like a tap on the shoulder

30 07 2010

When I first started the change from Effexor to Savella, I bought several books – one of them being The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner.  There was also a David Baldacci book in that stack and he gets top billing EVERY time so it wasn’t until I was well into withdrawal – whoops – discontinuation syndrome that I picked up The Neighbor.

I started reading the first chapter and it scared me so badly I sat it back down.

Then, all this drama of the past few weeks happened.  Me and the meds.  LJ and the recurrence of the PTSD.  Trying my best to help with my sister’s wedding next week.  Chickpea and PTSD.  E being a 5 yo boy with too much energy and not enough people to torture.

Two days ago I had nothing to read in the bath (and I desperately needed a bath) except for the book that scared me.  I thought I could handle it and I put on my brave face.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT

Then I started reading and I found in Jason Jones the man I’m worried LJ will grow up to be.  Scared.  Scarred.  Able to love, but not able to connect sexually with the woman he loves.   Driven with need to pull back the privacy and pain he lost as a child.

I also found part of myself in Jason.  The hours online, needing to make things right.  The research.  Reading hand written notes from court cases.

See, this is how I found LJ.  A&E were separated from him around foster home #4 or 5 and he went to a group home (read: orphanage) and they went to an agency foster home.  Years passed.  Files were misplaced.  Siblings who remembered someone else being with them weren’t documented any longer.

A&E came to our home 3 days after we found out that the placement we were hoping for (we were adoptive parents with a foster care license) wasn’t going to work out.  They weren’t available for adoption – yet – but they’d been in care for so long that in case they did become available the agency wanted them to not have to move again.

Shaun and I said yes without meeting them and only seeing a file.  That Friday, they walked in to the agency, and their foster mom gave me the most precious gift she could have: her records from their time in care.  The file we had wasn’t correct in a lot of ways – their ages were wrong, names were missing, and it didn’t mention siblings.

Turns out there are 7 children that the state knows about.  The 3 oldest are with a biological father, then a middle child from another father, then A&E, then a baby who went to another home.  What happened to the missing middle child?  He would be about 7 years old from my estimation.

It took weeks for me to find his name handwritten on an old case file.  About a month to find out where he was.  Several months to convince our agency and DFCS that bringing him back to his siblings was a good idea.  I wrote a letter to the governor.  I testified in court.  I spelled my full name in front of the bio parents at the TPR hearing.

We found experienced therapists and got a new psychiatric evaluation done.  He had been classified as mentally handicapped, PDD-NOS, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and some other bullshit.  (His IQ is in the 120s and since he’s been with us he no longer qualifies as a delayed/disabled child at his school.  The current diagnosis is PTSD due to severe neglect and abuse and ODD with delays in social skills.)

I used every trick I knew to get information and I used it all.

It was because once I started looking I found I couldn’t stop.

I just finished The Neighbor and I like to read acknowledgement pages.

God tapped me on the shoulder.

I stared in shock.

Ms. Gardner had interviewed and thanked two people from the very county we adopted from.  The county where that group home is.  Two names I haven’t seen before.

I haven’t yet been able to bring justice to their doors for what happened to MY son but now I have a few more places to look and a few more emails to send.  If nothing else, maybe I can find some more files that will help with his therapy.

Tonight, I’ve left a comment on Lisa Gardner’s facebook page.

Tomorrow, I’ll start following the leads that dropped into my lap.

This is what I do.





house cleaning

2 02 2010

Just stay with me a for a bit.  I’m trying to work something out in my brain.

In the process of cleaning house, your brain starts to dust itself off too.  I think it’s impossible to clean your own house, touch the things you love, and not think about where you’ve been.

I have a small picture near my desk of the girls we were in the process of adopting before that entire thing went to shit.  Every time I see it I feel that little ache of loss in my chest but I can’t seem to take it down.  I don’t want to forget them – I want to reconcile how I feel so that I can be happy they’re with their adoptive family even though it’s not us.

In the end, it all worked out the way God must have planned because they ended up with parents who were more experienced in their needs and the same week we lost them, we gained A & E.  Later, we gained LJ and finally we became a forever family.  It still left me wounded and afraid to attach – that if I love someone as deeply as I love them, that I’ll lose them too.

Today I hung up a picture of LJ, A, & E near the picture of the girls and it made me smile.  It settles me a bit to see 5 shining, happy faces.

I also came across my sample book and my personality profile from the company I used to work for.  I’ve been trying to weed out things that keep me trapped in that past – the 8 years I gave to that company – but I need this stuff.  I read the first page of my profile and it basically says that I’m loyal, independent, good-natured, and able to deal well with teams UNLESS someone insults or embarrasses me.

This isn’t to say that it’s particularly easy to insult or embarrass me, it’s just that if you manage to there is going to be some hell being wrought.  My personality is – and always has been – to withdraw, set up a barrier of coldness, then start a campaign of terror.  I’ve been this way since I was born and I doubt I’ll ever be able to rid myself of that compulsion.  I deal pretty well with it and if it’s not a continual pissing on my shoes, then I’m able to stop myself before I get revenge.  There are some people, though, that have continually undercut and underestimated me that I would still *ahem* be unkind to if I crossed their path again.  People I haven’t seen in over 2 years.

This doesn’t cause me too much concern.  I know myself and I know that they’re unlikely to ever respect me the way I expect the people around me to respect me.

What does concern me is that I’m feeling this way to the girls’ biological mother who I’ve never met and never even seen.  She hurt and hurt and hurt AGAIN people I love a whole lot.  Then she somehow got a lawyer to fuck up their chance at being adopted to only go to meet the kids  for the first time in years while HIGH.  She made it so that Shaun and I were afraid to give the girls the Christmas presents we had bought for them because we 100% expected her to take them and pawn them.  Our entire family was devastated and still, I don’t think my parents have fully accepted our forever kids because they still mourn.

At least with our three kids – I know where their bio parents are.  They’re in jail where they should be.  When it comes down to it they’re just redneck crackheads too dumb to stay out of trouble. I got to sit in a courtroom in front of them and say how bad they fucked up and how they shouldn’t be able to fuck up my kids any longer.  It may not be a competition, but I fucking won.

This lady just disappeared for years and walked back in to their life to fuck it up one more time only to disappear again.  How do I deal with that?

I don’t know if she got hers or if she even feels any regret.  There’s no way I can look at her and her situation and say “she paid the price and now it’s over.”  It would be like Paris Hilton stealing your last $20.  It means nothing to her but the value to you is incredible.  I know it’s not my place to see justice done and I know that she can’t fuck it up any longer, but still, it’s not comforting to me.

I’m afraid the only thing that will heal it is time.  Maybe I’ll just get to the point of indifference, even though that’s totally not satisfaction.





going to Kindergarten

21 01 2010

So, remember the whole purple handprint on Chickpea’s face thing I talked about last week?

Well, all week we’ve been “following up” on that. It turns out it was the kid who sits across from her in class (who all sit right next to alleged broken computer) was the one that slapped her.  Now, did she start the fight or get in her own hits?  Probably.  I know my child and she’s a ninja.

I’ve talked to the vice principal, emailed back and forth with the teacher, cc’d the entire crew (teachers, vp, principal, Shaun) and finally the teacher said that maybe I should come visit the classroom.  The time she picked was the EXACT time that the bell rings at LJ’s school to let out and wouldn’t I like to help with the pinata party?

Let’s take a time out right here.

1.  Ms. Teacher Lady knows I have 3 kids in 2 different schools because the school A goes to can’t support LJ’s special needs.

2.  Even though A does not need the same therapeutic needs as LJ, she’s still classified as handicapped and we have a dietary order in place as well as a safety plan just in case she has a flashback.

3.  Dietary needs = very low sugar because something in the sugar seems to trigger the part of her brain that thinks she’s starving.  Seriously, 1 bite of cake triggers hoarding and stealing so we have to be sure that if she gets sweets, she’s supervised and monitored very, very closely.  Since snack time is literally 10 minutes before they get out of school, I asked that I just be allowed to feed her at home and that they give her computer time or library time.

4.  The teacher and I do respect each other but we have a few problems with communication.  I don’t speak a lot of Spanish and she doesn’t speak a lot of English.  Secondary to that, we have cultural and generational… challenges.

5.  I’m special needs myself.  I pretty much can’t plan when I’m either going to have a bad pain day or a bad OCD day.

OK, time back in.

I have QUESTIONS.

1.  What’s in that pinata?  I know how this works – kids smack something with a stick and candy rains down on them.

2.  How does this sound like a good idea?  Let’s put 30 kindergartners in a small room with a paper mache animal, a stick, and tons of candy.  Then, let’s put my daughter in the middle of it.  I know how this story ends – the pinata breaks, kids rush in, my daughter grabs the stick and starts smacking kids to stuff the pockets of her uniform full of candy.

3.  How are we going to talk while all this is going on?

It turned out not to matter because I ended up hitting a 10 on the pain scale that day and I laid in the bed and tried to breathe very slowly.  So, Shaun went.

He said it went well – that the teacher had apple slices for Chickpea laid out next to the snacks and that the pinata had toys in it as well so he was able to confiscate the sugar.  Afterwards, they talked and when I was finally able to understand what they had talked about, I decided I probably did need to go in and talk to her myself because I had questions and apparently she doesn’t like email.  (That’s fine, I don’t like people so we’re even.)

The first thing I caught upon was that I wonder if they really think parents LOOK at their children’s report cards.  I know that when I sat behind a desk for a living that we pretty much assumed no one read their email, so I’m guessing they were really surprised that Chickpea HAD gotten in trouble over her report card.

The main point I wanted to address was not so much that she had gotten into a fight but that her response was to automatically accuse me of it.  We’ve been thinking for a while that there’s some sort of attachment disorder going on and she has been bringing up lately that I’m her 8th Mommy.  So, while I understand kids scuffle at school and really don’t care – I do need to know if she’s saying stuff like this so we can address it with her psychiatrist and therapist.

I still haven’t recovered from sitting in the lobby of a “mental health hospital” with a suicidal 4 year old after a very under-trained caseworker set off a series of flashbacks which ended up in her being sedated (because the hospital was full) and an investigation into our home.  It finally ended when I broke the chain of command within the system and wrote to the Governor himself.

You want to talk about the worst few weeks of my life?  I’d rather have an epic migraine.  So when I talk to the school about needing to report stuff like this, I’m not over-reacting.  I’m taking preventative measures. Besides, they say they’re very well versed in how to deal with children from foster care (such as incident reports, etc…) so not reporting this kind of bruise to me or Shaun is startling.  We’re finalized, so while we don’t need the form filled out, a phone call would be nice.  Ya know?

Anyways, back on track – yesterday was a fairly good day as far as my pain level goes so I figure I’ll drop in and help out with snack time and talk to the teacher.  I take time to look semi-grown up – I have on jeans and a t-shirt that has a cute cartoon on it.  I’m wearing make-up and jewelry and my hair is up in barrettes.  I give the boys both a sucker so their hands and mouths will be occupied.

The teacher is out sick, lo and behold, gone for her pre-op appt and the class have a very young substitute and a male volunteer, also very young.  Chickpea has a bag of animal crackers and is stuffing them in her face so fast the first glimpse I see of her she looks like a chipmunk.

I force the smiles even though the back of my head is going WTFWTFWTFWTF like a choo choo train and we sat in the back of the classroom while they wrapped up their day.

I sat in the back of the classroom and had an epiphany.

My child is not the problem child in her classroom.  There are about 8 other kids in there who were actively being bad as fuck while the rest of the kids were somewhere between doing what they were supposed to do and wandering aimlessly.

One of the kids is at the whiteboard pounding on it yelling “I want to watch the pirate video!”  One says to another “holy shit, that lady has tattoos and that means she’s dangerous.”  The other says “nuh uh, stupid.”  Three are spazzing out like crackheads in the middle of the room.

Then the bell rang and everyone started lining up in the hallways to go to the buses, after school, or car rider lanes and the scene is exactly like the fire drill scene in Kindergarten Cop.

Actually, it was a lot like Kindergarten Cop.

This may explain our communication differences quite well.  I tend to not like movies where kids act like little shits (Parenthood, Home Alone, That Rotten Little Fuck that Vomitted on the Carnival Ride) so I’m totally expecting too much from my personal little shits.

In comparison, mine are qualifying for sainthood.





telling abuse related behaviors from age-related behaviors

11 12 2009

One of the hardest things for me to do is to tell the difference between behaviors that the children have because of the abuse they went through and just their natural personality and age based behaviors.  There are some things that are pretty obvious.

Climbing the counters to steal candy off the top of the fridge – age related behavior.

Grabbing a kid’s crotch at school – abuse related behavior.

Breaking toys when mad – age related.

Smearing poo on the walls – abuse related.

But what about the other stuff?  Things like acting out for attention, being a know-it-all, and competing with siblings and other family members for attention.  It could be related to an attachment or anxiety disorder or it could just be that’s how they are naturally.  (I know plenty of grown-ups who are know-it-all attention whores and I’m sure they were born that way.)

It’s hardest with Alyssa because she is so much like me but also so much unlike me.  She considers herself a small grown-up who has what it takes to take care of other people and who believes that grown-ups need to earn her respect.  That’s all just like I was as a child.

Then she also refuses to do her work at school or learn things just for the fun of it.  She’d rather make friends and play at school than do her part.  That is so unlike me – I always wanted to please adults and impress them with my mad knowledge skills.  I took control by exceeding all expectations.  She takes control by manipulation then acts out when people don’t comply.  I’m a perfectionist and hardest on myself.  She seems to believe that people should just give her stuff because she’s adorable and smart.  If I wanted something, I would figure out how to get it.  If she wants something, she just takes it.

So how do you tell?





Good Deal

30 10 2009

Back to a serious post… if anything that goes on here can be considered serious.   We go from OMGWTF? to HAHA-AWESOME! in less time than it takes to butter a piece of toast.

The kids are starting to get a lot of our sense of humor (finally) and we haven’t even started indoctrinating them with Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies.  They have seen Down Periscope multiple times, so that helps.  It’s pretty awesome to see them crack cynical, sarcastic filled jokes and it’s even better to see them understanding and using puns.  LJ is a LOT like me – he says “puns work because of a misused homophone.”  Absolutely child.  Absolutely.

Me and LJ – we have an odd sort of relationship.  It’s been hard for me from the beginning with him.  There was a time where we almost refused placement with him – it was that bad.  See, I’m an alpha female.  I have been since the moment I was born and everyone in my family will tell you that.  LJ, when he first came to us, was under the impression that a woman’s job was to cook and take care of the younger babies.  This woman who will never exist was supposed to see a 7 year old boy as having more status in the household than her.  (I know I’ve written before about how the household is like a dog pack.)  Well… as you can tell, this attitude didn’t work.

So, over the 2 years we’ve known him and he’s come to live with  us and become our son, we’ve been working on this.  At times I’m overbearing and at times, he is.  For the most part, he’s figured out that he doesn’t get to tell A&E what to do and I try and give him responsibility over himself.  (I do get to overrule stupid things like wearing shorts to school when it’s 50 degrees outside.)

We meet at loving books.  He loves to read and so do I.  We’d rather read in our bed than talk to anyone.  The problem is that he’s not real sure where the lines between fiction and reality are.  He told some teachers at the school earlier this week that a dragon had bitten him on the neck.  Of course, no one believed him, but the counselor called home to tell me what was going on.  He’s had some pretty big stuff come up in the past few weeks so she knew this may be something we need to discuss.

He and I sat in the car and talked while in the carpool lane to pick up his sister.  We talked and talked and talked.  He didn’t understand that the words he says to people cause reactions – no matter what you say, you’re going to get a reaction.  We talked about how if people knew he just made stuff up all the time that no one would listen to him if something was actually wrong.  We talked about believable stories – dragon bit you?  Obviously not true.  (though, it’s probably better to make up a story that can’t possibly be true than say something equally untrue but believable.)

We talked about appropriate things to share with people (conditional boundaries) and what would happen if those boundaries weren’t respected.  We talked about kids in the foster care system (when we were picking up our AA check at DFCS, he saw some classmates in the waiting room) and the different things that could cause a child to need care.

We spent a lot of time talking about severity and differences – not all kids go through the same thing he did.  For some kids, they had an easier time of it.  For some, they had a time that was much worse than his.  We talked about how everyone, everywhere has something in their past that hurts and how we deal with it determines the kind of person we are.

After all that – we made a deal.

Until November 15th, he is not allowed to either make up fantasy stories or read fiction novels.  He still has to read every night – but he gets true stories.   He’s involved in a biography of Cal Ripken Jr. right now.  I’ll probably go to Goodwill today or tomorrow to pick up more kiddo friendly non-fiction books.  If not that, then we’ll visit the local library.

Things have been moderately better since then.  He’s been meeting my eye and making jokes with me.  He’s been helpful and respectful to the little bits.  Last night, we even put everyone to bed with the sound of laughter even though it was an emotionally difficult day for everyone.  He woke up this morning and told me – amazed – “I didn’t have any nightmares last night, Mommy!”  Awesome.  Pure awesome.

This morning we talked about how to say “its not your business” to people who made them uncomfortable with questions.  We talked about whose business it is – the family’s and the doctors.

After going through foster care and adoption, this is something all of us need to rebuild.  We all need to work on appropriate levels of privacy for ourselves and each other.  We’ve all just gone through so many years of having to report every little thing by phone and in writing.  There were always people in and out of our house – I couldn’t let the laundry go or not load the dishwasher because at ANY moment, someone could pull up and get to judge our worthiness.  This is partly why I’m so open on the internet – it would be hard to rape our privacy and background any more than what it took to become a foster/adopt parent.

Now, we’re having to work on telling people it’s not their business.  Truth is, most people aren’t looking to help – they’re looking for gossip.  Shaun and I are also having to relearn to trust our own judgment.  We’re both grown but we’re too used to having every move picked apart.   That causes stress and anxiety for all of us – we can’t just relax and have normal everyday fights.  Everything is a possible catastrophe.  Everything is caused by this event or that event, and everyone has a different opinion of what caused what.

I mean, I just want my child to feel free enough to scream “I hate you – you’re the meanest mom EVER.”  Right now, we’re still all worried about what we’re saying and trying to use proper communication skills.  In foster care, if they said “I hate her – she’s so mean” to a case worker it wouldn’t be about whether I confiscated the Nintendo DS – it would be “are you feeding them properly?  Whats your discipline policy?  We need to have a face to face meeting about this placement.  I need to talk to my supervisor.”   Basically, if you get mad and immature, your whole life could be turned upside down  (and immature is probably 30% of my personality.)

I want to be able to say “I don’t even want to see you right now” without it meaning “she may not love me enough to keep me.”  No, I just need some time not seeing YOU.  I’ll get to where I want to see YOU again but first I need 5 minutes to look at something else.  Every word that I say has to be examined from how they’ll receive it and how it will sound if they repeat it or how it will sound when I tell the therapist about it (because I can’t lie worth a shit and they can tell when something is going on.)  Then the kids see that I’m uncertain and they start thinking that maybe I don’t know what I’m doing and maybe they don’t have to listen to me.   Or something.

For now, it’s just repeating “I’m your mom.  I was your mom yesterday and I’ll be your mom tomorrow.  I’ll be your mom next year and the year after that.  I’ll be your mom when you get old and have babies.  I’ll be your mom no matter what.”   If we say it enough, maybe we’ll all start to believe its not fiction or fantasy.





Internet superstar

27 09 2009

It’s been an odd couple of weeks since my last post.  It hurts my brain just to think about it!

1.  Shaun and I went to my high school reunion.  In school, we used to say that no one would show up to our reunion because our class lacked school spirit.  Seriously, the student council didn’t give a rat’s ass and neither did anyone else.  It was 1999 and we were all facing going into college or into the work force with little to no money.

There were maybe 50 people at the reunion and I did see a friend who I’ve known since kindergarten.  We didn’t talk much in high school and I think I found out why.  She made a passing comment while we were catching up that stuck with me.  “Of course you’re doing well, you’ve always been perfect.”

I wonder how many people actually know that’s not true.  I screw up as much as anyone, I just don’t tend to dwell on it or get caught in the downward spiral of screwing up.  I’m not even an eternal optimist – I’m definitely not one of those smiley, cheerful people.  It’s food for thought.

2.  Sick kiddos.  Actually, only one was sick.  The other was faking it.  A had a fever and just laid down and stared at the TV.  Her school has had about 50 different viruses going through it, so we thought it was strep at first.  It wasn’t so it may have been a UTI (just a very small amount of bacteria was in her urine) or it could have just been one of those flu bugs.  She’s all better and back to her goofy, normal self.

3.  Ramping up for the “anniversary effect” of the PTSD.  A goes through the anniversary effect during October.  It seems like every time she had to move foster homes, it was right around Halloween.  That stuck with her.  Last year was TERRIBLE so hopefully this year we’ll be prepared for whatever comes.  I’m already stocking up on aromatherapy stuff and reinforcing the fact that she never has to go anywhere again.  She’s home.  She’s already started to panic a bit so we adjusted her morning medications and that seems to have helped.  We’ve also briefed the school and we’re keeping on them about her mental state – it took a while to get them to take us seriously but now it seems like everyone is on board.

With LJ, we’ve just seen more sexual acting out.  He retreats to this fantasy world inside his head and doesn’t seem to realize what he’s doing.  It’s not regression – it’s more like he’s living in a fairy tale.

He’s been talking a lot about “grandmas.”  His favorite kind of pie is the type grandmas make.  Grandmas make sweaters.  Grandmas take care of you and give you cookies.  Grandmas have white hair, wrinkles, and glasses.  Yesterday, I finally got fed up with it (in Goodwill of all places) and told him that he got his grandmas and they weren’t going to change.  Neither grandma has white hair, neither one knows how to make a scrap of clothing, and one of them couldn’t bake a pie if her life depended on it. In reality, there’s no such thing as a “perfect grandma.”

I grew up without grandparents being an active part of my life.  Neither set approved of my parents’ marriage and we most often just made it on our own.  He did spend a lot of time with his bio-grandparents before he came into state care, so I don’t want to ruin those memories but he’s taking them a little too far.  I don’t want him to get older and see them and realize how bad it was for  him.  They loved him – they just don’t have the skills to take care of themselves, much less a child!

We went through this a month or so after he moved in with regards to his bio father.  It got to the point that I had to sit down with him and ask if he wanted to know the truth of the matter or just continue to believe what he did of his dad.  He said he wanted the truth, so I told him.   I may have to enlist my dad to explain it to him.  My dad’s childhood is very similar to LJ’s and they have this great bond.  I think he’d take the truth better from Dad than from one of us.

4.  Sick mommies.  It’s been odd – very odd.  My grandma was sick for a bit, then my great-grandma passed away almost a week ago.  Then grandma went down to FL to bury g-gma next to g-gpa and she got back yesterday.  My sister has been sick and my mom was for a little bit but recovered very quickly.  Then a couple of days ago I started having a fever and today my throat feels like I swallowed some hot sauce.  I must have gotten that strep that was going around.  *sigh*  So, tomorrow I’ll go to the doctor and get more antibiotics.  I’ve only been off the antibiotics from the surgery for a week!

5.  Flooding.  Lots of it.  We live northeast of Atlanta and thankfully in the foothills of the Appalachians so our land is soggy and puddly, but we didn’t get any water inside the house.  Thank God!  Even 5 miles away houses were destroyed and the traffic accidents have been terrible.  We went to an antique store yesterday – it’s about 7 miles from our house – and on the way home saw two accidents happen. My heart goes out to everyone that lost their homes, cars, and in some cases, families.

6.  Big internet sales!  Since we’ve been home bound from the sick babies and the flood, I’ve been on the internet a TON.  We’ve sold a couple of pipes, sent some lace to Japan, mailed  out 6 books on bookmooch, and I’ve started uploading a ton of stuff to flickr.  I’m working on a pipe resource, so hopefully I’ll have that available soon.  I also want to get some pipe related merchandise up in the Etsy shop, but I’m missing my computer parts.  I’m spending time with a hard drive clock today.

7.  Got LOTS of fabric.  I love Goodwill.  Seriously.  I got a ton of fabric for an average of 30 cents a yard and I also got some bed sheets and pillowcases that I can use.  I found some gorgeous blue eyelet cotton that I was SUPER excited about.  Got some corduroy, some raincoat material, a ton of cotton, and some linen.  It’s going to be fun!

This has been a long, long post lacking in cohesiveness, so I’m going to end it here.  Hopefully I can pick this blogging habit back up so I don’t end up with 300 things going on at once.  Good times!





quick and in a hurry

6 08 2009

I had my OB/GYN appt yesterday and it went so unbelievably well!  I thought I’d have to talk the doctor into a hysterectomy instead of trying the months of things that were such a failure in my mom and sister.  I literally don’t think I’d survive hormone treatments, an ablation, or all that other stuff that led up to my family’s hysterectomies.  So I went to the same doctor and gave him the run-down of health problems related to bleeding and he did the exam.

He totally agreed that a hysterectomy would be the best idea and that it be done as soon as possible.  He said it felt like an adenoma in the uterine wall that was causing all the pain and bleeding. ThankyouJesus!  He asked what my pregnancy plans were and I gave him the wtf look.  I’ve got three kids and I totally don’t ovulate.  He laughed and said that’s probably good because a pregnancy for me would most likely be “not low risk.”  I’d be on my back or in the hospital for the entire 10 months, the migraines and heart issues would probably get worse, and the medication I’m on can cause birth defects.  Let’s see… um, no baby maker sounds good to me.

I really like this doctor – he’s funny and sweet and really gives a damn.  He also dealt with my sister successfully and is therefore a saint.  There were a few really funny moments yesterday.  He did the breast exam and said “aw, a rubber ducky!”  I told him that my chest was the bath toy section of tattoos and I thought his eyes were going to bug out of his head.  “W-w-what?”  I had to show him the other boob (he would have gotten there anyways) with the scuba diving turtle.   While he was doing the “down there” exam he said “my stomach says burrrrrrrito.”  LOL!  It’s nearly impossible to laugh when you’re getting a cervical swab though so I just grinned.

My sister is the master of inappropriate comments and I was with Amber during all her baby stuff and all the uterine crap afterwards, so Dr. B knew I’m ok with random shit.  He asked Amber if she really was comfortable with a hysterectomy and she told him “all my uterus does is bleed, cause pain, and produce bastard children. ”  See, I didn’t know this when he asked me the same thing and I said “it’s like 5 lbs of worthless flesh.  When can you go get it?”  Although, I’ll never have reason to tell him to reach on up there and grab the kid by the fro and get him OUT so he’s going to have an easier time with me.

We went through all the health stuff and he pronounced me a healthy 28 year old female, other than the problems with the heart and brain and uterus… lol.  I can’t wait to not have the uterus problem.  I feel trapped by the stupid body and once it’s able to actually heal instead of getting caught up from bleeding only to bleed again, I’ll feel so much better.

My sister and mom are so happy for me.  Shaun is too, but he’s worried about logistics.  He’s a PM, so that’s his natural state.  My dad said “no more grandbabies from my daughters…” I was like, Dad, I know where to get grandbabies!  There’s like 100million in foster care.  (Although, I told the doctor I bought my kids at Wal-Mart.  It’s my standard answer for “where did they come from?”  Wal-Mart.)

So, surgery is August 20th.  Before then, I need to get this house spotless and the kids’ schedules down pat so that the family doesn’t get totally manipulated by my youngsters.  I also need to coordinate who is going to help out on what days during what time.  I need to get my laptop configured and all my TV shows onto a flash drive so I won’t be totally bored during the hospital stay.  My cell is a wireless tether so I’ll have internet but cell coverage is spotty in the hospital.  I’m pretty sure I can unplug for a couple of days… but that may just make me crazy.

Today is open house and kiddos start school on Monday.  Most of A’s uniforms are washed, so I just need to get those separated into outfits.  All the school supplies are bought and packed up in backpacks and ready to go.  E’s the only one that will be home with me during the day, so most of the help I’ll need during the day will be with him and transporting the kiddos to and from school and making meals.  I may need to call the vet and ask for some puppy sedatives for Nola and Abbie.  Either that or duct tape a pillow to my tummy to ward off Nola hugs and just let Abbie do her over-protective “don’t come near my mommy” thing.

I’d better log off and start cleaning.  I’m going to sweep then give each kid a wet magic eraser and let em go at the floors.  They’re closer than I am.  🙂





An idea and advice for special needs moms

28 07 2009

If you read my blog often, you probably know that my daughter who is 5 has chronic PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.)  The chronic part means that she’ll probably always have anxieties related to certain situations.

One of the most disconcerting parts of PTSD is the anniversary effect.  For foster parents – this means out of the blue, life goes flipping crazy!  It took us about a week to realize that all of Alyssa’s major changes in life had happened right around Halloween.   She had been sketchy and nervous for about a week before a caseworker visit so we mentioned to the cw that she had separation anxiety and that she needed to tread softly.  Historically, caseworker visits had not gone well with the children.  The kids would get so scared, they’d freeze like a deer in headlights and wet their pants where they stood.  It took days of hugging and rocking and reassuring before things went back to normal. Alyssa has a defense mechanism of telling people what they want to hear when she gets scared.  She wants them to go away – and telling them what they’re asking gets them to go.

So, the caseworker came and it went like normal for those visits.  My sister was in the hospital, so I was heading out the door and Shaun was going to put the kids in bed.  Alyssa did not sleep that night or the next three.  She regressed all the way back to infant stage and blocked out the entire world.  She would not leave my side, even to go to the bathroom and when I turned my back, she grabbed my razor and tried to cut herself.  She would only play with some baby toys I kept for my nephew when he visited.  This was not normal anxiety – this was scary.  (Later we realized this had happened with her last foster parent as well before she moved in with us – on exactly the same date.  She had pulled large patches of hair out and had sores all over her head when she came to us.)

We called everywhere we could think of but on a weekend with a 4 year old child, there aren’t too many resources available.  There’s a crazy long waiting list for any children’s hospital equipped to deal with mental health issues.  We were told just to provide 24/7 supervision and to do what we could.

I did what I do – I got online and signed into a foster parent support group I was a member of.  One of the ladies who I love totally to death suggested a blanket that was satiny on one side and fleece on the other.  She said it was what calmed her children when nothing else would.

Children are incredibly tactile.  They will sit there and rub something in between their fingers for hours.  They love sand, water, hair, everything they can get their little fingers and cheeks on.

I gave Shaun a kiss, and headed out to the mall.  I got this blanket, a white noise machine that played jungle animals across the ceiling along with a lullaby, some pacifiers, and some aromatherapy stuff.

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It’s easy to find stuff to sooth babies.  It’s not so easy to find a blanket that is fleece on one side and satiny on the other.  I got it home, sprayed it with the aromatherapy stuff (chamomile and vanilla,) wrapped her up in it and sat in the rocking chair.

Thank God, the internet, and foster parent support group – she got two hours of sleep.  That blanket went with us EVERYWHERE for weeks.  She rubbed it, she sucked on it, she wrapped baby dolls in it, she wore it like a cape.  It still holds special honor in her bed by laying next to a fleece covered body pillow.

So, etsy family, I need you guys to make that more available!  Moms who need something to help with your child – try one of those blankets.  My friend said her children with PDD-NOS, autism, separation anxiety, drug addictions, and developmental delays all loved it.  It’s helped Alyssa so much that I’m going to be in the market for one for each boy come Christmas time.

The only thing that could make it better was if it were lightly weighted.  Weighted blankets help people with autism spectrum and anxiety disorders sleep better.  (Really, read the article linked.)  It’s like an all night hug.  I sleep better with tons of blankets – I have OCD which is an anxiety disorder – and it’s easier for me to sleep if I feel secure.  Speaking of that… etsy folks – anyone want to make a grown up blankie?  😀





New boundaries, therapy edition

24 07 2009

The kids appt went well enough – everything is about the same.  The psychiatrist let us know that today was her last day and they should have a replacement by the time the next appt comes around.  It’s too bad, too.  I like this doctor (all three times we’ve seen her) but I understand the position she’s taking is much better for her.  Hopefully our next psych will work out as well.

The center we go to does monthly health screenings at the same time as the psychiatry screening and it’s done by a nurse.  She’s always a little aloof and distant but today it was just weird.  It’s hard when they fit both kids in at once because I can’t be with them when they do the health screening – I’m with the other one with the doctor.  They have this form they fill out every month and it’s a little intense for elementary school kids.  Stuff like “do you have discharge from your nipples?”

So the first thing that happens when I go in to check on Alyssa – the nurse comes out in the hallway and says “Alyssa says that a male cousin tackles her a lot and he does it because he loves her.”  Ok, they have to ask about this – I’ve actually counseled a number of children who were abused by a relative.

I asked her “did she say anything else about it?”

“No, she thought it was fun.”

I’m trying not to laugh at this point.  The nurse HAS to ask me about it.  Apparently, she didn’t ask Alyssa anything else after she said this, otherwise she would have known.  Alyssa has only one male cousin… and he’s two years old.  He LOVES Alyssa.  Alyssa was one of the first names he learned – right after Mama, Da, and Bob.  He calls me “Lyssa’s Mommy.”  Every time he sees her he squeals A-LYYYYSSSSA! and runs at her full speed.  If he sees me first, he goes “where’s Lyssa? An Cinny – where’s LYSSA?”

I filled the nurse in and she didn’t even smile or act like that fact relaxed her.  The rest of the visit was TENSE to say the least.  Like “did you know that LJ has been having pain when he pees?”  LJ was at the time giving her the silent treatment and staring at his shoes, only answering with a twitch of his chin.  “Alyssa says you gave her a laxative.”

Now – first of all, Alyssa does not know what a laxative is.  Second, she can’t tell last year from yesterday.  This is developmentally normal – and yes, if she’s constipated, I sometimes give her a dose of children’s medicine.  I’m allowed – they sell it, doctors recommend it, and I’m her mother.  She has a pediatrician she sees if it’s too often or if it’s abnormally colored.  Guess what, I don’t have to document it anymore and I really don’t remember if it was two months ago that she was last constipated or a week ago.

During this time, E is in with the psychiatrist, waiting on LJ to get done with the nurse.  He’s not allowed to talk today because he’s been willingly defiant.  So I hear the doctor in there asking him questions.  What part did you not get about me telling YOU that he’s in trouble and his punishment is to not be able to talk – which is his absolute favorite thing to do.  He’s sitting still and being quiet – just ignore him!  The kids are pushing boundaries BECAUSE of the adoption – they are testing me out as a forever mom.  I do NOT need people who should know better to undermine me.

Ethan does not (and did not) want to talk about Mom beating him up – which is what it felt like she was trying to get him to say while I was out of the room.  In my experience, that’s why caseworkers and therapists want to talk to children alone.  He wanted to talk about spider guts and how he stepped in an anthill outside when he was playing.  Those were the first words out of his mouth all at once. He didn’t even want to talk about his most recent reason to be pissed off – Alyssa gets to go to school and he doesn’t – or how he set a fire in the sunroom or how he’s been throwing violent tantrums.  I mean – he’s FOUR.  He’s supposed to be thinking and talking about spider guts.  You aren’t going to get him to talk about anything else by the time I get back.

I thought we’d stop playing these “are you abused at home” games once the kids were adopted – but apparently no.  At least now we don’t have three people a month coming into our house to ask them, but still their mental health workers get to quiz them every time they see them.  How long do I have to be their mom before people stop second guessing my judgment?

I know it’s just my perception because I still get asked when I go to the ER if my husband beats me.  I’m like “it’s a migraine… he didn’t cause THAT.”  It’s just something they have to legally ask so that they don’t come down on the wrong side of the media.  We all have seen the headlines and even judged people without the facts.  We have to believe that there are signs that point towards tragedy, and people are so scared of missing the signs that they lead this very scripted life.

What happens is that the kids end up thinking that they’re asking because I’m doing something wrong or that they need to be worried about.  My job is to give them safety and boundaries – that’s what they need right now.  They need to know that not only am I their protector, but I’m also the law-maker.  When I’m questioned in front of the children about such and such an event, they start thinking that maybe I’m not right.  Their experience has told them that adults aren’t right all the time and sometimes adults hurt little people.

Foster families are built on structure.  Everything is planned, everything goes on the schedule, there are rules for everything.  Everything is documented, everything is scrutinized.  Now that the kids are adopted, I’ve been loosening up the rules little by little.  Things like LJ can ride down the street on his bicycle instead of staying in the driveway.  The kids can spend the night at Grandmommy’s.  We can watch PG-13 movies when Shaun and I agree they’re safe (we don’t worry about curse words – we just don’t allow sex or violence on TV.)  I can walk out in the living room with only my nightgown and a pair of undies on – I don’t have to be robed from head to toe.  We can make stupid jokes when before we’d get disapproving stares from the caseworkers if the kids told one. We’re attempting this idea that we’re a “normal family” now.

The kids know this and they also know the “back-up plan” is gone now that they have forever family.  They’re testing the waters, seeing when how far they can go before they hit a wall.

Ethan hit that wall around noon yesterday.  He’s been skirting it for a week or two.  This morning, he had hit it by 7 am so I told him that I didn’t want to hear another word out of him for the rest of the day.  Then, I have to justify it to the center because if I don’t, I’m afraid they’ll make “that call.”

When we left, Alyssa immediately started in on me with the superiority BS and the defiance.  Before we even got out of the parking lot, I had to have a come to Jesus meeting with her.  Developmentally, this is on target, but damn.  If there was anywhere I should have been backed up on my choice of discipline, it should have been at the center.   Aren’t they there to make life easier on everyone?

So I’m not touchy feely baby-talk kind of mom.  Whatever.  That’s ok.  I tell em how it is and how it’s going to be.  There’s no hinting or “mommy would really like it if…”  These kids are too street savvy to fall for that pleasing adults bull.  It’s easier on everyone if we’re straight up about what’s the rule and what we can negotiate on.

One of the rules is that they don’t get to ask why I said something.  I don’t have to justify myself to a child.  I’m mom – that’s why. I know more than they do and I’m smarter than they are and think about more than they think about.  My decisions are based on reason and logic, but I’m not writing a thesis paper.  I don’t have to defend my choices and my choices are not theories and cannot be treated as such.  “Mine is not to reason why…”  They’re total noobs at this whole life thing.  They don’t get promoted until later on in life.

They better listen too because I control the video game system.  So, they’re adopted.  It’s not an excuse to get what they want.  Whatever –  “adopted” doesn’t mean I have to make up for something that happened to them.  I’m not going to let them use that term for pity or to be spoiled, just like I won’t let it be used against them by the school system.

I guess now I just have to set up the boundaries with the service personnel in our lives.  They didn’t get to go to court with us and they’re still in the habit of treating me like I have to answer to them.  I need to get it straight in my own brain that I don’t have to answer to them either.





Caution: busy day ahead

21 07 2009

I can’t believe we’re less than 3 weeks away from school starting.  May and June were crazy months and thank goodness we’ve been able to have a quiet July.  My goal in July was to bore the crap out of the kids so that they’d be excited to go back to school.  I don’t think it’s worked yet… they seem happy to sleep in until 9 am, hang out in pj’s, and watch PBS.

I found out yesterday that the charter school Alyssa will be going to did get their pre-K charter.  I called up and they had lost Ethan’s paperwork (not surprising since his name dramatically changed with the adoption) but they did go ahead and put him on the waiting list.  It would be the best possible thing for him to be able to go to pre-K there.  Otherwise, I’m going to homeschool him during pre-K.  He’s one of those kids that does not do well in a normal school environment.  He’s not quite ADHD like LJ is but if there are other kids around who are not focused, then he won’t settle.  His brain works a lot like mine – he absorbs info, files it away as irrelevant at the moment, gets bored, then creates trouble.  So, I’ll file his paperwork with them today so that hopefully he’ll get in soon.

For Alyssa to get admission, I had to register her under her old name during the last school year.  There are only a certain number of spots available and it’s further broken down by the child’s primary language.  It’s a dual-immersion English/Spanish school and they also teach Mandarin Chinese.  Hopefully it will challenge her enough to keep her out of trouble.  Pre-K for her was like a lesson in futility.  She already knew EVERYTHING they were teaching the other kids (she’s on a 1st grade level) and decided that meant everyone else was stupid and she was therefore in charge.  With some kids, they do that and get this air of bravado and adults think “he’s going through that arrogant stage.”  With her, she really does believe that we’re all here to serve her and suggesting otherwise  does not compute.  Of course, she is smart and beautiful which means people DO line up to give her things.  She had talked her teachers into giving her 3 lunches a day, THREE!, letting her roll around in the dirt during recess, taunting other children, and basically acting like we will not let her act at home.  It’s all ok with them because she’s cute and smart and gives you those big green puppy dog eyes.  All this does is reinforce the thought that she’s a superior being stuck in a smaller body.  Or something.

There’s a reason my kids act like civilized human beings.  I don’t fall for the BS and I have no fear of saying no.  I don’t use fear or intimidation to keep them in line, they just know the expectations and they know I’m not going to back off of them.  This does mean we talk a lot about the meaning of words like upset, disappointed, unhappy, discussion, responsibility, and who is in charge.  We can actually eat a meal in a sit-down restaurant with the kids.

LJ will be going to the school across the street from us.  He didn’t get accepted into the charter school, and that’s probably for the best.  He didn’t walk or talk until he was 5 and he’s still behind in language and social skills.  Because he was non-verbal, his test scores showed that he was mentally retarded and he was held back a grade and stuck in special ed.  There’s nothing wrong with that because he did need to learn the basics but he has made so many strides since then that you’d never guess he wasn’t always “normal.”  He was in a regular class last year and recieved speech therapy and social skills therapy several times a week.  This year, he’ll still receive services, but they’ll be integrated into the class so he doesn’t get singled out or pulled away from class.

I really hope he gets a young, active teacher this year.  Last year we had all sorts of trouble with his teacher.  He needs someone interactive – not someone who hovers and scowls.  Doing that puts him on defense and he retreats into his fantasy world.  Then everyone who wants to play ball during recess is stealing his stuff and every time someone bumps into him in line means they’re deliberately trying to knock him down and get him into trouble.  This causes meltdowns and tantrums.  Then he’s scared to go back to class because he knows that’s not a “good reaction” so he does stuff to get sent out of class.  Things like picking his nose until it bled so he could go to the nurse’s.  Making himself throw up.  Stomping on another kid’s foot.

When we figured out what was happening, we started playing games at home during homework.  When learning was a happy thing and he felt safe doing it he immediately started getting better.  He was making 30’s and 40’s before we started and after he was getting 90’s and 100’s.  Still, we couldn’t convince the teacher that he’s not a bad kid – he’s a scared kid.  She didn’t see anything wrong with her methods and would tell me “I have 20 kids in that classroom!”  20?  Really?  That’s all… huh.  That’s a TINY class.

Anyways, I have to register all three for school today since their names, birth certificates, and social security numbers have all changed. So I need to get them all ready to go while I fill out the paperwork here.  Thank God that it’s all online and all I have to do is print it out.

I also need to run to the post office.  We made a sale on Etsy!  Yay!  I also had a book mooched on BookMooch, so I need to send it out.  After all that, we’ll be back home and do lunch, then they get naptime and I get to list some more lace on Etsy.  If I get a chance, I need to go out in the garage and get a coat of primer on the keys.  Shaun’s going to do the metallic paint for me since he’s got a steadier hand and has more experience with oil-based enamels than I do. I also need to clean the bird cage, our bathroom, and my workstation.

The kids are up and the boys are already in trouble, so it sounds like time for breakfast!  Have a happy Tuesday, everyone!