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, January 31, 2011

Bear FAIR Club Assignment

Here’s what I’m thinking about assigning Bear for a FAIR Club Assignment:

Read the Risky Behavior page and answer the questions on a second page.


Death wish, noun.

  • A desire for self-destruction, often accompanied by feelings of depression, hopelessness, and self-reproach.

A suicidal urge thought to drive certain people to put themselves consistently into dangerous situations.

Crime Statistics

  • In 1995, 32,130 males age 12 and older were victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.

  • Teens 16 to 19 were three and one-half times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.

  • About 44% of rape victims are under age 18

  • Murder (homicide), which is the tenth leading cause of death for males in the United States

  • Homicide with a firearm was the second leading cause of death of persons between the ages of 10 and 24.

  • Two thirds of all 1992 US murders were accomplished with firearms. Handguns were used in about half of all murders. Sharp instruments were used in 17% of murders and blunt instruments in about 6%.

  • Over 65% of murders are males killing males.

  • Nearly half of murderers were strangers to the victim.

  • Saturday was the most popular day-of-the-week to be murdered.

  • Murder rates are higher in the afternoon than in the morning, but are highest at night -- climbing steadily from 6 pm, peaking at 11 pm and declining thereafter.

You snuck out and no one knew where you were if something happened to you. Plus, they probably would not even start looking for you until the next day. You also lied to many people about where you were (to their face or by letting them believe something you know wasn’t true), damaging their trust. You were out on a Saturday night, in the dark, in the rain – one of the most dangerous times to be out, especially alone. You got in the car of a stranger.

1. Why do you think we, your parents, want you to be safe? (write 1 paragraph)
2. How do you think we, your parents, would feel if you got hurt or worse? (write 2 paragraphs)
3. Why do you engage in risky, self-destructive behavior? (write two paragraphs)
4. Do you think you will change this behavior? If yes, how (be very specific)? If no, why not? (be very specific) (write 2 paragraphs)
5. Read the Driving Expectations page. List all the expectations that you are having trouble with. 6. Why do you think we require these behaviors before you can drive? (Write at least 2 sentences per expectation)

Death Wish

Death wish, n.
1. Psychiatry

  • A desire for self-destruction, often accompanied by feelings of depression, hopelessness, and self-reproach.

  • The desire, often unconscious, for the death of another person, such as a parent, toward whom one has unconscious hostility.

2. A suicidal urge thought to drive certain people to put themselves consistently into dangerous situations.

Bear is not what I consider to be suicidal. He definitely doesn't have a plan, and if you ask him, he won't even admit to suicidal impulses, but something that became painfully clear at therapy on Saturday when we were discussing how unsafe it was to go wandering alone, at night, in the rain, and worst of all GETTING IN A CAR WITH A TOTAL STRANGER, was that Bear not only thinks he's invulnerable, but he also doesn't care if anything happens to him. He frequently takes unnecessary risks, as though he has a "death wish" or is passive aggressively suicidal. In other words, I don't think he will attempt suicide, but he certainly puts himself in situations where death is possible. He won't deliberately step out into traffic, but he won't look both ways when crossing the street.

When Bear first moved in with us 4 years ago, he definitely had a strong death wish. We were convinced that he would be dead by 18, as that seemed to be his goal. He wanted to be front line Marines where the likelihood of death was huge, and he was OK with that. His other life goal was to be in a gang dealing drugs. He really didn't seem to care which. {OK, he did have one other life goal. He also wanted to be a professional football player, but he found out within a few months of arriving in our home, that he was done growing (at not quite 5'9" that pretty much negated a pro football career).}

After residential treatment, diagnoses and the right medication cocktail, we saw a lot of improvement, but as I look back I realize that Bear's ambivalence about dying, never really went away. His self-destructive behavior isn't as severe (no more cutting, yea!), but what I've been seeing as lack of impulse control and poor judgment, I'm now seeing as potentially being related to this. Some events can be explained by lack of coordination and difficulty understanding of the consequences of his behaviors, but his recently stated lack of caring if something bad happens to him really explains a lot.

In therapy while we were talking about risky behavior, Bear suddenly brought up a teenager who he claims drives like a maniac in our neighborhood and implied if Bear stepped in front of the car, it would be the teenager's fault and he "should know better than to drive like that." Bear clearly stated that he didn't care what happened to him, and was acting kind of macho about it. It was a little about the teenager learning a lesson and a lot about letting us know that he didn't care if he got hurt.

Now we're discussing consequences for that weekend's events and I don't know what to do. Some consequences were obvious.

  • No longer allowed to isolate and sleep on the porch at Grandma's house.

  • Grandma is in charge of meds for the weekend - if he'd had to take meds from Grandma she would have known he wasn't in the house at bedtime (9pm, although we don't make them sleep at that time, just be in their rooms), instead of coming in at 10:30pm.

  • Not allowed to leave the property without an adult.

  • Doubling his sleeping med (he claims that 2 makes him groggy the next day, but from what the school has said, that's bull and anyway he can be a little tired in Sunday School without it being a big deal).

Consequences at home is more difficult. Normally FAIR Club assignments are designed not to punish, but to help the child learn a lesson. Bear definitely needs to learn that there are consequences to his actions, but most importantly he needs to understand why what he did was wrong, and quite frankly, I can't think of how to teach that.

Normally when a child displays risky behavior, then I try to show them the potential consequences of that behavior, but in this case, the potential consequences are death, rape, and serious injury, and not only does Bear not believe this will happen to him, but he doesn't totally care if he gets hurt or killed. So what the heck do I give him for consequences?

I did some online research, thinking maybe his assignment could be a research paper, but the statistics show that it's mostly women and young children being raped and murdered, which Bear would just see as proof that his behavior was fine for him (because he's not female or a child). The problem is that I can't show him that the 5% that happens to adult males, is 90% more likely to happen to him than to the average adult male because he is actively taking serious risks. And even if I could, that doesn't change the fact that he doesn't care.

I've contacted his case manager (who passes information on to his psychiatrist), and his next appointment is only 4 days away. Since he's not exactly suicidal I'm OK with this, but when the case manager asked me what I thought should be next steps, I didn't have an answer. If he were actively suicidal then our next steps would be obvious. If this were a recent or changed behavior then our next steps would be a little clearer. I know this behavior is a little worse (or maybe we're just noticing it more) because he's depressed. I'm sure the psychiatrist will be increasing his anti-depressant and/or mood stabilizer. But for something this pervasive and ongoing is this part of his identity or issues that can only be addressed with extensive therapy?

In the meantime, what do I do for a FAIR Club assignment? It doesn't have to be the perfect logical consequence that teaches the lesson in such a way that Bear gets it and changes forever (although if anyone has one that would be great!), but it does need to at least be related to what happened so he understands that his actions have consequences. It also needs to be concrete and immediate. Bear has absolutely no idea why this type of behavior would lead to us not wanting to put him behind the wheel of a car. He just doesn't seem to get the connection.


Sunday, January 30, 2011


I'm taking a NAMI course called Family to Family which provides support and education for family members of people with mental illness. It's mostly parents of grown children and very few spouses (apparently most spouses just divorce a person with mental illness so that's why there aren't too many in the class). I'm also signed up for the Visions For Tomorrow class, which is the same thing, but for families of children and adolescents (I almost didn't do this one because it's far away and on a night when we have attachment therapy already scheduled).

Last week we learned about Anosognosia and all the sudden I had a greater understanding of my kids' lack of reaction/understanding of their diagnoses.

SUMMARY: Anosognosia, impaired awareness of illness, is the single largest reason why individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder do not take their medications. This impaired awareness of illness is caused by damage to specific parts of the brain, and affects approximately 50 percent of individuals with schizophrenia and 40 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder. Medications can improve awareness in some patients.
* * *
What is impaired awareness of illness?
People with impaired awareness of illness may not recognize that they are ill. Instead, they believe their delusions are real (e.g., the woman across the street is being paid by the CIA to spy on him) and that their hallucinations are real (e.g., the voices are instructions being sent by the President). Impaired awareness of illness is the same thing as lack of insight. The term used by neurologists is “anosognosia,” which comes from the Greek word for disease (nosos) and knowledge (gnosis). It literally means "to not know a disease."

How big a problem is it?

Many studies of individuals with schizophrenia report that approximately half of them have moderate or severe impairment in their awareness of illness. Studies suggest that approximately 40 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder have impaired awareness of illness; this is especially true if the person also has delusions and/or hallucinations.

Is impaired awareness of illness the same thing as denial of illness?

No. Denial is a psychological mechanism that we all use, more or less. Impaired awareness of illness, on the other hand, has a biological basis and is caused by damage to the brain, especially the right brain hemisphere. The specific brain areas that appear to be most involved are the frontal lobe and part of the parietal lobe. (Guess where a lot of Bear's brain damage is located?!)

Can a person be partially aware of their illness?

Yes. Impaired awareness of illness is a relative, not an absolute problem. Some individuals may also fluctuate over time in their awareness, being more aware when they are in remission but losing the awareness when they relapse.

Why is impaired awareness of illness important?

Impaired awareness of illness is the single biggest reason why individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder do not take medication. They do not believe they are sick, so why should they? Without medication, the person's symptoms become worse. This often makes them more vulnerable to being victimized and committing suicide. It also often leads to rehospitalization, homelessness, being incarcerated in jail or prison, and violent acts against others because of the untreated symptoms.

It is difficult to understand how a person who is sick would not know it.

Impaired awareness of illness is very difficult for other people to comprehend. A person's psychiatric symptoms seem so obvious that it’s hard to believe the person is not aware he or she is ill. Oliver Sacks, in his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, noted this problem: “It is not only difficult, it is impossible for patients with certain right-hemisphere syndromes to know their own problems... And it is singularly difficult, for even the most sensitive observer, to picture the inner state, the 'situation' of such patients, for this is almost unimaginably remote from anything he himself has ever known.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Teenage brains

I found an interesting study I wanted to share. Why teenagers are more rash, addiction prone, and subject to mental diseases: University of Pittsburgh brain study Could explain a lot.

I have a meeting today with Bear's MHMR mental health case manager and social skills teacher because we've been seeing some instability in his mood (mostly depression) over the last month or so and I'm wondering if we need to make some med changes (his next appointment is not for a couple more weeks so we need to decide if we need to move it up).

This morning I was alone with Bob while I straightened her hair (love this mother daughter time, even though I think her spiral curls are pretty!). I decided to ask her if she had anything to say about Bear's mood/behaviors. I figure the girls see things I don't since they go to school with him. Bob said she knew something about Bear that she hadn't planned to "tattle," but it ticked her off that he'd gotten the privilege of going to the rodeo with some friends (and an adult parent we trust) last weekend when he had snuck out to the movies the weekend before.

TOTAL SHOCK on my part!

A couple of weeks ago, Bear'd asked me if he could go to the movies with some friends. I looked at the fact that he's been skipping and tardy more often then he'd attended classes, and said N.O.! and assumed that was the end of it. Apparently not.

Most Saturdays the kids spend the night at Grandma and Poppy's house and they take the kids to church in the morning (Yes, I know I'm blessed!). That Saturday we'd dropped them off a little early. Allegedly they ate dinner really early, and then Bear went to his "room" and shut the curtains. Bear sleeps on the enclosed porch at my parents house.

At 10:30pm Bear came to the girls' bedroom to get his night meds (room time is 9pm at our house, but the grandparents aren't as strict about it as I am). Kitty apparently knew he was going to the movies and asked him how it went. He told them what movies he'd seen and offered them candy (Bob felt this was a bribe not to tell on him).

Bear told Kitty that the owner of the neighborhood thrift store drove Bear and one of his friends and her girlfriend to the movies. I did call the guy to check out the story and he denied it. This man had a childhood similar to the kids and has befriended Bear, but I generally keep them apart, because the guy is a bit rough around the edges and actually might go behind my back if he thinks I'm being too strict with Bear, but more like letting Bear use a pocket knife, smoke and cuss - not sneaking him out.

I believed the girls, but I didn't want Bear to know that they "tattled" on him because I worry that he'll retaliate. So I have to find a way to at least appear to "find out" almost two weeks after the fact. I asked my parents to search the room Bear uses at their house, because he never throws anything away, but they're clean people and they use this room for meals, so it's clean. They did find a welding mask in a bag that Bear was storing there, and I need to track down where that came from.

Hubby decided to confront Bear about this after he'd gotten ready for bed and was kind of drowsy. I don't think Hubby said anything about the movies, just that we knew Bear had left the house. Bear claimed that he went for a walk and that the grandparents knew it (when Hubby called him on that he said, well they knew he does take walks, but they probably didn't know he was gone that night. He claimed he walked to the neighborhood convenience store and got a ride home (*EEK!*). Bear thinks he's invulnerable because he's a big kid. Hubby never addressed the candy issue.

Our big concerns are -

  • If he got away with sneaking out at Grandma's house, what's to keep him from sneaking out of our house?
  • Bear needs structure and when the adults around him fail to provide that he feels unsafe. He gets moody and unstable when he's feeling unsafe. He just started EMDR therapy too, so he's probably feeling more unsettled.
  • Where did the money come from for the candy since he has no "legitimate" sources of funding (did he steal it, sell his "stolen" Zune...),
  • I can see him lying to Kitty just to tease her, but why did he admit to the hitch hiking? - does that mean he assumes he was caught arriving in a car back from somewhere so he thought this was the lesser of two evils? If so... what was the "greater evil" truth, because this was pretty darn scary.
  • Where was my developmentally 9 year old child?!

So here's the "charges."

  1. lying
  2. sneaking out
  3. hitch hiking

Consequences I'm considering:

  1. At Grandma's he can no longer sleep on the porch, he'll go back to sharing the living room with Ponito. (He doesn't like spending the night at Grandma's and Hubby and I need this downtime so not getting to go to Grandma's is not an option).
  2. Grounded for at least 2-3 weeks.
  3. FAIR Club assignment on Stranger Danger
  4. If we can figure out how to afford it - alarms on his bedroom window and door. We have the system, but it got damaged recently so it's not chirping when someone opens an outside door or window anymore.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Earth Cake Science Project

(Ours looked nothing like this, I just thought it was cute.)

Ponito had to make a science project and he told me about it last weekend. He told me by saying at 5pm on Sunday night, "You have to get a styrofoam ball for a science project - right now." Needless to say, I did not agree that his lack of planning necessitated a crisis for me.

However, we talked about why he needed it. Turns out he has a big science project due about the Earth's core. Cool, but I'm not driving to the craft store on a Sunday night to buy a foam ball. Does it have to be a foam ball? Turns out, no, it didn't.

It suddenly occurs to me that I've been dying for a chance to use my Betty Crocker Bake'n'fill pans ever since I picked them up at a thrift store over a year ago. Doesn't that just look perfect?
Talked to Ponito about it, and he was very enthusiastic about cake, so we were set to go. We started making cake mix and adding food color to the different layers, and I had him show me the assignment to make sure we had all the layers. Ummm?! Ponito? You do realize this project isn't due for two weeks? *sigh*

So we finish the cake parts, freeze them, and I send him to bed (a little late).

Flash forward two weeks. Now I've had time to shop and buy icing (I hate making icing, and I can never keep pre-made icing in the house for long because it disappears (Mostly empty canisters with spoons in them are later found in Bear's room, in case you were wondering).

So at 7pm, Ponito and I start the "easy process" of assembling the cakes.

1st problem. For a round cake there are only 2 layers. The cake shown on the box is not a round cake. It has a round cake inside it. No worries. We had taken that into account and decided to make the "earth's core out of edible playdoh dyed red (hard to see in my photo shopped picture).

2nd problem. No clean mixing bowls! Whose turn is it? Apparently "Not Me's" turn, and "Not Me" is nowhere to be found. Fine, we'll make it without the mixer. So we made peanut butter playdoh, but it took forever to get enough food coloring in it to turn it red, and it took forever to mix by hand. 3 pink fingernails and a pink splotch on the coiunter and I finally got it done. Scooped out room for it in the filling layer of cake, and *Bam!* The Earth now has an inner core (red playdough) and an outer core (orange colored cake).

3rd problem. The filling layer of orange colored cake is supposed to be iced and inserted into the main layer of yellow (barely any dye so it's kind of neutral colored) cake. The filling layer is pretty small so it's a good thing I bought 2 tubs of icing. We generously coat it with yellow frosting and smoosh it into the round main layer (twice because there wasn't enough icing the first time). Now the inner and outer core are surrounded by the lower mantle (yellow frosting) and the mantle (not so yellow cake).

4th problem. (Although not until we tried to cut it). Now the Earth needs a crust. In the picture it's thin and brown. I'm so smart I decide to use the melting chocolate wafers that I've had sitting around forever as the crust. So we melt them and coat the outside of the cake. Perfect and easy. Of course later when we have to cut out a section of the cake so you can see the layers, I realize it's not that easy to cut the now solid layer of chocolate cocooning the cake, but we manage to make it work and the layers of icing hide all the cracks.

5th problem. Next part was easy. Mix blue food coloring into a can of white icing, and spread it on the chocolate covered cake. *Kapow!* Done! One Oceanic Crust, complete. *Oops!* We forgot to get the Continental crust ready. Oh well, shouldn't be hard. I was looking for an excuse to use up a box of egg whites so I we decided to make meringue continents. How hard could it be? First make the meringue. Not too difficult since we have pre-separated egg whites, but Ponito does have to wash a mixing bowl. No way am I mixing meringue by hand! Don't forget it has to be green! Ok add food coloring. Not dark enough. Add more food coloring. More.... more... more.... well... mint green'll just have to do.

6th problem. do we just want green blobs floating in the blue icing? You know, it's really not that hard to make the meringue into shapes. Let's find an image of the earth as seen from the top down, print it out, and using a plastic bag with the corner snipped off, we can just fill in the outlines of the continents. *Oops! I snipped the hole too big. Oh well, not that big a deal right? We want it fairly thick anyway so it won't break too easily or get lost in the icing."

I'm going to be smart and not make the continents on a flat surface and then try to stick it to a round shape. (Thinking ahead for once!). So I get a glass measuring bowl, tape our image to it, then tape some wax paper over that. Ponito tries piping, but it's not that easy so he hands it off to Mom. *Bam!* We've got Continental crust blobs!

Meantime it's 7:30 and the kids are still clamoring for dinner. I'd already decided to make Boboli pizza (fairly quick and easy) and had even bought the stinky fish for Hubby's pizza and spinach and asparagus for mine (plenty of artichoke hearts and pineapple already). So no worries. I'll quickly squirt out the extra meringue into little kiss shapes that the family can eat or something (waste not, want not!), and then I'll make the pizzas.

7th problem. Oh by the way? What do you do with the meringue once it's made? Does it just air dry? Check the recipe. Oh CR*P! It has to bake in a 200 degree oven for over an hour! That means the oven will be full of meringue and we can't make pizza. Ummm... Hubby? I know the kids had their hearts set on pizza, but... I could make mac'n'cheese on the stove, or nuke some leftovers.

*Deafening cheers!* Hubby has decided to spring for "real" pizza from a chain restaurant. He'll even pick it up! VERY happy teenagers.

8th problem. 1+ hours later (bedtime), we pull the meringue out of the oven. It looks fine, but is stuck to the wax paper, and cracks when you take it off. I'm also trying to talk on the phone to a friend about RAD kids who acts out sexually (got to remember to look up the links I promised her), without saying things that 11 year old Ponito doesn't need to hear, and trying to get most of the meringue on the cake. Use white icing for Greenland and Alaska, and... Done!

9th problem. Cut and label the cake. A pain (see problem #4) but we get it done. Decide to give the cut out piece to Ponito's teacher to eat. Also we cut loose all the extra meringue blobs for Ponito to give to his friends. Finally get Ponito to bed. Send him back a second time after he adds one more label he forgot.

Final problem. I was supposed to be spending all evening working on Hubby's resume so he can apply for a job tomorrow. It's 1am and I've done almost nothing. *sigh*

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Job Hunting

I've been told I look young, usually mid 20s. It's a major source of amusement to me to watch people's doubletakes when Bear calls me Mom. I always tell people my age, because I know I don't look it.

I'm 40 and don't have wrinkles yet. My mostly gray hair apparently looks like I have highlights to people who don't know I used to be a dark brunette. I keep my mostly gray chin hairs plucked and wear makeup to hide the zits on my chin (have I mentioned how much it stinks to have zits and chin hair at the same time?!) and to hide the dark circles under my eyes and the age spots. I dress nicely and hopefully in clothes that flatter my figure, whatever size it is (currently plump) - all those years of working in retail clothing stuck. I don't own any sweat pants.

Even in grad school, my appearance caused me problems. I had difficulty with my school sponsored internships and even lost one. I looked like I was 16 (I was in my 20s). In my stint as a professional seamstress I was often turned away by brides telling me they didn't need a salesgirl. I found brides watching my every move like a hawk because they couldn't believe I had the experience needed not to mess up their dress. I thought this was the end of the world, because how do you get experience if you can't get a job to give you experience?

When I went back to work after having kids, I sort of fell into childcare (because I could keep Ponito with me). It was a good job and I gained lots of skills (by the end I was supervising and training up to 60 employees), but it didn't pay well considering my education and experience, because it's a historically underpaid industry. Ponito got older and didn't need preschool care anymore, and I tried to leave the industry... and found I couldn't. One time, I went on a job interview with an insurance company, and was referred to as "that teacher chick" the whole time.

When we originally bought the company it was supposed to be Hubby's chance to get out of an industry he was bored with and get to use his MBA, but when the sale of the company finally came through I'd been home for 6 months (having quit my daycare job to deal with Bear constantly getting kicked out of school and Bob was having major heart problems) and it made more sense for me to take the job and Hubby to support the family while we got the company profitable. Hubby lasted one more month, then quit his job and joined me at the company.

So now, 3.5 years later, our company has gone under, Hubby has been back in his old line of work for over a year, and I'm... job hunting.


So I was on a networking call talking to a receptionist with a company where I was interested in working, and I mention I'm job hunting. She explains that her tiny company is mostly volunteers, but started commiserating on how hard it was for her to find a job when she was right out of school too.

*Say what?!*

Turns out this girl, obviously in her early twenties thought I sounded like I was younger than she was! OK, i'm used to looking younger, but now I sound younger?! Since I do a lot of networking on the phone I was freaked. (Yes, she was embarrassed when I casually mentioned I graduated with my Masters 20 years ago).

I talked to Grandma, and have to admit she was a little discouraging, but in talking it through I was reminded that I have a weird quirk - I mimic people's accents and way of speaking. When I was working in sales, I was always afraid someone would accuse me of mocking them like the Texans in the restaurant scene of The Master of Disguise, "Are ewe mawking my huusbaynd?".

It occurred to me that while yes, my speaking voice is definitely higher in real life than it is in my head, maybe the reason I sounded like a young 20-something was because I was talking to a young 20-something.

So nervously I went to a meeting that night and met again with a potential employer - a bigwig in the field I want to get back into. We were talking about how I could help him achieve his goals and I casually mentioned again that I was job hunting. He told me about a job opening at another agency that he thought I'd be great for, because I had great presence and could bring a lot to the program. The next day he e-mailed me with the contact info for the head of the agency with a job opening.

They like me! They really like me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Marythemom Rights and Amendments

You have the right to remain silly.
Anything you sing or giggle about, can, but will not, be held against you in the court of Mom.
You have the right to speak and be annoying.
If you are forced to give up that right (by a sibling/ child), Mom will advocate for you.
Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

Actual Miranda rights

“ You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to speak to an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

First Amendment – Freedom of speech and freedom of religion
We the people of this family have the right to be silly, sing, laugh, giggle, worship and talk about things that aren't of interest to everyone, even if it's annoying to some.

Second Amendment – Right to Bear arms.
A well-regulated Bear being necessary to the security of a free family, the right of the people to hug and keep in Bear's arms shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment – Protection from quartering of troops.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. I choose to interpret this to mean NO FIGHTING. People who fight (aka soldiers) shall not be allowed to stay in my home without my permision.

Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
The right of the family to be safe from other members of the family going through their things and stealing them. Also the right of the parent to search and seize with probable cause (probably cause ex.: past history of thefts).

Fifth Amendment – due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain.
No parent shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime or even slight, that was actually committed by birth family. In other words, this mom didn't do it and I'm sick of being punished for it.

Sixth Amendment – Rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel
In all "criminal prosecutions," the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy FAIR Club assignment, by a calm, regulated parent with the child's best interest in mind.

Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved. I choose to interpret this as, for serious "crimes," I will ask the opinion of other moms of RADS and other knowledgeable people before Hubby and I render the verdict.

Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (not to be determined by the accused). I will aim for logical consequences wherever possible.

Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
Wherever possible we, the parents, will try to protect the rights of the child, even from themselves. This includes their right to be happy, healthy citizens. We are aware that sometimes the child will be unable and unwilling to achieve this, but we will help them fight against their demons and issues to help them attain this.

Tenth Amendment – Powers of States and people.
The powers not delegated to the parents by the Fair Club, nor prohibited by it to the individual family members' needs, are reserved to the family members respectively for as long as they are acting in a manner that doesn't encroach on their own best interest or other family member's rights . In other words as long as you're following the rules and not infringing on other's lives then you can do what you want... unless we, your parents, think it's not what's best for you.

Actual Amendments

First Amendment – Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Second Amendment – Militia (United States), Sovereign state, Right to keep and bear arms. A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. [5]
Third Amendment – Protection from quartering of troops. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Fifth Amendment – due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain. No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness
against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Tenth Amendment – Powers of States and people. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is Bob Bipolar?

Bob has a genetic predisposition for bipolar disorder through me. Looking back, I realize that I started showing signs of depression at age 13, but I know that it is hindsight that allows me to say this definitively. If I didn't have bipolar now, then all that depression in my youth would be attributed to normal teenage moodiness in a kid with issues.

One reason it took so long for me to be diagnosed is that I don't really show many signs of mania. Normally this would mean I just have depression, but with my strong family history of bipolar they call it bipolar with hypomania. What signs of mania I do have, I've always assumed were normal. Most of my friends would occasionally stay up all night to cram for exams or work on a project, or get psyched up to go clubbing when they were tired. What I didn't realize was that they were using caffeine or drugs, not chewing a piece of gum.

I was tested in college for bipolar/depression, and was told that I didn't have it. I was told instead that it was a "learned behavior" from growing up with a mom with bipolar disorder.

I've learned through reading The Bipolar Child that bipolar in children is often different than that of adults. That's why we didn't recognize the symptoms in Kitty and Bear. In kids, bipolar can be much more rapid cycling (between mania and depression). Mania can also be seen as irritability and anger besides just the elevated mood and hyperness that seems to symbolize classic mania.

So lately 14 year old Bob has been showing some signs. Super silliness for several hours, crankiness for no reason, mood swings, depression and sleep issues... but all could also be explained by the fact that she's a young teenage girl.

I decided it was time to talk to her about it. I mentioned that her behavior could be totally normal, but I needed her to watch for the more scary symptoms like suicidal impulses or feelings. She assured me that she didn't feel suicidal.

A week later she told me that she was getting worried that she did have bipolar disorder. I wasn't seeing signs that it was interfering in her life, and it's not like there's a blood test she can take to show she has it, so I told her we'd keep monitoring the situation. I again asked if she was suicidal and she said no. I sought reassurance that she'd come to me if she was, but she couldn't promise me that. Whoa!

We talked about how she needed to talk to me if she felt depressed, especially suicidal. If she felt she couldn't do that then she needed to talk to somebody. She mentioned her friends, but she's smart enough to understand and acknowledge why that isn't really an option. We talked about the fact that if you have suicidal impulses then driving a car could be really dangerous. She's not driving yet, but she's closer.

We don't have health insurance and I know most doctors probably wouldn't do anything for a moody teenager anyway, so I'm going to just continue to keep an eye on this. Hopefully nothing will come of it all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nip It In the Bud

This is the second letter I've sent to Bear's school this semester (they only started back 7 days ago). I sent it after having received a note from Bear's teacher saying 3 students skipped class on Tuesday, and 2 of them admitted it (wanna bet Bear wasn't the one who admitted it?!). Bear only has 2 classes a day at his regular school (the rest are at his special school).

Maybe they'll respond to this one since they didn't respond to the first.

In the last 7 days of school Bear has had 4 unexcused absences and 2 tardies. Since he only takes 2 classes a day at {regular school} this means out of 7 days of school he only has 14 classes and he was tardy or skipped 6 of them. That's almost 1/2!

One of my daughters heard today that he was driving “his” car to McDonalds. Obviously this is just a rumor at this point, but since he doesn’t have a car or a license, I’m worried where this rumor came from and if he was absent today...

I know he received a referral for skipping Tuesday, can you tell me what his consequences will be?

He has 2 unexcused absences and a tardy in 4th period, if I remember his BIP correctly that means he has a consequence? I know this is a new teacher. Is she aware of this?

Bear appears to think this is all no big deal. I’d like to nip this in the bud if at all possible. We do not want a repeat of last year. What are the next steps?


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Free and Appropriate Public Education - NOT!

Thanks to the "No Child Left Behind Act", our children supposedly have a much better education, but as FosterAbba puts it in this post, that just isn't true for any of the kids in the US as compared to other countries. And the kids at the extremes are really not getting what they need.

We're just starting to look into a charter school for our really bright 14 year old daughter, Bob, and a different charter school for Kitty who in addition to being "emotionally disturbed," has ADHD and learning disabilities. Bear doesn't qualify for charter school because of his behavior issues.

We went the private school route, but couldn't afford it any more, and discovered that for Bob, she could finish school faster, but it wasn't a really great education, and for Kitty even though the school specialized in working with kids with attention issues, and they really helped her with finding and filling a lot of the gaps in her education, it was more focused on kids with Aspergers and they had no way to accommodate her learning disabilities.

Bear attends a special school for extremely emotionally disturbed youth, but he almost doesn't qualify because he's fairly stable... as long as he's in the rigidly structured, highly supervised special school. But it's aimed at kids who are unstable and so barely teaches the basics - so he's not really learning much... but at least he's not "left behind!" (that was very sarcastic by the way!).

We've discovered that "No Child Left Behind" doesn't mean that our son is being taught so he can catch up to his peers. It means he is given grades he doesn't deserve so he won't fail. When he fails the standardized testing (which they've modified to make easier), then they might give him a Summer school course, but it's not designed for emotionally disturbed kids (his behavior got him kicked out one Summer in the first week), or kids with learning issues (so it's too over his head and they tell us don't bother), or worse, he passed the class so he's told the Summer course is not for credit so he refuses to participate... and then they give him the test again (which he fails again of course because nothing's changed), and mark it as having "done all they can do"... and they pass him anyway. Every year. With no going back and fixing what

Both of my adopted children are in special ed classes (although no one calls them that anymore - they are "Applied" classes) and will graduate with regular high school diplomas, but we've been told that the diplomas don't mean they know what other high school graduates know. If they want a real high school education (especially if they want to go to a 4 year college) then they have to go to community/ junior college and take their core classes again. So much for a "free and appropriate public education."

We didn't discover this until the end of last school year, and we decided to use it in our conversations with Kitty about her unrealistic goal of going to Med. school. Her solution? Get back into regular ed classes.

Applied classes are small, usually 6 to 8 students. They are technically on grade level, but the kids are getting "core material." That means they get the same general concepts as regular ed, but not the details. So they learn that we have a solar system made up of planets, and they might learn the difference between planet and moons, but they would definitely not be learning about the atmosphere, what comets and Saturn's rings are made of, or why there is a debate about Pluto. (This is just an example by the way, I have no idea what they're really being taught about the Solar System - I just know that there are some concepts that as high school students I can't believe they've never heard of).

Kids are in Applied classes for a wide variety of reasons. So the teachers have to accommodate a lot of different things to get each child an appropriate education, and of course it still is focused toward bringing up the child who is farthest behind while the ones who "get it" wait. Kitty is bored a lot, and could probably attend regular ed classes with some accommodations for her learning disabilities, except for the fact that she is emotionally disturbed. She is easily upset, and when she is stressed, her skills drop to a much lower level (she's in 9th grade and we usually hear 2nd grade level under stress). Lots of students, drama, and chaos (such as you might find in a regular ed class of 35+ high school students) upsets and stresses out Kitty.

The problem is, that Kitty only sees that she's occasionally bored and wants to be in regular ed. She doesn't understand/ believe that she needs the Applied classes - and we're having the same problem with the school. They see a well-regulated, sweet child, because she saves all the rages and trauma for home. The few struggles they see they think of as normal, because for example, "normal" kids have some difficulty with getting homework done and turned in, but it's for totally different reasons, and the school doesn't get that.

The school doesn't think she can go to Med. school either, but they think she can do something in the "health field." The problem is that Kitty doesn't want to be a surgeon because she likes the field, but because it pays extremely well. She's not going to be happy with being a nurse or a med tech. It's an "all or nothing" thing, and by not being realistic with her, they are allowing her to live in her little world of delusion and we're going to end up with another child with unrealistic dreams and no real world job skills.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Financial Planning for the Adopted Child

We went to a meeting with a financial planner last night with a ton of good information about money, savings, and sending your adopted child to college. Quite a bit of it wasn't applicable to us, but I wanted to share.

The biggest and most significant thing for us was information about the Federal Adoption Tax Credit.

  • If you adopt a child with special needs from foster care (if you get adoption assistance you can assume you qualify),

  • you automatically qualify for the maximum amount of the tax credit (for 2010 it's $13,170 per child!)

  • without having to prove actual adoption expenses (if you adopt internationally you qualify too, but it only covers actual adoption expenses which you have to prove).

  • If you didn't apply for this credit the year you finalized your adoption it's a good idea to file an amendment.

  • Until 2010 this was only available as a credit for federal income tax, which rolled over every year until it was gone,

  • as of 2010 you have the option of getting a REFUND if you still have credit after all your taxes are paid.

This is huge for us because even though we adopted Bear and Kitty in 2008, we didn't have any significant income for 2008 or 2009. While Hubby had an income for 2010, we should still have a substantial credit.

Sending a child adopted from foster care to college or technical school:

A big focus of this meeting was the fact that most children adopted from Texas foster care are eligible for FREE tuition and fees for an unlimited number of years of public college (provided they work with CPS to obtain a waiver form and enroll before age 25 - they don't even have to attend consecutively - they can go to grad school when they're 50!). Of course we aren't eligible for this because we didn't adopt from TX. *sigh*

If your child was in foster care on or after the 13th birthday, he or she can apply for financial aid as an independent student (meaning parents' income or assets won't count when applying for federal aid). This applies to Bear (adopted the day before his 15th birthday), but unfortunately not for Kitty since we adopted her 2 weeks before she turned 13 (I'd heard of this law, but couldn't find it and we'd delayed her adoption so long it didn't make sense to delay it for 2 more weeks - the law officially came into effect the following year).

If your child was 16 or older (unfortunately neither of mine) when adopted from foster care they are eligible for up to $5,000 in annual reimbursements or direct payments to vendors on child's behalf. This can be used for tuition, room and board, books, computer, transportation, child care, tutoring and some other expenses. Can be received up to age 23.

If your child was 16 or older when adopted and has some form of adoption assistance agreement then adoption assistance and Medicaid extends until the child is 21 (instead of stopping at 18 or 19) - as long as they are regularly attending college.

Good Ways to Pay for Your Kid's College

You need to apply annually for financial aid using the FAFSA form. This is how you document your income and assets and your child's income and assets. It's free to file.

Things have changed since my parents helped me go through college. One of the biggest things that has changed is:

It's not necessarily a good idea to put money (savings bonds, trust funds, savings accounts) in your child's name because:
  • It counts against them on the FAFSA form. If you had $10K in your child's name, they might be required to pay about $2K of it towards college tuition, whereas the same amount in your name would only count for less than $600 (especially if they qualify for independent student).

  • Your child has no obligations to use it for college. They could buy a car or Xbox games.

  • If you need it to say, save your house, the child doesn't have to give it back.
According to the financial adviser, the best thing to invest college money in was a 529 College Saving Plan. One of the biggest advantages I saw was that you could change the beneficiary so if you had a child who decided not to go to college, or there was money left, then you could transfer it to another child.

If y'all want more info let me know.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"You're Parannoying Me"

Bear doesn't like to be in the same room as other people. Not when he's getting dinner (we tend to serve our plates from the stove) - he'd rather wait until everyone's done. And especially not when he's doing chores. It's hard to find time to talk to him because I can't be cooking while he's washing dishes or chat with him while he's working on something.

Of course he doesn't seek me out very often. He talks best when there is something else to focus on like driving in the car or going on walks. Doing chores near each other would be good too, but he apparently can't handle that.

Today he was in a bad mood. No apparent reason, just that it was morning I guess. I was making lunch and he was sweeping the floor. When he needed to sweep where I was standing I obligingly moved, but that was still a problem apparently. As he mumbled that this was why he hated doing chores when people were in the kitchen (it's hard to find a time when people aren't in the kitchen by the way as this is a 6 person house with teens and the only phone the kids can use is there too, so there's always someone in there), I asked him what the problem was, since I'd moved when he needed me to.

He said, "You're parannoying me." Apparently having someone in the room makes him feel paranoid - which I knew, but I've never heard it phrased that way.

Well off to parannoy him some more since he's doing dishes now and I need to make lunch.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reader stats - Thanks y'all!!

I haven't looked at my stats in awhile, and when I did, it only showed me key word searches for this year (all 6 days of it), but I did notice one of my most popular posts was a post a year and a half ago with a short statement about the fact that my bras were too small because I'd gained too much weight and it had caused difficulty breathing. No pictures! I decided to delete the post - I'm sure you guys will forgive me. Will be interested to see how that effects my overall stats.

Thanks for reading guys!! I'm going to try to keep y'all posted, but between my "internet diet" and the fact that we finally decided to close our business so I need to get a "real job," I might not have as much time to post once I finally start back to work again.

Gotta start job hunting!

Bear's at it again

The cherry on the top of my no good, horrible day:

This is the e-mail I'm sending to Bear's schools today:

As you may or may not know, I got a call from the [regular] high school today saying Bear was missing. Apparently he did not agree with the ARD (IEP team meeting) team’s decision to enroll him in the Reading 180 class (he had left the ARD early to finish a test so hadn’t been part of that decision I think). Bear apparently went to complain to the counselor and then never made it back to class. [The staff searched everywhere for him]. Luckily, he did manage to make it onto the bus home.

Bear has told me that [the principal of the special school, Mr. C]. says, he “passed the TAKS [state standardized testing] ELA [English/Language Arts] test and therefore doesn’t need this class.” (I’m sure this is not an accurate quote on Bear’s part and
that he is incorrect when he also stated that Mr. C thinks he should be out of the class). FYI, Bear did NOT pass the TAKS test, although it was a close thing. We did determine that the primary issue causing him to fail was the writing, not the reading, but that wasn’t an option for a class and reading is.

I still think this is a good choice for Bear, and he could really use the extra help. By the way, he is threatening to never go to the reading class. I’m sure y’all will reinforce with Bear that skipping class is not a valid solution, and that there will be consequences for his actions today and if it happens again. I sincerely hope we can help Bear understand that this class is beneficial for him, even though he does not “need the credit.”

If you guys at [the regular high school] could pass on a message please, I really want to thank John with [the school's behavior program] for letting me know that Bear was missing, as this has been a big issue in the past and I know it’s hard for you guys. And I also want to thank Cynthia with the AP[Assistant Principal]’s office for going out and making sure that Bear got on his bus and calling me back to let me know he did. Last time he missed his bus the school had already closed for the day by the time we’d realized he was missing, and it saved me a lot of worry and driving to know where he was.

I really appreciate you guys keeping me posted! Thanks again,

Mary Themom (cell ###-####)
" Life isn't about how to
survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain."

There will be no consequences for this at home since this was a "school thing," but of course it doesn't make me feel all warm and trusting inside either.