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!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Residential Treatment for Kitty

We've debated residential treatment (RT) for Kitty off and on for quite awhile. I've been adamantly against it actually. I was afraid it would damage the progress we made with attachment, and I just couldn't justify it. Here's the pros and cons.

1. Attachment - I was afraid it would damage what little attachment we have. I thought this would happen when she had to go to respite while they were investigating Hubby for child abuse, but I was wrong - If anything it made it stronger. When we sent Bear to RT, I thought Kitty would never forgive us, but it brought her closer to us. Sent her to psychiatric hospitalization -didn't damage her attachment to me. If anything her attachment issues seem worse lately, because her issues seem worse. So I've decided this is no longer a concern.

2. Diagnoses - we sent Bear to RT and he was undiagnosed bipolar, so when he was properly medicated he had an almost 180 degree personality change. I've always felt Kitty was already properly diagnosed so that wouldn't help; however, she has not had neuropsychological testing. Our insurance won't cover any psychological testing (short-sighted on their part) - so apparently this means we have to send her to RT for the testing if we want it done. This RT is very well-known for their neuro-psychological assessments and treatment.

3. Medication - the psychiatrist we have actually consults with the RT so anything they would do, he could do too, but right now her meds don't seem to be making much difference, plus it would be nice to have her somewhere else while they "muck" with her meds.

4. Therapy - our experience with Bear tells us that this RT has no knowledge of RAD, and the family therapy was a joke, but we're used to that. With Kitty so out of control, her attachment therapist isn't really able to make much progress with her anyway. We still have another 3-5 years to work through therapy (3 years if she moves out at 17 like she's threatening, and 5 years if she waits until she graduates high school at age 19). She has so many severe issues that it's hard to help her. Trying to figure out what's causing the behavior so we know how to treat it - is it the ODD, the bipolar, the ADHD, the RAD, the abuse, some brain damage we're unaware of, a current issue... or more likely a combination of all of the above.

Best part about having Bear having gone to this RT already, is we know a little more about our options. This time we won't stick with a useless therapist for the whole time she's there. We'll complain if we are being patronized or if the therapist seems to be being manipulated by the child. Plus, this time we've known the child longer than 6 months.

5. Getting Help - with Bear we let his abuse of the family go on too long. The whole family had symptoms of PTSD. Mostly though we just should have gotten him help sooner. It was easier to see his progress because he wears everything on his sleeve. Plus when he came home, it was to a family that had had time to reconsolidate and refresh.

Kitty has always been harder to help because she keeps everything locked inside and numb. She has for so long that she is almost completely disconnected from her physical and emotional feelings. I think we didn't realize how much help she needs because she wasn't physically violent - at least not when compared to Bear. I do know that her constant vengeance issues, constant verbal abuse of others, and constant threats to herself are negatively effecting the whole family. As we uncover layers we just discover that there are more layers and each layer is thicker than the one before.

6. Timing - The sooner the better, for many reasons. One, because she's already 14, and shouldn't have to keep living with this - and the longer we wait the harder it's going to be to reach her. Two, because if she goes in during the Summer she might not miss any school (which might help her with accepting this since she "loves school"). Three, because she's home all summer she is around Ponito and Grandma which seems to be triggering/activating her issues more than usual (me too for that matter). Four, because she finally seems to be a tiny bit aware that her issues are interfering with her life.

She's going to be upset no matter what the reason, but now that I'm on board, I feel like I can help sell it to her once we get a spot. (Until then I'm not telling her anything). We should know soon if they will be accepting her.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Safety and Crisis Plan

Kitty's Safety and Crisis plan form written while in the psychiatric hospital in January.

This was something I found while decluttering paperwork. It was actually kind of interesting. I wonder what it would look like now.

Kitty had to identify her stressors:
-- someone telling me "no"
-- people getting things I don't have or I want - jealousy
-- certain movies
-- people bigger than she is, particularly men (but Bob is included in this) This is one I think would change. Now that her play ("Men are Slime") is over, she doesn't have as many issues with men. Now most of her issues are with younger children. "Seasonal" issues, nice! *sigh*

She had to note how she could prepare for the stressors:
-- take deep breaths.
-- have other people remind me to stay calm and take deep breaths when the answer will probably be "no."

Some things she could do to reduce stress and help her calm down:
-- swing
-- walk around in the back yard
-- use mini tramp (we'll have to get a new one someday, ours broke)
-- listen to music in her room
-- have someone to help her, that is listening, being calm and helping her feel safe

Tried to help Kitty last night over the phone when she had a meltdown at Grandma's over Ponito turning off the TV - she vehemently refused to take any deep breaths. She yelled, cussed, and demanded that I get rid of "that evil little boy" and/or send him to the psychiatric hospital like we did to her. I kept my voice regulated and talked soothingly. I provided some logic (Things like, little brothers sometimes act like that, but it doesn't mean he's evil.), but knew she was too activated to actually hear any of it. Finally gave her an ultimatum (after she'd calmed down a little). Commit to staying calm and not hurting her brother, stop yelling, avoid little brother, and take meds, or she will be coming home. She managed to calm down.

One answer I thought was particularly interesting was who her support people were.
At first she listed biofamily in Nebraska, but I nixed that. I told her it had to be people here. She avoided choosing Hubby or I, even though she was told she could pick us. She tried to pick friends, but I reminded her that she wasn't supposed to talk about her issues with friends because they should not have to handle things like that.

Finally she chose me (but I was obviously her last choice). She also chose Grandma (uh huh.... not!!), and I told her to choose one person from school so she chose one of the behavior specialists.

Support people help her by:
-- talking to her
-- listening
-- pulling her out of the situation (class, the room... away from whatever/ whoever is triggering her)

Safe places she can go:
-- her room
-- the backyard
-- her teacher can call the behavior specialist to pull her out of the classroom.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Residential Treatment - aka drowning in paperwork

We have decided that Kitty will most likely need to go to residential treatment. In particular one that will do neuropsychological assessment. This has been a long time coming. Medication does not seem to be helping, and she seems to be escalating.

I am getting very concerned for Ponito. Kitty has not physically hurt him, but she calls him "that evil little boy." She is beligerant, oppositional and threatening to him. Calls him names and screams that if he hurts her she will hit/kill him. She feels totally justified in this response.

The other day they were arguing over the TV remote and he tried to snatch it from her, accidentally scratching her cheek. She slammed the remote in his chest so hard I heard it thunk. Luckily I was sitting near by trying to stop them so it did not escalate. She could not be convinced he did not hurt her deliberately.

He is understandably responding to her threats and escalating his response to her behavior. It's tough to be a 10 year old boy in a house dominated by teen girls (Bob will be 13 next month). He's reacting like most little brothers, but Kitty doesn't seem to have any understanding of this concept. In her mind younger siblings should be "dancing monkeys."

So Friday, I spent ALL day searching for a copy of the adoption subsidy paperwork so I could figure out who to contact for pre-authorization for residential treatment from the state of Nebraska for when our private insurance runs out.
I was inspired by another blogger who has been decluttering her home. She has even been keeping a Hefty Bag count. I went through every room of the house looking for paperwork.
I discovered that every time we sign up for a new program, start a new school, or whatever, we put everything in a folder, take it to wherever, usually end up with multiple copies as things are faxed or given to us out of order and in duplicate, and then apparently never put the stuff in the folder away. These folders get left in the car, or my study, or he entry hall table, or wherever the files got dumped when someone decided they needed the box they were in - not to mention all the new stuff.
I found at least 6 copies of 20 page documents. 15 page documents every 6 weeks for the two kids getting special services. The 3 inch thick stack of every meeting since the kids entered foster care (with all identifying info blocked out). Most of that again with all the identifying info not whited out. Every time someone goes to a new school, program, new therapist, is hospitalized... Every time the kids have a writing assignment, get an award, write poetry or stories, draw pictures... you get the picture.
8 hours and I still didn't find the document! Most of it was organized though. I threw out 2 Hefty bags of papers, and the 3 stacks I have left to file are only about 3 inches thick, and need more file folders before I can finish organizing. Oh well, I've got all weekend, right?! Maybe the document is in all the files in the garage I didn't go through yet.
I did find some interesting stuff though.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Things I'm sorry for!

I'm still surprised my little sister speaks to me, but it could be worse. At least I didn't completely make her doubt her every word like my step-brothers apparently did to my step-sister.
"I'll trade you this great big nickel for that little bitty dime."

One day we were playing Scrabble and my sister spelled the word FECES. Everyone started laughing!

"What?! It's a word!"
Oh yes, it's a word. Once we stopped laughing, we told her we were laughing because of what it meant.

"Oh, I thought it meant the bottom of your foot!"
Apparently her brothers had taught her many interesting definitions. Can you imagine not knowing which words you learned from your big brothers?!

Almost makes what I did pale in comparison. Right?!

Things like playing hide and seek with my little sister and not looking for her.

Chasing her with butcher knives (which she was afraid of because she assumed all the surgeries she'd had as a young child were done with butcher knives. After all that's how they portray them in cartoons!

My little sister would do anything for money. My step-sister and I would pay her a quarter to eat things - like a chip covered with everything we could find on the table at the restaurant (salt, sugar, pepper, hot sauce, mustard...) or to shove an entire piece of birthday cake in her mouth (actually I think that was our cousins' idea).

Most of the stuff I did as a kid was not malicious though. Like the time when we were moving yet again (we lived in 9 different states and countries before I was 5 years old), I removed all the little pink stickers off the crates of our stuff and used them to decorate my tricycle. I was only 3 and had no idea that every single crate would have to be unpacked and relabeled. (This is not a picture of my sister and I, but they look like a lot like we did!)

Or the time I got my Mommy and her friend she'd taken to the bank to open her first bank account, kicked out of the bank forever as suspected bank robbers.

I was only a year old and had discovered that the marble floors were slippery. I ran and slid on my tummy... right under the bars and into the safety deposit vault. Armed guards had to open the vault and escort me out of the vault. I was happy as a clam, playing with the knobs on the boxes.
They returned me to my mommy. She held me until I started fussing so much the people in line around her insisted she let me down.
You guessed it... right back under the bars. My mom was accused of training me to do this to get the bank to let their guard down (no pun intended), and use that as an opportunity to rob the bank. My mom tried to explain that a head small enough to go under the bars was too small to be trained, but they still escorted us and her friend out of the bank under armed guard told to never return.
Mom still threatens to write a book about my childhood.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Learning the lessons again

When Bob was little we had some lovely experiences with childcare. Bob was my "spirited" child, very strong-willed and occasionally aggressive.

(Yes, Mom, I know you think she takes after her mother, but I'm sure
you're mistaken. As I tell my children often, I was the "perfect" child. Never
getting into any trouble, always sweet and innocent... Mom, stop laughing!

As I was saying... any stories Grandma tells about me are greatly
exaggerated if not outright lies...

OK, OK, so some of them are factual. The time I told my little sister that coconuts are alive and kiwis are their babies, I'll admit to that one. But how was I to know that Mom would decide to buy a coconut and start describing how to eat it - "first you hammer a nail into it and pour out the milk, then you crack it open to eat the meat..."

Ok, so I didn't confess when my little sister started screaming. That doesn't make me a bad kid, and it's totally not my fault that Mom decided that we should still try a new fruit and chose kiwis. "First we'll take a knife and peel the skin off..."

And when I put Crisco on the bottom of my feet so I could ice skate on the kitchen linoleum?! That's not really bad... just very imaginative.

Ok, now the time I locked my sister outside and when she tried to
come through the back door with the broken lock I dumped a pot of french fry
grease on her head. That wasn't nice... but at least the grease was cold!

And I even have photographic evidence that the time we were playing Indians and I tied her to a tree and danced around her making "Indian" war cries (by patting my open mouth with my hand), that in the first picture she was clearly helping me by holding the rope while I tied it. (Cute pictures evidence by the way, I'll try to find them and scan them in). And the fact that playing Indians is totally non-PC cannot be held against me! Disney made me do it!)


As I was saying, Bob was my "spirited" child, and my first experiences with her in childcare were difficult to say the least. Not because she was horrible and kept getting kicked out, but because she was "perfect"... at least in daycare. At home however was another story!

I finally rationalized decided that her behavior was caused because she trusted me. She spent the time in childcare being "good." So good that the childcare workers always raved about what an angel she was! When she got home she was able to "let her hair down." She could yell, scream, say no, throw temper tantrums and make me wish that this really was just the "terrible twos." (She started the "terrible twos" at 17 months and "finished" at about 4 1/2! I wish I could say that the theory about how the "twos" goes predicts how the "teens" will go was wrong, but so far it's mostly accurate. *sigh*).

I worried that people would think I was insane, because I was often saying how much trouble she was giving me at home when all evidence at school was to the contrary. "Luckily, " she did show this side of her to more than just me. When she was 17 months she got us kicked out of a playgroup that I STARTED, because she was being so aggressive.

I look back now and realize this was another of God's ways of preparing me for dealing with my children now. Or maybe it's just that Mother's Curse, "I hope someday you get a daughter just like you!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

5 love languages for teens

Adult Sunday school is studying the 5 Love Languages for Teens by Gary Chapman. I have gotten so much out of his books and highly recommend them. I've blogged about this before here, here and here.

Yesterday I found a brief assessment ( to figure out what adult's love languages are and decided to try it on my littles. Bear and Bob had to be asked questions repeatedly and really ended up taking the test twice. There are 6 people in my family and 5 love languages. We only repeated one! Five different primary love languages! No wonder this is so hard!

I read and explained the questions to Kitty and Ponito. Ponito's came out just as expected. Physical touch is his main love language. This does not surprise me at all. Ponito is my cuddler! He has to be tucked in at night with hugs and kisses... lots of kisses. Nose kisses give you bonus points. He gets awfully sneaky trying to kiss my nose!

Whenever he needs love he climbs in my lap or better yet, drapes his entire body on me (see picture). He spontaneously hugs and kisses me all the time. Physical touch is not my love language, but he speaks it so fluently it is truely a language of love and I know he loves me. I do not think I could have made it this far without my cuddlebunny. I don't know what I'm going to do if he becomes a cranky teen.

Kitty's love language is Receiving Gifts. Aargh! This is the love language that always come out last of the five for both Hubby and I. We just don't get it. It feels like the person is being selfish and greedy. Just not how we were raised at all. Actually that's not totally true, I think my Dad's love language is gifts. Probably one reason we had trouble communicating.

Bob had to take the test twice. I'm still not sure if she answered it accurately. It said her love language is Acts of Service. In other words she feels loved if someone is doing something for her. This isn't a bad language to have in our house. Grandma (who watches the kids during the day) and I both have the same love language, Words of Affirmation. This means we need praise and being told we are loved and appreciated. My mom taught me the best way to get praise and appreciation is to do things for others (Acts of Service!). Maybe all of those years of making costumes and fancy dresses was worth it (even if she refused to wear them except under threat of death).
Bear and Hubby are the only two with the same love language - Quality Time. Ironically they both have trouble getting what they need.
Bear pouts that no one does anything with him, but he's not a lot of fun to be around and apparently it only counts if you are doing what he wants to do. He spends most of his time alone, gotta love RAD. Some of this is probably because he prefers to be doing active things like hunting and fishing, and prefers to spend his time with men. Hubby on the other hand prefers scuba diving and playing on his computer. For Bear it's Dad or nothing. I'm OK to hang out with as long as I'm taking him shopping. Needless to say, especially with our finances, that doesn't happen often.
Hubby also prefers one on one time. For him it can be just sitting near each other watching TV, doing the crossword, or holding hand when we walk. That's great, but with 4 kids, full-time jobs, and both of us prone to insomnia when we're stressed... we spend a lot of time separately on our computers. Me blogging, him working or playing video games.
Speaking of which, it's getting late, I have to put up the food, switch the laundry, and IM Hubby to see if he'll stay up a few more minutes to do the crossword.
If I can just figure out why this thing won't save!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Show Us Where You Live - Office

This was last week's room, but I missed it. I've written a post or two about my computer cubby before so I'm not going to go crazy here. This is the view from outside my computer cubby. It's the little closet under the stairs with a desk, a computer, an office chair and some files.I moved there from my sewing room, which is now Bob's room. I miss the space! My sewing room is now in another closet, but it's almost impossible to get in there (way too much stuff crammed in there) so I rarely sew any more.Actually I don't use my computer cubby anymore either. Couple of reasons. One, I was tired of the kids and therapists complaining that I was always in my cubby and not spending time with them. Two, I'd gained so much weight that I didn't fit any more!

Now I work on a laptop on a bed tray in the living room. I'm still on the computer a lot, but have a lot more face time with the kids.

Looks like I might be doing more work from home. Kitty needs me, and the company might be closing the office and having the employees work from home.

Show Us Where You Live Friday: Playroom

I don't have a current picture of the playroom, but it doesn't look very different. Here's some pictures of the murals that Grandma painted. Aren't they amazing?!

You should see the cute mama jaguar playing with the cubs below this, but I don't have a good picture of that. Ok, so it's rarely this messy, but thought I'd show you what my kids are capable of! *grin*
I don't know if they'll show game rooms separately, but I figure I'd just combine it with the playroom. We actually added on to the house a few years ago (big mistake, long story, still not finished).
This is the downstairs "playroom." To the right is the table holding the kid's computer (the better to see them). Under the mural (one I did myself copying a painting) is where I now have cabinets full of sewing stuff. The double French doors go out to the back yard. The doorway to the right of the glass French doors goes to my "sewing closet."
What do you think of the stained glass "window"? I helped design this, although I had nothing to do with the actual glass cutting. The contractor was supposed to install 2 pairs of French doors here, but discovered when he took out the original window that they wouldn't fit. Now it's two arches. I thought the glass was a great way to keep the needed support, but still make it feel open. The stained glass is sandwiched between two sheets of Plexiglas - Momma didn't raise no fool!

I need a Snuggie

An absolutely hilarious blogger, Kristina over at Pulsipher Predilections, frequently talks about the Snuggie. The Snuggie is a blanket with sleeves or a robe worn backward, it is not an attractive fashion statement, but I need me some Snuggie!

You see I work in an old building. One side, my side, is always in the shade, or the air conditioner works better, or something. Either way, it is always Too Cold freezing.

Poor Hubby, who is already hot-natured (get your dirty minds out of the gutter! Or is that just me?!), works in what we call The Fishbowl. This room is almost all windows and is always a good 10-15 degrees warmer than anywhere else in the building. For him the building is always Too Hot.

The designers and engineers work in the middle of the building where apparently the temperature is Just Right. They are the ones who make the magic, so they have to be happy.

So I drive to and from work in my non-air conditioned ancient Blazer (which is key to SUV therapy, but otherwise not so great in the Texas Summer heat). Then freeze all day trying to blog work with a blanket wrapped around me. I have to dress professionally in case anyone comes into the office unexpectedly, but the only pants that fit my ever enlarging derriere are black. Not fun in the Texas sun.

This week outside temperatures got up to 107. I've already gotten several sunburns from sticking my arm out the window trying to wave in cooler air (this does not work when you're stuck in rush hour traffic next to a semi by the way!). I would love to be able to wear a bikini or better yet, nothing at all, but... I've decided that is just not a good idea!

So what do you think? Should I get a Snuggie or Slanket (my doesn't that sound sleezy) to wear at work? I wonder how hard it would be to make it look more professional? What do you think? Instead of red or blue, maybe I could make one out of...

Orange cow fabric! Not very sophisticated, but orange is the company's signature color.


Well how about these cool Pistachio Polka dots. They're a little more sophisticated, if not subtle.

Multi-colored art? Again, not subtle, but we're a design studio so this should be good right?

You know what?! There just isn't a way to make the Snuggie look sophisticated and professional. Guess I'm just going to have to go with Plan B.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Penguins vs Eagles

Heather at Strong in the Broken Places wrote a beautiful post titled How Would I Know.... You should check it out. She is a beautiful writer.

This is another one she wrote about her daughter called Teaching a Penguin To Fly. (Go read it, I'll wait.)

I see so much of Kitty in this one. Heather* very eloquently put into words the frustration that I feel when I see people wanting to treat my children like they can just spread their wings and fly like eagles. My kids look like eagles, but in many ways they are penguins (they look like birds, they have wings like birds, but no one expects penguins to fly like birds). The problem is determining in which ways they are capable of being eagles, which ways they could soar (with some major assistance from the ground crew), and in which ways they are penguins and will always be penguins.

I get so frustrated when I hear people saying that Kitty or Bear's behavior is "normal teenage behavior" or it's because I'm not spending enough time with them, or we're being too strict... Maybe sometimes it is just normal teenage behavior, but most of the time it's penguin behavior, and the motivations and instincts behind the behavior are so different.

As we deal with the kids' behaviors, Kitty's meltdowns, Bears' irritability and hyper vigilance, Hubby and I are frequently frustrated with not knowing what is causing the behaviors and therefore not knowing what to do about them.

  • Is it medication based (found a pill Bear must have dropped, we've changed the time on a med that makes Kitty sleepy, Bear's having trouble with insomnia again...)?

  • Is it a symptom of one of their diagnoses, and if so, which one?

  • Is something going on with school, relationships with friends and families, a movie or TV show... anything that could be causing stress or anxiety?

  • Is it caused by the abandonments, the abuse, the changes in caregivers, or any of the other of a multitude of issues and events that happened in the years before we met them?

  • Was a genetic predisposition passed down through the generations?

  • Is it part of their personality or the way their brain works now after the effects of their childhood? RAD causes brain damage too (your brain becomes wired differently with neglect, or prenatal alcohol/drug abuse).
Sometimes it doesn't matter, as how we discipline and parent will be the same either way. Other times it seems vitally important. I hate to push or demand they be eagles when the behavior is because they are penguins. At the same time, I don't want to limit them to penguin behaviors where it is possible for them to soar. It can be so frustrating.

Anyway, I like this analogy, and hope you like Heather's blog. She may not write often, but I found her blog to be very entertaining and insightful.

*yes, I see the potential confusion here for some of you. Nothing I can do about it. It's her name!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I got to meet Lisa!

Absolutely no offense to Laynie who was wonderful and fun to meet and talk to (both to her and her adorable well-behaved children), but I am so excited that I finally got to meet LISA IRL*!

(*That stands for In Real Life, for those of you who read this who are like my mom and not up on the latest slang! Just teasing Mom! You'll always be my BFF!)

Lisa has been an amazing support to a lot of us "newer" moms to kids with RAD. I've "known" her for a long time and I can honestly say she was a life saver for us when it came to getting services we needed.

Lisa and her daughter J had just flown into Texas on their way to finally meet her new daughter Special K. (J, K and Lisa still cracks me up!) Poor thing had a faulty GPS so she was lost in San Antonio! Luckily Laynie knew her way around and was able to talk her to us.

We met in a yummy Mexican restaurant called Pappasito's. My almost-13 yr old daughter, Bob, and I had a 1 1/2 hour drive in and figured the plane would be late, or something would delay the meal (we were right) so we had lunch before we got in the car. We sat there and ate brownies and ice cream while everyone snarfed down lunch (it was 2pm our time and 3!pm for poor Lisa and J!). As I believe I mentioned Laynie's kids were amazing, even her two-year-old daughter wasn't having the major meltdowns my kiddos would have had if lunch were that late and they were forced to sit around for hours while adults talked about them!

I've always felt guilty because Lisa uses so many RAD techniques with J (strong sitting, tapping, Reiki, structured parenting...), and I don't. I've always said it was because my kids were "too old" for that when I got them, but secretly I've always felt guilty because I felt I was just too lazy. Watching J at lunch I realized that my kids just aren't quite as severe. Not that they wouldn't benefit from the techniques, but they don't need them as much.

Yes, Kitty gets agitated and has meltdowns, but I haven't needed to do more than reprimand her (in public) in a long time. Not that Lisa had to do more than have a quiet discussion with J, but she seemed to always need to be aware of J. To help J regulate. I don't think Kitty needs that. I do try to limit Kitty's world and I'm always aware of where all my kids are, but I'm so glad to not have to be on top of them all the time.

My admiration for Lisa has increased exponentially. My thankfulness to God for not giving me more to handle is great as well.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Influential people

In an earlier post I mentioned that all my life I've had friends / family/ people who've been influential in my life. Sometimes for the worse, but most of the time for the better. Most of these people were in my life for just a short time, but I took something away from the relationship that made me a better person.

My outgoing friend Stephanie in high school was a good example of this. At the time I was dealing with depression and if left alone would have curled up into a book and disappeared. She would drag me out to party and hang out. I was not a very hands-on person, while she was a very physically affectionate person, always greeting with a hug, putting her hand on people's arms when she talked. I wanted to be more like her, so I forced myself to imitate her until I finally became comfortable as an extrovert and with physical affection.

There was the friend in college who always seemed to have something bad happen to him through "no fault of his own" - I was his rescuer.

His girlfriend back home made multiple suicidal attempts and she always planned it so he would be the one to rescue her. When he went off to college (where I met him), she was in a psychiatric hospital. He didn't want to break up with her while she was "down," but I convinced him it was better while she was surrounded by professionals then later. Then she told him she was pregnant with his child, and wanted an abortion. He took a bus to their small town to try to convince her to give him the child. He'd checked out books (with my library card) about raising babies (which never got returned). He was unable to convince her so ended up giving her all his money for the abortion. When he got back in town on the bus, at 1am, guess who went to pick him up. When we arrived at his apartment, the uncle he was living with had put all his stuff on the front porch (apparently he had forgotten to tell the uncle he was leaving, or they'd had a fight, I don't know). So he ended up crashing with my roommate and I. He was too proud to accept food from us. Then he got hit by a car while biking to work. When he collapsed at work, I was the one to take him to the hospital - only to find out he'd collapsed from lack of food, not injuries from the accident. On the way back to the apartment, he refused my offer of a sandwich... This was all, of course, during mid-terms.
He taught me not to rescue someone to the total detriment of myself.

I didn't learn to stop rescuing until much later in my life. My mom was a big rescuer, and I thought that made you a good person. I didn't know the difference between helping people and rescuing them. In Social Work, I didn't understand the professors who lectured that we were only to help people with what they asked for - within the limits of our job description - I thought the job of a SWer should be to "fix" the real problem.

(ex. client's request -finding an apartment. What I thought really needed fixing - the raging alcoholism that was keeping him from holding a job.).

My brother-in-law taught me that difference, and I finally figured out the concept of learned helplessness from him, when I tried to fix it all for him. He was a bottomless pit of need that no one could fix, but it took me years to figure this out and stop trying to rescue him. He didn't want fixing anyway, it was so much easier to skate through life. He ended up in jail because it was easier to admit to guilt than to defend himself (he didn't actually do it). We tried to help him through college (we paid for it, signed him up for classes, and he flunked out of several different schools before he gave up), arranged for him to get tested for learning disabilities and ADHD (never bothered to go to the testing), and I parented his son (I ended up being my 2 year old nephew's primary caregiver for the 6 weeks he visited us one Summer). My brother-in-law capitalized on my husband's feelings of guilt for having a good-paying job that allowed him a few luxuries. NOTHING was ever my brother-in-law's fault.

Then there was "Whatsisname." The guy I almost married. The one who was so like my father that he gave my mom the heebie jeebies. From him I leaned about verbal abuse. I didn't think it was abuse if the perpetrator was only pointing out your real faults. He never hit me. He never made me cry. All he did was try to "help" me fix things I didn't like about myself either, usually by pointing them out to me, repeatedly.

  • He pointed out that I was gaining some weight (usually by pointing out my "cottage cheese" thighs and skinny girls) - this was true and bothered me too. I was on an antidepressant that increased appetite, but hadn't been told about this side effect until I'd gained quite a bit of weight. I remember complaining to my dad about this once. He "reassured" me that it was understandable for a young man to want his girlfriend to look nice. (In other words, my dad agreed with him).

  • He pointed out that I wasn't getting a "real degree." He was getting an engineering degree, while I was only getting a Masters in Social Work. Since I'd just graduated with a psychology degree that I couldn't figure out what to do with (met a guy with a great job in the Service department of Sears with a BA in Psych, but that didn't seem like a good fit), this was a really big concern for me too.

  • I was going to turn out just like my hypochondriac mom if I didn't "pull myself up by my bootstraps" like he did when he suffered a little depression. My mom was hypoglycemic, bipolar, had high cholesterol and suffered from panic attacks. One of the medications she was taking increased her appetite too so she was up to a size 24/26 (we were both on this same med, but my mom never questioned doctors so she'd been on it for years). Her meds were not stabilized so she slept 18 hours a day! This scared the HECK out of me. I was terrified I would become like my mom so I was willing to accept his "constructive criticism."

Luckily I had a hyper critical roommate about this time who taught me to avoid people who make me feel bad about myself. So I finally managed to end the relationship.

I had some other boyfriends who helped me feel better about myself. Who liked my laugh, my curves, my personality (once I finally decided on one instead of constantly remaking myself to make other's happy).

When I was finally ready to accept him, Hubby came into my life. He helped me work on one of my biggest issues of all. My "attachment disorder," my fear of men, my lack of trust, my disbelief that men were capable of staying and caring. No matter how hard I pushed him away, he stayed; he cared; he was faithful; he never criticized (even when I set him up - "Look at that girl. She's so skinny. Do you think I could look more like her?); he respected me; he loved me; he thought I was was a good person. It still took years. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman:

"It's easier to believe the bad stuff."
Two years after we were married, I think I finally believed that he loved me, and was able to trust him with my heart and love him too. I still work on this often.

When Hubby and I met, I was an atheist. I'd been agnostic, but was forced to choose by my dad's side of the family. I chose atheism. As I finally learned to trust a man, so did I finally learn to trust in God. This has gone slower than believing in Hubby, because I didn't feel God right there with me, proving that he loved me, proving that he cared, and proving that he was effecting my life.

I began wanting to believe in God and many people influenced me. The book A Case for Faith, had a huge impact on me. I'm still a Doubting Thomas, and it's taken years of Godincidences for me to believe that life isn't just a random chaos.

The most influential people of all?

My children. For these "little" people I want to strive to be a better person, a role model, a teacher. They have taught me more than I can list on this page. Because of them I have developed a huge support group and learned to advocate. I have learned more about myself and I have learned that I need God in my life. Not just want him, not just "Ooh, don't want to go to the bad place," or "I'll pray that God will help me," but NEED him in my life.

Before having kids I thought I was a pretty together person. After having kids I discovered that I had a lot of issues shoved under the bed, hiding under junk in the closets, and locked in boxes. Because of the kids I'm finding myself having to pull those issues out, dust them off, and actually deal with them instead of just repressing/ignoring/ denying their existence.

I finally discovered I can't do this on my own. I need support, but not just from my friends and family. They have their own lives, their own challenges, and if they continually rescue me, the learned helplessness that I know now is bad for others - becomes my burden.

All of my challenges are not punishments from God for my sins, but instead are daily reminders, helping me realize that I need God in my life, he's the biggest supporter of all. So I try to think of the challenges as exercises building my strength so I can grow to be what God knows I can be!

Because of my past, I can empathize with and help my kids with their future.

Because of my kids, I actually have a future.

Tapestry of Life

So I told you about how I discovered that the series of coincidences (Godincidences - since I believe they were all part of God's plan) that led to our adopting Kitty and Bear wasn't really the whole story. After attending a meeting of a faith-based women's support group I realized that my whole life has been about God supporting me in this journey to develop and grow in my faith and building trust.

What started as looking at a single thread (the adoptions), helped me realize that it wasn't about one thread at all, or even about giving me tools to help my kids. It was bigger than that.

Today I had lunch with an amazing woman who introduced me to the support group in the first place. We've only known each other a short time, but she's been pretty influential in my life. She has been a source of encouragement (see this post) and a role model to me. We've had lunch several times and today she commented on how much better/ happier/ more content I seem now.

I began thinking about whether or not my life is easier since I met her (it's not);

whether or not my children are better behaved or closer to "normal" (nope, that's not it!);

whether or not I have been attending fewer activities, doctor's appointments, meetings, therapy session (nuh uh)

whether or not I was taking better care of myself, getting more sleep, eating better, exercising (I admit it, I have no self control so that's not it)

whether or not our financial situation has improved (if anything we're much worse off now then we were then)...

but when I thought about it I realized she was right. I do feel better, more content, and less stressed.

I could just say this is because I'm on better meds (I've made some major changes in the last 6 months), but I know that's not really it.

I think it's because I'm following the path God is setting for me.

All my life I've had friends / family/ people who've been influential in my life. Sometimes for the worse, but most of the time for the better. Most of these people were in my life for just a short time, but I took something away from the relationship that hopefully made me a better person, more on that in another post.

God has been weaving the tapestry of my life to not only help my kids, or just deal with my attachment issues but to become a happier person with a close relationship with God and hopefully to touch other's lives in a way that helps them find the same.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

God provided the tools

Last night I went to a faith based women support group that I've been trying to attend weekly.

As the meeting started, I had been writing out my God Story (testimonial about the effect God has had on your life) about the God-incidences (like coincidences, but too many for them to really be coincidences) that had led to us adopting special-needs teens - see the story of our adoption to know these.

By the end of the meeting, I knew that my God story wasn’t about God leading us to the kids or the kids to us, but about God helping me develop the tools I needed to be the best Mom for my kids AND a closer relationship with Him.

Because of my childhood I had NO trust for men. I've often heard that your relationship with your father often predicts your relationship with God, and also that you marry a guy like your dad.

God has helped me avoid marrying a guy just like my father, instead leading me to a husband who was willing to fight for my trust and love (took many years). God led me to choosing to get a Social work degree, helping me to better understand special needs and advocacy. God gave me a family that have mental illness and my own experiences with depression and bipolar disorder to give me empathy. God gave me a daughter (Bob) who stretched my abilities to parent and discipline a "spirited" child, and encouraged me to search for and accept advice and help.

Then He brought my children to me. Children whose sense of trust is just as damaged as mine was, if not more. Not only did God provide the tools I need to help my kids, but he gave me children who continue to bring up my issues which challenges me to be a better person with a stronger faith too. He didn't just hand me tools (which wouldn't have worked), but but actually helped me to grow and understand by putting me in situations where I couldn’t ignore my issues anymore.

People say my children are so blessed because they were adopted, but I know that I am the one who has been blessed.

What did he say now - interpretation.

There’s this Girl I like A good amount but I want to ask her out But I Don’t want TO do it at school. And I Think I got A way But I don’t know how to do it is a Long Story
S____ and I were not work / seeing I TO I. BUT the person that just called was her, her name is t____. But Ill send you more in a min.

Interpretation: There's this girl that I like a lot. I want to ask her out, but I don't want to do it at school. I think I've thought of a way (to ask her out while not at school), but I'm not sure. It is a long story.

S. and I were not working out because we weren't seeing eye to eye.

(Apparently at this point a girl calls him on the home phone).

The person that just called was the girl I like. Her name is T. I'll send you another e-mail in a minute (but he didn't).

Monday, June 1, 2009

What did he say now?!!

For some reason I find Bear's e-mails to me highly entertaining. At his IEP meeting we discussed the fact that he hasn't been tested on writing in years. I managed to talk them into testing his writing skills when school starts in the Fall.

Oh Bear, spell check is not your friend.

This site has some good facts for atheists and people how want to loss
white and ton up.

Interpretation: This site has some good facts for athletes and people who want to lose weight and tone up.

Was it wrong of me to send him the following e-mail?

Did you mean athletes (people who like sports and exercise) or did you really mean “atheists” (people who don’t believe in God)?

I would like to be less white skinned (which I can assume is what you meant by “loss white”), so can I assume Power bars will make me tan?

I would actually prefer to lose some weight rather than “ton up.” Unless instead
of gaining a “ton” of weight you meant tone up.

Spell check is not always your friend Sweetie. :^)


Here's another e-mail he sent me. He didn't send me a follow up to this one.

There’s this Girl I like A good amount but I want to ask her out But I
Don’t want TO do it at school. And I Think I got A way But I don’t know how to
do it is a Long Story
S____ and I were not work / seeing I TO I. BUT the person that just called was her, her name is t____. But Ill send you more in a min.

Interpretation: You can figure this one out yourself. I especially love the "I TO I" phrase.

Conscience Development

Was reading an excellent blog called Living With RAD, that as usual has provided some wonderful materials that really hit home.

This is an article she recommended: has an excellent article about conscience development.

I learned that Kitty is right on the edge of the Pleasure/Pain stage (under age 3) of development and the Shame stage (typical of children ages 3 to 7). Bear is most likely in the Shame stage, and the rest of the kids are in the Mature stage. I liked this article because it gave concrete examples of how to help Kitty and I plan to give a copy to Grandma to help her better understand and cope with Kitty this Summer. Best of all, it specifically addresses attachment disorders and the needs of kids stuck in the younger development stages.

Love it!