Maybe its good for KC to go to another school away from me and TJ - learn some independence. I just don't know...

We are three days into the school holiday and already the boys are 'bored, bored, bored' - I have six weeks of this. I just spoke to my lovely (and very wise aunt) who informed me that its good for boy's to get bored - they then invent their own play." Unfortunately, my two's idea of play is attempting to kill each other at any opportunity.

But I have taken up a new exercise regime - I'm power walking (I'm too fat to jog!) - but I'm enjoying it and it gets me outside and away from the kids. We went to the park together yesterday, KC threw TJ's ball up a tree and we spent most of the afternoon trying to get it down whilst TJ screamed, the dogs barked and KC roared with laughter... I could feel the pity from emanating from the other parents around me... they were so glad not to be me.

I do think there is a kind of reverse sexism which means that people are more likely to feel sorry for me in situations like this because I'm a dad - if I were a mum they wold probably be judging my every move disapprovingly - as a dad i get knowing smiles and sympathetic nods...

So my quiet summer is already over - no wonder parents drink so much - I'm avoiding the booze too... which probably makes everything seem ten times worse.

I'll keep you updated on my progress!!!!!!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

How can they forget Father's Day - They have 2 Dads!!!!!!!!!

It's not that I'm bitter, and it didn't really come as any surprise - but I've been dropping hints all week - so how could they forget?

But then again, maybe it's karma - the universe is taking revenge on me for all those times I would forget Father's Day, only to be met with a sad, knowing smile and a nod from my own dear, departed Dad.

I could explain it away by pointing out that maybe they needed to forget - perhaps the notion of any kind of parent is too much for them, after all they didn't ask to be adopted and adoption raises so many issues for children - are they really going to be staying forever? Will we eventually let them down? KC even informed me earlier in the week that he would be going to live with his best friend's parents as they liked him and would probably buy him the new bike he wants... I didn't fall for that one, after all there's nothing wrong with the bike he has.

I could hypothesise that they really don't want to be our kids - which is why they 'chose' to forget. They want us to reject them (actually, now that I've written that the rejection thing seems highly likely). After all, if we reject them that proves their own feelings of self rejection... they don't deserve to be loved.

TJ came and told me it was my fault he forgot Father's Day as I didn't take him shopping. Although I pointed to the new trainers on his feet and reminded him that we had only been in the local shopping centre three days ago buying him the trainers he wanted for sports day. (And he still didn't win - but third place is a respectable placing, so we can let that go.)

I used to tell my Dad that Father's Day was a Hallmark holiday - invented to sell more greetings cards and tatty gifts. My Dad used to nod and smile and tell me that one day i would be a Dad too - now I know how he felt.... sorry, Dad...

So after lunch both boys rushed upstairs and within 10 minutes we were presented with a couple of hastily written cards (well pieces of paper) and two unwanted cuddly toys wrapped in plastic bags... I can't even give them marks for trying... but I can nod and smile and remind them that one day, they will be fathers too..

But, until then, Father's Day may indeed be a Hallmark holiday - but it's still a good excuse to open the bottle of champagne we were given last month!

Cheers!

Happy Father's Day!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Tango... a personal review

So it's happened....

Tango...

It's been three years in the making. A real expression of love and hard work.

I have read various incarnations of the script but have seen the show twice now and each time have found different things that have moved me.

The first time was through the telling of our own stories. Even though I knew them, the way in which Joel (the playwright) had blended our reality with his own creations was seamless.

I was touched... we were touched.

I think most telling was how much we felt towards the character Jayden, our son in the play. When he is suddenly involved in the violence that occurs through no fault of his own we both became immediately protective of him.

But, as we are here to work, we have attended and taken part in numerous talks and it is these that have really shown the impact Tango has had on audiences here.

From the mother of two gay sons who had only ever dreamed of being a grandmother, to the same sex couple and their teenage son who were happy that families like ours were being given a platform to show they even exist. Same sex couples who now had a baby and were worried about the future, single parents who, through no fault of their own, found themselves being judged by their own society, even the adoptive child (now grown up) of Dutch parents who was now able to express his feelings as a child with a distinctively different background to his peers.

Also, the couple who told us they had never experienced discrimination for their same sex family and their child... but they put that down to their being of the same race and, as we shared, the waitresses initial curiosity was roused because our Caucasian son was sitting with his Chinese father. And finally, the Chinese mother who had a seemingly'white' child with her Caucasian husband and how, whenever she took her daughter anyplace new, the automatic reaction was that she was the 'helper'.

So many stories.

So much shared  love.

Tango has nearly sold out in its final week... I hope it is seen again and again...

It's a powerful story... not just because it is 'inspired' by this blog, but also because it shares the humanity of life, of love, of family....

If you haven't bought tickets yet... do...

It really is worth it!




Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The blogpost that began the story of 'Tango'

I had been asked to find the original blogpost that inspired the new play 'Tango' by Joel Tan, and after spending an hour or so trawling through my blog I found it... from Feb 2013.

Rather then expecting people to trawl through... here it is.

Enjoy!

Coming Home...

That's how it feels coming back to Singapore... Especially when we see our lovely friends. We have a lot of people to catch up with and started today with a friend I made on my first day working in Singapore back in 1999. She is now married, to another great friend, and have two adorable children, one of whom is in love with our son.... We shall ensure their betrothal by the end of the trip. More friends to meet tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow... Great fun!

After a lovely afternoon, in which we persuaded our friends to take our washing home with them (they have a maid!) we decided to do some shopping. KC needed summer pyjamas, as the onesie he brought with him is just too hot in evenings where the temperature does not fall below 25c. Papa also decided he needed a new T-shirt, so we went to a few stores and he finally found one he liked... And today he learned the lesson that all Caucasians learn very early on... Singapore does not cater for British 'physiques'! ( unless you are small and skinny, of course).

When we lived here Papa used to laugh when I came home after a days shopping in a state of depression. Here I was a large size ( even when I was skinny)... It was even more depressing when you walk into a shop and the assistants would scream 'no large sizes!' And usher you out of the door.... Being Caucasian in Asia stops being fun when clothes shopping... I'm sure it's even worse for the ladies!

To be honest, one thing I have noticed is that Singaporeans do seem to be getting bigger, obviously affluence does affect size as people eat out more and fast food outlets are now everywhere. But today, Papa understood my depression when shopping. He went into a local store (that also has branches in the UK). In the UK he is sized as a medium... Which is fine. But today he went into the same store to fine he was an XL! He was so shocked that he simply threw the clothes back and stormed out of the shop. I ran after him and reminded him that this was Singapore and therefore they were Asian sizes... He looked at me disparagingly, "Asian sizes... Asian sizes!" He repeated himself for dramatic effect before a drawn out pause... "I am bloody Asian!" Words failed me.... But inside I was smiling!

Later that evening we decided to go out for a quick dinner and as it was getting late we popped into a local Chinese restaurant chain. 'Good and cheap' as Papa puts it. All was going well until the waitress decided she needed to know more about our family. As I took TJ to the toilet I came back to find Paoa and the waitress having a 'heated' discussion in Chinese, with KC sitting there. The gist of it was that she wanted to know where the boys' mother was. When Pap told her they didn't have one she seemed confused and then asked if they were his children and if he had married an 'Ang moh' calmly, Papa had told her that the boys were adopted, by us... she didn't seem able to accept this and started to argue with Papa about same sex adoption and her belief that it was wrong. It was at this point that I came back. This seemed to make her angrier. As did my trying to calm everything down.

The waitress then threw the cutlery down and said she couldn't serve us. Her senior manager came over and Papa started to tell her what had happened. She then served us herself whilst the other waitress sat in the corner glaring at us. It didn't make for a comfortable evening out but at least the boys were unaware. We left quietly and I ensured we had a late night drink to calm everyone down... the boys had an ice cream... ice cream at 10pm in the heat of the tropical night is great fun!

Maybe Singapore isn't quite ready for a gay family just yet.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Home Again?

When we arrived back in the UK, KC asked me if Singapore was our home or whether the UK was.

I asked him why he felt the need to ask it, and was quite surprised by his answer.

"It's simple,' he said, 'You always say that one is where we are - where the family are. So for Papa home must be where his family are. That means that home for Papa must be Singapore and...' he went on, 'you both know so many people over there - whenever we go we just meet loads of your friends and have loads of dinners and you drink lots of wine (I'm not sure where he got that last bit from) and we sit and smile and play on our phones."

"So you didn't enjoy it then?" I said.

"I enjoyed it,' he replied, "I love Singapore - I love the food and the warmth and the swimming and the tv... I don't really love the shopping though and I don't like leaving, because it means going on a long flight and I've seen all the movies on the way back..."

'Do you want to live there?" I asked him.

"Maybe, but only if I could live with Cousin M. and Grandma and Grandpa - they let me do what I want."

Hmmmmm... Well, I guess thats part of the joy of being Grandparents - you can let the grandkids run riot an then give them back. I didn't want to remind him that his cousin will be returning to university next week and won't be there anyway.

Family is big for KC. It means a lot to him.

TJ then came in. 'Did you enjoy Singapore?" I asked him.

"No,' he replied, "I hate the food, it's too hot and you just make us go shopping. I also don't have my playstation and I couldn't see my friends."

"What about seeing the rest of the family,' I said, "and your Godparents?"

"That was alright," he replied, "But don't you think they could all come and see us next time?"

So we have one traveller and one home body... which, strangely enough, reminded me of myself and my own brother. I have always had itchy feet and my brother has never left the North, but I think we are both happy, we just accept we are different.

Hopefully, the boys will see that as well.

Yesterday, on the radio the song 'Hello, Goodbye' by The Beatles came on. KC was singing along. "You know this song?" I asked him. He looked at me, "Don't you remember, it was the song that was playing in the car when you picked us up for the first time from our foster home."

I had forgotten.

"You've got a great memory," i said.

"Well, it's one of my favourite songs, " he said as he left the room.

It's moments like that that make parenting worthwhile...

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Tango in Singapore

It's been an interesting few days here in Singapore.

We arrived on Monday night to be told that even though we had just got off the plane we then had to attend Papa's dad's birthday party.

"But his birthday is not until tomorrow," Papa exclaimed.

"Yes, but tomorrow is Qingming (the day that traditionally celebrates the dead), and there is no way that we are celebrating Dad's birthday then!" So said Papa's mum - so we were now hurriedly racing down the highway to get checked in to our apartment before heading over for the birthday celebration. Luckily, the celebration was lovely, a quiet family affair wth Papa's mum's amazing cooking. So even though we had a dreadful flight, (that's a separate email to BA) the meal more than made up for it.

We are here to help to promote the play 'Tango', which is based on this very blog - and it has already met with some confusion. A newspaper report that ran on our day of arrival wrongly linked the play to the book 'Tango Makes Three' about the same-sex penguins who raise a penguin chick (its a true story and is used a lot to show the diverse nature of family) the book caused some controversy here in Singapore and ended up being removed from the National Library - but we are not here to discuss that and the play doesn't set out to criticise the political establishment - rather its aim is to help people realise that families are diverse, whether they be same sex, single, adopted, living with relatives etc... Ideally, although the play is primarily about a gay couple and their difficulty in coming home to Singapore, it also looks at the concept of family and filial relationships. The idea that the grandparents and the grandchild cannot be together due to the current legal situation surrounding families that are considered 'different' in Singapore. Mind you the fact that the first publicity shots show the young man playing the son dressed in a penguin suit might have confused the issue...

I don't want to give away the plot, but the premise of the story is true and one that can be read here in this blog (you just need to go back a few pages)...

We have worked alongside the playwright, Joel Tan, to work on the reality of being an adoptive family - be it same sex or not. The struggles to even become a family, let alone the trials that follow. However, Joel has definitely made the remainder of the play his own - one must always remember it is a fictionalised account of reality (if that makes sense)

So we are now booked to do a variety of press and media events, as well as talk about the issues we face being parents - ideally we want to show that being same sex parents is no different to being heterosexual ones - we all have the same difficulties and joys.

I'll keep you posted!!!!!!

But if you are in Singapore between May 19 and June 4 and want to come along then the link is below - we hope to see you there!!!!!

http://pangdemonium.com/productions/tango



Thursday, 23 March 2017

One Armed Tango!

So it's been a busy couple of weeks in more ways than one.

On the family front KC decided that he would spend the last three weeks in plaster as he managed to break his hand.

He was out on his skateboard in front of the house - apparently trying out some new 'epic' stunts. Then I heard a cry. I rushed out to see him to find him clutching his hand. He had taken a fall onto the pavement. But after checking that he could still wiggle his fingers and that there was no blood I sent him back out with a flea in his ear - I gave him a good telling off for not using his safety gloves, wristbands, helmet etc and told him that now he would understand the reason why he had to wear them.

He seemed to take this on board - for at least 5 minutes - before racing off out with his friends again.

That evening he sat in front of the TV complaining that his hand was hurting. "It's funny how these things only start to hurt on the Sunday evening before school next day' I quipped. I then sent him to bed an told him there was no way it was broken and I was not going to the local A and E on a Sunday night.

The next morning we got up and he was still complaining. I looked at his hand - which had turned a strange shade of blue and seemed to be very swollen. I was reminded of Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after she had consumed the blueberry gum...

"I think we had better go to the hospital" I said and off we went.

The hospital wasn't too crowded and we were seen quite quickly - well, within the four hour time slot anyway. As we sat waiting I stretched and leaned onto the arm of my chair - only to hear a stifled scream and see KC's eyes nearly pop out of his head. I had leaned onto his bad hand. "If it wasn't broken before - it is now!' He cried through gritted teeth.

The nurse had a look at him and we went off for an x-ray. True enough, it was broken, and I now felt like the worst person on the planet. A point that was not missed by KC, who soon after being put into his plaster stated that from now on he could only eat with one hand and that we should therefore go and get him a burger... feeling guilty I took him to the local Burger King.

So he then spent the next couple of weeks reminding me of how cruelly I had treated him - how I had dismissed his cries of pain and how meanly I had treated him.

I gave him a couple of days of this before we went back to our normal ways.

Then came the date to have the cast taken off - he healed very quickly, but it was only a very small fracture apparently.

We queued up to see the nurse. 'What's your date of birth?" the nurse asked KC. He looked at her with a blank expression. She tried again, "When's your birthday?"

"In December," he replied.

"What day in December were you born on?" she went on. He looked at her, "I don't know, I was just a baby..." I thought the nurse was going to fall over she laughed so much.

She asked him what had happened and he told her about his 'epic' trick and how he had nearly managed to complete it.

'Was the trick worth the broken bones?" she asked.

'Absolutely!" he replied.

She looked at me pityingly - 'You're going to be coming here a lot, I think." she said laughing...

Scarily, I think she may be right.

But now we can announce our other news...

My little blog has 'inspired' a new play and its going to be produced!

Written by the Singaporean playwright Joel Tan it's called 'Tango' (loosely based on the book title 'Tango Makes Three' - which was banned in a number of countries for its compassionate dealing with gay adoption by two penguins. Joel wanted to write a story about a gay adoptive family who try to return to Singapore but find that the climate there (being gay is still illegal) won't recognised their family, their married status or indeed the adoption of their children and how that effects the other members of the family who are practically denied access to their grandchildren. His point being that the grandparents and grandchildren are kept apart by a law that doesn't even apply to them.

Anyway, one of my very good friend's children will be playing the boy (an amalgam of both our children) in the play - which is lovely! So we are heading back to Singapore in the next week or so to help promote the play but also for my friend's son to meet with KC and to discuss his life being an adoptee to gay dads, having Singaporean grandparents and Aunts and Uncles - despite being white British and sharing his experiences.

The sad thing is that he won't be able to watch it as, in their infinite wisdom, the Singapore censorship board have made the play an adults only affair - so no-one under 18 is allowed to watch it, even though its a story about love, family and overcoming prejudice.

Hopefully, we can sneak the boys into a rehearsal... fingers crossed!

I'll keep you updated!!!!!!




Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Cyber-Bullying - the title says it all!

┼┤So this week our youngest was subjected to cyber bullying.

It's not something I've ever really experienced. Of course, as adoptive parents we are extra careful around social media and attend various lectures and training regarding it's use but this is the first time it has really hit home.

Essentially, we gave both boys mobile phones for Christmas - under the strict instructions that they were not allowed social media accounts - not only because most social media companies insist on a 13 year old age limit but also because we are aware of the dangers of their being approached not only by strangers but also by birth family members. Whilst we are cute happy to eventually look for birth parents, we want to do it when the children are ready and not when one of their 'do-good' friends decides to help them - although I can easily see that happening one day in the future.

Anyway, I came down to find TJ sitting on the stairs, holding his phone and crying. I knew something was amiss.

Eventually he gave me the phone and showed me what the other children in his class were saying to him via a text messaging group. It was awful. He was a cry baby - he cried when they poked and punched him in class - he ran away. He didn't play football he played 'face-plant' when they tripped him up. He was 'a gay' - a 'real gay' - just heaps of nasty stuff.

What worried us was not only the tone of the language used and the cruelty and cold calculated way in which they pursued him - but the threats of real physical violence to him.

Remember, TJ is very small for his age, he is on 'the spectrum (don't you hate that term) and is currently starting medical investigations to look into the reasons behind all this (see previous post on the visit to the Doctor).

So we reported it to the school and they naturally investigated everything fully.

I was called in and the headteacher explained all that had been going on. That the other boys in his class had all been watching YouTube videos about 'roasting' and decided to set up a chat group entitled 'Roasters' in which they would pick on a boy (in this case TJ) and proceed to roast him... Such fun. I'm sure Kenny Rogers never thought of this when he set up the chicken restaurant!

But what was most surprising was that at the end of it all, the headteacher told us that all the children who had been 'roasting' Tyler were at a party together and... this was the bit that stunned me... they were with their parents and yet the parents didn't know anything about it - it just goes to show that we all have to watch exactly what our kids are up to when they are on their mobile devices. If kids want to make mischief, they will find a way to do it.

Sometimes I wonder if I have become an over-protective helicopter parent, hovering around making sure my kids are completely safe. We can only do our best I guess.

I don't know.

Still TJ was happy to go to school and happy to leave his phone at home!!!!!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Doctors and Science...

So TJ's therapist has decided that now would be the right time to address his medical issues. Her feeling is that he will face questions in Secondary School and that by learning about his medical diagnosis, whatever that may be, that she will be able to work with him to 'own' it and to learn to accept it as part of who he is.

That was awfully hard to hear, let alone write it. But she is the professional and so we should respect that she knows what she is doing.

So a doctor's appointment was made and we duly went along.

I went in first to explain the situation and that we had a worry that there maybe an issue with FASD due to his early experiences, I won't put all his medical details here - but FASD is on the cards for so many adopted children that I think its ok to mention to - besides it may not even be that. The doctor listened attentively and then asked me to bring TJ in.

But, once TJ was in the room the doctor started asking me questions about his 'real parents'. I was dumbstruck. I kept referring to them as 'birth parents' but the doctor still kept on - how tall were his real parents, did I have his real parents medical history, why did he come into care in the first place?.... And he was sitting there!

Then the doctor decided to check on TJ's height and weight - using Google!!!!! I could have done that at home!

Then... and I nearly fell over - she said, "You don't have to bring him back - just by looking at him  can see that something is not right - I'll issue a letter for the specialist, pick it up next week."

AND HE WAS IN THE ROOM!!!!!!!!!!!

I was furious. We left and even before we had got back into the car TJ was in floods of tears - he was ugly, he was a midget, everyone hated him.

I don't think this is what the therapist had in mind. It certainly wasn't what I would call a good bedside manner.

As we left the doctor said, "Nice to see you again, you teach at my son's school'. I hadn't even recognised her - but now I was really uncomfortable as I don't think I can put in a complaint.

On another note, my eldest, KC, decided that tonight was the night he wanted to talk about the damage done to him by his birth family. And to question a lot of decisions that were made about his life.

I have a policy that I don't lie to the children. I may make the answers age appropriate - but if they are old enough to ask then they are old enough to know - in a kind way,  I hope.

So we sat and chatted and afterwards we had a big hug.

As I turned away he said, "Daddy..."

I looked at him lovingly.

"Daddy, can you email my science teacher and let him know that I haven't done my homework as we were having a serious chat about my 'past and my issues'.

He gave me a big grin!!!!

I had been played!!!!

So he is now sitting opposite me doing his science homework.

But, secretly, whether he has played me or not - I think he feels better for having his questions answered.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Busy Doing Nothing...

Why is it when you think to yourself, 'I'm going to get back to work on my blog - make sure that I write more regularly now'...  Why is that the minute you say that then absolutely nothing happens in your week?

We went back to school last week. Not much to report there. Papa wrote a reply to the Head's letter (see last week's post) but we haven't really heard anything - except the Head's PA called to try and arrange a meeting with Papa - but he was too busy to take the call - so the Head's PA spoke to Papa's answering machine.

We had some snow - not enough to close the school for a day, which was disappointing. Particularly for KC who spent pretty much the whole of Thursday night pinned against the window begging the dear Lord to make it snow - I'm sure the dear Lord was listening to countless children all over the country praying for the same thing.

Then to cap it all KC got a stinking cold - so didn't actually go to school anyway - but was too ill to go outside and enjoy the little snow we had - maybe God was teaching him a lesson - 'be careful what you wish for' and all that.

Anyway KC was well enough to go to his drama group yesterday. He's started a new one locally, one of those franchises - but his friend goes and they both seem to love it. He came back after the first week and said, "My new drama teacher is gay as well.' So at least there are positive role models for him. Then he added, "Are all drama teachers gay, like you?" I wanted to point out to him that musical theatre was basically a big gay celebration (I didn't of course! and naturally it isn't... I have some straight friends in musical theatre too... I'm sure I do... (joking guys!!!!!))

Instead I pointed out that the theatre was as disciplined as the army (his other love)... just with more sequins...

Then last night it was TJ's turn to get sick - great fun!

But luckily, fingers crossed, both Papa and I are fine - so far!

KC has gone with best friend and family to a skate park - his aim is to be a world scooter champion - well, it is this week anyway. TJ's aim is still to beat the PS4 at anything... and to clean out his hamster!

Which I am now going to remind him to do...

And who says family life is dull...

Actually, I quite like the dull weeks.






Sunday, 8 January 2017

Adoptophobia

So the Christmas holidays are finally drawing to a close and we are all getting ready for going back to school.

The great joy of being a teacher in the same school as your children is that you share the same holidays - that's also the downside...

But, an issue when dealing with adopted children seems to be that other parents very quickly get to know that you are an adoptive parent and, what has surprised me the most, is the fear that some other people have about their children mixing with yours.

Let me explain.

Just before Christmas we had an incident at school - involving a few boys on the back of a bus using their phones to watch 'inappropriate material' - we all know what that means.

Luckily, my eldest didn't have his phone on him - my belief being that whilst he is on the bus he is ore likely to lose the phone and, if he is at school and I am at the same school then he can actually talk to his friends and, if he needs me, he can come and find me.

So the material was watched on another boy's phone and, yes, my son was involved. But, to be honest, I would put most of it down to curiosity and boys being boys. I was more angry that the school didn't seem to mind a bunch of boys heading off to rugby having their phones unsupervised. Luckily, since the incident, that has now been changed.

But, the upshot has been the way in which KC has been targeted by other parents - one in particular, who happily put pen to paper informing the school of the 'disgusting' behaviour of my son. Of course she may not just be put off by adoption but by same-sex parents - I can't comment really... Rather than claiming homophobia do we know claim adoptophobia?

So we are called in - no other parents were - and we were made to feel as though KC was a criminal, that because of his past experiences he was putting other, and I quote, 'hard working children's futures' at risk.

This was then all recorded and sent to us in a letter - which we received on the last day of term. The day on which I was having my hand shaken by the powers that be and wished a happy Christmas.

Needless to say the first week of the Christmas holiday was spent with arguments between myself and Papa, tears from KC - who felt he was being made the scapegoat because I was a teacher - and sleepless nights for me as I dealt with the polarising forces between keeping  a job I love and supporting my son.

Of course, there have been some parents who have been amazingly supportive and look out for our boys - but it only takes one to raise suspicion and immediately it is KC who bears the brunt. After all, it couldn't possibly be their child who is in the wrong.

Perhaps the problem is that we admit that our child has issues, has faults and we want him to learn from them, to accept that he is ultimately in control of his choices. Perhaps we should be like those parents who insist their child is innocent and then make the most noise - they seem to be the ones who are listened too. KC has an EHC Plan, which is great for getting learning support but also stigmatises him to certain parents.

But, KC has made amazing progress at school, he has good friends, we have a system that works for us - I won't let a couple of angry, ill-informed parents upset that - do I write to the governors, the local authority who issued the EHCP - it seems obvious that the powers that be in the school will simply pander to the loudest voices - or am i being paranoid? Who knows... ?

So we go back to school tomorrow - not sure of what will happen next.

I'll keep you informed...