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!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

My first award!

I got an award!! I've never gotten to do one of these before. Thank you Lovely Laynie!

LOL! I got this from 2 of my friends. Thank you Super Sheri! You guys have both made me happy!

Edited to add: 3 friends!! Thank you Mom 4 Kids at The Land of the Loo-Loos! I can't wait to read your blog.

The Happy 101 rules are as follows:

List 10 things that make you happy and try to do one of them today. Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day. For those 10 bloggers who get the award, link back to my blog and create a list of things that make you happy.

1. Hugs and kisses from my little ones. Bob gives me the sweetest little kisses at bedtime (after making me crazy all day). Ponito runs up to me and gives the best hugs several times a day.

2. Cuddling with my kids. Kitty has started sitting next to me and leaning in - real cuddling!

3. Cuddling with Hubby - watching movies on date night and snuggling with Hubby.

4. Reading blogs written by my amazing "friends" and list serves

5. Reading trashy romance novels or funny fantasies while taking a long hot bath after the kids are all asleep

6. Giving advice - hopefully good advice

7. Blogging and Comment love!

8. Finding a great bargain at a thrift store

9. Finding a flattering outfit that fits perfectly and makes me feel good about myself

10. Baking and cooking something that is healthy but the kids give me compliments and enjoy it

This is the hard part! I read a huge multitude of blogs and there are so many friends out there who make me happy, but many of them have already received this from others or they don't have blogs. Here goes!

Kristina at Pulsipher Predilection - you always make me laugh!!

Becky at Mom to my AngelBabies - Something else to make you happy I hope!

Lorraine at Random thoughts from the Fuller House - maybe this will inspire you to post Lorraine! *grin* Since I'm not on Facebook I miss you!

Ryan's mom at This Side of the Ditch - I'm enjoying our conversations.

Heather at Strong in the Broken Places - you need a chance to think about happy things!

Lulu at What Now? Adopting teens is hard, but you make it look effortless. You inspire me!

Theresa at We May Not Have it All Together - You inspire me too!

Queen Mommy at My Radical Family - I want to hear more from you!

Crayon at Foster Care Excursion - I hope you get some foster kids soon.

Linda at Faith Makes Things Possible Not Easy - I'm really enjoying reading your posts!

CJ at Perspective RAD - I love reading your blog and seeing things from your perspective.

Hartley at Hartley's Life with 3 Boys - I've just discovered your blog and am loving using my 7 senses!

Unspeakable Joy at RADical Adventures - because you deserve this for dealing with those lovely RAD rages!

Rachel at Rejoicing in Hope - thank you for making me laugh!

Robin at Robin's Nest - That new baby will be here soon, I just know it!

Struggling to Stand at Sometimes God Does Give You More Than You Can Handle - You deserve some extra happiness. I hope you get it from this!

Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan - the clips and quips make me laugh!

Jillybean at Thou Shalt Not Whine - LOL!!

Edited to add: Ursula at Under Scarlet Bird's Wing - who I just "met," but who deserves an award! You deserve happiness. Ursula, please be nicer to my friend Ursula!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


"He’s only 11, has killed animals, violent to other children, and
runs away from home often. Melissa and Tony Wescott are afraid of
him. So afraid in fact, they are trying to change Oklahoma law, so they
can return him. He has tried to burn the house down, leaving a note which
said, >so sorry you had to die<. He has even hidden butcher knives under his mattress…. The Wescotts adopted the boy in 2007."

This is such a sad story, and causing a lot of debate in the adoption community. A lot of people are strongly against the family trying to return their son to the state. Unfortunately this situation is not uncommon. I admit I'm playing a bit of devil's advocate here.


Once the adoption is final this child is considered a biochild and the fact that the family is trying to dissolve that is causing a lot of anger. According to articles, the family insists that not being told in advance about his severe behavior issues justifies his return.

Yes, staying with the adoptive parents is first priority, but it's also not always possible or in the child's best interest. Some children are just not able to live in families. This is a severely disturbed child and if Oklahoma is anything like Texas there are no options for residential treatment or somewhere safe for him, unless you can pay out of pocket - the residential treatmentBear went to was $800/day and our private insurance only paid for 4 days. We were incredibly lucky that he was from a state that was willing to pay for it and his adoption was not final yet.

This family fear for their lives. They are afraid to take him home, while at the same time they are up against federal charges of abandonment if they don't. If they managed to get the diagnoses mentioned, then I'm assuming they have already had to fight and advocate for him - these are not easy diagnoses to get, and he definitely did not come with them.

This boy has probably not hit puberty yet. He has permanent brain damage. This family is fighting for his needs as well as their own.

My guess is that even if he were bio they would still be trying to find services for him, and failing.

Services just aren't out there, and parents aren't getting
the information and support they need.

I can't blame this family for trying to force the state to help them. At this point I would guess they are desperate. Many of my friends with severely disturbed children have been put in this horrible situation.

And how many people fight everyday to get post-adoption services and support and not get it?

Our family didn't qualify for post-adoption services because we adopted out of state. Even if we'd adopted TX kids, what our state offers is pitiful (no RTC for sure!). I'd bet this family tried that route like I did and got nowhere. Maybe this was the only way they saw to go forward or maybe this was just the way the press decided to twist it. They might also have decided to try a new angle (returning the child) since the other (forcing the state to provide adequate services)obviously doesn't work. I see this as a desperate way to get some help.

We have been able to access a lot of the services we need, but I know we're lucky. Most of our son's issues were from his undiagnosed/untreated bipolar disorder - we were able to get him diagnosed and properly medicated at an RTC while he was still technically a foster child. A lot of his issues were treatable by meds - he doesn't have FASD and isn't a psychopath (and hopefully will never become one). We feel very lucky.

I have a good friend who isn't so lucky. She adopted from another country (so no post adoptive services). Her son has issues that meds won't fix. She has no way to keep him or her family safe and couldn't afford the expensive RTC that does neurological testing that we used. She has had to basically give up all her parental rights to get him the services he needs, and she is lucky that was an option, although she doesn't feel lucky.

Many people criticize this family for not treating their son like a biokid.

How many people are fighting to get services for biokids too and not getting it? My kids biomom was already mentally ill and traumatized when she went into foster care at age 14, but she did not get the support or therapy she needed. Technically the state made her worse and perpetuated the cycle - does that make them responsible? In my opinion yes.

Biomom allowed her children to be victims of trauma and domestic violence (because of her own illness and trauma), but she also tried to get them help. My kids are mentally ill some of which was genetic, some caused by their traumatic childhoods. She was unable to get the services they needed.

I think everyone agrees the system is horribly broken. I'm assuming this family is just trying to find a way to cope. If this child were an adult we would not expect his family to take him in when he obviously tried to murder them, but the state says it's different because he's a child. If this child really were bio would we react the same way? He killed animals and tried to murder his family! I think this hit the media mostly because he is adopted.

Families, bio or not, are not given alternatives. Assuming you can even get them in, many programs are only a year long. Some programs decide to send a kid home if the child is "not participating" or they feel they "can't help" the child. For my RAD kids they didn't show the RAD behaviors in residential treatment or even much in foster care, because RAD, by definition, is against family and people who dare to try to love them. Kitty was described as the sweetest kid the caseworker had on her caseload. Always a smile and a hug. My daughter's school thinks I'm crazy because she's so sweet and quiet.

Is the state responsible because they lied about the boy's issues?

He was described as “respectful toward authority” and “makes friends easily.” The papers say he has no “significant behavioral problems which would be considered abnormal for a child his age.”

Did they lie? It's possible that even though the child was older (age 9) the state really didn't know he had RAD, especially if they moved him frequently (honeymoon periods with new families). When my children were diagnosed the caseworker and even their former therapist were shocked. Kitty was diagnosed as having "attachment issues" understandable considering her circumstances. I don't think they lied to me anyway. Did they lie to this family? I don't know.

How could any family give their child back?

Our whole family experienced PTSD from dealing with our son when he was at his most violent. If we hadn't been able to get him the help he needed to keep the family safe we would have had to "give him back." We didn't finalize the adoption for almost 2 years because we were lucky enough to see this coming before it was too late - otherwise we could not have afforded the help he needed.

There are still days when I think about sending him back. Days when the lying, stealing and intimidation get to me. The physical aggression has mostly stopped though so we will most likely do what a lot of other parents with kids with severe RAD and FASD do - wait until the child is 18 and we are no longer legally liable. We will not kick our son out, we will not have to he'll run.

So what can we do?

There are some places that are trying to fix the system. One that is close to my heart is Advocates for Children of Trauma. It's located here in TX and the founder is an amazing man who I am lucky to consider a friend. He has a child with severe RAD (among other issues). She's a biochild, but was raised by her drug addicted mother and he didn't know she existed until the damage was done. He is very aware of how broken the system is, and is working hard to fix it.

I don't know that I think there is an answer, but we can't stop trying. I would have said a college student donating $10K for an ambulance in Haiti was impossible. I would have said finding people to match that $10K in today's economy right before Christmas was impossible too, but we know that it isn't. What can people do when they put their mind to it? I have hope!

Anyway, I hope I'm not coming off as arguing with anyone. I know I'm obviously preaching to the choir. I just wanted a chance to talk about this as it is obviously close to my heart!

Kitty talks

In more than three years of therapy, Kitty has NEVER complained or said anything negative about Bear. She's always denied remembering that he hurt her physically when they were younger living in the birth family. Last week though she finally made a negative comment about Bear. Something about how he's mean. So this week I asked her to talk about it.

The dam was broken.

We talked about how Bear is intimidating and pressuring Kitty. All the kids know not to let Bear borrow their stuff because he keeps and/or breaks it. Apparently on yesterday's trip, Bear was bugging Kitty to loan him her headphones because his were broken (these are the ones he got for Christmas on Friday by the way!). Kitty said no. Bear kept asking. Kitty said no repeatedly, but finally gave in. On the condition that Bear not leave the car with them. Bear left the car with them anyway.

Bear asked to see her phone so he could play games on it. Kitty said no. Ponito asked if he could play with the phone. Kitty said no. Bear asked again. Kitty said no. Bear said he'd give back the headphones if Kitty let him use the phone. Kitty said no (way to go Kitty!). Bear talked Kitty into letting Ponito play with the phone. Then took it from Ponito.

Kitty finally said she wanted to see the phone for a second and got it back. She told Bear the battery was low, and she wanted to use the camera on their trip.

I asked Kitty why she gave in to Bear. She admitted it was because he scared her. We talked about the fact that Bob doesn't give in to Bear. Kitty said that is because Bob is bigger than Bear. I pointed out that when Bear first got here, Bob wasn't bigger than he was, but she still stood up to him. We talked about the fact that Bear was never allowed to physically hurt Bob so Bob isn't afraid of him.

I was trying to point out that Bear doesn't hurt Kitty anymore, and she's safe now, but that's when I learned that he still does.

Right before Christmas I'd left the kids in the car while I ran in to a shop. According to Kitty she was messing with the reading light buttons on the car ceiling, and refused to stop when Bear asked her to, and refused to stop when he told her to, and refused to stop... until he kicked her. He threatened her so she wouldn't "tattle," but she knew it wasn't tattling. Still she didn't tell on him because she's scared of him.*

She stressed that this came out in therapy, and therefore we couldn't confront Bear on it. We'll honor that. We talked about what she could do. She said she wanted to learn to stand up to him. Later I told her that I have decided that I will keep her safe by not letting Bear be alone with her (or Ponito). We'll go to assigned seating in the car and Bear will only be allowed to sit next to Bob. I let Grandma know that this is happening so she can keep a better eye on him.

School starts again next Tuesday. Work is closed Thursday and Friday for New Years so Hubby will be home on those days. If Bear gives even a hint of trouble he'll be going to work with me and/or Hubby again.

Deep breath Hubby (not that he reads my blog), but I know that he's feeling yet another layer of stress.

*I take some of this story with a grain of salt, because I know the kids tell stories that are skewed by their perception.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Should have known better

I should have known better than to say things are doing well! Actually even though I bragged about Kitty in therapy today and how well she's handling chores, after which she had a minor meltdown because I'm "picky and evil" when it comes to making the kids do chores completely and at least semi-well, she didn't have a total meltdown. Just a minor one, which she was able to recover from without me.

When she was obviously going to continue to escalate and yell at me and not get her chores done, I told her to go outside and walk, but she pointed out it was too cold, so I suggested she go to her room - and she did! She stormed and slammed, but then came back down a little while later. Very calm, and she hugged me and apologized. Then accepted correction and finished chores!!! Did you read that? She accepted more "criticism" and finished the chores!

All in all a great accomplishment.

The girls have to have $20 cards to start service for their new cell phones. Grandma (who is wonderful) told them that if they helped paint the garage this afternoon she would pay them $20. Grandma thought all the kids had new phones instead of just the girls and had divided the garage into 4 parts (it's a big garage). Ponito said he'd rather go play at a neighbor's house and he didn't want the money. Bear of course did, but I don't want Bear to have money, plus he still owes me about 14 hours of "community service" so I told him he needed to help, but his time would go toward his community service.

Bear said he had something to spend his money on (Christmas presents for an unspecified someone). I reminded him that he couldn't earn extra money until his debts were paid. (I don't have a lot of sympathy for him at this point - he could have easily finished these community service hours months ago). Bear said he was busy taking down the outside Christmas decorations when I called the kids to start painting. I told him I wanted him to do the painting instead, and that's when he said something rude (I don't even remember what it was - something along the lines of, "I don't care what you want.").

Bear'd said something similar yesterday on his way out the door with Grandma and the other kids to go play at the park and go to the zoo with Grandma and Poppy and I let him get away with it. It wasn't until I was telling Hubby and he asked me why I let him go that I suddenly realized he was right (not always on the ball am I? Oh well.). So today I instantly started putting my shoes and coat on, told Bear (who'd walked back in the house and into another room -completely ignoring me) to grab something to read (he didn't). He didn't say a word or ask any questions, he just got in the car. In the way back seat (I didn't realized he'd already been heading there until I'd said something).

Cold silence all the way to work. Bear walked in (held the door for me?!), walked into the unlit conference room and lay down. I walked on and found Hubby. Told him what was going on, including a conversation with Kitty in therapy that morning (see next post) and left. On my way out Hubby was already heading to Bear to have a conversation (apparently lasted about an hour, but Bear was pretty monosyllabic.

When Hubby and Bear got home that evening Bear gave me a hug and said he was sorry. That was fine. I hate letting Hubby decide what discipline to use though, because Bear was then allowed to get on the computer where he sat for almost 2 hours (limit is 45 minutes), and Hubby didn't do anthing. I reminded Bear (and Hubby) several times, but Bear claimed he had to finish a project for ROTC that was due when school started. Bear has put off doing his evening chores to work on the computer (longer than time allowed) about 3 days in a row. Last couple of nights he hasn't done his load of dishes at all. Tonight he was finished about 10 minutes after bedtime.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best Christmas Ever!

At least according to everyone but Bear.

Kitty wearing her new arm warmers (hot pink with skulls), and fake hair piece with both red and black hair, looking at her new skull watch and matching earrings, and fun colors of nail polish.

Favorite gift: My sis gave her a pay as you go cell phone (with my approval), her new stereo came a distant second. She's wearing the arm warmers every day though.

Bob decked out in her new hair bands, PJs, arm warmers and tights (are they called tights when they only come mid-thigh? or in the case of my 5'11 1/4" daughter, just above the knee). This is how the girls greeted me Christmas morning. They're soooo silly! (and I love it!)

Favorite gift: Also her cell phone, but we gave her my old laptop and she's enjoying that a lot. The cell phones cost $20 to activate so the girls are having fun playing with the camera and setting up ring tones. Not sure when they'll be able to afford minutes.

Ponito got all "active boy" gifts. The Ripstick appears to be his favorite gift. Not sure why the camera did this funny thing with this package that makes it look like it's glowing, but it sure is cool!

Bear is bummed. He's jealous of all the other kids' gifts. He got what he asked for... mostly. "Smelly stuff" - cologne and body wash and stuff, a black cowboy hat, some clothes, DVDs of sport movies (I watched Gridiron Gang with him, good movie, but violent!!). Santa gave him a camera which wasn't on his list, and his grandparents got him a new MP3 player to replace the one he claims was stolen.

But it makes him insane that the girls get phones and he doesn't. He wants his old tracphone, and doesn't understand why he can't have it. Hubby will be having a long conversation with him about how stealing a cell phone and an iPod within the last month or so doesn't exactly make us trust him, and therefore this is his fault/problem.

Hubby supervising it all. No, he's not in his undies. His shorts are just riding up a little. That's OK with me. One of the main reasons I married him was for his legs! I know, I know - TMI!

Ooh! And the fact that he makes homemade rolls!

AND the fact that he puts up with silly kids when they do stuff like this!

AND the fact that he still loves me even though I look like this

instead of like this.

One Flaw In Women

One Flaw In Women
Women have strengths that amaze men....
They bear hardships and they carry burdens,
but they hold happiness, love and joy.
They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy
and laugh when they are nervous.
They fight for what they believe in.
They stand up to injustice.
They don't take "no" for an answer
when they believe there is a better solution.
They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel
and cheer when their friends get awards.
They are happy when
they hear about a birth or a wedding.
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member,
yet they are strong when they
think there is no strength left.
They know that a hug and a kiss
can heal a broken heart.
Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail
you to show how much they care about you.
The heart of a woman is what
makes the world keep turning.
They bring joy, hope and love.
They have compassion and ideas.
They give moral support to their
family and friends.
Women have
vital things to say and everything to give.

HOWEVER, IF THERE IS ONE FLAW IN WOMEN, IT IS THAT THEY FORGET THEIR WORTH. Please pass this along to all your women friends and relatives to remind them just how amazing they are.

Friday, December 25, 2009

New Traditions

New Traditions - guess that's an oxymoron.

I love the traditions we have now. Three gifts like Jesus received. Jesus' birthday on Christmas Eve complete with presents to Jesus and cake. Christmas Eve presents (book and PJs). Unwrapped Santa gift, and waiting until parents are awake to open the rest of the presents one by one. I love the silly clues I write on each child's present and making them guess what's inside. Cinnamon roll braided Christmas tree - yum!!
This year we tweaked a little.

We tried a new variation on Jesus's birthday cake (can't see the layers in this picture). Didn't taste good, but next year it will. *grin* I guess it was more along the lines of an Easter cake, but I liked it better than just a plain old birthday cake. The bottom layer of the cake is chocolate with chocolate frosting for our sins. The next layer is strawberry for the blood Jesus sheds for us. The top layer is vanilla, colored with green food coloring for the everlasting life he gave us. The top two layers covered with white frosting to symbolize our new purity. And that's covered with multi-colored sprinkles to symbolize joy and celebration nothing, we just wanted yummy sprinkles!

After writing our presents to Jesus, I read them out loud, and then we prayed. The kids initiated going around in circle and praying about what we are thankful for (is this starting to sound like we're getting our holidays mixed up - Thanksgiving, Easter, birthday, Christmas...??).

Anyway, this was a great Christmas. I'm only mildly dreading the next week and a half of the kids being home from school.

Merry Christmas Y'all!

I think this was one of the best Christmases we've ever had.

I loved all of my presents (even though I chose all but a small few! *grin* ... or maybe because I did! *grin!!*)

The best present ever? Grandma and Poppy gave us a new (to us) van!! We finally have a vehicle that seats the whole family!
My dad and his wife gave us several hundred dollars before Christmas to buy presents with, so the kids had a great Christmas too. No one got iPhones or iPods (except the one Bear stole - but he doesn't get to keep that one), but even if we had a ton of money they wouldn't have gotten them anyway. The kids are tough on electronics and I don't think they need that kind of stuff anyway.

The second best present? I think we've finally found a med combo that works for Kitty.

Her behavior wasn't perfect, but she's doing great. On Tuesday, her doctor bumped up her Abilify and the difference is astounding! No meltdowns, no whiny fits that someone got a better present (see last year's hair highlights meltdown). When I forced the kids to do a deep clean when doing their chores (sometimes sending them back five times or more - which in the past has triggered mega meltdowns), Kitty was able to handle it with no more complaining than any of the other kids did. Usually something like this is perceived by her as a criticism and she just can't handle it.

She's been genuinely affectionate. She's seeking me out. She offers to help even though there is no direct reward. She lets me touch, hug and kiss her without her express permission! She takes redirection and criticism (she put dirty clothes back on after a shower and was really stinky and I told her so). She even handled washing dishes! by hand! when it wasn't her job! just because I asked! without screaming, crying, or meltdowns!!

Developmentally she's still about age 7 (yes, I've bumped her up from 4-6 yrs) so she is still delayed, but this is not a bad thing attachment wise. 7 year old girls can hold Mom's hand in public (well, not at school or where her friends might see her but still!).  She's nowhere near caught up to Bob, but no more line of sight supervision. Right now the girls are down the street visiting with a neighbor girl.

Perfect timing on the new car and Hubby starting his new job. Now I can work a little longer while Grandma deals with the little kids and I can leave work in time to pick up Kitty (and Bob) from middleschool. This gives me another 45 minutes at work, and saves Grandma a ton of driving (we'd decided that she would go to our house and pick up Ponito from elementary school -and three days a week she picks up my niece and nephew, then she'd have to take all the younger kids with her to meet the girls at school, take the girls' friends home - aren't they sweet to volunteer Grandma to drive all over the neighborhood?, then come pick me up at work and take us all back to the house).

Now Grandma can stay and hang out with the littles and I'll go pick up the girls. That way I get the after school chatter. You know that time when they have their guard down and they're stuck in the car with you so you hear actual stuff, without having to wait for it all to come out in therapy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What's "lost" is found

The PS2 controllers showed up a few days ago. Hidden behind the game room TV... broken. So the good news is they weren't sold. The bad news is that nobody admitted to taking and breaking them. The really good news is that since they're broken, the new ones I got Ponito for Christmas are still a good present. Yea!

The other good news is that Bear didn't sell them or trade them, although we still assume he broke them. We can only hope he didn't do it maliciously.

Must stink to always be the one accused. Then again, it stinks for the accuser to almost always be right.

Overlapping Behavior Characteristics

Not sure I'm going to be able to display this correctly. Hopefully you can click on it and make it bigger. Here's the link to the original document.

I do have some issues with it.

I thought this was a very interesting chart of the overlapping characteristics of the different diagnoses. Of course I don’t believe it is entirely accurate (for example, it doesn’t include “Difficulty seeing cause & effect “ as a symptom of RAD when it most definitely is a very common one (infants learn cause and effect from their primary caregiver. RAD is caused by the absence of the primary caregiver – whether emotionally or physically. Therefore most texts list this as a common symptom of RAD).

Actually I would guess it depends on when they got RAD. If it was as an infant and the primary caregiver for example did not did not react consistently when they cried (such as sometimes changing their diaper, sometimes ignoring them, sometimes beating them), then I would assume they would not have learned cause and effect. Whereas if they had issues that began later, then hopefully that stage would already be successfully completed.

This was designed by a group with an FASD background, which is fine, and I agree that kids with FASD usually have all of those characteristics (which is why I hope my kids don't have FASD). I just disagree with the fact that they don't have RAD checked off on most of the characteristics. I realize that how RAD effects children is different, and that they may not check things off if the child only acts that way with certain adults (meaning family), but NONE of these were checked for RAD?!!!

Often loses temper
Often argues with adults
Often actively defies or refuses to comply
Often blames others for his or her mistakes
Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
Is often angry and resentful

Obviously they don't live in MY house. Yes, most of these are checked for Bipolar disorder, and I admit my kids were 10x worse when they weren't taking meds for their bipolar, but they are taking meds for bipolar and therefore the symptoms of it shouldn't be bothering them. Yet they are still actively dealing with all of these, and I believe it is both the RAD and the C-PTSD (trauma).

Kitty and Bear have more than half of the diagnoses on this chart (plus a few more) - *see below.

A friend's family with children who also have multiple diagnoses, works harder on the areas with more check marks. I think this is a great idea, but.

With Kitty we worked first on attachment, but with trauma running a close second. Med wise we’ve been working first on mood stabilization and then ADHD stuff mostly last. Of course the C-PTSD, RAD and cerebral dysrhythmia don’t have meds that help – although the mood stabilizers don’t hurt!

*Kitty(14) RAD, C-PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, ODD**, ADHD, learning disorders, cerebral dysrhythmia

*Bear(16) RAD, C-PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, ADD, cerebral dysrhythmia

**diagnosis of ODD has been removed -since those symptoms are being fully attributed to the RAD now that she no longer acts this way in school or in public if no family is present

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be.
It's the way it is.
The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."


“What I'm wondering is, does ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) pretty much exist with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) or RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) or maybe the symptoms/actions are similar?

When Kitty first came to us (at age 11) she was diagnosed with ODD, but not RAD. I do not believe she has ODD, and they have actually removed that from her diagnoses and added RAD. (I don’t think she has FASD and neither do her doctors).

I think kids with RAD have many of the same or overlapping symptoms, but the focus is different. Kitty only shows defiant and oppositional symptoms at home with her family. In public she is completely compliant now that she is out of the traumatic biofamily and foster care environment. She does have revenge issues and hateful talking about non-family members too, but she only expresses it to us and her therapist. The school think she’s sweet and can’t believe we’re having issues.

I have a friend whose daughter has both ODD and RAD, and her daughter is definitely different from Kitty in that her refusal to comply with all adults is to such an extreme that they can almost use it to their advantage. For example, if the child doesn’t want to load the dishwasher and is doing it so slowly that she’s practically unloading it, they can prescribe her behaviors and tell her to do it slowly and poorly, and she speeds up just to “spite them.” I guess it could be a different cognitive level or being milder on the RAD spectrum, but we can’t “trick” Kitty like that. She is not oppositional to the point of losing track of what she wants from the situation. Or maybe she’s just not RAD enough to hate us so much that she’ll spite herself.

Bear was on the verge of being diagnosed with a Conduct Disorder (CD) when we got him at age 13 (It was once explained to me that CD is like ODD, but CD is willful – meaning they CHOOSE to behave in an oppositional/ defiant manner). He ended up being diagnosed with RAD and Bipolar Disorder instead – with traits (symptoms) of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Apparently, many kids with unhealed RAD are often diagnosed with BPD when they turn 18. Many children with CD are diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) when they turn 18.  In general, personality disorders cannot be diagnosed until age 18. Before that it is usually referred to as having "traits of." Females tend to be diagnosed with BPD, while males with the same symptoms tend to be diagnosed with APD.

Many diagnoses have overlapping symptoms and they make things worse by interacting with each other. We decided to try for as accurate a diagnosis(es) as possible, and then focus on treatment. Treatment is the hard part when a child has co-morbid (more than one) diagnoses, because sometimes the treatment for the each diagnosis is dramatically different or even the exact opposite, and using the wrong one can make things worse.
Ex. Talk therapy is supposed to help with Borderline Personality Disorder (although DBT is better), but bad for RAD (Attachment Therapy is recommended). EMDR therapy helps with the PTSD but may bring up more issues than a child can handle (at least my child). Meds help with some diagnoses but not the brain damage. Stimulants for Attention Deficit Disorder - with Hyperactivity (ADD/ ADHD) often trigger mania in Bipolar Disorder. *sigh*

I recently received a chart of overlapping characteristics of several different disorders that I think explains well why our children are often misdiagnosed, especially if they have co-morbid (more than one) diagnoses.  Co-morbidity is very common for our kids.

Mom to biokids Ponito(10) and his sister Bob(13)
Sibling pair adoptive placement from NE foster care 11/06
Finally finalized on Kitty(14) on 3/08 - 2 weeks before her 13th birthday! RAD, C-PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, learning disorders, cerebral dysrhythmia
Finalized on her brother Bear(16) 7/08. He turned 15 the next day. RAD, C-PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, ADD, cerebral dysrhythmia
"Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain."

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Bob showed us what she learned in Math yesterday.


and then a little bit of economics, music appreciation and sports

Stealing and dealing?

If you remember the stolen cell phone that I mentioned here, We had left it up to the school to do the detective work and consequences because we I get tired of being the bad guy.

So far no one has claimed the cell phone (although Bear did tell me someone had claimed it - presumably to end this). Beyond confirming that it hadn't actually been claimed, I haven't been able to get much out of the school.

They investigated how many Michaels there were at the school (8), but they didn't bother to tell Bear he had to find out the kid's last name or anything very proactive. Bear told us that the kid didn't want the phone back and that's why he hadn't claimed it. He said Michael's mom made Michael carry it and he didn't want it. Can you say "bull puckey?"

The last day of school is Friday, so I was pushing really hard to get this resolved. I finally got an e-mail from the Assistant Principal on Wednesday.
As for the phone, I've got a call in to Deputy A_____ {officer on duty at the school} to see if the phone matches any reported missing/stolen. At present, the information we have has not been enough to track down the owner. But without it being reported stolen, it is difficult to consequence him for stealing. There needs to be a victim for there to have been a crime, so I'm working to see if we can identify a victim.
Unless I find one though, I'm not in a position to consequence him; the consequence for a stolen cell phone is a placement at the Opportunity Center {like in school suspension, but on a closed campus with other kids who have broken a major school rule - like fighting, bringing drugs to school, bringing weapons to school... you know, all the kids I want Bear hanging out with}, so it is a big step and one that deserves more facts and
careful consideration.
If I find out more, I'll pass it along. I hope to connect with Officer A______ soon, but I don't know if he'll have anything to share or not.

I'm still furious that they did not pursue this - such as telling Bear that he HAD to tell the school the boy's last name or charging the phone. I responded with:

Since the cell phone is a “victim-less” crime, and therefore the school cannot go forward with any consequences, we would like to pick the phone up to get it charged and see if we can track down the owner ourselves. Please let me know when this would be possible.

This morning we came upon Bear when he wasn’t expecting us to be home (we had to leave him home alone for the first time in quite awhile, but came back to grab the camera for Ponito's award ceremony). We noticed Bear had a pair of handcuffs on the counter. Since we had allowed him to hang out with a friend of the family who has shown poor judgment in giving Bear things (the boy who gave Bear the pop gun to fix that Bear took to school to trade for drugs a couple of Summers ago), we checked with the boy. The boy had loaned them to Bear. I sent Bear with Grandma to return the handcuffs.

This meant that Bear was not able to take his usually permanently attached backpack with him so I had an opportunity to search it and his room (Bear no longer hides things in his room because he knows I search, but cannot stand to throw anything away which explains some of the things I find).

I found:
1. Two sample bottles of ADHD meds (the equivalent of speed) that he must have taken from our bathroom. Each bottle had a week's worth of meds. Luckily all the pills were still there, although some were in a small bag in another pocket. This is the med we had stopped, because it had caused Bear to have an adverse reaction a few weeks ago {jittery and manic}. One bottle was wrapped in his hat in his backpack, the other in his inside jacket pocket with the bag of pills.
2. Also in the small bag – 2 tabs of Melatonin which is an over the counter sleep aide and 150mg of Lamictal which is a black box mood stabilizer - there is a possibility that Bear thought the Lamictal was Melatonin and that’s why he hadn’t taken it. He has had issues with refusing to take the Melatonin in the past, and keeping them somewhere in his room.
3. Hair in his trash can. Bear told us that someone in ROTC (I don’t remember if it was the Sergeant or the SRO) told him if he didn’t have his hair cut by uniform check that Thursday that they would buzz it. He claimed they had. I spoke to someone in the ROTC, and they said they had not cut it. If you haven’t seen Bear recently he was shaved completely bald last Thursday. Obviously Bear cut it himself and lied about it.
4. Also in his backpack I found an industrial box cutter, the kind you can extend the blade from with a push of a button. We assume it was a weapon, as he has had issues with this in the past.
5. Miscellaneous contraband (not illegal, just not allowed in our house or in his room).
6. When we searched Bear, we discovered an iPod Shuffle 2G – green. Definitely not his. We assume it was stolen at school.
7. He did have time to hide almost anything once he knew I was looking (after the initial search). So he could have had something on his person or I missed something.

Obviously we need to know if anyone at school has reported the loss of an iPod Shuffle.

Bear is now under line of sight supervision, but we are not sure what consequences to give. As always, advice/suggestions are appreciated.

Hubby came home early from work and confronted Bear (who was holing up in his room to pout and avoid the community service I had arranged with a neighbor). Hubby ordered Bear to strip (down to underwear) to look for contraband, and had a long conversation with him.

 Bear claimed the box cutter was to protect himself from a kid at school. He claimed he took the ADHD meds to school because he'd been having trouble sleeping and wanted some extra energy for exams, but decided not to take it because the drug presentations he was working on in school were "getting through to him" and he didn't want to do anything like that anymore.

He then confessed to using and dealing drugs over 2 years ago before he entered the RTC. It is pretty typical for him to confess to things that happened so long ago that he can't be given consequences now. I think he hopes it will distract people from what is going on currently and even give him "brownie points" for being "truthful."

He claims he took the bottles the morning before when I was downstairs. I'm a bit of a packrat and tend to hang onto meds in case we alter doses in the future, run out, or one of the other kids is prescribed them later. The box the bottles came in didn't fit in the lock box (which wasn't locked anyway and was full - the kids take a lot of meds!). The box is in my bathroom, which can only be accessed through my bedroom, which our Bear is NEVER allowed to go in (because he's stolen things from our room before).

Luckily, today was the last day of school, only a half day, and Bear had finals to take, so apparently he wasn't able to sell or trade them. The pills were all still there. I don't think he got into anything else in my room.*sigh* One more thing to lock up.

I'm an idiot.

I don't know if I ever wrote a follow-up post about this, but the school eventually returned the cell phone to "Michael." I asked them if they'd confirmed any of the other info Bear had given them (the boy had a sister playing on JV, his mom made him carry the phone, he'd left it in Bear's coat pocket vs Bear having stolen/ borrowed it...). The AP just stared at me, and admitted it had never occurred to him. *sigh* I guess it doesn't really make a difference in the long run.

A post about how we later handled
Lying and Stealing 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Smelly Kitty, smelly Kitty it's not your fault

Smelly Cat song (by "Phoebe" on the TV show Friends)

Smelly Cat, Smelly cat what are they feeding you?
Smelly Cat, smelly cat it's not your fault...

They won't take you to the vet.
You're obviously not their favorite pet.
You may not be a bed of roses,
And you're no friend to those with noses.

Smelly cat, smelly cat what are they feeding you?
Smelly cat, smelly cat it's not your fault

Kitty went through a couple of years where her body odor was horrendous. She was being sent home from school, and she was being constantly sent back to the shower by us. It was primarily what smelled like underarm issues, but deodorant barely made a dent.

I supervised showers (awkward!); made her shave her armpits; I bought tons of deodorant; I supervised laundry... nothing really seemed to make a difference. After over a year, the issue finally seemed to resolve itself back to a "normal teenager" issue (an occasional "forgot to wear deodorant" type smell).

I assumed she was doing something different -washing with soap for example, but recently read a string of posts in a Yahoo group that brought up some interesting alternatives. A lot of other parents of children with trauma are talking about the smell issue as well. Here are some possible explanations we discussed:

  • Change in diet or parasites - particularly children adopted from foreign countries

  • Medications

  • "RAD odor" - A lot of people talk about a specific RAD odor that ALL RAD kids have whether from an orphanage, foster care or family of origin- sometimes compared to animals who use smell defensively. It's in their hair, their skin, their used clothing, and doesn't alleviate until they've been in attachment therapy for a long time and are attaching to their family. The theory being that they subconsciously want to push everyone away.  It's often worse when they are disregulated.

  • "Smell of fear" - you've heard people talking about the smell of fear, I imagine this would be particularly intensified in a child of trauma

  • Stress/nervousness - many children interpret the world differently and feel criticized and attacked constantly. The body does strange things under stress (hand and body sweating, gas, nervous tics...). For gassy/ potty smells - I know stress causes my digestive system and gastro-intestinal issues to flare

  • Waste disposal - our bodies also release waste through the skin particularly the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands
  • Underwear issues - many kids don't wipe, and are frequently constipated or "leak" during the day

  • Hydration issues - many parents talked about the fact that their child's urine was much stronger smelling than normal this could be in part to not drinking enough which would concentrate the urine

  • Sexually abused children often try to make themselves "less attractive" with poor hygiene

  • Hygiene - maybe the child doesn't know how to properly clean themselves, brush teeth, or when to change undergarments, or maybe they forget or maybe deliberately don't take care of themselves (control issues, poor self-worth, trying to prove parents will reject them...).

  • Hair - Kitty once went almost 6 months using only conditioner with no shampoo (we found out when she told the hairstylist who was cutting out the ratty knots in her hair). Can unwashed hair grease go rancid? Can we be sure the child is washing hair all the way down to the scalp?

  • Stinky feet - Bob went 6 months wearing Crocs with no socks. The school called me and asked me to come get her because the other children were complaining of her foot odor (we had to throw the shoes away - even Febreeze and washing them couldn't get the smell out). Kids need clean socks, and more than one pair of shoes to give the other a chance to air out. Mine often get obsessed with one pair and won't change (Bob's Crocs, Ponito's Heelys).

  • Laundry - even my neurotypical child is comforted by wearing the same clothes over and over (without washing). He also just reuses socks over and over rather than trying to find clean ones.

  • Inability to let go - just like Bear never throws anything away, a lot of children especially feel that what comes out of them is part of them (flushing BMs can be a traumatic part of potty training). This can lead to food hoarding, pack rats, and even the inability to allow laundry to leave the room to be washed. (As a teen I wrote a story about a boy who wouldn't allow his hair to be cut and kept every hair that ever fell from his head).

  • Allergies - food, seasonal, environment allergies. These can cause all sorts of body reactions - hives, gastrointestinal, foul breath due to sore throats, ear infections... Hubby and Bear are both allergic to underarm deodorant (and all shaving creams), causing big problems, as you can well imagine. Hubby is also allergic to Bromine so most carbonated beverages give him gas issues.

  • Cover up - Bear tends to cover up smells with layer after layer of deodorant/ body wash/ cologne... rather than actually doing a good job cleaning. He frequently walks in a cloud. Not sure why he does this.

  • Somatic issues - I know most people would rather not talk about itches, rashes, sores and pain - especially in "private areas." Our kids often won't tell us anything, whether it's "private" or not. Whether it's because they don't trust us, or they actually don't have enough somatic feelings to recognize it (which is why Kitty's constipation went unrecognized for so many years). We found out about Bear's hemorrhoids because he told the doctor at the RTC - he would never have told us.

  • Control issues - there are often very few things children have control over. What goes into and out of their bodies is one of those few areas. Anorexia is VERY common in kids of trauma - not only because they hate their bodies (since they hate themselves it's only natural that they hate their bodies), but it is also a major control issue - no one can make you eat (well, not until you get to the hospital stage).

Things that might help:
Underarm - One thing we like is that waterless antibacterial soap. It works well for underarm issues and other stinky areas, because it seems to kill the bacteria that make the smell and have fewer allergens (depending on the kind you buy).
Stinky feet - Someone suggested soaking smelly feet in black tea or vinegar. I've used bleach water to cure fungus and athlete's foot. Socks and shoes that "breathe" and have as little synthetic materials as possible. Multiple pairs of shoes to give the time to completely dry. Try laundry sheets (like Bounce) in them? Something called Gran's Remedy is supposed to work well.
Laundry - Half a cup of vinegar or ammonia in laundry might help.
Breath and general BO - change in diet, watch for allergies (lactose intolerance is a common one) and carbonated beverages. Check for parasites. Try acidophilus (sp?) which can be found in yogurt and can also be taken as a supplement.
Here's a funny commercial for an "anywhere" and "everything" deodorant that's supposed to be all natural

Kitty's smell issues could have improved because we changed her meds, she's slowly healing from the trauma and feels safer, she's older and learning to take better care of her body... who knows.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shaved head

Bear has been asking me for a couple of weeks to give him a haircut. ROTC has strict guidelines. The problem is he usually asks me at 8pm or later. Once or twice he's asked me on a weekend, but usually when something is going on, or I'm resting. The ROTC warned him if it didn't get cut they would shave him. So last week, they did.

Of course he says it's all my fault.

All I know is that for some reason I can't stand looking at his bald head. I'm not sure why. It could be because he kind of looks naked. It could be because I'm not that fond of looking at him to begin with (yes, I know that makes me sound like a horrible mother, hate me if you must - it's hard living with someone who doesn't like you and makes sure you know it). My latest theory is that he kind of looks like Voldemort (mostly from the back), which for some reason makes my skin crawl.

So I bought him some beanies and a cammo bandana to wear. Normally none of the boys are allowed to wear hats inside, but when I gave him the head covers I told him it wasn't optional. It really makes me nauseous. I picked caps I was pretty sure he would like (black and an olive that looks good with his cammo stuff), and he's been pretty good about wearing them. He already has a "5 o'clock shadow" so hopefully it won't be too bad by Christmas.

Maybe I'll take a picture of him bald (this one is photoshopped), but I doubt it.

Edited to add:  Found out later that he'd shaved his own head (left all his hair in his bedroom trashcan).  So he'd lied big time about the school doing it.  

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Decked the halls

Well the tree is decorated. Wasn't quite the joyous family occasion I could have hoped for. We had a family meeting to discuss the fact that the kids haven't been doing their chores. Family meetings are BIG triggers around here, and because we don't have them often, they tend to drag on - triggering Kitty's ADHD.

Kitty is under a lot of stress - the holidays, me going back to work, she'd had a choir concert Thursday, Friday and Saturday... add in a little bit of implied criticism and some actual criticism, and she completely lost it. She began yelling at Hubby, who was not in the mood for it. He ended up carrying her up the stairs to her room like a sack of potatoes. Meanwhile the other kids quietly left the room and decorated the Christmas tree, which they'd been told was on the agenda for the day.

The good news is that I've been making a conscious effort to go to bed early and Hubby was able to set everything aside last night when Grandma had the kids for the night, so our relationship is on a much more even keel.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas cards and letters

I've never sent out cards (except our first Christmas as husband and wife, and then only to a few, and only because I had their addresses from the wedding announcements). Actually I do still have the rest of that box of Christmas cards (and a bunch of thank you cards) that I can't throw away because they are still perfectly good. Instead we send out Family Christmas pictures via e-mail and anyone who wants to know what's going on with this family can read the blog! *grin*

Luckily for us, we have a cousin who is a wonderful professional photographer (Photography by JennyRhea) so to support her we started going to her annual Christmas photo taking event. There are now 6 members of the family, and we have to do multiple takes and for the last 2 years have had to resort to photoshopping in at least one child (last year Ponito only smiled in one stinkin' shot, and that was the one where one kid had their eyes shut and another was doing something goofy with his mouth).

We had to do something similar this year (Bob this time- I threatened last year's kid within an inch of his life so he had the exact same perfect smile in every photo this year). Obviously this family shot is not the one where we photoshopped Bob in, since she is obviously not smiling. *grr*

I did finally talk the girls out of wearing evening wear this year! They were OK with it as long as they got to wear dresses. So of course, I was the only one who ended up in a dress. *sigh* Our "theme" was supposed to be red, white or denim. As you can tell, everyone chose white shirts except me (who already had my dress picked out). *heavier sigh*

After helping my sister (who is built like Dolly Parton - *phbbt!*) try on wedding dresses, I'd already decided it was time to diet, but even  if I hadn't, this Christmas picture would have cinched it. I think I look like Delta Burke (the later years) - and what is up with all that cleavage?! Maybe I can get cousin Jenny to photoshop in someone else's bod for mine?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Behavior ABCs and PLANs

A lovely woman named Anne has given me permision to share these behavior management ideas. I tweaked them a little, but look forward to trying them.

By all means use it, tweak it and share it. I did
LOL. Anne

ABC's and PLANs for behaviors.



what happened prior to the behaviors?

What was my trigger?

B= Behavior

what I did

what was I feeling?

what was I thinking?

how was I treating others?

C= Consequence

Something that happened because of my choice in behaviors

D= what can I Do to make it right? (Restitution)

what can I say and do to show that it won’t happen again?

what would help each person involved feel better? (ask them!)


(for areas that seem to give my children problems:)


For whatever activity you are going to do

1. what do you need to get ready for the activity?

2. what areas could give me trouble?

3. what rules need to be in place?


To Others

who do I need to listen too?

To Myself

how am I feeling?

what might be difficult for me to day?

Act: Appropriately

how do I need to act?

NO: No negative behaviors

what can I do to help myself?

what can I do with positive behaviors?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just when you thought

Just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier around here!

Yesterday was biomom's birthday, and the day before yesterday I'd gotten some of the family Christmas pictures (We always have one of just Bear and Kitty so we can send them to biofamily). So I decided to e-mail her the Christmas picture and a few others.

We don't have an open adoption, and it wasn't my choice to begin contact with her, but I like keeping my options open with her. She's given me some baby pictures of the kids, and answered some of my questions (as far as I can tell mostly honestly). Mostly I stroke her ego a little, but occasionally I'll ask tough questions about the kids' lives with her.

Last time she wrote she told me that she regretted giving away Bear and Kitty and wished she hadn't done it. Quite frankly I was upset by this, and told her straight out that she did the right thing, and she should have done it sooner. I didn't hear from her for months, and assumed I'd offended her. Then I got her friend request on Facebook. I refused and closed my (hardly used) Facebook account.

A couple of days ago on her birthday, I sent the kids' biomom Christmas pictures and a few snaps from the last 6 months. The following is the e-mail she sent back. The fourth paragraph is the part I'm freaking out over. My first instinct is to say "Hell yes!" Hubby is concerned that we'd have to give her our address and other personal information. We also discussed the fact that at least one of the girls has a father who is at least nominally involved in her life.

The grandparents said at one point that they wanted the girls so this would probably go around their wishes. I know Biomom is semi-estranged from her mother who put her in foster care at age 14 because she was "out of control" (sound familiar?), and her mother is constantly running Biomom down in front of all of the grandchildren. Quite frankly I don't want the woman even talking to my kids on the phone, but I tolerate it because she is their grandma.

Okay, I'll stop until you've had a chance to read the e-mail.

Subject: Re: Happy Birthday

Dear Mary,

Thank you so much. That was the best Birthday present I could have received. I am so happy to hear the kids are doing well! I can't believe how good they look well grown up!!! They both look very happy! And well adjusted. I think about them everyday. The holidays are the worst but I have been doing alright.

Yes, the girls (Bear and Kitty's biosisters that remain in Biomom's home) have
grown so much, they are doing really well and {one year old sister} is so arnery. She reminds me of {Bear} when he was little. She has such a little temper. LOL...
Right now I don't have any recent pictures, we are getting them taken at Walmart this week end providing we aren't still snowed in, and I soon as I get them I will
send them to you.

I am almost finished with another semester of school. Three more to go to get that degree! I feel this is such a great accomplishment for me.

Mary, on a serious note, I have been wanting to ask you a question concerning my girls, and haven't really known how to ask. I see you have done a wonderful job with {Bear and Kitty}, and I am worried that if something were to happen to me, that they will be caught up in the system, and was wondering if I could leave a living will for them to come to you and Hubby.

I just worry about them so much and want them to be in the right place. I am
sorry to ask this question but I just need somewhere where I know they will be
alright. I will want what is best for them also and I know deep in my heart that
they will be good with you. I am not saying anything is going to happen any time
soon, but just in case. Well you think about that wonderful question and then
let me know. I think I trust you more than anyone I know.

And Mary, once again, thank you for the pictures. That was an awesome birthday present! I love when you send pictures of the kids. It makes me feel connected to them still and as their bio mom, I think I need that.



Some of the friends and family I've discussed this with are concerned that we'd be (potentially) bringing more damaged children into a family already dealing with a lot. Others are supportive.
There are several reasons I am planning on saying yes.
1. These kids are related to my children. The older two lived with Bear and Kitty (the girls are now 7 and 10). They are family.
2. If something happens to Biomom this would be the only way we would ever get custody of them. At least one of them has a birthfather that is still nominally involved in her life. The grandmother said she wanted them at one point, but she might not feel the same way if they are older and harder to handle, plus this is the woman who "raised" Biomom. We have no relationship with any of the birthfathers (since they all have different ones) so we may never hear from the girls again. We have NO legal rights to them. Legally my kids are not even related to them anymore. Unless the girls were placed into Nebraska foster care we would most likely not even know about it (and maybe not then, but we did ask to be placed in the notes as being interested in adoption if they entered the foster care system).
3. I do not feel our family is done. While I definitely plan to wait until Bear graduates from high school, and Hubby would rather wait until Kitty is out of the house as well, I am still considering adopting more children (this time younger than my youngest child instead of older than my oldest!). Except for the one year old, the kids are the ages I would potentially be looking for. With these children, while I know they are as potentially "damaged" as my kids are, at least I mostly know what I'm getting myself into and some of the resources we will need. We know at least one of the children is also ADHD (like Kitty) and the bipolar disorder comes from the mother's side. We know a lot of the history of the family.
4. And the number one reason? I'm certifiably insane and masochistic and can't imagine my life without constant stress and chaos.
We would definitely proceed carefully, and avoid giving Biomom any more information about us than she already knows. We would also try to make sure this was a "First Option" kind of deal. We might be totally broke or be having a monstrous crisis at our house or it might not be the right thing for one or even all of the children -we don't want to be legally stuck in a bad situation. We are aware that this would be a private adoption and there for the kids would not be eligible for Medicaid or the adoption subsidies that help make having Kitty and Bear affordable (the co-pays alone for their meds would be over $200 a month or more!)
I'm totally open to thoughts, opinions and suggestions! (Just please don't get offended if they are not taken!)
PS How scary is it that she trusts me more than anyone she knows?!!

False allegations

Counselor: " Having to eat broccoli twice a week is not child abuse."

A very common concern with RADishes is your child making false allegations of abuse against you. This is a very real issue, and something we used to deal with quite often. Our kids always think the grass is greener somewhere else. They think that if only they'd been adopted by another family their life would have been perfect - no chores, being allowed to do anything they want to whenever they want to....

It often occurs to them that if they get removed from your home then by some lucky chance they will get better parents next time (Daddy Warbucks comes to mind). Or they will get to magically return to their "perfect childhood" (yes, we know their childhood is the reason they were in foster care or institutions in the first place, but everyone has a little Annie inside them thinking about the perfect family just waiting to take them home).

Another mom was very concerned about her daughter's threats to call Child Protective Services (CPS), and I mentioned a time after Bear had been injured while being restrained by Hubby that Kitty and Bear had been removed from our home while we were being investigated. She was afraid that her child would be removed from the home if the child managed to make a false allegation, or worse that she would lose all of her children pending the investigation - which of course would be horribly traumatic for her non-RAD or healing RAD children. The following is my response to her followup e-mail.


Every state is different, but in TX it is not required for the state to take the child out of the home while investigating. When we brought the kids here from Nebraska, they had to have a local caseworker so Nebraska paid our adoption agency to provide one. Unfortunately, it was OUR agency’s policy to remove the child pending investigation. Since both children were foster children, they removed both children.

Since the charges were against my husband not me, we even offered to have him leave the home until the investigation was complete (they refused). They would not/could not remove children who were not "their" foster children. The state of Nebraska found out they’d removed the children (we called them!) and they pitched a fit! Our children were still wards of the state of Nebraska and Nebraska had not given permission for them to be moved.

Our agency would not budge, and would not fight for us with CPS because CPS is the governing body of all foster/adoption agencies, and the agency didn’t want to get on their bad side and possibly get cited or investigated themselves. Luckily for us, the Nebraska DHHS (Dept of Health and Human Services) did not have that concern. We got the fastest investigation anyone in the state of TX had ever seen (can take months usually). We had the children back in our home in less than a week.

The agency even tried to make us pay for the week of "respite care" (which we'd been begging for for months, but had been told they didn't have). We did manage to get that worked out without us having to pay.

No one ever suggested removing our birth children, and if the adoption was final, the agency wouldn’t have had a say in the removal of our adopted two. We were investigated for breaking foster parent rules (injury during an improper restraint, and the home was “too cluttered”), if we hadn’t been technically foster parents, neither one of these would have brought us under investigation (in fact the police often said we had the right to “knock his block off” as long as he took the first swing – which he did).

If we had been found guilty I still don’t think we would have lost custody of the kids, any of them, although it was possible with the not yet adopted two. As it was, we had to attend a couple of (bogus) classes - the proper way to do a Restraint – which doesn’t work on adult size kids, and Behavior Management – which pretty much consisted of don’t let him escalate – like that was possible!

One bad part was that if it had been me and not my husband under investigation and the charges were proved, I could have lost the possibility of any career working with children (I have a Masters in Social Work). Having a child abuse indictment means you can’t pass a background check to work as a police officer, nurse, therapist, teacher, childcare worker… any of the health care/ social service type industries. We would definitely have lost our license and could never have been foster/adopt parents again.

While technically the charge was declared “indeterminate,” it is probably a good thing my husband is an engineer/business man. I'm not actually sure if this will prevent us from adopting again, since the charges weren't dismissed as false. They may still be hanging over our record.

What I’m trying to say is that I doubt we would have lost our biological children (and any already adopted children if we’d had any). In a home without foster children, the rules are nowhere near as strict.

After the adoption, when we had to call the police to our home because our daughter was out of control they did NOT call CPS – even though we had her in a full restraint (she obviously needed it). When our son called the police while still in foster care, they refused to take him out of the home unless he was actively suicidal or homicidal (they saw the tiny bruise on the back of his neck and didn’t think anything of it - it only became an issue because our agency decided it was).

So my advice: Document, document, document! Even if it’s just keeping it all written in a spiral notebook with the times and dates, that can only help you if the child does start making false allegations. I specifically told psychiatrists, therapists, school behavior staff, caseworkers, anyone I could think of.

Don’t teach your child the number for CPS, and she’ll automatically call 911 – who usually won’t do diddly squat. In fact, if you get her diagnoses and some info about her to them before you need it, they’ll come prepared to back you up.

So yes, you’re giving yourself an ulcer over nothing, so stop it! (and yes, I realize that telling you not to worry is like telling someone not to think of pink elephants, and the pot calling the kettle black, and a bunch of other hokey saying that all mean – do as I say not as I do).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cool raffle

Watching the Waters is having an amazing raffle to raise money for an ambulance for the Heartline program in Haiti. A college student from here in TX has offered to match up to ten thousand dollars!

There are over 30 prizes and a ticket is only $5. Check it out, support a great cause, and maybe win something cool.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Mahwaige is what brings us together today.

Things aren't going so great around here. I'm overwhelmed with life and the kids. Hubby is overwhelmed with life and work. Both of us are sacrificing our relationship with each other to try to find enough energy to keep going. Both of us need the support of the other to try to do everything we feel we should. Neither of us has the extra energy to help the other.

My insomnia is getting worse (went to bed at 4am last night) and Hubby feels rejected when I don't come to bed by 10. Not sure where to go from here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Matrix

We have a staff person who is very interested in helping Bear and who often gives us advice (he always asks if it is OK first). This person grew up in the ghettos of Houston so while he was not a foster kid with RAD, C-PTSD, bipolar disorder, a ton of other stuff, and most importantly he didn't have to deal with being adopted as a teen... he still has a lot of insight. He also was a Marine injured in Iraq and worked for many years as a police officer in Houston.

Most of his advice is spend time with Bear and make written contracts that hold Bear accountable for his actions. This is actually good advice, but we are too stressed out and burned out - plus Bear is of course fighting us every step of the way. Truthfully it's Hubby that Bear would enjoy spending time with the most and would probably get the most emotional benefit from (I am ranked pretty low because I'm a woman, and worse - a mom).

The fact that the advice is fairly accurate, just adds to the guilt. We spend so much time policing Bear and dealing with his issues that there is very little energy, and truthfully motivation, left to try to force Bear to interact with us. And it would be forcing. The staff guy (who I think looks a little like Morpheus in the movie) recently gave me an analogy that helped me put this into perspective a little. If you haven't seen the movie The Matrix then this probably won't make much sense to you, sorry. Plus there are some major spoilers to follow so if you want to see it, you might want to stop reading now.

The premise of the movie is that most human beings don't operate in the "Real World" they operate in a virtual world, and the majority of them don't even know the real world exists. The real world is a dangerous place, with bad food, no creature comforts, and few others to interact with. To be there you have to give up everything and everyone you know.

Those in the real world act like a family, protecting each other and trying to help the people in the virtual world, but they have to work hard and nothing is given to them.

I think Kitty and Bear perceive the "real world" family as trying to force them to deal with harsh reality, instead of letting them stay in their fantasy virtual world (their world is even more fantasy than the virtual reality world of the movie). Why would they want that?

In the movie, one of the real world people decides to betray the other real world people. He contacts the aliens who are trying to stop the real worlders (because if they succeed the aliens lose their fuel supply - humans) - in exchange for betraying his people, the man will be put back in the virtual world where he will become a billionaire with the finest of everything, including steak instead of nutritional paste. None of it's "real," but it will feel real in every way. This man of course is villified in the movie, but if you were a RAD kid who didn't care about anybody - why would you not do what he did?

To stay in our "Real World" Bear has to not only give up all of his survival skills and defense mechanisms, he has to do things that are most likely the opposite of these. He has to open himself up to hurt. He has to open all the boxes and scary things in his past, process and deal with them, and he has to do all this while operating in a new world with new rules. To him it feels like we are asking him to do all of this, to leave his world that mostly works and keeps him safe for... well... no reason that he really understand.

My friend Lisa's daughter wants to be a "normal" girl, but Bear and Kitty think they already are. They think we're asking them to be "perfect" and are setting them up to fail. They know they are horrible people and we're going to find out and leave them. Why set yourself up for that?

I've heard that alcoholics have to hit bottom before they can commit to making the choice to quit drinking. My kids hit bottom a long time ago. They've redefined normal. They see no reason to change.

I guess I'll just have to keep trying to convince my children that the real world isn't so bad, and there are people hre who really love them.

It's raining, It's pouring

The old man isn't snoring (he suffers from insomnia when stressed).

Monday morning we went to Bear's special school to drop off his behavior cards (the ones we discovered were missing from his school folder when he tried to forge my signature). Bear is only at the special school on alternate days and he wasn't there that day. We got a chance to talk to the administrator and the teacher who was supposed to be responsible for Bear's cards.

We discussed Bear's increasing issues at home, and the few at school (mostly excessive tardies). Our theory is that Bear is reacting to the increase in freedom now that he is almost full time in the less restrictive and structured environment of his home campus.

Hubby and I mentioned that the food stealing is worsening and we now have to lock the pantry and garage. We commented on the fact that this has not really slowed Bear down. I'd left out a couple of cans of chili for us to take to work for Hubby's lunches (I know chili on a daily basis for lunch- gross right?!). They were missing, as were some other little things. We didn't really expect the administrator to do anything about it (not that he could with Bear not being there), but we just needed to vent a little.

Instead the staff offered to search Bear when he came in in the mornings (to the special school). At first we said no, I mean why bother, but when they offered repeatedly and said they were doing it with many other students, we changed our minds.

So Tuesday Bear was searched. He was found with:
1/4 of a pumpkin pie
a bag filled with at least 1 and a 1/2 dozen Squirrel cookies
about $.30 in pennies
a cell phone

The food was his "lunch" because he didn't like school lunches. Bear didn't understand why it was unacceptable to take this stuff - even though it's been explained to him Many times. He's admitted to using homemade treats to trade for other stuff (money, candy, and who knows what else- drugs?). Knowing the answer, I asked Bear what he'd had for breakfast (applesauce and a cookie). What was he planning on eating for lunch? (pie and cookies). We tried to point out that this wasn't healthy, but as usual I'm pretty sure it didn't get through. Truthfully the homemade food he had was actually pretty healthy... for desserts (especially the squirrel cookies which are full of whole grains, seeds and dried fruit) - the pumpkin pie had a whole grain crust and was sweetened with Splenda, even the applesauce was unsweetened. But considering the empty candy wrapper that fell out of his pocket, I'm pretty sure he wasn't planning on actually eating them.

He claimed he found the pennies on the ground. This was patently not true, but we couldn't prove it until we got home and checked the likely sources (It turned out he'd taken the pennies that Grandma keeps/kept on our mantle to reward the kids for little things like killing flies and refilling ice trays). I walked up to Bear tonight and told him to return the pennies to the mantle (no asking anymore, we know better). He denied it and claimed the pennies were at school. I just kept walking.

The cell phone had a more convoluted story. Bear really is a smart kid. He knows exactly what kind of story is most likely to keep him out of trouble. He claimed that a kid he knew only as Michael had asked to borrow Bear's jacket because he had classes out in the portables and was cold. Bear, being from Nebraska, is never cold so he loaned the boy his jacket. The boy handed back the jacket just as Bear was leaving to get in Grandma's car to go home, so Bear didn't realize the boy had left his phone in Bear's coat pocket until it was "too late."

Bear doesn't know Michael's last name. Has no classes with him. Only sees him sometimes in the halls at lunch near the ROTC room (where Bear eats most of the time). When I asked why the kid was returning the jacket an hour and a half after school got out if he wasn't in the ROTC PT training that Bear was, I was told it was because the boy had a sister in JV basketball and they were practicing in the gym and the boy was watching. Bear of course didn't know the girl's name. His description of the boy was generic too.

The administrator told Bear that if the boy wanted his cell phone back he would have to call the administrator who would need proof that it was the boy's phone - like the charger (the phone was already dead). As far as I know, no one has contacted the administrator, but we all know that if someone does they will have had plenty of time to be "briefed."

So it stinks that Bear will get off with yet another warning. We didn't even think to take the food with us from the meeting so Bear got it all back.

Bear has only served about 6 hours of his 30 hours of community service. Partly because of the holidays, partly because of the bad weather we've been having. Partly because he's very good at not being available.

I'm so fed up with Bear and burned out. Usually the kids take turns, but Kitty is having meltdowns too. It's a good thing they have a visit with the psychiatrist because with all the lovely traumaversaries around this time added in, they probably need some med changes. *sigh* Wish I thought meds could solve all problems. Calgon... take me away!

The stolen cell phone - what happened next