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

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mystery solved!

Kitty's behavior has been worsening and worsening and we've been blaming it on all the changes in her life, our stress level and parenting skill, her recent weight gain making all of her meds less effective (she's gained over 20lbs this Summer since we reduced her dose of Concerta).

Hubby noticed tonight that we haven't been giving her her Zoloft. We fill med boxes weekly using each child's bag of meds (kept in a lock box the rest of the time). We probably took the empty bottle to the pharmacy for a refill as we usually do, only there were no refills left. They usually fax the doctor under these circumstances and fill the bottle when he calls in a new prescription. Apparently someone dropped the ball, and we didn't catch it. I immediately went in tonight to get a refill and that's when I discovered that she has no refills and put 2 and 2 together.

Here's the bad part. I asked when we last had it filled (knowing we get a 30 day supply). They said JUNE 27th! That means she's been without this med for one month!!! No wonder the poor thing has been having problems. This is a major antidepressant that we KNOW she needs. Now it's even more obviously so. So the pharmacy won't give us any loaners (on a prescription that's been out a month!) and of course it's Labor Day weekend. Luckily another member of the family (OK it's me) takes the same medication and can loan her meds to get her through the weekend.

I feel like such a bad parent when this happens, but it's easy to understand how it happens when you look at how many meds they take - and they used to take a lot more.

Kitty takes:



Trileptal (2 pills twice a day)



DDAVP (for bedwetting)

Plus the OTC stuff like a multi vitamin, stuff for constipation, Zyrtec, and Omega 3

Bear takes

Trileptal (2 pills three times a day)

Lamictal (2x daily)

Amantadine (2x daily)

Provigil (2x daily - once at school)


Plus the OTC stuff like a multi vitamin, stuff for constipation, Omega 3, Zyrtec, and Glucosamine

Thank goodness Medicaid pays their co-pays or we'd be paying a small fortune every month. I'm so upset this happened, but at the same time, it's good to know that Kitty isn't just totally losing it!

I noticed there were a lot of comments I need to answer. Obviously I'm addicted to this blogging thing so rest assured I will address them! I do want to say welcome to all my new friends! I hope my posts are semi-entertaining!

Better get some sleep now! Hugs and prayers!


Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control

A sweet friend made some comments about Kitty and homeschooling that I wanted to address. I want to assure her that while I see her point and value her opinion, there are some differences between raising a biochild and a "damaged" child. I love you Denise, and I know you have my best interests at heart.

I have been reading the book Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control by Bryan Post, and while I definitely don't agree with everything he says - some of it makes sense. His main premise is that there are only 2 emotions - love and fear. EVERY other emotion is based on one of those two emotions. Therefore when Kitty (or Bear or any of the other children) becomes angry or has meltdowns, it is because they are scared. When people are very scared they drop into what has been called the reptilian brain or the brain stem. It could also be described as instinctual and while they are in this state they have no control and no cognitive thought. Basically their body is saying "Fight, Flight, or Freeze."

For example, if a Vietnam vet with PTSD hears the backfire of a car - he will immediately drop to the ground. This is an instinctual first response. For my daughter the triggers vary, but the response stays the same. Usually she freezes first while her brain tries to process the information. Flight can mean actually running away or dissociating. Kitty is very good at dissociating, and when she's stuck in this part of her brain she cannot be reached at all. All we can do is reassure her and try to help her feel safe while we wait for her to move into the cognitive brain.

Right now Kitty (and Bear) are very hypervigilant. This means they feel that their world is a very scary place and they have to constantly be on guard for dangers. Every minute our brain receives thousands of messages (I hear my husband talking on the phone to a debt collector, I hear Bear making his lunch and breakfast, I'm listening for the sound of his bus, I'm listening for sounds of the other people in the house, the chair I'm sitting in is uncomfortable, my stomach is full from my breakfast, the screen is very bright in my cubby under the stairs because my only light broke, if anyone comes to stand in my doorway I'm trapped...). As a normal adult we don't even consciously process 1/10th of this stuff. For hypervigilant children this information is overwhelming.

Because the world is so overwhelming, the children become disregulated very easily. When they're disregulated they can't handle even simple things that normally they would be able to handle. Right now Kitty is on overwhelm. My job is to reassure her that she is safe. I also have to help her cope with her world by making it smaller. She does not have a lot of toys, she stays in my line of sight, and since right now Grandma is obviously triggering a lot of her issues, I will have to take her to work with me. This could potentially be seen as "giving in" to her, but right now she's in that instinctual state and NO consequence is going to reach her. All consequences and discipline do at this point are trigger her more.

Normally she is emotionally about 6 and consistency is key. When she is in this state she is emotionally an infant and has to be treated as such. If an infant is crying, you cannot tell it the bottle will be ready in 10 minutes, you cannot explain to it that your hands are full and you can't pick it up and comfort it right now. All it understands is that it is afraid that the food will never come - especially because for this child the food, comfort, or diaper changes often didn't come.

So I'm taking my overwhelmed infant to work with me. I made her a therapy appointment to start her EMDR today. She has a doctor's appointment this afternoon to see if she has bronchitis like her sister.

Well, it's past time to start my day. Please forgive the horrible photoshop job I did on Kitty's baby picture. The original had a huge purple stain down the right side of her face and body. I tried to clean it up but I should have had one of my staff do it. They did some amazing things with other photos!

Hugs and prayers,


Thursday, August 28, 2008

The First Time Ever I Saw Their Face!

Here's the first picture I saw of my Bear and Kitty. She's 11 and he's 12! Yup! I said 12! I even wrote and told them they'd obviously made a mistake (they do often - can't tell you how many times they had "girls" named Henry or Edward). They said, "Nope, he just turns 13 later this month." I didn't argue, but look at the kid! I was sure he was at least 15 or 16! Maybe you can't see it, but he was already shaving!

Here's the description that went with the photo.

About these Children
D is a charming young man whose smile lights up the room. D has native american in his heritage but his tribe is not federally recognized, therfore, the laws of ICWA do not apply in his case. He has a little sister, C, who is such an important part of his life. When they are together, you can see how much they care for each other. He takes his role as older brother seriously and wants to grow up with his little sister. D loves sports and he has been involved in numerous activities such as baseball, wrestling, and boxing. D also enjoys hunting, fishing, and just hanging out. When you ask D what he is looking for in a mom, he says "a mom who can cook" and "someone to just take care of me". D is looking for a dad that will enjoy the same activities he does and who wants to spend time with him. Where as they would like to have both a mom and a dad they will be happy with a family that provides them love and support. D has so many positive qualities and is looking for a forever family to call his own. He needs loving guidance, support, and structure to grow into the young man he can be. He is looking for someplace to call his own, someplace where he doesn't have to leave, where he can be with his sister, and be her big brother.

C is a beautiful little girl who will light up your life and keep you going and going. C has native american in her heritage but her tribe is not federally recognized, therfore, the laws of ICWA do not apply in her case. C is not yet legally free for adoption but her caseworker is in the process of getting this completed so C should be legally free soon. C recently celebrated her 11th birthday and was very excited to get a Bratz doll with her Bratz cake. She told me once that it was really hard to decide what she likes better, my little Pony or Bratz. She is a typical young girl who loves all sorts of dolls, Barbie or Bratz, swimming, playing outside, and being adored by her older brother D. C's older brother plays a significant part of her life as she pretty much idealizes him. C loves to be with him and you can see the geunine love they have for each other when they are together as well as the typical sibling rivalry. C wants a family to call her own. She doesn't completely understand why she needs another mom when she already has one, but she knows that she wants a family with her brother. If you ask C, she will tell you that she wants to live in town, but D wants to live in the country. As long as they are together, they will be happy. This little girl is in need of a family that will give her the affection and attention she needs. She needs consistency, structure, and lots and lots of love and support to grow into a young girl. Both kids desire to have a mom and a dad but they would be happy with any forever family that will commit to them and give them the love and support that they both deserve to have.

Here's what it doesn't say.
Bear is a very aggressive child who lies, manipulates, steals, intimidates with his large size (yes, he was already 5'9" and over 200lbs). His foster dad doesn't cook so he's used to eating out for every meal. His single parent foster dad loves to hunt and fish and Bear was the youngest of all the kids. He uses chewing tobacco and is a gang-banger wanna be. He was diagnosed with a mood disorder and PTSD.

During a six month stay in a residential treatment center (RTC) we've discovered that he has RAD, PTSD, has been physically and sexually abused, ADD, cerebral dysrhytmia and is bipolar. Luckily for us, the RTC finally got him on the right meds and his out of control aggression finally stopped. He's still rough around the edges, but at least he's safer. The family is still recovering from PTSD symptoms during the 8 months he was with us before going to the RTC. We waited 6 months after his release from the RTC before we felt secure enough to adopt him. Just before his release he'd been assessed by an experienced caseworker who gave us an 80% chance of disruption. I finally feel secure in thinking that this might not come to pass.

Kitty is very hyperactive (untreated ADHD) and moody. She hates school and frequently threatens suicide, she fights with her foster siblings, she only recently stopped pooing her pants to get her way, still wets the bed, and is actually terrified of her brother - she'll do anything for him, because she fears him, not worships him. She was also convinced that when (not if) he was kicked out of the house she would have to go too (just like with biomom). She is now diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD, ODD, physically and sexually abused, depression and has major attachment issues. A year and a half of attachment therapy has done a lot of good, but she's having a tough time right now.

It's been a long year and a half.


What about Bob?

Bob is my very smart, still growing, 12 year old. She is currently 5'7" (only a quarter of an inch shorter than I am -so far!). She wears a men size 12 shoe (that's a 13 in ladies!). She hates sports and is extremely uncoordinated (you would be too if you grew 4 inches a year - mostly in the Summer!). She loves to read and is very much a couch potato.

She got the nickname Bob in 4th grade when her science teacher kept confusing 4 girls who had similar sounding names. On one report card, Bob was convinced he'd given her another girl's grade (Science is one of her best subjects and this was a low grade) - so she changed her name to Bob. For the next year and a half, she wrote Bob on all her papers in ALL her classes. Remind me to tell you sometime about how my youngest son got the nickname DOT!

Bob started the terrible twos at about 17 months and finished at about 4 1/2! I started reading parenting books obsessively. My favorite was Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. It helped me understand her better and gave lots of practical parenting techniques. I highly recommend it. Of course Bob never became the perfect child -even after all those books, classes, trainings. Following is a picture {all pictures have been removed from this blog} of the results of a timeout in her room where she found a pair of scissors (she blamed this on me of course!). All her dolls and stuffed animals got a trim, the strings on her beaded curtain, the strings on her brother's sun hat, her favorite dress... and on the this, the third day of Kindergarten she cut off most of her hair! Bangs down to the roots, sides up to her ears. Guess what horrible Mommy forgot to take pictures on the first day of Kindergarten. Yup!

At age 8, Bob started puberty! That's when I started hearing about growth hormones in meat and milk. Age 12 and she's still not done. They say the year before a child starts menses is the hardest because all those lovely hormones have no way to exit the body! I wish she'd start all ready!!

Bob is the child I get along with the best. We have a lot in common - reading being a big one. She is also my nemesis! NO other child can push my buttons or make me as crazy. It's like she was born genetically wired to push me to my limits. It's because of her I have all the patience that I need when dealing with Kitty or Bear, but it's also her that can have me tossing all my patience out the window in 2 seconds flat! How does the saying go? "I don't know if I want to kiss you or punch you!" *sigh*

It's because of Bob that I started "beating" my children. In our house "beating" someone is tickling them. It makes me feel so much better to say I'm going to BEAT you! I get all my aggression out chasing them around and tickling them. Kid giggles - is there a better sound?! Afterwards everyone feels better. (In our house there is also a rule that if you say Stop. The person HAS to stop. No one gets tickled if they don't want to be.)

Better go make dinner for my growing gang!
If "that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger..." just call me Superwoman!

Edited to Add:  At age 15, Bob finally stopped growing.  She is now a 1/2" shy of 6ft (she rounds up and tells everyone she is 6 ft!).  We've always encouraged her to love her height and she has never slouched or felt negatively about it.  It seems to have given her a lot of confidence.  Now 18yo, she prefers to date guys over 6'5" and thinks it should be illegal for guys that tall to date short girls.  lol 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More meltdowns!

Kitty is going to make me crazy. I know she has O.D.D. I know she has mood swings. I know that this time of year is hard for her because of all the changes (Bear and Ponito going to school, Bob and Kitty spending all day with Grandma trying to homeschool them). I'm not sure how much more of this I can take though.
Today I called the house to let Grandma know I was on my way to get the kids to go to the psychiatrist. Kitty answered the phone and ranted for a good five minutes about how much she hated Grandma (the "evil meanie" in the picture here!) and Grandma hates her. This time it was because "someone" had left the toilet unflushed and Grandma assumed it was Kitty (usually it is). Kitty denied it and was furious that she was being accused.
I talked to Kitty about how it wasn't really important whether or not she did it, she needed to flush the toilet because she was asked to. Everyone has had to flush the toilet when they weren't the one that did it. She has been forgetting a lot lately and in the FAIR exam we talked about trust. How when you do something often (like steal or leaving messes) then it's going to take time of not doing that before people stop believing that you did it. Then I changed the subject to her nightmare last night. It worked as a distraction, by the end of the call she was in a better mood.
At the psychiatrist we made some med changes for her (reducing the Geodon which might be causing some issues with her jaw locking up) and trying her with Seroquel. She was loud and whiny all night. I found out she's still breaking food rules (making things - she's messy, doesn't follow instructions and usually makes something foul that no one will eat - wasting food or using up things that were going to be meals0. So she went in the FAIR Club. Instant meltdown.
She stormed upstairs threatening to kill herself. Hubby intervened and kept her from locking herself in the bathroom. I left him to it (I have a major headache!) and went to the pharmacy to pick up her new meds. Luckily both Geodon - at the regular dose and her new med Seroquel are major sleep aids. She eventually calmed down, gave me a hug, finished remaking her bed (she wets the bed almost every night and this should have been done in the morning), and ended up going to bed 15 minutes late instead of 30 minutes early. *sigh*
Somehow I've got to start taking her to work with us instead of leaving her with grandma. Tomorrow we've got an offsite meeting so I don't know what I'm going to do with her. *heavy sigh* I noticed blood on her pants tonight so maybe she's just hormonal and this will pass soon.
Hugs and prayers,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kitty Meltdown

Kitty reminds me of a Chow I used to own (Chows only have 2 people in their life one person who is master that they obey and one playmate - everyone else does not exist - and they do not play with master or obey the playmate).

Kitty has certain people she Obeys (me and Hubby) - she'll whine, complain, tattle, and meltdown, but she'll do what we tell her to, if we insist - this was a long time coming by the way! She does trust us a little, but only allows hugs and affection on her terms. This is why I think of her as a cat!

She has certain people she idolizes - (Mrs M. our neighbor who is also her teacher at the private school; Aunt Christy who she wants as her mom because she "gives her kids thirty dollars a week in allowance for doing nothing Mom!"; Aunt Tammy a family friend who she wants as a mom because she isn't very strict with her son who is Ponito's age) - basically people who rarely tell her what to do and are very sweet about it if they do ask. She'll do almost anything for these people - even clean! She particularly likes to show them affection -especially in front of me - very pointedly letting me know she won't hug me, she'd rather hug them.

She has people she HATES (Grandma who Kitty insists favors Ponito because he's the baby and is always "yelling" at Kitty - FYI, for Kitty, any criticism or lack of praise is yelling; Mrs. P at school who Kitty says is alway yelling at her and telling her she's doing her work wrong; and anyone who is not currently her BFF - kids fall on and off her pedestal faster than Bear goes through Kleenex girls (that's another story!). Kitty's siblings are often members of this group.

There is really no one else in Kitty's life - everyone fits in one of these categories. She is a very passionate child.

It helps for me to remember that because of the past trauma she is emotionally only about 6 years old. If she is worked up about something - even younger. I think in some ways both she and Bear understand that they are different, and accept it. Most 15 year olds would not expect to have as much restriction on thier life as ours do (they are not even allowed to cross the street, they can only watch G rated shows for the most part, they can't have friends over without direct supervision, they can't go anywhere without adult supervision - and adults are Hubby and I and sometimes Grandma, not other people's parents). Our children rarely even complain about it. Truthfully I think they feel safer because of it. It can make parenting two totally healthy, "normal" kids like Bob and Ponito more challenging though. They end up with much more restriction and consequences then they probably should. All in the interest of keeping it "fair." Not that my kids would EVER say the word "FAIR" - thanks to the FAIR Club (I'll tell you about that some other time!).

This morning Kitty was exhausted and mad because we made her get up early even though she's not going to school yet. I knew we were going to have trouble because today was her first day at Grandma's house with Bob, doing their schoolwork.

Before therapy she got into trouble for tattling on Ponito's behavior while Grandma was supervising. Hubby came down on her kind of hard because she was being particularly obnoxious and justifying it by saying she was protecting Bob (who at 5'7" and 167lbs is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, especially from her little brother.) All the way to therapy I heard about how mean Grandma is and how much Grandma hates Kitty. What can you say besides, "No, Grandma doesn't hate you. Why do you think she might have said that? What were you doing at the time?" Of course all I hear is Kitty's side, to be honest though Grandma has gotten pretty tired of dealing with Kitty, and probably is a little hypercritical.
In therapy we watched a video on EMDR, but didn't have time to actually try it yet. I can't wait! The therapist got to see Kitty in all her oppositional defiant disorder glory for the second session in a row (last week Kitty insisted she was starving and ended up eating grass and chewing on her own arm). This is not her attachment therapist, who we love, this is a therapist who specializes in trauma work. I could see the therapist getting a little tired of Kitty's attitude too. At one point she asked Kitty, "Do you realize how many times you've asked for something? I'm going to keep track in my mind of the number of times you ask for Mom to give you something." Kitty was supposed to be talking about things that made her happy in her childhood. During the prior 2 minute conversation she asked -
1. "Can I go to the public highschool?" - she's in 7th grade and knows I think she does better in private school.
2. "Can you please get me the Jonas Brothers CD? Why don't you like them? I'm going to ask Aunt Christie to give it to me."
3. "Can I have a pizza?" This was random and what prompted the therapist to comment on the questioning.
I commented on the fact that all the questions had one thing in common. They were all questions she knew I would answer NO to.
We see the psychiatrist tomorrow and I think we are going to request another med increase for Kitty. The mood swings are getting wilder, and the therapist warned us to expect behavior issues to increase as we start this type of therapy.
Better get some sleep,

First day of school

Today is Ponito's first day back in public school. He's so excited to be back. He found out he knows most of the kids from years past and baseball three years ago. He gave me a hip hug before we entered the school and then just walked straight into the classroom without looking back. I know it's a good thing that he's so independent, but he's my baby!!

Last year when the girls were supposed to go to middle school, we decided to try out private school instead. We found the perfect school! They take special needs kids (Kitty has learning disbilities, ADHD, and needs emotional support) and support kids that are bright too (Bob has always been an avid reader and very smart, but not very motivated. The new school encouraged her and Ponito to advance). Their teacher is our neighbor across the street and one of my best friends.

In fifth grade, Kitty could barely handle her special education classroom, flunked her only mainstream class, and had become super aggressive and overwhelmed in Summer camp. Bear was also attending the middle school and we didn't want Kitty and Bear to both end up in the same room (Bear had been pulled from regular classes because he was too aggressive and overwhelmed by them). The ACHIEVE room was designed to help kids by providing emotional support. The school had informed me that Kitty would be in all mainstream classes with 15 minutes of inclusion assistance a week - YEAH RIGHT!

The private school has only 40 kids and the younger children got almost one on one attention. Kitty worked at her own pace in her workbooks so there was no one telling her what to do all the time (which helps with her ODD), and the diagnostics assessed exactly what she was missing (gaps) from the years of untreated severe ADHD, multiple moves, and trauma. She started the school year 2 and 1/2 years behind and finished only 1 year behind.

Unfortunately we cannot afford to put the girls in private school right now, and I will not put them back in public school. We've decided to have Grandma homeschool until we can get them back in school. This should be interesting since Grandma triggers Kitty's ODD and has to deal with her meltdowns and beligerance almost daily.

Bear starts school today too. More about Bear and how he ended up in his own special school on another day.

I better get off the computer before Hubby pulls my internet! Last night when I told him I started a blog, he was not very happy. He rued the day he taught me how to use the internet!

Hugs and prayers,

Monday, August 25, 2008


In our house it's called the "Three Vent Rule." In my need to talk through my problems I discovered I was not only burdening my friends and family with my problems, but I was also "ruminating" and actually making myself feel worse. I eventually came up with the "three vent rule" - which stated that I could only whine/ complain on any one subject to no more than 3 people. I try to spread the love around too so no one person bears the burden of all my whinging (except Hubby - poor baby always has to listen, but that's why I married him - because of his broad shoulders - designed to bear all the weight of my world, and then some). I also had an unwritten rule to try to make the story as entertaining as possible so no one would notice what a total whiner baby I really am.

Another big source of venting for me was the long e-mail (Hubby calls them novels). I would write all about what my children were in to (or more likely up to) and the whole adoption team was FORCED to read them. Now that my children's adoptions are FINALLY final, I no longer have a captive audience. I'm hoping that this blog will allow me to vent without overwhelming my small support group.
So now I begin the journey into blogging.