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, April 23, 2012

Why I don't go to church

I've always had an on again off again relationship with the church.  I was told once that the relationship with have with our father, is often related to the relationship with have with our Father.  I now know I have an attachment disorder, and it explains a lot to me about the difficulty I've had developing a trusting relationship with God.

When we adopted, we decided to go with a Christian adoption agency, so we started going to church (a requirement).  I liked it, but my husband is not into organized religion because of the hypocrisy he's seen in the members of the church (flipping people off as they're exiting the parking lot) and my kids (bio and adopted) hated our choice in church.  Plus, our son got himself kicked out of the youth group for aggressive/ intimidating behavior and burdening the other young teens with his issues.  (He went to residential psychiatric treatment soon after this).

I've always preferred to attend Sunday School for the support, instead of church which I found boring and disconnected (I found I could tolerate the contemporary service, but Hubby hated the music).  Hubby went wherever/whenever I drug him, when he wasn't teaching scuba.

As a former preschool director, a former social worker and mental health professional, and now the parent to 4 kids (2 bio with their own quirks and 2 special needs adopted teens) I felt I had a lot to contribute to conversations about parenting and yes, I did ask for prayers on occasion.

Hubby is a VERY private person so when he asked me to stop talking about our personal life, even just asking the class to pray for our family with no details added, I assumed that was why.  Since I'm an outspoken person and the whole reason I wanted to go to church was for support... I eventually stopped going.

Now, 2 years later, Hubby casually mentioned that privacy wasn't why he'd wanted me to stop talking about our family.  He said he saw class members rolling their eyes whenever I spoke.  Since people did this all the time to my bipolar mom who couldn't stop talking when she was manic, this is one of my biggest fears.

No one at our church really "gets it," although I thought there were many who were sympathetic.  Now I question that.  I don't think they were judging me, but they weren't valuing my input like I thought they were.

The kids still go to church with the grandparents (when they spend the night - which luckily for us is almost every weekend), but Hubby and I stay home.  I miss it, but what I want is more like I imagine Orlando to be.  I want to go where everybody knows my name, and they're always glad I came.  I want to be where people see our troubles are all the same, and I want people to give me Verbal Affirmation.


My very conservative sister and brother in law and my parents were having a discussion at the dinner table about Republicans and the fact that our government over-regulates everything.  They feel that people's churches and communities should provide the support people need instead of taxing the people and using that money to provide welfare and support programs.  They even feel that people shouldn't have to have a college education to provide medical, legal or any other services and it shouldn't be regulated by the government.

I soooo much wanted to jump into the conversation, and explain why church and community won't pay for my kids $10K a month residential treatment or hospitalization, and my 18 yo severely mentally ill son can't ask for the help he so desperately needs from a church or community he doesn't feel connected to and that he's constantly moving around?  That my niece who just had her baby taken by the state grew up in an environment that taught her that a baby was the answer to needing unconditional love?  That while a church in my community might be able to support my kids (not that they want to) if I'm advocating for them, but what about kids in poor rural communities with a large, needy, uneducated, mentally ill, addicted population?  How is the girl who is in residential treatment until she ages out of the system who has NO family or community, supposed to access these church and community services (you can't attend a local church when you're in residential treatment and she has no family)?

There are most definitely things we as a "community" can and should do to help, but there are some things I firmly believe we need help with organizing and yes, regulating.  I have many more things I could say on this subject, but it's 1am and I'm going to bed.

So lets see, religion, politics, mental illness... any sensitive subject I didn't address?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hand off

Took Bear to the orthopedist today for x-rays and a cast on his broken hand bone.  Apparently it's not a "boxer's fracture," although it is the same bone.  It's on the side of his hand just below his pinky.

Bear was wearing his splint from the ER, but freely admitted he took it off all the time.  When he found out he was going to have to be in a non-removable cast for  6 weeks, he flat refused.  The doctor (one we've never met before) was a little taken aback.  He asked if Bear wanted treatment at all, and was perfectly ready to walk out the door.  Bear's issues are not evident just by looking at him, or even talking to him for a few minutes. I instantly started placating Bear, talking about the bad things that could happen if he doesn't wear a cast, and trying to soothe his macho ego.

I managed to get him to allow them to put the cast on... but if he's still wearing it in a couple of days I'll be shocked.  He spent the whole time it was setting talking about how to get it off.  *sigh*

I was exhausted and frustrated by the time it was over.  I know it's not my problem, but it's hard watching someone self-destruct.


Kitty will be discharged from the residential treatment facility on Friday.  She was home this weekend on a 48 hour pass for her 17th birthday.  During the 3+ hour drive home from Metro City we talked quite a bit.  One thing we talked about was emotional age.  I used my developmentally delayed and my emotionally delayed nieces as examples.  She was surprised because no one had ever told her that she was considered emotionally delayed.  I know she didn't "get it" this time, but I know at least some of it will sink in as she hears it over and over.  I'm not telling her this to be cruel.  I need her to understand why she's treated differently from other kids her age.

On the way back to Metro City at the end of the pass, we started working on her discharge packet.  She has a lot of essays and paperwork to fill out.  Honestly the Center has told me they don't expect her to have enough insight to be able to complete it.  Still, she knows this is something that has to be done before she leaves though, and she expects to do it.

In going over the discharge paperwork it showed me just how far she's come, but how far she has to go too.  You can definitely tell that the lower stress level at the Center has given her the ability to handle things she would never have been able to handle before.  I only wish I could believe that this was a true change, and wasn't going to disappear the instant the stress of family and school comes back.

In the car it took a lot of work on both our parts for her to stay calm enough to work on the discharge paperwork.  Several times I tried to get her to put it aside when I could tell she was so overwhelmed she was close to losing it, but she was able to pull it together.  I did have to basically feed her the answers though.  She had some insights (parroted?), but she couldn't voice them and get them in writing.

Here's a letter I sent to her Center therapist and her attachment therapist when they asked me how we were doing:

Did you get a chance to review Kitty’s discharge paperwork?  It was a little confusing, because we weren’t sure what kind of "Goals" you were looking for (immediate/discharge, short-term, long-term).  She got pretty overwhelmed, and I did a lot of the work, but I think it was pretty accurate.  Can we get copies of this for her therapist?

To confirm, we’re picking her up Friday at 3pm from the Center and she has therapy with {attachment therapist} on Tuesday at 4:30pm.

I reviewed the DBT Diary card and I think we’d have to make a custom one that is a LOT simpler, but I agree she needs to continue to do this daily. Can I see a copy of one she’s filled out, and maybe one filled out by another child (identifying info removed of course).  I wish I could have gone to a DBT orientation class so I could help her more with this.  I’ve looked over the DBT manual you gave me, but I just don’t have time to really learn it.

You mentioned Kitty’s tendency to isolate {as an example of a trait to work for her diary card}.  This isn’t something we’ve seen a lot of at home, but I do think she’s been going to psych hospitals as a way to get respite from feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  This is one of the biggest issues I don’t feel we covered while she was at the Center, because it was something she didn’t really experience there (for her the Center is respite).

Kitty’s therapist is asking how she’s doing, and this is what I think is important.  Could you please add anything you’re seeing or that I missed?

I think we can expect a short honeymoon period, but nothing really deep has changed.  Here’s some things we’ve covered over the last few months:

1.       She is a people-pleasing perfectionist who can’t stand others seeing her as less than perfect and therefore can’t handle criticism of any kind. 

  •         She would “rather die” than let anyone see she’s less than perfect so she stuffs the emotions and takes them home.  
  •       She’s working on “standing up for herself”, primarily with her peers, but is still in early stages.  
  •        She and I have discussed using a mantra (would like to introduce tapping, but she’s pretty resistant).  I’m thinking something along the lines of, “Even though I’m not perfect, people still like me.”
2.       She can’t process if overwhelmed.  Her tolerance level for being overwhelmed is very low, especially when she is dealing with the stress of family and school. 

  •      What she can handle while at the Center is higher, but I fully expect that to change when she gets back to “real life.” 
  •        I do think she feels that because she can handle certain things at the Center, that she is entitled to these privileges and more.
3.       Clutter and the smell of garbage (from dishes especially) trigger meltdowns because they remind her of her childhood.  Biomom never cleaned and just bought them new clothes rather than do laundry.  Combine this with feeling criticized and overwhelmed by chores and you get a formula for meltdowns.
4.       She knows, and almost understands, that she’s emotionally delayed (between ages 6 and 10), but doesn’t have a really good grasp on what that means.  She does get that she is more emotional than others.
5.       She’s agreed to try to stay scheduled. This schedule will include stalking time in the backyard, journaling/ diary card, chores, exercise (yea, right!), and computer time.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gotta hand it to him

Bear called me Saturday evening about 7:30pm during Kitty's 17th birthday party.  We were out at my sister's house having pizza and cake and watching The Muppets.  He said he'd injured his hand again and wanted me to take him to the ER.  When I asked why he'd waited until so late to call me if he'd gotten the injury at 1am, he got defensive and just said at least it wasn't like last time when he'd waited almost a week to tell me.

This was the second time this week that Bear wanted to go to the hospital, and I have to admit I questioned whether this injury was any more real.  He'd called me earlier in the week wanting me to take him to the doctor for his "injured" back, but after talking to him, it turned out to be that he'd just strained a muscle or something when he was doing handstands in someone's yard.  I'd told him to alternate cold and heat... which he'll never do.  He tends toward psychosomatic injuries.

Poor Hubby had to leave the party (he'd only been there 20 minutes because he's teaching scuba this weekend) and meet Bear at the ER.  Bear demanded gas money for his friend who'd given him a ride there.  Hubby asked him why he didn't use the $10K he claims he has in the bank.  Bear told him that was his savings for a car, and started insisting that we should be giving him his adoption subsidy. Hubby tried to explain how subsidies work, but Bear wasn't wanting to hear it.  He drug the conversation on for hours and Hubby came home royally ticked off.

We heard several versions of how Bear injured his hand, but the most common version seems to be that he was at a party (drinking) and was playing "bouncer" (possibly physically restraining someone who'd been drinking and was going to drive).  Somehow he threw a punch and hit some concrete.  He fractured his right hand.

The ER started to put a splint on it, but Bear was honest and admitted he wouldn't wear it, so they put it in a cast.  Now he can't write, and is going to have great difficulty working. (He's lost all his "jobs" and is currently "self-employed" with another neighbor kid building fences.)  He's floating from home to home a little faster now.  His girlfriend's family has decided not to move to Hawaii so he has no real plan for after graduation.

He can't come home while he's off his meds, and it would take at least a month to get back on a therapeutic level.  He graduates high school at the end of May and turns 19 in July.

I don't know what's going to happen next.

Monday, April 9, 2012

E-mail to Bear's therapist

Bear's therapist asked a few weeks ago how Bear was doing:

To (finally) answer your question, Bear is scraping by.  He’s skipping a lot of school, but not to the extent that the school feels like holding him accountable.  He’s failing a class, but it’s general ed philosophy and he doesn’t need it to graduate.  The school apparently let him join the extra-curricular wrestling team anyway, and UIL rules do not apply.

He’s having fights with his girlfriend and doesn’t know how to handle them.  He’s been living with her married cousin mostly so I don’t know what will happen to his living situation.  The father of the boy, Mike, that Bear was living with, committed suicide just after Spring Break, and Bear hasn’t been staying with the family ever since.  The father was an alcoholic and committed suicide.  He and  Bear had had a falling out weeks prior to this, so whenever Mike went to stay with his dad,  Bear had been going to his Gf’s cousin’s house. 

Bear has also occasionally stayed in the home of a young teenage girl in the neighborhood (9th grade with a serious crush on him).  He apparently really gets along with her dad who is everything  Bear wants in a father (likes hunting, fishing, camping…).  They only have one working bathroom though, so  Bear  looks pretty ragged.  He’s asked to shower here, but when he left (after we were sure he wasn’t coming back right away), we started trying to repair the shower in the bathroom he used.  Currently there is a big hole in the wall (from years of water damage) so the bath is unusable.  We cannot allow him to use the Master Bath due to his stealing and other issues.

He did spend the night once, just after he’d shaved his head (*eww*). He claims he goes days staying up all night, and he does look pretty out of it.  He’s been camping a lot and is covered in bloody bug bites.  The weight loss appears to have slowed down (he lost about 20lbs).  He claims he’s just not hungry.

He says he’s not seeing any side effects of being off his meds, except that he’s “jittery.”  Honestly we don’t see him enough to see much difference, although he did snap at me once, which he hasn't done in awhile.  Most of the time he sits quietly and watches TV or listens to music when at the house or a doctor appointment.  He answers questions when asked, but is not volunteering much information.  He seems to only contact us when he needs a ride or a place to stay.  He’s eaten with the extended family a couple of times and brought his GF around one of those times.

Kitty is coming home for a 48 hour pass this weekend for her 17th birthday, and then will be home for good the following weekend.  I cannot allow him to spend the night while he is off his meds once Kitty is home.  We haven’t seen him enough to have a chance to make that clear.

He still thinks he’s moving to Hawaii with his girlfriend’s family after graduation so has made no other plans.  He found out Gary Job Corp is a closed campus during the week so has ruled it out as an option.

The school appears to have written him off, or they’re keeping me out of the loop.  Most likely the former.

I haven’t seen him in about a week.  He texted on Thursday to see “Wazzup” and told me he’s jury-rigged his phone to get it to work again, so I can get hold of him again if needed… maybe.

That’s pretty much all I know.  


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Letter to Bear's School

Dear {Bear's High School} team,

Trying one last time. 

Why do there continue to be no consequences for Bear’s excessive absences (20) and tardies (12) this semester?  My understanding is that according to his BIP {Behavior Intervention Plan} there should have been consequences long ago.  Also, he’s failing Philosophy (30 the 1st 6 weeks and 22 the next).  I realize he doesn’t need Philosophy to graduate, but now he claims he’s been allowed to join the wrestling team.  Even if this is a club, and therefore doesn’t fall under the UIL “No pass. No play,” rules, it still doesn’t make sense that he should be allowed to participate in a school sponsored program while having these issues.

I realize Bear is legally an adult, but we do have a Power of Attorney, and it is well documented that he’s not emotionally an adult.  He’s learned a lot in his years at  {Bear's High School}.  I’d like to quit reinforcing some of the more negative things that will have an adverse effect on any future jobs he might manage to get.

Were Bear’s teachers even notified that we need to be kept aware of any issues he may be developing as a result of his stopping his medications cold turkey over Spring Break?  This is vital to his well-being, especially as his impulsiveness and mood instability increase.  I’d like to try to keep him out of jail and prevent him from seriously injuring anyone.  FYI, I am fairly certain he still has no learner’s permit or driver’s license, so if he’s seen driving, I’d like to be notified (and if he can’t produce a license then the police should be notified as well).

I expect to hear soon how this issue is being resolved.

Thank you,


Bathroom Remodel -Design Dilemna

Bathroom Before
We have to redo the shower surround in the kid's bathroom (In case you don't remember, it has a big hole in it where Ods ripped off the soap dish so many times we couldn't replace it and then water damaged the drywall behind the tile.).

NOT my bathroom, but kinda what the walls look like
Currently the room has a grey with white veins "marble" linoleum in what pretends to be 4 inch squares with grey grout.  The walls are faux painted white marble with grey veins.  The counters are off white laminate with oak cabinets and the tub and toilet are white.

See the vertical seams?
1.  Use a white plastic surround - very cheap, but looks it too.
Problem:  The hardware store guy said not to use this option for a house worth more than $188K (weird amount right?  Our house is worth much more than this.).  But it's cheap, and we could always replace it later.  Two DIY types:
(a) Nicer white plastic surround that attaches straight to the studs ($250).  Problem:  we have a window over the tub and the drywall has to be put on after the surround is in place so we'd have to redo the 2-3 foot to the ceiling, including the window.
(b)  Cheaper surround ($59) that just attaches right to the drywall (of course we'd have to repair where the hole is located).  Problem:  Cheaper is right!  It looks really cruddy.

2.  Just redo the plain white 4" tiles ($875-2400).  It is just a kid bath and no one uses it but them, plus the shower curtain covers it all anyway.
Problem:  This is dating the room as it is a "90's style" of way of doing tile in bathrooms.  The house was built in 1995, but we don't have to advertise that.
transition between kitchen and main floor
See the blue diamond tiles?
Alternative (a):  Use the same cheap 4" white tiles, but put in a decorative strip (maybe a diamond shape tile of another color - as seen in the kitchen).

White tile - grey grout

Grey tile - white grout
Alternative (b):  Same 4"tile, but a different color tile or grout.

These would be 4"

Alternative (c):  Use a mix of 4" tiles.  I'm thinking a random mix of white and 2-4 shades of grey.  Shouldn't cost any more than alternative (a).

3.  Use 12-16" floor tiles ($ same as option 2, plus the difference in the cost of the tile- at least another $500).  This is the option recommended by the hardware store as being the most up to date alternative.

Problem:  Most of the bigger tile options are either neutral beiges (which I find boring) or darker tiles like slate.  I don't think either would go with the white tub and counters.  Plus, the added cost means the project will be delayed that much longer while we save up.
Dark can look dumb with white tub!
Slate is pretty, but with white tub?

Part of me thinks I should be able to do the tile work myself.  Another part of me wants to keep adding in other projects.  If we're redoing the tile on the bath then I'd love to throw in the tile in the kitchen (which is white with a blue diamond trim) and doesn't match the rest of the kitchen which is now this beige and sapphire vertical stripe.

No baby for my birthday

Quick note to catch y'all up.  Niece had court today.  Not sure about everything, but do know that parental rights were terminated on both teen parents.  The kids are being allowed to choose parents for the baby through a private adoption agency, BUT apparently the boy might be Native American (Oglala Sioux) so they have to contact the tribe and see if ICWA laws apply.

Since we're not Native American and it sounds like no matter what the baby will not remain with the biofamily (which was one of our main concerns), we're assuming there's less than a 1% chance the baby will come to us and we're OK with that.

Bob is disappointed.  Ponito doesn't care.  Haven't seen much of Hubby since he had a meeting until late tonight.

Got a call tonight from Bear who moved out 2 months ago. He wanted a place to spend the night. We still receive an adoption subsidy for him so I feel obligated to at least provide him with a bed for a few more months until he turns 19. He's off his meds, but seems fairly stable so far. Kitty is still in RTC so she can't be upset by this (or I'd say no, since he's not on his meds). I figured he was going to want to take a shower, but the only working shower is in my bedroom and he's not allowed in there.  Plus the other kids were cycling through.

I straightened up his room a little (I'd stopped working on it after finishing painting the walls, because the bathroom was a higher priority.  I hung some curtains and laid the clean sheets on the bed.  When he got here around 8:30pm, I fed him sandwiches (everyone else got homemade pizza, but there wasn't enough for guests).

He's shaved his head, and he knows that creeps me out (he looks like Voldemort). At least it gives me an excuse not to look at him.

It actually has been a lovely birthday.  Most of the day I spent watching TV and playing on Facebook with a few breaks to work on finishing the bathroom.  Eating the yummy homemade German Chocolate Cake that Ponito made for me! (I'll think about the fact that I now weigh 15lbs more than I even have in my life... tomorrow!).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not Home Yet and the Hunger Games review

It's about a 3 hour drive to Metro City which contains the Center where Kitty currently lives.  When we were only one hour away from the Center on our way to pick up Kitty and bring her home, we fially got the call from our funding source.  They had decided to approve her 3 week extension for "transition." 

We hadn't told Kitty it was an option she might be going home that weekend in case it didn't work out (or did work out, depending on how you look at it).  So she had no idea how closely we were scrutinizing her for whether or not she's ready to return home.  She's not.  She got pretty nasty with us.

I do agree with the Center therapists though who are saying that her attachment to the family, one of the major things she has going for her, is really starting to degenerate.  Apparently she has no problem with holding opposing beliefs at the same time either.  In group therapy it just depends on how she's feeling or the vibe of the group or something.  When new kids come in stating things like their family hates them for sending them to the Center, Kitty will say no, their family loves them and wants them at the Center to work on their issues.  Other days, Kitty will talk about us as though we're evil tyrants who revel in her misery, and are constantly looking for ways to put her down and reject her.

Last visit, before therapy the Center had talked to me about the classes the Center's school was proposing for Kitty since she'd finally finished her Credit Recovery.  Kitty had requested French, and they had a computer class she could take.  We'd discussed foreign language with Kitty's IEP team when she first started high school and it was decided with her memory, spelling, writing and learning disabilities that it would be best not to have her do a foreign language. 

Kitty wanted to know why I nixed French and rather than going into all the details, I just told her her original IEP team had decided she needed to focus on improving her language arts skills, rather than adding another language.  She seemed OK with it and we moved on to other topics.

This week, the therapist mentioned that in group therapy, Kitty had brought the language thing up, and all her peers thought we were overbearing, tyrants for not letting her try it.  She pointed out that she was making As and Bs in a "regular ed" setting at the Center (I doubt that this is really a typical regular ed setting) and went on a tirade about how we were judging her based on how she was when she first got here (over 5 years ago). 

Nothing we or the therapist said, could convince her that we weren't holding her back and judging her unfairly.  She kept bringing up how great her 8th grade year was and yet we, her evil parents, didn't give her full privileges and responsibilities of a typical 8th grader so she'd "given up" trying.  I need to go back and really look at what happened in 8th grade.  I know it was her "best" year with us, but I doubt it was so great we were able to treat her like a "normal kid."

Was so glad that the therapist decided not to allow a visit or pass after the session, because I was pretty shaken up.  Hubby and I had decided to celebrate our birthdays a little early by staying in a hotel in Metro City overnight with NO KIDS!  It was lovely and relaxing.

The next afternoon we picked up Kitty for a 3 hour pass.  We'd decided to take her to a movie, because we couldn't really think of anything better to do.  Unfortunately the movie she wanted to see (Mirror, Mirror) didn't start at a good time.  After much debate and trying to find other alternatives, I was overruled and we saw the Hunger Games. 

I HATE this movie!  I don't recommend it for kids of trauma or neurotypical kids either and I hate that I let Ponito see it.  I should have known better.  I'm still having issues with it.  If you like Lord of the Flies and movies where the survivors eat each other to survive, this is your kind of movie.  Kids killing kids on reality TV for the whole country to watch?  Watching 12 year olds die by having their throats slit or being stabbed with spears?  I don't get the appeal.  Kitty of course was "fine with it."  She already knew that adults were just out to manipulate kids and let them die.  Her world is already a war zone.

Bearly making it.

Wow!  So much has happened since I last posted here.  Including a big change in Blogger so this may not work.  I can't see half the screen and it won't let me insert pictures anymore.

Bear:  I saw Bear yesterday.  He had a doc appointment for a follow up on his broken pinky.  He wasn't wearing the splint so the finger tip fused to the wrong part of the bone, but it's not obvious and he still has use of the joint so except for possible arthritis as he ages, it's no big deal. 

He looks like he's gained back a little of the 20lbs he lost the first month he was gone, but all in the "love handle" area.  I'm guessing he's living on fast food.  He's still off all his meds, and says he's noticed he's "jittery" but hasn't seen any other effects.  He also spoke of staying up all night often, which I'm sure is also a negative effect.  He was covered in cuts and bug bites, and said he's been camping a lot. I'd given him some Ben*dryl last week because he was miserable from the bites which covered his whole body and were bleeding.

He asked me to cut his hair, but as he obviously hadn't showered in awhile I declined and offered him coupons at a nearby discount salon (only $7).  He texted me near bedtime last night asking if he could come over and use our shower, but the only working bathroom we have is the Master Bath (I'm still in the process of remodeling the kid bath he used to use) and he's not allowed in our bedroom or bath (stole from us too many times), plus the younger kids were using it.

Currently we have no way to contact Bear.  He got his phone and iPod wet and/or fried them.  He was going to get them fixed (the phone was brand new), but apparently he doesn't qualify.  I asked him why he didn't just buy a new one with the $10K he claims to have in the bank, but he's "saving that to buy his truck."  (He told a family friend that his girlfriend's cousin who he frequently lives with, but currently is staying nearer to home, gave him thier old truck when they got a new one... but I'm assuming that's BS).  Of course he still doesn't have a driver's permit or license.