How to get through a time of waiting without having a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp

In some circumstances I’m really good at waiting. If I’m stuck in traffic, in the doctors’ surgery or in a queue I’m really chilled. Waiting in these scenarios doesn’t stress me out. This doesn’t include the time I rang the AA when I’d broken down and they put me on hold and played ‘Rescue Me’ on loop, which I thought was quite a bad taste song choice. To make matters worse my husband was hoping I’d have to wait an hour to get recovered as it meant we’d get £10 compensation which “we could spend on a take away.” Forget the car, he was headed straight for the marriage garage. (This only works if you pronounce garage the proper way like a Northerner would).

During the last few years I’ve realised that I’m pretty bad at waiting for the bigger things I’m hoping for. From start to finish we waited three years to adopt our daughter. For me, the waiting was the hardest part of the process.

We all have to wait for things – it could be a promotion, a new job, to have a family or to find someone special. Here is what I learnt during the last few years – I’ve done an acrostic of Waiting – because who doesn’t love a good old acrostic?!

Wallow – but only in moderation. If you’re anything like me, you may think there ain’t no party like a pity party. You’ll really need to guard against this during a waiting time. I remember having a full on meltdown about 18 months ago. My husband was away and I allowed myself too much time to think about the fact that the adoption had not happened yet. I’m talking about a full on tears, snot, heap on the floor style meltdown. If I could rewind to meltdown o’clock I’d give myself a slap round the chops followed by a cuppa, a (large) bag of Maltesers and reassurance that an amazing answer to prayer was not too far round the corner. But hindsight is a wonderful thing you don’t have when you are waiting for something.

The (wonderfully bonkers) ‘Sumo Guy’ gives some great advice on what he calls ‘hippo time’ – a short period of time to acknowledge that you feel sad/disappointed/frustrated. His three top tips within this are:

  1. Be careful who you talk to
  2. Be careful how many people you talk to
  3. Be careful how long your ‘hippo time’ lasts.

I’d really encourage you to read the full chapter on this – it’s referenced at the end of the blog.

FullSizeRender(4)

Active Waiting – do all that you can to get to your dream or goal. My dream was to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. So we took action – we found a great agency and started the process. I also got in touch with a fab local group who support children with Down Syndrome and their families – and I began volunteering with them. I met up with people who had adopted children with Down Syndrome to hear their advice and experiences.

I also prayed my socks off – sometimes that was all I could do, but I believe it made a real difference.

Be like these racing pigs – leaving behind the wallowing and hoofing it towards their dreams (or leggin’ it from the butcher?!) Don’t be disgruntled, go the whole hog, get crackling – be piggin’ assertive!

FullSizeRender(3)

 

Information – Get informed! Become an expert in whatever it is you are waiting for. Swot like it’s hot! I read as many books as I could find about adoption and Down Syndrome. Waiting can be a great time of preparation, learning and growing – make the most of it.

Thankfulness – There were times during my wait when I was so focused on what I didn’t yet have that I didn’t appreciate all of the wonderful things I did have. I’ve read a lot lately about being ‘present in the now’ – enjoying and appreciating all of the people and things in your life as it is right now. This year I started a ‘Jar of Joy’ (cheesy but true) where I write down things that happen that make me smile – then I can read them all at the end of the year. My inner Brit wanted to also do a ‘Mug of Moans’ but I resisted that urge!

FullSizeRender(2)

In his book about waiting, Wayne Stiles says; ‘Most of life is lived in the gaps between great moments…the mundane days remain an essential path to the great ones.’ Even in the mundane days when you dream is still not reached, there’s so much to be grateful for.

Interests – Get some hobbies for goodness sake! Don’t have too much time on your hands – especially if you are an over-thinker like me! Join a gym, learn a new skill, start a blog – keep busy. Whatever you are waiting for is likely to bring extra levels of responsibility to your life, so enjoy the freedom you have before change comes. (I’m just taking a minute to remember the wonder that was the ‘lie in.’)

No Nebbin’ in – This is a Northern expression meaning ‘don’t be nosey’. Social media can be a wonderful thing, but if you feel a lack in an area of your life you may be tempted to look at other peoples ‘living the dream’ posts and compare your life to theirs and become jealous/frustrated. And let’s be honest, we’ve all had a massive barney with our other half then took a smiley selfie and made out we are having a great day – what a load of tripe! I gave up Facebook for a few months and found this really helpful. You may not need to do that, but just be aware that comparison can be a real struggle during waiting times.

Generosity – I don’t necessarily mean money here, but be generous with your time, stuff, words, hugs and encouragement. Cheer others on and support them to reach their goals. Generosity helps to keep the focus off yourself and onto others.

During my wait I decided to sponsor a little boy with Down Syndrome through an amazing charity called ‘Shepherds Fields’ – a Chinese orphanage who look after children with disabilities. I committed to sponsoring him each month and praying for him. I was delighted to hear he’s recently been adopted and found his forever family! (And maybe even more delighted to cancel the direct debit – cut me some slack, the last 3 months of adoption leave are unpaid!)

I was encouraged by Isaiah 64:4, which says God ‘acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.’ Even when nowt seems to be happening I believe that God is up to stuff behind the scenes. In my experience, God’s best is worth waiting for – and in the meantime, spit that wasp out!

Love Kate xx (progressed to having a face like a camel eating sherbert)

Recommended Reading

SUMO – Paul McGee (The Sumo guy)

Waiting on God – What to Do When God Does Nothing – Wayne Stiles

Website

Shepherds Field Orphanage – http://www.chinaorphans.org

Suggested activity

Take 16 items through the 10 items or less check out and give the person behind you an opportunity to grow in patience 🙂

Next months blog – ‘12 Months off – and no stretch marks’ – an honest reflection on a year off work.

Advertisements

What I learnt from ‘The Woman with Exploding Butt Cheeks’ (TWWEBC)

*Disclaimer – The following blog is rated as PG as it may or may not include some ‘puns about buns’. If you think this is amusing, see if you can count the ‘cheeky references’ throughout (no repeaters). If you think this is distasteful then any cheeky references are entirely coincidental and just in your imagination.*

I’ve watched a fair bit of tripe on TV while I’ve been on adoption leave. One thing that sticks out in my mind (lol) was the interview on ‘This Morning’ with TWWEBC. She is a model who’s had a stack of plastic surgery – her latest being a 7 hour operation to have butt implants fitted/installed?! As a result, she’s not been able to sit down for three months and it may take two years for the pain in her backside to subside. She feels extremely anxious that the implants may explode at any moment. She has PTSD and is constantly worrying about how she looks.

In case you think I’m judging her I’ll share my own recent cheeky misdemeanour. I went into hospital for a minor op and was handed the standard issue gown. I thought I’d done the tabs up perfectly well by myself until the nurse came in and when I turned round said; “hmmm, I think I’d better help you as it’s supposed to actually cover your backside!” I’ve always said it’s a good thing when a sister’s got your back! With hindsight I may be oversharing here so I definitely won’t admit to almost putting the paper pants on my head mistaking them for a hat – which I later found out that lots of old and confused men do, putting their lugholes through the leg holes. Moving swiftly on…….

IMG_3334

Our culture and the media are constantly feeding us lies about what true booty, sorry, beauty is. If I’m honest I have to admit that I can be guilty of buying into the nonsense too. I’ve recently said about myself: “I wish I could lose another half of a stone,” “I look like my dad in a wig,” (soz dad). I think I’m a reasonably secure person, but if I’m not careful I can be sucked into the ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ style malarkey (as grateful as I am to them for making junk in the trunk a good thing). Don’t get me wrong – I love my Temple Spa skincare routine, I enjoy wearing make up, and with two weeks until our holiday I’ve written myself a ‘PLanzarote’ diet and fitness plan. (Genius, I know!)

IMG_3333

I believe in making the most of yourself.

I also believe we need to recognise a beauty that goes far deeper than our physical appearance.

Since we adopted our daughter I’ve become more aware of how harmful our ideas of physical perfection can be. Our daughter has Down Syndrome which means she has some physical features that are different to people without it. She has almond shaped eyes, a flatter nasal bridge and a larger tongue. These features don’t fit in with what our Western culture tells us is to be desired. But when I look at her I see pure beauty and perfection. She has a radiance about her – mischief sparkles in her big blue eyes. Her smile lights up a room. She has hypotonia which gives her flexibility skills and she easily gets her big toe into her mouth (hence the reason I will never go to baby yoga – they make you copy your babies moves – no chance).

I’m determined to talk about my body positively from now on and speak out the positive instead of the negative – especially now that little ears are listening. I want to focus on the amazing things my body can do like run (in theory), walk (to Costa for a latte and caramel shortbread), see, hear, hug, laugh and shake it at Zumba with the best of ‘em (back row – don’t want to show anyone up). I want my girl to have great self esteem, and I know that begins with what she learns from me and her daddy at home.

We will all get older, wrinklier, greyer and smellier (can I get a retweet?!) Physical beauty fades, but the beauty of our character far outlasts and outweighs good looks. If you think about the people in your life who you love and value the most, what qualities do they have? My list would include kindness, humour, honesty, bravery, compassion and positivity. These are truly beautiful attributes. We all want people like this around us, especially when times are tough. Those are the things that really matter – not how perfect someone’s face/figure/physique is.

Most of us struggle with some level of insecurity, but children who are adopted often have some serious identity issues. They may have been rejected by their birth parents, or have suffered abuse by those who should have loved and protected them. They need so much help to understand how valuable they are, and need people who will walk with them through a process of healing that may well take years. We need to get a grip of ourselves, resist cultural pressures and ensure we are secure in order to help them to navigate these difficulties effectively. All children, adopted or not, need to know their true value is in who they are and not what they look like. As their parents, carers, family and friends, we need to model this truth in our own lives.

I recently watched a great film called ‘Wonder’ about a boy called Auggie who has a facial disfigurement. He experiences bullying at school, but he perseveres and makes good friends who take the time to find out he is funny and clever. His Head Teacher Mr Tushman (snigger) says: “Auggie can’t change the way he looks. Maybe we can change the way we see.” Why not start to change the way you see – and celebrate the true and lasting beauty in yourself and others around you? Let’s ditch these ruddy nonsense apps and filters that airbrush skin, whiten teeth and attempt to take years off us. Be the real you!

IMG_3336

I learnt from TWWEBC that you can look like our cultural ideal of beauty, but it can be a right old pain in the backside – literally! When we focus on the outward, we will never be happy. I have learnt from my daughter that you don’t have to fit into cultural ideals of beauty to be an absolute chuffin’ stunner!

1 Sam 16:5 in the Bible says: “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Your heart is what really matters. Celebrate the unique creation you are – and those around you are too. Why not text a friend now and tell them what you think is beautiful about them?

Love Kate (celebrating the dad in a wig look – it’s so this season)

Xx

Next months blog – ‘How to go through a time of waiting without having a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp.’

(Puns about buns score – 8)

Related info

http://www.templespa/lisaseale

Psalm 139 – The Bible

Book recommendation – ‘A Different Beautiful’ – Courtney Westlake

Suggested activity – grab your hairbrush, get in front of your mirror and belt out ‘This is me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’ (beard is optional, but encouraged!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten things to say to adoptive parents that will make them want to punch you in the face

* Disclaimer – a bun from another oven does not condone violence of any kind, despite the shocking levels of tactlessness present in some people that make a knuckle buttie seem entirely acceptable.*

punch

We’ve all put our foot in it or asked unhelpful questions. In my younger days I used to love swanning into the pound shop and approaching the cashier with several items I had no intention of buying just so I could ask how much each thing cost. The bemused shop assistant would answer ‘everything’s a pound’ in a monotone voice while I giggled away not realising I was the 47th infuriating person who’d done that joke that day. I probably deserved a punch in the face.

Adoptive parents get asked a lot of unhelpful questions. I have been subject to all of the following questions or statements in response to me sharing the news that we were adopting. Underneath each one  is the response my sassy side wanted to give, followed by an explanation as to why it wasn’t the best thing for someone to say. If you read this and realise you said any of these, don’t worry your face is not on my dartboard….honest 😉

1. Have you not thought of IVF?

Have you not thought of engaging your brain before you speak?!

This was irritating because the assumption here is that you are only adopting because you are infertile and have exhausted all other options of having children the ‘proper way.’ For us adoption was plan A.

However, many adoptive parents have struggled with infertility and have perhaps been through years of heartache due to this. They may well have tried IVF and it hasn’t worked.

If someone is considering IVF there are so many issues involved, such as financial implications, the age and weight of people considering it, plus questions around ethics. If you want to bring up almost every hot potato in one go, by all means crack on with your IVF questions!

spud

2. You must be a Saint

I prefer Sister Theresa if you please my child, you may kiss my feet or at least put a pound in my ‘missions fund’….

This is normally said by people who have met me for the first time as no-one who’s spent more than 5 minutes with me actually thinks this! I saw an advert for adoption and fostering stating that it’s: ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things.’ So true!

3. Is there summat wrong wi’yer? (For those not from the North of England this translates as ‘Is there something wrong with one’s physical constitution which means one cannot produce offspring?’)

Don’t beat around the bush will you – talk about subtle as a brick through a window!

This is a very blunt question to ask – even to a fellow Northerner! If someone hasn’t volunteered this kind of information to you, the chances are they don’t want to discuss their reproductive system wi’yer.

4. Kids don’t stay young and cute forever….

You are proof that kids don’t stay young and cute forever….

This was said because we wanted to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. It was suggested that babies with Down Syndrome may be cute, but can grow up to have serious challenges. I knew I was committed to loving a child forever, regardless of what their future challenges may be.

5. Oh – you aren’t her real mum?

Why don’t you pinch me and you’ll find out how real I am…..

If you mean the person who conceived, carried and birthed her then sadly, no that’s not me. But if you mean the person who cares for her needs, sings Meatloaf hits to her, and is committed to loving her forever then yes, that’s me. I cried once I’d had time to process this one because I do feel like her real mum and it’s hard when that’s questioned. It’s important to highlight here the permanence of adoption – once an order has gone through court you are legally recognised as their parent.

6. I know someone who prays for people who can’t get pregnant.

Why don’t you get them to pray about your personality then?

Again, we are beginning with the assumption that you are adopting only because you can’t get pregnant. I really value prayer, and if I was struggling to conceive I would ask people I know and trust to pray for me, and probably not your random mate as nice as they may be.

7. Are you sure you know what you are letting yourselves in for?

*bangs head against nearest wall*

Who really knows this until a child comes into their lives, whether that be by birth or adoption? Having children is challenging (I never knew I’d have to deal with nappies at 4.34am that put me off korma forever). Adoptive parents often have added challenges of raising children with additional needs, attachment disorders and other struggles due to a whole host of difficult circumstances their children have faced. But these children are so precious and need people who will step up to be the parents they so desperately need. If we’d thought of all the potential challenges our daughters Down Syndrome may present and then decided against it, we’d have missed out on having an amazing little girl in our lives. It’s wise to seriously consider the reality of the challenge of adoption, but also to be positive and full of hope for a better future for these children.

8. Adoption is easy – you’ve got a ready made baby and not had to do any of the hard work!

I knew all those body combat classes would come in useful at some point, lets start with a jab, jab hook…..

I went into motherhood in a strong place physically speaking. Our amazing social worker had advised us to eat well and exercise as she knew how demanding the matching stage can be. We thought she must’ve seen us as the Wayne and Waynetta slob type, and were relieved to find out she advises everyone in this way – phew! However, adoption is not an easy option! As well as the normal challenges of parenting there are the long periods of waiting, the uncertainty, the worries that go through your mind about whether the child will bond with you. There’s the anxiety about birth parents and if they’ll contest the adoption meaning you end up with a long court process. Our Christian faith helped immensely and we had a real peace during the process. Even so, it was a very challenging time.

weight

9. My cousins, aunties, grandads, sheeps owner of the corner shop down the road knew someone who adopted and then got pregnant the next week.

My cousins, aunties, granddads, sheeps owner of the corner shop down the road knew someone who died of boredom hearing this story so many times…..

Literally every other person you speak to knows someone who adopted and then fell pregnant. That’s great – but it’s like saying adopting is some magic way of falling pregnant in the end. Adoption is not a good deed you do in the hope of ending up preggers.

sheep

10. You have adopted her? That explains how you lost your baby weight so quickly!

*snogs the person in the face* – no punch necessary!

Some suggestions of more helpful questions to ask adopters might be:

You are adopting – congratulations! Can I buy you a T-shirt with ‘not showing, still glowing on?’ (ok minus the T-shirt bit, unless you are asking me and then it’s a yes).

What made you want to adopt?

Tell me more about adoption – what is the process like?

Is there anything I can do to help?

What are the potential challenges of adopting a child with additional needs?

Anyway, I’m off up to the pound shop to do my usual routine for old times sake 😉

Sound as a pound,

Love Kate xx

P.S. Everything’s a pound

Next months blog – ‘What I learned from the woman with exploding butt cheeks.’ (yes, really)

 

 

 

 

 

Why a bun from another oven?

Please note – this is about our personal story and not about adoption generally. Our story is rare and unique – please read it that way. There are many reasons why children are adopted – many of which are heartbreaking for birth parents. I wanted to add this after some dialogue with birth parents who felt I was speaking broadly about adoption. This is not the case so please read with that in mind. Thank you 🙂

I’ve always wanted to have a family, and always assumed I’d pop out a couple of sproggers in the conventional way. Then a few years ago this desire to have a family became really strong, and it felt like the right time to crack on with it.

Surprisingly though, I started to develop a strong desire to adopt, rather than to have birth children. The more I researched and prayed about adoption, the more certain I became that it was the way we should grow our family.

My Christian faith definitely motivated me to do this, and it felt like it fit with who I am and what I feel is important in life. If you know me well, you’ll know how often people compare me to Mother Teresa. (Or am I thinking of the Vicar of Dibley?) Anyway, that’s nun of your business (sorry not sorry).

Good old Mother T said this: ‘Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted are the most terrible poverty.’ The bible says that: ‘What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their distress.’ (James 1:27). This is not the stuffy list of rules and regulations people often think of when they hear ‘religion’, but really practical love in action stuff that makes a difference to other people’s lives – often to those who have no-one else in the world to care for them.

I didn’t feel any sense of religious obligation to adopt, but my heart was full of excitement at the prospect of giving an unwanted child a forever family. (Must get my nun outfit dry cleaned – I was doing this regularly but then got out of the habit!!).

duck

I’ve known real love and stability in my life, and very much felt like I wanted to offer that to a child without it. I felt much more excited about adopting than I did about carrying and giving birth to a child. (Or am I kidding myself and I’m really just too posh to push??!!)

I worried at first that people would think I was weird or abnormal for feeling this way, but I chose not to focus on this, and did what I felt was right – and what I wanted to do. Plus, a biological child may inherit all of my husband’s irritating habits, along with my massive snout and addiction to Kit Kat chunkys. (Currently on day 20 of Lent which this year involves no cake, chocolate or sweets – approach with extreme caution is all I’ll say!)FullSizeRender

I also knew from the start that I wanted to adopt a child with Down Syndrome – to parent a child who was unwanted because of their perceived ‘disability.’ Thankfully this is very rare, but in our case that is the reality of the situation.

I believe that people are so valuable and equal in worth, regardless of things like how many chromosomes they have. Our daughter totally rocks her extra chromosome and she brings so much joy and love to so many people’s lives.

I realise it’s very special to conceive, carry, and birth a child – it’s an amazing thing that women’s bodies are designed to do. I also know I’d be the worst pregnant woman ever – there’d be no blooming, I’d be a bloomin’ nightmare!

I’d argue that adoption is just as special as having biological children. It’s not the right route for everyone, but for some it is. When I look at my daughter I honestly have no regrets – I wouldn’t change a thing about our route to parenthood (apart from maybe shaving a year off the process!). She feels like ‘ours’ in every way. We are convinced we couldn’t love her any more even if we had conceived and carried her.

I’m writing this in a coffee shop with her asleep on my left shoulder, her head in the patch of milky sick I now have on every jumper I own. I am overwhelmed by how much me and her daddy love her.

Krish Kandiah, who runs an amazing organisation called ‘Home for Good,’ says: ‘There are more ways to be family than genetic connections. Love trumps biology.’ I can now say from experience that this is so true!

In honesty, the adoption journey has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced – it is emotionally costly, often discouraging, and there are periods of waiting you think will never end. I think I’m quite a strong person, but have to admit I feel like I’ve been wazzed up in a blender on an emotional level. But the children who are waiting are so worth it. Our daughter is so worth every form (and there are so many forms!), every medical, every social worker visit, every panel, every training session and every month that goes by in the process where nothing seems to be happening.

Our little girl enhances our lives in so many ways………

I love how she wakes up jabbering and full of joy and smiles every morning (the polar opposite to my grumpy self).

I love how at such a young age she has her daddy wrapped round her little finger when I’ve tried for 11 years and not succeeded.

I love her cheeky eyes and her smile so full of mischief – we are partners in crime for sure.

I love how when she’s in a mood she sticks her bottom lip out really far and squawks loudly for attention. (It never works for me but fair play to her for trying).

I love that the first time she laughed was when I was singing ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ by Meatloaf to her (chooon!)

I love how she looks like she could be an extra on TOWIE with an orange tan on her face caused by blended carrot.

I love how she stares at me intensely in the eyes and flares her nostrils when she’s having a poo (not saying who she takes after on that point).

I love the funny noises she makes and how we try to decide if she sounds more like a seagull or a trolley with a squeaky wheel.

I love her warm and toasty head which is like a little jacket spud out of the oven.

I love that we’ve had the privilege of adopting her and welcoming her into our family forever.

I love her extra chromosome and I wouldn’t change her for the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog!

Kate (aka Mother T) xx

Next blog is called ‘Things to say to adoptive parents that will make them want to punch you in the face’.