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

Monday, June 9, 2014

Response to Comments

This was such a well thought out comment, I thought I'd respond here.

1) You've spent years blogging that Kitty is unable to cope with detailed rules or any sort of consequences, ie you couldn't tell her she was in FAIR Club when she was in the FAIR Club.
Has Kitty grown/changed in any way that suggests she will be able to hold up her end of the Boarder Agreement?
I regret to say that no, Kitty has not changed in any significant way that would make me believe that she can hold up her end of the Boarder Agreement, or even the House Rules.

Many years ago when I worked with 2-year-olds, I learned that there were a lot of things 2-year-olds couldn't do yet.  Empathy, for example, usually doesn't develop until age 3 or 4.  Which means sharing is NOT something of which they're really capable, but our job was to keep showing them, giving them the words ("It's John's turn first.  In two minutes it will be your turn."), and enforcing the rules ("Susie, you weren't able to share the truck, so it's going to go to time out now.").  In the meantime we did everything we could to keep things from being an issue (like make sure there were multiples of every toy).

The Boarder Agreement and House Rules are designed more to give us a starting place.  To cut short a few of the arguments, because the rules are in writing and we're just enforcing them, not applying random, arbitrary rules to punish her (her perception).  To give us clear cut rules and boundaries that we can consistently reinforce over and over, hoping that one day she'll be ready to hear and follow them, and that by then they'll be part of her vocabulary.

Are you planning to actually impose the stated consequences on her?
As I recently discussed with Kitty.  Yes, she has the right to make choices (like staying out all night and not telling us where she is and if she's safe), but there will be consequences (FAIR Club).  Will I enforce those consequences?  Mostly.  She needed help getting the written assignment done (and hasn't quite finished yet).  Most likely she will not be doing the assigned chores, but there will be consequences for that as well.  Maybe we'll find a way to let her know that not finishing her FAIR Club assignment is not OK.  Right now all she's doing is working and hiding/ sleeping in her room.  When she wants to do something, she does it after work on nights she's working late so we aren't taking her.  I will be reminding her of her chores.  Probably during therapy so she has time to process her anger.
What are YOU doing differently this time?
My plan for Kitty is to keep repeating, reinforcing and teaching the desired behaviors.  Yes, that is the definition of insanity, but I don't know that Kitty is actually capable of changing anything.  We haven't actually seen a lot of growth in this area in years, which makes me believe that this is where her brain damage limits her abilities.

2) Even the simplified boarder agreement is very prescriptive and likely labor-intensive to enforce. Are you really, truly willing to consequence:
- every single rude name and unhelpful attitude?
Ironically Kitty is pretty "compliant" when she's not in fight/ flight/ freeze mode.  The problem is that she's easily triggered into F/F/F.  Generally I don't bother consequencing her when she's in instinctual F/F/F mode.  She really doesn't have control of it.  I will call her on her language and attitude when she's not in F/F/F mode, but like I said, she's pretty compliant then - of course calling her on it triggers F/F/F...

- ensuring all friends-boyfriends-girlfriends of all kids leave the house at 8:30 PM every single time?

Yes, this is currently a house rule, and I have no problem kicking people out..

- confiscate every single item that gets left out?

Honestly, probably not.  If I find wrappings for something new - I usually announce that they need to return "my property" and they know that means clean up the trash/ wrapping or I will confiscate the item.  If she's nearby, I will tell her to pick up the item - over and over until it's done.  *sigh*  I've found that she never notices if I take stuff left out - except maybe her cell phone.

- "immoral" activities? Is kissing okay but "third base" not??

This hasn't really come up.  The kids don't like showing "affection" around me, because I give impromptu lessons in sex ed.  Which they find disgusting and embarrassing. lol!  Generally I make it pretty impossible to do much more than kiss at our house because they are pretty well supervised and no one of the opposite gender (or L/G/B/T) is allowed upstairs where all the bedrooms are located.

3) If Kitty's not capable of getting the diploma/degree needed for her dream job, what does she have to lose by learning a trade?

The only problem with Kitty learning a trade, is that Kitty doesn't want to learn a trade.  Her perception of reality means that she firmly believes that her dream job is an option and she won't do anything "boring."  We've worked with agencies that specialize in helping people with disabilities find employment, but they can only help her within her professed area of interest.  They can test her for jobs that match her skills and abilities, but they can't make her take them.

Seeing as she doesn't have a job, what does Kitty do all day?
 Kitty does have a job with Giant Amusement Center, originally found for her by the school vocational program at the beginning of last summer.  We'd wanted her to have a job that would keep her busy during the day all summer.  Instead she worked mostly weekend evenings.  The worst part it it's a totally inappropriate job for someone with her issues (It's loud, chaotic and noisy.  There are people who are drinking, smoking, and adults, teens and kids behaving in ways that trigger Kitty (breaking rules, out of control, screaming and cussing...).  The teens and young adults that form the staff are not much better.  She comes home stressed to the max and between the job and school she was on maximum overload and couldn't handle anything more (another reason she may not have progressed much in dealing with her issues this year).

The hours are awful  because the place is open until 3:30am.  Kitty is always wanting to work until the wee hours so she can become a manager, and could care less that it was contributing to her missing 2 to 3 days a week of school due to stress overload ("luckily" she's special ed so she graduated despite missing almost more school than she attended).  GAC was constantly scheduling her for hours that interfered with school and family activities.  She resented us for saying no to transporting her.

Most of the time, she during the day, she sleeps and spends time on her cell phone (usually spending her money on - junk food, 6 inch platform shoes, black hair dye...).

3) All you have ever written about high school guidance counselors suggests Kitty and Bear's were totally useless. 

Why are you choosing to abide by the useless guidance counselor's advice regarding JobCorps / AmeriCorps for Kitty?
Bear's counselor was only one of the people who told us about the JobCorp in our area.

4) Why is Kitty's irrational fear of kids diverted from juvie a valid reason for ruling out JC / AC?

We are not allowed to force an adult to live or work where they are not willing to go.

Is Kitty equally terrified of "special school" classmates who have been to juvie?

Absolutely.  Same with the public school students in her special classes (who tend to not only have special needs, but behavior issues as well).  That's one reason we got her to the special school.  At least there, the smaller groups and behavior specialists made her feel safer.

5) Kitty will probably be on SSI for the rest if her life, i.e. a shared/group home for Kitty is a given. Why shared/group JC / AC housing a no-go for Kitty?

Not only can I not force Kitty to go to a shared/ group home, she doesn't actually qualify.  She's "borderline" for pretty much everything and she presents well.  This is one reason we expected her to live at home for a long time.  She can't afford to live anywhere else and the options she can afford are "unacceptable" to her.

If equally sheltered Bob is expected to cope with the "deprivations" of a college dorm/shared off-campus house (tiny shared room, shared bathroom), why can't Kitty?
Neurotypical, non-traumatized Bob fully expects to cope with the "deprivations" of college life and doesn't consider them deprivations, more like an adventure.  Kitty is not capable of seeing life this way, and we're back to her trauma issues, mental illness and brain damage.


Miz Kizzle said...

This is off-topic, but you previously mentioned that Kitty isn't taking her birth control pills regularly because she sometimes forgets.
That's not good.
If you don't want to end up caring for Kitty and an infant (future FAIR Club member, yay!) I suggest she gets implanted birth control or an IUD.
Kitty might like the idea of a baby (someone to love her who's related by blood! How cool!) But I don't think you would.

Unknown said...

Mary --

So you're not going to tell Kitty she's in FAIR Club when she's in FAIR Club. You're not in a position to really enforce the consequences of not completing a FAIR Club assignment on Kitty at the moment.

So what's the point of the already not being fully enforced Boarder Agreement?

Kitty presumably knows her assignment is due, that she hasn't done it and that there have (as yet) been no consequences. She's also presumably aware that your previous attempts at imposing detailed written rules on her... well, didn't necessarily get enforced religiously.

As you say, Kitty F/F/F if she's told she's got a surly attitude. So it's another detailed written rule that she will flout, you will not enforce and Kitty will get the idea that rules are subjective. This helps Kitty see the link between her actions and the resulting consequences, how exactly?

Fine, you CAN enforce the 8:30 PM rule for friends/boyfriends... but what's the point of it? Why have that rule?

Despite your clearly good intentions, it sure sounds like Kitty will do whatever the heck she wants (as she's always done) and you will not impose rules on her lest it cause her stress or land her back on a psych ward.

Does Kitty have ANY coping skills? Because, from what you've written, it certainly sounds like she's got an arsenal of maladaptive behaviors... but no resilience, no coping skills at all.

Anonymous said...

What living options could Kitty financially afford, but refuses to check out?
What would you do if now that she's an adult, she found out you were still blogging about her and she asked you to stop. Surely as an adult, she's entitled to some privacy?

Anonymous said...

So what's Kitty's plan for the summer and upcoming school year? Just continue working at GAC? Does she have anything else in mind (however unrealistic)?

How does she do at GAC? She must be working out OK to some extent, since they have kept her on. Is her idea of becoming a manager there at all realistic?

marythemom said...

Miz K - we've explored bc options. The doctor refused to give her an IUD until she'd been pregnant once. I researched implanted bc, and it doesn't appear to be available in the States any more, plus it has lots of side effects. I'm nervous about putting her on the shot, because if it causes issues with her meds, it will be in her system for months.

Susan - I didn't use to tell Kitty she was in the FAIR Club because she couldn't handle it. There are not many options for consequences for not finishing a FAIR Club assignment now (besides refusing to let her have company over and refusing to transport her to places besides work) so no,technically the FAIR Club assignment isn't working exactly as written, but it is giving us a starting point for therapy and other discussions.

I enforce consequences as well as I can, keeping in mind her brain injury and mental illness. When Kitty is stable, she makes pretty good choices (unlike Bear who impulsively did anything he wanted). We consistently "impose" rules on Kitty, stress or not, but we adapt those rules to accommodate her special needs, most of the time. Sometime there are consequences even when she doesn't understand or agree why.

Why the 8:30pm curfew? Because there are members of the house who work and go to school. They don't need to have people running around the house while they're trying to get ready for bed and sleep.

Kitty has a few coping skills, when she's stable, but not many.

Anonymous -
Living options - A place in a less nice part of town than where she works, with access to public transportation -- but the bus scares her. Sharing a room with a roommate. Job Corps.

My kids know I blog about them, and aren't thrilled, but I blog anonymously, and most of the time this blog is about resources, not specifics about the kids. I try to be as transparent as possible to help other parents of children of trauma.

marythemom said...

Kitty's plans for the "rest of her life" (school year doesn't affect her any more now that she's graduated high school):
* At one point she planned to change jobs to one that will give her access to our area's door to door transportation so she's not dependent on us. I recently took on a part-time job, so this would have been a good thing. Later when Kitty was upset, she said she just said this to appease me.

* She also talked about staying at GAC (she had no idea what she'd do about transportation except count on us and friends to get her to work). No, becoming a manager was not an option, especially because she missed a lot of work due to stress related illnesses.

* She wanted to go live with biofamily to rescue/ protect her little sisters. The therapist and I suggested she just visit biofamily for a week or two to see if she could handle the triggers of being around her biomom and sisters, before she moved in permanently. When recent events made us feel that the environment was unsafe for Kitty, we cancelled our trip. Kitty decided to take her graduation money and purchase a one-way ticket to biofamily. We have no idea how she'll handle not having insurance and someone to help her access services and medications, but we've done all we can.

We feel that this is not a good choice, but we'll help somewhat. If she hits a wall, she hits a wall. She knows she'll always be able to come back home.

Miz Kizzle said...

Nexplanon and Implanon subdermal birth control implants are made by Merck & Co and have been available in the US since 2006. They are still available in my neck of the woods (the Northeast.) An implant seems like the best option for someone who doesn't always remember to take the b.c. pill, but it won't protect against STDs. Condoms are still the best bet where those are concerned.

marythemom said...

They gyno that Kitty saw says these are not an option for Kitty. I can't make the gyno provide them. Our only option would be to try a different gyno - after Kitty gets back on Medicaid - assuming she lives here for me to help her access these services.

Anonymous said...


Jeri Goodman said...

Anonymous, as stated in comments above, the doctor will not implant an IUD until she's been pregnant once. Marythemom, you are way nicer and way, way more patient with these bystanders, especially those not willing to even put their name to their attempt at shaming. I know marythemom in real life and she is an inspiration to continue, after all these years, to try to provide a stable home life for these two very, very broken siblings. Remember this, fellow commenters, she and hubby did not do the damage that was done to these two young adults....stop kicking them for trying.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest Kitty visit Planned Parenthood. They are very experienced in placing birth control, such as an IUD on a woman who hasn't been pregnant (like myself, at a younger age). It's not impossible, just b/c she hasn't been pregnant.

Mary, any word from Kitty? I'm imagining bio mom doesn't live in luxury, so is she coping with it? And the chaos?

marythemom said...

We saw the gynocologist just before Kitty's Medicaid ended in April. We could have seen a new gynocologist who gave Kitty more birth control options, but Kitty decided to move to another state and I can't help her with this.

"IUD?"- if this was a question about what an IUD is, then IUD stands for "intrauterine device." IUDs are small, "T-shaped" devices made of flexible plastic. A health care provider inserts an IUD into a woman's uterus to prevent pregnancy. - See more at:

Kitty doesn't leave for Biomom's house until July 1st. The stress of going is really getting to her.