Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011.....

I am sitting here looking back over this year, where we were and where we are today.  It has been a long year with a lot of ups and downs.  Some of which have forever changed me as a person.

January was my first forever change as I committed to be the mom of a 9.5 year old little girl with a boat load of issues through adoption.  Little R has worked so hard this year on her healing.  She has grown stronger both physically and emotionally.  A year ago she was fearful of everything even going to take a shower or go into her bedroom if the light was off.  She would lash out in violence if something didn’t go her way or she would rage for hours if her PTSD set in.   Now I sit here writing this with her showering on her own in the other room and no fear of a dark bedroom.  She has shown me so much about resilience and taught me so much about the power of trust.  I have had to earn her trust and it has been a long road and will continue to be so.

Little R is still “little” and will require consistent 1 on 1 from us for many years to come. This has been very unexpected and taxing on me.   We are hopeful that her healing will continue and she will become more independent as time goes on.   I struggle at times with having a 10.5 year old who is still requiring toddler supervision but who is growing on the outside.  I find myself as mom, psychiatrist, and listener most days as Little R works through and grieves her past and tries to process the present and future.  I realize that it is all a process and she is making great strides and growth.

For me personally this has been a tough year.  I have struggled continually with my connection to Little R in trying to find that feeling that she is mine forever.  I love her very much but she pushes me away so often and doesn’t let me be her mom that I feel rejected and don’t feel like a mom but a babysitter to her.  I lost my job in April and really have had a hard time recovering from that.  I loved my job and had envisioned staying there forever.  I was thrust out when the company went under in such a quick fashion I never had a chance to process.  I did find another job and am so blessed by that, but it is so different from my previous job I am struggling to adjust. Then there was my miscarriage.   I never had a chance to truly grieve the loss of my baby last December because Little R was here for her first Christmas and the adoption was right around the corner.  I brushed it under the rug.  Not a good idea.  It has finally surfaced and I am struggling with the loss of something I never even had.  Something I have always wanted and something I may never have again.   So this New Year’s Eve I am working through a lot of junk.

Feelings of loss over my pregnancy, fear of the future with my job, and connection with Little R, and my idea of what parenting should be.  I do know though that my God who is more powerful than all of my fear and all of my loss and all of my grief and will be there to lean on. He knows all that I am going through and feeling and will hold me up when I am weak and can’t walk another step.  My emotions are raw these days and I struggle at times to know what the right thing to do or say is.

My prayer for this New Year is that I will have healing in my heart from my loss and fear and that I will have great connections and strides with my Little R.  One thing I do know is that no matter what this New Year brings my God will be walking each day right beside me.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Today was the last Sunday before Christmas and our church held a baptism Sunday service. Typically this is done on Palm Sunday but there had been requests to do it again so they decided this would be the week.   Little R has seen two baptism Sunday’s before today, and she just wasn’t ready to be baptized.  When I had asked her about this baptism she said “I think I will wait until the spring” the topic was closed.

This morning we arrived at church like any other Sunday and my girl was dressed in a nice winter sweater dress. She loves to dress pretty.  As the baptisms began she leaned to me and said “I think I will be baptized in the spring”.  I said OK and then as the baptisms went on I noticed she was restless. She said to Mike " I think I want to be baptized" and then when I asked her why and if she understood that she would go home in her wet clothes she changed her mind.   I few minutes later the pastor gave an invitation for those who did not plan on being baptized that the water was there and what better time than now to do it and that it was OK to be wet and go home in your wet clothing. He explained about baptism and how it is an outward expression of an inward change.  Rebecca tugged Mike’s arm and said “I changed my mind I really want to be baptized now”.  I sat with her during the song and said “why” to which she replied “I want to show that I have changed and that I want to follow Jesus always”.  I said “you know you will be all wet” and she said “I need to do this, I don’t care” and she was out of the seat and heading toward the baptismal as quick as she could get there and never looked back.  My little girl was baptized this morning. I was a very proud mama. Later at home she told me it was like a miracle. When she came out of the water she felt new like a normal girl.  I broke down crying and hugging her.  It was a sweet moment for us.

I had spent some time over the past few weeks reflecting back on my daughters change in the past year and I am astounded at her growth.  Now, she has grown physically, in fact she has grown almost 7 inches and gained 20 pounds.  She came to us as a tiny scraggly little 8.5 year old and is now a beautiful growing girl.  Her physical changes are evident to all who see her but it is the changes on the inside that are the most reflective on my heart today.

A year ago I could not make it a day without some sort of tantrum some which turned into rages.  I was contacted almost daily by the school for behavior issues and she was not progressing in school at all.  She could not manage social situations and most Sunday’s we had a breakdown of some nature in the church about her behavior.  She refused to treat her dad with respect and often belittled him and found ways to say hurtful things that hit the core.  We were contemplating whether we could even adopt her because of the string of continued tantrums and abuse she was dishing out.  I spent two weeks nursing a black eye and massive bite mark to my arm at the hand of my little girl and numerous other bruises including many to my heart.

Like I said that was a year ago.  Here we are today my girl asked to be baptized and I was all too happy to agree that it was time.  I am sitting her tonight as she has offered to help clean up after dinner, and is doing her chores without complaint.   She is doing well in school and has not been in any trouble this school year.  The teachers say she is a delight to work with.  She has been able to transition from activity to activity and goes into large social situations without a meltdown afterwards.  She is learning boundaries and self-control and she is learning trust.  She is opening up and sharing some deep secrets with me.  My heart has been warmed most by the sweet relationship she has built with my husband.  She has actually  said just in recent days how much she misses him when he works late and often asks when he is coming home and if I say he is working late she says “oh bummer”.  What a change.  A year ago she told me she didn’t know how to be good because the devil was making her do the bad things in her head, and today she is talking about all the things she is learning in church and how much she wants to be closer to God and so much less about the devil being in control.  She is adopted and has permanency this year and a new name.

My little R is a compassionate child and cares so much for those in need and those hurting.  I can’t wait to see what kind of adult she is going to be.  I now see beautiful promise for this child and am so proud to call her my daughter.

Little R has a lot of healing still to go and we have a lot of work still to do and I am sure we will have days that feel like we have taken 10 steps backwards but I will look back at our first year and remember how far we have come.

I have received a beautiful early Christmas present today watching my girl get baptized and the best present I have received this year is the changes I have seen in her and the love that I have for her.  I look forward to next Christmas and seeing the growth in my little girl.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Fears, we all have them. 

How many of you have ever been afraid, I mean really afraid.  Did your breathing get fast and shallow, did you freeze so no one would hear you move, did you ever run?   How many of you have ever had someone jump out at you and you get startled then your reaction is to get mad and swing at them?  

My girl goes through a state of fear multiple times a day.  Sometimes it is flash backs, images of her past, and reminders daily that she is different.  Her stuff is big and it is painful to watch her endure.  She carries a lot of big stuff around and when it becomes too much she blows.

I recently realized that her defiance and anger has nothing to do with wanting to dis-respect me as her parent but has everything to do with her fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of trusting, and fear of memories.  It is her reaction to fear that I see each day.

Her anger is directed at me but it is not about me.  It is a front for all the fear she is feeling inside.  Once I was able to see her anger and tantrums as fear, I was able to see her in such a different light.  Fear consumes her.  Her past was so unpredictable and scary that it consumes the very person that she is.  Her reaction to the fear is the anger that I so often see.

So, how do I help her to take away this fear?  I just need to be there for her.  I need to open myself up to her pain and emotionally allow myself to see her fear where she is at.  Most of all during these times when it feels like I can’t love her, it is often when she needs me to love her the most.   I give her a hug and tell her everything is going to be ok.  Acknowledge her fear and help her express it in a different way.  Through her screaming I tell her I love her and I am here for her. When she is done verbally abusing me and leaving a tornado in her wake I wrap my arms around her and tell her she is a good girl and that I love her.  She needs my love; she needs to know that she is loved. She needs to know that despite the behavior I will always love her.

Can you imagine being in fear all the time because your life has been so unpredictable that you can’t trust anyone that is around you?  I can’t imagine life being like that.  Each day I look at her I begin to love her more.  She is strong, she is working so hard to overcome and if it takes the rest of my life I will continue to love her through her fear to help her heal.

 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.1 John 4:18a

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Today I wonder???

“Raising a child with difficult behaviors can be more than can actually be painful. It can hurt just getting out of bed in the morning. The day in and day out of being with a child who rejects you, defies you and disrespects you can put you in a place of even questioning your decision to become a mother. This level of stress leaves you tired, angry, frustrated, physically sick, resentful, sad, tearful, and/or hopeless.”   Heather Forbes: Beyond Consequences Love and Logic.

The life of a mom who has a RAD child is extremely trying. The quote above says it all for me.   Lately I have been feeling so defeated as a parent and exhausted from the constant challenges and some days I feel like just staying in bed and pulling the covers over my head and not getting up.

Unless you have raised or are raising a RAD child you will not understand this feeling that overwhelms a mom.  The overwhelming feeling of being disrespected, yelled at, spit on, kicked,  and having someone roll their eyes and do the exact opposite of what you ask out of spite makes you cringe.  Without words being told that nothing you are doing is good enough. 

The most difficult part for me is that all of this is done in private behind the 4 walls of our home and no one else gets to see this side of our Little R.  So sharing and expecting anyone to understand where I am coming from is impossible.  I don’t want to shed my little girl in a bad light, but I as a mom need support to survive this life that I am dealing with.

I pray each day that God will give me the strength to put on a layer of armor so that her words and disrespect will not penetrate and hurt me, I know that I should not take her behavior personally she is a hurt little girl surviving the only way she knows how, but it does hurt. It hurts a lot. 

I have had a lot of rejection in my life, and have spent many years dealing with it and healing from it.  I thought that I had gotten past the losses in my life, but when my little girl, who we want to love so much and give the world puts up a wall up and rejects me, it wells up in me such sadness and painful memories. 

Today I feel like a failure at this parenting thing, today I wonder if we are the right family for this little girl or if a more trained family would have been a better choice….  Today I just wonder...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

.......Words will never hurt me!

Two weeks ago one of our pastors did a sermon on taming our tongue and how powerful words are.
I have been at the receiving end of many hurtful words.   Words have power, once spoken they do not easily heal; they stick around for a long time if not a lifetime.   Bruises and scrapes can heal and disappear and the pain is forgotten, but not words. It has taken me years to deal with some things that were said to me that I had to heal from and still to this day struggle from time to time with those popping up and I am in my mid-thirties so it has been a long road of healing.

Out of all of the wounds Little R endured words for her were the worst beating she took. She was told she was not wanted, a bad kid, stupid, not as good as her other siblings and the hurtful words go on and on. She recalls vividly things that were said to her but has all but forgotten the physical hurts she has endured.

Words do hurt.   I am  working hard to help Little R overcome these lie’s that she has heard and believes.  I have to be very careful about the words that I say to her as well. I work daily on encouraging and uplifting her and when admonishing her I remind her that we all make mistakes and she is still a great kid and dearly loved.

I have made many mistakes and have had to apologize for words I have said. One thing I realize though is that as I get closer to God and my walk is stronger I notice that when I do say something I should not have I often am immediately convicted and feel the need to think over what I said and deal with it. I love the power of the Holy Spirit that convicts me so I can right my wrong.   I also realize the power of words as I watch my Little R heal from so much pain and I am so much more aware of what I say to others and to children as a result.

Words cannot be taken back. Once they have left your mouth they are spoken and heard and the damage is done, even if you apologize. Children are very impressionable and once something is said they often internalize that and believe it to be so. I have a perfect example in my Little R.  A girl who struggles with self image, self esteem and believes she isn't worth anything.   We have to be so careful to choose our words wisely and remember to up life our children and acknowledge there good qualities and remind them daily they are beautifully and wonderfully made in God’s image.  Remind them that they can be anything they want.  Tell them you love them and think they are the best.  Give compliments often and minimize your criticism. Hug them and hold them and tell them you are so proud of them and the fact they are yours.   

 I remind Little R that the words that come out of her mouth have power the power to up lift and the power to hurt.  It is a difficult job to teach a little one about holding there tongue and speaking with kindness, and not gossiping, but what a beautiful friend and confidant she will become if she can master this skill.

Now if only I can master this  first so I can be a good example to her.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Eph 4:29

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I am being watched

I know creepy huh? The thought of someone stocking you or watching you all the time and knowing things about you makes my skin crawl.

I knew as a parent I would be responsible for teaching and training my children and I also knew that as a parent of a foster child I would be re-teaching a lot of skills and habits that were incorrectly learned, but what I didn’t realize is how much you are watched on a daily basis in everything that you do.

Just recently Mike asked me if I had eaten breakfast and he always nags me when I don’t so I gave him that sly smile and said “yes I did” he turned to Little R and said “did mom really eat?” and she looked at her dad and said “ she must have she’s a Christian and wouldn’t lie”. OUCH!!! I quickly rectified the situation but it got me to thinking.

How often does she catch on to the things I do and say? The way I look at someone in the grocery store or respond to someone as I am driving and aggravated. How often does she catch little things when I am not being so “Christian like” and then what does she think when I expect the opposite of her.

How many of us quickly forget that our kids are watching when we get super angry at the car that pulled in front of us or the lady at the supermarket that looked a little funny and we chuckle. How about watching crappy TV but telling your kids it is not appropriate for them. (some exceptions of course apply). What about cursing and then telling your kids those are bad words and not to say them. I have been feeling convicted.

Little R is very attuned to what is going on in her environment due to her past trauma and needing to be "in the know" to feel safe. I wonder how many times she hears me grumble and complain or be crabby with Mike and I don’t think she is even listening.

I am suppose to be an example of Jesus to her. I am the hands and feet of Jesus to this little girl and I have a job and a task to teach her and train her and help her to navigate this world with a different type of attitude and response than her peers may.

I have a responsibility to this little girl to guide her and teach her and mold her in the way that God would want her to live her life and I can’t do that if I myself am not living the life that God would have me live. Someday if Little R learns nothing from me and never fully connects to me, the one thing I would be most please with is to hear her say that I was a woman of God and she could see that in me and learned something from me through this.

I am working with her to teach her skills and knowledge and change habits, but in turn she is unknowingly helping me to be accountable and in some cases get back on track with the way that I should be acting and living my life. It is not to say that I am running around like a crazy heathen but there are times and hours where I am less than pleased with the way I handled something and know my God is not pleased either and she provides a reminder for me of how I need to live my life.

I hope to each day remember that I am training our next generation and leading by example of how a Godly woman should live her life.

Proverbs 22:6  Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It is simple.... I was called to do this

Can you imagine if God turned his back on us when we failed him?  Can you imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have a savior?   I can't imagine what it would be like to know that there was no Grace or mercy or unfailing Love?   I thank God everyday for his unfailing love for me.  His Grace when I fail him and his mercy when I deserve so much more reprimand than I receive.  I don’t even want to imagine what it would be like to not have a savior, a Redeemer, a Friend because I assure you I would not be here today if it had not been by the grace of God.

I have been told on many occasions in the last year that my husband and I are saintly, amazing, we have done the impossible.  We have been asked,  "how did you do it?"  “Why did you do it?”
  “Are you going to do it again?”  We have had many more questions asked of us surrounding the adoption of our girl as well.

Recently I was asked by a therapist “How do you love her even with all the hurt and upheaval she has caused you”.  I looked at the therapist and said “It is simple; I was called to do this”

I don’t believe that I would have chosen this path in my life had my body functioned the way that it should have and I had biological babies.  I certainly tried to avoid even in the adoption process a child with Little R’s conditions, but God had other plans for my life.

I was called to parent this child. God knew that I was capable of more that I could imagine.  He was calling me to something bigger than myself.    I was called to love a traumatized child unconditionally and give her my unfailing love.  I was called to provide grace and mercy to her during times when others turned her away and I was called to be her mother, teacher and friend. 

I do not see myself as amazing or saintly.  I am far from that, and I fail daily, but I do see myself as a child of God called to a task of helping this little girl heal from a traumatic past and grow to be a loving woman and child of God herself.

 How can I not love her, God made her.   He knew her before she was even born. He knew everything about her and still does.  He loves her even more than I do….her current condition is the result of human mistakes and she is paying the price.  I am to love her with the same intensity that God loves her and give her the Grace she needs to fail and try again.

I have the best job in the world.  I get to show my little R what a mom should be and I get to show her what true love is and I get to show  her that the world can look a lot different than she had envisioned and experienced.   So it is simple... I was called to do this. This is my calling in life.  Not to travel to remote parts of the world, or preach, or be someone amazing on TV, it isn’t even to sing which is my passion. It is to simply be a mom to Little R and help her heal and grow. 

Will we adopt again… well… my heart says yes but we will have to wait and see what God says as the next year or so goes by.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The big debate….to medicate or not to medicate?

When we met Little R she was living at a group home that had her in residential care for 8 months.  On her move in to the home she was removed from all medications to base-line her behavior.  She did fairly well at the group home so she was not returned to any medication.  She did well there because she did not have to attach or function in a family environment and she did not have to deal with a lot of her emotions surrounding that area of her life that was difficult for her.

I believed that our love, devotion and commitment to little R would heal her of all her hurts and pain and behaviors. I believed that the group home had somehow “fixed” her and she was miraculously healed from all her hurt since she wasn’t tantruming so much with them.   I thought that I could love her tantrums away and her anxiety and her depression and her fear of the environment and her sensory issues and her post traumatic stress disorder and her learning classroom issues and her Reactive attachment disorder.   My husband and I have worked tirelessly for our little girl over the past 15 months seeking out evaluations, therapies, services, talking to teachers and staff members educating family and friends and working hours with our little R at home to help her re-learn skills.  We have sought out natural herbal remedies and holistic approaches and food changes.  We have seen progress, she has changed, but her anger, defiance, fears and PTSD have continued at the same rate and she continues to struggle immensely in school and in social situations.

I thought that if I even considered medication I was a bad parent.  That I was giving up on her or on us and our ability to parent her.  I thought that if I considered medication that I was setting her up for addiction, dependency and failing her in some way.  I thought that if I put her on medication people would think that I was taking the easy way out and not trying hard enough to parent her and maybe we just needed to “try harder”.  We were encouraged to put her on some medication and we refused during our fostering stage. We were told by some friends and family it would be the worse thing we could do to put her on some medication.

I am writing this to tell any of you moms who are struggling with the decision to put your child on some form of medication that it it is not an easy decision one that you and your partner will have to weigh seriously and make the best choice for your family.  We did and it was the best decision we ever made.  Our life has been in chaos for the last 15 months and starting little R on a medication to help with her anxiety and help regulate her mood has made a world of difference.  It has given us back some normalcy in our lives and in fact is what we expected from parenting.   She has even told us how much better she feels not getting in trouble all the time and enjoying activities and events without being put in time out or removed from the venue.

We did not make this decision lightly and we still don’t . We did the research, we sought out a child psychiatrist who would listen to our daughter and us and build the right course of treatment for her.  Our Dr even told our little R.  “ I still want you to feel mad and sad and angry and all the emotions you have….but it seems right now that when you feel those things it is hard for you to not get Super mad and Super Angry and Super Sad and then you can’t turn it off, I want to help you control your emotions”.    I am not hear to listen to judgements on whether we made the right decision or not because I know that we did make the right decision for our family and our child.

Some people are born with imbalances in there chemical make up and some people have there balances messed with due to trauma in there lives and no amount of therapeutic work is going to be able to fix something like that.  A wise friend of ours who is a psycologist told me that sometimes giving a little medication will help the child be more receptive to the work we are doing in therapy, and accepting of those changes because they are in a better regulated state.   Our little R has been so strung out and anxious and physically in a place of dysregulation that she has not been able to take in what we are even trying to do with her.  Now her mind is calmer and she is feeling less anxious and able to take in some skills and learning tools.
I am so proud of her for the work that she has put into healing and I am proud of her as we talked about medication that she told me “mommy I just want to feel normal and not get so angry”.   When I asked her if she would be OK with me looking for a medication to help her not feel so angry so quickly and stay calmer  she looked at me with tears in her eyes she said “yes, please and soon”.  

Medication will never erase or completely heal our little girl. We have a long road of therapy and teaching ahead,  but we now finally feel like we are  on the road to healing.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Exhausted...Mama's turn to vent

I don’t think I have ever felt this type of exhaustion before in my life.   I physically cannot even get out of my own way most days and wake the next morning still craving more sleep.

In April, I lost my job.   This set off a difficult tail spin of behaviors in our house from Little R due to the change and fears she associated with a mom not working.   It was a stressful phase in our lives but one that I hope Little R will learn from, that just because a mom is not working doesn’t mean she will be poor and not able to take care of her kiddo.  I was dealing with my own set of emotions over losing my job and feeling the financial strain and I wasn’t therapeutically parenting Little R to the best of my ability.  I was emotionally not able to meet her and was at times short with her, which did not make things better.

I found a job in late May and began a new schedule of working much later in the day than I ever have with Little R in the house.  When she moved in I was given a schedule of 6:30am-2:30pm. It worked out perfectly since she is an early riser.  I would see her in the AM, hubby would take her to school and I would pick her up from school in the afternoon.  We had time for homework, playing and our evening routine this was our schedule for almost a year.  My new job has me working at least until 4:30pm and sometimes later and not picking up Little R until 5-5:30pm and on occasion 6pm.  We rush home and have dinner and by the time that is done it is after 7pm.  Not a lot of time for playing or homework ETC. She doesn’t do well with being rushed and just shuts down. So her way of expressing her dislike over all of this change is through tantrums and defiant behavior.

In addition, the summer has been an extreme challenge for Little R.  She spent the better part of the summer throwing major tantrums and expressing her dislike of several changes in her life including my new job, school ending, and her favorite teacher leaving the district, my parents (her grandparents) moving to Florida and going to summer day camp.   She has made it clear that these changes were not acceptable to her but none of which I could change.  But even though I couldn’t change them nor did I cause them I was the punching bag for little R over the summer both physically and emotionally.

If I am not running around for normal life stuff, we are going to Therapy’s, tutoring or trying to fit in some family time on the weekends.  I have been sick over the past two months with colds and infections and some stomach trouble.  I haven’t been super sick consistently like this in a long time. 

I don’t know where the balance is.  Little R takes up about 75% of my time due to general care taking/ tantrums/explaining everything due to learning issues/re-direction/direct line of sight monitoring/therapy/tutoring and the other 20% is work.  I love her and wouldn't change being her mom but there has to be some balance.

Where and how do I fit in time for me?  I really don’t want to be selfish but I am exhausted and have ostracized myself from my friends and at times from family because I don’t want to “add another thing” to my plate and I can’t have Little R tantruming with them or I suppose I can I just don’t want to deal with it.  I am physically and emotionally burning out.  My candle has been going at both ends for over a year but in the past 3 months it has been running on just the wick in the middle and it is just about out.

I have been blessed to have a mother-in-law who wants to spend time with Little R and cares about how we parent her. She is always asking what she can do to make things easier and how she can "parent" her when she has her.   She will take her for a full day or overnight to give us a break.   She has been a reprieve for us on many occasions but the day in and day out parenting a special needs kiddo and working a full time job and managing Little R's many many appointments for therapy and specialist's is exhausting me and all I want to do is take a very long nap…….

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Swiss Cheese

Have you ever really looked at Swiss cheese?  If you cut right into the center of the cheese you will see that some of the holes go all the way through, some go about half way and then some just barely start at all.
So I was thinking of Little R as a block of Swiss cheese. Go with me here it gets interesting.  Little R has a lot of past trauma and hurts.  Some of her hurts just barely scratch the surface of her memory and some of her trauma history is pretty deep and then some is so deep that it goes straight through and requires a lot more than just a hug and “get over it”.   All of these holes need to be filled in to make Little R feel whole again.   These types of holes cannot just be fixed with a band aid because when we keep cutting we see that we only covered the surface and didn’t get down to the hole underneath.
We have to fill in the holes and fill them up solid; we also will never be able to fill all the holes at the same time.  It will take years to fill in all the holes and even then some will still be left vulnerable to hurts.
When looking at our Little R this makes perfect sense.  She does have hurts that run very deep and others that we work on daily.  Once we realized that this was what we were looking at it made loving her through her anger and defiance and bitterness so much easier to handle.
During Therapy we are finding so many more wholes than we ever imagined.  My heart is hurting for this little girl who witnessed, experienced and was at the hand of so much hurt.  But my heart rejoices for the fighter in this little girl.  She is working so hard to heal, love and trust us daily.
We have a long uphill battle ahead of us but we are taking it one day at a time and filling in wholes as we go. We see God working in amazing ways in this little girl’s life and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for the future.
Psalm 121:5-6
5 The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.    

Monday, May 30, 2011

Missing so Much..

As little R celebrates her 10th birthday I am reflecting on this past year and on her life.  I think about how much I have missed in my little R’s life.  She came to us when she was 8 years 11 months old.  I missed being able hold and rock her as an infant and listen to her coo. I missed her first words and her first steps. I missed her first hair cut and her first day of school.   I missed loving her for almost 9 years and most of all I missed being able to protect her and keep her safe.  At times I am angry with the circumstances of her early life.  I get frustrated as to why she did not come to us sooner or why she could not have been my little girl from birth. I have to harness my anger when she cries and has flashbacks or memories that make her afraid. I get furious with her birth mother when I find that my little R's special needs may be permanent due to neglect and substance abuse.

I also think about Little R missing so many first's also with a mom.  I want to try and make it up to her.  I would encourage Theraplay activities for working on this.  It has done wonders for our bonding and connection.  I have found some of the sweetest times with her as we play silly games and cuddle together and I have found also that it is good for me to.  We are connecting in silly ways and she is starting to I would hope trust that I am always going to be there.

I can’t believe it has been a year, it has been a long year, a challenging year and I don’t think I would change a thing.  Little R has taught me so many things about myself.  I have learned how to be more patient and kind and empathetic.  She has taught me about resilience and unconditional love.  She has taught me about life outside of my little world and about family and how important that connection is.

She may be 10 and I may have missed her first 9 years, but my heart’s desire is when she looks back on the years she has lived, she will remember the good times, and be proud of the progress she has made and the healing she has done. She will see that all along God had a plan for her life.   I hope she looks back and sees a beautiful butterfly immerging as she grows and heals.
Happy 10th birthday Little R

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Finding Joy In The Small Things

For those who don’t know Daniel Hughes, he is an amazing doctor who helps families and children heal and overcome Reactive Attachment Disorder with their kiddos.  His practice is out of Gray Maine, and  he has written a few books one of which is Building The Bonds of Attachment.  We have been trying to get in to see him since Little R came home.  Seeing Dan was not an option but we were able to get in to see one of his protégé’s.  We found a Dan Hughes trained therapist in our area and after many months we have been able to establish treatment with her.
I read his book Building the Bonds of Attachment as a requirement for adopting Little R as she exhibited a lot of the behaviors the book described.  I was terrified. I remember emailing our social working and saying.  “The character Katie in the book, I would say is a 10 on a scale of 1-10 for behavior, where would you put little R?”  The social worker told me that in her last placement they would put her as an 8 or so.  Now having Little R in our home I would say she was around an 8 last year and now is around a 5. 
We have tried to “handle” Little R on our own, with counseling of 3 different people and from advice of others, books and the internet.  What we have realized is that Little R needs more than we could provide and more than what a counselor can provide that does not have extensive experience with RAD.  We finally believe we have found “the one” and feel a sense of relief. She gets us and we trust her methods.
For the first four visits or so the therapist meets with just the parents to work with them to establish a new routine in the home.  She teaches us how to respond to the negative behaviors in a therapeutic way and works with us on our hurt that Little R has caused us so we can prepare to get into the REAL work that will take place with Little R once the therapist starts to work with her.  I have never been to therapy but this has been the best thing I have done in the last year for our Little R.   I have spent the last year barely staying afloat.  Some days I feel like I am drowning in all the tantrums, screaming, arguments, and correction that go on in our home.  My little R is struggling with her regulation daily, her aggression in school, she has tried to run away at school and home.  She curses and hits me and says some of the most awful things. Some days I struggle to love her and  be around her because she causes such turmoil in our lives. There are days I have regretted making the decision to adopt her and feel locked in a prison inside myself and fight to find something positive in Little R.
The therapist validated my feelings and Mike’s and told us we are justified in the way we feel, however we need to look for the Joy in each day and have moments of unconditional Love for Little R were the wrongs of the day do not play a part in our affection toward her. So, I took my homework and  I started to examine why we even adopted Little R and it is simple I do this and keep at it, because deep down I do love her.  I am so proud of the progress she has made.  To others it may seem small in comparison to the big picture but I am taking the small things right now, because that is all I have.  Little R no longer punches and kicks me.  Little R no longer throws objects at me.  Little R tantrums 3 out of 7 days now instead of all 7.  Little R is able to come and say sorry were months ago that never happened.  Little R is now polite in restaurants and uses her table manners most of the time.  Little R has started to snuggle with Mike and seek him out. 
There is hope mom’s.  Those of you who are at the beginning of your journey and are seeing the long road ahead, there is hope.  We have started to build the bonds of attachment with Little R and we are seeing some progress.  It will take years, but take one day at a time and look for the small victories in each day.  Seek out help and advice. Find a good RAD therapist and trust them to help you.  It is lonely by yourself .  Day in and day out dealing with RAD kids is exhausting and taxing on your body and mind.  Give yourself time to grieve what you have lost and then look forward to the future of what will be.  These kids need us, if we don't help them who will?
Little R is making progress.  She is growing and we are beginning to see healing.  I thank God every day that he gives me the strength to get up out of bed and face a new day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Big 10

Well our Little R is 10.  Double digits!! Whoohooo..  She is so excited because she was able to have a slumber party/spa party with a bunch of her friends.  Our first experience in hosting such an event and I can say I will not be doing it again anytime soon LOL.

Little R struggles with loud sounds, routine being out of balance and chaos. She doesn’t have great social skills and struggles in group environments, but I was blown away at how well behaved she was for her sleep over.  I was so proud of her at the slumber party, I could see her growth and maturity in this past year.  When I watched her friends and looked at my little R I was so proud to be her mom. 

I can’t believe it has been a year, it has been a long year, a challenging year and I don’t think I would change a thing.  Little R has taught me so many things about myself.  How to be more patient and kind and empathetic.  She has taught me about resilience and unconditional love.  She has taught me about life outside of my little world and about family and how important that connection is.  As much as I am having to teach her she is teaching me so much more about myself and others.  I am blessed to have her in my life.
I am exhausted today, and need a long nap from only getting 5 hours of sleep and being everything to everyone for the last 24 hours but I would do it again if it meant putting a smile on Little R’s face.
Happy Birthday Little R…. I can’t wait to celebrate many more with you and see how you are going to grow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What is a Mom?

The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman. For I have accepted God's idea of me, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am, and all that He wants me to be. - Elisabeth Elliot

As I approached my first Mother’s Day I started reflecting on how my first year as a mom has gone.  I realized that my vision of what a mother is changed over this past year especially after parenting a RAD child, a child who struggles every day to show the slightest bit of authentic affection.  
So what is a mom from a RAD mom’s perspective?  
Ø  A RAD momma is someone who loves a child even when they are not there biological child
Ø  A RAD momma is someone who see’s the “real” child behind  all the pain
Ø  A RAD momma is someone who puts up with constant lying and still wants to believe the child when they say something is true.
Ø  A RAD momma is someone who is physically abused by their child and still comes in for a hug when the tantrum is over.
Ø  A RAD momma will sit with a raging child on the floor for several hours and put all other responsibilities aside.
Ø  A RAD momma takes verbal abuse and then looks at her child and tells then “I love you”.
Ø  A RAD momma is a psychologist, psychiatrist and a counselor all wrapped up in one.
Ø  A RAD momma gives up friends, activities, and sometimes even family to care for and manage a child.
Ø  A RAD momma fights for services at school and spends hours advocating for help for her child.
Ø  A RAD momma helps re-teach skills to her older child so they can be a productive member of society.
Ø  A RAD momma sits for hours helping a child with homework because they are so far behind in school.
Ø  A RAD momma gives all of herself physically and emotionally daily to see her child grow and develop and succeed.
I am a RAD momma and I am not perfect.  I make mistakes and find myself daily having to “start over”.   I know that God called me to be this child’s mom.  There are days I am not sure he picked the right person but I do know that I have a responsibility to be the best mom I can for her. I have a responsibility to be a different kind of woman and to be a different kind of mom.  It may not be the mom job I envisioned but I have a job to be the best RAD momma I can for this little girl. I am proud to be called a mother.  I am proud to be called a RAD momma and to be celebrating my first Mother’s Day this year.
To all you RAD mom’s out there, Happy Mother’s Day to some of the most amazing and tough Mom’s I know.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Light bulb Moment

I have been reading the book “Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control (A love based approach to helping children with severe behaviors)”.   There is a chapter in the book about parents being hostile and angry.  It goes on in the chapter to talk about parents becoming hopeless and feeling drained of all their energy and resources. They start to question even having made the right choice to adopt and regret the way the home has changed after the child has arrived.  They feel like after months and years of not receiving reciprocal love and respect and kindness from their child that their full heart of love they started with is now becoming dried up like a desert.  They are angry and resentful instead of loving and open.
I have to admit that this chapter was exactly what I needed to read this week. I have been struggling over the past few weeks with my feelings of hopelessness and feeling drained.  It is hard to explain to someone who has not experienced the day in and day out defiance, running away, tantrums, calls from school and how exhausted your body and spirit become.   I have been feeling defeated, exhausted and not very therapeutic over the past few weeks and I just have not been able to shake the blues.  But something else was said in this chapter that turned on a light bulb for me.
For months now I have been convinced that the lying, sassiness, tantrums, and hurtful things being said to me were targeted directly at me and intentional.  I believed that she knew what she was doing and doing it intentionally.   I was taking it personally and it started to attack at my self esteem and the core of who I am.  I began to take offense and become hurt and wounded each time another comment by Little R was made and I was becoming angry and bitter toward her presence. Please do not judge, anyone who is reading this who has not adopted a behaviorally challenged child cannot fully understand that the bond doesn’t always come instantaneously and it is a journey, and I do hope that one day we will be bonded to each other.  Some days she feels like an imposter in our home as she leaves chaos in her wake. There are days we do not have a quiet moment as she is screaming and throwing tantrums and angry and swearing at us.  Life is not a fairytale it is the reality I live in.  
But this book has given me a light bulb moment a glimmer of hope.   What I took away from this chapter is hope that Little R is not intentionally trying to make me angry and hurt me.  She is struggling with her past trauma and this is her way of expressing it as she is in a state of fear.  We don’t always know why she is afraid it is her past traumas coming to the surface.  But why then if I know this do her actions bother me so much.  The chapter also provided some insight into the fact that during the time of helping your child deal with past trauma some of your own past trauma can start to come to the surface and you also go into a state of fear when you become angry and frustrated and pull away from your child.  I was shocked, and didn’t believe what I was reading until I started to think about what things bothered me most that she does and how that may affect me personally.  I was surprised to find how true it is that some of my past Traumas in my life of loss, esteem issues, fear of failure have resurfaced.
I have more work to do in this area, but it has helped me so much to see Little R’s behaviors in a different light and handle them differently.  I am working on seeing myself in a different light also that I don’t have to be perfect and that when my child is misbehaving in public not everyone is looking at me and thinking I am a bad mother.  I have to remember that when little R says hurtful things to me she is just hurt and feeling scared inside and I need to not take it personally.  I need to remember that God is bigger than the tantrums, and the behaviors and the angry and the past trauma and he CAN heal this little girl and I am just the right vessel to help her do that healing I just have to believe in myself like God believed in me when he brought her to us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Life on a measuring Tape

Little R has been struggling lately with wanting to be little forever and also grow up at the same time.  For her she really wants to just start over and be our “baby” as she puts it.  On the flip side she wants to be big so badly.  She is about 5 years old socially right now and wants to be 25. 

On days when she desires to be a “baby” we play blocks and sing silly songs and do patty cake and peek-a-boo and bang on pans in the kitchen.  Sometimes we rock and I swaddle her in a blanket and often she will fall asleep in my arms.  She enjoys these times.  I also do, but it is definitely a challenge swaddling a 60lb child. The benefits out way the challenges though.   She missed so much and we are working hard on trying to fill in the missing blanks.

On other days which is most of the time now, she begged me to wear make-up or have a boyfriend to which I responded with the typical mom response “you are beautiful and don’t need make-up right now.  You are too young to have a boyfriend enjoy just having friends.  When you are older I will teach you how to wear make-up, but for now no.  When you are in high school you can date but for now no” So this weekend she  was soooo mad at me after this conversation that she stormed into her room and started packing all her make-up that had come with her from a previous placement and began hiding it so I couldn’t find it.  I walked and told her that I knew how hard this was and that we needed to throw the make-up away so it wasn’t a temptation anymore.  With lots of tears and “I wish I was bigger” she threw away the make-up.

I then took her to the living room and pulled out a tape measure.  I pulled the measure out to 100 inches and sat Little R in my lap.  I proceeded to show her that each inch was going to represent a year in her life.  I asked her to put a marker by her current age “9.5 inches” and then a marker around 85 or so which is when people in her opinion are really old and die.  I then had her put a marker around 16 when we had talked about make-up and boyfriends being allowed. We put one final marker at 21.

As I sat with her in my arms I had her look at the big gap between the 21 and the 85 and showed her how many years she would have to be an “adult” and do “adult” things.  I showed her the little gap between the 9 and the 21 and talked about how little time she had left to just enjoy being a kiddo and not have lots of adult things to worry about and do.  I then had her look at how little time she has been alive verses how much time she could potentially be on the earth and she was stunned at the difference.
I rocked her and told her I know how hard it is to be a kid and wish you could be older, but you only get a few more years to be little so let’s enjoy all those things now and then we can do all the grown up things for all these years as I pointed to the inches between 21 and 85.   She smiled and said” that is a lot of years”. To which I replied “it is and we get to spend them all as a family”

It is so hard today; kids want to grow up so fast.  Children in my daughter’s third grade class have cell phones, laptops and IPod touches.  When did we lose touch with our kid’s just being kids and enjoying using their imaginations and playing dress up and dollhouse play and swinging at the playground?  Kid’s are growing up to fast these days and life is difficult as it is why add to it by cutting short there kid years?   I am not going to deny her growing up and fitting in , but she is just turning 10 and still needs to be able to be a little girl and enjoy little girl things. 
Looking at that measuring tape myself I realize how much time I have missed in her life and how little time I have left with her as a little girl and I want to maximize my time with her now.  So, she can grow into a well developed adjusted young woman some day.  I pray each day that God would give me the strength to touch her life and help her heal.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

When it Rains it Pours

I don't know who came up with this saying, but I have heard it so many times in reference to a bunch of crappy stuff happening all at the same time to people.  So, this week I get to use this saying and mean it.

Last Thursday as my previous post indicated Mike was in a accident.  We have been having trouble with insurance as the party that hit my husband is saying he is not at fault.  So we have had to fill out files, go to the police station, file reports with insurance multiple times ect... just a big pain in the butt.

Then, on Monday I went into work like any other ordinary day and left laid-off from my job that I have had for over 5 years and love.  It was unexpected and shocking to the entire company.  This is a huge financial blow for our family,  we have a bit of time for me to search for a job but the pressure is surely on.

When I arrived home and told Little R that I wouldn't be working at my job any longer and that they didn't need me she melted down into a tantruming rage for about an hour.  I had to remove myself from the room because I was in no emotional state to handle her.  When I finally calmed down I asked if she was scared about my losing my job and she said " we are going to be poor like my birth family and you will have to give me back"   To which I hugged her and assured her we were fine and all is good and let me worry about the job. ( in my mind all I really wanted to do was tantrum with her)

I am struggling with my own emotions over losing my job and haven't handled them very well at times.  I didn't even imagine it would effect my daughter the way it did.  It is so hard to see when the triggers will come or even happen.  I have spent a lot of time this week trying to make sure that her life doesn't change. So it "feels" normal to her.  Kids need security and especially children with insecure backgrounds.  She has had a rough week at school and I think it has to do with both the accident and job situation.  Tough for her to comprehend or understand.

I think that if we didn't have Little R in our lives I probably would have wallowed for a lot longer and not handled the lay-off as well as I did. I had no choice but to pull up my Big Girl Pants and start searching for a job.

In the meantime it is giving me a much needed rest that I have been missing for the past year.  I am going to the gym, cleaning my house, and even went hiking today with Little R.  I spend hours job searching and then the rest is taking care of me so I can stay strong for her.

Life is changing and I don't know what the future will bring but I have my umbrella and I am ready to find out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Best Friend

Last Thursday night I received the one call I never wanted to receive “honey, I have been in a car accident”
Mike was fine, and no one was injured but his truck was significantly damaged and had he been a smaller vehicle we believe things would have been worse.

My adrenaline kicked in and I went into my “work” mode and called the insurance company/rental car company/tow truck.  I checked on my daughter at the grandparent’s house. Made sure my husband was OK and had him call his mother (very important).

It wasn’t until a day later that I realized what had happened and what I could have lost.  I clung close to him that night, needing just to feel him next to me afraid if I let go he wouldn’t be there.  My mind started to wander and I realized that I could have lost my best friend that night.

Mike is not a typical husband.  He is amazing with our daughter, he is patient and kind with her and no matter how he is feeling after a long day at work he comes home and spends time with her and me.  He constantly asks what he can do to help me out to give me time to re-group from a tough day and is constantly picking up the slack where I might lag behind due to running to appointments or spending 2 hours on the floor with a tantruming child. He is still charming and loving with me after all these years.

God knew what he was doing when he gave Mike to me.  Where I am tense and high strung he is calm and in control.  Where I lack logical thinking he thinks things through.  Where I am weak he is strong and I feel like we fit together perfectly.

I could have lost him.  I could have lost the one person that through all this therapeutic Parenting and issues with Little R keeps me grounded.  He has been the face of reason for me on days when I was ready to pull out my hair. He has been the voice of encouragement for me when I didn’t think I could go on another day.  The thought of losing him overwhelmed me and I wept, and I told him “I can’t do this without you”. To which he replied “you don’t have to I am right here.. I am not going anywhere”.   

I thank God that he was not injured and walked away and I thank God that we went though this expeience to help remind me of the special gift that he has given me in my husband.