Wednesday, October 2, 2013

So there was this little thing I forgot to mention . . .

My only comment from my last post made me realize that I never updated here about what was going on with Flower. After 3 involuntary commitments for suicidal/self injuring behavior, it was decided that she needed a residential treatment program. Since the middle of June she has been living at a residential treatment center (RTC) working on her anger management, depression, and attachment issues. Her tentative discharge date was October 21st but lately she has not been doing well. The main thing to remember with attachment challenged kids is that they can do great in situations where they are not required to form an emotional attachment. They are also great manipulators. We thought that she would play the system and that appears to be what she has done. She has been a model client most of the time. Her base behaviors that got her in that placement are still there, just subdued to a socially acceptable level. She comes home on passes every weekend and at first those went well. The last few have not been disastrous but it is clear she is not ready to be in the family and not continue her destructive behaviors.

It amazes me that all these professionals that work with these kids all the time don't see the manipulation. She is doing great in RTC so she must be getting better, right? Well, no. What she is doing great at is avoiding working on the things that led to her current problems. Until I brought it up last week the therapist hadn't even realized that she has avoided talking about her birth family the whole time she has been in treatment. How will she recover from trauma and abuse if she never processes it?

I think Flower has hit the point in her stay where she can't fake it and follow the rules anymore. Her only goal has been to get out. She knows what she needs to do and say to make it look like she is better. Fortunately for her she can only maintain that facade for a short period of time. I do want her home and part of the family again but not if she can't control her anger. I'm not so worried about our safety as I am about her future. She is on an advisement (similar to probation) for the battery charge from pushing my husband. If she gets in any more trouble the charges will be permanent and she will have trouble getting jobs. It is better for her to work through her issues in a safe place where her actions won't have life long consequences. I just wish she could see that and actually WANT to work on things. She still sees this treatment as something that was done to her, not something that was done for her.

In other news our 7 year old has been having increasing problems at school and daycare and her principal is pushing us to have her diagnosed ADHD. I am not convinced but trying to get services at public schools is a joke now. The only thing a high school rating means is that the kids are from well to do families and don't have problems. The test grades don't tell you how kids with issues are handled. For the most part, in my experience so far, they are shuffled off as quickly as possible. It's so sad and so frustrating.

On a good note, I just accepted a job that will be a big promotion and in the process found out that upper management were fighting over me! I had applied for three jobs and only one called me back. One of the ones that did not call me had wanted to interview me but was too busy. His boss is very angry that they missed the chance to hire me. This is the first time I have felt like a valued and competent employee. The new job is 3 hours away so we will be moving. I imagine that will be incredibly stressful but there are many more services where we are going and I can't wait to do real science again!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

3 months?!

I knew it had been awhile since I had posted, but three months? This is a good time to mention that lately I have been feeling like I will look back on this time in my life and just be grateful that its over. That makes me pretty sad because I should be able to enjoy Little Bird's two new teeth and her explorations with food. I should be watching my not so little Sunshine ease into the preteen years with her soccer and girl scouts and *gasp* "boyfriends". Instead I am just trying to get through each day and snag enough sleep to make it through the next, rarely feeling that I accomplished anything. I know I need to make some time for myself to recharge, somehow. I'm trying. In the meantime there is something I've always been told to do and always been too resentful to try. I am a bit of a hypocrite because I accuse my husband of being incredibly negative and yet I've never managed to do this.

I will be grateful.

I will be grateful I have a job, that my house is big enough for all of us, that we are all healthy, that my husband still loves me and wants to be with me, that my girls make little cards for me all the time, that Little Bird knows I'm her mom and doesn't want anyone else when I am around. I will be grateful my savings account is big enough to weather the type of storm we had in 2008, that I can move to where the jobs are and have a really good shot at a permanent career.

Last week my grandfather died and a good friend lost her 44 year old husband. It really does make you appreciate what you  have to see what you can lose. I could see that for awhile after Aiden died, but somehow lost site of it in the last couple of years.

I doubt I'll be on here much in the near future, I think I will be having lots of big changes that will suck up even more time, but I'll try to update when I can. I can't tell you how grateful I have been for the support of my readers. You healed me.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Would you do it again?

Someone on a support board asked everyone if they would adopt again, having adopted a child with trauma and attachment issues and knowing what that entails. I said no. Let me be clear, I in no way blame Flower for any of the things that led me to that answer. I blame the system, I blame myself, and I blame her birth family. I still love Flower and want the best for her, but if I knew before I met her what I know now, I think she would have been better off aging out and going back to her birth family.

Here is why I wouldn't do it again, knowing what I know now.

My husband and I recently discussed that our reasons for adopting in the first place are not even valid with the child we ended up with. We wanted to help (not rescue) a child in foster care who had no one to take care of them and help them once they turned 18. We had seen all the awful stories and scary statistics of what happens to the majority of the children who age out of foster care. We wanted to try to prevent that kind of outcome for at least one person. We wanted to give someone a chance at a better life. We were not expecting love and devotion, everlasting reward in heaven, or even any acknowledgement. We knew there was a good chance our efforts would be wasted but we wanted to try anyway. The problem is, this child has a family. She never should have been placed in foster care to begin with. Yes, there was some abuse, but only with her father. When she was placed with her mother the only issues were poverty. Her mother was given help to alleviate that and she was too lazy to follow through, but we really need to come up with a better solution than dissolving a family. I wish I had the link to it, but I read an article recently that stated kids would be better off going hungry every once in awhile than growing up in foster care. The damage done to my child was not done by her bio family directly. It was done by the foster care system; the system that would lose her for months at a time and shuffle her from home to home where the parents were incapable of dealing with her special needs, sending her back to be shuffled around again when the placement became too hard; the system that never bothered to address her learning problems because they always assumed someone else would; the system that let a family member adopt all the other siblings and not her, even though they had an abuse complaint against them; the system that didn't train us to handle her issues and outright lied about their severity. If it weren't for the 9 years in foster care I believe Flower would not have half the problems she does. She may have grown up uneducated and poor, but she would be able to have a relationship and be capable of learning. Now her future is looking extremely bleak. Because she has learned to have no empathy for people she will most likely end up in jail. This happened because she learned in foster care that no one would ever be there for her, no one would love her, and she has absolutely no control over her life. All she wants is to go back to her bio family so she refuses to attach to anyone else. I know that her problems will follow her there as well, but I think it would have made her happier in the end if she just aged out and went back to them. We are certain that is what she will do the minute she turns 18. I don't think it's the best choice she could make with her life, but I also don't think it would be catastrophic. Her mom is not any different than any other self absorbed, lazy, and enabling parent. Lots of people grow up that way and don't spend their adulthood in jail.

The other reason, and this is where I blame myself, is that I should have listened when people told me not to adopt out of birth order. We adopted an older child when we already had a young child in the home. We were told this was a bad idea because "those kids are bad, they will abuse the kids you have". I was appalled by this argument because I knew that not every kid in foster care was so messed up that they would hurt other children. I was right with Flower. She is not a bad person. She cares very much for her younger siblings and I don't think she would ever intentionally hurt a child. What I didn't realize is that there is other damage that can occur when you have an older child with truama and attachment issues. Because Flower operates emotionally at a much younger age we have to parent her differently than we do our bio children. A good example is that we don't make her do homework. We do make our 7 year old do homework and she doesn't understand why she has to follow different rules.  In addition to that Flower has a lot of very counterproductive behaviors that the  7 year old is beginning to mimic. Sunshine is about to get kicked out of her after school program because of this. It never occurred to me that we would be dealing with those behaviors in both kids. I thought we had done a good enough job with the 7 year old that she would know not to behave that way. Apparently I was very wrong. She sees Flower getting all of our attention when she throws big tantrums. I have yet to find a way to make Sunshine realize that Flower's behavior is not getting Flower what she wants. So now we have two children with behavior problems. With both parents working I can tell you that that is nearly impossible to manage.

We signed up for this and we will see it through. We won't give up on Flower, even when she gives up on us. We won't give up on each other either. Hopefully the progress we have made on our marriage these last few weeks will last and we will come out stronger. Hopefully Flower will one day realize we were just trying to help her. Hopefully she will decide she wants to have a better life and start doing what she needs to. In the meantime we will continue to find help for our family and do our best to protect the two youngest, who really had no say in all this. I know it is useless to look back; I just wish I could have been a little less stubborn and spared Sunshine and Little Bird all of this.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

weird flashback trigger

I just got my hair cut off and I didn't realize until I got home last night that the last time I did that was just after Aiden was stillborn. I had a sudden flash back of all the compliments I got and how shitty that made me feel when I just wanted someone to hold me and tell me how much it sucked that my baby died. I stood in the shower sobbing over my stupid hair. It's the first time I've cried (about this) in quite some time. I still miss him, everyday. I still find myself wishing this baby had been a boy and wondering what it would have been like to have a son to raise. I love this Little Bird with all my heart, but there is still the feeling of being cheated of something. I hope it never shows.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

adult juice boxes

If you haven't tried them yet, I am currently enjoying my 2nd "cup of wine". now sells a single serving cup of wine in 5 varieties. They are decent enough for the price and nice for a mom that can't keep a bottle of wine in the house because it will get stolen.

Things are pretty tough and I hope I am doing the right things. Flower is on the waiting list for a bed in residential and I'm praying she will be admitted before she has a chance to violate her probation. I don't know that I could have done anything differently, but if I'd known she would be arrested instead of committed when she pushed the Professor, I may not have called the police. She doesn't need to be in jail, that will only make everything worse. Now if she doesn't complete teen court she will be dealing with a life long consequence that will severely limit her career choices. So far she is not taking any of the legal stuff seriously. She has no cause and affect thinking and is incapable of relating her actions to consequences. Tonight she was yelling at me to shut up and get out of her face while filling out the study sheet from teen court that says she is not allowed to disrespect her parents. Ai yi yi.

Sunshine is picking up all of Flower's worst behaviors and on the fast track to some pretty serious consequences. I feel so guilty for not listening to the warnings about the influence a troubled older child would have on a younger one. I was so sure we had done a good enough job raising Sunshine that she would understand how not to behave. That is not the case. Saturday she threw a toy at me after declaring that I could not make her stay in her room. Consequences just don't seem to matter to her although she does still seem to care if I am disappointed in her. My brother dealt with an older sibling that went to residential and his younger daughter really improved while the troubled one was gone. Hopefully we will get the same result.

The youngest is doing great. Little bird is learning to roll over and got very mad today when she got stuck on her stomach with one arm pinned. She was inconsolable until I held her for a good 15 minutes. It did not help my mood that this was right when I realized my grill was catching on fire and I had to leave a screaming baby in the house with a defiant 7 year old while I dashed out to shut off the tank before the whole thing exploded. Needless to say we didn't have grilled chicken tonight.

I had to laugh because Sunshine got mad at me for scaring her when I screamed at her to get away from the window. She was standing there asking me why when I could see flames curling ever closer to the propane tank. For the love of god, child! This is why we tell you to listen to us the first time!

Hopefully this summer will prove to be a little more peaceful and Flower will get the help she needs.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I have very little time for myself so here is a bare bones update.

We are well and truly out of the honeymoon phase with Flower. She just keeps pushing and pushing, trying to prove that we are like everyone else in her life and we will give up on her. It's exhausting, at times terrifying, and so completely pointless. She is wrecking her future just to prove a point that she doesn't even realize she has the need to prove. Now Sunshine is copying her ridiculous, over the top tantrums and I just have no idea what to do about it. I react differently to Sunshine because she doesn't have a traumatic background. She doesn't have a good reason to act like that (other than all the changes and Flower acting out) so I find I have no patience for it and yell.

Little Bird is fantastic and a little spot of joy in everyone's life. I'm just praying all the turmoil and constant screaming aren't affecting her too badly. I'm hoping things will settle down before she is verbal and I'll have a chance to fix the damage to her and Sunshine before it's too late. I'm also hoping Flower will figure out who she is and realize she doesn't have to fight us. I just want her to have a chance to grow up and be happy with who she is.

I hope I can talk here again about the struggles of dealing with attachment issues. There just isn't enough information out there and I'm kind of floundering. No rest for the weary, though. I have to go pump because Professor had to feed Little Bird formula just so I could go to the store in time to get dinner made and now she won't wake up to nurse. Awesome.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Things I want to remember

Two months and some change has gone by so fast. With all the stress and worry I feel like I've missed all of it. But I was holding Little Bird yesterday and remembered some cute things she does that are starting to fade as she gets older.

When she smiles it lights up her whole face. You can be standing behind her and tell she is smiling because even her scalp will crinkle. She has started to laugh in the last couple of weeks but it took me awhile to realize it because it doesn't sound like a typical laugh. She makes this hilarious grunting noise, like hnnnn hnnnn. It's really freaking adorable and although I was thrilled to hear an actual giggle/shriek yesterday, I will miss the funny grunting. I wish I could get it on video. She does not seem to like being tickled. She only squirms and doesn't smile or laugh.

The cutest thing she does that has almost stopped is that when she is done nursing and pulls away she will purse her lips, wrinkle her forehead and stretch. I haven't managed to get a picture but it is incredibly cute. Her face gets all red and she looks like an angry little old man. She hasn't done it often because she will keep nursing until I make her stop most of the time. She thinks I'm her pacifier.

I also love to watch Flower and Sunshine with her. They love to make her smile and she adores them. I wish there were more happy things like that right now, but I'll take what I can get.

*Edited to add: I forgot to mention the "zombie baby". The first month and a half when she was hungry and I picked her up she would try to suck on my face. I joked that she was a zombie baby and trying to eat my face. She was so determined! She also makes this adorable little bird chirp in her sleep, it goes along great with her nickname. I can't believe how fast they change.