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.