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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Questions? Comments :(

Weekly I go to acupuncture and its kind of my time to decompress and explore my thoughts. Yesterday as I was laying there with a ton of diet coke coursing through my body it was a little harder than normal to relax. I could actually feel the needles vibrating back and forth which told me I was somewhat aggravated and I was having a hard time figuring it out. After a few minutes my kids came to mind and I realized one of the things bothering me was the comments I had received regarding the kids.

Now I welcome questions about foster care and adoption because I think its widely misunderstood. Heck that’s why I started a blog. So I usually tell people that they probably don’t have a question that I haven’t asked myself or heard someone else ask. But the comments are what bother me.

For instance – Oh those poor kids. You’re an Angel/Saint for taking them in like that. They are so lucky to have you.
I may even have been guilty of making a comment like this at one point. BUT now it makes my skin crawl. I want people to have empathy for children who are abused/mistreated but not pity. And I’m not an Angel or a Saint. I might have deep faith I would hardly consider myself religious. Am I a good person? Sure? Should I be canonized because I want to be a mother? Should I get a set of wings because I can’t have children or afford a private adoption?

It’s tiring isn’t it? Welcome to Motherhood. (with the sarcasm that says – you got yourself into it) – If I had birthed a child would people really say that to someone holding a 5 week infant? Or would they have sympathy because they had been there done that? I think more likely it would be “I know its tiring but totally worth it. Let me know how I can help”

Well at least you can give yours back. – Now I know when the person said this she wasn’t trying to be cruel. And it was in response to overhearing how we were dealing with some tantrums. That being said – how dare you say something like that? Do you have any idea how incredibly hard it will be to “give them back”. How tough it is to try and prepare/explain/sooth a child who’s very fear is that she won’t go back even though your ever wish/desire/dream is that you could keep her safe with you forever? That sending her back means that she’s is at a much higher risk for repeat abuse or getting stuck in a cycle of foster care and knowing that when she does her progress in reading and writing and spelling will more then likely get stuck again because she’ll be going to a home where that extra help will not be available. Because her Mother doesn’t speak English? Somehow I’m supposed to find solace in this?

There is no way you can have four and work full time. It’s too much. It’s not possible. You could never handle it. – Excuse me? I don’t remember asking for your opinion. How do you know what I can and cannot do? Do you have ANY kids? No? Are you married? No? Hmm. In fact all of the families I know who have 3 or 4 kids have a Mom who works full time and they seem to manager just fine. And if I decide to have 4 kids that’s mine and my husband’s decision and I really don’t care what you think and don’t plan on asking you. So next time please keep your mouth shut. Thanks.

Getting back to the questions – does anyone reading have any for me? I’m happy to answer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,
Exhausted. Every fiber in my body is tired. And this migraine can take a hike anytime. No really anytime. Because I really need to be able to have my game face on. I have a 7 year old child who needs me to be consistent and calm and while I have the consistent part down the calm needs a little work. Ok a lot of work. See she’s pushing my buttons. She’s shared her deep dark secrets with me and I think she’s trying to see if that means I think she’s bad like she things she’s bad. And she isn’t. She is smart and beautiful and funny and caring and I love it when she giggles. But the giggling is less and less. And she’s amazingly brave. Oh my goodness is she brave. To go weekly to face her Mother who abused her and to try and figure out the conflicted feelings she has. It took me 28 years to express anger with my Mom and she never hit me. And I try to tell her but its as if she’s stuffed cotton in her ears. And the nightmares can take a hike too. Because seriously the 3 AM and 4AM wake ups are not my cup of tea. Speaking of caffeine now I understand why all the parents I know drink coffee. And it would be great if I could too but my body doesn’t like coffee and my brain can only handle so much caffeine. Grrr. And despite the new 9:30/10-PM bedtime I still feel like I’ve spent the last 5 weeks pulling all nighters. Is this why pregnancy is so tiring (like my friends tell me)? So you get used to operating on this feeling of unrest? But those moments of happy are worth all of the pain in the *ss behavior. Even though I’ve only known her 5 weeks I love this little girl and I will do everything I can to help here for as long as I have her.

State of Mind

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Week 5

We’ve had a busy week. We survived an all day shopping trip to two malls and lunch at Rainforest CafĂ©. We had no less than 9 trips to the bathroom. Where I discovered that I believe there should be a code of some sort in restaurants aimed at kids that the stalls be big enough for both parent and child to fit in (or at least shut the door without the child’s head being in the toilet) and sinks not be either scalding hot or freezing cold. The kids did pretty well. A little trouble sharing the spotlight when trying on clothes and a certain 7 year old who decided she was going to have an attitude at lunch were the only issues. The kids had a great time shopping with my Mom and my Dad loved every minute of showing his Grandson the monkeys and apes.

Fast forward to Saturday night when Jelly Bean was going to bed and was asking about bad dreams and then revealed to me her abuse. She started with the sexual abuse that the 2nd foster father inflicted and then moved on to the physical abuse that her Mom inflicted. And after some discussion she finally agreed that if I stayed with her she would feel comfortable telling her therapist. We then gave her some power the next night when she was throwing a tantrum at my husband and he asked her if he could sit on her bed to talk to her and she asked if she could say no – and he said of course. So she said no and told him he could sit on the chair. Oh but the whining and the tantrums continued. Right up to last night when she lied about homework. It was exhausting. And while I suspect a lot of this has to do with her trusting us and now testing us to see what we’ll do I’m also suspicious that this is far deeper and that underneath is some reactive attachment disorder stuff. But then again the adults also forgot to give her her ADHD medication that morning. Hmmm.

We also went to my Mother-in-laws house and they got to meet her and play with her dog. She also lent us a ton of Disney movies which the kids really liked. And apparently that led Mr. Mohawk to consider acting as when he was supposed to be sleeping he was instead playing with his Snoopy and Turtle. When we caught him he pretended to be asleep and he was pretty convincing. So my husband took Snoopy and put him to the side and covered him back up. A few minutes later he went back in and it looked like he was in the same position. So he whispered “do you want your Snoopy” and poor little guy fell for it. First by nodding then by answering yes and finally opening his eyes because he knew he was busted!

We also went to church where the kids did a great job. And they visited my chiropractor. Who is amazing. And told us that Mr. Mohawk would start to share more. And sure enough at dinner time out of left field he said, “My Real Mom hit me on my butt and it hurt me.” Kind of hard to deny energy not flowing correctly as a cause for ailments when you hear that story. I’m a pretty skeptical person who has two feet firmly planted in reality but the fact that acupuncture has helped me so tremendously I have to trust that something inside the little man was blocking those feelings from coming out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

We are beginning week 4 of our new family. We had a very busy weekend and had a little more sadness than we had previously. My 3 year old (Mr. Mohawk) was really missing his “really, real Mom” and his sisters. He would come to me with “Mama I miss my sisters” I’d give him a hug and he would go play. I’m starting to wonder if he has hit a new level developmentally and now understands more of the situation and is therefore confused by it.

He discovered Power Rangers Saturday and so that was cute watching him bounce around the house. He also noticed that the Beast from Beauty and the Beast also has a Mohawk and was very excited by this. We have been trying to watch all of the classic Disney films as we have a trip planned in the Spring and want the kids to be excited by all the characters.

My little Jelly Bean had kind of a rough day Sunday. She was really defiant at bedtime and although she is normally a snail in the dressing and undressing process she decided to race to the bathroom when I told her brother to go brush his teeth and I watched as she started to slam the door on him. This is obviously unacceptable and she was immediately sent to a time out. In the process of trying to talk about what she did wrong she decided to stomp off to the bathroom. Its so hard to figure out what is normal 7 year old behavior, traumatized kid behavior, new to this house behavior, and ADHD symptoms. We did discover though she has an interest and a talent for decorating cookies Saturday. Her reading is improving and she actually read for 45 minutes straight on Sunday. She is very worried about being adopted although this has not been brought up – and we have not asked if we would be willing. (Her previous family adopted their youngest daughter through foster care and our kids attended the ceremony.) She is worried as she know if this were to happen she would not be going back to live with her Mom. I asked her where she thought she would live and she said here.

I walked into work today and found a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me with a card that said, “Happy Valentine’s Day to the best Mom in the world. We Love you, From the best children in the world, Jelly Bean and Mr. Mohawk.” I tell you my husband is something else. So of course I sent him a picture with a thank you and he called back all angry. Apparently, the florist sent the wrong arrangement and not one as expensive as he paid for. So I get ANOTHER delivery on Wednesday and a discount on our next order And I’m happy to report I’m the ONLY Mom/wife to get flowers at the office.

So on this day where we celebrate those we love I’m rejoicing in the new ways I’ve found love. The new ways I love my husband. These children who are so awesome they have already stolen my heart. And the newfound appreciation I have for my own parents. My heart is full.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Confessions of a New Mommy

I had no idea that places had kids eat free nights.
Had no idea that I would escape to my bathroom for quiet.
Feel that Christmas lights left out of their storage place make perfectly acceptable night lights.
Had no clue that the 6 boxs of tissue that have been on my shelf for the last 2 years would be used in 2 weeks.
I miss my kids and sometimes feel like I have ADD when away from them.
Feel guilty that I get the hugs from them and not their "really real Mom".
Feel angry at their Mom for hurting them.
I am surprised that snotty tissues and bloody noses are no longer on my gross things list.

And my really big confession:
While one kid was in time out I sent the other to the bathroom so I could sneak a cupcake.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Feelings... nothing more than feelings.

Yesterday was our first DCFS Team Meeting for my kids' case. We were on a conference call with the therapists, the case worker, other foster parents, and their "really real" Mom.

Let me just say it started great then ended with me pretty steamed - and the therapist of my kids sisters. We shared first how we thought everything was going as our kids are the youngest. We talked about the feelings they have been having, how school was going, etc. We shared general stuff but enough to give the team a clue as to how the kids were coping with their 4th new house and visits now at Mom's house. Then the conversation turned to about their sister. And when the question was asked how they are progressing in therapy their therapist piped in with "I thought the foster parents were supposed to leave." Okay Jelly Bean and Mohawk's Mom and Dad we are done with you. You can leave now.

And as Jelly Bean would say WHAT?

Wait a minute. Thats fine that you don't need us to participate in the conversation any longer but dismissing us seemed really unfair - we didn't get a clear picture on how their sisters are doing (unlike their foster Mother who heard everything we said) and we didn't get specific in discussion with our therapist because we were trying to keep things confidential. so don't my kids deserve equal confidentiality protection in that case and more discussion in private?

So I said I understand. Going forward however I'd like it to be taken into consideration that the other parties were priveledged to hear everything about Jelly Bean and Mohawk and that was unfair. I said it with conviction and I tried to keep the bite out of my voice although with a cold that was kind of hard to do.

Then their sisters' therapist began to argue with me - that we didn't discuss anything confidential and I was like um we talked about how we thought therapy was going and their fears. Yeah maybe it wasn't confidential in its most literal sense but we also talked generally since everyone was listening. And she conceeded that perhaps I was right.

Something happened in my life almost exactly a year ago where I decided in situations where I felt I was getting a fair shake I was going to stand up for myself and say what I had to say. And this conversation was confirmation that I have learned to do that and in a semi-nice way as well.

So when Jelly Bean's therapist called me later to set up an appointment she right away told me she loved what I said. And that made ME feel really good and even happier that she's willing to drive an hour to see my children and my home so that they don't have to adjuct to ANOTHER change in their lives. And even more so since who they were going to be moved to was this snotty therapist on the phone.


One of the things we did talk about with their therapist is that Jelly Bean doesn't like to talk about her feelings. She's expert in changing the subject when she thinks your fishing for information or you ask too many questions. So imagine my surprise when as we are driving home in the car from Kids Eat Free Dinner (Kids eat free??) she says to me. "Mommy sometimes it feels like there's this really big empty space inside my heart."

Wow?!? Thats pretty articulate for a kid who doesn't like to talk about feelings. So we talked about it. And then she changed the subject. And this morning I woke up to a kid who had a dry night from wetting the bed! YEAH!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In the Mother 'Hood

Magically, Monday night I was able to pick up the kids from daycare and get home before 6:30 pm. I ran into our neighbor next door and gave him a heads up - If you see two random children running around they belong to us!

I ran in the house to find two children leaving wet, dirty boots on my wood floors and whining that the other wasn't doing what they were supposed to. I announced we were having spaghetti for dinner and got to work. As I was preparing the meal and the kids were running around with the dog and eachother I smiled at the change our life had taken. Then all Hell broke loose. Seriously it was like a scene from a vacation or spa commercial. The doorbell rang, the dog began barking the kids rushed to the door. I'm wondering outloud who could be at the door as we don't have a peep hole and our doorbell rings maybe 4 times a year unexpectedly excluding Halloween. (Plus its a really wierd door and it opens outward and to the left and hits the person standing on the porch and they have to step back and tehn fall off the step.) It was our neighbor and as I'm trying to catch the 60 pound dog from charging at him and two children are asking me questions - one wanting to know if its Daddy at the door - he is inviting us to a play date. Finally I gave up and told him to please come on in and excuse the mess. To which he says trust me your house is cleaner than ours. Yeah? you haven't seen upstairs. So as we are exchanging numbers and last names (terrible I know but when do you need to know your neighbors last name) the house phone starts to ring and I can hear the water boiling over in the kitchen.

So it didn't surprise me that it wasn't until after dinner an hour later that I realized I hadn't peed since noon. And I made the mistake of telling my family where I was going. My plan to have a few minutes of peace was promptly interuppted 30 seconds later when not 1 but 2 people knocked on the door to tell me where they were going - downstairs to watch TV. One of them was my husband. Now OK I could see if we lived in this great big house that required.. I don't know an elevator or an intercom but we don't. Its a 2 story finished basement condo. If I can't hear you from the 1st floor I know you are in the basement where the only TV besides in my bedroom is located. and you know what? At that point if you had left the house I really didn't care :)