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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2 thoughts on “I am so tiny.

  1. starryeyedfirefly 29/08/2015 / 10:09 am

    I completely understand how you feel. When I was doing admin and reading/typing up these endless cases and sessions and meetings it really got to me sometimes. I was “lucky” that I never had to meet these families, I just typed up the interactions my colleagues had, and reading the notes you could kind of distance yourself if you wanted to, like reading a newspaper or case studies or even fiction. But there were days when I would get so angry, and I would get on my soap box and really go to town about the system or the parents or whatever. The social workers and support workers in my team were absolutely amazing and for a while I toyed with the idea of becoming one, because I wanted to be frontline and making a difference, I even applied for the Frontline program and to be an assistant social worker in the adoption team but neither panned out and in a way I’m sort of glad because I think I would have just got too emotionally involved when I had faces to put to the names on paper.

    The thing is, you might be just a dot in this epic ocean of shit, but if everyone became a dot, then they would eventually join up and change things. And no, not everybody is going to become a foster parent or social worker or adopt a child, but I think this gradual push for early intervention is definitely a positive thing… From health visitors doing a visit at 34-36 weeks to see the mother and the home so they can help educate parents and flag up problems before the baby is even here, to the early intervention team going in as baby is born to assist parents who are struggling with things like feeding and safety, domestic abuse groups for mothers and children, temporary/emergency/respite foster places, mother and baby placements and so on. There are so many options now and for a lot of children it’s too little too late but I live in (possibly naive) hope that eventually things will be better.

    But for now, people like you ARE making a difference, no matter how small and insignificant you feel right now, you are making a different to squishlets life and perhaps even inspiring the people around you to do the same, and educating friends and relatives and those busybodies in the playground and the people who read your blog.

    It’s like plankton. You are plankton. Nobody ever talks about the plankton or thinks about the plankton but if the plankton disappear then the whole ocean falls apart. Without foster carers, there is nowhere safe to put kids while people sort their shit out or the paperwork is done, or to take in a mother and baby who aren’t coping. All the stuff that happens relies on foster carers, don’t forget it x

    • rlholland 30/08/2015 / 2:38 pm

      I don’t know much about ocean life but I’ve got to say, thinking of myself as plankton is actually quite comforting. More positive than it initially sounds anyway 😉 Haha. So thanks.
      I don’t know why it all suddenly hit me on Friday, I think it’s the difference between knowing and feeling. I was in care myself as a teenager so it’s not like I’m not aware of what can/does happen and all the complexity and sadness that the world holds but actually letting yourself feel it is another thing. They tell you in fostering training that you are part of the professional team working with the child and family, but it doesn’t feel that way- it feels very personal, and it’s hard to maintain any kind of barrier or emotional distance when you’re actually living it.
      I have no idea what the answer is to any of it, or even what we’ll do moving forward as a family, because our first placement has been the ultimate baptism of fire, but I’m glad we’ve been able to be plankton for squishlet anyway 🙂

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