Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ok, So Here's What's Happening

I'm having this pretty intense dialog. Some of it is actually with my man. Most of it is with myself. This whole blogging thing is so interesting.

The Question
I think I am more of a conversational person than a dissertational (probably not a word) person. The only successful journal I've ever had was a prayer journal. Which is actually a conversation, if you think about it. In trying to get used to writing my thoughts and opinions, I find mysef asking, "Who am I?". "What is my platform?"

I'm betting it's pretty typical, but I have realized I have quite a lot to say. (I might be the only one surprised by that.) I just haven't figured out why anyone would want to read what I write!
Not that they do yet. I'm being optimistic.

Research
I've been doing my homework. Reading other blogs like crazy, which I've never really done before. I probably shouldn't admit that. I am not really hip. I am too old to come by the whole Twitter, Pinterest thing naturally, so I'd have to be hip. Which you can tell that I'm not because I am using the word 'hip' instead of, I don't know, 'roxy' or something more, um... hip (sorry).

So the big dialog is actually kind a philosophical one. If any of the bloggers I refer to happen read this, they might take offense, and that is definitely not intended. Oh well, I'm sure I'm pretty safe!

In reading so many blogs, I see a lot of who other people are. And sometimes I think, "I wish I was more like her!" The weird thing is that I've thought this about very different styles! I totally wish I was a gifted spiritual writer like Beth Moore, or even LisaMarie. Someone who could lead other believers into a deeper, more authentic experience of Christ. Someone encouraging.

I'm not.

Then I read Welcome to My Brain, and I wish I was more edgy (yeah, and I'm so not committing to something like that!), up to date, and just downright green! But that doesn't fit either. Can you tell I like this one, though?!

WWJD- really?
The bottom line is a not so original question...What would (blogging) Jesus do? Not when He was alone with his guys, but when he was in the world. At parties. With the average people. He pointed toward God but didn't (at all) align with the 'religious' establishment. He was someone who invited conversation, and not just with people who agreed with Him. That's the line I am trying to find.
Not there yet.

The Point
So last night I said to my other half,

 "You know its often long years between a woman asking, "'Who am I?' What with wife, mother....."

And then I wondered, how is it I have the time to be pondering it at this point in my life... And I realized it's because I gave up certain things (FB, Nook...) for Lent.

A self-imposed clear-space-and-simplify-to-reflect-on-the-sacrifice kind of Lent.


And now all I think about is my new blogging addiction hobby. So you know what? I am going to commit blog suicide (although it's not really risky when you only have 5 readers. I'm lucky that way.)

Even though I have approximately one million things I want to write about, some of them already started....

I'm off. (and don't think I didn't consider typing up a bunch of stuff and then scheduling it to appear while I was gone!)

Even writing this might be cheating. Looking back.

So, aaaaaaaahhhhhh.
I'll see you after Easter (unless I'm a pillar of salt).
..............................................................................

I love this!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cute Kid Quote!


My 9 1/2 year old noticing the beginning of things to come...

Him:   Mom, I don't think baths work.
Me:     Hmmm, what do you mean?
Him:   Well, I take a bath, then the next time I take my socks off my feet still smell!


 I am so not ready for stinky teenage boy.
And...I guess we'd better start showering every day, huh!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: Wounded Children Healing Homes


Bird's nest in Snow
I recently wrote a post about setting aside time to spend with healthier (or birth) kids. In it I mentioned my new favorite book on parenting special needs children who have experienced early trauma, Wounded Children Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Homes,  by Schooler, Smalley, and Callahan.
Forward
The first two paragraphs of the Forward drew me right in and there was no turning back.
This book is a gift to adoptive families and children today. Since I entered the field of adoption in 1963, there has been a 180-degree shift: first, in the needs of the children who require permanency; and second, in how services are thought about and delivered. The children being placed for adoption today arrive with multiple traumas, developmental delays, and challenging behaviors that may stretch their new family, sometimes to the breaking point.
     Addressing the needs of the traumatized child requires hard work for both professionals and for the familes who parent these children. Everyone must dedicate time in their already busy lives to address these needs. The therapists and social workers supporting these families must use many creative tools during the first few years to help them through the rough times, after placement, and after the adoptions are finalized. The parents must adapt rapidly, do all the initial adapting, and commit to a child they don't yet love, and may not even like, for awhile. This is what has become "professional" parenting.                             p.7 (Italics mine)
There is always room for another book educating people on the impact that traumatized children can have on a healthy family.

Healthy Kids
As I alluded to in The 100 LEGO Tower, there is a powerful chapter discussing the effects on birth kids of bringing special needs children into a family. I know several adoptive families with birth children who have much to say. Our family does not include any birth children. We do, however, have a "healthier" one. I have alway tried to attend to his needs regarding the adoption of his brother and sister, and thought I was doing a pretty decent job. This book has opened my eyes to the ways we sometimes discount our children's viewpoint without realizing it. I must say, my Lovebug has blossomed as I attempt to address his needs more fully in light of the information shared by Elizabeth A. Tracy MSW, LICSW, (and birthchild who was raised in a family doing foster care!)  the author of this essential chapter.

Preparing and Equipping Families
Through our years of parenting special needs adopted children I have found that I have a passion for families embarking on the journey. I am deeply concerned for the hopeful adoptive parents and children, as well as for the foster or adopted child(ren) who may be coming into unprepared families.
I know from our own situation, and from what I have observed in the lives of others, that there is a sprinkling a liberal dose of , "We can do it better.", that is compounded by a smidgeon of, "You can't really know 'til you know.", in all of us. Still, I have often wished for a resource that had some hope of bridging that gap. I believe that some of  the anecdotes related in Traumatized Children Healing Homes make it specifically targeted to help as much as any pre-foster / adoption book can. Consider.

During our six months of work in Kyrgzystan in 2008, I met several American families who were there adopting children - infants, a few toddlers, and older children. 
     One afternoon, I sat across from a family and a six year old boy they were adopting. When I looked at him, I took note of his eyes. He is a beautiful boy, but his eyes spoke of immense pain, trauma and loss. He was found underground in the sewer system just a year earlier. He had lived with older children on the streets and then in an orphanage. He had no family history. In our brief time together, the adoptive parents assured me that all this young boy would need was love. I tactfully tried to share the potential impact of his trauma. But I think in the excitement of adding this child to the family, they didn't want to hear me. They basically said, "He will do fine with the love we will give him, thank you very much." I said no more, but grieved at what may be ahead for these unprepared and unrealistic parents. p.15
Tip of the Iceberg

There is so much more in this great resource. I had one more thing I wanted to talk about, but I think I will save it for another day. This is a rich resource for the library of any family raising children affected by early trauma. I will be purchasing several in the near future. I never know when I will meet someone on the cusp, who has no idea of the ride they are in for. Families need as much information as they can absorb in preparation for the journey of a lifetime.

Traumatized kids deserve families that are prepared to meet the challenges!

Am I Parenting Children With Special Needs or Running a Group Home?

So, am I parenting children with special needs or am I running a group home?


Us

We have been parenting children with special needs for over ten years. Like so many others, we have read innumerable books and put in countless hours of research. We have attended long and short trainings given by several of the leading experts in early childhood trauma. We have reframed our entire idea of parenting and family so that it more closely resembles something altogether different. The therapeutic parenting program we run in our home is a personal composite of the most successful theories combined to fit our personalities. It most closely resembles the firmness of a steel box with a velvet lining of love and affection we find in some writings. That, and a whole boatload of sensory motor input and cognitive-behavioral work. If it sounds like a very structured home, it is. Our goal is to point the kids toward healing and connection. As such, we have even had difficulty utilizing respite in our area because our home is more ‘firm’ than 90% of the available settings. That makes respite a vacation for my kids. So not the goal!

Them  (No, this is not an ‘us and them’ mentality, it’s just a catchy way to break up this post.) 
Our children whose behavior has been most affected by trauma have been with us for almost 6 years. Sissy was 9 years old when we brought her home. She has been impacted by genetic factors, prenatal exposure to substances and violence, various trauma, abuse and neglect until she was eight. She is of the clear conviction that her many foster placements were ended by her behavior. The Dukester has very similar genetic and prenatal history compounded by at least six moves prior to 18 months of age (when he came home to us.) He is also diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Me
In the spirit of honesty, I have to admit that I have judged worried about families who don’t seem willing or able to provide a pretty significant level of structure, something the most successful theories require for safety and healing.

Them
Both of my beloveds mentioned earlier have made progress. Sometimes it has looked like quite a lot. At other times, like now, it is evident that one or both would rather play control games and make sly efforts to outwit the love they can’t take in. Games that are first level safety testing. “Can I interrupt you?” “Can I make you repeat yourself?” Wierd eating things... Basic stuff. After 5 ½ years!

The Current Crisis
Now I am face to face with one fact. I . am . tired. I want to live like a family! I don’t think I am willing to run a group home indefinitely. No matter how much I love my children. If they are going to require that level of structure forever, they might not get it in our home. The extreme vigilance required to keep everyone safe is enough. My vigilance will not keep them from making goofy sideways choices to make themselves sicker. After almost 6 years of full-program, skilled therapeutic parenting, is it still about safety for them? Still about fear and control? Or is it habit? At least one of them has many skills not being used.
Are we now at risk of becoming one of the families I worry about? Of less than necessary structure?

You
So, what do you think? Is there a time limit on treating a kid like they live in a group home? Is there an expiration date on providing this kind of overwhelming structure? Beyond a certain length of time, in the same environment, do they still benefit? Or do they just come to believe, “This is how these people treat kids!” ???

Just wondering...

 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interracial adoption: What Can I Teach My Child About Being Black?


Yes, this title is (partially) stolen. There is a poignant poem of the same name on a blog I read.

This is something I think most white moms of brown children think worry about. How do I teach my child what it means to live in their skin in a culture that is still so affected by skin tone?  I wonder if it goes the other way too, (brown moms of___ kids….)?

At the Attach conference in 2010, I attended a great session on interracial adoption entitled Transracial Families: Nurture Attachment by Attuning to Race taught by Judy Stigger, LCSW (and transracial adoptive mom of two). In this well attended and integrated session we looked at varied ethnic stereotypes. We also discussed ‘white privilege’ and how we can never really experience life in someone else’s skin color, sex, etc. How do we teach our children who spend their childhoods under a 'white umbrella' what to expect from society when they are older and alone or out with friends of color?  An example given was the different experience the have when dining out as a part of a family with white parents. That is their childhood. Does that prepare them for the world they will encounter as older teens or adults on their own? Beyond that, how do I really teach my beautiful, teenage African American daughter what stereotypes she may encounter when socializing more widely (parties!?!)? Especially when she fights me even teaching her how to care for her hair or skin.

Then again, I believe I read a book not too long ago regarding transracial adoption of traumatized kids. The author expressed the opinion that our children need to learn the basics of human relationships and trust and family.  That it is not our primary job in parenting children with trauma histories to teach them how they fit into a larger culture. (I would love to have this reference again if anyone has it.)

I am just one mom among many. I guess I think that both responsibilities are mine. As is the responsibility to be the one who keeps these conversations open in our family.

In the poem I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one verse strikes me deeply. After reflecting on the fact that white moms can teach our children what it means to be human, she ends with the following.
And in the end,
I can release you into your destiny,
And wait for you to come home,
With a fuller understanding of who you are
and what you are to be in your life.
Then I can listen as you teach me,
What it means to be Black.

                                    Dorothy

Beautiful.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Read the whole poem at Urban Servant.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Truly Happy St. Patrick's Day


Read it all the way through. Read it out loud.
It is awesome, and so worth the time in our 'quick' culture.

St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer
I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,
By power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River;
His death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the Cherubim;
The sweet 'Well done' in judgment hour;
The service of the Seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death-wound and the burning
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.
~~~~~~

St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer

from: http://www.prayer-and-prayers.info

Friday, March 16, 2012

The One Hundred LEGO Tower

No, it's not some cool, esoteric blog title symbolizing something deep. Last night I really built a 100 LEGO tower.

You see, two of my kids require loads of work, and yet they typically put energy back in to the family. Two of my babies don't need as much help per se, and they can just suck, suck, suck the life right out of the us.

I'm currently reading what may become one of my new favorite books on attachment disorder, (more on that later). It describes some of the sacrifices that birth children often make in families like ours. (I'll sub "healthier" for "birth" in our house.)

And it made. me. think.

So what did I do about it? Last night instead of dishes, FB, blogging, paying bills, or talking on the phone... I put two of my darlins to bed a bit early, and kept two up a bit late. Just Hanging Out.

And we built a 100 LEGO tower together.

Maybe that is deep.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Isolation and Connection

Recently I was listening to my secret pleasure radio program, New Life Live. It is a call-in show with multiple counselors who help people with serious psycho-social issues. I love it. On this day they were instructing the caller in the several layers of connectedness we as humans need to maintain or grow in our mental health. To be healthy and heal from trauma they listed something like: church (a larger community), a small group, several good friends who support your growth, and at least one close confidant. I probably didn't get that completely right, but you get the picture. Support.

The same day I heard this information, my husband went out of town. Just a three day men's retreat but it happens so rarely that it gave me some serious food for thought. And that is... HOW do single parents do it? Ever. But especially with special needs kids! I do quite a bit of parenting on my own. Don't tell, but sometimes it even seems easier. But he's always coming home in a while. It's not the same.

My mom was a single parent. She made it look easy when I was young. More recently, she has been raising special needs kids for years. Alone. Last month, her youngest celebrated 18. It was the first time in forty-six years that she didn't have a minor child. I am in awe.

It is so easy to feel, and be, isolated in this atypical lifestyle. We have to work so much harder to stay connected in healthy, nurturing relationships. Harder when our kids drive away (or worse, suck in) our friends and family. Harder when our kids can't play with theirs. We can't stand around at pick up time and fret over the same foibles...


Norma mommy: Can you believe it, yesterday Johnny and Susie
                             asked if they could play doctor!
Raddy mommy: Oh my gosh,  I know, don't you just hate when
                            you catch them having s**!.. ...Um..... Never mind. Norma?

Doesn't make for easy connection. And we probably need it more than most after years of living with their our trauma.

I would love to hear from single parents (or any trauma moms, caregivers, etc.),
  •  How do you make sure you limit the isolation?
  • How do you get a break?
  • What kind of supports actually help?
Because we all should be proactive in taking care of our emotional needs, we pour out and pour out to our kids. What are we doing today to fill back up!

And to the single parents...I'm not saying the words (angel, saint, etc.), but I am saying,
My hat is off, your hands are full.




Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Makes Us Human

(Disclaimer: This post is not for the faint of heart.)

We have a 'shaken-baby' in our family. Actually, her medical record says 'non-accidental trauma'. (As if the harm to any of my children was accidental. Please!) When we got her, I went and picked her up from the hospital just a few weeks after her injury. Since then, in the year or so that she has been with us she has been in the hospital 9 times, not counting emergency room visits. And by 'she' of course I mean 'we'.

Each of the hospital stays was memorable for one reason or another; a surgery that significantly decreased her pain, a terrible staff member who will never touch my child again, a great nurse, my big breakdown, etc. The most memorable, however, was the very first. The pediatric intensivist who admitted her made a very interesting comment.
Before getting into it,though..... in his defense, every time a new MD looks at her CT / MRI scans, they feel the need to inform me of the extreme nature of her injury.
The damage to her brain is complete.
There is no part of her brain that looks normal.
She has no activity on the right side of her brain.
Blah, blah, blah.....
I understand brain injury. I get it!

But this doctor, I'll call him Dr. 'F', left me speechless. Not an easy thing to do. He introduced himself, performed a brief exam, then excused himself to look at the reports. When he returned to discuss the plan of care, guess what he 'needed' to tell me? Right! She has a really bad brain injury.
But here's the exact quote,
In fact, this baby has basically no cortex left. And cortex is what makes us human.
Did you catch that? Because of child abuse suffered before 5 months of age, 'this baby' can no longer be classified as human.  Um...

What I so wish I'd said is,
 You know Dr. F, there are some with lots of cortex, even medical degrees, who don't have what.makes.us.human!
 Is my voice rising? Sorry.

Anyway, it's a hot topic in our culture in various ways . What makes us human? All I know is, this precious baby smiles, laughs, babbles, scolds me when I put her down, likes music, and movement of any kind, and loves her brother's voice and touch. Her body won't do what she wants, it's true. But in some developmental skills she is just 10 months behind...

And she's not even Human!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dangerous

What I am about to write feels like a sensitive subject. It may be a raw one for some who have been there and beyond with their kids.

One of my beloveds is at a crisis point. I am writing this at the end of a full seven days of her being in therapeutic respite; she is coming home tonight. We are so worried about the turn she appears to be taking. For a long time it truly looked like she had made super progress. Now she is stuck way back in what I lovingly refer to as her 'old-fashioned' stuff. That is, behaviors she has not needed to engage in for ages. So we've been planning how best to help her. In our discussions we have circled around one concerning idea. 'Old-fashioned' stuff in this kiddo makes her pretty unsafe.

In all that RAD is or can be, all of the peeing, pooping, swearing, sneaking, lying, picking, staring, ignoring, ad infinitum, there is one thing that gives us pause...

How do you help the Dangerous kid? The one that requires 100% line-of-sight supervision just to keep others from getting hurt in any variety of ways. The one who would require a door alarm for safety any time you can't be 'eyes-on' (sleeping, showering, etc.). I think that the visceral reaction of many is to push them away or remove them from the situation in order to keep others safe. (And I am NOT saying that isn't the absolute only solution in some situations. Sometimes it is more damaging to all involved to keep them home.)

But what about when they are still in the home. It is so important that their need for closeness and relationship is met despite seriously alienating 'push-away' behavior (oops, forgot that in the list). In the dailiness of busy lives in families packed with potential victims, how does the really unsafe kid get enough time and proximity to have any hope of some level of healing? Particularly when the only place they and others might be safe is when they are in an alarmed bedroom.

No answers, just questions. Food for thought from our journey. I'm interested in what you think, or do, if your family is at all like mine.

The funny thing is that because we are healthy and love them, these kids see us as weak. Ha! What kind of powerful love have we been given for our children that we can love both potential victim and perpetrator at the same time?!?

Amazing love.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stuff I Do or Don't, too

I found it! A couple of nights ago I was reading a blog that I just loved. It is entitled Stuff I Do or Don't Do. I couldn't remember where I saw it and couldn't find it for a day or two. But tonight I found it!!! Injera and Chocolate Gravy. If I knew the writer and knew how to do it I would love to share it here. I don't, so go see it! It made my day.

In the past two days I have been called a saint and an angel. OK, So.Not.

Sometime soon I will post my own "things I do" list. My cover will be blown. I can't wait!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Where the Scars Are

Visible
Of the kids we have at home right now, all have been harmed. All of them were brought to our family from what I call 'Hard Starts'. Two of my four have visible scars on their bodies from their early traumatic experiences. At one point we had counted 35 IV scars on Lovebug's hands and feet (and one on his forehead). These two children have very obvious disabilities as well. The world can see they have been hurt.

Invisible
The other two, not so much. Unless you look very closely, they have no visible scars, hurts, or disabilities. they look, "normal". They look O.K. But they are so very hurt. They carry scars so large they almost can't see past them. As much as their brother and sister do, they carry their damage around with them. It colors every thought they have. It affects their life function in seemingly every area.
And no one can see the hurt

Standards
We set some pretty high standards in our home. We try to keep the bar of progress attainable for each individual child, but we certainly want them to reach for their best. I live with these children every day and know the indescribable depth of their scars. And I find myself forgetting the invisible wounds, the hidden damage. I expect more than my "Invisible"-scar kids have to give, and I forget the "Visible"-scar kids also have invisible hurts.

Others
But don't all of us have hidden hurts? Isn't it just a matter of degree?
It makes me think about the people we pass on the street, the ones we see in the park, who serve us at the store, or whom we serve at work. Are they living, surviving, and trying to function with invisible disabilities; with unseen damage to their souls? We never know what limitations another is overcoming just to be the person they are today.

Grace. I will try to take this thought and remember my children's limitations. I will strive to offer grace to my neighbor, to the strangers I meet. Wish me luck, it's seldom an easy task.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Daddy Time

Tonight we had a conflict. It doesn't happen often. We bicker a lot (according to the kids, who would know). But actual arguments are infrequent.

It was one of those days where we had to meet on the road to swap kids. I really don't like when we have to do that. It was just a matter of too much to do in one day, and a slight miscommunication...

I thought he said, "I'll be right there". What he actually said was, "I don't have time for that"!
Oops!!!

That miscommunication made him late to teach a class. And he got a little upset. So needless to say, after we met up, exchanged the kids, exchanged a few words of..."well, if you just..." (You get the picture.) I was still a little steamed when we got home.

And then I find that not only is dinner all cooked and ready to eat, but he made 'Pizza Faces' with the boys! A home school project based on the reader Lovebug (my legally blind kiddo) has been reading.
(Make a Pizza Face by David Drew)
Smiley #1

Smiley #2

And apparently Daddy got ahold of the rest of the toppings.
What a guy!
I guess I can't be grumpy anymore.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Time

We have a much loved family member who comes from a trauma background. She just celebrated her 18th birthday. It's not really true, but in some ways it feels like she just ran out of time. Time for the therapeutic parenting to really soak in, time to mature and learn to control impulses. Time to be the child she never truly let herself be while she still needed to feel in control.

And I have a kid who's running out of time. She's 15. She doesn't act 15, she doesn't feel 15, she doesn't even want to BE 15. But she is. Funny how that happens.

Most parents reach this place with their growing children, where they wonder what will become of them, what they will make of their lives. In our house these transitional issues take on a life of their own. Like the toddler they so often resemble emotionally and behaviorally, traumatized children are extreme.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Pages

No deep (or shallow) thoughts today.
I did however complete a couple of pages I've been wanting to get to. Our family portraits are up in The Family Room and our shelves are stocked in The Library. I know, very, very clever huh! Ha! Anyway, they are probably still to be tweaked a bit, but they're up.
Done!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Space Between Millstones and Amazing Grace

Friday was a strange day. In fact, it was a very sad day.
Wait, I'll start at the beginning.
On Friday I got to take a time out! It was long overdue and delicious. But as I was sitting in the hairdresser's chair chatting away like a real grown-up I received a text message. No surprise. I was expecting this message, even waiting for it.

Actually, I received two texts within 10 minutes, both regarding sentencing verdicts in cases with which we are peripherally involved. Wierd.

The Expected- Friday was the court date for the sentencing of our Sunshine girl's birth mother. Her birth dad is already serving his sentence because he took a plea in the case involving the near destruction of this delightful baby. Now, I knew what I was waiting for. I definitely had an opinion, a hoped for verdict. In the range between informal probation, regular probation, and prison time anything less than prison time would have been a travesty. And we "got" it, the verdict that everyone involved on this 'side' of the case was hoping for. Almost a dozen years. If it had gone the other way many people would have been sickened. The permanent brain damage done to this beautiful, sweet baby girl is extreme. Nothing her brain runs works right anymore- eyes, muscles, temperature, swallow, stomach, bladder, bowel, nothing. The sentence was just.
That was the first text.

The Unexpected- A few young women I know have recently had to testify as victims against a man who abused them repeatedly. One of the girls lived with us for eight months during the trial. Some of the girls still live in mortal fear that he will somehow come after them. The unbelievable part of this whole situation is that these are all young women with serious trauma histories, before he got to them. When they were little he was the wonderful respite provider for families experiencing typical trauma history fallout. And he hurt them, again. Who better to prey on than kids who are known to have problems with authority figures, kids who are expected to make up stories. Who would believe them, right? Well these girls found someone who was listening. Thank God for that mercy. He will be in prison for almost 60 years. The sentence was just.
That was the second text.

So! Both great victories for justice, for those who love and protect these hurt children. Then why did I experience such a weight of sadness? As I write this, I realize that it feels like God has given me the opportunity to feel His heart on these matters. There is no victory. It's just tragedy. Our great God loves those who received the sentences as much as he loves the precious children they harmed.
I am so glad that I don't have to get involved in the space between a "millstone hung around the neck" and amazing grace "that saved a wretch like me". It is no mystery what a wretch is. I've walked that tightrope of anger and feared falling. I live with these kids who can push buttons beyond belief. I have compassion for those driven past their ability to cope. Beyond that, we are raising beloved children who could grow up to hurt others in similar ways. I get it.

It seems like there should be more to say. I wish I could come up with a positive way to wrap up this post. It's just not in me. Sometimes we have to sit with the heartbreak, I guess.

So thankful our loving God is big enough.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

To N.T. or Not to N.T.

No discussion of trauma impacted kids and families is complete without weighing in on one very important topic. The N.T. issue...

Nancy Thomas

Where My Seven Year Old Is When I, ummm, 'Need a Moment to Myself'

He is outside but his fingers are inside the bathroom door,
so I know where he is and exactly what he's doing.
SO cute!

Keeping everyone safe!
A wonderful suggestion from an
awesome trauma mom.
Thank you, C!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cute Kid Quote

Number three (this really can't continue!) my 9 year old, has multiple diagnoses that affect everyday function. He has been labeled as on the Autism Spectrum, has OCD, and is, well.... a 9 year old boy. In other words, he is constantly being told, "Too loud, buddy." etc.

Recently we had some local coyote activity in the middle of the night. The conversation that followed, priceless!

3-       I heard lots of people screaming last night!
Me-   Oh honey,  those were coyotes howling.
3-       Hmmm.......    Mom?
Me-   Yes?
 3-      I wish I was a coyote.
Me-    Really? Why?
3-       'Cause they get to make all that noise!

If You Can't Beat 'Em.....

Oh I just have to share!!! Number 4 has been driving me crazy. Nothing new, but in a new way. When we moved into our home just over a year ago, we painted his room because we had to tear down some seriously hideous wallpaper.  DH very lovingly decorated it with a fisherman theme.




To which he is still pretty committed.
No changing it at this point. 



However, #4 has decided to take up another new hobby. He is picking the paint off his walls, (down to the drywall in some spots).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

By Way of Introduction

Here we go...

I recently began lurking and then even following several awesome blogs. Mostly blogs written by other trauma moms, and I want to join the fun! (picture pout and light foot stomp) I feel like the new kid on the playground watching others play, wanting to join in but not sure what the rules are. So please bear with me as I learn the ropes, it might be rough. Do I bring anything to the party? (to mix metaphors)...
We’ll see. By way of introduction….
Today is my 46th birthday and I find myself surrounded by an amazing cast of characters. An awesome husband, four beautiful, challenging children, a rescued dog, horse, bird and 3 feral barn cats. Actually, most of the list might be considered feral.I will be working on writing up bios of the players as I go. Basically, all are adopted (or in the process) from social services, Our life looks about average for what you’d expect if you were really into hanging out with lots of seriously traumatized and otherwise impacted people!
In other words, I find myself wishing I had the timeliness and imagination to have come up withThe Best Blog Name Ever, I So Cannot Make This Sh!t Up. Love. Love. Love It. I have not had the pleasure of meeting the author yet but I am in awe of that name! It is my life. Thank you for the belly laugh.
Anyway, I have felt tremendously blessed and often healed by reading the musings of others walking a similar path. I would love to be able to provide a bit of that in someone else’s life.
What I really want to try to figure out is….in writing about our personal trials, triumphs and toe jam, how do I really make it about all of us? About you?

Because connection is what it’s all about, right?