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.





circle queen

27 07 2010

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this.  Shaun says I should because I have to get it out somehow.  I feel more and more like the circle of people who understand what I’m going through is getting smaller and smaller.  If I were a Venn diagram, I’d be the only one in the overlap.

People who can’t squeeze infants out of their crotch gets a circle.

People with auto-immune diseases and/or fibromyalgia get a circle.

People who have adopted a sibling group from foster care get a circle.

It’s like the events of my life have conspired to leave me alone.  I hear from the kids’ therapists that the kids are worried about me.  I hear from my family that I was crazy to adopt kids with issues.  I hear from my mom that I violated God’s will by giving up on fertility treatments and having faith that I would squeeze out my own perfect little humans.

People my age are getting pregnant for the first and second times and I don’t want to be a buzz-kill.  I don’t want to open myself up to hurt and I don’t want to be outside the circle of “everything is perfect and we’re going to breastfeed and co-sleep” and blah blah blah.  My kids were fed meth and kool-aid as infants and they’re smarter and better looking than most every kid I’ve met.

Then again, I deal with issues other families will never encounter and never understand.  Yesterday LJ, after finishing his breakfast, walked back by Chickpea who was still eating and gave her a lap dance.  She looked as shocked as I felt.  I told him to go back to bed while I tried to figure out what to do.

An hour later, I got him back up and asked him to write an apology to Chickpea for what he did.  Then came the tantrums… the tantrums that have been getting more and more frequent.  He’s 10 and a few times I’ve wondered if the neighbors were going to call the police because it sounds like someone hid a grenade under his pillow.

Yesterday, after 45 minutes of screaming at the top of his lungs, he crawled into the top bunk of his bed and walled off the rails with pillows.  He shrunk down into himself and he looked like a homeless war vet that is reliving combat in his mind.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was watching him just to make sure he didn’t try to hang himself with his bed sheets.

At the group home he used to stay at, churches would donate tickets to Six Flags and all these other fun trips and places.  No matter he didn’t have a family and the other boys and  some of the staff used to regularly beat and rape him.  He’s mad that he doesn’t get the fun stuff here.  He’s mad that we don’t trust him to get on the internet or have his own cell phone or provide him with numerous violent video games.

We don’t get donations and Shaun’s been having to take off of work to help me through this medication change.  We’re a lower middle class family living paycheck to paycheck but we love each other and we have stability.

But it’s my fault.  If I weren’t sick, Shaun wouldn’t have to take the time off.  If I were able to go back to work we would have more money but we’d never see each other.  If I were more of a people person and not so fucking needy, life would be easier on all of us.  If I could keep my mouth shut, we may be able to find a church home.

I’m terrified of being alone.  I’m terrified of hospitals and I hate specialists.  I think everyone thinks I’m pretty much crazy and that I exaggerate everything.  How can I look like I’m doing so well and things be this bad?  My life exists of pills, crying, and trying not to throw up.

Where is my sense of humor?  Why are some topics suddenly taboo in my mind?  Why do the longer I live the less I believe in God but believe more in the fact that things happen the way they are meant to happen?  Why can’t I get the bad things out of my head?  Why do I feel like I won’t live to see 50?





the magic show

10 06 2010

Yesterday, as part of the summer reading program at the library they had a dude come in and do a magic show.  It was great and the kids really loved it.  I came away with different thoughts about each of my babies from watching them.  It’s a sense of pride to see them interact with the mass public and know that I had a lot of influence on how they interact.

Today is the 1 year point of our kids’ adoption.  For one year, they have been forever OURS.  I love that watching them interact and respond to things, I see Shaun and myself.  They’re listening and growing and they are part of us.  Our little family of 5 – we’re US.

LJ sat in between Chickpea and E.  He smiled when something was cool and he would lean forward and plug his ears with his fingers when the little kids would laugh and scream.  He doesn’t like large groups of people and I don’t blame him!  Afterward, he sat in a chair, expressionless until all the people cleared out.  When only a small group was left, he got up and started playing with the other kids.  He didn’t freak out or cry, he didn’t show that he was scared, he just pulled into himself until he was comfortable.  I was so proud!

Chickpea was totally immersed in the program.  She would sit up on her knees and stare at the magician without blinking.  She was looking to see if he was doing it “right.”  When he did something funny, she roared with laughter right along with the other kids.  At one point she raised her hand like she wanted to ask a question.  She noticed EVERYTHING and studied everyone and everything around her.  A couple of times, she turned around and searched the sea of grown ups for me and smiled when she found me.  God, I love that little girl!

After the performance she asked if she could go talk to the magician.  It worried me but I said she could and asked what she was going to say.  She said “he said his baby magic wand didn’t have any magic – but IT DOES.  He shouldn’t underestimate the baby just because it hasn’t finished magic wand school yet.”

I wanted to laugh so badly but she was so serious!  She went up and scolded the poor man while I’m having flash backs to my childhood where I was just like that.  It made me smile when I realized the magician was picking obvious pre-school students for his volunteers.  They’re less likely to be like my kid.

E is the world’s biggest pre-schooler.  He’s starting Kindergarten in the fall.  He’s 4 foot tall and almost 70 lbs.  He still moves like a very young kid – all awkward and sort of floppy.  He doesn’t have that grace that comes with growing older.  He has such a charm about him – he collects grandmothers like its a hobby.  He’s all big eyes and toothy smiles with that little kid innocence and it’s almost impossible to not squeeze him.

He’d rather charm the people around him than watch the show, but yesterday he got into it and laughed and pointed with the rest of the children.  After the show, he was jazzed up.  He didn’t calm down until right before bed time.  He didn’t care about telling Daddy every line of the show – Chickpea does that part with input from LJ – he cared that he figured out how to make his markers “splat” if he smacked them on the paper really hard.

Before dinner, he was laughing at something he thought was funny and just rolled in the floor and laughed.  None of us knew what he was laughing at but it’s impossible not to laugh at him.  Pretty soon we were all cracking up laughing at absolutely nothing.

E is the maker of chaos and disaster where order and peace were.  If everyone is quietly reading or playing a game, he’s the one throwing couch cushions with deadly accuracy.  If no one is playing with their food at the table he whispers to Chickpea “throw a chicken nugget at me, it’s funny.” He knows all his letters and numbers and can read and write, but he won’t do it if he knows he’s being watched.  How do I know?  Later, I find a picture of a fish with teeth drawn in his minimalist fashion and underneath it says “pirana etes met.”  I can hear him count to 50 through the wall but if I ask him to count to 10 for me, he leaves out half of the numbers.

I can’t be mad at him because it’s funny!  He’s going to be a hellion in school but I know he’s absorbing the information somehow.  He just doesn’t feel the need to show anyone.  He’d rather be funny.

Then I have to tell him that if he’s going to be BAD, he needs to do a better job at it!  There’s this pesky thing that’s called evidence that shows me the truth of who has been doing science experiments in the bathroom.  If he’s the only one soaking wet and smelling like Purell, then I know who did it.

I have to say that I’ve been wondering lately if it was a wise decision to adopt them with as sick as I’ve turned out to be.  I didn’t know it was going to be like this when we started but again, hindsight and good vision and all that.

I was afraid yesterday that I wouldn’t be able to get off the floor where we all were sitting to watch the magician.  I had taken my meds before we left the house but still, my body was screaming at me 10 minutes into it.  I was trying my best not to cry.  I was trying my hardest to enjoy the show and ignore the pain and the people bumping into me and squeezing in closer.  I was trying to breathe through the raising temperature of the room.

But I watch their faces – their body language – and I know that Shaun and I did this.  We made their lives fulfilling and opened doors and opportunities that weren’t possible.  This is worth it.  Even if they have a sick mom and a mom who can’t do certain things, they have a mom who is PROUD of them and who wants the best for them.  They’re strong enough to work through the rest.





Barren & the Bible

9 05 2010

I thought for a long time that I had failed spiritually somehow and that’s why I couldn’t have children.  I think I got to the point of not caring this past year when I did things “my” way and adopted my babies and got a hysterectomy.

Mother’s Day is always hard on me because for the past 10 years, I’ve been the outcast.  This morning, I was looking up a Psalm that my sister had found and came across this:

Isaiah 54

1-6 “Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby.
Fill the air with song, you who’ve never experienced childbirth!
You’re ending up with far more children
than all those childbearing women.” God says so!
“Clear lots of ground for your tents!
Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!
Use plenty of rope,
drive the tent pegs deep.
You’re going to need lots of elbow room
for your growing family.
You’re going to take over whole nations;
you’re going to resettle abandoned cities.
Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed.
Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short.

This is the Psalm – she remembered it because I said that I’ve always been sick and in pain.  I can’t remember ever being “normal” but that I’ve done more than anyone could have expected.

Psalm 129

1 “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”
Let Israel now say—
2 “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth;
Yet they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed on my back;
They made their furrows long.”
4 The LORD is righteous;
He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked.

I’ll write more later about it, but I wanted to make sure it was up somewhere I could find it.  Hugs to everyone who feels like the Bible forgot them and that they failed because they are sick.  You didn’t and you aren’t.  You are just walking a different path.





3 weeks

23 02 2010

3 weeks is how long it’s been since I’ve posted.

That’s because the past 21 days have been FUCKED. UP.

So instead of posting, I’ve been escaping into books.  Christine Feehan, Alex somebody or other, Kay Hooper, Richard North Patterson have all been on my  reading list lately.  Now most of them are in the bathroom floor because I normally read in the tub.

My bathroom looks like this: dirty laundry, dirty laundry, basket of soaps, stack of books, stool (the kind you stand on), stack of books, basket of bubble baths, books… It’s a really tiny bathroom too, so most of the floor is taken up by a big bamboo rug so it’s not like the books are TOUCHING the floor.  They’re just sort of near it.

It’s not gay unless balls are touching, right?

Reading is my drug basically because if you need to escape from life, no one will yell at you for reading.  People are SUPPOSED to read!  It makes brain cells instead of destroying them.  Right?

On the reasons for needing an escape, it’s pretty much because life has sucked balls for a little bit.  It’s all working out now and it’s all ending up to be for the best but as all of us parents of special-needs children know – everyone wants a say in how you parent your kids.

I’m trying to decide how much to share. While I firmly believe that my life experiences could help someone who needs to know they aren’t alone, I also need to make sure the family is safe and doesn’t feel embarrassment or shame.

3 weeks ago Chickpea went through a panic stage.  We know what the trigger was – there’s a teacher who she got abnormally attached to who went to have surgery.  Suddenly, that security blanket she had at school was gone and she started having a series of panic attacks and she self-harms.  Then things got blown out of proportion by the school and we ended up having to be scrutinized by DFCS again… just like when we were foster parents.  I may as well just keep writing the reports that we used back then so that when they want to call on us I already have all the paperwork ready. *rolls eyes*  Here I thought we were regaining some privacy.

The past 3 weeks have been spent in therapy dealing with these things – what was just  series of flashbacks in one of the kids has now turned into a totally new trauma for all 3 that threatens our “forever family.”  (Like my kids believe in forever… yeah, right.) Thank God for the kids’ treatment center because they were able to give us advice and make sure the damage to the kids’ was minimized.

It still causes all these… emotions… in me that the kids had to go through this AGAIN.  Fear, panic, shock, anger, more fear, stress, grief,  more fear, and then whole lots of fear.  I just feel so unsettled like maybe I’m the crazy one in this equation.  Then when other things that have nothing to do with these events happen, it just turns into the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Migraine?  *SOBS* Problems with my parents and siblings? *SOBS* Shaun had a rough day at work? *SOBS* It’s going to snow? *SOBS*

Everything now really is looking up.  The mail-order pharmacy finally got figured out and mailed me a 90 day supply of my medication.  I visited Best Buy to pick up some stuff and ended up leaving without being mad at the employees and with the stuff we needed to get. I got my Levenger order and I’m setting up daily diaries for the kids.  I have plans with my mom to go to a ballet with Chickpea and everyone is very excited.

And I’m ready for the next Kay Hooper book in this series.  Sanity is good so I’m going to try and hold on to it.  Bibliophilia saves another brain!





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.





concentric circles

25 01 2010

With everything that’s been going on, lately I’ve been feeling like my world is getting smaller.  I know January is a tough month on a lot of people – it’s too cold, no one has their tax return yet, it’s post-holiday stress, etc…

Basically, it sucks balls.

For a while, I’ve felt like these 4 walls in my bedroom were not only my comfort but my prison.  I really only leave the house to drop off or pick up the kids and sometimes on Saturdays I go to the store.  Emerging into the chaos that is outside this room and outside this house is terrifying.

But lately, there’s been chaos in here too.

I’ve never been one to be able to sit in the house all day even if I did have stuff to do in the house.  It’s only been the past year that I’ve even considered myself a homebody.  It used to be that staying in one place too long made me crazy – that even sitting in a restaurant after dinner was finished made me antsy.

Now I go for days with coming out of the bedroom for a few minutes at a time.  This is so unlike me and I don’t like this new “sits down all day” person at all.

I know how it happened – within 6 months, we adopted our children then I had surgery then the pain still wasn’t gone and this winter has been crazy with sickness, weather changes, terrible migraines and body pain, and basically trying to relearn how to be a family under the “new rules.”

What happened is that my tree got too top heavy and fell over in the storm.  Now, I’ve had to prune it quite a bit so that it’s basically sticks and replant it and give it time to form new roots.

I probably won’t bloom this year and that’s ok.  No loving gardener would expect me to.  I’ll grow some leaves but I probably won’t flower or fruit.  I’ve got to get myself stable so that I can stand up.

Here’s my plan to stability:

1.  Stop expecting myself to make fruit right away.  Sure, I’ve born fruit in the past but this has been a hell of a storm.  If I pop right out like TA-DA! and try and be the person I was before everything happened, I’m just going to fall over again.

2.  Keep reminding myself that weakness is not a sin.  Sure, it’s inconvenient and maybe shit won’t get done but that’s ok.  Nothing serious is going to happen because I’ve got to be propped up for a while.

3.  Start with my inner circle – the room I spend most of my time in.  It’s not a prison, it’s my sanctuary.  Besides, it’s little so even if I can’t conquer the world right now, I can conquer my own little room.

4.  Next, the family home.  Once my sanctuary is right, I can start rebuilding the way the home functions.  I’m an organizer – it’s what I do naturally.  Not just material things, but personal things too.  This will be fixing my relationships with my family and relearning how to make it work.  This is going to be the hardest step.

5.  Start reforming the sphere of influence – basically, re-bond with the people who influence the lives of my family.  Friends, teachers, therapists, doctors, the internet, etc…

6.  ?????

7.  PROFIT!

I’m not going to do anything drastic like leave the internet or stop with my hobbies because that would just make the steps harder.  I’ve got to do this gradually – the little bits that add up to a whole lot.  I’ve got to make sure version 2.9 is stable before 3.0 is released with much fanfare.  Right?

Anyways, this will probably take just around a year.  I turned 29 13 days ago so my goal is to have green roots at least extended into the ground by the time I’m 30.

What do you think?





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.