I am so tiny.

I feel like this should really be two separate blog posts.  The one in which I tell you that we met with our foster baby’s prospective adoptive family, and that they seem lovely and that we are so happy for her and for them, that it wasn’t hard, that yes it was surreal but not in a bad way. For almost two hours our boys and her birth/adoptive siblings played happily together, as though it was the most ordinary thing in the world.  It was truly humbling.  And I don’t use that word often.

That is the post I wanted to write, wanted to share.  One of hope and positivity.

There is a second post though.  The one where I strapped our family back in our car, drove away from their home, put on my sunglasses and music, and cried for about thirty miles.

Not because we will have to say goodbye to her, not because we don’t believe she will have a wonderful life with them (and therefore without us) but because during our visit I learnt that one of her other siblings has recently had their adoption break down, and they are back in foster care.  And I realised that no matter how many times we do this, no matter how many babies we love, nurture and pass on, no matter how we bend and stretch and maybe eventually break ourselves fostering- it will never be enough.  There are so many, so very very many children and our effort will only ever be a drop, in vast, possibly bottomless ocean.

So I cried behind my glasses, and I am crying now.  With all three children tucked up asleep in their beds.  I have been crying for so long I feel like I have cried about everything there is to cry about.  It started as tears for ‘failed’ adoptions.  Why do we call them that?  I thought I hated the term ‘failure to progress’ in relation to a woman’s cervical dilation in labour…but ‘failed adoption’?!  What kind of message does that send to a child?  They have failed at family life, failed to be loveable, failed to be easy to live with, failed at life.  How do we expect them to come back from that?  Who is failing here?  Not the children.  I’d guess not the adoptive parents in most cases either.  Who then?  Birth parents? Many of who have been utterly failed by their own parents, by people they trusted, by professionals, by society.  Should we blame them?  I mean who’s fault is this?  Is it anyone’s at all?

Even thinking about it my heart breaks.  I can’t remember the last time I cried so hard.  Crying hiccuping, crying with snot, crying so hard you feel like you might break in two. Crying as cardio.  These are not silent, effortless tears. I am sad, and I am angry and my mind wants my body to recognise and honour that.

I am crying for A, for every baby like her, babies born to parents they will never live with.  For the babies who aren’t removed but maybe should be.  For the children that grow up hurting, fearful, angry, not knowing who to trust, not knowing how to recognise the emotions they carry inside without letting those feelings destroy them.  For the women who choose their men over their children, for the men who use their power to control, to coerce, to manipulate and abuse- why do they do it?  For the parents who can’t, just can’t because of drugs, or alcohol or some other reason, for the professionals who want to help, but who are only humans themselves, for myself, past, present and future, for my own siblings and for everyone I know.  For all of us.  For the messes we make, and the things we do to try and fix it.

What are we doing?

I. Have. No. Idea.

But I know I have never felt so small.  So tiny. Like a spot plaster on a gaping head wound, that is literally gushing blood fucking everywhere, and only a handful of people have even noticed.

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The House of Sleep

This could totally be a blog post about how insanely tired I feel right now, and how between staying up late writing night after night, and babies spitting their dummies out (literally) at 4.45am, and the “summer” (lol) holidays, I am just wrecked and would love nothing more to check myself into a house that existed solely for it’s residents to simply sleep their days and nights away until refreshed.

But…it’s not.  At all.  This is my (admittedly rather belated) review of June’s Re-Read, which was, as the title suggests- The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe.

thehouseofsleepjonathancoe

This is a book that I got in a swap a very long time ago, and it came with bite marks in the cover, yellowed pages, and absolutely no pre-conceived notions whatsoever.  I had no idea what it was about, which I am increasingly finding is my favourite way to approach a new book, as the more hype that surrounds something, the more pressure there is to enjoy it, and the more disappointing it is when you (or rather I) don’t.

The House of Sleep is literary fiction, but unlike a lot of books that fall under that umbrella, I would say it’s a pretty easy read, which is obviously a totally subjective observation but I just mean that I didn’t feel like I had to be reading it in a certain frame of mind in a quiet room to really grasp the language or appreciate the story.

The story centers around a group of main characters- Sarah, Robert, Terry and Gregory, but more specifically around a house- Ashdown, which for some of the book is owned by the university and houses students, and later is being used as a private sleep clinic.  Sleep, and sleep disorders obviously feature heavily (the clue being in the title and all) as does sexuality and gender.  I’m hesitant to give away too many spoilers but I will say that one of the characters is transgender, and  that a decade ago when I first read the book (and almost a decade before that, when it was first published) that was probably quite a big deal.  It certainly was for me reading it anyway, as it was doubtless the first time I’d encountered a main character that wasn’t cisgender- long before I even knew what cisgender meant.

Coming back to it again a couple of months ago I wondered if the knowledge and awareness I’d gained since first reading it would give me a different perspective, especially regarding the sexuality and gender aspects of the story, and to a certain extent it did.  I wondered about some of the decisions the author made and found myself engaging with the story in a different- more critical- way, but overall I still enjoyed the way it was written, and the weaving together of the different personal stories across place and time.  For me this isn’t one of those books that you stay up all night to finish, but one that you pick up and put down each night before bed for a week or so, and rather than being blown-away by it, it leaves you with a lingering sense of something.

July’s re-read should have been The Spider Truces but I got sidetracked (again).  The good news being that I have read some other really fantastic books instead, the bad news being that it means I am getting a bit behind and should probably try to exert more self-control (Ha! Hahahahaha).

I’ll let you know how that goes 😉

It’s Been A While

Titled this blog post and immediately had Staind- It’s Been A While playing in my head.  Sometimes I wonder if my brain isn’t just comprised of 70% song lyrics and melodies from the late 90’s/early 2000’s.

Anyway, that maybe wasn’t my longest ever hiatus from blogging, but there’s still the odd bit of tumbleweed blowing through the place.  It’s not even that I haven’t had anything to say- more that I wasn’t sure it was what anyone would want to read.  Life has been kind of difficult and kind of crazy, and most of the difficulties and craziness have been fostering related, which makes it hard to share, partly because: confidentiality but also because it’s such a sensitive topic.  It’s not like letting off steam at the end of a rough day at the office, these are other people’s lives that we’re talking about, and our lives- all mixed together, and it’s kind of hard to extricate what is ok for me to talk about and what isn’t. Hence: silence.

If it makes you feel better, I haven’t even been writing in my diary, because I was getting fed-up with writing the same thing every day: “Today was hard, crying baby, social worker, blah blah” so I just stopped.  Which is admittedly problematic since writing is one of the very few forms of release/coping mechanisms that I have that actually works.

The good news (for me anyway) is that I channeled it instead into finishing off edits to the YA novel I’ve been working on since last year, and I think it’s finally…after 15 months and 5 drafts, ready to be read by people other than just me.  In fact, Chris is already about 14 chapters in- which is impressive considering I wasn’t sure our relationship would survive him reading beyond the first two or three (he’s such a harsh critic and I am so rubbish at handling criticism in any form!)  I’ve also had a fair few (actually, quite a lot) of volunteers for alpha and beta readers, so once he’s finished ripping it to shreds I’ll be sending it on to others for them to do the same (eek!)

I’m going to attempt to get back into the habit of blogging regularly, and not just when I am sufficiently outraged about something to go off on a massive rant, as was my temptation a couple of days ago (although I may still write about that topic because honestly, my blood pressure is rising even just thinking about it).  My aim is two blog posts a week, and for a mixture of reading/writing related posts and general ranty/life posts, so…stay tuned!