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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Update

"All Women can do WONDERS if put to the test" - Wonder Woman
Updates:

Sleep Study - total waste of time.  Kitty's sleep issues are apparently stress related.  Within 48 hours she was back to staying up all night.  On the bright side, I've been getting to bed earlier... most days.

Bob - Bob turned 17 last week.  My baby girl is growing up!  This summer she's getting her driver's license, has traveled to Spain,  gone on a mission trip, and worked as a nanny for my sister's 5 kids.

Grandma - Grandma had a severe reaction to some medication and has lost partial control of one side of her tongue, throat, and face.  She has great difficulty swallowing and speaking.  We are very worried about her.

Sewing Lessons - I've been teaching sewing to Kitty and a couple of other girls.  ALL 3 girls have some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder issues although they all handle it differently.  One has similar diagnoses to Kitty (bipolar, RAD, ADHD...), BUT she has a much higher IQ and I can really tell the difference sometimes.  Still it has been very rewarding and given me a lot of Words of Affirmation!  *grin*  It's also been inspirational and I've been sewing for some auctions, most recently to put in an auction for scholarships for next year's Trauma Mama retreat in Orlando - http://www.32auctions.com/organizations/8750/auctions/9602

Bear turns 20 this week.  This will be the second birthday he's spent in Oklahoma (he was arrested a few days after his last birthday).  He is still in jail, a convicted felon on his way to prison, and still unmedicated.

During a recent call Bear told us that his biofather and paternal biograndmother were killed in a car accident on their way back from vacation in Colorado a few days before.  His 15yo half sister who lived with their father was injured in the accident, but will be OK.  I've seen their obituaries and they don't mention Bear at all (just the half sister and college-age half brother from a marriage that ended in divorce).  I know that he wasn't even mentioned is going to hurt Bear.

His biodad has abandoned Bear so many times throughout his life.  Bear was in contact with him off and on during the time he lived with us.  They'd communicate for awhile, Bear would abuse this by calling constantly -even when Biodad was at work, until the Biodad would cut him off cold turkey.

Several months ago Biodad showed up at the jail and apologized to Bear for not being part of his life.  He claimed he was on drugs and unable to care for Bear when they entered the foster care system (but he apparently had full custody of Bear's half siblings who are close in age to Bear).  He also claimed he was clean now and going to be a part of Bear's life.  Bear never heard from him again.  Family members said that Biodad had packed up his kids and moved out and no one saw him for months.  Bear felt abandoned yet again.  Now he'll forget all the abandonment and idealize Biodad.  He commented during our call, "Now I guess I'll definitely be coming home to Texas (after I get out of prison).


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sleep Chronotherapy - Changing sleep schedule in 1 week.

Whew!  This sleep stuff is harder than it looks, but luckily not as bad as I'd feared...
            this was written after the first couple of days, then it got ugly.

If I had to do it again, which I WON'T, here's some things I would do differently.

  1. Figure out a meal schedule.  I think I lost 2lbs because I never remembered to eat, and I'm guessing Kitty gained quite a bit, because she ate continuously.
  2. Have planned activities, especially with other people involved (since Kitty and I are both extroverts).
  3. Possibly extend the time to make the transition - if this whole experience "takes."  Otherwise getting it over in a week was worth it.
  4. Start later the first night.  We've both stayed up until 4am many times before.  I didn't do it this time, because we had something to do at 1pm, and I wanted to give us a full 8 hours and still some time to wake up and get ready for the appointment.


Sleep Phase Chronotherapy (SPC) -
Mon: sleep 4am to noon (actual 5am - 1pm) - she had trouble falling asleep until almost 5am.
Not too much trouble except she wanted to lay on the floor with her arm over her eyes so I couldn't see if she was awake.  I squirted my water pistol above her to gently mist her a tiny bit until she was willing to sit so I could see her face.

Tues: sleep 7am to 3pm (actual 8am - 3pm) - she had trouble falling asleep until 8am.
Discussed the sleep study in therapy and the therapist pointed out her issues with defiance were causing her to miss out on a lot.  Decided the attachment challenge should definitely be over until this sleep chronotherapy is resolved.
She fell asleep about 6am, so I took her on a walk - during which she complained, moaned, cried, screamed, and threatened me.  Not only does she want to stop the sleep study, but she tried to drag in everything she's ever been mad at me about, including the kitchen sink.  All of which continued after we got home as she repeatedly refused to position herself in a way that I could tell she was awake.  I admit I succumbed to screaming back at her.  We're 1/2 way through this stupid thing and a few more days of torture is worth it compared to living with her chronic sleep issues.

Wed:  sleep 11am to 7pm (actual 10:30 - 7) - Didn't make it to 11am like I was hoping - Kitty took a shower and was in her room by 10:20.
Both of us naturally woke up around 3pm.  Me, because I got confused about the wake-up time and Kitty because she got hungry.
Did OK most of the "day" although the wee hours of the morning caused some crankiness.  Discovered that having someone here to keep Kitty company made a HUGE difference.  She went for a walk with a girlfriend in the morning and we had another girl over for a sewing lesson that ended up helping us stay awake until a little AFTER "bedtime."

Thur: sleep 1pm to 9pm (actual 1:30pm to 9:30pm) - Made it 1/2 hour past the original 1pm bedtime.
Obviously we're getting used to these hours; there was much less temptation to sleep in the wee hours, so almost no drama (around 10am she got too comfy in a chair with a blanket, and refused to sit up).
She actually asked to do some sewing, but decided she wasn't quite awake enough to actually do it, so she waited until the sewing lesson at 1pm.

Fri:  sleep 5pm to 1am (actual 6pm to 3am) - Both of us made it easily past 5pm, because we had company until 4:30pm and then had things to finish.
Decided to sleep in a little because I'm hoping we can get on a "normal" schedule from here on out and that means staying up past 8pm!

Sat:  sleep 8pm to 4am (actual...) no idea, but it's 7:30pm and Hubby won't be home until after 8 and we still have to feed them and get them to Grandma.  I can't find the prescription glasses I use for driving (haven't been driving all week because of the lack of sleep so just now realized it!) so I couldn't take them any earlier. Hopefully she'll be in bed by 10pm!

More info about Chronotherapy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Attachment Challenge Day 11 and 12 and Makeover

Attachment Challenge Day #11
11:30 I let Kitty sleep in so that when we start the sleep shift it won't be as big a change.
12:30  We go thrift store shopping for our "makeover" for senior pictures which are that evening.  I asked Kitty if she wanted me to do like they do on the show What Not To Wear - they give you rules and the hosts go shopping with you to help you find clothes that fit those rules (Stuff she can wear to school.  No black or gray, nothing tight around her midriff, fitted, but not slutty.).  She said, "no," but then amended that to say maybe I could help her pick out a dress.  I told her that was OK, if she didn't want my help then she could do it on her own and I'd go look at books or something.  I did remind her that it was her money and she didn't have to buy it if she didn't like it.  She decided to let me help.
We actually had a pretty good time.  I picked out about 25 outfits for her to try on, and of those she chose about 15 to purchase (the others didn't fit right).  She found a dress and a pair of jeans on her own.  I was impressed that she was able to try on clothes for so long (often an issue).
2pm - After we got home and had some time to decompress, I asked her to notice that ancient mom had actually chosen all cute outfits that she really liked.  I told her I'd like her to use my love languages and verbally acknowledge that (words of affirmation!) and give me a hug.  She did say thanks and gave me a quick hug (although she remained seated and made me come to her).
2:30 - Sewing class I teach to Kitty and another teen with similar issues (bipolar, RAD, borderline personality disorder, mild obsessive compulsive disorder...).  Kitty's attention span is a shorter and she's not as interested in sewing (especially when she realized she wouldn't be able to finish her shirt in time for the photo shoot).  She usually only makes it about an hour of the 2 hour class, and that's OK.
5:00 - Kitty and I start trying on outfits to choose what she wants for the photos and find (my) jewelry that matches.  I paint her nails.
7:00 - I put makeup on Kitty (and Bob) and do their hair.  The photographer is a cousin so it was fairly casual. I tried to joke about the fact that every single time the photographer stepped away from the camera, Kitty's smile dropped like a switch, and every time the photographer looked away, Kitty was giving me a death glare, but it hurt. I finally told the photographer I wanted her to try to catch a picture of the death glare, but Kitty never slipped up and got caught.
Bob realized that both she and Kitty had chosen lace dresses with a denim jacket as one of their outfits.  She suggested that they do a shot together, for me.  While I was helping Kitty change for her last outdoor shot, I mentioned Bob's suggestion.  She accused me of it being my idea, even questioned Bob about whose idea it was.  She did do the pictures though.

Attachment Challenge Day #12
11:30am Kitty slept late.  She ignored me most of the day.  Except to let me know that, oh by the way, she has a mandatory staff meeting that happens to be right in the middle of a designated sleep time next week.  I rearrange the schedule (for the billionth time), and she texts someone at work.  Then she realizes it's possible to attend the meeting on a different day after all.
4:30pm Kitty leaves for work.
9:00pm picked Kitty up from work.  She forgot to tell anyone that she couldn't work next weekend.  *sigh*
She does a couple of the chores she never got around to during the day, watches a little TV with everyone else, and then goes to her room.

I'm not sure there's even a point in calling it an Attachment Challenge anymore.  We're barely doing anything to foster attachment.  Maybe I can think of something we can do in the middle of the night when we're trying to stay awake.

Attachment Challenge Day 10 plus Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder

Kitty had an appointment with her psychiatrist and we got the news that we really have to change Kitty's sleep patterns and right now.  Both Kitty and I have Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder - a family of sleep disorders affecting, among other things, the timing of sleep. People with circadian rhythm sleep disorders are unable to sleep and wake at the times required for normal work, school, and social needs. They are generally able to get enough sleep if allowed to sleep and wake at the times dictated by their body clocks.
Kitty and I both have the sub-type
Delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD), aka delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), characterized by a much later than normal timing of sleep onset and offset and a period of peak alertness in the middle of the night. Like babies who get night and day mixed up!

When Kitty did a sleep study in April, we realized that sleep medicines don't work, and were told that the only treatment left was Sleep Phase Chronotherapy (SPC), which progressively advances the sleep time by 1–2 hours per day.  The idea is that it's almost impossible to make yourself get sleepy and go to sleep early, but it is possible to stay up a little later every night until you move your bedtime all the way around the clock to the right time.

The doctor told us that few people attempt this treatment, because it's so disruptive to real life (how many people can miss 3-6 weeks of work?) and of the few of his patients that do attempt it, a substantial portion fail.  Even worse, if something happens to disrupt the process then Kitty's sleep schedule could end up even more horribly distorted.  At the time, we decided that all of Kitty's compliance issues would make this treatment impossible.

So now I'm stuck with doing it anyway, and we're going to have to do it together, because Kitty can't do it on her own.  I'm nervous about doing it because I'm sure she's going to be dumping all her anger, frustration, grumpiness and sleepiness on me.

Attachment Challenge Day #10 -
10am Pdoc tells us we need to do the SPC.  Kitty agrees.
1pm Kitty has senior pictures the next evening, so we did a natural facial scrub that I'd found on the internet (raw honey, cinnamon and nutmeg - smells great!) - we had a little eye contact (although she limited it) as I put the concoction on her face and shoulders and then took it off.
3pm I show her the time schedule I wrote, and she begins to insist that she HAS to work a new Monday night shift, quickly escalating to a meltdown.
Kitty  had finally told her job that she wanted more hours (my suggestion since we felt she was finally comfortable and ready for more hours) and they responded by adding a Monday night 5pm to 11pm shift (she's been working 5pm to 9pm shifts on Friday and Saturday nights, which is disruptive to family life and defeats one of my biggest reasons for her getting a job, which was to keep her busy during the day, but we are dealing with it).
I told Kitty I understand that she wants to try working until 11pm and that she was uncomfortable talking to people over the phone, but that she needed to explain to the scheduler that her doctor said she couldn't work this week and she couldn't have shifts that ended after 9pm, because it's disruptive to everyone else's schedule, messes up her food and meds, and now that she's supposed to be in bed by 11pm (after this sleep shift).  I also explained that by missing this ONE day of work, and telling them not to schedule her for next week, then we can do the SPC at a fairly leisurely pace without disrupting a lot of our planned activities, and she can still work her regularly scheduled shifts on Friday and Saturday (and the following week, she can pick up more shifts again).  Kitty INSISTED that she didn't care and wanted to take the Monday shift, even knowing it meant she couldn't work all next week and it made life very inconvenient for everyone, including herself.  She then threw down the "if Bob wanted to do this you would let her."
I started to argue with her, but finally just left the room before my frustration overwhelmed me and I said something I'd regret.  Hubby was working from home, and had heard most of the conversation.  He called Kitty in and reprimanded her for dragging out the tired, old "you love the biokids more than me."  We talked (for the millionth time) about how she has different needs from her sister and YES we're going to treat her differently.
I allowed Kitty to make the choice, and I'm trying to get rid of the resentment that she chose to work on Monday night and push up the timeline of the SPC for us both.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Attachment Challenge Day 7, 8, and 9 plus a Makeover

Attachment Challenge Day #7
Kitty spent the night before at Grandma's (a usual Saturday night) so we didn't see her until after church.
Noonish - Kitty came up behind me while I was speaking to someone and draped herself around my shoulders.  Almost a hug.  I snagged a quick and dirty hug back.
12:30pm - The family started a movie while waiting for lunch to be ready.  I was sitting on one end of the couch reading the newspaper and Kitty plopped down next to me.  I sat at one end and she lay on the couch with her head propped against my side. She complained greatly when I set down the paper and rested my hands on her shoulders.
2pm after lunch the kids resumed the movie and I came in late, after talking to Grandma for awhile, so everyone had already claimed a spot.  Kitty had the couch again.  This time she refused to allow me to sit near her head so I sat at the other end, and tried to breathe shallowly because her feet reeked!  She noticed my distress (I really was trying to be subtle) and said I could sit behind her as long as I let her put her head a different way.  She allowed me to put my hands on her shoulders, with less complaint.
No other touching or shared activities for the rest of the day.

Attachment Challenge Week #2
Hubby and I discussed and agreed to extend the Attachment Challenge another week since we hadn't actually achieved even the altered version of the challenge.

Attachment Challenge Day #8
Kitty had to get up early and re-take the standardized state test (Language Arts) that she failed.  When she got home in the early afternoon, I was working hard to meet a deadline so she plopped in front of the TV and I didn't see much of her. That evening we went to an adoption support group, so again, I didn't see much of her.  I still managed to get more hugs from the other kids who were with Grandma all day than from Kitty all last week.  *sigh*

Makeover
Kitty and Bob have Senior Pictures this week, and Bob has been preparing for them as if they were a professional photo shoot! lol!  She has been gathering photos that are inspirational for a pose or location.  On her recent trip to Spain (an educational field trip arranged through her art teacher) she purchased several outfits specifically to wear in her senior class pictures.  She talked me into purchasing a couple of dresses as an early birthday present, specifically for the photos.

Kitty on the other hand has been ignoring the whole thing and saying she doesn't want to do them at all.  She has however been taking tons of pictures of herself with her new iPod camera (actually very flattering pictures).  I know part of the issue is that Kitty has some self-perception images.  Several weeks ago I decided to teach sewing classes to Kitty and a few other girls, most of which have similar issues to Kitty.  Kitty picked a couple of blouse patterns, and she mentioned that she had wanted to wear the new tops for the photos, but of course we had just barely started the project.

After realizing this might be a fun way to spend some time together, I carefully offered a "makeover" to Kitty.  I told her we didn't have the money to go shopping, but that there were some things we could do to refresh and revamp her current wardrobe and style.  I was trying to be super careful not to imply that there was anything wrong with her, just that it might be fun to do a (gentle version) What Not To Wear style makeover.  She was actually gung ho.

During the sewing lessons we had taken Kitty's measurements, and like one of the other girls, Kitty has a small frame, but larger bust (and belly).  I told her we could take in some of her garments at the shoulders so they didn't hang off her shoulders and that would make them look better.  We also talked about taking her medication to empty the poo from inside, and some natural face cleansers for her acne.

I told her that one thing that they do on What Not To Wear, and one thing I do as well, is wear control top undergarments.  I made sure to mention that she has a cute figure, but if she wanted to try one of the undergarments to see if she'd feel comfortable in them, then I had some she could use and see if they're comfortable (Kitty is very sensitive to textures and pressures).  Kitty not only tried and like it, but was very excited about the 5 inches it took off her waist!

Attachment Challenge Day #9
1:00pm  - One of the girls in the sewing class came over and we took everyone's measurements and started getting the patterns adjusted for sewing.  Kitty tried to play on her iPod most of the time, and the other girl demanded a lot of attention, but Kitty mostly stayed engaged for the first hour.  Using the excuse that she hadn't gone to bed until 4am (so got less than 7 hours of sleep), Kitty kept trying to check out.  I realized that it would be easier if I focused on the other student for the last 30 minutes of the class, so let Kitty "take a break" (she napped until therapy).
6pm  - We started cutting Kitty's fabric, but her poor hand skills and perfectionism made her miserable and she begged to "take a break," almost immediately.  I let her stop when we got to a good stopping point.
8:50pm - Kitty was sitting next to me so I reached over to put my hands on her shoulders.  She immediately protested that we'd already done a lot of "that stuff" today, but I told her it didn't count toward the physical touch.  I moved my arm to her lower back (kidneys), and she allowed it, although she sat up straight - no leaning in or getting comfortable.  At bedtime (9pm) she jumped up and hurried to bed.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Prodigal Son Returning

I've been under a lot of stress for several reasons:

Bear officially signed his plea bargain recently.  He now has to serve 7 years with a significant amount of parole.  Not sure how it all works with time served, time off for good behavior, only having to serve a percentage of the sentence... but we're assuming he'll be home within the next 6 months to a year.

Once he's home, I do not really expect him to be able to handle the rules and stay home for long.  Hubby and I have already decided that we will make the rules very clear with Bear (in writing for sure!).  Life will go back to the way it was before he left, because that's the kind of structure and support that he needs to stay out of trouble.  No, I don't think he'll like it, but for everyone to stay safe, this is our only option.  How long he stays will depend on how long his honeymoon period lasts.  I hope it will be longer than a few weeks, but...

A big stressor in my life is that I do not feel my family is complete.  I still feel that God has laid on my heart that we should adopt again.

I strongly believe it helped the adopted kids and our family to have a neurotypical biokid to be a role model of a "family kid."  Bob is graduating high school and moving out at the end of this school year.  My youngest child, Ponito, is entering high school this year so we only have a few years left before he goes off to college.  This means that we have to wait a year until Bear gets out of prison, and then wait until he moves out again (we cannot have a foster child in our home while Bear is in the home) before we can adopt again, then if I want Ponito to still be home and have at least a year with the new child... then we're running out of time.

Grandma, who is a huge part of our support system, has expressed that she understands my wish to adopt again, but she thinks we should limit our choices to kids who are within a couple of years of graduation that have almost no issues, but just need a place to live while they finish high school.  I've tried to explain to her that I don't think it's fair to adopt another child older than Ponito (14yo), plus I think Kitty would do better with a significantly younger child who is closer to her emotional age.  So I was thinking about a child between 10 and 14 (since Ponito would probably be 15 when we were ready).  Grandma disagrees.

Bear has been making lots of demands.  He wants me to contact a ton of people and try to get them to write him in prison.  Recently, I was confronted by a neighbor that Bear had lived with right before he ran to Oklahoma.  The neighbor talked about all the things that Bear had stolen from his family, and mentioned that while he wanted to give Bear a break, the state was planning to press charges.  I looked the man in the eye, and told him that Bear needs consequences, because he's learned that he can get away with anything.  This neighbor is a rescuer though, and I don't think he believed me.

In a phone call with Bear after talking with the neighbor I went ahead and mentioned the stolen items (knowing he would deny the thefts).  Bear of course completely denied it.  I mentioned to him one specific item that had recently been returned to the neighbor by a boy who said Bear had given it to him as a birthday present. The neighbor had also mentioned other items that Bear had sold or given away that had been returned as well, but this was the only item about which he'd given me details.

Bear wrote a letter to this neighbor that he asked me to pass on.  In the letter he admitted to taking the ONE item and saying he'd make it up to the neighbor.  I'm assuming the neighbor will do what everyone else does and give him "brownie points" for confessing, ignore the fact that he only confessed to the one thing he knew he was already busted on and nothing else, and drop the matter.  *sigh*  I don't know for sure that Bear will ever be able to "get it," but I do know that he definitely won't get it if he never gets held accountable.

When Bear moved out, I had to rip out the carpet (it was stained and covered in spit) and repaint the walls (graffitied and covered in spit).  Through a misunderstanding, instead of being "Builder White" which is really a neutral tan, the walls are a true white. After Bear had moved out, but before he left the state, he'd come home a few times and spent the night.  Bear let me know on the phone that he canNOT stay in a room with white walls (which represent all the institutions he's lived in).  I was feeling a bit vindictive and "little red hen"ish so I was going to tell him he had to lump it on the wall color, but in Sunday school today we talked about the Prodigal Son.  I realized that while I cannot accept Bear home unconditionally, I could be more welcoming.  It requires some forgiveness from me, but I can paint a few walls.






Sunday, July 7, 2013

Books and Methods Review - Adoption/ Foster Care Books for Children

Adoption/ Foster Care Children’s Books

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  Just some books that were recommended.  In no particular order. There is another post about Children's books used in the FAIR Club here.

Children's Adoption Books by Age  - Great lists of children's books with mostly Adoption themes categorized by age and/or grade.

Books that Heal Kids - reviews books on a wide variety of subjects.

The Grump on the Stump by Jenny Dew
 A grumpy girl overcomes her own behaviors and sees herself for who she is, a wonderful young girl.
Written as a short children's book but the characters in the story are teenagers. Both younger children and teenagers will relate to it.
Jenny Dew is an author with a wealth of experience in raising children, both her biological children and adopted children (with RAD), and has a lifetime of working through difficult situations and emotional concerns.  Her books are captivating in that they express life issues that touch each of us in special ways and open the doors to healing and developing an approach to life that allows parents and children to understand one another as they experience a fun and entertaining story.  She has been a beacon of support to the parents (specifically mothers) she has come in contact.

Emma's Yucky Brother (I Can Read Book 3) by Jean Little
Emma has always wanted a little brother. Now her family is adopting Max, and Emma is sure he will be the best brother ever. But Max has his own ideas. He thinks sisters are yucky, and that Emma is the yuckiest! Is this really what having a brother is all about?
In Jean Little's warmhearted, perceptive story about adoption, Emma learns that there is more to having a little brother than she had ever guessed -- and that in order to get the brother she wants, she must first learn to be the sister he needs.

Even If I Did Something Awful? by Barbara Shook Hazen
Oh, oh! When a football breaks a favorite vase, a little girl wonders if her mommy will still love her.
"Would you love me even if I did something awful?"
"What kind of awful?"
"If I got orange crayon on the carpet? If I pulled down the dining room curtains? If I told a great big whopper?..."
But what about the "real" calamity? In a reassuring ending, Mommy proves she will always love her little girl, no matter what happens.


Sarah Naish and Rosie Jeffries Series

Charley Chatty and the Wiggly Worry Worm: A story about insecurity and attention-seeking (A Therapeutic Parenting Book) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
Rosie Rudey and the Very Annoying Parent: A story about a prickly child who is scared of getting close (Therapeutic Parenting Books) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
William Wobbly and the Very Bad Day: A story about when feelings become too big (A Therapeutic Parenting Book) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
Sophie Spikey Has a Very Big Problem: A story about refusing help and needing to be in control (A Therapeutic Parenting Book) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies

This set of books all deal with common emotional and behavioural difficulties of adopted and fostered children. Difficulties are introduced through characters who behave in ways that children can identify with. The text is simple, humorous and with illustrations that grab the reader's attention. The books could be used in many ways but I would see them as a springboard for adults (adoptive parents, social workers or carers) to begin to talk to children about feelings and behaviours. Read aloud, the stories may enable children to recognise that they are not alone and that other children also struggle. It is often difficult for parents or carers to know where to start in talking about these issues. This set of books provides a way of doing this without blaming the child. These books should be available in every adoption agency for use by social workers or to be lent to parents. (Professor Julie Selwyn CBE, Director of the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies, University of Bristol)

[These therapeutic parenting books] are the most valuable books on my book shelf. In my 11 years of fostering I have read many books, but these are different. They are people friendly but real - they are written by someone that has been through looking after traumatised children and who better to offer help, theories and guidance. Sarah has written her books simply which means the traumatised children respond to the characters and can express themselves through the books. I will be offering my copies to everyone that comes into my home to read...well done Sarah Naish and all involved... (Foster Carer)

Excellent books! I have recommended them to every foster carer/adopter/professional I know! Our kids love them, and enjoy the fact that Sarah and Rosie 'get it'. 5 out of 5 stars. (JS Bradley, Adopter)


Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights (Kids Are Important Series) by Julie Nelson
All families change over time. Sometimes a baby is born, or a grown-up gets married. And sometimes a child gets a new foster parent or a new adopted mom or dad. Children need to know that when this happens, it’s not their fault. They need to understand that they can remember and value their birth family and love their new family, too. Straightforward words and full-color illustrations offer hope and support for children facing or experiencing change. Includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors, and teachers.


Forever Child Series by B. Bryan Post and Nancy A. Clark

The Forever Child: A Tale of Lies and Love
The Forever Child: A Tale of Anger and Fear
The Forever Child: A Tale of Loss and Impossible Dreams
Family Secrets:  A Tale of Silence and Shame


The Forever Child is a series of fairy tales that are designed for use by parents and therapists as a tool to assist children in dealing with early abuse and neglect. Unlike other fairy tales, this series of books illustrates a number of the behaviors that are often seen in children with a history of early trauma, the parent guides provide an analysis of the root causes of these behaviors as well as step-by-step assistance for the parent.

All parents need stories they can share with their children to help generate interest in their backgrounds. Traditionally, foster and adoptive parents have had few choices in children’s tales that are specifically geared towards their child’s early life before adoption. The Forever Child series can meet this need for many families.

It is especially helpful to have the tales read aloud to the child and it is important for parents to read the tale first to determine if it is appropriate for a particular child and situation. Adults who have already shared the tales with their children have reported that they have served as a springboard for many meaningful discussions about birth families and birth history.

THE AUTHORS
Nancy A. Clark, MFT is a retired therapist in the State of California and a seasoned fairy tale writer. She has worked with children suffering from traumatic backgrounds for over 20 years. She was employed as a therapist by one of the largest inner-city school districts in Southern California. Ms. Clark, a foster parent, has four grown daughters and has adopted a daughter with an early exposure to trauma.
B. Bryan Post is an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of adopted children who have experienced trauma and neglect. An adopted child himself he knows firsthand the driving emotions behind the troubling behaviors demonstrated by some adopted children.

Marythemom:  I purchased the first three books.  They are beautifully illustrated paperbacks, but they were a little too specific in some uncomfortable areas and not applicable in others.  I felt these would confuse my kids who are very concrete in their thinking.  I did however have my biodaughter read them to gain some insight and empathy into what the adopted children have been through, and I really liked them for that.  We will not be purchasing the 4th book which is recommended for “MATURE adolescents, teens, and adults.”

Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright
Will I live with my parents again? Will I stay with my foster parents forever? For children in foster care, the answer to many questions is often "maybe." Maybe Days addresses the questions, feelings, and concerns these children most often face. Honest and reassuring, it also provides basic information that children want and need to know, including the roles of various people in the foster care system and whom to ask for help. An extensive afterword for adults caring for foster children describes the child's experience, underscores the importance of open communication, and outlines a variety of ways to help children adjust to the "maybe days"- and to thrive.

Murphy's Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care by Jan Levinson Gilman
Murphy, a Tibetan Terrier puppy is told he is a >good luck dog' he is cheerful, happy, and loves to play and wag his tail. However, after going through two different homes and an animal shelter, Murphy starts to feel like a >bad luck dog' who nobody wants. Murphy's Three Homes follows this adorable pup through his placement in three new homes, as well as through his anxiety, self-doubt, and hope for a new, loving family. Finally, Murphy is placed in a caring foster home where he feels comfortable and valued. He learns that he is not a bad dog after all and can go back to being a playful puppy and a >good luck dog'!

The Star: A Story to Help Young Children Understand Foster Care by Cynthia Miller Lovell
THE STAR: A STORY TO HELP YOUNG CHILDREN UNDERSTAND FOSTER CARE is an easy-to-read, short story with beautiful, watercolor illustrations. The book follows a fictional young girl, Kit, who is taken from her mother to the safety, and different world, of a foster home. On Kit's first night in foster care, she becomes friends with a star outside her bedroom window. The star tells Kit about other foster children it has seen. Through the story, the star is a source of comfort for Kit as she experiences many emotions and adjusts to all the new things in her foster home. To get the most out of this book, the author recommends also reading QUESTIONS & ACTIVITIES FOR THE STAR: A HANDBOOK FOR FOSTER PARENTS.

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes and Sasha J. Mudlaff
Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first he tried to forget about it, but soon something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous for no reason. Sometimes his stomach hurt. He had bad dreams. And he started to feel angry and do mean things, which got hi m in trouble. Then he met Ms. Maple, who helped him talk about the ter rible thing that he had tried to forget. Now Sherman is feeling much b etter. This gently told and tenderly illustrated story is for childre n who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic episode, includi ng physical abuse, school or gang violence, accidents, homicide, suici de, and natural disasters such as floods or fire. An afterword by Sash a J. Mudlaff written for parents and other caregivers offers extensive suggestions for helping traumatized children, including a list of oth er sources that focus on specific events.

Everybody has Something by Margie Domnick
"Why me?" We've all heard the question, now here's the answer! Everybody Has Something clearly illustrates to children that we are all different from each other. It features real kids with real issues spanning from cavities to cancer. It's about diversity and acceptance, from a child's perspective.

Extraordinary Friends by Fred Rogers
How do you get to know someone in a wheelchair? Sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. In his characteristically wise and gentle way, Mister Rogers challenges the stereotypes that often plague children with special needs and celebrates six children who are extraordinary friends.

Courage to Tell by Tammy Sutton
A non faith based story. Daniel's life was forever changed after meeting Elizabeth and Grace.  The three of them are on a mission to make a difference. Delivering a vital message to children to know their value, worth, and purpose.  A message that equips Bo so he can get the help he needs. This book will educate children against the evils of sexual abuse.  Children will be empowered to be courageous crusaders looking out for the safety of others and help Daniel, Elizabeth, Grace, and Bo spread this important message.

Daughter of the King by Tammy Sutton
A faith based story.  It is a story of love and acceptance. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Grace teach important lessons of never keeping secrets, help children identify "unsafe" touch, and exposes lies children may be told to keep secrets. It empowers them to have the courage to tell. Children will be free to know it's Never their fault.

Porcupette Finds a Family by Vanita Oelschlager and Mike Blanc
This is a delightful book for small children that is filled with superb illustrations, a heartwarming story with a great message, but suffers a little from being so overt and heavy-handed in that message. A tale of a baby porcupine whose loving mother abruptly leaves one day, and finds herself adopted into a bear family by a bear mother and two cubs, this story clearly has an important message for foster and adoptive kids.

The baby porcupine (porcupette) struggles at times to fit into her new family - although she's accepted by the bears, she often reverts to her prickly nature, fearful of being abandoned again, left unloved and alone. She lashes out at her new family, and questions their love and acceptance.

Clearly these are important issues that children in blended families may struggle with, and seeing them portrayed in this lovely illustrated tale about animals that can be both prickly and cute may be a good way of addressing them.

However, I was left with the feeling that the author could have done a little more to balance the story and the message. The prose is very direct and on-the-nose, almost soap-box. It is a great idea, well-illustrated, and with plenty of heart and purpose.

A Safe Place for Caleb: An Interactive Book for Kids, Teens and Adults with Issues of Attachment, Grief, Loss or Early Trauma by Paul J. Chara and Kathleen A. Chara
A Safe Place for Caleb is a comprehensive and richly illustrated resource for individuals of all ages who are dealing with attachment problems. Parents, professionals, and lay people will find this book helpful in understanding and addressing attachment disorders in children, adolescents, and adults.

The first half of the book is an interactive story that follows the experiences of Caleb, a young boy who relates his difficulties and frustrations in forming and sustaining healthy relationships. He learns strategies for coping with attachment issues during his journey to the Safe Tree House, where he is introduced to the four "attachment healing keys". These act as therapeutic tools to unlock difficulties with attachment, and are presented using text and illustrations that are easily accessible for readers of all ages, even for young children.

The second half of the book presents a summary of current scientific thought on attachment styles and disorders, and provides a wide array of assessment tools, photocopiable material and healing techniques to address attachment difficulties. Lists of helpful organizations and relevant reading materials are also presented.

Based on established psychological principles, the book is a unique and imaginative guide for professionals, parents, caregivers, and people of all ages who are dealing with attachment issues.

Not adoption / foster care books, but supposed to be very good:
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex Harris and Brett Harris - Foreward by Chuck Norris
A generation stands on the brink of a "rebelution." A growing movement of young people is rebelling against the low expectations of today's culture by choosing to "do hard things" for the glory of God.  And Alex and Brett Harris are leading the charge.
Do Hard Things is the Harris twins' revolutionary message in its purest and most compelling form, giving readers a tangible glimpse of what is possible for teens who actively resist cultural lies that limit their potential.
Combating the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility, the authors weave together biblical insights, history, and modern examples to redefine the teen years as the launching pad of life.  Then they map out five powerful ways teens can respond for personal and social change.

Angry Octopus: An Anger Management Story introducing active progressive muscular relaxation and deep breathing by Lori Lite
Angry Octopus is a story that teaches children how to use progressive muscle relaxation and breathing techniques to calm down, lower stress, and control anger. Children relate to the angry octopus in this story as the sea child shows the octopus how to take a deep breath, calm down, and manage his anger. 
Children learn to unwind, relax, and control anger with this fun exercise known as progressive muscle relaxation. Children relate to the angry octopus in this story as the sea child shows him how to take a deep breath, calm down, and manage his anger. These effective stress and anger management techniques for children focus awareness on various muscle groups to create a complete resting of the mind and body. Progressive muscle relaxation can be used to lower stress, decrease pain, and manage anger. 
This engaging story quiets the mind and relaxes the body so your child can let go of anger, relax, and fall asleep peacefully. This story is longer making it ideal for older children or those with a longer attention span. 
Note to Parent: Angry Octopus is a kid favorite. Parents report that their children use the techniques in the story to calm themselves and also remind their parents to use the same technique. This story received national attention on ABC’s Shark Tank. Every child has a different emotional maturity, attention span, and need. While the stories are best suited for ages 6-12, do not let this be your primary reason for selecting. You know your child best and remember this is not about the reading level. The focus is on the actual techniques.

Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills for Helping You Manage Mood Swings, Control Angry Outbursts, and get along with Others (Instant Help Book for Teens) by Sheri Van Dijk MSW
Let's face it: life gives you plenty of reasons to get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated-and those feelings are okay. But sometimes it can feel like your emotions are taking over, spinning out of control with a mind of their own. To make matters worse, these overwhelming emotions might be interfering with school, causing trouble in your relationships, and preventing you from living a happier life.
Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens is a workbook that can help. In this book, you'll find new ways of managing your feelings so that you'll be ready to handle anything life sends your way. Based in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a type of therapy designed to help people who have a hard time handling their intense emotions, this workbook helps you learn the skills you need to ride the ups and downs of life with grace and confidence.

This book offers easy techniques to help you:
  • Stay calm and mindful in difficult situations
  • Effectively manage out-of-control emotions
  • Reduce the pain of intense emotions
  • Get along with family and friends

The "Putting on the Brakes" Activity Book for Young People With ADHD by Quin, Patricia O. Quinn, Neil Russell

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Attachment Day 4 & 5

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - "When someone won't let you in, you eventually stop knocking".   Keep knocking!

Attachment Day #4 - Today was the 4th of July so we slept in a little and then I took Kitty to the store with me to buy ingredients for the cheesecake cupcakes I wanted to make for the Sunday School 4th of July party we were heading to that afternoon.
11:30am - gave me a spontaneous kiss on the cheek at the grocery store, but then ducked out of my answering hug because, "Eww, no, we're in PUBLIC!"
Bedtime - she realized she hadn't done any attachment activities.  She decided that the shopping trip would count as her 20 minutes of "together activity."  She was done  Not even a bedtime hug.

Attachment Day #5 -
10:30am - brief hug in passing.
4:20pm - sat down and asked me to put on her makeup as part of the 10 minutes of eye contact.
4:25pm - I sat with my hands on her shoulders for about 3 minutes before I realized we needed to search for a piece of paper before we had to leave to get Kitty to work.  She worked until bedtime and chose not to hug me goodnight.

Attachment Day #6 -
2pm - Still nothing.  *sigh*
4pm - She came over and sat down next to me.  After awhile I asked her why, and she replied she wanted to do the attachment stuff, but I was obviously not going to.  I reminded her that she needed to ASK, and put my arm around her shoulders for about 5 minutes, before she ran off to get ready for work.

Hmmm.... do I keep going after 1 week?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Attachment Challenge Day 3

Attachment Challenge

Wow!  Day 3 was pretty different.  Although it started out like I expected.

Attachment Challenge Day #3
11am - One good morning hug.  Her laying on the couch; me doing a walk-by hugging.
3:30pm - Still nothing.  *sigh*  Currently she's hiding in her room either napping or playing with her new iPod she purchased from my niece using money from her job.
4:30pm - A not so gently reminder that she needed to get started on ALL her chores.  She did a couple of her household chores with the usual complaints.  Then sat down next to me on the couch.

I quickly finished what I was doing and put down my laptop, then put my hands on her shoulders.  She complained I'd squeezed her, for which I apologized.  It's not easy to put your hands on the shoulders of someone sitting next to you (it's also impossible to find a picture of, so this is a creepy PhotoShopped version of it - my elbow wasn't really behind her back this way - she was leaning back against the couch, so my right arm was more across her shoulders.  She put a timer for 5 minutes on her new iPod (this made me a little nervous because I didn't want her to take off the second the timer went off)..

We started looking at her iPod - she was watching videos of Annoying Orange and iFunnies.  Not my fav thing, but of course that's not the point.  I let her ramble.  Trying to make eye contact every time she glanced at me.  At the end of 5 minutes I told her it was time to re-position my hands, and she allowed it.

I was told to put my hand on her lower back with my fingers lined up with her lowest ribs.  This applies pressure and warmth to her kidneys.  No idea why that's a good thing, but apparently it is.  She didn't set the timer.

We sat next to each other for a significant amount of time with no complaints!  Yes, the TV was on.  No, we didn't make a ton of eye contact, but we made some, and it was casual and comfortable.

Got this in an e-mail today, from someone who mentioned the love language physical touch (which is my secondary love language), I thought it was interesting timing:

A Gentle Touch
Glynnis Whitwer

"Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, 'I am willing; be cleansed'" Mark 1:41 (NASB)

The labor and delivery of my second child was fast. In fact, within two hours after the first inkling of pain, I was in the hospital being prepped for delivery. The intense pain surprised and overwhelmed me. Because of the rapid progression, I had no pain relief.

With my husband's hand squeezed in my left one, I looked into the face of the young nurse standing at my right, coaching me through the delivery. After an excruciating contraction, I asked, "Will you hold my hand?" She smiled and grabbed hold of my right hand while another wave of pain radiated through my body.

It sounded pitiful and needy to ask someone to hold my hand, but at that moment I needed her strength.

There have been other times I've needed to hold someone's hand. The first time I went snorkeling, I thought I was going to pass out I was hyperventilating so badly. I held my husband's hand on my left and my son's hand on my right until I could control my breathing and enjoy the incredible sights.

Hiking up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, I held someone's hand when I wasn't grasping on to rocks.

I've held my mother's hand and my sisters' hands as we've walked through the pain of losing loved ones.

There's something about physical touch that brings comfort and stability in an uncertain world. The New Testament is filled with stories of Jesus touching those around Him. He laid His hands on women who had been scorned, children who were dancing at His feet and lepers ashamed of their faces.

In this world of virtual relationships, conversations managed via electronic devices and fear of inappropriate touch, I wonder if we are losing our physical connections to each other. And yet God designed us to need touch. In fact, it is critical to our health-both emotional and physical. Babies need touch for their brains to develop and children need touch for their emotions to develop. Experts say appropriate touch has a profound effect on the brain's programming and re-programming.

Perhaps it's time to become more intentional about offering loving and appropriate touch to others. We all need it, but often find it's awkward to accept and offer. My immediate family is very comfortable with touch, as my children have grown up with lots of physical affection. But I have to be intentional about reaching out to others in gentle and creative ways.

I have discovered reading the New Testament that the first believers were very affectionate with each other. In fact, at the end of Acts 20, we read that all the believers embraced and kissed Paul as he was leaving for a journey. They were also encouraged to greet each other with a holy kiss.

While I realize not everyone is ready to be touched with such intimacy, I am challenged to bring healthy touch into my relationships in greater measure. Whether it's a hug, pat on the head, stroke on the arm, or a holy kiss, touch is needed in our society. Maybe if we brought more healthy touch into our relationships, people wouldn't be driven to seek it in inappropriate ways.

For whatever reason, God designed us to need the physical touch of others. The next time you are at church, a family get-together or out with friends, challenge yourself to offer healthy touch to two or three people, especially those seniors in your midst. Become the person who offers a hug, rather than waiting for one.

Dear Lord, I know You designed us to need the touch of other people. It's not always easy to admit we need someone to hold our hand, or give us a hug. Help me to be more aware of the needs of those around me and to offer gentle touch in natural ways. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Attachment Challenge Day 1 & 2

Attachment Challenge

Anonymous said...
Does Kitty want to do this? If she doesn't want to and you don't want to, why do it?
If the feeling of love isn't spontanous, if you have to fish around for "words of affirmation," then you're just going through the motions. 

Anon:  My first response to your post was, YOU'RE TOTALLY RIGHT!  Why should I torture us both?  I'm not going to!  Then I took a deep breath, pulled up my big girl panties, and I'll give you the same answer the equine therapist gave Kitty when the horse didn't trust Kitty to work on it's right side. Kitty asked why she should bother, she didn't think it mattered if she didn't brush the horse or approach it on that side. The therapist said that the horse didn't like it, but a therapy horse that wouldn't allow people to work with it - wasn't useful. A child that won't allow people to touch her or attach to adults, will never be a fully, functional human being. It's my job to help her develop into a functional human being, capable of relationships.  No matter how much it sucks.  I think "going through the motions" and "fake it 'till you make it" does work.

Attachment Challenge Day #1 - 
2pm and only 1 hug done. Not good.
8pm - 2 hugs from her in the last 20 minutes. That makes 3. We did our "her choice" activity (I made cheesecake and she helped for a few minutes before making a snack and wandering off)... if you stretch the definition, but still no attachment activity. Not looking good for the home team.
9:30pm - Kitty realized The Attachment Challenge is a "chore" and if chores aren't done then no fun activities tomorrow.  Does her few chores then gives me 7 hugs over the back of the couch where I'm sitting.  *sigh*
10:45pm - Bob comes home from her school field trip to Spain.  She brings presents for everyone.  Kitty handles it pretty well (helped that Bob brought her the "most expensive" present - a $20 bottle of nail polish - oh, and some flip flops that didn't fit Bob).
*MUCHO WHINING ABOUT not wanting to do this attachment thing*

Attachment Challenge Day#2 - 
10am - 1st hug of the day when I reminded her it would be a good idea, because those unsatisfactory hugs at the end of the day before were not going to be allowed to count as more than 3 out of 10.
A couple of hugs scattered throughout the day.
4:00 - On the way to therapy, I found myself full of overwhelming feelings of anger and frustration.  She was her usual demanding self, babbling about all the stuff she wanted us to do for her.  I started to argue with her about her more unreasonable demands, but finally had to just tell her I couldn't talk to her right then, and worked hard to get control over my feelings.  Luckily Hubby was driving.  I told Hubby it might be time for me to get back on meds, because I get these moments where I just feel like ripping someone's head off for no reason sometimes.
4:30 - Therapy starts and Kitty starts in on how evil and stupid she thinks this attachment challenge is.  I can't decide if she's amped it up to impress the therapist or if she hadn't wanted to share her feelings completely with me.  I told the therapist about the "equine therapy theory" and mentioned that many of the other families that have done the challenge have found that   The therapist started talking about compromise, and I got a little frustrated.

As always the therapist was asking Kitty if she could talk about where in the body her feelings were, and to "sit with" the feeling for awhile, describe it...  The therapist noticed that I was having a tough time and turned to me and told me the same thing.  *eek!*  I didn't want to go with my feelings!!  I wanted to shove them down and NOT deal with them.  The therapist subtly let me know that it might help Kitty to see me dealing with my feelings, so after some initial resistance.  I let go.  Kitty and Hubby both said they'd never seen me cry (not true for Hubby, but EXTREMELY rare).  Kitty tried several times to interrupt and bring things back to her, but the therapist didn't let her.

I never did share in therapy what my feelings were really about, but I allowed Kitty to believe that they were a little about the hurt of being rejected by Kitty and mostly worry that she would never be a fully functional human being.  True, but just the tip of the iceberg -- more about that some other time.

So getting back to the Attachment Challenge.  The therapist's point was that there are 2 ways to look at things like hugs with a child as reactive as Kitty.  (See this description of phobia treatments for a more detailed explanation)

Flooding, a type of exposure treatment - which is basically what the Attachment Challenge does.  .  Hugs cause Kitty's nervous system to instinctively flood.  Flooding involves immersing the person in the fear reflex until the fear itself fades away.

The therapist recommended something more like Counter-conditioning.  Instead of hugs and pressured attachment activities with extended eye contact (which is also very hard for Kitty).  We'd change it to her sitting next to me on the couch while we watch TV and I put my hands on her shoulders (eventually working up to pressure on her upper arms and neck), plus warmth and light pressure on her lower back (fingers in line with her lower rib cage) which effects her kidneys.  Kitty isn't happy about it, but she agrees it's better than the way we were doing it.

Counter-conditioning - (Watson, 1924). In this form, one is trained to substitute a relaxation response for the fear response in the presence of the phobic stimulus. Relaxation is incompatible with feeling fearful or having anxiety, so it is said that the relaxation response counters the fear response. This counter-conditioning is most often used in a systematic way to very gradually introduce the feared stimulus in a step-by-step fashion known as systematic desensitization, first used by Joseph Wolpe (1958). This desensitization involves three steps: (1) training the patient to physically relax, (2) establishing an anxiety hierarchy of the stimuli involved, and (3) counter-conditioning relaxation as a response to each feared stimulus beginning first with the least anxiety-provoking stimulus and moving then to the next least anxiety-provoking stimulus until all of the items listed in the anxiety hierarchy have been dealt with successfully.

Attachment Challenge Day #3
11am - One good morning hug.  Her laying on the couch; me doing a walk-by hugging.
3:30pm - Still nothing.  *sigh*  Currently she's hiding in her room either napping or playing with her new iPod she purchased from my niece using money from her job.