This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bear, then and now

Bear came to us in November 2006 (picture on left). He was a very angry kid who kept everything bottled up inside - until it exploded (almost monthly). When he was stuffing things inside, he showed no emotions at all (not happiness, fear, or anger). He was like a volcano though - you could see the emotions - turned to anger - seething underneath. He told everyone he loved them, but had no idea what that meant. Bear came to us with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and a list of other diagnoses - some of which we've discovered since were inaccurate. His symptoms overlapped so many possible diagnoses and he was a very damaged "little" boy. At 5'9" and 200+ lbs he was very scary and intimidating most of the time.

The picture on the right is Bear the day after his adoption on his 15th birthday.

After 8 months of hurting himself, attacking Hubby, and scaring/intimidating the whole family so much that most of us had symptoms of PTSD. In one last attack on Hubby, D was accidentally given a minor injury, causing an investigation of Hubby for child abuse. While they were investigating BOTH Bear and Kitty were removed from our home and put in respite care. I can't tell you how much this set back Kitty's attachment therapy - even though they were only out of our home for one week, because their amazing Nebraska caseworker threw everything she had at Texas. It was the fastest investigation anyone had ever seen! The kids were back in our home in less than one week.

We didn't know what to do with Bear though. We were not allowed to restrain him, even if he attacked us. We were not allowed to let him escalate at all, which since he needed to escalate to vent off the pressure of all that seething anger - was an almost impossible task. We ended up basically medicinally restraining him until an opening in a residential treatment center opened up. Bear began taking mega doses of Depakote - which basically turned him into a zombie. At one point we asked him if he wanted to have his medications reduced, and he said No. I think Bear was afraid of his anger too.

Bear went into a residential treatment center with a strong neurological component. They took him off several of the medications he was on (not the Depakote!), and changed his diagnoses from RAD, PTSD, Conduct Disorder and Mood Disorder to

Bipolar Disorder
Cerebral Dysrythmia (which for him is brain damage that effects his memory and learning)
and they left the RAD on there.

They almost released him while he was still on the Depakote, but we insisted it be removed before he was released. This let some more of his issues come out and he ended up staying another couple of months. When he finally did leave Meridell he was on so many medications that it was pretty overwhelming. He was even on some medications to deal with the side effects of other medications. However, he was a changed kid.

We were afraid to trust it right away, but the lava was gone. He still has tons of issues, is rough around the edges, and is a teenage boy with a horrible past, but he's no longer out of control. We waited another six months to be sure, but this was a boy who could be part of our home. We adopted him one day before his fifteenth birthday. He's now MY pink loving, Superman cape wearing, goober. Just as weird as all the rest of us.


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