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

Friday, May 25, 2012

Where did your blog go?

I discovered that Bear had found my blog, and assumed it was because of the Facebook changes caused by the new timeline.  In reading my blog stats to try to discover how much he'd actually read of the blog, I found that my new anonymous commenter was from the town where Biomom is currently living.  The person had been reading for a few days and I assumed had told Bear about the contents of the blog.  

I freaked out and shut down the blog immediately and completely (I know it said I went private, but I didn't), because over the years I've said some things about Biomom and Bear, especially when I was upset, that I knew would upset them.   I couldn't stop shaking.

I decided to confront Biomom in the hopes that she would talk to Bear and help him understand, what I couldn't seem to - the adoption subsidy, and why I wouldn't just hand it over to him.  Plus I wanted to do some damage control.  While Biomom has no direct impact on my life, she is still in contact with Bear.  I hoped if I could reason with her she would help Bear understand.

To clarify, while none of my children read my blog (until now), they have always known I write one and that it is about them.  Bear hates ANYONE talking about him, and the blog has always bugged him.  Being confronted with it, means he had to see things he wanted to pretend didn't happen.  I honestly don't believe he read a lot of the blog (he's not a reader), but someone could have told him about the contents, and the truth is it didn't matter what was actually written, just knowing I was talking about him would have set him off.

I chose to write my blog for several reasons.  
  1. As a place to vent and get support from other moms who "get it."  When I first started blogging I didn't have access to this amazing community, and the few people I knew who'd adopted, even those who'd adopted RAD kids, had adopted younger children.  
  2. To share and provide support and education for other trauma mamas.  Over the years I've had to acquire a crash course in RAD and trauma and I didn't want others to have to go through what I did and make the same mistakes I made.
  3. To provide information to those in my kids' lives that needed it (like Grandma), without having to repeat myself or chance having the kids over hear it.
  4. To maintain a record of events.
I seriously considered closing my blog permanently after these events.  It had become harder and harder to find the time to blog, and as I was becoming more despondent and hopeless over the fact that Kitty was getting worse and worse and we had fewer and fewer options, I was blogging from a more and more negative place, and that felt awful.  I chose not to stop because:
  1. While I do have other places to vent, most of them don't know the "back story," and therefore most of their support is sending hugs and prayers (which are greatly appreciated!), but less practical.  This group has helped me be a better advocate and therapeutic parent for my children - through support, advice, and even helping me write documents.  It also helps to get validation from people who know I'm not a saint or evil personified.  In the weeks since I've closed down the blog I've realized how much I need and care about all of you!
  2. I get a lot of positive feedback and personal satisfaction out of my role as educator and advocate.  It is extremely helpful to be able to say, "Oh, I learned a lot about that at Katharine Leslie's seminar or here's how we handle discipline at our house - here's a link."  I can't imagine just throwing all those resources away.  When you don't get a lot of positive feedback from your kids, it helps to get it from somewhere!
  3. It helps me maintain my link to this community and it's resources.
So I've decided to remove the personal photos, and continue.


The following is the letter I wrote to biomom after discovering the anonymous commenter came from her town.  I want to thank all the friends who read my blog (whose e-mail I had) who helped me compose it.  It went through a LOT of revisions.  Thank you!!!  Thank you!!!

Dear Biomom, At first I was upset that Facebook timeline changed my privacy settings allowing everyone to see my private Facebook page and my blog, especially since it upset Bear.  Now I believe God had a hand in this, and I hope it was because in some way God thought you could help the kids.
My blog is a private place for parents like me, dealing with very challenging mentally ill, traumatized teens, needing a safe place to vent feelings of frustration, hurt and anger.  I don’t blog about the more extreme and private of my kid’s behaviors, but I try to be as open as possible to better help other parents. 
As you know, Bear has lots of trouble with trust and he doesn’t like that others know about his problems, because it makes it harder for him to pretend his issues don’t exist.  Of course that means he can’t get any help with his issues. 
At Bear’s request, I’ve always kept my e-mails to you short, and without much info.  Now that’s changed.  I feel I can share my concerns with you so you can better help and support him. Bear has lots of serious problems that will make his life hard for him.  Some you know about, like the Bipolar disorder, others have been diagnosed over the years.  His current diagnoses are: 

  • RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) – which means he has severe issues with trust, especially of parents, and relationships.
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) – this means that he frequently feels as though he is in the middle of a traumatic event, even though thought the abuse/traumatic event is long over.  This has improved over the years.
  • Bipolar Disorder – causes him to be aggressive, violent and extremely moody.  Can be controlled by medication, but he’s stopped all meds at this point.  The psychiatrist says that as the meds leave his body and he cycles, he will become psychotic within 6 months of stopping meds (he stopped mid-March).
  •  Attention Deficit Disorder – Difficulty with focus and impulse control.
  • Cerebral Dysrhythmia – fancy name for brain injuries.  There’s no way to know if this was something he was born with or if it happened later.  It causes problem with memory, reasoning, and relationships.  Bear generally does well with tasks, unless he gets emotionally stressed or upset, then his abilities (decision making, impulse control, reaction times) drop a whole lot.  This is another reason we are VERY concerned about him driving.
  •  Borderline IQ – Bear’s IQ is only 79.  Luckily, his strong verbal and speaking skills help him out, but it’s also the reason people have a hard time realizing he needs help and he’s not always getting what he needs to make good decisions.
  •  Addictive Brain – Bear is VERY prone to addictions.  He has already had some issues with drugs and alcohol, and since he’s moved out, I know he’s started drinking and worse.
Like all kids, Bear doesn’t understand that a lot of the things parents do is in their best interest (like making sure the school and courts give him consequences so that he learns NOW that there are consequences to his actions – instead of later when those consequences will be much worse).  
Bear has made some decisions recently that are going to make his life even harder (stopping taking his medication, moving out, drinking, skipping school…).  He will need all of us in his life providing support, for a long, long time.  We have made that commitment to be there for him.  His recent ridiculous claims that we only adopted him for the subsidy are because that is what his brain is afraid is true.  It will take time for him to believe that we are here for him for the rest of his life.  I will be glad when the subsidy ends so he can finally start to see that. 
You {as the anonymous commenter} asked several good questions on my blog and I’d like to respond to them. “Transfer the funds to Bear. It's techinical "his" money, it's only 2 more months worth and makes the problem GO AWAY.” 
  1. The law says subsidies are “for the support and maintenance of the child and his home.”
  1. Even though Bear has chosen not to live at home right now, we are still providing this support.  Plus, over the years it’s cost thousands to repair and replace all the damage Bear's done.  Bear knows the state is satisfied that we are still meeting our end of the agreement (and they have told him he should “man up and go home.”).  {Bear contacted the state of Nebraska and tried to have the subsidy stopped - which would have stopped his Medicaid and considering he's broken his hand twice in the last 6 weeks...} 
  1. Bear needs family not money. 
  2. He cannot handle his own money and isn’t ready to be independent.  He is spending money on alcohol and tobacco, not food (he lost almost 20lbs in the first month he was gone) and shelter (he’s moving from home to home and often sleeping outside).  He’s not sleeping, is skipping school, and I know there are times he goes days without a shower wearing the same filthy clothes.   It hurts me to watch this downward spiral he's on, and I won’t make it worse by giving him a large amount of money. I'm hoping he can make it to graduation, before he completely falls apart (of course I wish he wouldn't fail at all, but there's not much I can do about that).
  1. The subsidy helps me stay at home. 
  2. Both kids’ severe issues and need for strict supervision for safety reasons means it would be impossible to find a job that would allow me to leave for all the doctor/therapy appointments, meetings, court dates, kids home sick, frequent trips to the hospital, be there when they get home from school...   My husband has had to take a pay cut in order to get health care benefits to try to get Kitty the care that she desperately needs that isn’t covered by Medicaid.
  1. If Bear had been able to stop the subsidy, he would have lost his medical coverage!
  2.  He may not be taking his expensive meds (for now), but in the last 6 weeks he’s had two broken bones requiring trips to the ER/hospital, plus follow up appointments with specialists, and this type of injury is going to happen more and more frequently. 
  1. I know he thinks he’s “fine” without his meds, but you haven’t seen him lately.  He looks bad, and he’s going to get worse.  If you or he were considering having him come live with you after high school graduation, I strongly recommend you reconsider.  He needs to be able to get back on his meds when he hits rock bottom (which he will) and in the meantime he’s going to be dangerous.  This is one reason we haven’t allowed him to get a driver’s license (not that that has always stopped him from driving – I don’t know if you read about him “borrowing” a girl’s car and wrecking it while skipping school with a group of friends).

“Kitty isn't hitting or threatening to hit you, doesn't appear to be a danger to herself at this particular moment, as is being a sulky uncooperative teenager. (A sulky uncooperative teen with mental illness, yes, but one who does not be in immediate danger of hurting herself or others).
Why why why is this causing you to think disruption? After so many years? She sounds annoying NOT dangerous?? “

“She won't change because you won't change. (her words)
So why don't you? You are just as stubborn and convinced that your methods are the right ones. Maybe the are the right ones for a typical child but Kitty clearly isn't typical.
Sounds to me like she hit the nail on the head.”
I want to address these two comments together, because they are related.
Kitty is not physically violent right now (although I can feel this coming again soon – if/when she gets upset enough to forget that it means jail), but she is becoming more and more irrational and unstable.  She was hospitalized 8 times before this most recent stay in residential psychiatric treatment.  The good news is we finally got her medications changed, and she is no longer suicidal, but the bad news is that means she can’t go to a psych hospital when she’s losing control and overwhelmed.

Kitty has similar diagnoses to Bear, but hers are more severe. 

·         RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) – Unlike Bear, Kitty’s RAD was healing, but while she was in residential treatment, she lost a lot of the strong emotional attachment to me that took years of therapy to build.  It was one of her greatest strengths that she needed to help her get through this, and it has made it even harder for her to be in the home.   
·         C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) – This causes Kitty to ALWAYS feels like her world is in traumatic chaos, even though it’s not.  She is always on the edge of an adrenaline-pumping fight, heart pounding, fight or flight reaction, as though every situation is life or death.  This is why her reactions are so irrational and extreme. 
·         Bipolar Disorder – This is pretty much controlled by her medications.
·         ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity) – She can’t take medication for this until she is stable, so she has great difficulty with focus and impulse control.
·         Cerebral Dysrhythmia – fancy name for brain injuries.  She also has problem with memory, reasoning/ processing, and relationships. 
·         Learning Disabilities  - particularly in the area of reading, but struggles in math too.
·         Borderline IQ – Kitty's IQ is considered low average, BUT if she gets overwhelmed or feels the room is noisy or chaotic then her IQ drops to well below what is considered Mentally Retarded (56).  She can’t reason or function.  Because of the C-PTSD, and possible Auditory Processing Disorder, this is much of the time.
·         Auditory Processing Disorder – Medicaid won’t pay for testing, but this is suspected by her neuropsychologist.  It causes difficulty understanding things she hears and making connections.  Unfortunately she learns best by listening (instead of reading or doing) so this could explain a lot.
·         Emerging Borderline Personality Disorder – Kitty sees the world in black and white – no shades of grey.  If her sister is pretty, then we think she’s ugly.  If we love her brother, then we hate her.  If her sister does well in school, then she’s stupid.  This all or nothing thinking leaves no room for two sisters to be friends.  One has to be better!  She cannot see that parents can love all of their children equally.  She cannot believe that we treat all our children differently based on what they NEED, not how much we love them.   She cannot believe that we love her BECAUSE of her differences, not in spite of them. 
·         Emotionally Delayed (approximately age 6).  Kitty reacts emotionally the way a 6 year old would to most situations.  I don’t know if you noticed this at our meeting.  She is not a mature 17yo who is separating emotionally from her parents and learning to take care of her needs independently.  She still needs help controlling her emotions, and support and help with things like breaking down tasks so they aren’t overwhelming. 

I was so happy to finally get Kitty into a residential treatment center that specializes in treating trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder,  but when she got there, they found she was too young emotionally (6 years old) and the combination of low IQ, immaturity, reasoning/ processing and memory issues, severe emotional issues, and inability to cope with her trauma issues… meant that Kitty could not work their program (which includes DBT therapy and trauma work).   This is the ONLY therapy that is known to help with her issues!  The Center was my last best hope.   Now that they are no longer an option I’ve lost that hope and now I’m stuck.  I don’t know where to go from here.  

Kitty’s therapy sessions (and any time she’s not in public) are full of irrational ranting and venting that she is unable and unwilling to work through.  She won’t/ can’t even use the calming techniques she’s learned.  Kitty can’t see that she is unable to handle stress and is often overwhelmed.  She can’t see that she often contradicts herself and is stuck.  She can’t see that the reason I’m trying to make her world small right now is so we can try to get her stable.  She knows she’s being treated differently as we try to help cope, but she doesn’t really understand why… so she’s blaming me. 

Kitty’s demand that I “change” isn’t rational.  She wants me to give her the freedoms and privileges of a teenager, which even she knows she can’t really handle.  It’s like a kid wanting candy. Parents understand this – candy is yummy, and we’ll give it to them, within reason, but if they are allergic to it, or diabetic, or they are eating candy instead of healthy food… we’re going to limit or eliminate candy for them.  That doesn’t mean the kid is going to like it, and younger kids (which emotionally Kitty is) are going to be mad at the person keeping them from it.  But we do what we think is best for our child… even if we’re wrong sometimes.  Me changing my mind and giving her “candy,” or letting her do whatever she wants, won’t fix what’s wrong, and it could make things a lot worse.

Yes, sometimes Kitty can handle some of the freedoms and privileges of being a teen, but most of the time it is too overwhelming for her.  I don’t always know what all happened to her that day, so I can’t always predict what will overwhelm or trigger her.  Watching this movie, going to that party, or visiting her birth family might not trigger a meltdown this time… but what if it does?  We have no safety net.  No back-up plan.  If she” loses it,” we may never get her back to a stable place again.  That may sound extreme, but that doesn’t make it less true or less scary.

It may be years, if ever, before she’s ready/ able to work on her trauma issues, but they are a very big part of her life RIGHT NOW.  She needs to “change,” to be able to function in the real world.  I know she’s not really capable of that right now, but she doesn’t have a choice. 

So, I’m feeling hopeless and overwhelmed.  That was the place I was blogging from that day.  I don’t have an answer, or even a next step and that scares me.  HOWEVER, that blog post was me upset and venting in what I thought was still a safe, private place.  I will NOT dissolve our adoption of Kitty.  I didn’t even mean it when I wrote it.  I just don’t know what to do next.

If you read anything else in my blog that bothered or upset you, please let me know so we can talk about it.  I hope you value our relationship enough to understand that what I wrote was venting, which we all need to do sometimes, and that you and I can continue to have a positive relationship in the future.  I think our kids need that, and I know I do.  Sorry this letter is so long, but I’ve never been able to tell you a lot of this stuff before, and I wanted you to understand.

I love our kids.  I want what’s best for them, and I know you do too.  I’m not expecting anything from you.  I just wanted you to know why I’m making the decisions I’m making and maybe support me in helping Bear.

Thank you,

" Saying "no" is not being negative.  Negative is saying "yes" to things that are destroying you."


C Dawn's bucket said...

Good to see you back! You are Not Alone!

Carmen said...

Beautifully written. Sure, you've said negative things about people like bio-mom, but your care about her and your kids is very obvious. Venting helps you be a better mom and I'm glad that you feel safe enough to reopen this blog. You have an amazing heart, and I know its hard that your kids have a hard time seeing it.

Carmen said...

Beautifully written. Sure, you've said negative things about people like bio-mom, but your care about her and your kids is very obvious. Venting helps you be a better mom and I'm glad that you feel safe enough to reopen this blog. You have an amazing heart, and I know its hard that your kids have a hard time seeing it.

Carmen said...

Beautifully written. Sure, you've said negative things about people like bio-mom, but your care about her and your kids is very obvious. Venting helps you be a better mom and I'm glad that you feel safe enough to reopen this blog. You have an amazing heart, and I know its hard that your kids have a hard time seeing it.

Carmen said...

Beautifully written. Sure, you've said negative things about people like bio-mom, but your care about her and your kids is very obvious. Venting helps you be a better mom and I'm glad that you feel safe enough to reopen this blog. You have an amazing heart, and I know its hard that your kids have a hard time seeing it.

GB's Mom said...

Never alone {{{Hugs}}}

jckipka said...

Hi! Glad to hear you are ok. I was worried by your rather abrupt departure. I'm really not anyone (well, I am *someone*, but not anyone you know, or even have any of the same issues you have, just read your story for several years now). So I was happy to hear you are ok! Well, you are ok in relation to what is going on in your life anyway. Thanks for coming back! Jennifer

susie said...

welcome back!! I worried when you left and am so happy you're back!!!