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?





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!





your hard work is about to pay off

11 10 2009

I’m consolidating all the little “do this” lists that are on my workstation, and I just found a fortune from a fortune cookie:

your hard work is about to pay off

God, I hope so.  I’m so damn tired.  I’ve been trying to stay upbeat and focus on the blessings instead of the distance we still have to go, but it’s so fucking HARD.

We’ve had some major breakthroughs these past couple of weeks with regards to LJ’s therapy.  He’s finally starting to talk about what happened to him at the group home he was in.  He’s been doing therapy two or three times a week since there was a BIG ISSUE and he finally started to talk about it while we were dealing with the BIG ISSUE.

It’s really too much to know… I couldn’t imagine living with that secret inside me, thinking that terrible things would happen if I told.  Now that I know part of the “secret” its hard to see it in a non-emotional way.  I’ve counseled and mentored sexually abused children for what seems like forever and this is by no means the worst I’ve heard.  It’s a fairly common story.

It is really just hitting me hard.  This is MY kid.  MINE.  I could decimate every person or circumstance that enabled this to happen.  I could sit down and cry for a week.  Neither Shaun nor I are able to sleep without nightmares and we’re always listening through the baby monitor because he’s been having nightmares.

Thank God for our therapy group, though.  This center has been the absolute best place.  They deal with foster and adopted kids, and they know the system.  They also haven’t lost their ideals.  This isn’t the first time they’ve had to report to the state about something that’s come up in therapy and mostly it goes without ever being checked out, but this time they flipped shit.  The proprietors involved with running the home didn’t seem to care one way or another what was going on.  They actually said that LJ was “a damaged, retarded kid” and was probably lying. (This is from the home that had him classified as autistic and mentally retarded.  He’s not autistic and his IQ is in the 120s.)

When this asshole said that to the lady who runs our local center, she… well… the Bible says “vengeance be mine, saith the Lord” but God sometimes subcontracts.  I would not willingly set foot in her path while she’s pissed off – and I’m one of those people who would stare down a hurricane.  So, now the COO of the national treatment center is making a report to the group that runs the DHR – which is over DFCS.

(Yes, this is the same home that called DFCS on me because of a facebook status where one of my friends joked that I was a dominatrix.  Didn’t you know that I’m a harlot because I have short hair, wear makeup, and have tattoos?  Well, I am, and that means any sort of deviance from the straight and narrow means I’m a BLASPHEMER!!!! AND OMG, I HAVE KNEE HIGH BLACK BOOTS!!!  I’m obviously a tool for the Devil himself and my facebook updates should never go unnoticed.)

So, back to LJ.  He seems happy during the day – almost carefree.  He’s a very somber kid so this is really a shock.  He has gone back to soiling his drawers and hiding them, throwing tantrums, and forgetting personal space b0undaries.  It’s expected… it’s not acceptable behavior, but it’s expected.

We’ve been talking a lot about what to do when you have scary memories that seem real.  (PTSD flashbacks, for us grown folks.)  We talk about how to get to a safe place physically where you can’t hurt yourself or other people, and then find someone who you can tell about it.  I told him the important thing is to talk.  It doesn’t matter who – and we’re not going to spread it around like “oooh, guess what LJ remembers!”  He just needs to get it out before he does something stupid.

We also have been talking a lot about other people having scary memories that seem real.  A (chickpea) has flashbacks during October and last year scared the living hell out of LJ, so this year we’re talking about how its normal for people who remember scary things to have this happen and also what to do if a flashback does happen.

I’ve had to tamp down most of the talk about Halloween.  LJ is so excited about it, but because he was separated from chickpea for so long he doesn’t realize what Halloween means to her.  Her little brain learned the routine: dress up for Halloween, get candy, eat dinner with family, then get sent to live with a new mommy.  She LOVES pumpkins and getting dressed up and the pretty colored leaves, but she gets so amped up thinking that she’s about to have to leave again.  She’ll get in trouble and scream “I’m bad so I have to go to a new house!”  I told her that I’m much worse than she is and I’m not in a new house yet.  If she doubts it, she can ask Grandmommy and Grandpa exactly how bad I was.  So, we’ve been talking a lot about how adoption means she’s my kid forever and how hard we worked to get her and that no one was taking her without a fight.  A very messy, nasty fight.

It seems like we’ve talked about good touch/bad touch 500 million times and its still an issue.  We’ve talked about “games” that predators play to make a kid think its ok to touch each other, we’ve talked about safety plans, we’ve talked about the rules that we have to have while they’re having scary memories… we’ve talked about secrets and about personal space and being respectful.

We’ve talked our little throats hoarse and still, we have to keep going “omg, wtf” then keep on saying it.  One of these times it will sink in and hopefully be remembered.

And E… poor little guy.  He’s taking a lot of crap from LJ and chickpea during this and he’s getting so mad.  He’s 4, but the size of most 7 year olds.  He doesn’t know how to process all this drama right now, so he’s acting out and destroying things.  He’s yelling and kicking and throwing tantrums.  He’s stealing food and lying.  Gah… It’s hard to even work with a 60 lb preschooler, much less try and peel him off the ceiling.

Next on my list is to write a post on my post-op appt with my OBGYN.  I won’t put it here because it’s absolutely not male friendly.





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!





IEPs, EKGs, pre-ops and pre-school

12 08 2009

I finally figured out how to use RSS feeds and it’s great stuff!  My brain is so off right now. Thank God for Google making everything easier.

The pre-op appt with my primary care doctor went fine yesterday.  My pulse was high (105) which is normal for me.  My BP was so low the machine couldn’t read it, which is normal for me.  I weighed in at 129 lbs which is NOT NORMAL for me.  That’s about 10 lbs heavier than normal.  My EKG was fine and just showed the high pulse – which was normal for me.  So, the only thing that was worrisome is my weight and that’s probably from the endo and the fibroma that the ultrasound tech inflamed.  Dr. H said she’d send all her recommendations to the surgeon and said that I may need to spend some extra time on IV antibiotics just so we don’t have to worry about endocarditis.   My mom had endocarditis last year and that was SCARY.

This morning I walked out of the bedroom – in freaking huge amounts of pain – in search of coffee before the kids got up.  All the kids were up though – and both boys immediately said “Alyssa is stealing food and it’s all under the couch.”  She had eaten 3 peanut and granola bars, a box of raisins, and hidden several other granola bars and snacks under the couch.  She not only had the evidence all over her and caked in her teeth, but told me that she did not do it – that it was Ethan who did it all.  LJ said “that’s a lie.  She was trying to force Ethan to eat some raisins.”  I checked E out and he had minty fresh toothpaste breath and so did LJ.  Grrrrr….

None of us got much sleep last night due to the storms and power outages so everyone was cranky this morning.  E just got sent back to bed for throwing the mother of all tantrums, of all things, so I’m thinking I’m going to take a nap too.  It was so adorable last night.  I walked in with the flashlight to check on the babies and Alyssa had shot straight up out of bed.  She says in her little pumpkin voice “Mommy, I’m scared of lightning.”  She came out to the couch and laid down in between me and Shaun and went right to sleep.  She had her head on Daddy’s lap and her feet snuggled up to Mommy and apparently that’s all it takes to make lightning irrelevant.  I held the flashlight in between my knees and kept crocheting.  I finished another washcloth and have been working on some dish towels to match.  When the power came back on, we were able to get A back to bed and I was able to go to bed too.

So, this morning I had to go meet with the school because they were offering food as rewards in her classroom and had basically told me I couldn’t regulate what she ate there.  I was going to let it go yesterday, but she’s not acting with her brain right now.  This is pure instinct.  I spoke with the school vice principal and it went so well.  Not only can I regulate her diet, I can VERY specifically regulate it.  We have an IEP (individual education plan) set up for Monday so that the school psychologist, the counselor, the principal and vice principal and her teachers all agree – in writing – to meet certain goals.  I also let the vp know that I didn’t think the teachers and lunch room manager had taken me seriously when I talked to them last week.  She HAS to be watched at all times.  We are under a 24/7 safety plan with her because she self-harms.  If she can’t stuff her face, she pulls out hair and cuts herself.  She lies like she breathes and people fall all over themselves to give her things.

They see an adorable little 5 year old.  They don’t see how scared she is that she’s going to be rejected, hurt, beaten, sexually abused, and starved.  They don’t see that she’s had to build up these defenses just to survive and that we’re working every single day to build trust and reassurance that she’s safe.  So, the vice principal understood and I told her that I have all the documentation they need to keep the school covered to follow what I’m asking for.  That we need to make sure that she knows that school isn’t a different “life” than home – that school and home co-exist and the rules don’t change.  They need to make sure that every word and action she sees (she is hyper-vigilant about observing people) reinforces the therapy plan that’s in place.  Right now, they’re thinking we’re way too strict.  Most people do.    They don’t realize the safety the kids get from knowing the steadfast rules and routines.  I have letters from therapists and psychologists, letters from doctors from Emory, years of reports and information, safety plans… we’re trained to be strict because that’s what the kids need.

We weren’t able to get E into a public pre-K (that I approved of) this year so he’s on a waiting list at the same school Alyssa is going to.  Until then, I’m the pre-k teacher!  It’s a good thing I bought the curriculum last year when A was having so many troubles in pre-K that we had to take her out.  He’s so angry that he’s not going to school this year so it may be hit and miss with getting him to sit down for a structured “class time. ”  I have yet to be successful at it but I’ll keep trying.  He already knows all the stuff anyways, he just plays dumb to see if people are paying attention.

Oh well, in 8 days, it will be Mom’s problem to play pre-K teacher and taxi driver.  She raised me and my siblings successfully so she’ll fit right in to the role.  She told me last time she watched the kids “they don’t listen very well.”  That’s crazily funny because they listen 100x better than normal kids – even better than my nephew who lives in her house.  It’s just they aren’t military brats like we were.  From the moment of birth, we knew you not only accepted the routine and chain of command, but thought it was the most natural thing on earth.

It will be interesting and fun to watch.  I’ll have to charge up the video camera and see how she handles it.  She still thinks I’m nuts for adopting three kids – but then again, if you mention her 3 kids, she gets this terrified look on her face and says “I never planned that.”   It’s great fun because she’s so incredibly good at being a mom – she just has no patience for being challenged as alpha female and she’s probably the most stubborn woman on the planet.  I was informed (yes, informed) yesterday that I was going to bring the kids to church after Amber’s birthday party because they were having a puppet show.  I asked if it was going to be one of those creepy “sin and you go to HELL” puppet shows and she said she didn’t know, she just wanted her grandbabies there.  She wants to show them off but she’s too stubborn to admit that she’s super-proud of them.  It’s so damn cute!





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?  😀





boundaries, part 2

28 07 2009

The kids had therapy last night and Shaun brought up the stuff I talked about here.  Apparently, we’re not the first people to complain about that nurse or to feel like she stepped way out of line.  The therapists had another point I hadn’t considered: her job is to take vital signs to make sure the doctor can figure the right dosage of medication.  Period.

Shaun sat down with the therapists for a while to fill them in on what’s been going on with the kids.  It’s a lot and we asked them to make some changes in their strategies with the kids.

A seems to think that therapy is for her entertainment and after she gets home from it, her behavior for about 2 days after is unbelievably bad.  I feel sorry for her therapist because she’s being manipulated big time by a 5 year old.  A has been doing the “I’ll go along with what you say to do so we can get down to the playing part” to perfection.  She doesn’t need to hear about good touch, bad touch again.  She knows it word for word.  She’s just letting the therapist go through it again because it’s easier.  Absolutely ZERO goes into application when she gets home.  She acts like she’s the shit and a bag of chips.  She’s got an ego bigger than Kanye’s.  Listen to Mom?  Why?  She’s way too smart for that listening to mom crap.

LJ is the grand-master of passive aggressive.  Open defiance would be easier for me to deal with but this whiny crap gets on my last nerve.  He’s been throwing tantrums too, and for a kid my size, that’s just ridiculous.  It’s back to where it was last year before he moved in – the chauvinistic little boy who should be spoiled by mom, not disciplined by mom.  At least he’s not regressed with the encopresis any further.

I’ve got to go sign A up for school today and I almost want them to assign her to the most strict, hard-ass teacher they can find.  Someone who is like 100 years old and seen every kind of little bad ass possible – twice.   I have a feeling I’d be shooting myself in the foot on that one though.  We’ll just leave teacher assignments up to fate.

The rest of it though, is a struggle to the last!  Have no doubt, I’ll come out on top.  It’s my job as Mommy!





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!