Sunday, April 29, 2012

In a Funk of Junk

Definitely in a non-writing funk around here.

Baby Sunshine! has been in the hospital for a work-up of why she stops breathing at night. The Good?News is that they didn't find a reason. 

Also, we are in the process of getting my 15 y.o. daughter into therapeutic respite.
I don't have much to spare. Give me a couple days, okay?
But I will attach a portion of the e-mail I sent to the respite mom (and my good friend), who already knows my daughter and my family intimately. She was asking about both my husband's and my own perspective on what's up with my girl.

See if it resonates. Let me know if you have any thoughts I need to hear. 

Hi there,
I wasn’t very articulate answering you when we talked, ‘and then the neurologist walked in’. (Sounds like a joke, but I may be punchy.)
T’s perspective as he explains it: We adopted these kids, and thus signed up for a fair amount of crazy. It is not fair to pass them around just because we are sick of them (meaning me). He goes on to talk about how can we advise anyone else? And how do we think we can do respite for others? We certainly haven’t figured out how to help kids. And he’s wondering, ‘how long can a person stay at the level of 0 freedom she requires. So he just feeds 'fun food' (in their minds), because it is 'healthier'.  But they take it as a win and play eating games (yes still!). Basically, he's feeling like it’s all kind of useless because they don’t seem to change anyway… 

My perspective:  I am NOT sick of K. I am sick of watching her seem to get sicker and not helping her. I am sick of having all of these kids in the house and not having one that I can send or leave in a room without knowing that it is unhealthy or unsafe. I am sick of feeling like if I could just reach out in the ‘right’ way, I could help her, connect with her heart. I am sick of wondering, “Is she really doing as badly as I think, or is it just ‘15’ I’m intolerant of?” (Maybe both.)
I am grieving the fact that it may be a long time before she lives here again. I will miss her (the tiny part she has granted me!). I am sick of worrying about the fact that she slides by because she is not as ‘in your face’ with her stuff as others…and then watching her get rewarded for “trying” by T. when she has a day or moment when she acts less crazy. To me that reinforces her entrenched giving-to-get mentality. 

So my bottom line and T’s too, is that we will send her to you to squeeze in the hopes that she will give a little and lighten up. But really, fearing that she will be violent, run, or stay stuck and we will have to look at RTC. (And WHERE does she really fit in that? Asperger's unit =too soft, regular unit =  kids too 'hard', sexual misconduct unit = ???)

To me, it is intolerable that she stay home floating along and not addressing her issues in any real, continuous way. I am actually willing to give up on the connection stuff a bit to focus on her historical sexual acting out behaviors. She NEEDS to get that worked out a bit before 18, more than anything it seems to me.

So since we do not agree, we will still send her because, 
1) he is sick of having it come between us and, 
2) it is obvious we need a break as evidenced by the fact that we cannot come to some agreement on the whole thing.

How’s that!

I am thinking of you all, just have to get through this moment and then I'll be back. 

(And please don't worry, because I am confident that all of this is in God's hands and He will prevail - we are just having a bitty crisis of confidence in ourselves.)

Let me know what you think.

Update: Well she's there. All she did was smile as she got her suitcase out of the car and say, "Thank you, Mom!" like three times! So weird. No sadness at all. Reinforces my suspicion that she has been working to get back to respite for a while. Oh well, then it's good for all!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Okay, today I'm going to admit something.

I am not a "fun mom".

My kids are hard. I have two (or three!) who fall apart after any little (fun) thing. I'm talking very low key. Like we watch The Li*n King as a family after a day of cleaning. (Um, yeah - that D*sney thing. I so didn't remember the main theme of the movie was murder!)

Anyway, that, or an hour of semi-structured free play outside. Any little thing, and we get crazy behavior for days! This is actually after almost six years of intense therapeutic parenting. They have trained me to avoid dread fun.

But really, it's not their fault. Aside from all of the things 'they didn't ask for' (trauma brains, adoption, etc), it's my own weakness I mean.

Lots of people have trouble with providing the structure necessary in therapeutic parenting. I really don't. I am comfortable providing that level of  external control (even if I sometimes get tired). I can do that and be loving and affectionate, even briefly playful.

It's letting loose of the structure I have trouble with. Just fun!

I have a friend who is fantastic at this. I still need to ask her what she does about all the crazies that come after an all out water fight, or whatever.)

Luckily, a very wonderful man lives in my house. (Don't tell my husband!)

A recent example:

One very tired, burnt out evening I picked up a bunch of 'kraut dogs for dinner. (No health police please, but I realized none of my kids had ever had one. That is a crime!)

Anyway, below is what followed when we sat down to dinner.

Grimacing- preparing for the big show.

"Oooh, i can't believe you guys are making me eat this gross thing!

Yeah. What it looks like.

I'm soooo sick!

This from a man who likes basically everything! Ha!

The kids loved it. And as he often reminds me..."It's making a memory."
Lucky me.

How does your family lighten the intensity? 

And how do you gather in the crazies after?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You're Not Helping Me

I was talking to another special needs adoptive mom the other day. 

Actually, my mom. And her kids are the ones with special needs, not the mom. 

Although....maybe that's not strictly true after decades of raising children with trauma histories. 


We were discussing how downright nasty our kids can get when they are stressed out. For example, her 18 year old has nerves about school. Result: She becomes more than just sulky and stressed. She can be pretty darned verbally abusive. 
My 9 year old is anxious about some testing he has to participate in. Result: He has meltdown after meltdown for days. AND... becomes pretty darned verbally abusive. 

We could think of case after case of similar circumstances. Anything that causes stress, or physical or mental discomfort. 

But then, my mom mentioned that one of her kids...
(a little background, yes I am the birth child of a mom who has adopted my several sisters from foster care. I was about 20 when she really got busy!) 

Anyway, one of my sisters, when she is getting crazy with stress or discomfort, will actually verbalize:
And when my mom told me this, I got it!

Normal life discomforts (spacers/braces, appointments, deadlines, social pressures, etc) feel so much more unsafe to our kids who's brains have been formed in trauma. Then, when they enter into an 'insecure' situation, they are so much more nervous than most neurotypical kids.

We encourage our kids to attach to us by saying things like (explicit or implied), "I'm here for you", "You're safe now, we will take care of you", etc.

So then as they are becoming somewhat (insecurely) attached to us, trying to trust, life throws normal stressors at them. Life situations come up. And our kids are way back to, "I'm in danger, and you're not saving me / rescuing me / keeping me safe."

Of course these situations can often be used for growth. Positive interpretation after the fact says, "Look, you were so nervous, but you survived, you're fine!" "You did great, and I was here for you."

But I don't think our spin works. Somewhere deep inside they may still be saying, "I was in danger and you didn't rescue me!"

In our house we do a lot of education about overactive midbrains (fight or flight) with lots of activity all the time because of the trauma history. We try to practice having frontal lobes (thinking parts) talk to midbrains (safety parts).

Frontal lobes tell midbrains, "It's okay, it's not an emergency. Thank you for protecting me when I needed you. I am okay right now." "I am safe." (thank you Carla):

And hopefully they believe their own words more than ours!

So what do you do?? Any great tips out there?

How do you help your traumatized children trough the "Life-Stressor Crazies"?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm a Winner

Okay. This is seriously off-topic.

But look what I won! 
Turns out I can't really take a picture of my own hand!

 I'll start at the beginning. 

I was looking for a little fashion help. 
You know... frugal fashion for the over forty! 
That's pretty specific, but it dawned on me, "There must be a blog for that!" (I'm smart that way.)

So in my search, I came across SheFinds. I Love it! So I signed up for a give-away they were having.

And look what I won! 
Just in time for summer toes!
Can you tell I'm excited? (!!!) 

Seems like a little thing, but it's not just the prize. It's the quality! I expected 5 or 6 sample size bottles.  

Count 'em, 12 full size bottles of O.P.I. polish.
I feel some serious teenage girl bonding sessions coming on! (So cool, too, that the colors that are terrible on me look beautiful on her!)

Just had to celebrate!

Monday, April 16, 2012

What's Working

Hmmm... Think, think, think (Pooh's voice).

I may have been in a bit of a negative rut lately!

What's working...
(Claudia's idea)
Ok, here goes.
The baby is sleeping...... better........most nights (still too negative?). Try harder.

Um, ok-

Eating right, actually losing weight, winning an O.P.I. nail polish give away at and receiving 12 full size bottles! Seriously!

Not too exciting, but I'm on a roll...
Having my 9 1/2 year old have his first successful independent 'playdate' ever! 

And really, really.... what's working for me (us) right now is that I am finding my true passion in this wonderfully complex mixed bag that is special needs adoption.
I  -L.O.V.E.-  talking to new or hurting adoptive parents who have not yet found a community of people who get it! It just floats my boat! 
Telling someone, "This is common, it's not you, there are resources, you are not alone!" for the first time.... Priceless!
Since I started blogging I have been trying to find my voice. 'What am I blogging about?' 'Who am I blogging for?' 'What's my perspective?' etc.

And I've got it! 

It's great! Bursting with passion, joy, and excitement.
Which by the way, makes me a much better wife, mother, and friend!

That's working!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Karyn Purvis Interview Link

Just wanted to pass this along. Bryan Post did an interview with Karyn
Purvis who wrote 'The Connected Child'.

It is long, about 70 minutes, but jam
packed with good info on attachment-challenged children.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Shaken Baby Sydrome Defense? Really?

This post may seem off topic. I write it not only as a mother of sons of color. I also write as a mother of a child with 'Shaken Baby Syndrome'.
Trayvon Martin
I don't even know where to start. I guess, I just, I'm so confused.
Actually, I'm not confused!  I'm not surprised at all by the polarization occuring in the 'community' of the United States over the whole tragic Trayvon Martin case. Today I heard the following quote on a radio news talk show,
Most African American's think that Trayvon Martin was murdered in cold blood, and many, many caucasions just don't think so
The Media
This case is a perfect platform for the powers that be, the media, attorneys, etc. to gather a lot of  press. To get a lot of play out of making it a race issue.
Which it probably is, but maybe not.
It's kind of a weird thing.

Race Climate
When I read or hear people being shocked and worried for their sons who are boys or young men of color, it amazes me. Because it doesn't surprise me at all. This is a fact of life for African American young men (people) in our culture. I guess I feel like, I knew that already. I know that my children will experience completely different interactions when they walk down the street, or into stores, whatever, than they do when they are with me. Or than I do. Ever. I'll never actually experience what they do. That is the way it is in our country. Regardless of the fact that it shouldn't be. It is.

On that same talk show they were discussing the interesting fact that people have actually begun marching and protesting. Protesting, before the prosecutor had even decided whether there was a case to be filed. And she has a team of investigators to gather a load of information the media general public does not know.

The Defense
I read recently that the new defense attorney for George Zimmerman has a plan. He cites a "Shaken Baby Syndrome" defense.
Which I think is hilarious.
The idea is that Zimmerman's head struck the ground when he was under attack. So... he had a "temporary brain injury". (Conveniently hard to prove after the fact, if it's only "temporary"!)

If I were inclined to think that maybe the media is playing this "Trayvon Martin thing" for all it's worth. Reportedly showing pictures of him from when he was younger. Avoiding recent ones where he looks more 'threatening". If I am inclined to think fairly, to wait and see what the real story is.... It is horrible, but it may or may not be race related...

The fact that the defense team is considering a "Shaken Baby Syndrome" Defense, might sway me to think, "Ok, wait a minute, never mind, that is ridiculous!"
It does not inspire confidence.

All I know is that our Sunshine's brain injury is nothing like temporary! It seems like a convenient use of a hot button issue.

SO....I am on the fence. Refusing to come down on either side without more information.

Your Take
This post is so rambling it's probably impossible to follow,
 but I am wondering.....

Any thoughts?
How does this case affect your life / your children's lives?
Have you talked to your kids about this case? Race in general? And how do you talk about it?

Anyway, please forgive if at any point I sound callous. I am not. This is a tragic situation for all involved. There are limited words available to address it.

 I pray that justice is done!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Movie Stars and Reactive Attachment Disorder

Today was another day like yesterday, so no great thoughts.

I did, however, find this...

Katherine Heigl apparently admitted here that she has experienced attachment issues with her daughter from China.

I would love to hear more. I have always wondered about know, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, etc. No one ever really admits to any issues.
Maybe if you have a nanny for each child you don't notice it so much.
Not sure how that works for the kids.
I have to admit, I have been curious for a long time!

Anyway, wouldn't it be nice if someone famous stepped up as a spokesperson for Reactive Attachment Disorder and raising traumatized kids!

I'll keep hoping.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Am Not Really Here


Seriously wanted to get a post out today. But life intervenes...

Yeah, life and
.....a sleepless baby (~2 hours total last night-both of us), F.U.S.S.Y today (also both of us!), least 2 melty kids at any one moment - loud and silent (scarier?), due to the recent festivities, tired, cranky, and brain-stalled mom!