Labels

ACR (1) acupuncture (1) adoption (30) Adoption; RAD; emotions; tantrum (1) adoptive families (4) Amazing people (2) anger (6) Anxiety (1) appointments (1) Attachment (4) Attachment therapy (1) babies (1) banging my head (8) Bed wetting (1) beds (3) bedwetting (3) behavior (25) bio families (2) bio parents (25) biological parents (4) Biological parents; adoption (1) Biological parents; adoption; co parenting (1) Bioparents (1) birth families (19) birth moms (1) birth parents (5) birthdays (2) blogging (5) Boundaries (4) CASA (1) caseworker (9) challenges (3) change (1) Changes (2) co-parenting (16) confessions (15) Consequences (2) Court (19) crafts (1) CW Visit (5) DCFS (9) decisions (3) diary (1) dicipline (1) drama queen (2) emotions (127) Fab Four (14) Fab Four: Post Reunification (1) faith (10) family (11) Family fun (9) family outings (7) family support (15) family therapy (4) feelings (7) fertility (2) flowers (1) food (1) foster care (24) foster parenting (82) Foster parenting; permanency (1) fun (1) Gabby (3) grief (7) healing (5) Holiday (7) Holidays (5) Homework (1) honesty (1) Hubby (1) husbands (3) If I'm being honest (3) illness (1) investigation (1) Jelly Bean (4) laughter (1) legal issues (4) licensing (2) Little Mama (2) loss (5) love (8) lying (1) marriage (1) meetings (1) meltdown (1) Mental Health (3) migraine (1) milestones (1) Mommy Humor (5) mother (1) motherhood (46) Movie review (1) Mr. Mohawk (7) music (2) names (2) Neglect (1) neurosarcoidosis (6) Nostalgia (1) nothing to do with foster care (8) Open adoption (2) organization (1) other people's reactions (7) Overnight visits (2) parenting (12) permanency (9) perspective (6) photolistings (1) photos (2) pictures (5) placement (1) Placements (23) Post Reunification (24) Post visit behavior (2) Post-reunification (5) PRIDE (1) progress (1) PTSD (5) puberty (1) Quartet (2) Questions (1) RAD (5) relationships (6) return home (1) reunification (4) safe haven (1) Sarah (3) sarcasm (1) school (10) Sexual abuse (4) shopping (2) sibling (1) siblings (5) Simon (6) sleep (1) Smiley (1) Social Media (2) Solana (2) Stella (1) stress (9) Suicide (1) support (5) tantrums (3) Team Work (1) Teamwork (4) Thank You (1) The Quartet (1) The System (2) Therapeutic parenting (2) therapy (19) TPR (7) training (1) Transition (10) transition plan (10) trauma (9) triggers (4) typical kids (1) Urine (1) verbal abuse (1) Visit behavior (3) visits (38) waiting (2) where to start (3)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Oh Man

Sometimes I feel guilty because the kids have healed so much. I listen and read about others who are really struggling with big, giant, behaviors and issues and I feel like an outsider because we don't deal with it on a constant basis. I'm relieved that we aren't living in that level of chaos daily and guilt ridden by the relief.

And then we have an episode like the one a few Fridays ago that rolled into Saturday and I feel silly for letting myself believe we were in such a great place.  We can't be. The trauma will require life-long adjustments and healing. We always have to be prepared to deal with the triggers and the false sense of stability sometimes knocks me on my ass. When it was daily I felt like I was always at the ready. But when the rage and tantrums come out of nowhere, I feel like I'm totally unprepared. And for whatever reason, those really great trauma parenting skills I've learned are hard to tap into at those moments.

Sarah is struggling right now. She's watching Stella get some responsibility and freedom since entering middle school. There is a major case of envy. Add to that a parent visit day at school and her birthday and mine and we have all the ingredients for a triggered kiddo.  So of course the logical thing for my Sarah to do is just start doing what she wants.

For example:

Me: Where are you going? You are getting on the bus to day care. I will pick you up there after I run my errands.
Sarah: I know

Me: Hello?
Hubby: I got a call from the principal. He said Sarah got confused and started to walk home from school. She said you told her she was going home with you. He told her Mom would pick her up from day care later but he was worried about the wording being triggering that you weren't picking her up now.

Later that day I notice a car driving up and down the street slowing in front of our house. Sarah and Smiley ask to go outside and two girls get out of the car. I go outside and the Mom waves to me and says: "I'll pick my daughters up at 7:30."

I'm sorry?

Me: Sarah?
Sarah: Remember I told you about my friend? I told you she was coming over.
Me: Excuse me? You told me!? I have 15 people coming over for a party in 30 minutes.  I certainly did not give permission, nor did we discuss it. After I get done explaining that to this Mom in my driveway you have some major explaining to do.

Commence Tantrum.

Stomping up stairs, throwing things off the bed. Trying to shut the door on me. Pounding on the floor so loudly the people below setting up for the party could hear. Screaming and yelling. "You're not the boss of me. I don't have to listen. You aren't my Mmm....."

She stayed in her room all night and woke up in much the same space the next morning. When I asked her to sit on the floor for her safety and she iron gripped the bed frame, I called our therapist, something I've not done in the nearly 3 years they have lived with us.

She coached me through the technique. Directed no consequences. Helped me get out of my "typical parenting brain". By the time I went back into Sarah's room, she had gotten unstuck and started with "I'm sorry.". 

She wet the bed that night.

And then it was like it was out of her system.  We even managed a visit with Sheila the next day. No issues.



Welcome!

Hi there! I think my post about Sarah's birthday story got shared on Facebook (thank you!) and we have some new visitors. So if you are stopping by, I first want to thank you for taking the time and say welcome.

A quick run down: We are a family that adopted 4 children from foster care this past June. Additionally, we have my kids' 1 year old sister living with us as a foster placement with a goal of return home which is likely to happen by the end of the year.  Topics I've been writing about lately have been: the adoption process, biological family relationships, foster care, and the behaviors of my children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety, and past depression.  I also write a lot about my feelings on infertility and saying goodbye to kids who have lived in our home.
fee
My hope is that the honesty I share makes you feel like you aren't alone in your own feelings on your journey. I also hope that our story shines through as one of progress.

Outside of parenting 5 children, I work full time as a paralegal and am wrapping up my masters degree. My husband and I have been married 10 years this year and are living a life we never imagined being so full.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

She Never Cried

Sheila called to wish Sarah Happy Birthday and she shared a story with her that as a baby she never cried. Not when she was hungry, not when she was tired, never. She never cried.

A little later Sarah said to me:

"Mom, my Mom said I never cried. I don't really believe that. That can't be true can it? Don't all babies cry sometimes?"

Oh my sweet girl. The red flag went up for her too. As I listened to Sheila share this story fondly, I felt sad. That was a sign of her RAD. That was because she couldn't count on adults. That was because she cried and no one came so she learned not to cry.

"It doesn't sound right to you, does it?"

"No."

"I know your Mom shared that story because she thinks it's cute you never cried. It made me sad. You are right babies cry so adults take care of them. You know how you had a lot of different adults that were supposed to take care of you as a baby?"

"Yeah, like 10 foster parents."

"Well I think maybe they didn't take care of you like they were supposed to and so crying didn't get their attention. I think it's  connected to your big feelings. You didn't cry because you weren't being taken care of and that makes me sad."

"So why did my Mom make it seem like a happy story?"

"Sweetie, she doesn't know it's not a happy story. She doesn't understand.  It's part of the things she doesn't understand about how to take care of kids the way she needs to."

"I understand now."

How I wish she didn't have to understand anything. However, I'm grateful that we get to hear birth stories and tidbits like the full head of hair she came out with. And I'm pretty proud of my kid for questioning the thing she didn't understand. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

I am ok.

I really am ok. I kind of purge all the feelings and then move on to the next task. It's how I've dealt with grief all my life. I have a much better vantage point of what return home and the possible outcomes related to Solana look like, than I ever did with the Fab Four. And that makes me feel prepared even if I know it will be hard.

I'm less naive this time. And dare I say, a little wiser? While I may have been blind to the possibility that she would go home, I know that keeping her from her birth dad isn't the right thing. (Not that I have that option.) I see with clarity that the right thing is for us to continue building a positive open relationship so that the kids don't lose out. That's what's required of me as their Mom. I dream that one day Solana will sit on my lap and say "Tell me about when I was a baby." A gift I can give to her that I'm unable to give to my other children. (Although, if I could give one piece of advice to people I discuss Solana's leaving with, it would be: Don't tell me it's going to be hard. I know it is. In fact, I know way better than you can possibly imagine it to be. So just say "That really sucks".)

I also recognize that I've joined a new category "adoptive mother" and that my desire to be a responsible mother of adopted children has become more prevalent. This gives me another purpose to focus on and that has been helpful.  I'm trying to listen to adoptee's articulate their experiences to make sure I raise children who 1) don't feel responsible for my emotions about adoption and 2) have a safe space to figure out who their true self is. 

A reader recommended "Closure" by Angela Tucker (Thanks Caitlin!). It's a documentary (available on Netflix) about a black woman who was adopted by white parents and searches for her birth family with the help of her parents and siblings. She also hosts a website theadoptedlife.com that has some great material and episodes on transracial adoption, and adoption generally.

Watching has lead me to the realization that I need to be listening. I have a voice but I also want my kids to have one. I think that's probably a hard switch for parents who adopt from foster care. We spend so much time talking for our kids so that we can get them what they need, that when it comes time to listen, we don't shut our mouths. I really tried to do that this week and I "heard" some pretty amazing things.

Smiley has a journal in her desk at school that I peeked into last night.  Her first sentence in the journal was "I am special because I am adopted."  Then she went on to describe our family that she has a baby sister and 2 sisters and a brother.  She also ended it with "My family is fun."  I'm pleased to learn she thinks being adopted makes her special. But I also think there are so many more things about her that are way more special.

Sarah shared with me tonight that one of her friends at school keeps speaking to her in Spanish, forgetting that Sarah doesn't speak Spanish.  She shared with her friend that she spoke it when she was a baby but forgot it.  It led to a discussion about stereotypes and assumptions that even 10 year olds have. Out of all my kids, Sarah has the darkest skin and is very clearly Hispanic. (I am very clearly Irish.) And also looks Mexican, which she is. I have a feeling she probably looks like she could be a cousin of her friend. She was okay correcting her friend but by listening, I could tell we need to have more frequent discussions about heritage and culture.

I've also been pondering the question of if we will continue to foster. I actually have a draft post that I started about it. Hubby said probably. In fact, he joked that maybe we need to up our skill level a bit and take on a new challenge like a transracial placement. I say "joked" because both he and I recognize the commitment, and responsibility that comes with placement of a child that has a different race than us, that we have not previously felt capable of handling. Nor, do we have a support system that could really help us with those challenges. I am not so certain. I know there are kids who need us, but I think I might need a bit of a time out. I'm sure there will be more to come on that.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Tears

It's a primal scream. Terror. Fear. She clings to me, claws at my shirt to grab enough material to hold on. Her face is red and sweaty. Big, fat tears are rolling down her cheek.

The teacher says "I know Mommy is best but we will have a good day too" as I try to extricate myself from the vice grip she now has on my shirt. In my head I'm screaming But I'm not her Mom. I'm her temporary Mom. And in a few months people who have never met her will thank me for the job I've done and order her to go live with her Biological Father and no Mom. And I imagine her at his house screaming for me in the same way. And my heart cracks just a bit more.

I sit in my car in the office parking lot trying to calm myself enough to be able to go in the building without being asked what's wrong. Tears rolling down my cheeks, much the same as they were rolling down hers.

******
I've been on hold for 40 minutes listening to a loop "Studies show that women who breastfeed lower their risk of ovarian and breast cancers. For more information on breastfeeding...." First in English, then in Spanish. Finally the recording abruptly stops and I get a live person. In a desperate voice my first words are a "Please don't put me on hold!" After another ten minutes she tells me she has no record of the request to amend my children's birth certificate effectively relaying the message that on paper, I have no proof that my children exist. Despite the adoption being final for 2 months. Despite confirmation that our state sent the request to the other state. Despite the emails to my attorney on status. I sit at my desk and cry. Cry because Im still fighting, even though it's supposed to be over. Cry because the woman who birthed them never fought this hard for them. Cry because the certificate is a big fat lie anyway. Cry because these agencies still don't care about my kids. Cry because all of the other things I need to do with this certificate can't be done until I actually have them. My attorney calls me back after the stern emails to her contains the correct contact number. She tells me she's so frustrated. The tears come harder.
*******
Dinner is over. I'm sitting at the table by myself. Knowing I've disengaged from my family because I simply can't pretend to care about Pokemon Go or whatever is happening on the Disney Channel. I've fielded questions about weekend plans and dinner and picture day and book fair and I just need a bit of silence. And a sweet friend posts a beautiful post about foster care and grief and the tears start rolling down my cheeks again. It's important. It's necessary. And today it's painful. Really painful.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Bedtime

Solana, the happiest baby on Earth has decided that the terrible twos will actually start at the age of 1. She is stubborn, independent, and loud. Really loud. 

She's always had this fake scream that sounds alarming unless you knew it was fake which she uses often when she is displeased. However, her latest thing is to throw full on tantrums. Screaming, crying, hitting. She's quite the frustrated drama queen. When she is really mad she will bite you and then scream "De-De-de-de-de!". Clearly telling you to go take a flying leap. Bedtime has become challenging. My sweet little baby who would go down without so much as a peep, threw a full on tantrum on the stairs when I told everyone to say goodnight to her. An hour and a half ago.

During this rough night I had her rocking in my arms, quieted down but still whimpering from being upset. She was clutching my shirt, my bra, for dear life. As I kissed her tears, mine started to fall.

I whispered to her "I'm not your forever mama. I'm just temporary. One day it will be someone else putting you to sleep.You will have to learn to fall asleep in another home so please let's get through this phase because you have been here 75% of your life and if this is how you react to the familiar, I'm afraid the unfamiliar will be too much for your Papi."

And then my head wandered to the dark place where I wished that maybe she would react this way and he would decided this was too hard and call me up to come get her, forever. And then I felt immediately guilty and selfish and I started to cry harder because how could I wish such obvious misery and pain on my beautiful baby girl Solana. 

Foster Care Adoption in the Media

I was really excited to learn that one of the gymnasts on the USA Woman's Gymnastics Team was adopted from foster care.  So often, we only hear of the negative outcomes for kids in foster care. Being able to give my kids an example of a young girl as an Olympian who had a similar experience to them, makes my heart happy. It was disappointing to come across this story: nbc-announcer-apologizes-for-comments-about-simone-biles-parents

You've probably already heard about this but Simone Biles was adopted from foster care by her maternal grandfather and his wife.  I guess these details are important (to some) because she is biologically related to her (adoptive) father and as written, one is (I guess) supposed to gather, not biologically related to her (adoptive) mother.

I suppose any story about an adoptee will give the details behind the adoption as they do make up the adoption story. And for some adoptees, these may be important details. To others, maybe not so much.

Apparently the NBC announcer, Al Trautwig,  made on air comments referring to her parents as her grandparents and then sent out the following tweet to clarify some Twitter criticism for not referring to them as her parents: "They may be mom and dad, but they are NOT her parents."

Wait, what?

The tweet was deleted and he apologized but its a teachable moment.

The language of adoption is important. Adoption is complicated. Its wrought with emotion and pain.  Insisting that adoptive parents are not parents is an insult to everyone involved. It makes their relationship seem illegitimate. Like it doesn't matter. I've read articles that talk about how her family came together. How their family attended therapy for two years to build trust.

I know this work. I've done it. And I know that it's exhausting fielding questions in the super market. I can't imagine doing it on the world stage.

But it's a teachable moment and I hope this comment will open the conversation in the media up to understanding how adoption, and adoption from foster care work. And then maybe we can educate the world on why more needs to be done for our kids in crisis. Because let's face it, this has garnered a lot of attention, while other kids have died and no one said a peep.