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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best of the Worst Parenting Advice

This post started off as a comment on a comment at Parenting 24/7 to a person who implied something along the lines of "All teens do that, " but then I read this post over at Accidental Mommy , and realized I had to participate in her Best of the Worst Parenting Advice, and this was a biggie for me.

There is not one thing that can make me crazier, especially at a meeting with people who work with my children, than hearing something along the lines of, don't worry about it, that is just typical teen behavior. Whether it's "Oh, my son does/did stuff like that all the time," "Well, it's understandable that he would act that way," or "That's just how teenage girls are." In other words, I'm overreacting, crazy, expecting too much, and/or too strict.

It can be sooo hard to work with teens with RAD because they have all the same hormones and drama that "normal" teens do, but on top of that they have all the trauma, trust issues and actual brain damage from the RAD. Unlike kids with cerebral palsy or mental retardation, they don't have a lot of overt signs that there is something wrong. This means that those who haven't educated themselves about RAD, PTSD and other related issues may think what they are seeing is normal teen behavior, and maybe some of it is, but it is much much more intense and not something they're just going to grow out of without a LOT of therapeutic treatment.

A "normal" teenage girl might be moody, irritable and a loner. A child with RAD usually lacks the feeling of support (since they trust no one) and the skills and ability to handle these feelings and behaviors. Their issues are 10 times more intense, and usually are focused on family and anyone else they feel is getting too close. My children are experts at hiding their feelings and issues from adults and peers, saving it up to inflict on the family.

Closeness actually causes physical pain for kids with RAD. Imagine that as a small child you almost drowned when you fell through the ice in a frozen lake, and now people you don't trust are trying to get you to go ice skating. You're going to react as though they are trying to kill you! Logically as an adult you may know that they are not trying to kill you, but your emotional reaction is that of a child.

It is not possible to deal with a child with RAD as though they were a "normal" teenager, especially when it comes to discipline.

They do not have the same strengths and supports that a typical teen does. They think anyone trying to get close to them is trying to hurt them and abandon them. The child knows that he or she is a horrible people and if you get too close you will find out; so they must reject you before you reject them.

They do not understand cause and effect (if/then) because they didn't learn this as infants (if they cried, no one came to fix it, or they might have even been beaten instead of cuddled or fed). They learn to ignore their physical and emotional needs to such an extent that they can't feel anything even after the trauma is no longer part of their daily life (my daughter is not ticklish and does not feel pinches, she also cannot tell when she's hungry or full, she cannot tell you what emotion she is feeling....).

In other words, these children don't understand and have no faith or trust in themselves or the people and world around them. The slightest reprimand can trigger an emotional flood and overreaction, while at the same time if they are used to beatings or worse, then the threat of a time out obviously has little to no effect.

Parents of RAD teens deal with a lot of "behind the scenes" issues and many children deliberately make the parents look like mental cases who are overreacting, too strict, horrible disciplinarians picking on a poor, innocent child. Giving the child the "benefit of the doubt," "innocent until proven guilty," "blank slate," "it's a new day" approach reinforces all the wrong things. This child who already has issues with understanding consequences learns that all they need to do is move on to a new school, teacher, program, family... and they can do whatever they want with no repercussions. It may be a "new day" for each new teacher, principal, or behavior program, but it is most definitely not a new day for the family who have to be there to pick up the pieces, deal with the backlash, and live with this child especially if there are siblings involved. Many families, including mine deal with symptoms of PTSD from my "typical teens."

My other favorite piece of advice:

"Don't let him escalate."

That's it. We even took a mandatory class to learn that. Don't you wish you'd known that would solve all your child's issues?

This was my 5'9" 200+lb 13 year old (undiagnosed and untreated for bipolar and RAD yet), with us for less than 2 months after being placed for adoption from another state... son, who had been raging, often for no apparent reasons, but definitely if told No. (this is a picture of him at age 12!)

Some of the behaviors he was exhibiting all the time:

Threatening suicide

Running away (police would eventually find and return him every time),

Physically attacked Hubby several times - throwing punches, biting (Hubby still has the scar), kicking - almost always requiring police intervention,

In his first week of school, threatened to throw another 7th grader out a 2nd story window, cussed out a female teacher, and threatened physical harm to the vice principal,

Threw furniture (upholstered recliner), and various other household items at family members and into walls.

Cussed, screamed, threatened and intimidated all family members, all the time.

Repeatedly running away from respite when he (and his sister) was pulled from our home pending a child abuse charge (he got a tiny bruise on the day he had to be restrained because he was kicking Hubby, threatening to jump through a 2nd story window, had sliced his arm with a homemade razor, bit a chunk of flesh on Hubby's forearm...).

We put him on a wait list for residential treatment (luckily his home state paid for RT since TX never would have), and had to decide what to do while we waited for a bed to open up. Never telling him no was an option I guess, but with 3 young children in the house it wasn't a good one. Luckily the psychiatrist was willing to chemically sedate him (large doses of Depakote). At one point we asked Bear if he wanted us to reduce the dosage and he asked us not to because it was the only way to control his behavior which scared him.

Because the only support we got from the adoption agency was this lovely piece of advice, and there was NO WAY to comply, we would have had no option but to disrupt and return him to Nebraska. Luckily he was not the ward of Texas so we were able to keep him in the residential treatment center long enough to get him properly diagnosed and medicated before he was returned (6 months).

5 Question Friday

Yes, I know it's Tuesday, but I didn't read this blog until today.

Today I am playing 5 question Friday. It is a cute little meme hosted by Mama M. Go to her blog to see who else is answering questions..Below are today's questions:

1. What's your favorite line from a movie?

I have several, guess which movies they're from and who says them.
"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way."
"It's good to want things." (The kids HATE this one, because I use it so much.)
"I can fix that," or "As you wish." (same idea, different movies)
And lately, because I spent 3 hours helping move 6,000 pumpkins (weighing over 45,000lbs total) out of a semi this weekend,

"Gently... ("At a time like this, that's all you can think to say. Gently?")gentleee!"

2. What "group" did you belong to in high school? Goths, jocks, preps, drama, nerds?

I moved a lot so didn't belong to a click. If I did, I guess it would have been the misfits. We didn't belong to any clubs or organizations, and had no particular hobbies. We weren't ugly or pretty/ handsome. We were smart, but not too smart. We weren't rich, nor were we poor. We didn't do drugs, but we did drink occasionally and some of us smoked (in TX there wasn't a lot else to do). We weren't goody two shoes, but we weren't bad kids either. When I went to my 20 year high school reunion, I wasn't surprised that no one knew who I was. At graduation I was standing in the line waiting to get my diploma with the 3500+ other graduating seniors, and a couple of people actually said they didn't know I was a senior.

3. If you had $1000 just for yourself what would you spend it on?

Just for myself?! Maybe some clothes that fit from a local thrift store. Pay for my prescriptions for my anti-depressant that's sitting at the pharmacy. Air conditioning for the Blazer. Probably used office furniture for the company. A trip to the Half-Price Book store to look at their clearance section. Anything left over would go toward groceries.

4. What was your favorite childhood cartoon?

Wow this brought back some memories. We watched mostly PBS so I loved Sesame street which had Spiderman cartoons. I still know all the words to the School House Rock cartoons. As I got older Smurfs, Fat Albert, Scooby Doo...

5. What kind of sleeper are you?

I'm a total insomniac/ night owl! I usually go to bed at 1-2am. Once there though I sleep like the dead until Hubby wakes me up. I'm a right side sleeper, always.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

When is a label a good thing?

We started with a new therapist recently and he has been working with Bear on his Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). We were required to go over an article about C-PTSD with Bear and discuss it. Bear didn't understand the article, but that didn't matter. What did matter was that he didn't think he had C-PTSD. Actually this was more of a defense mechanism. He doesn't want to have PTSD so he's in denial.

Bear's latest goal is to be a Secret Service Agent protecting the President. We have never told him that with the number of psychotropic meds he takes (and must take since he's bipolar), he will most likely be unable to join the military. He thinks he's eligible for the Naval Academy because he makes mostly As and Bs. We're very happy he's making good grades, but all of his classes are remedial. At this rate when he graduates he'll be at least 2 years behind (he's a sophomore). Oops! I almost took off on a tangent.

So Bear knows that if he has a label like C-PTSD or bipolar disorder he will not be eligible for the Secret Service. Therefore he is pouting about being labeled and upset that his therapist is pushing for this "new" label. We tried to explain that labels are not always a bad thing because they can help you get the right treatment. We also tried to explain it is not us or his therapist that are doing this to him - he already had the problem (and in many cases the diagnosis), we're just trying to expain it to him and help him. We tried to explain labels are diagnoses. They are not judgements or criticisms. They can be a good thing because they mean a child can get help sooner, possibly keep from getting worse or having it effect the rest of their life, and maybe even heal.

Bear doesn't always "get" abstract stories or analogies, but I think this one actually got through to him a little.

Broken Leg

Let's pretend Bear breaks his leg. A doctor diagnoses or "labels" him correctly. Then the doctor treats his leg - cast, physical therapy, bed rest.... Ten years from now Bear goes for a job where he is expected to run a hundred miles a day. The potential employer asks Bear if he has ever broken a bone. Bear says yes, but he's taken care of himself and is 100%.

Bear can't hide the fact that he had C-PTSD from the Secret Service, because it is in his records, but if he handles it now instead of later he can show them he's handled it and maybe they'll take him.

Another scenario. Bear breaks his leg. He's told he couldn't have and didn't break his leg. He is forced to act as though it didn't happen and walk on it. It heals wrong, and will be wrong for the rest of his life. He has trouble walking and other parts of his body don't work right because they are trying to compensate for the broken one. He cannot do things that require a healthy body that works properly. When the potential employer asks if Bear has ever broken a bone, Bear says no. However, he obviously is not able to do the job.

If Bear manages to somehow get the labels off his record, but does not deal with his issues, then he will be "caught" when he takes the psych exams. They most definitely would not accept him in the Secret Service.

Third scenario. Bear breaks his leg. He is misdiagnosed or decides on his own that nothing can be done about it and his leg will just never be right. He might as well give up, and be in a wheel chair for the rest of his life, if he doesn't die.

No matter whether he's labeled or not his leg is still broken. If he accepts the label and works hard in treatment, then he can mend his leg to where it works almost as well as it would have if it had not been broken.

Color Blind

Hubby is colorblind. Let's say that as a child Hubby always wanted to be an ailine pilot. Airline pilots cannot be colorblind. No matter what he does, Hubby cannot change being colorblind.

Hubby has a choice. Be miserable and/or angry for the rest of his life, or figure out what it is he loves about being an airline pilot and build a new dream (if it's flying maybe he could find another job that will get him in the air like maybe a hot air balloon pilot, an airplane gunner, or an Air marshall? or if it's the planes then maybe he could be an airplane mechanic).

Bear's dream is to be a Secret Service agent who guards the president. He needs to decide if he's going to keep that dream or find another one. Either way he needs to work hard to deal with as many of his issues as possible. Guess we'll see if he chooses to try or to continue to deny and throw up defense mechanisms.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our Adoption Story

I’m not sure why I’ve always planned to adopt. I have a step-sister who was adopted as an infant, but I doubt that’s it. More likely it’s that my mother taught us to care about others, often to the detriment of herself. We were taught to always be selfless and rescue and help others. That might be one reason why I got my bachelors in psychology with a focus on child abuse and neglect. Then I got a masters in social work with a focus on mental health. I burned out of social work pretty quickly, but not until after I’d worked with children at the Center for Battered Women, a residential treatment center, The Autism Center, Communities in School (briefly), doing foster care home studies and worked with mentally ill adults as well. I knew I wanted to adopt special needs children, especially sibling groups because we felt they had the biggest need. I knew it would be hard, but thought I had the experience needed. I thought I knew what I was getting in to.

We’d thought for years that we’d end up with custody of our nieces and nephew who had been in and out of Nebraska foster care due to their mother having a long history of issues with drug and alcohol abuse and abusive men. When that didn’t happen we decided to adopt from foster care. We took Pride training when our children were 1 ½ and almost 4. We were turned down by the TX caseworkers because our biochildren were so young. We tried again when our children were 7 and 9. We went through training with a private Christian agency this time. We had found a sibling pair on TARE (Texas Adoption Resource Exchange) that were 6 months to 1 year younger than each of our children and pushed through getting our license as quickly as possible. The children were removed from the TARE website 3 days before we got our license (they’ve since been returned, but now are to be adopted separately – they’ve been on the site 4 years now. Deja and Zachary.). We did not find a good match on TARE.

We found children on We chose to adopt out of birth order (our bio children were 7 and 10 and this sibling pair were 11 and 13). The children came to us with many issues that we were made aware of, but they also came with many more that we weren’t. No one, not the children’s Nebraska therapist and caseworker or anyone in our TX agency who were contracted to provide the children’s case management had ever even mentioned or apparently heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). When the children’s rages quickly became violent no one had any suggestions or could offer any help. All we received was reprimands and treatment like suspected criminals.

Our 13 year old son was kicked out of school on his 3rd day for threatening to throw another 7th grader out of a second story window, cussing out a teacher and threatening the vice principal. He was constantly threatening to run away, commit suicide, intimidating and scaring the family, property damage, lying, stealing, manipulating and pitting adults against each other, within a month he began physically attacking my husband (the first time the police were called by a neighbor but we decided not to press charges so he stayed. After that we usually managed to keep him from drawing blood so the police wouldn’t take him even if we asked). Within 6 months we had to place him in residential treatment for the safety of himself and our family. While we were waiting for an open bed though he had many more rages. We were told by the agency to just try to “keep him from escalating.” Our son was already 5’9” and 200+lbs. He escalated anytime he was told “No.” We were being asked to do an impossible task and felt abandoned and betrayed. We were ready to disrupt the adoption process and send him back to foster care in Nebraska because we were afraid we would lose all 4 of our children when (not if) something went wrong.

When our son received a minor injury during one of these rages our adoption agency contacted child protective services. The agency decided to remove both children during the investigation. Luckily for us the Nebraska caseworker was able to demand and push for resolution (the TX agency was unwilling to do this because TxDFPRS -Texas Department of Family Protective and Regulatory Services, was their licensing agency). Our daughter was currently in attachment therapy trying to help her foster some sort of bond with us. The bio mother put both children in foster care because they were “out of control,” then she terminated parental rights. Our daughter was terrified because this felt like the pattern was repeating. The children were returned within a week, but this was especially traumatic for our daughter. Our son ran away while in respite and exhibited many scary behaviors that upset the respite providers. We were told we needed to pay for the respite care. This is still a mark on my husband’s record because the charges were not dismissed as they should have been, but were “unable to determine.”

Luckily at this point his adoption was not final so this treatment was paid for by Nebraska (TX Medicaid does not cover residential treatment – especially not at Meridell Achievement Center which provided the neurological assessments he needed while keeping him safe – something we were assured he would not be at The Oaks Treatment Center). He was there 6 months, and we discovered he was bipolar, ADD and confirmed the diagnosis of RAD. He was placed on a medication cocktail that helped him. He was finally safe to come home. He still lies, manipulates, steals, and intimidates others to get his way, but is no longer violent. We were glad we finally felt safe to finalize his adoption last year, particularly because we were no longer fearing ambush and condemnation as we tried to cope with our son’s behaviors.

Our daughter’s issues were more subtle, but equally devastating. She raged, threatened suicide, threatened to run away, physically attacked others (including leaving scars from bite marks and fingernail claw marks on myself, my biodaughter and our attachment therapist). Most of the family suffer from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She has been in and out of psychiatric hospitalization many times this year. Shoal Creek psychiatric hospital stays offered little help. TX Medicaid would not pay for partial day hospitalization or residential treatment, but luckily our private insurance did for short periods of time. Our daughter was not actively suicidal or homicidal. Most of her anger and rages are directed at the family and not at school so others rarely see them. Does this mean she didn’t need residential treatment? Even the treatment center did not agree with that. They kept her for another week at their own expense, finishing neuropsychological testing we couldn’t get anywhere else and helping as much as they could, but they are a for profit facility and they couldn’t do that for long. It was written into our adoption subsidy that Nebraska would pay for residential treatment (a post-adoption service offered if we lived in Nebraska) if we could not access funds, but they reneged.

At age 14 and 16, both of our children still require behavior programs in school and direct supervision after school by people capable of working with emotionally disturbed teens. We spend many hours each day coping with their special needs (verifying everything they say; protecting the other children; taking them to therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, specialists… many of whom do not take TX Medicaid); watching them after school; attending school meetings like ARDS - this is what Tx calls IEP meetings….). I had to quit my job because they could not accommodate me leaving when my son was kicked out of school, all the appointments, suicide watches, and dealing with my lack of sleep from my insomnia caused by stress.

Because our children were adopted out of state we do not qualify for any post adoption services such as respite. We search for support in as many places as we can find. There is not a lot of help out there for children adopted as teens after spending years in foster care. There are few treatments for children with our children’s diagnoses, particularly because they have such a multitude of them. Most of the specialists we use (such as our pediatric psychiatrist we see every 2-3 weeks) will not take Medicaid, but there are no effective alternatives so we must pay out of pocket. The psychiatrist is $95 for 15 minutes of med management. When we had private insurance we paid a $25 co-pay weekly for therapists (both children and often family therapy). We no longer have private insurance so must find new therapists that take Medicaid and are willing and able to work with older teens with the many diagnoses that my children have.

I now take an anti-depressant, a mood stabilizer and sleeping pills to get through the day and night. The biochildren receive almost none of their parents’ time and attention. Our marriage is suffering because of the stress. We now own our own business and a major reason it is suffering is because I can focus on little but the children’s needs.

Thank you,


Mom to biokids son(10) and daughter(13)
Sibling pair adoptive placement from NE foster care 11/06
Finally finalized on daughter(14) on 3/08 - 2 weeks before her 13th birthday!
RAD, C-PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, ODD, ADHD, learning disorders, cerebral dysrhythmia
Finalized on her bio half-brother (16) on 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."


I received this e-mail recently, and finally finished my letter last night. Mike is amazing and he and his organization really does make a difference. I know he's been an incredible source of support for me.


Please post this and/or pass it on.

Hello friends and neighbors. I write to you today out of urgent cause. As many of you know Advocates for Children of Trauma have been working hard in our community and state to increase awareness of trauma and attachment issues/disorders. We have also pressed for more supports for our families, proper, affordable and appropriate care for our children.

The time has now come as we stand at an exciting crossroad. We have fought hard for you and your family and now we have the opportunity to really make a difference. One of the larger and well funded Texas advocacy groups has run across some of our families recently. Even with their best effort they were unable to assist or find any relief for these families. They then turned to us. We have been able to provide some support and relief for those families and have them back on the right path for the moment however this has opened a new door. We must act fast before it closes.

Advocates for children of Trauma have newer asked anyone for anything. We try to help all that reach out, be them members or not and as we try, we can’t always help all but we do try. Honestly the true numbers we see are staggering. So many hurt and desperate families, it’s sad.

I now humbly but urgently ask for your help.

I need every family that lives or has lived with a child/ adolescent or teen struggling with trauma/ attachment issues/ disorders or other mental health issues to write their stories and send them to us. You don’t have to be a great writer or use elegant words. These stories will not be made public but will be used to leverage our lawmakers. Please sign your letters with name and address if you can. You privacy will not be infringed upon. If you can’t it’s ok but we (ACT) need to know who and where you are so we can identify your lawmakers.

There are several things we are looking for but to include a few would be not receiving honest information about your child prior to placement especially if it was a CPS adoption. Information on how few services and educated therapist there truly are. How expensive private therapy is and how proper therapy isn’t available through public services. How difficult it is dealing with the schools. How difficult it is dealing with family and friends. What our homes look like from the inside out and how truly draining it is to live with our kids. We should also mention the effects on siblings and marriages. I also know many of you have had unwelcomed CPS involvement. We need to share what that experience is like. Basically write whatever you feel the strongest about. If you can’t write it and have the time to spend on the phone call me, I’ll write it for you from your words. If you can’t type your story write it down and mail it to us. We will key it in and email it back to you for your own records.

Folks I don’t know if your still reading or not but this is no joke. This is sincerely the best opportunity we have had for our families in the last ten years. ACT needs your help, I need your help. Please don’t think you story isn’t important or pass this up thinking we will have enough without you. We need all of your help. Please help us help you.


Michael Groomer

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ask Heloise

Do I look like Ask Heloise to you?

Why is everything involving cleaning/ organizing, cooking, children, assigning chores and the enforcement thereof, medical/medicine, pets, shopping (clothes, groceries, household items kid stuff...), social events, church, school, determining family rules and what any discipline should be - and most of the time enforcing it... my responsibility?!

Hubby is very responsible about his duties. At his request I have left up to him the running of financial side of our company and our home (silly man thinks that just because I'm dyslexic I can't handle accounting). Oh and taking out the trash, and most of the stuff on his side of the garage (although if the kids take tools or hide anything then it's my responsiblity to find, return and reprimand), occasionally washing dishes (my least favorite chore in the whole world that I usually leave to the children), and dispensing meds (most of the time although I'm usually the one that organizes med boxes).

He probably does more, or I need to do less, but still, it can be very irritating. I mostly work a full-time job too!

A week or so ago, Lord Fluffy aka Itty Bitty Kitty (it's a joke now since he weighs 15lbs, but he used to be tiny!), decided the litter box wasn't clean enough for him (probably true). So he found other places to pee. Hubby's unused treadmill, in front of one of the doors that we now keep closed because we don't want him hiding under our bed, and on the pool table cover that is supposed to always be kept on the pool table if its not in use (which of course hardly ever happens!). So it's my job to clean. And clean again because the smell is not gone. And clean again. The last time, I just sprayed it with the cleaner we chose and left it on there instead of rinsing it off. Finally got the smell out, but I noticed there was a spot where the cleaner had pooled that hadn't dried. I left it out to dry and forgot about it.
Flash forward to this morning. Hubby notices and asks if we can finally put the cover back on. I say sure, but the spot that I thought hadn't dried turned out to be an oily residue. I was in the middle of something so asked Hubby to get it off. He of course had no clue how. I don't either, but how hard can it be to try some things? That's all I would do.
So that's my vent for the morning. He really is a good Hubby. Even when he frustrates the heck out of me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My ragamuffins

I haven't done our usual grocery shopping this week because I ended up spending a lot of the grocery money on clothes for the kids. Partly because the weather has finally cooled a little - highs in the low to mid 80s instead of 90s and 100s. So the kids are looking at jeans and jackets. But the biggest reason was because our kids usually spend Saturday night at Grandma's and we meet up with them at church. Most of the Summer (and for some of the kids much longer than that), I've been fussing at the kids because I find them in dirty, stained clothes. I want them in dressy holy clothes, not messy holey clothes!

I've heard the same old excuses for months... "I forgot I didn't have any dressy clothes here." "I left my (shirt, skirt, dress pants...) at home." "My __________ didn't fit." So they wear yesterday's clothes or play clothes left at Grandma's house for who knows how long. Nothing I say or do has given them any motivation to change.

Sunday, I was venting to my sister that they were ALL in holey jeans, and she mentioned that when she picks up Ponito to take him to school in the morning he is often wearing stained, dirty clothes with his hair and teeth unbrushed. LAST STRAW!! Then and there I decided I was going through everyone's clothes and tossing everything stained, holey, or didn't fit.

We've caught Ponito wearing the same clothes 3 days in a row! Aargh! This is NOT because he doesn't have tons of clothes. This is because he apparently becomes emotionally attached to his clothes and only wears 3 shirts and 2 pairs of jeans - nothing else. I refuse to contemplate socks and underwear. Since his laundry is only done when he brings it downstairs to the laundry room (hopefully every week, but not always), this means no clean clothes. THIS IS MY NEUROTYPICAL BIOSON WHO IS NOT A TEENAGER YET!

Did I mention he will only wear one pair of pajamas? We threaten him often with cutting them off him or throwing them away. They still probably only get washed about every 2-3 weeks. *sigh*

So Sunday afternoon I went through his closet (something I don't do very often because he hasn't grown by leaps and bounds like the rest of the kids). He has grown a little, but he's been getting hand-me-downs for years. He loves to wear shirts that basically look like dresses!

I pulled out 5 kitchen size trash bags of clothes that no longer fit or he didn't want to wear. Plus, one bag that belongs to my nephew that comes over often. He found at least 7 items he didn't know he had! Only one long sleeve shirt that fit.

I go through Kitty's wardrobe often (because she's incapable of taking care of her own things). So I get rid of her stained clothes regularly. However, she has gained over 70lbs in the last year so she outgrows her clothes often. Still it hasn't been that long since I've gone through her clothes, and I know she doesn't have a lot that fits.

Bob is taller and has slimmed down a lot this year. She needs new clothes too. Bear is beyond picky and I only shop in thrift stores so he doesn't often find new clothes. He doesn't like clothes shopping, he prefers to buy shoes. I won't let him buy shoes because he has more than everyone else combined. Also he'll buy any shoe he likes whether it fits or not. He probably wears a 9.5. He has shoes ranging up to a 12.

So we went clothes shopping Sunday afternoon, and didn't have much money left over for meat. Therfore the mealso we did have had to be made with what we have in the fridge and freezer. Today we had leftover spaghetti sauce, but the kids had just had spaghetti recently (hence the leftover sauce, duh!).

So I told them we were having Baked Spaghetti. I decided not to tell them it was Baked Spaghetti Squash. Not a popular meal. No one liked the "funny noodles." I went ahead and confessed then. At least I'll have healthy lunches for quite awhile. I thought it was yummy.

Baked Spaghetti Squash (can also be vegetarian)

1 Spaghetti Squash
3-4 cups homemade or 1 jar spaghetti sauce
1-2 lbs ground beef
~¼ cup grated parmesan
1 ½ - 2 cups shredded mozzarella

1. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scrape out seeds. Fill each half with ¼ cup water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Cook squash in microwave for 10 minutes or until squash is soft. Drain water.
3. Brown ground beef. Drain.
4. Scrape out squash flesh into large baking dish (9x15?). Add beef and spaghetti sauce. Mix well.
5. Sprinkle dish with grated parmesan. Cover entire dish with mozzarella.
6. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is lightly brown and bubbly.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Kitty's teacher chose the book Flipped. She said it was because she already had the books and materials. Thanks for all the help and suggestions guys!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I feel like

I let y'all down. I didn't quit.

When I got home and realized I hadn't taken my medication (I'm bipolar and take mood stabilizers), but I was still determined that I was right to quit. I held off telling him for a day so I could calm down. And then...

I got a call from Transportation (school bus people) with all the ways they are going to be watching Bear and making sure he's doing what he's supposed to. They'll wait longer for him, call ROTC if he doesn't show up to see if he's there, call me to let me know if he misses the bus...

The woman was so incredibly nice and made it so easy to be a detective that I couldn't tell her I'd quit.

Then I got a call from Bear's sargeant. He talked to me about a call he'd gotten from the SRO (the ROTC officer?) at another school. A boy with a history of major issues that was about to get kicked out of the ROTC has accused Bear of threatening to fight him over a girl. Bear's sargeant wanted me to warn Bear that if anything happened that Bear would be the one that got into major trouble. In trying to clarifying the details, I ended up telling Sarge about the trouble Bear has been having since school started with the ex-girlfriends who formed the "I hate Bear" club and have been getting boys to fight for their "honor." Sarge knew nothing about this.

I have to admit I'm a little torn. Last time I talked to Sarge I could tell he thought I was an overcontrolling, hypochondriac of a mom with a kid who knew better than to mess up or get kicked out of the ROTC. Now I think he's finally getting the idea that Bear is a very messed up kid who is trying not to get kicked out of the ROTC, but can't necessarily control it.

I feel I'm being forced to continue this role of detective.

I ask Bear about the boy at the other school (in a nonchalant "detective" way). So Bear, what's going on with you and "boy's name"?

Bear says over the Summer the boy threatened to fight Bear because Bear was interested in boy's (ex?)girlfriend. Now Bear is actively pursuing ex-girlfriend. Bear claims boy is one making threats and that if Bear had wanted to fight him the fight would have already happened (and Bear would have won of course - imagine lots of macho posturing here).

So I told Bear that Sarge had called me, and that because the boy had said it first, that if ANYthing happened it would be Bear in trouble, not the boy. I think Bear gets it. He claimed he did.

Bear (having no sense of timing or understanding of other people's feelings) then proceeded to ask me if I would chaperone an ROTC trip at the end of this month. He'd asked to go and we'd told him no, giving him 3 reasons.

1. It costs $100 which we don't have

2. At the moment he was in the FAIR Club and would have to be out and stay out.

3. It spans over 2 nights (Sunday through Tuesday) and he takes major psychotropic medications that no one on the trip would be authorized to administer.

There were a ton more reasons, but we figured that was plenty. As always, to Bear this meant we were saying "Yes." (This is one thing that absolutely drives me batty about Bear. If you do not say NO, with no qualifiers. Then you are saying yes. If you add qualifiers then if he can get around those then you are saying yes... arrgh!).

1. It costs $100 which we don't have. Bear can fix this by paying for his own way! He will miraculously find neighbors who want yard work done to earn the money.
2. At the moment he was in the FAIR Club and would have to be out and stay out. No worries here. Of course Bear will be out of the FAIR Club. He didn't belong there in the first place! (According to him.)3. It spans over 2 nights (Sunday through Tuesday) and he takes major psychotropic medications that no one on the trip would be authorized to administer. Bear decided to solve this problem by getting one of us parents to go. Hubby said No. He then approached me. Said the school needed female chaperones. I didn't say no, just brought up all the problems with the idea. This means he assumed I was going. *sigh*

Today I told him in no uncertain terms, "No."

I'd already decided I had to continue with my "detective" job, but the trip to the therapist confirmed it. We all had homework.

  • Bear's was to write down a time he was Happy.

  • Mine was to ask Bear what was good about his day every day.

  • Hubby's was to affirm Bear twice a day. Hubby wanted to trade me jobs. He said since I was already the detective it would be easier for me to "catch" Bear being good and affirm him. I nixed that quickly.
Here's my reasoning:

  1. Hubby needs to step up and affirm Bear - Bear needs it from him. Hearing it from me doesn't mean as much.

  2. I do enough detective work, I don't want to spend even more time dealing with Bear.

  3. I love Bear, but right now I don't like him enough to praise him (maybe all the more reason for me to do it, but I just don't want to).

So I'm still cranky. I'm trying to back off a little, but guess I can't give up my Detective badge just yet.

Thanks for the poster idea Adelaide!! If I decide to stop being a detective I will definitely use them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I quit!

Warning! Cranky vent follows. Feel free to avoid this post.

After a 20 minute call with Hubby regarding what we should do with Bear for "missing" the bus yet again, I could have just strangled Hubby when not 10 minutes later, he told Bear he could stay after school for an "unannounced tutoring session with all his teachers."


My side of our "discussion" had been we needed to come down hard on him for lying/manipulating us to get unsupervised time with his friends. Hubby was saying he didn't see how we could make Bear's life as miserable as being abused so Bear wouldn't care what we did to him.

I do not trust Bear. EVERY time we've given him some freedom, Bear has lied, stolen, or done something illegal (often all 3). I do NOT want him to have unsupervised time. I disagree with Hubby that we cannot make the consequences for this sneaky behavior be "painful" enough to discourage him from doing it again. He actually feels safer when we are supervising him closely.

I let Hubby know that I felt he should have told Bear NO when he asked to stay after school, and cite his behavior YESTERDAY as the reason. Bear needs to know that we know he is lying and that losing our trust does have consequences. I hung up the phone with Hubby just furious at him. And that was the last straw.

Bear's therapist has mentioned several times that Bear has been forcing us to be detectives. To hunt down all his lies as well as pull out his emotions and feelings. The therapist was more focused on getting Bear to open up to us, but he had another point as well.

I spend hours every day dealing with getting the kids what they need. Today alone I spent:
  • 5 minute resenting the fact that Bear didn't take out the trash last night like he is supposed to, so we had to do it last minute while he piddled around after his 45+ minute shower/bath
  • a half hour talking to Transportation about whether or not Bear's bus really was leaving too early.
  • 20 minutes e-mailing back and forth with the principal of his special school about the matter.
  • 1.5 hours dealing with finding him a pediatric kidney specialist (they're called Nephrologists in case you wanted to know).
  • 15 minutes discussing with the psychiatrist's office manager the fact that our insurance still hasn't paid for appointments as far back as 6/08 despite the hours I've spent on the phone trying to fix this. The psychiatrist gave notice that if the insurance didn't pay it we would have to.
  • 3o minutes arguing discussing consequences with Hubby,
  • probably another 2 hours brooding.
  • maybe 20 whole minutes writing my letter of resignation by hand.
  • 30 minutes discussing the days I've spent trying to make the PTSD information Bear's therapist is insisting he read and discuss with us more age appropriate. It's 8 pages long and written at a graduate level (I have a Master's and still don't understand it all). It's been 3 days and I'm only on page 3. My mom has graciously volunteered to try to complete it for me - which is good because it has to be done, read and discussed with Bear by Saturday.
  • 30 minute listening to him ask for privileges like getting to stay late after school and go to football games to do "community service" for ROTC. I was noncommital.
  • 45 minutes at dinner listening to him tease his siblings, talk and joke around. (Not a problem, but I was still fuming and didn't want to be around him. The good news is I think I managed to hide it, mostly).
(This is just Bear by the way, I probably spent equal time on Kitty today).
So I decided to give up the job of Detective and Nurturing Mommy. I'm not sure if I will actually give him my letter of resignation or not. I will probably wait until my hormones calm down or something.
I will no longer be a detective.
I will no longer search you out when you seem upset.
I will no longer search your room, stuff or pockets.
I will not call your teachers or school.
I will not verify your stories or check up on you.
I will not believe you or trust you.
I will not expect you to love or care about me or the family.
I will not go out of my way to help you.
I will not open myself up so you can hurt my feelings.
I will not tolerate disrespect of myself or the family.
I will not be responsible for your feelings.
I will still love you.
I will still listen when you want to talk.
I will still take you to doctor's appointments and give you meds.
I will believe others are telling the truth if there is a disagreement.
I will take care of your basic needs (food, clothes, a place to sleep)
I still expect you to be polite and helpful.
I still expect you to keep all drugs, cigarettes and illegal activities away from our home and if I catch you doing it - I will press charges.
I still expect you to not steal from the family.
Hubby and Grandma think it's too harsh. They're probably right. Still felt good to get it all on paper. Time to go to bed and end this stinky day (to top it off our only car had an $800 breakdown. When I went with Grandma to pick up my purse I'd left at a restaurant on Friday and just now figured out where it was, her car broke down too. Her cell phone battery was dead and the restaurant didn't have a phone we could use. Luckily we were able to talk an office manager in a nearby office building into delaying closing up for a minute while we borrowed their phone. Poppy (Grandma's husband) got her car started so we can borrow it tomorrow).


Don't judge me! I just thought this picture was funny.
When Bob was in 1st grade she was reading on a 4th or 5th grade level. There was another child in her class who had skipped Kindergarten so the girls were almost the same age (Bob has a Summer birthdate). The girls became good friends and I have to admit they were funny to look at. Being so tall, all of Bob's friends are shorter than she, but this little girl was tiny, and African American. They were opposites in all but personality.

Because the girls were the only ones reading at such a high level, the teacher focused more of her attention on the other children. The girls were allowed to choose any reading book they wanted while the other children were limited to specific shelves. I chose to send Bob reading books that were abridged versions of the classics (Dr. Doolitle, Heidi, Swiss Family Robinson...). The other mom let her choose from the library.

I still remember the day I was dropping Bob off and happened to arrive at the same time the other mom was tearing into the teacher. Apparently her child had come home with a book called, "My Life as a Fifth Grader." Her 5 year old had started to read her assigned 20 minutes to mom and in the first chapter the book talked about condoms. The mom was livid! She wanted the book burned. The wanted the teacher and librarian tarred and feathered.

I did step in and offer to let the girl read Bob's books since the teacher didn't have time to help every child find an appropriate book, and the children didn't ask the librarian (who might not have had time either). I remember thinking at the time that there are 5th graders who are sexually active and this book should be kept in the library.

Flash forward 6 years. Middle school is all about current topics that appeal to the kids. Kitty acted in a play called "Men are Slime." She watched a play about bulimia. I had no problems with Bob watching these, but Kitty... no way! Kitty's therapy focused on how all men are evil and she was horribly triggered by Hubby and all men until well after the play was over. She took the play about bulimia as a lesson plan and encouragement.

This school year I got an email from Kitty's Language Arts teacher. All the 8th graders are reading a book called "The Givers." On the surface it sounded fine, but I am so glad she asked me if it was OK for her to read it to Kitty's class because it is so NOT!

The book is about a Utopian society with no emotions (they take pills to suppress these) and only one person has knowledge of the past stored as memories. Jobs are assigned at age 12, and will be your job for life (yes, like "The Bee" movie with Jerry Seinfeld). There is no sex or love (or hate or happiness) and people who want children are foster parents of babies from "birth mothers" who are basically brood mares. The parents stay together until the child or children (max of two - a boy and a girl) is on their own, then the parents separae and go back to living in dorms.

The main character is different because he has light colored eyes so he gets to be the receiver of the past memories. Unwanted members of society are executed to keep the population exact. The boy's father is a "Nurturer" which means he cares for the babies before they are adopted. Babies that do not conform (like one who cries past a year of age) are executed. The boy's father brings home a baby with this problem to see if he can "fix it," but when it turns a year old it will be executed because they couldn't "fix" it - the boy runs away with it and probably freezes to death (the book doesn't say.

Here's why I told the teacher I didn't want Kitty to be exposed to this book:

1. This book is written for children ages 8 and up - developmentally Kitty is only about 4 or 5. She still thinks concretely; the abstract concepts in this book are beyond her abilities.
2. Taking pills is bad, particularly those that control emotions (she takes mood stabilizers and HAS to take all her meds).
3. Families are over when a child grows up.
4. Killing babies and old people
5. Killing children because they are not perfect or do not do what is expected of them.
6. "Birthmothers" are broodmares.
7. Living without emotions, especially love, is possible and preferable.
8. Serious rule breaking (which she has done) is punishable by death.

There were more issues.

So here is what the teacher offered as alternatives:

Call of the Wild
The Outsiders

Call of the Wild - Kidnapped dog is taken to Alaska, abused and never returns to his ideal family. There are killings (mostly dogs) in almost every chapter of the book. The animal goes off to live by itself and doesn't need people.

Flipped - Friendly girl moves in next door to a boy and idealizes him and wants him to be her boyfriend. He dislikes her and runs from her - until he hits puberty and decides he likes her. She then pushes him away because he's said for years that she was weird and looked down on her, so he chases her. Subplots - cheating in school that's never punished, father who is sexist, putting down people with mental disabilities, lots of criticism of the worthiness of people because they don't have money.

The Outsiders - According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

So what IS appropriate for a 14 year old emotionally disturbed 8th grader and her special ed class to have read to them? Call of the Wild and The Outsiders are out. Death, abuse, and misery - 'nough said. I'm not thrilled by Flipped, but I guess that will have to be it unless anyone (Denise?) has any suggestions?!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My how they've grown!

Sorry if the last post was a downer. It was actually a response to someone else's post about whether or not her readers were SAHM. Hit a nerve.

My nephew asked for some pictures of the family, and I realized we don't take a lot of pictures around here. In fact I just realized we don't even have pictures of anyone's birthday parties this year. Maybe they're still on the camera? Yea, I'm just going to assume that's where they are, which means it's all Hubby's fault for not downloading them. *grin*

This picture is from Bear's birthday party last year, so it's almost exactly one year old, but it's pretty typical of my little goobers.
That's Kitty with her mouth open (and food hanging out). I can't believe how much weight she's gained in the last year (over 70lbs).
Ponito (aka Monkey boy) is sitting on the edge of the sink flashing "signs." Luckily he has no clue what they mean as far as I know. His hair has grown out a lot since this picture. He looks like Zack and Cody from the Suite Life on Disney channel now (fellow moms of tween girls know what I mean!).
Bob is standing on a chair. She loves being taller than everyone else. She's taller and slimmer now. A year of PE at school did her a lot of good.
Bear looks about the same, but his tattoo removal has healed to scars now, and he might be a touch more muscular.
Will have to take and post a more current picture so you guys can compare too.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

SAHM vs working

I've worked full-time. Changed careers half a dozen times or more. Been a SAHM, been a WAHM. When my son was 2 I went back to work part-time. When my husband lost his job, I went back to work full-time. I hated my job, but couldn't break out of the industry.

Then we adopted. Within 6 months my son had been kicked out of school and suspended repeatedly. My biodaughter had been to the ER for tachicardia repeatedly. I asked to switch to part-time and my job said no so I quit. 6 months as a SAHM. (Eventually surgery for Bob that fixed the problem permanently. Yea!!).

My husband and I bought a company. I was going to run it and only have to be there 3/4 time. Then Hubby quit his job and since we drove in together I was stuck at work for 8 hours with very little to do, and my depression/bipolar disorder raging. Hubby got frustrated that I blogged and played Spider Solitaire all day.

This Summer Kitty fell apart, and I became a SAHM again. She went to residential treatment and I went back to work. Two weeks later she's out again (Did I mention I hate insurance), but school has started so I come home when she gets out of school.

And that's where we are. Our company is walking the line of bankruptcy, our daughter (and son) are a mess. My husband wants me to make cold calls to try to get some business for our company, and I'm resisting. It's driving a wedge in our marriage. Both our adopted children are struggling.

Less than 3 years till the oldest graduates high school. 5 years and the girls graduate. Hubby doesn't want to consider more kids until the adopted kids graduate. I'm afraid I'll be too old, but the kids we have are sucking the life out of me as it is.

I just want kids who give something back. Is that too much to ask? Bob is 13 so I can't expect much from her. Ponito is the only one who fills my "love tank," but he's not enough.
I want to stay home. I want a job that I would be great at, that helps people. I want more people in my life who want to help instead of demand it from me all the time. I want to feel like I'm accomplishing something. I want to stop writing this post.


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, ODD, 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."

Friday, September 11, 2009

RAD child surrender

This was posted by a woman who lives near me. Unlike ours, theirs was an international adoption so they don't qualify for even the few services offered by Texas Medicaid (which does not include residential treatment anyway). Their child is violent and they cannot get the help he/they need. Their only option is to surrender him to the state and hope he gets some of the care he needs.
Their story reminds me that there, but for the Grace of God, go we. Please include Jeri and her son and family in your prayers.
[Two days ago] we will have to sign the papers I have long dreaded.....he is becoming the "property" of the state. It is the only way to have his needs met and It should not be criminal to be mentally ill. It should be criminal to be treated by the insurance companies and our health system the way my son has been.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Food issues -Letter B - Barbecue Birthday Bash

I have to admit, these letter parties make planning meals a lot easier. The kids get involved and there is more thought to it than - "start a big pot of water boiling and I'll decide what to throw in it when I get home." We've had very little leftovers too.

So tonight was going to be leftovers, but at the last minute my sister called us and asked if my niece and nephew could stay with us afterschool through bedtime (her afterschool care provider had an appointment and she had a date**). Her kids are extremely picky eaters and will usually go home and eat Kid Kuisine or beg for fast food (their usual fare - which I think is personally pretty yucky!).

My sister and her kids lived with us soon after her divorce. Her son especially did not eat vegetables. I still remember him walking around with a single pea like it was cyanide. It once took him literally 20+ tiny nibbles to eat a 1 inch piece of green bean.

My favorite story though is the night we had spaghetti and green beans. He'd been living with us for awhile so he knew veggies were required when his Mama wasn't there to protect him from them. In those days, we required kids to eat at least one piece/bite of veggie per year of age. He was 7 years old.

He'd eaten all his spaghetti and brought his plate to my husband for more noodles. My husband asked the dreaded question, "Did you eat your green beans?" My nephew looked at my husband with a serious expression and said, "I ate two and I chewed 3." Confused, my husband asked, "Are they in your tummy?" My nephew solemnly shook his head. Hubby and I still LOL about him chewing green beans and then spitting them back out?!!

I asked my sister about it later, and she said she was ok with it, because at least he got some vitamins from the juices he chewed out of them. Crazy.

Ironically, the spaghetti he was eating was my Confetti Spaghetti.

Confetti Spaghetti
  • Frozen vegetable medley - broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (chopped in blender while still frozen until they are the size of confetti)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Finely chopped mushrooms
  • Italian seasoning
  • Browned ground turkey and whole wheat noodles.

So tonight my niece and nephew got to choose our letter and meal. They picked the letter B.

For our Barbecue Bash they chose:

Barbecued Pork (we like pork chops instead of ribs because it's cheap, there's more meat, and no bones)
Baguettes (they were part of a meal deal at the grocery store - the kids had never seen long, skinny bread like these! Being white bread, they were VERY popular with my crew).
Baked potatoes (again not something we usually eat because I prefer whole grain starches and we get enough carbs elsewhere).
Baby glazed carrots (made with Smart Balance butter and sugar-free syrup, yum!)
Baked Beans
and for dessert...
Birthday cake! No, it wasn't really anyone's birthday. We just made a 2 layer boxed cake mix and iced it. We talked about candles and stuff, but no one bothered. Bear complained because he doesn't like chocolate (I know! I can't imagine either.) I had some sorbet in the freezer so he ate that.
All that complaining he did, and then he snuck down in the middle of the night and snuck a huge piece of cake (he tried to cut it so it wouldn't be obvious, but it was). I know it was him, despite his protests that he hates chocolate, because he apparently has a serious sugar addiction. Every time I search his room I find tons of candy wrappers, empty dishes with utensils stuck to them, empty icing cans (*grrr*), lots of soda cans and Monster drinks. I didn't bother to accuse him, just asked him to make sure he didn't leave the dish in his room. He said he thought he did (thereby confessing) and actually semi-apologized. I let it drop.

Forbidding Sweets
My sister's theory is that if you forbid sweets and other junk food then the kids will just crave it more. I see her point, but my kids deal with obesity, eating disorders, hoarding, gorging because they can't tell when they are full, and sugar-induced mania. We do try to have lots of healthy food and snacks always available.

When we go out to eat, we allow soda pop, but usually limit it to one glass. We encourage at least semi-balanced meals, and allow dessert (if it's in the budget). We don't eat out often though. I only buy whole grain bread and flour, sugar substitutes and skim milk. I consider Lunchables and Kid Kuisine to be expensive cr*p.

Kitty calls me a Healthaholic. I have friends that are a lot "worse."

Due to a med change and going off her Concerta for a Summer, Kitty put on 70lbs in 6 months. Despite med changes she still hasn't been able to drop back to a healthy weight. Part of her image of herself involved being skinny (and she liked to rub it in Bob's face), now she looks like she is pregnant (most of the weight is in her belly and chest), and she's miserable. She frequently threatens to starve herself and now that she's back on Concerta she skips a lot of meals, but at other times she gorges herself (no purging though thank goodness). I want to help her, but I definitely don't want to aggravate her food issues.

Bear was overweight as a child and didn't slim down until he moved in with us (foster dad didn't cook so they ate out for EVERY meal). He has a pretty distorted body image of himself too - the stretchmarks and sagging man boobs don't help. He never goes anywhere without at least a wife beater on.

Biomom is a large woman and Bear's biodad was over 300lbs (at only 5'8"). Both children equate weight with biofamily. It REALLY bothers them that I have gained so much weight, and spend a lot of time on my computer.

How do your kids handle weight and body image?

Pajama Party

Ponito picked P for his Party.

We partied in our PJs (good way to encourage showering which is not always a favorite activity around here).

We watched Sky High (yes, I know this doesn't start with the letter P, but Ponito declared that the movie was about Powers - as in super Powers - and that counted!).

We had Personalized Personal Pizzas (on whole wheat tortillas) made mostly with Pepperoni and Pineapple.

Ponito's Personalized Personal-sized Pizza with Perfectly Placed Pepperoni and Pineapple.

Lay a tortilla on a a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a small amount of cheese (just enough to act like glue!). Layer on a second tortilla. Spread with tomato sauce (we've used ketchup when desparate). Add cheese. Cover with Pepperonis. Place a Pineapple chunk in the middle of each Pepperoni. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

We drank Pop (yes, most of my family are Northerners), and had Popsicles for dessert. No veggies for us that night. Very popular meal though! They fight over this letter! *grin*
We only have 4 kids so I figured the next night we'd have the Letter L for Leftovers, but we had surprise guests.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

FAS Awareness Day

This was posted by an adoptive mom with a son with FAS. It makes me cry but it is an important message. She has given everyone her permission and encouraging everyone to pass this along to everyone they know. EDITED TO ADD: THE AUTHOR ENCOURAGES YOU TO PLEASE COPY, PASTE, POST, FORWARD, AND PASS THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW.

Just a quick reminder of 9/9 everyone. I was asked to speak at our local FAS Awareness Day, but Ben has a neuro appointment and considering what's going on, I can't put that off. This is what will be read in our absence though and I hope someone takes it to heart. It would be so wonderful if the news media would cover it this year, but they so rarely do. Anyway, here's our speech:

Hi. I'm Ben. I'm 4 y.o. My momma says I was born drunk and with meth in my body. I don't know how or what that is, but it must have been bad because the doctors didn't think I would live. I was tough though and came home at only 4 days old and I was a premie. At a week old something really bad started happening. I couldn't stop shaking and I stopped breathing. My momma was crying at the hospital. They called in some guy who was doing something call "last rites". I came home two weeks later. They told my momma I was blind, would never sit up, walk, talk and all that stuff. Well I proved them all wrong 'cause I do it all. But I still shake sometimes and forget lots of stuff and then I get REALLY mad but I can't control it. Momma says it's something to do with seizures and that's why once I learn something I forget it. It's big stuff too, like feeding myself, dressing myself, and even walking right. I have to use a wheelchair part of the time now. I didn't used to. I think it has to do with being at the doctor about a year ago and momma started crying again. They said these seizure things will be terminal, whatever that is. The doctor said something about the prenatal exposures have fried my neurological system, the seizures are going to all new parts of the brain and gaining in intensity all the time. Momma asked them how long it would be and they weren't sure. I hope this terminal thing doesn't happen anytime soon because it always makes momma and daddy cry. My sister gets very mad sometimes about all of this and says she doesn't like someone named our birth mother for hurting me. I don't remember anyone hurting me, but like I said, I forget a lot of things. Anyway, ever since the doctors told my momma about that terminal stuff, it's been harder to do things. I'm in a wheelchair part of the time now and I used to be able to run all day. I have a special feeding chair too. I just got it and it's the first time in over two years I can feed myself. I've also started sleeping a lot. I told momma once I was getting tired. She knew what I meant, not the sleepy like I need to take a nap tired, but like my body is tired and it's hard to keep going. Momma sits by my bed a lot at night and watches me. I wonder if she's thinkin' that terminal thing is going to happen. I don't know. I just like having her close. I tell her she has a beautiful heart all the time because she tells me that's where I grew.This is our life with my son Ben. He's not this articulate by any means. His sisters, who are very articulate, helped me write this for you. They said he deserves to have the words he may never be able to say himself, and I agree. We don't know how long Ben has with us, but we are thankful for every day. Education and programs must continue so everyone knows that no amount of alcohol is safe during a pregnancy. Programs must be in place to help mothers stay clean during their pregnancies so that another child does not have to live the life Ben does.

What is EMDR?

We tried EMDR therapy with myself and Kitty and Bear to help with PTSD. My totally layman way of looking at it is that when you think of something traumatic, your body reacts as though you were reliving it (accelerated heart rate, tense muscles, adrenaline rush... all extremely unpleasant). EMDR doesn't make what happened go away, but it kind of distracts your nervous system from physically and emotionally reacting, allowing you to process the incident. You do not even have to talk to the therapist about the incident, merely bring it to the forefront of your mind.

I don't know how it works exactly though. My understanding is that once you have gone through the event then it is processed. You will still remember it, but it will no longer feel traumatic (no more night terrors, avoiding things that might be triggers, or other coping methods).

There are different techniques too. Our therapist used "TheraTappers" which are small oval shaped objects about the size of a key fob that you hold in your hands (or you can slip under your legs when your hands get sweaty). The tappers vibrate (like a pager) in your hands, back and forth between hands. You can control the speed of the alternation. Once when the battery was low it went really fast, and actually got Kitty all riled up. With me, sometimes the therapist just tapped with her finger in the palm of my hand alternately. I've heard some therapists can just move an object like a pencil slowly back and forth. The point seems to be the back and forth motion making the eyes move back and forth like REM sleep.

EMDR is especially good for people who have been raped, in a car accident, soldiers, or something else traumatic. Single events might only need 1-2 sessions. Years of extreme, prolonged trauma like what my children experienced could take years of EMDR therapy to process.

When my daughter tried EMDR, she was apparently not at a point where she could handle discussing her trauma at all, and had some major regression (some of this may have been because I led the sessions - and being used to attachment therapy - apparently forced her to stay focused past what she could process).

Our son tried it, but refused to actually participate so we dropped it. I used it a little, and it helped me calm down on days when I came to therapy and my normal life was overwhelming me(yes, that's every day).

All in all I recommend it for kids (and adults) with PTSD, even though it didn't really work for us (at this time).

Here is the explanation from EMDRIA.ORG:

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

I don't think anyone is sure why it works. One explanation is that EMDR is mimicking the bilateral eye movement that occurs in REM sleep (studies indicate that REM sleep plays a key role in memory consolidation.) However, traumatic memories do not get processed in the typical way. Instead of getting fuzzier over time as most memories do, traumatic memories stay vivid. EMDR helps to move the traumatic memory into the typical processing thus allowing the memory to "soften" in its recollection.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

RADish friends.

One big issue with kids with RAD is lack of social skills. They have very little empathy.

My 16 year old RAD son has friends. Usually kids with issues that he gets in trouble with. He also apparently has a sign on his forehead that says "if you're petite and have major issues - then be my girlfriend!" We call them Kleenex girls - because he goes through them like Kleenex. He demands total devotion. She can't do anything but worship at his feet, or he dumps her. Some get sick of his controlling behavior and dump him. Those that don't, HE dumps because they get "too close." No one can convince him that he has too many issues to date right now. I do supervise his every move - there is NO way I'm going to be a Grandma at 39!

Our 14 year old daughter is different. She is super friendly. She makes friends quickly - but can't keep them. She has no social skills at all. She wanders off when she does have friends over.

She sees the world as black and white and can't handle the social nuances of teenage girls. If she thinks someone is mean then she HATES them. She calls boys she likes obsessively - then forgets they exist for months. She gets along better with younger girls because developmentally/ emotionally she's only about 5 years old. She can't hang out with too much younger kids though because they are immature and self-centered too. This irritates our daughter and she could lash out.

Friends are also a big deal for her because of the jealousy/ competitiveness factor with her sister. They are in the same grade, but luckily are not too much alike. Kitty is in almost all special education classes and her electives which are mainstream, have tended to be with kids in younger grades because she is a beginner. This year she is in advanced choir (last year was beginning) so she is in with some kids she knew from 5th grade.

When Kitty first got here she wanted to be popular. Bob has been with these same kids since preschool so she warned Kitty that they could be mean. Kitty chose to try to befriend them anyway. That didn't work well so Kitty decided it was Bob's fault. She decided Bob was telling people mean things about her (well, true things, about the horrible behavior she was showing at home - including a cat fight between the two that ended up with Bob's arm being covered in jagged claw marks and gouges). Kitty began to spread nasty rumors about Bob, probably hoping to make herself look better. Luckily most of the kids knew Bob and didn't believe Kitty.

So do I try to help Kitty foster friendships? She doesn't think she needs help. She doesn't see that wandering off when they visit would bother them. When they play with other family members because they're alone, Kitty gets jealous of the relationships. We have a rule that says if you have friends over you have to stay with them (partly because of this and partly because some of the kid's friends have taken things or gotten nosy when left to their own devices).

I've had to say if they are interested in Bear then they cannot be the girls' friends. The girls think that's mean, but it's become a big issue. I always have to worry about who is where and doing what. If he dates the girl briefly, they of course break up, and the girl keeps coming back to our house or calling. Some girls have even become stalkers. It upsets him greatly that they're allowed in the house after the breakup (yes, his problem, but I also don't want the girls being used this way). It really upsets Kitty when they call and ask for Bear, or they drop her because they're not dating her brother anymore. One of my biggest concerns of course is that he dates girls with major issues, they usually cuss and have other attitudes and issues that I do not want to expose my kids to (including him, but what can you do?!).

Bob is an introvert. She has a few friends that she eats lunch with at school and sometimes talks to on the phone, but most of the time she reads her books and is happy being a couch potato.

Ponito is an outgoing kid with tons of friends. The neighborhood is full of boys his age and he's always outside playing, or has friends over. Kitty is jealous of his playdates, sleepovers and general freedom. Frankly I think Bear is too. But what can I do? Emotionally/ developmentally they are younger than he is! I can trust him. Them?! Not so much.

How do you handle your child's friendhips, or lack thereof?

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

They just don't get it.

I wish we had video taped our daughter's rages so we could show it to our insurance company who decided she didn't need to be in residential treatment because she was doing so "well" there. Apparently they'd never heard of a honeymoon period. Luckily, the treatment center held on to her for another week at their own expense and finished all the neuropsychological testing at least.

Our daughter never misbehaves or complains at school either so they ignore all the behavior parts of her IEP and assessments. Which means she comes homes and falls apart because she is so stressed from holding it together all day.

I hate when well-meaning people think that they are fixing our children; giving the child someone to talk to because he can't talk to his parents; or criticize the mean parents who "refuse to see the child's potential," or "forget that he's going to have to be in a less restrictive environment in the real world" (yes, he graduates in two years, that doesn't mean that letting him get away with stuff because he's unsupervised doesn't make him any less sick); or that we "don't praise the good things he does" (like how great it was that he didn't get into a fight with the boy who wanted to fight him - never mind that his actions caused the boy to want to fight him in the first place, or that he only went to the school staff because the boy and his friends were bigger than him, or that this was the day he had to be searched for contraband when he came in to school, or that his PTSD was so triggered he scared the other children and was beyond rude to the adults, and Hubby still spent 2 hours after bed time listening to him vent.).

I hate feeling like the bad guy because I hold him accountable and won't let the school focus only on the positives and ignore the negatives. These new teachers can afford to give him the benefit of the doubt and trust him until he proves untrustworthy. They don't know him like we do. He doesn't usually act this way with them, but what about his future family? Don't I owe it to my future (distant future I hope) grand kids to help him heal instead of letting him continue like this?!

Monday, September 7, 2009

C is for Cookie

Tonight's menu was brought to us by the letter C.
Bob picked the letter C so she got to pick what we ate for dinner.
We watched a Cop movie (this was a hard one because you have to get all 4 kids to agree on a movie. I personally wanted CinderElmo or Cars, but for some reason got outvoted. *grin*) They chose Undercover Blues (which was a stretch to call a Cop movie, but it is a really great movie so we let it slide).
We had Chips for an appetizer because we got a late start on dinner which took forever to bake. We were actually going to have cheese and crackers, but ate all the cheese yesterday!
Dinner was Citrus Chicken with Curly noodles.
Veggies was supposed to be Carrots, but we had leftover mixed veggies (which had Carrots in them!).
Drinks were Cold Cool-aid (yes, I know this really starts with a K, but it was cold) or Cold milk (Kitty is allergic to Kool-aid).
Dessert was Cookies and Cream or Chocolate Chip Cookie dough ice Cream. We had bought Chocolate Chip Cookies, but decided the ice cream was enough.

Letter Parties - M

Dinner has been getting repetitive and the kids have been complaining about the food I cook which irritates me, a lot.

We'd mentioned letter parties recently and the kids loved the idea. So we decided to start them again.

Sunday Night was brought to us by the letter M.
We watched the (Hannah) Montana Movie
We ate Mexican food (everyone disagred so we used pre-packaged meals - enchiladas, tamales, and fajitas).
Mixed veggies
We drank Milk.
Before dinner we had Munchies including Muenster cheese on crackers with fruit.
For dessert we had Melon (Watermelon) and Macadamia Nut Cookies or Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Ok, so some of these were a stretch, but that wasn't the point!

Relationships and a clean garage

So much going on with the kids, but my biggest worry of the week is the problems Hubby and I are having. He told me yesterday that he feels like we’re just roommates, and that I don’t love him anymore - if I “ever did.” When we met I was struggling with an attachment disorder and a complete mistrust of men. He was amazing and never pushed me. He stuck with me and loved me for the years it took me to trust him. It’s been 15 years now and I love him completely, but apparently don’t know how to express it so that he feels it. We were both crying 10 minutes into the conversation.

We were doing OK until a couple of years ago, although apparently barely giving the other what we needed (if you’ve ever read The 5 Love Languages – we speak different languages. I’m words of affirmation and he’s quality time and physical touch). Then the kids came and our “love tanks” were drained completely on a daily basis. Both the older two kids have RAD, and out biodaughter recently became a teen, so you end up pouring love into them and getting nothing back. We are so overwhelmed with have almost nothing left for each other, and as .

We had a 2 hour conversation and hopefully came up with some ways to give each other what we need – that we can really stick with. I don’t think I’ve cried that much in a long time. Neither of us have had really good examples of a relationship that meets the emotional needs of both partners.

Despite Hubby’s unwillingness, the whole family spent the morning cleaning out the garage (partly because it was disgusting and partly because I needed to make it harder for Bear to hide contraband in the garage). I did let our daughter that just got home from residential psychiatric hospitalization on Saturday to quit within minutes of starting when she began complaining of a stomach ache (Hubby disagreed with my decision). Biodaughter refused to help and quit fairly quickly (Hubby took away her books and put her in the FAIR Club). She decided to quit anyway. She did make lunch for everyone, but it could have been so she could have what she wanted for lunch or to try to get back on our good side.
The good news is we did finish it and it looks nice. You could still hide a ton of stuff in it, but that’s life. The trash man still needs to come and take away the tons of bags and boxes, but all the “good stuff” has been dropped at the local charity. Not sure what we’ll do to get rid of the big stuff that doesn’t fit in the trash cans.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What is PTSD?

Bear is starting with a new therapist who wants to start working with his PTSD. Bear doesn't know what PTSD is (or attachment or trauma or values!) so the therapist recommended we all read something on it so we could all get on the same page. The problem was I couldn't find something written for kids - especially at Bear's reading level (about 5th grade). So I adapted this one from Attachment Trauma Network (

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Many adopted children are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. A child might get PTSD if something happens to them that causes them great pain (emotional or physical). This trauma might include adults not always taking care of the child’s basic needs (food, changing diapers, hugs and attention...), an adult hurting the child, the child being taken from his or her family (even if the child was not safe that child will still miss them), the child being left with many people, or having to move a lot.

Some of the ways children and teens might act if they have PTSD:

1. Extreme emotional reactions. This is how the child reacts to things - sometimes acting in ways that don’t match what is going on.

2. Angry outbursts. This could be yelling, hitting, crying, cursing…

3. Obsessive repetitive play. Being unable to think about anything else, just doing the same thing over and over. What the child is doing might be like upsetting things that have happened in his or her past.

4. Sleep Disturbances. The child has trouble with how and when he or she sleeps.

5. Unusual or excessive fears. Being afraid of almost everything, or of things that don’t scare most kids.

Other children might have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or C-PTSD. Children with C-PTSD had trauma in their lives regularly and without anyone taking care of them all of the time.

Some of the ways children and teens might act if they have C-PTSD:

1 Attachment – Many traumatized children do not accept discipline, get in other people’s personal space, distrust others, and lack friends.

2 Biology – Many traumatized children stiffen when touched, do not feel pain, exaggerate small pains, and take longer than others to learn how to ride a bike, skate or perform other movements requiring both sides of the body working well together. Often the chemicals in the body do not work like they should, including hormones - which can make a teen cranky, angry, and maybe violent. There might also be sleep problems, early puberty, depression, and other problems. Many children also have ongoing stomach issues (like gas or diarrhea).

3 Affect or emotional regulation – Many children show strong emotions all the time and have a hard time calming down. They might easily explode into a violent rage over the smallest things (for example, the word “no” or even, “Let’s talk about this later.”; cry for an hour over a trivial remark; worry for days about an imagined insult. Many children can’t tell others what they feel; when asked what they feel, they say they “don’t know.” Some children are “too good,” pretending they are always happy. Some children don’t seem to understand most of their feelings, except anger. These children often feel depressed, numb and/or think about suicide all the time.

4 Dissociation –Many children repeatedly dissociate (disconnect, day dream or distract themself) when confronted with trauma triggers (things that make them think about awful things from the past), such as an adult’s angry voice or facial expression, a parent leaving the child with a sitter or at daycare, the sight (or even the thought) of babies, or diapers, or dolls, or a child car seat belt. Dissociation may not always be obvious to someone who is not trained to see it. Some children use television viewing or sleeping as a way of dissociating. When dissociated the child may not remember what happened or not think about it having happened to them.

5 Behavioral control – Many children fire before they aim - they do things before they think about how their actions might affect others or even themselves. They interrupt, butt into line, grab, push, or say the first thing that pops into their heads. Some children self-harm in large or small ways (cutting, hitting) or engage in destructive attempts to self-soothe (calm themselves), such as picking skin, rocking, head banging, chewing on their lips, masturbating. Many children are aggressive, particularly with parents but not only with parents. They hit, pinch, kick, bite, and throw large objects. Many children suffer from nightmares, night terrors, bruxism (tooth grinding), restless leg, and night waking. Some children turn to drugs and alcohol. Some children suffer from eating disorders even as infants and toddlers; many more develop eating disorders as they mature. Older children are prone to drug and alcohol abuse. Many children refuse to do as they are asked to do. Others show a false front and deny their own wishes and feelings in an effort not to rock the boat. Finally, many children live out the type of trauma they have suffered, either in their play, or simply in their day-to-day contacts with others.

6 Cognition – Many children cannot focus or pay attention when they are supposed to pay attention and they cannot plan tasks well or get organized. Some children seem dulled-down and are not curious about their world. Many children do not totally understand the idea of “object permanence.” If they can’t see someone, they don’t know or believe on a deep level that she is still there (obviously this can effect attaching to or caring for another person, like an adoptive parent.) Many children don’t understand the idea of cause and effect, especially involving his or herself; they do not grasp that if they hit someone, that person will not want to be their friend. Many children suffer from learning disabilities. Many children show delayed development of language skills. Many children can’t handle bright light or medium-loud noise (yet scream themselves). They may find it terrifying (or unusually thrilling) to spin, swing, or hang upside down. Many children struggle to complete puzzles or read maps or learn how to tell time.

7 Self-concept –Many children doubt their own reality; they chatter nonsense constantly partly as a way of helping themselves believe that they exist. Many children believe they are bad, unworthy, wrong, or at fault for every negative thing that has ever happened to them. Some children imagine they are fat when they are not, or believe they are much smaller or less powerful than they are. Many children cannot see where they leave off and others begin, and as a result, they constantly invade others’ personal space, either literally (waving a book two centimeters from someone else’s nose, clinging to a parent at an inappropriate or even dangerous moment, such as when the parent is standing at the stove) or metaphorically, with constant demands for attention. Some children can’t believe they could ever do anything to feel better about themselves, and some children fear that they are “damaged goods,” “trash,” “garbage,” or “unfixable” and that if they show their bad sides, their adoptive parents may send them back to the orphanage or to another foster home.

Adapted and abridged from Attachment and Trauma Network