Friday, March 25, 2011

Second's Please.....

During the holiday’s we saw a huge decline in Little R’s behaviors.  We had started to have great strides forward and really started to see growth and change in her.  Once October hit we started to see a downward spiral. 
We discovered pretty quickly that October-December is her “trigger” months.  They hold a lot of scary history for her and with that presents a tremendous amount of anxiety and fear. 

For a moment think about being in your home and just hanging out.  A knock comes at the door and a woman walks in.  She says to you “ please go pack a bag we don’t have a lot of time so just grab what you can and we’ll try to come back for more stuff later”  You ask why but she doesn’t give you a very clear answer and all the adults look sad or angry.
You go and pack and the woman tells you that your family just doesn’t see you as a good “fit” for them anymore and that they decided (without you knowing) that you needed to go to a new home.  She directs you to the door and takes you to her car.  You leave behind your family, and friends and belongings and go to a new house, new smells, new people, new routine, new rules, new expectations, new school, new toys, new job, and new bed and very rarely if ever see those people or family again. You may have to leave behind your favorite bathrobe or IPod or laptop.  You may not have gotten you favorite toothbrush or grabbed the journal you were writing in.    You may or may not ever see your personal items again or that special locket that grandma gave you. 

This is the reality that Little R lived for 5 years and most of her moves where during October-December.  The holidays are scary for her.  In 5 years she has never once spent a Christmas at the same house twice.  Every year she has to learn new traditions, go to new family get together’s and start over.  She never got seconds. She was so afraid that when the holiday’s ended that so would her stay at our home. 
Her fear and anxiety was so encompassing that she lashed out.  She tried repeatedly to sabotage family get togethers before we went.  It was easier for her to be punished and not go than to enjoy and learn the new traditions that would be taken away again when she left. We figured this out in advance and included her in ALL our traditions even if she was having a rough time.  We wanted her to experience all the fun of the holidays.
We made it a point this Christmas to provide some concrete traditions for her to look forward to in future years.  Ornaments of her very own.   We also include Church and a present on Christmas Eve, and video to help remember the day.
I am so excited that we are coming up on all our seconds in the next couple of months.  We know can say “remember last year” instead of “this is what we do during this holiday”. 

  I look forward to seeing the growth and healing in her over the years.  Each day may be a struggle and there are days she pushes me away, but I have to remember that each push is a frightened girl who is trying desperately to make sure she has a home where she can have second's at.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mommy needs a TIME OUT

I am exhausted, tired, burnt out, overwhelmed and waving my white flag.
Being the mom to a radlet is really tough work, and I am one.  
I love little R but being her mom takes a lot of work, far more than the average child and there are days and weeks that I just need a major Mommy time out. 
I want a time out from:
-          Asking to have homework finished and a major blow out tantrum follows
-          Come home and ask a question about school to get screamed at, sworn at and sassed at.
-          Find my Little R being angelic with everyone else and turn into “that child” at home that no one would want to be around.
-          Sit and watch her scream and cry because of her PTSD and hold her as she struggles to understand “whys” of her life.
-          Have to watch new toys broken or taken away because of behavior.
-          The stress that it puts on my marriage as we struggle to make time for each other and figure out the best parent styling needed to help our RAD, ODD, ADHD, SPD child function day to day.
-          I would love to go one day without getting called from the school that Little R had a “bad” day or was in the principal’s office.
-          To enjoy a movie with Little R that will not stir up sad feelings or PSTD issues
-          To go one week without OT, PT, therapy or doctor’s appointments.
-          To go out in public and not have to worry about how quickly I can remove her from a situation should she start to dysregulate.
A momma with RAD really never gets a break.  If I take time for myself I have to weigh whether leaving is worth it because when I return I pay for it.  Little R just can’t handle it and I pay with attitude, tantrums ECT... afterwards. 
I feel isolated and alone.  No one truly understands what I am going through and no one can really understand what happens in my home. Unless of course you are one of the amazing RAD momma’s that I recently found on some blogs. Kudu’s go out to you. 
  If you want to help me can I make one suggestion please don’t tell me the following things:
-          She will outgrow it
-          Just be a little tougher with discipline
-          Everyone struggles with their kids
-          Every kid says they want to run away
-          Most kids throw tantrums
-          Wow...she acts so young
-          Maybe you are too tough on her
-          That is not a good parenting strategy
-          Don’t get her “labeled”
-          Don’t medicate
-          You chose to adopt her!!
I am doing my best to be the best I can for Little R.  She is not a typical child.  She is a traumatized child who was neglected and abused in her early life and bounced around through 5 different homes for 5 years and does not trust anyone.  She was not nurtured or cared for during infancy and thus never learned “normal” interactions with people.  She was exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero so her brain struggles to process and adapt.  She isn’t a typical child thus I cannot parent her, love her, and think of her as such.  She needs to be treated with a different kind of gentle white glove and also a different kind of discipline that will help her to learn all that she has missed in life.
What you can do for me is just give me a hug.  Ask me how I am.  Let me talk without expecting to try and “fix” my situation.  Love our family through this and support that we have been trained and are working with professionals so here I am today, tired and worn out.  Fighting an uphill battle and hoping that someday the war will end in my home and we can be kinda normal. 
For today though I would just like a time out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seasons of change

I have to admit I was extremely excited about the holidays this year and looking forward to sharing it with Little R.  We had a lot of learning to do thru the holiday’s because too much “fun” would send her into a tailspin for several days and all the excitement of the holiday’s was a LOT for a little kid not to mention one with issues regulating herself.  She was struggling through the holidays and we were struggling to connect with her.  We were told to consider not adopting by our DCYF office and we just didn’t know what to.  Then in late November we received a major shock.

Over the past 12 years of marriage we have struggled with infertility.  I can’t count the number of nights I cried myself to sleep because I once again took a pregnancy test with the expectations of being pregnant to find only “one line” or a “not pregnant” on the test.  I could have taken stock in pregnancy tests I had purchased so many.  Each month we would get excited with the expectation of testing and then the major let down of our dreams not coming true.  We had given up “our dream” of building a family through our pregnancy, and were blessed to find Little R.  However we never let go of the idea that maybe someday God would bless us with a pregnancy.

In Late November Mike approached me and said “I think you are pregnant” to which I laughed and told him it was absurd and blew him off.  He kept insisting giving me “symptoms” that I was having and said I should take a test to which I was able to come up with a logical explanation for each symptom.  I just couldn’t test and take the chance of another let down.  I waited almost a week and finally tested.  To my amazement I was pregnant.

Unfortunately, the excitement of the pregnancy was short lived as we found out that there were some complication and around 7-8 weeks we lost the baby.  I asked myself why God would allow this to happen after so many years of trying and giving over our desires to him and then give us the dream to take it away.  I struggled with understanding and then it dawned up me a few months later.

During the time we were pregnant we had to make a tough decision.  Little R was still struggling with her behaviors, she was tantruming far less but still tantruming, and very unpredictable.  She had made it clear to us that she did NOT want any siblings and would HURT any child we brought into the house.  We had violent and screaming outbursts and had some logistical problems with our home as well.  We didn’t know if we could move forward with the adoption for the safety and well being of our family as well as some other issues.  We struggled with this for about a week and came to the conclusion that she IS our Daughter and no matter what changes come to our family she will be part of that.  If we had gotten pregnant after the adoption we would have had to figure it out anyway.   We knew that day that she was here to stay no more talk of disrupting the adoption. So, getting pregnant was a way for us to solidify her presence in our family and make the final stand that she was ours. 

I grieve the loss of the pregnancy and so wish that we could be bringing a child into this world this summer but I know that I would not have been able to do the healing work over the winter with her that we did if I was in early pregnancy.  I am not angry, I am not mad; some day’s sad but optimistic that God is going to always have our best interests in mind and I have hope that one day we will find ourselves pregnant again and giving Little R a brother or sister which she now says she really wants. LOL

Saturday, March 19, 2011

" I am ready now "

I was sitting on the couch in our living room reading a book in late November and Little R came out and sat next to me.  She looked like she really wanted to say something to me so I put my book down and looked at her.  Actually I was concerned she had done something wrong and was working up the courage to tell me but that wasn't it at all.   She was quiet for a moment and then our conversation went something like this:
Little R:  If you had given birth to me would you have taken good care of me?
Me: (with tears in my eyes) Oh buddy, I would have taken such good care of you?
Little R: Would you have fed me and changed me and sang to me and stuff?
Me: All of that and more.  I would have rocked you and coo’d at you and sang to you ect..
Little R: Then why didn’t God put me in your tummy instead?
Me: (Crying now)  I don’t know the answer to that, but I can tell you that God brought you to us now and I will take good care of you.  I do know that God had a plan and I am certain that He knew what he was doing and especially the part of Him bringing you to us.
Little R:  Will you love me forever and take care of me?
Me: Forever and ever.
Little R became really quiet for a moment and then looked up at me with her big hazel eyes and said: “ I am ready to be adopted now”  
This is the day that true healing began.  I don’t know what the future holds for all of us but I do know that a healing bond has begun.  It is so hard for foster kids to trust and love you and believe that you will be there for them and will not hurt them. They have to learn trust and you have to earn trust from them.  As I work at my job of earning her trust she is working each day of giving a little more and this particular day was so powerful to see her drop her walls a little and say she wanted to stay.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'll show them

I think therapists have an extremely tough job.  They listen day in and day out to people pour out there complaints, sadness, frustrations and hurts and then expect the therapist to provide some word of wisdom or to ultimately figure out a way to “fix” a person.   I am extremely thankful for our therapist who works with hurt kids.  What a job to be able to navigate the communication barrier with children and to be able to help them to process their feelings.   I know that is what we pay them for but it still amazes me.  We are working with a therapist who is directly involved with the work of children with RAD and other early childhood traumas.  Although I think she is great a comment she made to us in October made me really think.

We had been in weeks of violent outbursts and frustrating interactions with Little R.  We had a conversation with her therapist about her progress.  She sat Hubby and I down and said “you don’t have to do this, you should not be in this type of violent relationship, and this little girl probably cannot exist in a family environment and I think you should turn her back over to DCYF before it gets worse”.  Now we had been thinking the same thing and struggling with our decision on what to do, but when the therapist told us this I became in my mind quite defensive.  I thought who are you to think that she can’t exist in a home and she is our daughter and we are not trading her in like an old car.  The difference between our home and other homes is that she is in a Christian home and she is under the shed blood of Jesus Christ and through him we can do anything and he can HEAL this little girl and he can HEAL her of her rage and anger and fears and I am not giving up on this kid.  It was at that moment that I became the protective mother hen to this kiddo and got the mindset that “I will show them….”   And we will show them…. Years from now when we look back at these days I will remember and say “we showed them…”

Ultimately, no therapist is going to be able to do the work that is needed to help our family heal.  We will need to do the work and the best therapist of all is going to be US as a family loving and helping our girl heal and God who is the ultimate healer.  I don’t doubt for a minute that he is going to touch this little girl and help her to thrive.  She may never be “normal” in the sense that society puts on people but I do believe that she will have a voice and that one day she will be able to use her voice to share her story and help others. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Who is in Control?

I love being in control, having control over what is going to happen.  I don’t like the feeling of not knowing the future or what is going to happen with a given situation.  It has always been something I have struggled with. I ended my last post with “I am in control”  I know ultimately that God is in control of my life and I will get back to that, but as far as my household goes and being able to turn my house right side up again. I had to take control.

My first step in taking control was to remove our in home therapist.  She was not helping our progress with Little R and in fact was hindering our progress. I then sent out an email to some friends who had adopted children similar to my little R and I asked to meet with them.  They gave me some pointers and tips on how to navigate home life and how to handle a foster child with RAD.   I took it all in.

I came home and had a chat with Mike and then we had a family meeting.  Things were going to change!  We set down some very strict guidelines in our house. Mind you we had rules before but nothing like what we needed to set our house upright again. Little R had all control taken from her. She did not get to choose what she wore, I picked out her clothing.  She didn’t get to choose what she ate, what was put before her was what she had that meal.  She didn’t get to choose her bed time, shower time, play time.   All choices were taken from her.   Consequences for her behavior were significant to get her to understand boundaries. 

When a child has RAD and fears have affected them  they become controlling like Little R.  They have to control everything in their lives.  Who talks to whom, what they do, what they eat, what they wear, where they sit, what they put in their mouths, ect…  If they can control it they will. Even having a tantrum is a way of controlling a situation.  When life feels out of control so do they.  During Little R’s short life she has moved many times, lost many toys, lost many friends and family.  She needed to be in control in her mind, but that control was too much responsibility for a 9 year old to bear.  She also wouldn’t trust us to do anything for her and didn’t think the adults could care for her and we had to prove that we were in charge and would keep her safe and would meet her needs and would see to her daily life and she did not have to be in control and could just be a little girl and enjoy life. So in order to show her all of this we had to take 100% control in her life.

Within two weeks of this new routine  we started to see major change in Little R.  She was calmer, had fewer tantrums and enjoyed not having to make choices in her life.  She played more and tantrumed less and started to allow us to parent her the way that we should.
Friends and family who saw us during the summer/fall at times I believe could not understand why we were so stressed and strict with little R.  It was all necessary to create boundaries, parental seniority, and establish our places in the family.

The weeks went by and we tightened the reins on little R we saw great progress.  She became more loving and kind and accepting.  She started to engage Mike in a loving way and even would seek us out for apologizes when she had been corrected for misbehavior. That was a huge turning point for us.

As I thought about why it was that the Control was the key I started to think about it in my life.  Like I said, I love control.  I hate feeling lost and confused as if I don’t know which way is up and I have a hard time leaving my future in someone else’s hand.  I had to learn quickly that everything is out of my hands, it is all in God’s hands.  The more control I give God and the more I let go of the reigns the more content and safe I feel, just like Little R with us.  The more I trust God for my future and knowing he will always have my best interest at hand I feel content and at Peace, just as Little R started to feel at peace.  God knows what we need in our lives far more than we do and in trusting him we allow Him control of our lives.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, NIV  Ephesians 1:11

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  NIV  Romans 8:28

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The world is not enough

If you have ever thought about fostering to adopt and have thought “I could rescue a child and give them the world”.  If you ever thought “they would be so grateful and happy with all the things that I could provide them with”.  I would caution you to learn a little more before moving forward.  I had this mentality and believed if I just gave a child the world or loved them enough they would heal and forget and would no longer have worries. I wished someone had told me that, that was not the case.

I had begun to get used to the rages and tantrums (which that comment in of itself is scary).  When I say raging I am referring to tantrums so severe that holes are put in walls, toys are broken, punching, hitting, kicking and biting are intense and no amount of coercion is enough to make it stop, unless of course you give in and give her, her way.

I remember the day like it was yesterday, we had gone away for an overnight for our anniversary in late September and realized after our return that we made a mistake by going.  We needed to go, we were exhausted and our marriage was feeling the strain of the situation.  We didn’t realize the magnitude of what was going to happen after we returned for leaving her for 2 days.  We had prepared her in advance but it wasn’t enough.

Later we realized little R was so terrified of us never coming back and was so angry at us for leaving.  She had two days of pent up fear because she thought for sure we had dumped her and left.  The tantrum began less than 10 min after picking her up.  It continued through the evening and into the next day.  Only brief periods would pass before the tantrum would start up again.  By that afternoon it had escalated, I was emotionally and physically drained.   She became extremely angry with me and wanted me to feel her pain and hurt, and during this day I was given a black eye, split lip and bruised arms and legs.   I had nothing left to give.  I literally looked at her blankly as she continued to scream in her room as I waited for Mike and the therapist to arrive.  When they arrived I told them with little emotion left, what had happened.  I didn’t have the strength to fight this anymore and I didn’t have the drive.  I had hit rock bottom. That day I told them that she would need to leave that I couldn’t take the abuse anymore.

I thought that if I loved her enough, if I gave her the world, if I showed her with actions and words she would heal overnight. The world was not enough, my love at that time was not enough.   I was reminded she didn’t get hurt overnight it was years of pain and hurt she endured and it will take years to heal. 

The story didn’t end there; I didn’t give up on her that night.  I needed space and time to heal.  I prayed and asked God to give me the strength and I asked what I should do.  Should we disrupt the placement or continue on?  Could I continue on and could my heart heal from all the bruises?  After a long night of prayer, I knew that we must keep going and that we were the right people to help her heal.  The next day brought a new fight in me.  I know that it was only the strength of God that helped me to get out of bed  and take the necessary steps needed to help our girl heal…. I WAS NOW IN CONTROL!!!

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. NAS

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Roller Coaster Ride

I love roller coasters.  The thrill of standing in line listening to the rider's scream as they hit the dips and turns and come back all giggly or terrified of the thought of riding again excites me.  I love the thrill of buckling in the seat and waiting for the click sound as we start to move and then the adrenalin starts.  You hang on and wait for the first big drop off and then somewhere along the way you start to think “what was I thinking?” each twist and turn leaves you breathless or a little bruised from hitting the seat.  You hit the bottom and say “Again! Again!” Completely forgetting what you just went through...... you go again.

That is how my life was all through the summer and fall.  Each day I felt like when I woke up in the morning I was buckling into my coaster seat and waiting for the ride to begin.  Some days just the idea of getting into the seat was enough to make me want to get off the ride. I never knew when the dips and turns would come but I had to be ready. 

Because Little R struggled with ODD (oppositional Defiance Disorder) and attachment issues she rarely did anything that was asked of her without an argument or tantrum. Something as simple as come to the table for dinner led into an hour long tantrum.  Rarely did we make it through shower time without a blow out of some nature. Some days she would tantrum the entire day from the moment we would open her door and say good morning until we left her screaming in her room at night. Those were the days I was ready for lots of twists and turns and adrenalin charged drops.  On those days I would find myself bruised physically and emotionally. This would always make me say “what was I thinking?”

Little R was struggling everyday to come to grip with the idea that someone could love her.  Someone could take care of her and not hurt her. Someone would want her….really want her and that adults could be trusted.  She struggled with stripping away the past and moving toward a healing future.  The pain she was feeling inside she took out on me and Mike daily through kicking, hitting, biting, and lashing out with hurtful words.  I remember one of the therapists saying to us that when Little R was angry she wasn’t “seeing us” she was “seeing” the people who hurt her, left her, failed her and we were just the safe people she could trust to get all of that out with.

I remember during one day when the dips and turns and twists were starting to be to much  Little R had been tantruming for hours.  She was exhausted and sweaty and had been physically punishing me and I was exhausted to. I found another boost of adrenaline and  I held her in my arms in a baby hold and started to rock her and she screamed and struggled.   I began to sing to her and pray for her and cry for her.  It took over 30 min for her to start to calm down and with tears still streaming down her face and her hair matted with sweat and tears streaming down her face she feel asleep against my chest  just like an infant would and she coo’d at me. My 9 year old little girl who was so afraid of being loved was allowing me to love her.

At the end of each day as sleep crowded in I knew that I would be saying “Again!Again!” and preparing for another crazy ride.