I see there are a lot of you visiting after the Pick-Me-Up article discussion. (Non Mumsnetters, there was an article in the magazine about Mog's Mother, and therefore about Mog and myself). My apologies for bringing this discussion here rather than joining in the debate at Mumsnet; I try to avoid reading Mumsnet aside from threads I'm linked to. I'm sure it can be fantastically supportive, I know it can be hugely addictive, but I'm afraid it's a bit too robust for me. Still, it's an open forum which anyone can read, so I hope you don't mind me sticking my oar in.
My first post, from the original fuss, can be found here.
There's a lot of talk about the book , and about the Daily Mail article which extracted carefully edited highlights from it (and altered some chronology) along with a few photographs.
To the people talking about the hidden meaning in the photographs, are you not aware that they were posed by a photographer?
I'm not aware that Julia has ever considered herself to be brave for leaving Mog at hospital. I think the fact that she is, once again, at the centre of a storm of bile and vilification, proof enough that she is brave for speaking up about her decision. Why don't you hear from other parents i similar situations? Because they're scared of facing the same reaction. They know people will turn on them, condemn them, say unthinkably awful things to and about them. I know from a number of other families that Julia's ability to speak up about this has helped them to talk about their own situations. It's a story which needs to be told; families need to know they aren't alone in this.
I apologise in advance here as I know I'm going to upset some regular readers, and I don't want them to stop reading or commenting. But, unless you have been in the position of actually choosing not to take your child home from hospital, or of actively seeking an out-of-home placement for your child, you have NOT been in the same situation. Yes, you have shared experiences, you have carried on coping (even if just barely at times, even when it has been unbearably difficult), you have children as disabled or more disabled or less disabled than Mog; you love your child and it has not been easy. But you've not taken that decision to stop. So, respectfully, you haven't been in the same situation. Julia is open about the fact that Mog was at risk if she took her home. Instead of hiding that, she took every step necessary to keep Mog safe. I'd say that's love, wouldn't you?
There have been people querying whether Mog was really that different to any other difficult, colicky, baby. Being the one who got handed the little scrap, I'd have to say most emphatically, yes. She was very different. Her little body was stiff, always. She didn't snuggle in for cuddles but stayed awkwardly boardlike. Her eyes saw nothing, her cry was pitiful and desperate, but not as fluid as most baby cries are. She was uncomfortable, and un-comfort-able. Forget gentle rocking; she needed whole body swinging for the movement to reach her. Hard for ten minutes, exhausting for hours on end. She couldn't sit in a baby swing or rocker, she couldn't sit in a buggy, and when lying down her body twisted and crumpled. She only slept when sedated with chloral hydrate. She couldn't suck a dummy. Feeding took forever, and most of the time she'd vomit it right back up again. And she was having seizures, muscle spasms, and reflux. Not your average difficult baby
That isn't to say she was the most difficult baby ever, it isn't to say that other parents would have been as worn down as hers were. But caring for her, even without all the emotional baggage, was exhausting. I managed, because she wasn't with me all the time. She used to go home overnight once a week, sometimes twice and she'd go home for the day or for a few hours several times each week for the first few months. So I didn't have to do the neverending bits. And, as a fostercarer, I knew I could pick up the phone to social services and ask for more help at any time - and that it would be given. I'm sure that varies across the country, but that wasn't the case for Mog's parents. And of course, I wasn't mourning the baby I had hoped for - I was just simply, overwhelmingly, in love with the precious baby I had. When I looked at her, all I saw was her.
To people talking finances; I'm not prepared to go into detail about our financial arrangements. I certainly don't now and did not as a foster carer get £2K a month to care for Mog. That said, I do receive allowances and they do amount to more than income support. We have enough money to meet all our needs, and most of our wants. That's good enough for me; I don't have to worry before I spend, so financial matters don't give me extra stress (unless it's letters from the tax man). You have no idea where the money from the book and the articles goes, and I've no idea where the idea that Mog's parents are rich comes from.
There seems to be some interest over Mog's legal status and how that came about. Mog is mine through Special Guardianship; this gives me the legal rights of any other parent (except that without a court order or permission of the other parents I can't consent to her marrying under 18, can't take her out of the country for more than 3 months, and can't change her name. None of which are things I'm planning to do). It makes us all Mog's parents, it makes us a partnership. I'm the one who is here day by day, so I make most of the decisions. But I have other people who know and love Mog who can help with those decisions. It means Mog isn't losing anything but gains our family in addition to her birth family. I'm not sure why losing legal ties to the rest of her family through adoption is something so many people seem to think would be good for her? She has three sets of grandparents, a huge circle of uncles and aunts and cousins spread across the world. She has people from her birth family and from our family who drop in to see her and take an interest in her welfare. I fail to see how this is a bad thing.
Mog lives with me, her other parents live a few miles away. Our contact arrangements are flexible - she spends days with them quite often, we sometimes entertain the troops here (our ballpool is always popular), and sometimes we do things together. She goes with them to family events just as she comes with us to our family things. They help me out regularly by taking her from Helen House so that I don't have to be there for eleven in the morning, or by having her for the afternoon so I can get to a party with Little Fish. I'm sure they would have offered to have her for some time this last week whilst I've been ill - except that the 'flu has been in their house too. We did have plans with some of her other family members for this week, but again, 'flu stopped play.
Of course not every child needs an arrangement like ours. But the arrangement we have really and truly is the very best arrangement for Mog. And that's what this is about really - one small child growing up knowing she is loved, appreciated, and cared for.
I hope I haven't upset anyone. Reading the comments (and I'll step away from the Mumsnet thread now) and seeing how harshly my daughter's other mother is judged, is upsetting. Reading people's assumptions about myself is just strange and a little amusing. Thanks for all the compliments! I'm pleased this blog reflects our lives and gives you and insight into the life Mog lives these days. I don't tend to talk very often on it about her family visits; I try to stick to our lives rather than telling other people's stories. But I did think this was important.