Sunday, February 17, 2013

Things that don't mix well: a new baby and a traumatized teen

I knew this was going to be very, very hard, and boy, was I right. Adding a new baby to the family with an attachment challenged and traumatized teen already on board is a little like buying a ticket on the Titanic. You might survive, but you are in for a hellish ride.

I had planned after adopting Flower that we would wait a year or two (depending on how things went with her) and then look into adopting a baby or toddler from foster care, possibly even domestic infant adoption. After 5 years of not getting pregnant on my own I was reasonably sure I would not be having another baby (insert hysterical laughter). I wanted to give Flower time to adjust to a new family and a chance to attach before adding another member. When I found out I was pregnant I was pretty angry at myself for being so selfish. I had thought about making sure I wouldn't get pregnant but I was not willing to give up completely. I'm sure a few years from now I will be able to fully appreciate our fantastic luck, but right now I still feel horribly guilty.

I was expecting Flower to react badly to having an infant in the house. I failed to anticipate just how badly that would be. She was fine the week we had the baby, but only because my brother came down after the incident when the Professor left for a day after an argument with her. My brother stayed for 2 weeks and made it a point to lavish attention on Flower. She thought he was the best thing since apple pie. The day after he left, when she was faced with exhausted parents and all the attention on the new baby, she totally lost it. For the next week and a half we had daily full on rages with cursing, screaming, throwing things and just general disrespect and defiance. She began skipping school, her lying and attempts at control got really out of hand and things just went downhill fast. I confess I just didn't deal with it because I was too exhausted from a very hard birth and having to care for a new baby. I wish my husband was more capable because this would have been a great time for them to bond, but of course they are like oil and fire together and he just made everything worse.

Things came to a head a couple of weeks ago. I can't go into the details of what happened but it led to Flower staying in the psych unit for a few days and lots of changes at home. The most drastic change is that Flower is no longer allowed contact with her biological family, even her siblings. This was by order of someone else, not our decision. I think it was cruel to cut her off from her siblings but I am glad biomom is no longer in the picture. Needless to say this is not sitting well with Flower and I suspect when it really sinks in she will have to process their loss all over again and her behaviors will make this month look like a picnic. There is talk of long term residential treatment, but the only place that can take her has a month and a half long waiting list. We aren't really sure that would help her anyway. It might give us a break but it won't help with her attachment and if she isn't willing to work on her issues, it won't help her heal. It could (and likely would) just make everything worse because she would feel like we were getting rid of her, just like everyone else did when things got hard. Unfortunately, we may not get a choice if the safety of our younger children becomes an issue.

Things have been calmer since she came home but I think it is only because she is afraid of losing more things in her life so she is keeping a tight lid on her anger. That lid is bound to blow, and when it does it will be ugly. The Professor has responded to her anger and attitude by cracking down. I think this is the worst time to do that. She has ended up a virtual prisoner at home with no healthy outlets for her emotional turmoil. We are getting pretty intensive intervention services from our adoption support team, but I don't think it's going to help unless the Professor and Flower are willing to change.

Things between me and the Professor are really strained. We are not on the same page when it comes to how to handle Flower. I'm not sure we are really in the same book. I'm still pretty upset about how much he has put on me when I'm least able to handle it. I am also really sick and tired of seeing the same behaviors in my supposedly mature husband that I am seeing in our very troubled 15 year old. He still won't listen to anything I or the therapists tell him. All he does is argue and lash out. He uses sarcasm and anger to get his feelings heard and takes every comment as a judgement on his worth as a person and his ability to parent. Even the therapist was visibly disgusted after our last session. I don't have a clue how to go about fixing things when I am the only one trying. I'm not trying to say I'm perfect, or even that I know what I'm doing. I know I have things to work on as well. The difference is that I'm willing to admit that and ask for help. I'm not fighting against the idea that I can't do this on my own. I know I don't have all the answers. I just wish to God he would even admit there are questions to ask.

On the plus side - the new baby (Little Bird) is doing great and growing like a weed. Breastfeeding has been very different this time around, but more on that later, If I get a chance to blog with all this craziness around here!


  1. Oh wow. I'm so sorry things continue to be so very difficult. Praying for Flower, of course, but also for your husband to receive some insight into his behavior.

  2. I wish I didn't have to wish you strength and courage right now-- you deserve to bask in the enjoyment of your new little one. But I SO admire your attitude towards this situation-- I confess that I would probably be a lot more selfish and resentful, and it would be very difficult for me to be as empathetic to Flower as you seem to be. I hope that things settle down soon, and that she realizes how lucky she indeed is to have you in her life.

  3. Just wanted to drop by and say I hope things are getting better for you all. Much love xxx