Do my teeth look white?

Do my teeth look white?

“Jim…… do they? But not too white right? not as white as your exes teeth because she looked ridiculous”

I wont forget the way he just couldn’t answer me, the way his eyes cried with no physical tears but what fucked me off the most was the fact that his face was most definitely whiter than my teeth.

He’d just come off the phone with our GP. ” We can’t have children, we wont be able to have kids”

And that readers was the start of the five year shit storm we’ve endured to become whats supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. A family.

Read on, I implore you.

The ‘nod’

The ‘nod’

It’s going to be tough ; You give em the nod.

You can’t replace the loss of a biological child ; Double nod.

It’s irrelevant how old the child is at the point of adoption, they have all suffered attachment trauma; Even bigger nod, slight widening of the eyes also by this point, shows committed engagement.

I understood attachment trauma, school of life and hard knocks had taught me that one; YOLO. I understood anger through fear, I’ve lived with anxiety most of my life. Planned my funeral multiple times, convinced myself I’m dying, lived with intrusive thought and battled with infertility.

Enter NFM; If theres one person who can really understand what these children need NFD, it’s going to be me. *Flicks hair, songs of praise esq saviour complex music starts to play.

Let me tell you something now; You could have personally written books on this shiz, share the same bloodline with Steiner, Piaget and Ainsworth; (They’re big time psycologists, google just told me) Nothing can prepare you for when you are emotionally involved with, love, someone with early attachment trauma. A child. When you’ve fallen in love with a child, your child and they are suffering, No amount of text books, advice, seminars or nodding prepared me for that.

Strip the formalities away, the (mostly unasked for) complimentary advice, *I have always loved a freebie, lost count on the amount of chilli cheese cubes i’ve sampled at a deli. literature, podcasts and documentaries you understand all of that, you’ve done the training, (thats right, i’m a fully fledge trained parent. No mention of the green shit that comes out of them though was there?I defiantly do not remember nodding to that)

Strip all of that away and you’re left with a very fragile human element to this;

A little boy unable to play for fear of abandonment.

A beautiful room full of beautiful toys, but his porcelain mind won’t let him believe

Yet

J35

J35

We live in the #bekind era, we’ve all learnt from the devastating effects negative social media can have on people’s well -being haven’t we?

Unless of course, someone decides to post a picture of something we cant comprehend. Or makes us feel uncomfortable, then it suddenly falls into the realms of ‘inappropriate.’

Chrissy Teign and John legend bravely shared a picture of their beautiful son Jack this month after their tragic loss. Rightfully, they were met with a wealth of solidarity, support and respect in their decision to share. But there’s still a few that just aren’t quite getting it.

That’s a few too many by my book.

Allow me to explain; Pregnancy loss, miscarriage, still birth and early infant loss is tragic enough without feeling society’s pressures to silence your grief. On the 1st of October they shared their photographs, their story, they paid tribute to their son and gave a voice to thousands of other parents who’ve had to say goodbye too soon.

There’s nothing ‘inappropriate’ or ‘odd’ about that. In fact, I’d like to think if we looked up the definition of ‘hero’ from now on, their names would be listed.

I’ll talk to you about odd; On the evening of my miscarriage, I got in the car, drove to Morrisons and bought myself a massive tub of ‘pic n mix’. I turned the radio up so loud the door speaker blew .

I wanted to feel alive, I wanted to taste and hear life.

Odd. Really fucking odd. But that’s what I did in my moment of grief. That’s how I wanted to comfort myself, that’s what I chose to do. I can only hazard a guess at the type of comments I might have received if I’d shared a picture of me doing that.

It’s not even a human instinct. It’ s a grief instinct, do you remember that whale? J35 they called her, made her sound like an FBI agent.

17 days I think it was, 17 days and 1,000 miles of the pacific coast she’d pushed the body of her calf. National Geographic wrote; “she had likely bonded closely with her calf during her 17 month gestation period before it died.”

Was this her photograph?

Was this the way she chose to remember?

Her moment of grief.

“Tour of Grief” was the headline, J35 changed the world for a split second. Her heartbreaking show of mourning taught us all the power of grief. We were suddenly able to connect with a mammal, we could recognise this emotion.

Most of us could.

Not long after I read;

“She’s abandoned the calf and has been seen back frolicking with the pod.”

Be it to another human being or a mammal. we’re living in a very sad society if we feel it appropriate to pass judgement on instinctive decisions to aid pain. Notafictionalmum

In support of pregnancy and baby loss awareness week 9-6th October 2020

Dear Mr Department store. The sequel

Dear Mr Department store. The sequel

Published Sep 2020

Not a Fictional Mum is a breath of fresh air in the adoption community on Instagram. Her honest posts that put into words exactly how a lot of us have been feeling, are brilliant. And she’s opened a shop which stocks gorgeous clothing and jewellery to reflect the whole host of emotions involved in becoming an adoptive family. She’s written this post all about why she felt moved into action to create her lovely products.

Dear Mr Department Store

Dear Mr Department store, I came in today, headed straight for the nursery department. I’m an expectant mum you see. He’s due home any day now but you didn’t see me.” *blog excerpt.

After stuffing my face with a ‘salted tears & snotted caramel Krispy cream’ (it’s a limited edition flavour) directly after this retail experience, I dusted myself off and strutted out of the mall to Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor’. This wasn’t the first time. I’ve treated myself to many a pot of ‘pic n mix’ after trying to find a suitable card. I mean, I can get my dog a birthday card which he’s obviously ecstatic about. Try to find a card for an adoptive parent. Go on, I dare you.

I started blogging, thought it better to take my frustrations out on the keyboard, hold on to the old marriage. Enter ‘Dear Mr Department Store’, one of my first ever blogs. I assumed I was special, could potentially get a lot of sympathy over this. (Encourage me to cut back on the weekend Percy Pig consumptions.) Nope, I wasn’t quite as unique as I’d hoped. My inbox was inundated daily with other parents, prospective adopters, single adopters, same sex adopters who shared exactly the same frustrations. Not one ounce of sympathy for yours truly.

It really grated on me! It grated on my husband too, purely because he was having to listen to outbursts of “It’s outrageous isn’t it! This is the 21st century” and “It’s about recognition NFD” followed by my all-time favourite crisis outburst “what would Beyonce do?!”

She would get up off that wonderful posterior of hers, set up her own online store. No. Her own brand! It would be stylish but powerful. It would mean something. She would donate to charity. It would be inclusive and the packaging would be eco-friendly. ( I would hazard a guess that she’s up for saving the planet as well as ruling the world.”)

I digress. Cut a long story short. This is what I’ve done. I’m still working on the wonderful posterior bit (I’m actually squatting as I type this) but I’ve done the rest.

Shopnotafictionalmum is an Inclusive retail environment for all types of families. Currently offering hand stamped clothing and accessories. 10% of all sales profits go directly to Barnardo’s UK, the charity that helped me fulfil my dream of becoming a mother.

not a fictional mum jewellary

You’re all so very welcome to step inside. If there’s something I’ve missed or you would love to see up there please let me know.

Lots of love,

Notafictionalmum

A schedule for motherhood

A schedule for motherhood

Published on 07 September 2020

One of our Barnardo’s adopters – blogger and mother, notafictionalmum – writes about her journey through adoption, how their lives changed and the challenges and privileges of being a mum. 

Hi, I’m notafictionalmum. 

I’m a perfectionist, a planner. I like to plan most aspects of my life, I would love to plan most aspects of someone else’s life if they would let me. They don’t. I’m an introverted extrovert. By that I mean I’m an absolute show off, but when it comes to actually talking about my private life, it’s more like, “oooh look over there, a dancing swan!”

So, I had a life plan:

  1. Meet a sporty hunk, get married – check
  2. Live in a semi-detached with garden front and rear – double check
  3. Obtain a career that involves you needing a very expensive business bag – I’ve actually just handed my notice in, it’s currently for sale if anyone’s interested?
  4. Have a baby before 30 – big negative 

Initially, this situation had the potential to be salvageable. I’d factored in some potential ‘off piste’ time, ideally for holidays or house renovations. So, providing myself and Non Fictional Dad (NFD) just stuck to the sex schedule we could be back on track. But then:

  • Negative
  • Negative
  • Negative

Five years, two womb scrapes, a miscarriage, £25,000 and half a head of hair later…we were no closer. Having taken the time to grieve for the life I thought I would have, I can reflect on the irony of it all: 

You cannot plan your life. I’m sorry if I’m crushing dreams, but you just can’t. Granted, you can make some good decisions: green tea, sleep – all the boring stuff. I learnt a tough lesson. I realise now it was the best lesson, because I never would have become a mother to the most inspirational little boy whose start in life was anything less than planned.

People say, “Oh he’s so lucky to have you as his parents.”

Whilst a small, teeny-tiny part of me would absolutely love to bask in this angel Gabriel-type glory, I’m always quick to reply: “We’re the lucky ones, we needed him just as much as he needed us.” 

Adoption isn’t an act of charity; this kid is an absolute legend and I’m privileged to have him in my life.

Adopting through Barnardo’s

On the subject of good decisions, choosing to adopt with Barnardo’s was definitely one of those. I won’t lie, free lifetime support deemed very attractive to a couple that just love a good therapy session (think of the money to be saved!). Barnardo’s resonated with NFD through his late father, who was a long-term donator to the charity. I guess that’s the thing about Barnardo’s, it’s a charity that connects with so many people. 

Before our initial visit, I remember bleaching the toilet to excess, bribing the dog with cheese and giving NFD a full debrief of what not to say. Along the lines of, but not limited to, “don’t swear, don’t say anything that isn’t pro-social, and don’t talk about my family.”  You soon reach the comforting realisation, however, that none of this is necessary. No one is trying to catch you out; they want this to work. There was something very human and personable about the team.

We never felt like a number in a large organisation. In fact, it felt like you’d suddenly gained an extended family of experts that were rooting for you and fighting your corner. In our case we needed that; after being initially overlooked for our little boy, the Barnardo’s team stepped in to help us bring him home. I can only compare the support from Barnardo’s to that of an Alexa, always on hand with a quick response. 

Preconceptions

There are a lot of preconceptions and assumptions when it comes to adoption, and people come out with some absolute corkers. My particular favourite was when someone asked me if I would share an ice-lolly with him because we weren’t biologically related. What are you on about? I love ice-cream. 

If you enjoyed that one, see the what not to ask an adoptive parent section of my blog. 

Don’t worry 

You may be nervous, at times frightened, as you embark on this journey. Ironically, as the adult, you will draw strength from the absolute bravery and courage that these children own. I never expected to respect a toddler quite as much as I do. In those early moments of natural self-doubt I would look at him, unable to even string a sentence together and think, “if he can wake up today, willing to try and love again, then I’m right behind him.” 

In fact, I’m more than just behind him. I’m going to be a tighter security network for this boy then the whole of Jay z’s and Beyonce’s entourage put together. 

Adoption is never a second choice. It’s just a choice. It really doesn’t matter in what order you have this epiphany, I just hope you have it because it really is beautiful.

Look Nigel! An adopted child.

Look Nigel! An adopted child.

Something that’s always slightly fascinated me since bringing Nemo home is the sheer look of shock on peoples faces when they realise he’s exactly what it says on the tin . . . A child. The gasps of “but he’s so beautiful” ” but he’s so clever” and the good old fashioned “I just can’t believe he was up for adoption” never ceases to amaze me. What were you expecting an extra head? Third eye? A sodding tail??

What does an adopted child look like exactly? What ‘Type’ of child did you expect to be ‘up for adoption’ * I hate that phrase ‘ He’s not a bloody e-bay listing. Can we just STOP saying that please. Thank you. Whilst I’m on the topic; What does an abused child look like? SCENE; A beautiful summers day, Nemo’s on a very strict bug hunting schedule. ENTER; The Gossip Hunter. “He looks so happy! Nothing serious must have happened to him. He can’t have been abused or anything?” * I hope you all feel as sick as I did right now.

Someone crippled with anxiety, depression, infertile? What do they all look like? Is there some art gallery somewhere I’m unaware of? It’s 2020, I thought we didn’t do labels? Yet I’ve found as soon as some people discover he’s adopted they start looking for one. He’s just a child. Like any other, he loves dinosaurs, jumping in puddles and eating cereal out of the box. He’s. Just. A. Child. A bloody wonderful one at that.

  • Top Tip; Start thinking of some spectacularly good come back answers to these questions now. There’s nothing more infuriating than pacing up and down your kitchen afterwards imagining all the brilliantly eloquent, passively aggressive things you should have said. You want to be able to suck it to them right there and then. If I had my time again I would have said something along the lines of; ” Seen as you’re open to such personal conversation starters, do tell me about your latest bowel movement. Did you wipe from front to back?”
Step into my office

Step into my office

“Is there some reason my coffee isn’t here? Has she died or something”

The Devil Wears Prada



You can’t have a baby; You throw yourself into your job. 

You get promoted

You get promoted 

You buy another handbag 

Five years down the line, you’re still throwing yourself into your work because it’s better than throwing yourself anywhere else.

Payroll Sharon is telling everyone ‘you’re a hard faced cow, who doesn’t like kids and just wants to expand her collection of expensive shoes and bags. ‘   (less gossiping, more focus on the accuracy of my pay packet please Sharon.) Time. is. money. Actually, whilst i’m on this topic can we;

STOP MEASURING WOMEN’S SOCIETY CONTRIBUTION LEVELS BY HOW OFTEN THEY PRO-CREATE!!!

Because you could argue  (Sharon) that these women are selflessly allowing your gene pool to benefit by not adding to the increasingly, overly- populated planet. (Hi Greta, HUGE fan instagram.com/notafictionalmum)

Could.Argue. My belief; You get one life, that’s a fucking privilege. You must do whatever it is YOU want to do.  

I can remember the early days, the fun ‘trying for baby days‘ when you didn’t have to set an alarm by it or threaten your husband to get back to the house within the next 30 minutes ready for duty OR. ELSE!!!!  I remember taking a promotion during these days, turning to NFD saying;  *And I quote; “Yea, i’ll take it. Will only be about a year before I’m pregnant anyway, the extra money will come in handy for all the baby stuff.”

Let me tell you; the only thing that money came in handy for was fertility bills followed by holidays to soften every blow. 

The only part that shames me about  this period in my life, was that I used to sodding well go along with it!!!! Somehow, it became easier to play along than tell anyone the truth. I was living such a lie. Secretly, I was in so much pain. I’d actually lost my voice, my real voice. I know what you’re thinking;  ” She’s got no problem finding it now.” 

I went into work the day after Mother’s day.

The day prior to this, I’d miscarried.

A colleague turned to me and said; ” She’s not interested in hearing about what people got up too with their kids at the weekend, she’s practically allergic to them” 

I laughed. 

I cried. 

I Cried. 

I Cried. 

*For the rest of my days, nothing will top watching payroll Sharon’s face when I waltzed on in explaining I would be off on Adoption leave by the end of the week.

Drop. The. Mic.

*Payroll Sharon is a fictional character based on . . . .someone else.

Undercover Mother

Undercover Mother

What everyone fails to mention when you adopt is; not only will you have to deal with the significant life change of becoming a mother, you also take on the role of working for the sodding FBI!

Thats right, alongside spending your life picking Pom Bears out of your hair, there’s the sideline role of secret agent. I wasn’t quite prepared for the lies I would have to tell.

I mean, some of them have been great, really, really great. “Oh my goodness, you look AMAZING you would NEVER believe you’ve had a baby?!”

AWKWARD AS F*CK RIGHT?

May I just say, you DO NOT have to turn round to every Tom, Dick and Fanny sharing “oh, he’s actually adopted.” You just don’t. However, I would urge you to take a quick moment of reflection before you reply. Think…all the crap you’ve been through, the insensitive comments, the treatment induced changes to your body (no one recognises that). Would it be the biggest crime in the world if you basked in this short moment? Responding with something along the lines of . . . *but not exclusive too; “I just stuck to a really strict exercise regime and only ate kale.” They will hate you and you will be fine with that.

Then there’s the ones that really test your on the spot lying ability;

Tom- “Was that his birth name? ”

Dick- “Where was he born?”

Fanny-“What actually happened to him then?”

Tom again – (He loves it) “Has he got any siblings?

. . . . . . . So it continues.

If you’ve gone through fertility treatment you will no doubt be used to having to disclose your personal life .

” Erm, I’m going to need next wed off work for egg collection …. is that ok?” By that afternoon the entire office knows you’re trying for a baby but old Penelope Perfect across the way ( just back from the tropics) she’s been at it all weekend! No ones suspecting a thing. *Please be aware the possibility of you attending PP Junior’s 4th birthday party before you become a mother is likely.

And don’t be fooled into thinking you’re going to be able to maintain any family planning anonymity via the adoption process either. Your boss will most definitely catch you writing your PAR at work. *Do not do it at work, I’ve courageously taken the wrap for all of us.

The reality is, when you adopt a child their identity security takes precedence above all else. Our family and closest friends don’t even know the whole truth. That’s fine. Ultimately, it’s Nemo’s truth to share. Then there’s social media, a difficult decision for all parents! How safe is the web these days? With an adopted child, if you decided to share a picture, even a vague picture before the court order is made, you could potentially put the placement at risk. Even after, you still worry about giving birth family scope to track him down *highly, highly unlikely but still.

Heavy shit. Right?

Got to go, Mr NFD’s asking If I like my Coffee shaken or stirred . . . .

Exceedingly good gossip

Exceedingly good gossip

A- “You know that couple? The one that live on Disneyland way? Come on, you know the ones. She sounds really posh, he’s really tall?”

B- “You mean the really good looking, super fit guy who’s married to the athletic woman with the amazing hair?” (its my blog. I can use whatever descriptives I choose.)

A- “yes, you’ve got them. You’ll never believe it . . . they can’t have kids.”

B-” Nooooooooooo. “

*Swigs on coffee whilst scrolling through Facebook*

“who’s got the problem then. . . him or her? “

Look, I won’t ever know if conversations like this ever actually took place but I can count on both hands the amount of times myself and Mr NFD have been asked which one of us has ‘the problem’. I’m not talking about family members or close friends who ask in a ‘we have a sincerely vested interested in your wellbeing kind of way‘ I’m alluding to the ‘we don’t know you from Adam but I’m Nosey kind of way’ the ‘ I’m just going to pop my head over the garden fence. Ask some really personal questions, then get back to pruning my rose bush‘ sort of folk.

Yes, the world is full of really wonderful, supportive people. I’m not completely bitter (I have a good counsellor.) This doesn’t however, mean that these people don’t exist. I know they do and you know it too.

Why would a stranger want to know such intricate details of your life? It’s fucking weird. It would be like me casually paying for my goods, then asking the cashier what her last dump was like. Odd right? Also, what difference is this information going to make to their lives? Is knowing if Mr NFD is firing blanks or Mrs NFM having no Ovaries going to mean they can sleep better at night?

Because I can tell you how these questions made me feel;

Like shit. Exposed. In-human. fictional.

We’ve been asked these questions like we weren’t even there. Like our feelings didn’t actually exist.

What does it matter who it is with the problem? The point is, we met, fell madly in love and can’t have a baby. If you think about it we both have ‘the problem’ a pretty fucking big one.

It’s exactly the same when you adopt. People deem it ok to ask about the child’s background; were they abused? where are the ‘real parents’ now? How are you going to feel when they want to find them? etc. etc .

Let me ask you; What would happen if an adult asked another adult someone they hardly knew, if they’d been abused? They would say something along the lines of . . . .Mind your own pissing business. Aside from the fact, it’s the child’s story to share. It’s insensitive, rude and unnecessary. Why is it suddenly ok to ask this about a toddler? Is it because he doesn’t have his own voice yet?

If it is. I hope I’ve just given him one.

Dear Mr Department store

Dear Mr Department store

Dear Mr Department store,

I came in today, headed straight for the nursery department. I’m an expectant mum you see. He’s due home any day now but, you didn’t see me. I don’t have a bump. I can’t have a bump so I guess my profile doesn’t quite fit into the ‘how to nab the perfect sale‘ manual.

I was hoping to buy a keepsake. Something for him to treasure. He’s coming hime at twenty one months, all your record books are from birth. First curl, first tooth. I could stick two of your footprint sets together to cater for the ‘larger toddler foot’ I suppose.

I wanted to buy my pram, your shop assistant was lovely . Had that quintessential sales smile, very chatty. Asked me; “When’s the mother due . . . ?”

I’ve waited five years for this moment. Had Dr Chandurum rummaging around my lady insides, two womb scrapes (yep, does exactly what is says on the tin) and social workers (rightfully) nosing through my private life and you’ve got sod all for me to buy.

I felt like shit. Had a little cry. Took myself to Krispy Kreme. Treated myself to a pink, iced doughnut and a soya, decaf latte (Extra hot). Cost me £2.45, I really hope you miss your sales target by that amount this week.

I would fucking love that.

Sincerely,

notafictionalmum

XxXx

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

Just keep swimming.

“Get a baby, just get a kid as young as you possibly can, they won’t remember all the crap that went on before” You may hear this (or variations of) from well meaning associates during your journey. But, how young is young enough? My son was just 21 months old when he came home, I would say thats pretty bloody young. So, if this theory is true. why, after watching this Walt Disney classic was he sat there with tears streaming down his face aged two and a half asking “why Mummy Daddy lost me?” *Thanks Pixar. (before we pass any judgement, its a G rating and he loves sharks)

He’d been silently battling, trying to piece together the missing pieces of his puzzle from a much earlier age than we’d ever anticipated. (Mind you, we are talking about some kind of toddler genius here. I’m convinced he’s doing Guardian crosswords up there of an eve then shouting “Mummy, dum dum” for shits and gigs.) I was hit with the startling realisation and understanding of why he was so fraught with anxiety when I said I was popping to the shop or just nipping out to the tumble dryer. He thought we were going to loose him. He’d come to the conclusion that the reason he had to go and live with “The other people” * Foster carers was because Mummy and Daddy had lost him. I write this to you with every single hair on the back of my neck on edge. He finishes Nursery in an hour, he’s come so far. My little Nemo.

*My advice, (if you want it) would be to think less about ‘the baby’ and more about the connection you may have found during family finding with a child of any age.