Settling down…

It’s been quite a while since I wrote on here.

Correction – it’s been ages since I’ve published anything on here – I have two blogs in draft that I didn’t get round to finishing: one on FASD (originally written for FASD awareness Day on 9 September!); and one on adoption parties (which I started drafting after watching the series on Channel 4 towards the end of last year). I will finish those at some point!

In that time, I’ve started working in a different office, had a fantastic opportunity to support one of our clients more closely, and we’ve moved into our new home.

Our move was unsettling for our son at first – new home, new school, new city – but he has operated amazingly.

As a family we’re much more settled than where we lived before – a function of having our support network on our doorstep rather than an hour and a half away, my new found happiness with work, and space to talk things through when the going has been tough.

For the first time in ages this feels like our forever home.


Thank you

To my son’s teachers, TAs and everyone else involved in his school for the last 18 months.

Thank you.

Thank you for helping him be happy.

Thank you for always encouraging him to enjoy himself and do his best.

Thank you for listening to our concerns and showing us that we are all a team.

Thank you for understanding him.

Thank you for giving him a safe environment to grow from a baby into a boy.

Thank you for giving him the best possible start in his education.

Thank you for reassuring us that we are helping his education in the right way outside of school.

Thank you for making him star of the week, showing him that politeness goes a long way.

Thank you for challenging him when he needed to be and for supporting him when he struggled.

Thank you for always having a smile for him.

There are so many other things I could add, and no amount of words could ever express them more than just “THANK YOU” for everything.

Unique gifts

Every morning is the same – a face appears in front of mine, followed by the biggest grin in the world, then a kiss, then those magical words “I love you daddy”.

OK… so sometimes that’s all preceded by shaking, prodding and “wake up daddy” (at the crack of dawn, I might add…), but you get the idea.

Then there are the times when he gets excited for bedtime because I’ll make up a story using the “story cube” app on my phone. As long as there’s a lock and a key and the story involves him on an adventure, he’s happy. That in turn makes me happy – I could’ve told the shortest, least inventive story in the world, but he always loves it, and I treasure those moments which are reserved for just the two of us. The more we make up stories together, the more I find myself looking for ways to make them exciting, but also to help them reinforce the security he has with us.

There are times, however, when he seems insecure, or at least, isn’t able to soothe himself. Times when his temper ramps up and we get towards a full meltdown. Times when he’s not got what he wanted,  or has misinterpreted something that’s been said.

It’s during those times that I rediscover the truly unique gift we have – the connection that often helps reinforce our relationship. For it’s in those moments that I need to help my son rediscover calm, re-centre himself and resolve the issues.

Sometimes a tight hug and counting slowly backwards can help.

Sometimes it’s a case of asking “how high” he is, and how can we help bring him back down to earth.

Sometimes it’s sitting there taking a hammering and not reacting.

Sometimes it’s lying next to him with an open hand ready for him to hold.

Sometimes it gets too much and (to my shame) I have to leave the room.

On two recent occasions, something instinctive kicked in and I was able to calm him much quicker than in the past, using a unique gift – distraction, coupled with another – curiosity.

On the first he was screaming and got himself in a loop. When in that state the only thing to do is to wait until he’s calm again to resolve any issues. The usual techniques weren’t working, which is when I saw a possible solution out of the corner of my eye – a tally counter (one of those devices where you press a button and it counts e.g. the number of cars going past). I started clicking away quite quickly, and it got his attention. Within seconds he was looking around for the source of the noise and was calming down. He used the clicker a few times – seeing if he could press up to 100, by the end of which he was back down to earth. The really positive thing was that he recognised the counter as a way to calm himself down, so for the next few days he kept it in his sights in case he needed it again.

Cue the weekend, and he had a meltdown at my father-in-law’s. Again the usual techniques weren’t working, so I picked him up and carried him outside to the fish pond – taking him out of the environment that had caused him to get heated, and distracting him by counting the fish in the pond.

Distraction and curiosity won through in both instances, helping my son regulate himself and recognise how to bring himself down if needed. After both, he said “daddy, I was angry, and then I use the clicker/counted the fish and I came back down” (or words to that effect). It astounds me that, at 5, he recognises that, and pleases me immensely that I’ve been the one on these occasions to help him do so.

My son is a truly unique gift for me, and I hope he sees me the same way.


When I were a lad…

I wrote this for my Dad on Fathers’ Day…


When I were a lad I looked up to you Dad, and now I’m a dad I still do.

You were, and are, everything I would like to be in a dad:

  • Cool
  • Calm
  • Reassuring
  • Supportive
  • A hero
  • Strong
  • A sounding board
  • Fair
  • Encouraging
  • Taxi
  • Ever reliable
  • Holder of the remote
  • Fun/funny

I now feel proud when someone says “you’re just like your Dad”.

If in life I can truly tick off any one of that list I’ll be proud.

I used to laugh at your “when I were a lad” stories, but now I appreciate them all the more when I share my memories with my son.  I now know that the memories we share are often those we hold dear, and help those we share them with understand more about our past. I feel privileged to know that my son will have happy memories because of the start and support in life you have given me.

Thank you for all you have done for me and my family, and thank you for all you continue to do.

Words can never truly express how lucky I feel to have you as a Dad.

Love always

A love letter

From the moment I saw your smile

and the twinkle in your eyes

you were mine.

When all else seems hopeless

you can light up my heart

with a hug.

Without you I’m just a man

with you I’m more,

so much more.

My love grows stronger every day

more than yesterday 

less than tomorrow.

Together we can face anything 

in any place

at any time.

To my wife and my son

written for you

love always.

We’re special daddy…

Three years and one day ago today, adoption was something I was not willing to consider.

Three years ago today and that all changed. We had confirmation that our round of IVF had failed so that ended our chances of having a biological child.

We’d watched a documentary on adoption and had booked a long weekend away to get some time to think.

That weekend we relaxed, enjoyed time together and could have made a decision to stay like that forever – just the two of us without a care in the world  (except the dog and cats!).

Life would certainly have been very different, but somehow I just can’t imagine in what way.
The reason being that often it seems like there was no life before our little man came along – that he’s always been part of our lives.

True, we have ups and downs, highs and lows, and face a great deal of uncertainty in the future, but as he said to me tonight when I asked him what I should say when I talked to an adoption exploration evening tonight: “we’re special daddy”

Depression helps…

I’ve found as a father/adopter/husband/son/friend that depression and anxiety has helped me.

OK, so that seems a little strange, but bear with me.

It’s not so much that being depressed or anxious has helped, but more the understanding of what I’ve been going through and how that impacts on my relationships with those around me.

I now recognise when I’m frustrated (it’s not that I didn’t before, but now I stop and think about whether it’s related to the immediate situation or the bigger picture of my health), which means that I can accept it, figure out how to overcome it in particular instances and move on.

I get less upset when people comment on what I have (or, more likely, haven’t) done and  I’m less likely to take it personally when those around me are upset.

The biggest impact though is that, by managing my anxiety levels, I’m able to react in a more balanced way with my son – essentially using the therapeutic parenting skills that I’ve been taught (or at least some those that I remember at the time!).

I hope that is helping our relationship and will ultimately help me beat my depression into submission. Snuggles this morning with lots of “I love you daddy”s and “You’re the best daddy in the world”s certainly seem to indicate that I’m at least going in the right direction.