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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

National Adoption Month

This is National Adoption Month, and tomorrow is the 5 year anniversary of Kitty and Bear coming to live with us. I want to be able to talk about how wonderful adopting has been for us, and maybe I can tomorrow, but for today...

I miss me.

My husband and biokids miss me. I'm so overwhelmed dealing with mentally ill, RAD teens that I don't sleep. I've gained 80 lbs. I can't work (no time what with appointments, paperwork and dealing with the kids...). I've been off and on meds (I hadn't needed since college) and therapy for my bipolar and now PTSD. I don't laugh. I don't sing around the house anymore. I don't have hobbies. I only talk to the few friends I have left and my family about the kids - our struggles with the legal system for Bear, getting residential treatment paid for, and trying to get the school to provide services for the kids...

I thought I knew what I was getting us into when we adopted special needs teens (After all, I used to be a social worker). I was wrong. For a long time I wanted to adopt again because I thought that now that we were experienced therapeutic parents (earned through painful, extensive effort), that we had a lot to offer. I have nothing left to give.

I thought we'd made a huge difference in the life of our 2 adopted children. Now I believe that the minute Bear (18) leaves our structured (feels like a prison) home, he will stop taking his meds that are the only reason he's not psychotic, and all the trauma and issues he never dealt with will come right back to the surface. He'll end up dead or in prison. I feel like we've just delayed the inevitable.

I thought that we'd made huge progress with Kitty (16), because it felt like her RAD was healing, and she has been stable for almost 2 years, but she just had her fourth hospitalization this year and the doctors say her meds are right, and the problems have to be because of the trauma. They recommend long-term residential treatment, but we can only possibly find funding for 90 days (if I can get funding at all). They've both been in residential treatment before and it didn't do any good.

I'm just so tired.



Kristina P. said...

Oh, Mary, I'm so sorry. I work with parents like you on a daily basis, and am always so amazed by your strength and love. You are one of the true heroes for our kids.

Mommy Merlot said...


Anonymous said...

Mary, I love your blog. We're about the same age, I used to be a foster parent, and I lived in RR for a few months (miss the doughnuts).

You've got to take better care of yourself. If you don't, you can't take care of your family. You are the heart of your family and if you are unhappy and stressed out, the whole family is as well.

And Bear's going to go his own way. He's a legal adult and what he does, he does. But you and your husband have had a immense and wonderful influence on him for the last few years.

Miz Kizzle said...

I'm sorry you're feeling so awful. There needs to be more support for adoptive/foster parents. Churches make a big show of advocating adoption but it's all theory and window dressing. When kids with FASD, trauma issues, etc., act out in Sunday school or church the parents are treated like pariahs for not "making" them behave.
Our government cares more about giving tax breaks to the ultra rich than it does for giving kids like Bear and Kitty the services they desperately need. We are terrible hypocrites in this country.

5boystokiss said...

Sweet Mary! I don't know you, just stumbled on your blog tonight. You amaze me. Your doing the right things for the right reasons. This to will pass. Your going to make it. Your kids, all of them, will be better because they know you.
With love

Lisa said...

Mary - I am where you are - here are a very things I've learned:

You ARE delaying the inevitable to some extent, however, you are also giving them much, much more than what they'd have had in their bio families where the adults would not have the ability to be advocating so hard and long for help. My dd left my home last spring at 18 and made all the wrong decisions. I was devastated, but I did see it coming so I wasn't as surprised as I could have been. I kept her safe and loved and met her needs from age 2-18. She hadn't been in juvie or had a juvenile record. She wasn't a drunk or drug addicted or a teen mom before she left us. We struggled with every RAD issue you can imagine the last 2 yrs she was here and she knew she could not fool us anymore-and wasn't getting away with anything. I'm sure our home felt like a prison (still does to me since her 17 yo brother is still here and has way...more serious issues than she did) and I have explained the need for all of these measures to her over and over (even since she left). Bottom line? Her mental illness and RAD and possible FASD all combined to create the person she IS, not the person I want her to be or the person she was born to be. I didn't do this to her, and I tried to "fix" her for 16 yrs.

I have not taken care of myself either, and now I'm paying for it. No medical insurance when hubby lost it at the small business he works at (18 yrs working there and they cut health ins - unbelievable) and I'm scheduled for a chest x-ray, ultrasound, ekg, mammogram, pre-op physical (to deal with my HIGH blood pressure prior to surgery), 3 rounds of bloodwork and finally surgery all in the next 10 days. Merry Christmas to me!! Maybe this will be my wake up call to take care of me and not take their behaviors so personally.

You DO have alot to offer, it's not your fault that you have to work so hard to convince others that you know what is best for Kitty or Bear. Parents should not have to jump thru these hoops to get help for their kids, and then be judged and rejected and criticized constantly for wanting the best for them. I used to want to take in more children as well. I have friends who desperately need a break (like me) and yet we can't seem to help one another because we're all so exhausted. When my son runs off next spring (when he turns 18 and I don't doubt for a second this will happen) I will be able to make a point to help others - give them respite, more time to spend with their easier kids, etc., but right now? Overwhelmed and out of energy would be the 2 most fitting words to describe my life.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is just a season in my life. Things will improve for all of us eventually. That is going to look different for each one of us, but we have to hold on to that hope.

You are an awesome Mom. Your kids are very lucky to have you advocating for them. It's just too bad it has to take such a toll on your health and other relationships - you need both of those things to function!

Johanna said...

I can only imagine your feelings because what I'm dealing with is so much more manageable than what you are dealing with, but don't discount all the years you gave your kids stability, love, an example of how functional people live and care for each other. As adults they may do everything you hoped you could help them avoid, but you made a difference while they were children and you tried to give them the tools successful adults use. I worry everyday about my difficult kiddo and what his adult life will be - but I keep reminding myself I can only control me. I can be the best mom and that's it. Only my kiddo can control himself. Sending love your way!

Anonymous said...

I guess I didn't read this until today because today my empathy is greater than usual. But I don't think that is necessarily a positive thing!

Compared to the innocent, "real-world" people, you know far more mothers who have had to choose between their own lives and those of their children. I feel like I am already facing that battle for the 3rd time ... Sometimes, though, I think that some brain cells have been working to move me toward acceptance. That, sad as it feels, my life really is for my kids. Chances are enormous that whatever kills me will be the result of the near-constant stress I've had for 23 years. And chances are pretty good that isn't going to be happening when I'm in my 80s. ... I find myself turning toward my youngest as my last hope, that somehow my life and efforts will make a real and true difference in someone's life.

I have been resisting true greiving for "me" for many years. I think, though, that if I could do it, I would be happier.

You have had more keep-going-energizer-bunny-fight-for-your-kids than I have ever done. Sometimes it is OK to "burn out", because then you work on resting and healing yourself.

Maybe we should get together to watch a funny musical and sing along with it : )

{{{ hugs }}}

p.s. my word today is "ductor". Is that someone who fixes things with duct tape?!