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

Friday, January 9, 2009

Potential letter to biomom

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

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

Advice is greatly appreciated.


Hi (Birthmom),

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Torina said...

Holy crap. The visit is supposed to be the day before she starts a new school??

Tracey said...

I think this is an excellent approach. You're being honest about your feelings and asking her to help you do the best thing for Kitty. It allows her to make a decision that POSITIVELY affects Kitty's life (as opposed to her previous parental decisions). It might even give her her own sense of closure, and it also lets her feel selfless - "I wanted to see Kitty but I knew it wasn't best for her at this time."

Regardless, no matter what her response is to this letter I still have the opinion that you should not let Kitty see her, especially given the problems Kitty has had lately. The bottom line is that you are responsible for doing what's best for Kitty. Not what's best for you, or for Birthmom... for Kitty. And, given the things you've shared recently, putting this emotional burden on her at this point in her life is quite possibly not what's best for her.

Good luck. I certainly don't envy you this decision but I know you'll do the right thing.

Lorraine Fuller said...

I don't have any good advice for you (or even bad advice other than run away!) I just wanted to know that I am here for you. I have learned that it's hard to find good therapists in Texas, so if you have good ones, hold on to them. Anyway, good luck and know you have friends who will stand behind you no matter what you do.

Anonymous said...

I think you give biomom too much info and too much credit.

I think you confide too much about Kitty's recent flare-ups and too much about your personal situation (the comment about the economy) that she does not deserve to know. She is not your friend or confidente. She does not need to be anything to you, ever! (Even though she very likely will be involved in your life over the years.) I agree w/ Tracey, do what's best for Kitty.

I think you're giving her too much credit because you're treating her like a rational adult. Remember, she's the nutcase reason you've got her kids in the first place. Don't assume she can behave like a grown-up now, she certainly didn't in the past.

Run the letter idea past the professionals before you hit "send." And like Lorraine said, whatever you do we're here for you.

Kelly said...

I don't know this woman but if she is anything like most of the bio parents that loose their kids to the state she is dumb as dirt and there is no way she will help you on this. When in doubt don't, is my motto. If you can't find peace about letting her see her biomom then don't do it. I sure don't envy you in this, but I can tell by your posts about Kitty that you will make the right decision for her.

Lisa said...

Great letter and I think a well person would make the right decision but obviously she's not quite right. I agree that you can't expect well behavior from a sick person. I wouldn't share anymore than absolutely necessary. But whatever you decide I support you.