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Good Afternoon everyone. Yes its Tuesday, blog day.

This week we bring you the last bit of the adventure and trip home which is not without some eye-watering bits!

Over the next few weeks we will be bringing pieces on when your adopted young person is trying to get a mental health bed, moving out well along with several other pieces written by our members.

Enjoy the final part of BAMBOO….(makes more sense if you have read parts I, 2 and 3)

Bamboo Scaffolding: part 4: . . .did we get home safely?

Lesson 1: Don’t smuggle weapons

Phuket airport. I had tuned out the tannoy, but D said they were announcing my name to go to the desk at our gate. I was asked about the contents of my case, which was being brought off the plane. I was escorted into a private part of the airport, abandoning D in the airport lounge, hastily thrusting his passport and boarding pass into his hands. I was more fearful for D’s reaction to abandonment than what was about to happen to me.

I became a passive submissive version of myself (a behaviour many of our children learned in order to survive early abusive environments). I was lead downstairs under the airport terminal to a small white van and several uniformed and armed officers. ‘Is this your case?’ and they showed me an x-ray of the contents. ‘What is this? get it out for me’. I pulled out sarongs and dirty underwear and finally the ‘torch’ my son had asked me to pack – in reality a banned taser! I apologised for causing them so much trouble. They confiscated it . . . .I fully expected them to search all my case contents and me. I was escorted back into the terminal to where my son waited, my legs like jelly.

My son finds any wait in a busy environment challenging, add to this his sense of injustice that his possession had been confiscated . . .I had to let him rant, empathise that the market sellers were onto a racket knowing that most of the items they sold would be confiscated etc.

Lesson 2: If you can afford it pay extra for front row seats

At last our flight was called, seats right at the back with two large and restless amazons in the seats in front of us for the 8 hours from Phuket to Abu Dhabi. D was not coping, clenching his fists, muttering and swearing, hiding under the airline blanket and seriously overheating. I asked the stewardess for water and then spoke with her in the aisle as much in an attempt to reduce the disapproval of neighbouring passengers. ‘My son is very stressed.’ ‘Just call me if you need anything.’

I remained awake and hypervigilant, the amazons constantly moved and jostled the seat my son’s head rested against . . . . .we were moments from a mid-air meltdown. I told my son I was going to the toilet, but went to speak to the stewardesses. ‘If there are some seats, I can move you to a front row where it will be cooler’. This would have been extremely helpful but by this point my son was in ‘back brain’, hid deeper under his blanket, refusing to move (his avoidant attachment style leads him to distrust and reject help when he most needs it). The stewardess did however extend the offer to the amazons who moved . . .and in so doing reduced one provocation, their constant rocking of the seats in front.

My son refused all food and drink, concerned stewardesses risked upping the ante by offering D drinks or chocolate, or touching him through his blanket: whilst intended as a kind and reassuring gesture this is intensely provocative to a young man who barely tolerates touch.

The hours passed slowly.

Under the blanket my son was watching a film he had downloaded onto his phone . . .about an hour from landing, disaster. He dropped the phone. In the cramped space we were unable to find it under the seat or tangled in the blanket. Sensing an incident we were quickly attended by 3 crew members – not a good idea to crowd D when he is about to blow. They wanted to help search around his legs, I managed to dissuade them and said we would search when we landed.

Lesson 3: Emirates Airlines do not understand the concept of invisible disabilities.

When relative calm was restored again, I walked to the back of the plane to ask if we could request assistance in transit at Abu Dhabi. Perhaps someone to meet us, reduce the time queueing through security checks and find a quieter waiting area. The crew genuinely wanted to help but something was lost in translation.

It was a relief to land. We waited while all the passengers got off, then with crew help searched for the phone. We didn't find it. As D marched of the plain, I hurriedly asked crew to get it to the Manchester flight if they found it. D had already raced past the waiting ‘assistance’, a man with a wheelchair. I decided not to try to explain it would still be helpful for him to accompany us . . . .as D disappeared out of sight.

We were both hypervigilant walking zombies by this stage. I feared we were ‘marked’ for extra checks due to the suitcase search at Phuket . . . Through security I followed signs for our gate, found a smoking cubicle for D which even he found too much of a fug. I bought D a very expensive soft drink and we reached our Gate. D found his phone in his pocket! Even he found that funny.

Lesson 4: There will always be another challenge

As we entered the Gate we were allocated into two columns me to the left, D to the right. I tried to join D to the right but was abruptly turned back by security. ‘You must sit over there’ – a long way across the crowded lounge. It became clear that the right hand column were having detailed searches and swabs of hand luggage clothing and hands. Would D cope? I sat in view of him and was relieved when he struck up conversation with a young lad in front of him. Six at a time passengers were searched along the length of a table and swabs scanned in a machine. He passed the test, we found about the last seats and waited.

Sleep and lack of sleep.

D has years of practice at hypervigilance and extreme sleep disturbance, me less so. We had already agreed that D would take Melatonin once on the plane but I knew I would have to remain awake in case his stress levels boiled over again. We boarded and had better seats with D at the aisle where he could at least stretch his legs.

Abu Dhabi to Manchester was easier apart from the frequent interruptions of drinks, snacks and announcements. 8 hours and we landed in Manchester. I still feared we were ’marked’ as having needed a security search in Phuket and D’s impatience for the suitcase to come round the carousel made for fidgeting, swearing and disapproval from other travellers. I have developed a rhino hide over the years.

I managed to text D’s dad who was meeting us ‘tricky journey, don’t ask D anything’

A two thousand pound hug

I did not relax until we walked out through customs into the cramped and crowded arrivals area. We did not immediately spot D’s dad so D pushed outside to where he could have a fag. We joined him a few minutes later, he was already more relaxed than all the way through the flight.

When dad said ‘Hi’, D said ‘let’s have a hug then’. This a young man who is so avoidant of touch that over 16 years we can both count the proper hugs we have shared on the fingers of one hand. Dad had paid for the holiday and the hug was a precious reward.

We made it, and having got home safely I can remember the positive moments, shared meals, watching D’s Muay Thai training and my glimpses of holiday. The photos show nothing of the intense scaffolding underpinning each day.

Would I do it again? Maybe. It did get us both out of a rut.

Would I recommend anyone else do it? No! – definitely not for the faint hearted.

If you are an adoptive parent and would like to join our group please visit our membership page


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