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!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Biomom visit

So here are the pictures taken with Biomom during her meeting with the children. Notice Bear's half-asleep expression. That's one of his avoidance techniques. I was surprised he had allowed this 1/2 hug. He had insisted in the ground rules that she was not allowed to touch him. Notice my children's hands. Look how stressed they are.
I was surprised at how much they look like Biomom, since I think my kids don't look a whole lot alike. Now I'm REALLY curious as to what their biofathers look like. For Kitty I guess we'll never know. For now, despite repeated attempts, Bear has lost contact with his biodad. Biomom thinks he might be in jail again. She doesn't keep in contact with him though.
Here is the letter Biomom sent to me after the visit. I had sent Biomom the Christmas pictures of the kids. In return she sent me copies of the pictures taken at the meeting (there were a few more). They were labeled "My family 060" "My family 062"... Sometimes it's the little things that bother me.
Dear Mary,
I was very please with the way the visits went. I am so glad that it had taken place. I did not leave there feeling empty inside. I felt that I did the right thing. I felt in my heart that the kids are exactly where they needed to be. I wasn't too surprized about how (Kitty) acted, it had been a long time to see me and it was a bit nerve racking.....And the visit with (Bear) was alright. I was very pleased, I know it did hurt when I left. But I knew in my heart it was alright. Mary, you and (Hubby) are so much more than I expected and I want to tell you THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, the kids mean alot to me and I know now that they are being taken care of.
The Christmas pictures are so nice. thank you for sending them to me. I did worry for a few days now, how well the kids did after the visits.

You know as far as the friend in Indiana (the friend she was staying with when she met Kitty's bio father) I don't know where they are now. I tried to find them about 1 month ago, when I was out there but came up with nothing. Surely I thought to myself someone would know where he was. The fair was in (_______) Indiana but I don't know the name of it. It was just a thing that happened. We only slept together one time. and then I called the next day and he was gone. So I am just as confused as everyone else.

Thank you again for letting me see them, and I hope that is was better than you expected. And send my thank you to (Hubby) also. It was very appreciative. (Biomom)
So now the visit is done. The kids seem none the worse for wear. The horrible timing was apparently God's plan as starting school the next day seemed to provide a major distraction to Kitty. While she is continuing to have meltdowns, it does not appear to be related to Biomom's visit.
I'm not sure about blog etiquette. Should I not post pictures of biomom? I can crop her out or remove the pictures later.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"There was a little girl" poem

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good,

She was very good indeed,

But when she was bad she was horrid.

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My mom used to recite this poem to me often as a child. She could tell stories about me that would "curl your hair!" *wink*

Now I have a curly haired boy.

There was a little jock,

Who had a curly lock,

Right in the middle of his forehead.

When he was good,

He was very good indeed,

But when he was bad he was horrid.

-- Marythemom
Bear has overcome so many of his issues. With the proper diagnoses, appropriate medications, a father who doesn't beat him, an overprotective mother who doesn't allow him to parent her, and a school that supervises his every step. He has done so well.
So why am I completely unable to trust him?! I am told repeatedly that I have to let my children earn privileges and trust or they'll give up. Every 6 weeks he comes home with As and Bs on his report card. His weekly progress report calls him a role model and praises his good choices. Hubby thinks he is becoming attached to us and his issues are normal teenage boy stuff. It's been a whole week and no word about bad behavior or choices from the public high school.
All I can see is the lying to my face, "I hate my biomom. I never want to talk to her. I don't want her to know anything about me." While at the same time he was calling her and talking to her on her home phone and cell as recently as a month ago. I understand his need to talk to her. I even understand his need to be sneaky about it (we had forbidden contact). I am just upset that he felt the need to lie and tell me that he hated her so much he didn't want to talk to her. I have NEVER criticized her, in fact I play devil's advocate and DEFEND her most of the time. I tell my kids REPEATEDLY that I know they love their biomom and that's OK.
I think Hubby is dead wrong about Bear attaching to us. I think now that Bear is able to control his emotions, he is able to keep them locked in a box deep inside him (festering and not being processed or healed). I think he had a better chance of healing when he had to open that box and "vent the volcano." We were told early on that we would make more progress with Bear then with Kitty because he wore his heart on his sleeve. Granted he usually showed anger instead of fear, stress, or any other emotion, but at least when he was upset- you knew it. After a blow-up he would talk about his feelings - and they were real.
Now it is so rare to see him showing emotion of any kind. This picture of him laughing is one of the few times since I've known him that I've seen him with more than a mild expression on his face - unless he was raging out of control, or sobbing or scared after a rage.
I pity any woman in the future who tries to have a relationship with him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Meltdown by Kitty

Kitty has been defiant at home, but usually staying fairly calm - as long as no one makes any demands of her. Every time she is asked to pick up after herself, do her chores, or is denied anything... she has been claiming that she is picked on and no one loves her. She gets defiant and wants to leave.

Monday night before Hubby and I got home, we had been warned by Grandma (our afterschool care) that Kitty had refused to do her chores (again), and that the other kids hadn't done all of theirs (each child has 3 chores to do daily -it's different each day). Kitty's chores on Monday were to pick up her room, wash dishes and make sure the cats had water in their dishes (they already did).

When we got home, I fussed at all the kids about the incomplete and sloppy chores and reminded them that we had company coming in the next couple of weeks - including my youngest's birthday party. I deliberately did not single Kitty out, but Kitty does not handle criticism well and still got overwhelmed. I then sent them to do their chores and asked them all to do a little bit extra.

Kitty was required to take a cup and bowl out of the playroom (that weren't hers) and put them in the sink. I swear that's all! Even my 9 year old had more to do.

As usual Kitty started claiming that we didn't love her, that she hated being part of our family. I tried reassuring her - it got worse. I tried just letting her vent - she got worse. I gently redirected her to her tasks and pointed out how easy they were (Kitty's room is pretty bare so it was mostly dirty clothes on her floor - all she had to do was put them in a basket) - she got worse.

Doing dishes is Kitty's least favorite chore. I was cooking dinner next to her as she complained and finally claimed she had a cut on her finger (and therefore couldn't do dishes).

Hubby tried to look at it and she refused - and refused to do any more dishes. I left the room to help another child and when I came back she was sitting on the floor of the kitchen, yelling at Hubby, and claiming she would never do dishes again -and never eat again (so she wouldn't make any dirty dishes). The "cut" on her finger was impossible to see. She kept escalating, even though we calmly tried to redirect her.

Then she threatened to hurt herself and blame us. When I told her we wouldn't let her hurt herself, she threatened to hurt herself at school (and blame it on us). I calmly informed her that she had made this threat so many times that no one would believe her (I meant that no one would believe we did it because they know we never would and that she has often threatened to blame us before- reported by us every time for this reason!). She apparently thought I meant no one would believe she was hurt. She said, "I'm going to really burn myself then." She stood up and ran for the boiling water on the gas stove. I quickly stepped in front of her. I am quite frankly not sure whether she would have done anything.

As Hubby loosely held her to keep her away from the flames she began kicking at him and getting out of control. He attempted to hook his leg around hers to stop the kicking and she struggled, knocking him off balance. They ended up on the floor (he was able to keep from landing on her). She started biting and screaming and threatening to run away.

I decided that to keep her safe we would most likely need to keep her under direct parental supervision (4 foot rule - we've used before). I removed her shoes in case she decided to run. It was almost bedtime so I decided to remove all her shoes and street clothes so we would be able to let her sleep in her own room (left her PJs of course). She was distracted by what I was up to (she could hear me and wanted to know what I was doing), and was able to calm down. Hubby followed her upstairs while I finished making dinner and washing her sheets since I'd discovered she had no clean ones - apparently she's been wetting the bed more lately.

Within about 20 minutes she calmed down and apologized to us both. She finished the dishes, ate dinner, took her meds and went to sleep. We directly supervised her until she fell asleep (I made her bed for her). We have told her that she would likely not be going to school tomorrow (Tuesday), but discussed it and decided to take her to school anyway (big client meeting and we knew she is still in a honeymoon period at school and would be "fine." She REALLY wants to go to school, and is willing to be more compliant if she knows it is at stake.

So as planned we let her know in the morning that we were allowing her to go to school, but would be having a meeting with the school. What happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas. The school said they wanted us to continue to bring her so they could see what she was like "in action." As expected, she was fine in school, but at least they know a little more about what she is like at home, and are less likely to think I'm an over-reacting, over-protective freak.

During Kitty's therapy session tonight we tried to talk about the incident, but she became extremely agitated and repeatedly and determinedly changed the subject.

We've tried sending her to a psychiatric hospital and found that to make things worse because she enjoys it and finds it a great escape from her chores and family. I worry that she is going to continue to escalate because she feels that if she throws a fit she can get out of doing things she doesn't want to do. When that doesn't work, then she'll throw a bigger fit. Scary!

And of course, all this is "MY" fault, because I "pushed" her. Something else to work on - my frustration and insistence on chore completion, does NOT justify meltdowns. *sigh*

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's been a long year!

Jan 1-5 Psychiatric hospitalization for Kitty
Jan 5-8 Kitty goes to work with me.
Jan 8 We tell Kitty about public school.
Jan 9 Kitty goes back to private school.
Jan 13 We tell Kitty about Biomom visit.
Jan 16 Girls' last day of private school and Kitty's service meeting with old school district
Jan 19 Meeting with Biomom
Jan 20 Bear starts attending 2 regular classes at local highschool.
Bob starts 7th grade public school.
Kitty goes to work with us.
Jan 21 ARD/IEP meeting/fight for Kitty's placement in 7th grade.
Kitty starts 7th grade public school.
I get shingles.
Jan 22 Shingles officially diagnosed.
Gas turned off at home.
Electricity turned off at work.
Jan 23 Stay home all morning to wait for Gas to be turned back on.
Jan 24 Shopping all day! Spend hours getting girls' clothing for public school.
Grandma takes all kids for the night!
Jan 25 Ponito comes down with stomach flu - spends all night vomiting.
Kitty gets hives - Grandparents don't know any better and just give her Benadryl. Psychiatrist confirms we need to remove Lamictal (new med we started 1 1/2 weeks ago) immediately and if rash doesn't get better take her to ER to verify is not fatal rash associated with this med.

At least I am on an antiviral medication and unlikely to get the Two Bucket Disease that Ponito has. Sister is going to Singapore at the beginning of next month for a whole week. The kids will be depending a lot on Grandma. Luckily, her family has already had Two Bucket Disease. Now all I have to do is PRAY that Grandma doesn't get it. She took care of nephew when he got it, and Ponito was in her house when his symptoms started.

One more week until this month is over. February is a short month! Ponito turns 10 on February 8 - birthday party still to be planned.

"Whenever you think, "I don't think I can do this," take a look around: You already are.
If "that which does not kill us makes us stronger..." just call me Superwoman.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blessed by misfortune

"Blessed by misfortune" - heard this phrase recently and I really like it. It describes what I hope for my children. That they will use their life experiences to grow and be stronger people -instead of dysfunctional, whining, entitled brats. Now I just need to help them (and me) to work toward this.

LOL Making of a family photo!

Here's the final photo. The one we chose for our adoption family photo.

Following are some of the pictures it took to get this final shot. Now imagine this with 6 of us!! Poor photographer!

Christmas pictures

The long awaited Christmas pictures! These are my gorgeous children. If you're wondering why we're all dressed up in evening gowns, well I'll tell you!

If Ponito's face looks a little funny in the family pictures it's because the little goober only smiled in ONE picture of the 10 or so she took. In that ONE picture, many other family members were blinking or not smiling or something. We NEVER get it right at the first sitting, but I had held out high hopes and it was crowded. Last year took 3 sittings! So this year, rather than get everyone all dressed up again, our sweet cousin photoshopped his smiling face into my favorite picture. He turned out a little "brighter" than the rest!

About 4 years ago it was time for Christmas pictures to be taken by one of our favorite cousins who is a professional photographer. Hubby was teaching scuba so couldn't attend. Bob had outgrown all her Christmas dresses so we ran to a thrift store to pick something out. We searched for quite awhile and then she fell in love with an evening gown! It was on clearance so I let her get it. She looked gorgeous. Even in the "silly" picture (which is at the top of my blog!).

When the kids first got here and it was time to take Cmas pictures, Bob immediately bragged about the evening gown picture to Kitty- and it instantly became a "tradition." I had a bunch of evening gowns in my closet left over from college dances and the like. We found one that fit Kitty. Bob had a pretty gown in her dress up clothes (again, yea thrift stores!). The girls looked absolutely gorgeous! Of course I was distracted by getting them ready and paid no attention to the boys! Bad Mommy! Hence Ponito and Bear's hot pink and turquoise shirts!If you want to see last year's pictures, it's the one at the bottom of my blog. Last year I decided I was going to make sure we all matched. We found a dress that one of the girls fell in love with and then found other dresses to match - they were all inexpensive thrift store finds. I even found matching ties for the boys. This year Kitty fell in love with light blue, and Bob found one too. I looked everywhere for another light blue dress and couldn't find one for me (plus I don't really like the color so I decided grey was good too).

Next year I am going to push for casual. The boys are all for the idea, but I'm going to have a fight on my hands with the girls. What do you think? Red t-shirts and jeans?!

I think I look fat in this year's picture so the following pictures of just the kids are my absolute favorites. I particularly love this one of Bear laughing out loud (LOL!). It is actually a pretty rare occurrence. Little Ponito tried not to smile, but now that I was behind the cameras I started doing silly things to get them to smile.

Aren't they absolutely gorgeous?!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

School Daze

Last Friday - we had a meeting with Kitty's old school district to discuss her special needs with her new school district. They gave us the assessment results, but honestly, since they discussed it I didn't bother to read it in depth. Stupid me! Everyone at the meeting heard them say that Kitty is operating on about a second grade level (actually half of them heard 7th grade, but luckily we clarified that before the meeting ended). We were also told that she needed to be in a small group setting to be successful and if she had to be mainstreamed then she would need support from a behavior specialist for most if not all of class. Apparently NONE of this was actually in the stupid report. Even though 2 of the three people who were at that meeting were present for the IEP (in Texas it's called an ARD) meeting, and both agreed that that was what we heard - they went by the recomendations outlined in the assessment.

Saturday - I didn't feel good and slept most of the day.

Sunday - I missed church to spend some time with Hubby, and then took Hubby and whiny kids shopping at Sam's Club (warehouse store).

Monday - Biomom visit.

Tuesday - Spent 3 hours with Kitty (ADHD and emotionally disturbed) sitting around waiting to see if we could get her enrolled, while Bob took placement tests for Texas History - which she had completed at the private school. Hubby and the private school teachers were outraged that she was being forced to take the tests when she had documented proof of completion from an accredited school. It was hard to argue with them, and then she failed the tests. *sigh*

Discovered that they planned to put Kitty in several regular classes with inclusion help (15 minutes of assistance once a week!). Totally unacceptable. They wanted her to start that afternoon or the next day, but I insisted on an IEP meeting (ARD) before she started. So she came to work with us again.

Wednesday - Emergency meeting at the school to discuss their plans for Kitty's schedule. They started with the completely unacceptable schedule and we argued from there. They have Kitty in a regular ed Science class, with inclusion help (the inclusion teacher is in there all day, but doesn't only work with Kitty - she's more like a class aide). We also insisted that Kitty have a behavior assistant sit with her in every class that wasn't in the resource room - for most of the period, if not all. We'll see how that goes. She has several electives because we insisted she not be put in PE this year (way too many kids in each class for her to handle). She is taking theatre arts and choir. She has study hall during one period (they are not set up for this, so her schedule says teacher aide). The good news is that this means she will have little to no homework. The only choir that fit in her schedule turned out to be a beginning class for 6th graders (we asked her if she was OK with that and she was). She has absolutely no sense of rythym or pitch, but luckily that is not required! It's her last period of the day so she ends on a good note! (pun intended!)

Thursday - apparently they turned off the gas last night, and Kitty wet the bed so Kitty and Hubby had to take cold showers. This put them both in charming moods. This also means no dryer (so no laundry) and no cooking on our gas stove tonight. Luckily it's fairly warm today (yea Texas!). Hubby talked to the gas company and they will come out tomorrow and turn it back on. Which means I have to stay home until it's done, and since we only have one car - I'll be stuck home all day.

Kitty has had another growth spurt (she is now 5'3" and weighs 150lbs!). We argued and dealt with meltdowns for most of the morning about the fact that her "favorite" t-shirt was too form-fitting (other than the fact that she is now at least a 34C, you can't tell where all the extra weight is going). When she finally changed shirts, she discovered that most of her clothes were no longer acceptable. She spent so much time arguing that she didn't make lunch or have breakfast. She kept knocking things over and yelling at Hubby. I ended up giving her a plain t-shirt from my closet and plan to take both girls looking for t-shirts today. I'm hoping Grandma will help pay.

Bob is now super confident and has lots of friends (mostly boys who want her phone number! *eek*) -pretty cool for my introverted daughter who complained all through elementary that she had no friends. Totally bad news for my jealous Kitty, who can't stand others having what she wants.

Ironically after talking about it at work yesterday, one of the staff thought she might have it, I discovered I have shingles... again!! This will be the second time in 3 years. Maybe I'm under just a wee bit of stress?! Good news is I got a nice nap while waiting at the doctor's office, and my wonderful Mom (who had to drive me - no car) took me out to lunch afterward.

Hubby didn't feel well but went to work anyway and discovered that the electricity has been turned off. When he calls the electric company they tell him our tax id number doesn't match theirs (probably have the former owners). They won't turn our electricity back on until tomorrow unless we fax them a W9 form with the correct tax id number. Luckily I'd printed out a W9 form a couple of days before for a client so we had one. The problem is, how do you fax without electricity! So Hubby had to find a place to send a fax. Somedays it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

It's been a long week, month, YEAR!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Rules of Being Human

Saw this today and really liked it.
The Rules of Being Human

You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live. How you take care of it, or fail to take care of it, can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.

You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called Life. Each day, you will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know. The lessons presented are often completely different from those you think you need.

There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentation. You can learn as much from failure as you can from success. Maybe more.

A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it (as evidenced by a change in your attitude and ultimately your behavior) then you can go on to the next lesson.

Learning lessons does not end. There is no stage of life that does not contain some lessons. As long as you live there will be something more to learn.

“There” is no better than “here”. When your “there” has become a “here” you will simply discover another “there” that will again look better than your “here.” Don’t be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what you have.

Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself. When tempted to criticize others, ask yourself why you feel so strongly.

What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you create with those tools and resources is up to you. Remember that through desire, goal setting and unflagging effort you can have anything you want. Persistence is the key to success.

The answers lie inside of you. The solutions to all of life’s problems lie within your grasp. All you need to do is ask, look, listen and trust yourself.

Biomom - Bear's visit

I wasn't there for Bear's visit. I went home with Kitty. So this was relayed to me after we'd gone to bed, from Hubby's point of view 2 days ago. So forgive me if it misses anything pertinent.

Bear started the session alone with the therapist. After about 10 minutes or so Hubby and Biomom were invited in. Bear was allowed to choose where everyone sat. He put Biomom near the door to the office - as far away from everyone as you could get. He alternated between shutting down and asking questions.

With the therapist's prompting he asked why Biomom had given him up. She said she wasn't in a good place in her life and she felt that they were safer somewhere else and she felt she couldn't give them the life that they needed or deserved. He asked why she told Biofamily that the children had been taken from her by the state. She denied it and said she's always told the family the truth.

He asked why she had waited so long to take him to see Biofather. Bear has always maintained that it was his Grandfather who took him to his first meeting with his biofather. Biomom denies this in the therapy session and said it was she who took him, at about age 5 (before which Biofather didn't know of his existence) and occasionally afterward, but that there was drug and alcohol abuse and Biofather was in and out of prison so she thought him a bad influence. She mentioned that Bear's Biodad has never paid child support at least twice. She did answer in the positive, the therapist's question about whether or not she was sure that Biofather really was Biofather.

When Bear asked her why it took her so long to take him to see Biofather and why she didn't want him to see him. Biomom started to just say Biodad was a bad influence, but the therapist told her that Bear was old enough for her to be blunt about it, so she told Bear that Biofather was a substance abuser.

Bear was also Biomom's protector (yes, he was only 11 when he was sent away). Apparently Biomom worried about this getting him hurt. She mentioned this in the therapist session as well. I had noticed this when he first came to us (and really he still does it some). We called it parenting, and have pretty much forbidden it. It was very patronizing. It took me almost a year to show Bear that I was strong enough to take care of myself and didn't need him telling me what to do. I doubt he trusts me or anyone enough to trust us with him or his safety, but it's a little better.

There were a few more questions, but Hubby didn't remember them well, and now I don't remember what he told me. Those were the big ones.

Bear finished talking to Biomom in about 20 minutes and asked her to leave so he could finish his session with the therapist. Hubby was invited to leave a couple of minutes later so he sat with Biomom while she waited for her cab. They talked a little more.

Biomom talked to Hubby about going for her business degree, but admitted to being a procrastinator. When asked about the things the kids had asked for, she said she hadn't found them. Hubby assumes that she put off looking for them and then gave up when she couldn't find them where she thought they were. (Bear had asked for his wrestling medals. Biomom mentioned to Hubby that a friend of hers had a son who had a ton of wrestling medals laying around and she might just ask for some of them. Hubby asked me to tell her in my follow-up e-mail that it would be better not to give Bear any medals then give him someone else's.)

Hubby took Bear out for a shake at a fast food restaurant to "make up" for the fact that Bear didn't get lunch out like Kitty did. He still begged to have dinner out - ad infinitum.

A little while after Bear got home I asked him about the phone calls to Biomom. He had most likely talked to the therapist about this, so had a story all ready to go. He completely denied having called her and said he had only spoken to her when she was at the Grandma's house with the girls. I let it go, but I think he knows I thought this was BS. I told him he needed to tell us before he called biofamily (including ex-stepfather).

Overall the visit went pretty well. We are dealing with a lot fewer repercussions then I thought we would. Of course both kids are super distracted by starting public school (full-time for Kitty, just two classes at the high school for Bear). More on how that's going in my next post.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Biomom visit - Kitty's visit

The photo on the left was taken during Kitty's time in foster care. It was probably how Biomom last saw her. The photo on the right is a more recent picture.
Because we ran late, Grandma ended up bringing Kitty to the therapist's office - so Kitty was waiting in the lobby when we left the office. Biomom wanted to get something out of her luggage which was being stored in the office so she was behind us a bit. Kitty stood up and began talking to me about something (no idea what).

When Biomom came around the corner, Kitty noticed her, but continued talking to me as if Biomom weren't there. I stood close to Kitty, and told her it was "OK." I wasn't going to tell her she had to do anything, but at the same time I tried to let her know I was OK with however she wanted to handle this. I felt sorry for Biomom who couldn't take her eyes off of my beautiful Kitty during the whole visit. We walked to the restaurant which was nearby, with a small wooded area between us. I foolishly wore heels (my only clean jeans were too long to wear with flats!) so we walked on the side of the road instead of taking a short cut by the creek. I only stumbled twice, but didn't fall!

Kitty walked right next to me, and pretty much ignored Biomom, although she did make a comment to Biomom's back about her hair being longer and a different color (Biomom had highlights and possibly dyed her hair). We talked about highlights and where Kitty got her coloring from. (Bear and Kitty get their curls from Biomom). I told Biomom that Bear had just gotten his curls cut off, and she was surprised he'd let it grow out. I was too! I had told him no buzz cuts or flat tops when he and Hubby went to get haircuts on Saturday so it wasn't freakishly short for once. Bear looked very nice.

When we got to the restaurant I asked Kitty how she wanted everyone to sit. She "didn't care." I ended up across from Kitty with Hubby and the therapist on either side of me. Kitty sat in the middle seat on the other side of the table with Biomom next to her. Ironically the school psychologist who had completed Kitty's assessment noticed us entering the restaurant (we'd seen her at the school meeting on Friday), and came over to talk. We were nowhere near the school (which is in another town) so it was a pretty big coincidence. She said hi to Kitty, and I doubt she realized what she was interrupting, although she'd known about the meeting.

Kitty kept her focus on food the whole time. (Thank goodness the therapist suggested doing this over lunch - it was perfect!). When Kitty's salad came we all sat watching her eat! Good thing the child is not shy. She didn't even notice.

I kept trying to encourage Kitty to ask Biomom questions. We did learn a little more about who Kitty was named after (a cousin of Biomom's grandfather that she called Grandma, and her middle name came from a family friend who was very supportive during Biomom's pregnancy with Kitty. Who she looks like (mostly Biodad although she definitely has Biomom's cheekbones) - still can't believe Biodad was 6'2"! I tried to ask questions (without it feeling like an interview or like I was taking over the conversation) to encourage Kitty to talk and keep the conversation going.

When everyone finished eating Kitty hopped up ready to go. (Her therapist jokingly declared that she was going to make a note that Kitty had finally said she was full. It's the first time the therapist has ever heard her say that! Usually the therapist has to put up with endless complaints of hunger). Hubby and the therapist started walking back because Hubby had to be there to meet Bear for therapy, and the therapist had another appointment. Kitty, Biomom and I trailed behind.

Biomom asked Kitty if she could have a hug. I couldn't hear what they said, and tried to give them both privacy and support at the same time (not as easy as it sounds). Biomom gave Kitty a big bear hug and didn't let go. She talked quietly in Kitty's ear. Kitty hugged back and even played with Biomom's hair a little. I overheard a little of the conversation and it sounded like Biomom was complying with our request to tell Kitty she loved her, but that Kitty was in the right place now. (Kitty told me later that Biomom hugged her so tight she couldn't breathe and asked if I'd noticed. I told her no I hadn't seen anything like that. I'm not sure it was true or Kitty just wanted me to think she was uncomfortable.)

Biomom had asked if she could take pictures of the kids, so on the way out I offered to take pictures of the two of them together (made Biomom cry again although she was remarkably restrained during the initial meeting and with Kitty - wiping a quick tear or two). Grandma got confused again (Bear was "helping" her with the times and directions) and came to the restaurant to pick us up so Biomom sort of met Ponito (he jumped out of the van to hug me). I finished taking pictures and Kitty hopped in the van. I talked to Biomom for a second before she started walking back to the therapists. She was pretty nervous about the meeting with Bear.

Kitty was pretty hyper on the way home, but I'm sure part of that was the fact that she got to eat out! Kitty went upstairs to play with dolls. Bob finished her movie and joined Kitty. They played upstairs for quite awhile. I think Kitty needs this kind of downtime. I sent Grandma home (poor thing has the cold we've all been passing around) and stayed nearby - wrote the previous post!

Bear and Hubby came home late. Hubby had taken Bear to Jack in the Box afterward. Tonight I'll get the lowdown on how Bear's therapy went and post tomorrow.

Everyone started begging to eat out and rent a movie. Instead Hubby made one of his fantastic chicken recipes and we did rent a movie (Journey to the Center of the Earth). Wouldn't have been my first choice, but at least it wasn't too upsetting.

Biomom had brought a blanket for Kitty that Kitty had had as a baby. Even though Kitty's nose was stuffed up she wrapped the blanket around herself like a cape and said it smelled like her old house. Biomom said she had washed it before she left, but that it would probably need another wash. Hubby started to insist that we wash it, but I knew Kitty needed it to smell like her old house so I stopped him. It didn't reek of cigarette smoke or anything. Kitty "wore" it for most of the evening.

Overall Kitty held it together pretty well. Right before bed, Kitty insisted that we cover her new textbooks. When Hubby told her she needed to cover her them by herself, she insisted that she couldn't do it, and when he pressed her she got upset. I just did it myself and sent her to bed. It had been a long day. We've given her a Melatonin every night this week and it seems to be helping. I'm sure she's out like a light.

Biomom visit - therapist office

Well it's over, and it went as smoothly as could be hoped.

Therapist office - no kids

Biomom was already there when we got there. We talked to her for a few minutes while waiting for the therapist to finish his earlier session. She thanked us for allowing the visit. She gave us some pictures of herself and the girls (bio sibs that still live with her). We talked about babies in general. Her youngest daughter is only 4 months old, it was hard for Biomom to leave her behind. I found out that Kitty walked at 9 months, Bear walked at 14mo and didn't talk until age 2. He was 2 when Kitty was born and Biomom said until then she and he had been best buds. On the day he was brought to the hospital to see Mom and new baby, she said he went to a corner and refused to speak. She said that was when the trouble started between them.

Her daughters had cried and wanted to come on this visit. Biomom mentioned that her best friend had come, but they had decided it was better if she wasn't at the meeting (I agreed). Kitty has talked about the best friend, and mentioned that she wanted to apologize to her. I asked Biomom to pass this along.

During the therapy session, Biomom admitted that she did not want this visit to be about closure, and almost cancelled. Her wish to see the kids won out. She was very grateful to Hubby and I for taking care of the children. She does seem to have gotten her life together and told us she is in therapy. We learned a little more about some of the kids' background. Kitty has always claimed that she bit people all the time. Biomom said Kitty never bit, but Bear went for blood and always broke the skin. Biomom gave us a few more details about some abuse that happened to Kitty at age 4.

One of the hardest things to hear was that Bear has been secretly contacting Biomom and one of her ex-husbands. Despite his claims that he hates her, he contacted her as recently as a month ago. She says she has changed her phone number recently. He has told her many tales, even told her that Hubby hit Bear with a baseball bat! We reassured her that this of course never happened. That Bear has grown a lot, and is no longer as angry, although of course he still has issues. (When asked about this, Bear of course denied it. He claims he only talked with her when she was at Biograndma's house. I believe Biomom on this one. We'll probably look at the phone bill. I told him he needed to tell us when he was contacting biofamily or Biomom's ex-husbands.)

Kitty's therapist got lost and showed up 5 minutes before the session ended. She asked how Kitty and Bear interacted. Biomom said that Bear parented everyone, including her (he tried this with me too when he first got here). She said that he didn't really spend a lot of time with the girls or anyone. Sounds like Kitty shut down when he was abusive to her and that she passed this abuse on to her sisters.

We talked about relationships with biofamily. Biomom admitted to having been physically abused by her step-father (who is still married to her mother). She confirmed that her biofather was an alcoholic. We discussed biofamily and who it would be safe for the kids to continue to have a relationship with. There were several family members that she didn't recommend allowing continued contact with - including Bear's biodad. She stated that Biodad had substance abuse issues and has been in and out of jail. She had not encouraged Bear to have a relationship with Biodad. She said it was she who had taken Bear to meet Biodad (he claimed it was his Grandfather). Currently Biodad has not been communicating with Bear (that we know of).

Kitty was waiting in the lobby.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Eating her emotions

Chores Friday included cleaning the playroom. Grandma hasn't been able to get the kids to do much of anything so has pretty much told them to dust and vacuum - and they don't really do that.
After talking to the insurance company, calming Kitty down (she was convinced the other kids were laughing at her), I decided to address the fact that the kids were playing in the playroom instead of cleaning it.
Bob was picking up miniscule pieces of stuff in slow motion. Kitty was laying around watching her and claiming to be taking a break because she was tired and/or ill.
I tried just supervising, but that didn't help. I threatened to throw away all the stuff I had to clean up. A bit of an effect on Bob, Kitty started whining that she was sick.

So I started picking up trash and throwing it away. Then I started picking up toys and putting them in the trash pile near Kitty (so she could pull them out if she wanted to). She still got overwhelmed and had a meltdown. I explained that I deliberately put the toys near her so she didn't have to get up off her tuckus. She still got upset.

The neighbor who is a teacher at the private school brought by Bob's Texas History workbooks so she could review all weekend.

We realized we were late to Kitty's therapy appointment. During which she spent the whole time complaining she was hungry and had nothing to talk about (typical lately, an obvious distraction as well). After therapy and on the way home we talked about how her feelings are related to eating.

Kitty has always blocked her feelings. She doesn't listen to her body. She even encourages people to pinch her arms to show them that she has no feelings there. She "plays" roughly and has no idea how to handle it when it increases beyond her comfort level. She was "play fighting" with a boy and accidentally hit him in the nose - giving him a nose bleed. Everyone agreed it was an accident, but she has no idea how to prevent it from happening again.
She is not ticklish and appears to have no idea if food is literally dripping off her face. Like Bear she has high psychosomatic illnesses. (Commented on by the psychologist giving the results of her school assessment).
After an hour of complaining that she was starving during therapy, I mentioned to Kitty that she was probably dissociating/ distracting herself from her emotions (she denied this of course). We talked about how she used to take medications that kept her from being hungry, and we kept telling her to go ahead and eat. Now she is probably on a med that is doing the opposite. I asked her to try to be aware of how much she is eating (lately more than a starving teenage boy and craving more!). We talked about how she spent so many years denying her emotions.
The subject changed to why Bear is angry at Biomom. I tried to explain that Bear's heart was damaged because Biomom wasn't able to parent him well. Now Bear doesn't feel safe trusting anyone with his heart. So he pushes people away so no one can ever get close to his heart. I also added a little about how his early childhood was different from hers (biomom's abusive men tended to beat him up). We talked a little about how hard it must have been for biomom, having four kids, aging out of the foster care system, running away from her problems (pointed out that Kitty and Bear do this too)... I also touched on how the chemicals in Bear's body were messed up, and that in residential treatment they found medications that helped him, but he still had a lot of things to work through before he was safe to come home (Bear was able to come home from RTC when his bipolar disorder received proper treatment).
Hardest part for me to remember, is to always respect the relationships (no matter how tempting it is to put down or criticize the biofamily). I always speak of son (and biofamily) with love, but honesty, and try to explain why he might have done the things he did. We talk about the things he did that made him unsafe to be around, but how much we love him anyway.
Mostly we emphasize keeping everyone safe.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Please say bad things come in threes

So since I was supposed to take our only car to a networking meeting Thursday night, and Friday was going to be a logistical nightmare with the boys out of school, the girls needing to register at public school, the meeting to review Kitty's assessment results with the new school district, Kitty having meltdown after meltdown, not enough money to cover payroll...

the car breaks down on the way home from Bear's therapy. We had just made a u-turn because I thought I had forgotten to pick up one of Kitty's meds when it died (I realized after it died that I was wrong).

Apparently this was God's way of reminding me that I promised to get more exercise - so we walked home (only a couple of blocks and luckily the park on the way had a bathroom - I had to pee! Stupid males laughed at me when I complained that the seat on the outdoor potty in 40 degree weather was darn cold!).

So Grandma loaned us her car and Poppy helped Hubby tow the dead car to the shop. I missed my meeting, but decided Kitty needed me home anyway.

Today started fairly smoothly. Hubby drove the girls to the private school for their last day (and to finish tests). The boys had the day off so we let them sleep in and then had to talk them into getting ready to go. Why is it shoes go missing on days like these? I had to find 2 pair!

Of course I forgot my phone.

One of our clients who was supposed to make it possible for us to get a decent size check to cover payroll, of course didn't come through.

Kitty's assessment review went pretty well, they were very clear with the new school district that Kitty needs a resouce classroom (small group setting) for pretty much everything and PE would be overwhelming. I don't think they totally agreed, but we have a good starting point for the ARD - which of course is the bad news.

They will schedule an ARD as quickly as possible, but no one recommends Kitty starts school until her schedule is hammered out. So she gets to come to work with us.

I had so much fun filling out all the registration forms, twice. With all their already redundant questions.

Bob had worked so hard to finish her Texas History coursework, and now the public school insists on making her take 2 exams on her first day to prove that she learned it. Even though the private school is accredited. With any luck she'll get to take an extra elective instead.

Hubby and I missed a client meeting to go to the meeting for Kitty.

We had to pay the private school for half this month's tuition for the girls ($500+)

Luckily our car was repaired relatively cheaply ($500+).

Hubby went back to work for a meeting with one of our biggest clients. The client just layed off 14 people and told us that while they love our work, they are canceling the project.

Kitty had at least 3 meltdowns.
Then it got more fun, but this post is long enough.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Psychiatrtist visit

Saw the psychiatrist last night. Bear is doing great and is very stable. He doesn't have to come back for 3-6 months! Yea!

Kitty needs to come back in 2-3 weeks. We are finally starting her on Lamictal and are discussing taking her off Seroquel which doesn't seem to be having an effect (obviously no med changes right now). We discussed her high anxiety issues and the results of the school psychological assessment.

One thing we discussed is the problem with running out of office visits. We currently get 31 mental health visits a year per child. Both kids see a therapist weekly (Kitty twice a week, but one therapist only takes Medicaid, not our private insurance) add the monthly psychiatrist visits...

So there is a Texas mandate for youth (under 18) with SMI (severe mental illness) that allows us to have 60 visits a year (instead of just the 30 we get with our mental health rider on our health insurance. We asked the psychiatrist why he wasn't using the bipolar diagnosis for Kitty so she qualified. He says it's because people with diagnosed bipolar disorder can't get life insurance. Ok, that sucks, but I wish he'd told us this was why he hadn't given her the diagnosis. We told him we'd rather have the extra coverage for our daughter over the next 6 years. Currently she is seeing the psychiatrist every 2-3 weeks, and therapists 2-3 times a week. 30 visits is not going to cover anything.

Of course the pharmacy does not have the starter pack for the Lamictal on hand. *sigh*

Should I be worried about life insurance?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ground Rules

So last night I told Kitty in therapy that Biomom was coming. Kitty chose, big shock, to get to see Biomom. We told Kitty that we had many concerns, and listed a few of our reasons this might not be a good idea. No effect, but at least we got them out there. Kitty stated, "I know it's strange, but I still love her." We reassured Kitty that that is not strange at all!

We asked Kitty what would she like to get out of the visit. Kitty asked about Bear's rules and goals. I told her that Bear wanted to confront Biomom about putting him in foster care, and ask questions about Biodad. Kitty didn't understand why Bear was angry at Biomom. When we asked her what questions she had, she mentioned Biofather (although she had no ideas on specific questions) and at one point wanted to know if the Grandmother she was named after (birth name) was dead (Bear had told her that she was). She had no intention of asking anything "controversial" or confrontational.

We informed Kitty that there were some things we wanted her to understand.
1. This does not mean she is going to start seeing or talking to Biomom all the time - maybe not until she is 18.
2. This meeting is for closure.
3. We do not want to share a lot of personal information about our family (although biofamily has almost everything and has never shown an unwillingness to share).
4. If we feel that she is getting overwhelmed we will stop the meeting immediately or change the subject (we made that part of the ground rules).

So here's where I ask for input on the "Ground Rules" to send to Biomom (or present in the meeting) from you guys.

This is what we have so far (most of these came from the therapist and I and/or Bear):

1. No lies (Bear specifically wants the truth about TPR).
2. Biomom acts like the adult (no cussing, no yelling, no blaming)
3. This does not mean ongoing contact.
4. The therapist, Hubby and I can change the subject or end the session at any time.
Bear has not finished his list, but so far he has specifically added:
5. No hugging or touching.
6. No talking about the future (he believes it is none of her business).

I think Kitty is more excited about the fact that she gets to eat out then the actual visit. She is disappointed that their younger sisters will not be coming.

Kitty was agitated, but managed to remain calm during the therapy session. She sucked on a lollypop and that seemed to help. It was a late session so she ate dinner, had a shower and went straight to bed. I added a Melatonin (OTC natural sleep aid) to her meds to help her sleep. It seemed to help. She was much less grouchy this morning then yesterday.

Kitty has an appointment with the psychiatrist tonight. I plan to talk to him about possibly adding an anti-anxiety medication. I hope it doesn't look like we're trying to fix these children with medication. They just have so many issues that to help them function and grow requires assistance - otherwise they are too overwhelmed by symptoms and stimulation to cope and develop.

In answer to a question, I explained to Kitty last night that before Bear went to residential treatment his brain stem was constantly going "AiieeeaiieeeAiiee," and telling his body that he needed to go into "fight, flight or freeze" mode. Our bodies don't know the difference between excitement and anxiety. He tends to "fight" when in this mode. The combination of medications that he is on now help his body stay calm and keep from sending the "AiieeeaiieeeAiiee" signals to his brain stem. I tried to explain to Kitty that she has similar issues, but her body tends to say "flight" or "freeze" and she dissociates (distracts herself). That we are working on helping her with this. Kitty asked me to stop saying, "AiieeeaiieeeAiiee," so the conversation ended.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A pictoral review of our Christmas Break

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures from the holiday break.

Here are my bored boys near the end of Winter Break -watching TV.

This is what happens when bored boys "help" each other "clean" their rooms without supervision. That is CLEAN underwear on Ponito's head. Brother's clothes and sunglasses.

Here we can see the sport sock head gear coming out the convenient back opening (recognize the sock from the TV watching picture? *eew!*) Big brother's pants are unsnapped at the bottom to drag behind for that lovely fish-tail look. Wish you could have seen him walking in Bear's boots. Note the "weapon." Watch out dirt!

This is his "superhero pose." Dustbunnies everywhere cringe at the sight!

"Aren't we cute Mom?! Well, no, we didn't actually get either room clean."

Here we have Kitty working on her school work.

"No really Mom, I can work while sitting on this side of the table. I won't watch TV."

"Dad. You don't need to sit there. I wasn't watching the TV. FiiIINNE! *dramatic teenage sigh*"

"Aren't you glad I'm "normal" Mom?!"
"Yeah, Baby, you are completely normal!"

And now you know why I sometimes hide in my computer cubby and eat comfort food!

On a lighter note!

So this is how I feel on the inside.

Apparently on the outside I look like this:

Yes, I was told by yet another person that I look like a teenager. I realize this sounds like bragging, but I needed some positive affirmation. (This is actually Rachel McAdams from the movie The Notebook, who I've been told I look like). Shopping with Bob on Sunday night we went to pick up the book shelves and "dresser" that we'd purchased at Good Will. Bob was holding my hand part of the time and, and of course, slinging her arm over my shoulders the rest of the time (she loves to do this) - I'm 5'7" and was wearing heels, the girl is just tall!

As we rearranged the groceries to accomodate all the furniture (I'm so proud of myself for managing to cram two 6 foot bookshelves and a tall filing cabinet, plus groceries in the back of the Blazer and still being able to close the doors!), Bob referred to me as Mom. The man who was helping us load was so surprised he actually asked how old I was! *grin* I told him I'm 38 and he replied, "I thought you were her sister!"

So I guess it's a good thing my outsides don't match my insides! I really like being told I look 19!

Saw this quote today and really loved it!

*If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!*

Monday, January 12, 2009

Biomom's response

Dear Mary,

First I would like to say thank you for being so honest with me. This is the first time in four years that anyone has spoken honeslty to me regarding the children. I was not aware of the issues that the children were facing. I always thought the reason I couldn't have any contact with them was because of the terrible person I was protrayed to be. However, I knew in my own heart, that what I did was the right thing to do for my children.

I can assure you that I am well aware that the children are in a place that is loving and caring. The home you have provided for them is where they belong. I am not afraid to let the children know this .

Mary, I would like to let you know that I couldn't imagine how difficult this decision must be for you. I do realize that you have a great deal of love for the children and only want what is best for them. As I do.

Now I am going to be honest with you as you have been with me. I do believe that keeping this visit from Kitty could have damaging affects on your relationship with her, also canceling could do the same with Bear.. I do not want you to think I am saying this because I want to see them, but because this is what I see may happen. My thoughts are that keeping this visit from Kitty could possibly cause her to feel anger and resent you and your husband for not letting her see me.
It is my hope that if we all work together, that we can give Kitty the closure that she so despertly needs. I am willing to do everything in my power to make sure this visit goes as smoothly as possible. I can assure you that the things that you are asking of me will be honored. I am telling you this not only because you are asking me but because it is the truth, from the bottom of my heart.
I would also like to add that while she was in my care, she was never placed in any type of hospital settings.
My flight from (our town) does not leave until 6:30p.m. therefore, it would be possible to arrange another visit possibly with Kitty, if you see fit.
Mary, once again, I want to tell you how greatful I am that you have opened your home and your heart to my children. You are a wonderful mother.

Second e-mail:
Dear Mary,
This is another thing I forgot to add, I will not BLAME the children for this, I will not put the BLAME on anyone. I know how this could damage both of them and I all I want is for the to succeed with life.

From a biochild's point of view

The following is the tear-jerking report that Bob wrote for her school report (they may write on any subject). The school's office manager comforted her and offered to let Bob spend the weekend with her family (she has a high school age daughter that Bob is close to). I let Bob spend Friday night with them (she had a great time) and then Saturday I kept Bob home and sent the rest of the kids to Saint Grandma's (I don't know why she's so good to us!). We made plans, baked cookies, ate raw cookie dough, slept in, and had fun. After lunch at Grandma's (Of which Bear did most of the cooking. It was total yum!), Hubby got all of the kids and I took Bob shopping. We got a few school clothes at the $1.99 thrift store and found a tall file cabinet that would make a great new dresser for her room (now that she wears big sizes, and since she refuses to hang up her clothes, she needed a second dresser to fit her things). She loves the fact that the file cabinet is metal so she can decorate it with magnets, and it has label slots. We rearranged the room and are getting to the point where we can start painting

Bob's Report 1/7/09

Friday, Kitty threw a tantrum. A big one. A few Saturdays before that she had talked about running away and suicide. She said back home her little sisters worshipped her and she was mad because I (Bob) didn't. I'm like: " How and why would I even begin to worship you when you throw huge fits?"

Kitty was going to a hospital and all day with Mom and Dad on my day (she and I had planned to work on redecorating her room), and we hadn't even started because "someone" had to throw a tantrum because she didn't want to do her school work she should have done earlier.

When my mom told me we wouldn't be at (private school) much longer because we are short on money, I had to tell my best friend. Kitty thought I was gossiping about her, and my mom had to tell her we might go to public school. That night my mom yelled at me because she thought I had deliberately told Kitty.

My mom hasn't told me a secret at all since then. My dad came and told me that they had agreed that it was too big a secret for someone to keep, and they should forget about it, but my mom didn't; she's still mad.

Kitty threw another tantrum yesterday about school work. Unfortunately, that kicked everyone out of the house again. the day Kitty came back home was Monday. My mom was so mad. That day me and my grandma went and bought black sheets to put in Kitty's room as curtains. Mom came and told us to give them to Bear (I didn't actually want Bear to have them. I wanted them to return them, but then realized they had already started sewing them.) because Kitty just got back from a hospital for depression and walked away.

My Dad and Ponito I rarely see. Ponito is always with his friends outside or upstairs and Dad's always at work. When they come home they argue. (I'm not actually sure who "they" are. It could mean Hubby and I fussing at the kids, but we don't argue or fight. We're weird that way). They argued a few weeks ago. They argue in the car and at home and on the streets.

I feel like my entire family hates everyone around them. A few days ago my mom said, "Kitty doesn't trust anyone." Last night my Grandma said, "I don't think she knows what love is." and I feel really sad and scared. I'm scared for Kitty that she might go over the edge. I'm scared for Ponito because he is so young, and if this goes on he might learn that if he throws tantrums he can go to some place with fattening foods that lets you stay up until 10. I'm scared for myself because what if I make one mistake and Kitty if she doesn't trust me now I wonder what she'll do when I find out she doesn't love me. (Don't worry, this sentence doesn't make sense to me either!) I guess I've gotten used to it. Everyone arguing and assuming. Getting used to it isn't the same as trying to fix it, though.

Sometimes I think Kitty would be better off in her world, going from foster home to foster home, not really knowing what it is like to be loved. My grandma said that he was used to going to a home, having them get her something, throwing a tantrum and moving on. But that wouldn't work because when she is 18 she will be out on the streets alone, poor and helpless. Because she had moved so much she wouldn't be there long enough to have a job, make friends or learn anything like cooking and sewing.

I'm sad and scared, but after going from oldest child to youngest middle, seeing fight after fight going on, having to sleep in my parents' room it got so bad, being locked in their room with a little brother and a paranoid sister (One evening early on in the placement, Bear was raging while Bob was watching a movie in our room. Kitty was upset and woke up Ponito, got him out of bed, and took him into our bedroom with Bob and locked the door).

Kitty and Bear have both left before and Kitty is trying to leave again. What would you do if you had a sister who didn't trust or love you and was trying to leave, a brother you never see and when you do he is arguing (I think she means Ponito here, I find it interesting that she doesn't mention Bear), a dad who is never home and always argues when he is, a mom who doesn't trust you, doesn't tell you anything, and is always mad at everyone?

I warned you it was a tear jerker! Nothing can make you feel worse than your child holding up a mirror. So I am working on slowing things down, taking deep breaths, trying to get more sleep, and spending more time with Bob. After yesterday's shopping trip though, Kitty about exploded with jealousy. She demanded more clothes even though her wardrobe is huge, and last time we went shopping I took her and Bear and not Bob. *sigh*

Friday, January 9, 2009

Therapists' opinions

So I had sent the copy of the letter to Kitty's therapists, past and present, before posting it here, and have now had a chance to talk to them all.

I talked to Kitty's former therapist, B. The one who was her therapist the entire time Kitty was in foster care. B had met with Biomom and tried to work with her. When Biomom told B that she was terminating parental rights (TPR), B was shocked and tried to talk her out of it. B required Biomom to take a class regarding TPR, hoping to change her mind. And B had to break the heart of a 9 year old child on a park bench in Nebraska by telling her that her Mommy had given her away forever.

I caught B up on what was going on (we've sent her the occasional updates). She hadn't had a chance to read the letter yet, but said there was a chance it might work. That if Biomom decided to help, then this might even make things a little better.

Biomom didn't lose the children to the system, she dumped the children in the system, just like her parents did to her. Admittedly having a parent as screwed up as she was (drugs, alcohol, multiple abusive men, 5 children with 5 different fathers, moving at least 2x year...) meant my kids should have been removed, and almost were several times (she hid them). In the last 4 and 4.5 years since each of my children were dumped, she appears to have grown up a little - not completely of course, she did just have a baby with an abusive man she lived with for 3 years and dumped before the baby was born. Still 3 years with one man is a long time for her and she has been going to college for at least a year.

What I'm counting on is the fact that Biomom wants to look like a good person. In all her e-mails to me over the last year and apparently with other biofamily, she has always maintained that she did what she did for the good of the children. That she loved them, but they were out of control and she could not get them the services they needed - which was most likely true. Even I, with access to almost all the services I need, have had times where we almost gave up as well - particularly with Bear. When she dumped him in the system (age 11) he was already 5'9" and over 200lbs (he was fully mature), he had already been in several mental institutions and juvie. Granted she screwed him up in the first place.

In my e-mails to Biomom, I've always stated that I don't judge her and that I know it must have been hard. I've never told her I think she is full of B.S. (though obviously I think she is). Only when she has acted like I am a temporary foster parent have I set her straight. I know that Bear's goal of getting her to admit that she gave the kids up voluntarily will never happen and B agrees. B believes there is a possibility that Biomom might go for my letter idea. She appears to need to have the world see her as a good person. At this point, the worst that could happen is that she doesn't, and then I'm really no worse off then I was right?

Unfortunately, Kitty's AT (attachment therapist) is going to be in training all day and will be unable to be involved with the meeting. She will be the one who helps me tell Kitty of the visit though, and will help us decide what Kitty wants to say (and technically if Kitty wants to see Biomom, although I know Kitty'll jump at the chance.). She agrees that now that we've already agreed to the visit for Bear that it would be more harmful than good to deny it to Kitty.

I started working on the logistics of the visit. Right now we have a meeting with biomom with Bear's therapist from 11am to noon. Lunch separately from noon to one. Then from 1-2 we bring Bear into his therapist's office to meet with Biomom - Hubby and I will be there too at Bear's request.

I had thought about just having Kitty join Bear's session, but Hubby and Bear's therapist had several issues with this. One being that Hubby is afraid Bear will get angry and yell and this might cause a meltdown for Kitty. Two, Kitty doesn't know Bear's therapist and has always ignored any of his few attempts at conversation. Three, and most importantly, Kitty has issues with men (even Hubby), so if she does have a meltdown, I will be the only one there able to calm her. Even if we bring in Kitty's EMDR therapist (a lot of people for this small office!), the EMDR therapist has never had to deal with one of Kitty's meltdowns or do a restraint with Kitty.

So option 2, having the EMDR therapist join the parent/ therapist meeting at 11am. At noon, we can pick up Kitty and have lunch with Biomom, EMDR therapist, Hubby and I. Positives for this - food can be a good distraction as well as a comfort, there's a table between Kitty and Biomom, it's before the meeting with Bear so no one has "gotten upset" with Biomom so she might still be willing to comply with my letter, we would be in public so Biomom might be more willing to try to "present a good face." Negatives - if Kitty has a meltdown - we're in public. Timing is going to be tight - Bear's therapist has a 2pm appointment.

I'm leaning toward option 2. I haven't discussed it with Kitty's AT yet.

Potential letter to biomom

I have been told by the kids' former therapist that Biomom was not allowed to see the children in foster care because she determinedly blamed them for what happened. We saw evidence of this fault laying in our early therapy sessions and worked hard on helping Kitty understand that this was not her fault – successfully I think. I know better than to run down a birth parent though so I’ve always avoided making Biomom look bad to the kids, and even tried to help the kids understand why she may have done the things she did. This is now coming back to bite me in the butt as Kitty has “forgotten” all the bad stuff and desperately wants to go “home.” Still, we have been dealing with this as it happens, and through EMDR therapy we’ve been trying to help her process her severe PTSD.

The following is a letter I’m thinking of sending to Biomom. She has been in touch with me via e-mail for almost a year and has always tried to make herself look like a victim who loves her kids and only put them into foster care for their own good. The kids were told by biofamily that she was “forced” to give them up. Bear now knows (and believes – unlike Kitty) that this was not true and plans to confront her with this in his session with her. This is my attempt at manipulating Biomom into having to help us or else come across as the bad guy. If she does decide to be selfish or hurtful at the last minute then at least I’m probably no worse off then I would have been if I hadn’t asked. Right?

Advice is greatly appreciated.


Hi (Birthmom),

As two people who love (Kitty's birth name), I need to discuss something with you. I probably shouldn’t talk to you about this, but I’m not sure what else to do. I’ll be honest and tell you that I have almost cancelled this visit several times, and I’m still not sure I’m doing the right thing for (Kitty). I haven’t told (Kitty) about your visit yet for many reasons. One being that she is going through an extremely difficult time right now and we’re not totally sure why – it could be some recent med changes, it could be hormones, it could be the holidays, it could be a lot of things. Over the last two years she has made a lot of progress. She has slowly bonded to our family, and although she is still very hurt by all the abandonments (perceived and otherwise) that she’s had in her life, we’ve seen her slowly begin to trust us and believe that we love her and won’t send her away – even when she’s acting up.

I know you never intended to hurt her, and she loves you loyally. I have always tried to explain to the children that it must have been so hard for you dealing with their issues as well as your own troubles. I have always made it clear to the children that I fully expect them to always love you. You were their first mother. My problem is that (Kitty) has never really understood why she can’t just go “home.” She has unknowingly built a fantasy about her life before foster care and adoption. She only remembers the good things, and denies any hurts or problems. Those concerns are of course still there, affecting her life and relationships. We work hard to get her to address them in therapy so that she can deal with them now instead of allowing them to fester and negatively affect her.

January 1st - 5th, (Kitty) went into an inpatient mental health facility. This is the first time this has happened since we’ve known her (about 2.5 years) - although I understand she has been hospitalized for similar issues a couple of times when she was younger. She is so emotionally fragile right now. I am VERY worried about her.

I plan to tell her about your visit at her next therapy session (Tuesday). I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place on this, and I am hoping you can help us. The way I see it I currently have 3 choices.

One, is to stick to the original plan, and let her know you are coming, but that her therapists and I feel she is not at a good place for meeting you. That Bear is older and more emotionally stable. I know she will not understand and will completely disagree (she usually ignores and denies her feelings). I feel that most likely this will damage my relationship with her, possibly permanently (I hope I don’t sound overly dramatic here, but I know you must remember being a teenager and fighting for your independence and identity with your parents? I know how rejected I felt by my parents who had a nasty divorce. My father tried to manipulate me and use me as a pawn to hurt my mother. I still have never really forgiven him). We had planned to have her write a list of questions and things she wants us to ask you about, but I doubt this will be sufficient to make up for not getting to see you.

Two, to allow her to see you and just deal with the inevitable fall-out. I’ll be honest, what terrifies me about this is that she will ask you to take her home or something similar. That you will (of course) tell her that you love her and that you never wanted to give her up, or worse, that it was her fault she was placed in foster care because she was out of control. She will blame my husband and I for keeping her from you (I know it’s not rational, but very likely), and the damage is still done to our relationship. Plus, she feels abandoned/ rejected by you when you have to leave her here.

So, as one mother to another, I’m begging for your help with this. Do you think that (with the assistance of her attachment therapist), you could help us give (Kitty) the closure she needs, and ask her to honor the bond that she has with us? I’m not asking you to tell her you don’t love her, just to encourage her to know it is OK with you for her to love my family too and be loved by us. That there is room in her heart for both of us, and that she belongs with my family now. I fully believe that if we work on this together that we will both benefit from the abundant love this child is capable of. I know that (Kitty)’s therapist (different from Bear’s) has offered to help us with this.

Please be honest with me. I feel that Kitty is in a very dangerous situation here and that we will need to walk a fine line to help her. If you do not feel that you can do this, then I will just stick to the original plan and hope that she doesn’t hate me too much. Can you tell her that you love her, but that she is where she needs to be?

Just to make things more difficult, Kitty starts public school on the 20th (the day after your visit). We’ve had her in a tiny private school for the last year and a half, but cannot afford it now because of the economy. She is excited about this, but it will still be VERY stressful for her.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Have I been an ostrich?

This is an e-mail I received from Kitty's EMDR therapist. Am I prepared for this? I guess we've been progressing so far and so well that I want to think this is a glitch, something that will blow over. I've got a call in to the AT therapist hoping she'll tell me something different, but this was a real wake up call.


My thoughts are these. I will be happy to do any configuration with biomom; I don 't want her here at the house. I will only see her at the south office. I do think you have to consider actual inpatient treatment for her; and I hate saying that because I am not crazy about anything but this can't go on. See if ___________ (RTC Bear went to) has a place for her; check with _____________ (local girls-only RTC I used to work at many years ago) and see if she is appropriate for them. There is a place in (about an hour away) called _________; I had someone there several years ago. I am not super crazy about anything except the kind of treatment I was trained in; but I don't know myself anyone else in the area who does that kind of work.

Now why I am suggesting that you find out about these placements is--if she sees biomom or not we have to be ready to have a safe place with adequate staff to contain her. If she sees her it can be awful as you are clearly aware of; if she doesn't and knows Bear does see her, it will be horrific. My personal preference is to not delay the inevitable; force the issue; but have your ducks lined up before you make the decision which way to move.

She will ask (biomom) to take her "home". We know that can't happen. She will melt down or attack her in some way--maybe just verbally. But it won't be pretty, and your home will get the fall out either way. She is out of control, and you are getting too tired. It won't help anyone if you get sick because of this child who has so many problems. Right now I think she needs more help than you and (Hubby) can provide in the home and keep your home environment healthy for you. She ties up so much of your energy.

I have worked with many kids like her; and the one hour office visit really isn't enough. I think she would have a better chance with a 24/7 contolled environment for a long period for her to get other professionals (plural) to do what you are trying to do with so little help. But I am here for the long haul. I will do whatever you are ready to try. I believe you are both wonderful parents and you got much more than you signed on for. No decision you make will be wrong. As I learned many years ago, you can't damage these kids further. The damage was already done by the time you got them.

See you tomorrow.
(EMDR therapist)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What to do?!

Not sure how much more I can take.

Kitty is still not stable. Every day she has a meltdown (or three). Today she was vocal about not wanting to do it (and how nobody cares about her), but actually did her school work (she had been told she definitely could not go back to school if she doesn't). No school tomorrow either though.

She is also constantly hungry and demanding sugary sweets (it's actually pretty common for her to ask for things she can't have when she is trying to distract herself from stuff she's upset about). We eat a very health conscious diet. No real limits on food, but almost everything available is whole wheat, low fat and low sugar, lots of fruits and veggies. Kitty constantly wants us to take her out to eat and to go buy her junk food (how do you convince a child you have NO money without scaring her). She is constantly talking about how she is “used” to sweets and junk food (after only 5 days).

Finally got hold of her psychiatrist and requested that we try upping her ADHD meds (was suggested by the psychiatric hospital). We'll pick up the new prescription tomorrow, and she can start it Friday morning. The psychiatrist said it depends on why she's acting this way. If it really is the ADHD, then this should make things better. If it's the bipolar disorder, then this will make things much worse.

Work is really stepping up. All my hiding and vegging on the internet is no longer possible. I really hope this means the money is going to start coming in. Having Kitty at work everyday is very difficult. She can't be quiet (singing, whining, fussing), she can't stop complaining, and she doesn't want to be there or do her schoolwork so she is often arguing at a level the whole building can hear.

Took Bear to therapy to discuss biomom's visit. We will be working on a list of ground rules for biomom that I will send to her. Luckily the therapist had two appointments available on that day. Biomom will meet with therapist, and then Hubby, therapist and I. We'll take a break for lunch (separately), pick up Bear and then meet up again in the therapist's office.

The therapist added to the warnings that Kitty is not going to easily understand why she can't see biomom. He suggested that Kitty's therapist might want to meet with biomom. He also suggested that Kitty might want to make a list of things that she wants me to ask biomom about. This seems like something good to offer Kitty. I just know she's going to be upset no matter what we do. Maybe I should just let her see biomom, after making sure biomom agrees to follow some ground rules, and then deal with the fall out.

I still don't know if I'm making the right decision here. If only the timing were different. Kitty starts public school the day after biomom's visit. I'm half tempted to say we could do it anyway. She hasn't seen biomom in over 4 years. (Biomom snuck in to see Bear's games and practices, practically stalking him, so he saw her last 2 years ago, just before he moved to Texas). She didn’t have that kind of opportunity with Kitty that I know of. Bear is pretty adamant that he is not emotionally bothered by any of this. He really has matured. His RAD is definitely showing though he appears to be completely unemotional about biomom, and talks about how little time he spent with her as he was growing up.

Kitty's ARD (IEP meeting) to discuss available services for her when she starts public school) will be on Friday the 16th. Biomom comes Monday the 19th. Public school starts Tuesday the 20th.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My little runaway

I think I posted that on the Saturday after Christmas, Kitty had packed a huge bag for her overnight to Grandma's house. After much argument, she had to leave it at home. We discovered later that she had planned to run away from home that day, and that she was jealous because I had given Bob highlights for her hair as one of her Christmas presents. This worked out because Bob was willing to share and Kitty got some highlights of her own.

Well the suitcase never got unpacked and it joined the long line of laundry that came out of Kitty's room when she went to Camp Crazy. Tonight it had finally reached the head of the line and I started emptying it out. Here's the note I found in one of the pockets.

I love you all but I must go because I feel like you love your real kid more than me

I am going to go were God is going to tell me to go

bye for now at lest (least).

Sorry I put you there (through) all the trouble

yours tarely (truely)

(signed with her full birth name - not her adopted name)

(I copied her picture of a broken heart as best I could. This is pretty much what it looks like. And how my heart feels right now too.)

On the sixth day of the New Year

On the sixth day of the New Year my daughter gave to me, six seconds of stillness

five (thousand) golldurn whines!

Four good things from therapy,

three half-hearted "I love you"s,

two five minute conversations,

and 7 hours of waiting blearily!

So tonight we had a repeat of New Year's Day, but this time we knew better than to bother to call anyone, and just kept going. *sigh*

Kitty came to work with us today. We were there for 30 minutes in which she wiggled around and didn't do more than open one of her workbooks, and whine and complain. Her EMDR therapist was willing to meet with her, so I threw some food in her (she's been "starving" all the time since she got home and begging for pizza, junk food and sugary snacks! Which is what she's "used to."). After many pointless therapy sessions in which she spent the whole time complaining she was hungry, I knew to give her food before we left (yet she still complained she was hungry and ate a ton of the therapist's dried blueberries - that the therapist was nice enough to share). She colored and ignored us most of the time. Totally wasted session.

We got back to work, ate lunch (after which she was still hungry - for cookies, candy, chips...), and then she said she needed a nap. I let her sleep for 45 minutes. 5 minutes before I had to go in a meeting I woke her up and made everyone wait on me while I tried to get her started on her schoolwork, but of course she had to go to the bathroom. I told her to get straight to work when she came back.

Apparently she did one or two pages in her workbook and then decided to "make a plan" for how she was going to finish her workbook pages over the next week. Apparently this required over an hour's worth of "math" calculations (not taking into account that she needed to do corrections on the work she'd completed, take tests, and would have more pages assigned). I came back into the room from my meeting to find that she'd done 3 pages all day! Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

We had 1/2 an hour before we left for the day. She spent it arguing with me that if she did any schoolwork today it would mess up her calculations! Plus, she didn't understand it. It was too hard. She's retarded (she's not!). Only Ms. W can explain it right... Her mouth never stopped moving, her body never stopped wiggling, her attitude never stopped either. I got a "wee bit" frustrated with her.

I called and left a message for the psychiatrist that we would like her ADHD med increased (something mentioned by the hospital).

On the way home I informed her that she would have plenty of time to get a little more work done when we got home. That quite frankly I wasn't sure she was ready, and our original agreement was that she would have all the catch-up work completed before she went back to school. I knew that it was too late to finish it all, but she could at least finish us some of the workbooks that only had a few pages left.

At home she informed us that there was no way in he*ck* that she was going to do anymore work. She tried to run away from Hubby and barricade herself in her room. He was having none of it. He stood in her room to keep her safe. She escalated higher and higher. Tried to jump out the window, ran downstairs, tried to lock herself in the bathroom again, tried to run outside, yelled and cursed, put her mouth on me to bite me (but didn't), said over and over she wanted to go back (to Camp Crazy) and wanted to go home (to Nebraska). Lot of crying, lots of angst and drama. *sigh* I'd say we're right back where we started, but really we're worse off.

Now she has a new goal. She wants to go back to Camp Crazy.

I know her meds are still not right. I know Camp Crazy is pointless. I know I have 2 weeks before she goes to public school for the first time in 1 1/2 years. I know she can't stay at the private school. I know if she can't handle private school that there is no way she can handle public school. I know she has 2 weeks before biomom comes to town and public school starts. I still haven't told her about school or biomom. I was going to wait until the end of Christmas break to tell her about school, but I think we can safely say she was not ready. I guess we'll wait until after the IEP meeting when we know more about what services she'll be receiving (plus it's a good "reason" for not telling her before then)

I talked to the AT and she wants to talk about biomom's visit in the next session (Tuesday). Biomom's visit is the day before the new semester starts, which is when Kitty starts public school. Great timing, huh?! I'm sooo excited about explaining to Kitty why Bear will get to see biomom and Kitty won't. (He's older, he didn't just get out of a mental institution, his therapist agrees that he's at a stable point in his life and can handle it). I know she may never forgive me for this. I'm tired of making these kinds of decisions. I hate being in a lose/lose situation.

Better go write an e-mail to the private school and let them know Kitty is still not ready to return. I'm so excited about having her at work with me! (If I say it often enough maybe I'll believe it!).

I'm so excited about having her at work with me!

I'm so excited about having her at work with me!

I'm so excited about having her at work with me!

I'm so excited about having her at work with me!