Tuesday 27 December 2011

Archived Post 2011 - False Allegations

The title of the post is pretty self explanatory. Last week someone over heard something one of my children was saying to other children. They questioned him and then took the information they had and called the child protection authorities.

The reason they called, the reason my son said it, and the fallout from what he said are all details that I am not going to share here.  But, that being said I wanted to talk about what happened because I am not the first parent to be in this situation and I may find myself in it once again although I must say that once is more than enough.

So when the phone rings and the call display send you into a panic or there is a social worker on your doorstep and they tell you that someone has reported you for hurting one of your children you need to talk to them.  Do not slam the door in their face or hang up on them cursing. Remain calm and find out as much as you can before you say anything. Then be honest about what goes on in your home. Be honest about your feelings, experiences and about just how horrific your kids behaviour can be.

You have rights and you have the right to find out what you are being accused of and when the report was filed. You also have the right to expect that your children (who have experienced more than enough trauma already) may need to be interviewed/talked to in a way that may not be as conventional as the worker would like it to be. You need to act in the best interest of your child and you also need to try to manage the fallout that may follow. For example we did not let any worker into our home but met with them at other places so that the kids would not be triggered by having social workers in their safe place.  They offered to come to us, I said no.

Spend some time trying to piece together what happened on the day of the allegation. In our case there was almost a week between the call coming in and us hearing from them. Once I knew what day it was I was able to explain that little day in out lives to the worker, it was a doozy of a day let me tell you. In fact this month has been horrific on all sorts of levels and I have not hidden that fact from our adoption worker who was able to shed some light on that for the worker doing the investigation which was really helpful.

Make your world an open book, sign consents so that information can be shared between therapists and other professionals who may know your family. Talk to your friends, offer references to the worker, share documentation that you may have. Talk to a lawyer and see what your rights are and what can and can not be done. If you are secretive it is not going to do anything but drag things out.
Stay Calm - yeah I know easy to say, it was brutal to do. I was only calm when I was talking to the worker doing the investigation, for everyone else I was a basket case. I was hurt and angry, I am still hurt and angry a week later. This was not a club I had wanted to join, I know it is one that a lot of parents who are raising hurt kids belong to but it was one I was hoping to avoid.

Perhaps we should make t-shirts and make it a real club.

Friday 9 December 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Not typical behaviour

I often hear from other parents that my kids behaviour is typical, that I shouldn't be so hard them. I often just smile and nod because it is not worth the battle. Last nights actions give me a great story for the next time someone says that to me.

Yesterday I realised after a rough 24 hours around here that I needed to shake things up with my kids. I sat down at my sewing machine and made them new quilt covers ( had been meaning to for ages) and once I got them put on to the boys beds I sat down and wrote them each a letter.
I am going to share Kevin's here because the one I wrote for Randall talks about stories that are not mine to share.

Dear Kevin,
You have had a rough couple of weeks. I see you behaving in ways that you used to behave in when you were scared as a little kid. There are a lot of things going on in our lives that might be scary for you. I need you to know and remember that no matter what I am here for you and I am not going anywhere. I might yell and scream and get mad but I will never, EVER, EVER leave you.
I know that sometimes it is hard to be adopted and to understand all the things that happened to you. It is hard for me as a grown up to understand it all and I am not even the one who lived it, you are.
Kevin, I need you to always remember that everyone makes mistakes, me, you, Dad, Randall, it happens. We learn from our mistakes and try to make better choices next time. I see you making awesome choices so often and I am so proud of how hard you are working to make choices that will be helpful.
You are a wonderful kid and I thank God everyday that you are my son, don’t forget that.

I  put the letters on their beds and when they got home from school I sent them up to their room to see what I had done. They were both thrilled. I heard them share their letters with one another, I got huge hugs and thank you's. I knew the love and thank you's were the first (good) shoe and thought that the other (bad) shoe might drop but we got through the afternoon and then dinner and dishes without it dropping. I thought I might get off scott free, I thought maybe there had been enough healing that they could receive a gift and some positive affirmations and not have to pay me back for having the audacity to tell them I loved them.

I was wrong.

Just as they were finishing the dishes Randall got a paper towel to wipe some spilled water up off the floor, then he walked over to the stove and squeezed the water from the paper towel into the large pot of soup that was on the stove from supper.

His brother tattled on him ( thankfully!) and we spent the next hour trying to get him to talk. It was a long hour. We were calm, well not really at first but we managed to get calm. I did walk away once and we were angry but I think we were pretty justified in our anger.

See the thing is we are challenging Fudge to heal, we are challenging him to realise that many of his behaviours are hurtful to the people around him and he needs to change them. In therapy we are challenging him to deal with the pain of his past and his many losses. We are forcing to him to go to places he would rather not go but we know that if he does not work through them he is going to remain a very, very angry little boy.

I am not for a minute justifying his behaviour and he is indeed on a very short leash when he is around any food at all until further notice. But, there is a part of me that understands that because I told him I was never, ever going to give up on him he needed to see if I meant it.

Can't wait to see what he comes up with next...

Monday 21 November 2011

Archived Post 2011 - And then there were 3.

Or there will be sometime this winter, 3 that is. P and I have just driven back from a city 5 hours from here because that is where there is a little girl who will become part of our family this winter. For a variety of reason this is not going to move very quickly and we will not meet her in person till February but we are excited and looking forward to this new chapter for our family. There are times when excited seems like the wrong emotion but that is how I am feeling, excited and stressed about the changes this will bring.

As a wise woman said to me last week, my glasses are still rose coloured but this time around the lenses are plastic! She was so very right.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Liar, Liar

Liar, liar pants on fire... it's a common refrain around here, I usually say it in my head although I would love to shout it at my kids because oh my goodness they lie almost as well as I did. Yep you read that right, I lied constantly as a kid. I could lie my way out of most things at school and often with my parents as well. My sister and my grandmother could tell but the rest of world was none the wiser, I got away with a lot. Eventually I stopped, mostly cause I stopped doing all the stuff that I needed to lie about.

Lying is a normal developmental part of childhood. Some kids do it more than others and some kids are better at it than others. Some kids try it out, discover it doesn't really do much for them and move on. While others think that it is a great tool and use it as often as they can.
In my experience of raising kids who had traumatic starts to life and have attachment issues it is a coping a tool, a survival skill and a developmental milestone all at the same time. My kids lie all the time about everything, some of it is crazy lying ( making stuff up that is totally insane), some of it is to avoid trouble and some of it is because they really want to make sure that I am paying attention. All of it makes me crazy, it is one of the behaviours that I wish I never had to deal with because it is the one thing

After much trial and error I have learned a few things that work with my kids and might just work for you as well.
  1. Always give them a chance to say it again, the may have lied in response to question without even thinking about it, give them a do over without any consequence or shame involved. It's as simple as saying - I think you might want to try answering that question again.
  2. Pick your battles, some lies are really not worth even arguing about, does it really matter who put the empty milk jug back in the fridge, nope. I say something like - I know that one of you put it back in the fridge empty, I don't really care who it was but next time please remember to throw it out instead - I actively resist the urge to say more than that even though sometimes I would really like to.
  3. If you are certain they are not being honest and it is important that the truth comes out explain that you are reasonably certain that what they are saying is not the truth and provide them with the evidence. I often say something like - I hear you saying that you did not break your brothers favourite lego ship but there are not really any other alternatives so I need you to go and rebuild it.  - My children hate it when I do this and try to argue with me, I repeat myself ( sometimes many times) and eventually they just fix it.
  4. If everyone is calm and regulated and there is an opportunity for learning at hand I do call them on the crazy lying. One kid says,  I watched a movie in school today and the other says me too. I know this not to be the case and so I start a conversation about it that means they have to tell more lies because they are lying to begin with. Then I call them on it and we talk about why they started to lie in the first place about how it felt and about how they feel now. Sometimes my kids lie about stuff just so they can be a part of the conversation because they hate feeling left out of anything.
  5. When my kids lie and get caught lying about hurting another person they are given a consequence for lying. One of my boys will hurt someone, have witnesses who are telling the truth and he will still lie. When that happens he does get a consequence but I try to make it related to the crime at hand, like writing an apology letter to the person he hurt and to the person helping resolve the situation for lying to them.
Let me remind you that the lying make me crazy! I want to holler and yell a them but that is so not productive. There is little point, they are going to keep lying until they are ready to stop regardless of what I say or do. I can only hope that eventually they will realise that the truth gets them further and we can all move on.

PS - remembering your patient pants helps too.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Dear M.,

Dear M,

We had our last session today, I left after that hug with tears in my eyes, there were so many things I wanted to say but did not. I could not find the words I needed to say to make you understand what you have helped me to do, who you have helped me to become and so tonight I put it out there for the world to read because you deserve this. A public thank you.

14 years ago I picked up the phone and called an intake worker. I was assigned to you, we set up a first appointment. I remember being nervous as I parked the car and then sat in it for awhile afraid to come inside the building. I had never talked to anyone before about how I was feeling.  I walked into your office scared, depressed and unsure if I wanted help or even if life was worth living. You listened, you were the first person in a long time to listen to me, to hear me. We talked for an hour about what was going on and you told me that we would try out a few sessions to see if this was a good fit for both of us.

Clearly since I am writing this letter to you today we both felt it was a good fit.

Those first few months of therapy were intense, I was struggling to stay alive and you were pushing me in the all the right ways to do that and be the person I was meant to be. Healing is hard work, I had a lot of healing to do. You gave me your home number, I carried it around with me, it was like a security blanket, a life line for when the darkness tried to take over and I felt all alone. I would call you and your calm voice would bring me back from the edge. Time and time again I interrupted your life on weekends, in the evenings, when you were with family and you always took time for me.
I will be forever grateful that you thought I was important enough to give me that time. It was your time and yet you gave it to me, a client, time you took from your family or your personal life and you gave it to me. That gift of time made all the difference in my life. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, things began to change for me. The meds worked and the darkness became less overwhelming. I was healing, you were helping.  I learned to cope with my new realities, I began to learn that the only person I could change was myself.

Over the years I began to need you less but your presence in my life was still a comfort when things were hard. You were there when my grandmothers died, there were the calls and emails when I lived overseas, you were around when I stressed about getting married and after we adopted, I needed you again.

 I knew you, you knew me, I would not have to start at the beginning and again you made time.

There were the sessions when we talked about knitting or about how our outside world was intersecting with our therapeutic one. There were days when you just listened to me talk about my dysfunctional family or about how proud I was that I had walked away from my raging kid. It was all therapy, it was all getting me to the place where I am today, alive, loving life (most days) and better person because you took the time to help me heal.

When we met I was a scared and depressed student, now I am Mom, a teacher, a wife, I am healing. I never thought that I would make it, I never thought that I would heal, that I would be happy and yet here I am. I know that I did the work, I know that I deserve that praise but you made time, you made time to teach me the skills I needed to heal.

How exactly do you say thank you for that?

And now I move on, with my skills, and my memories, forever grateful to a woman who believed that I was worth her time.

Forever grateful
 If you need help coping, please go find a competent therapist to help you through the darkness, it is worth the money and the time. 

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Walk Away

I walked away from Randall this morning, well first I started to get frustrated then I thought about just making him comply ( read yelling till I got what I wanted) with my request  but then I realised that would get me nowhere. So instead I walked into his room, turned out the lights, closed his curtains and told him that perhaps he needed more sleep. I lifted him into his bed, said goodnight and closed his door. He yelled and screamed for about 5 minutes and then he realised that I was not playing and stopped hollering.

When I was ready I went back and asked him if he was ready to start his day again. He said he was. I let him know that I was not interested in starting my day by fighting with him and if that was how he wanted to behave then he was welcome to get some more sleep because clearly he was over tired. He was not interested in missing school so he pulled it together.

All of this was because I heard him hollering at his brother, who then tattled on him which caused me to ask him a question. Yes, I asked my child a question about what happened with his brother. He did not want to answer, I kept asking, he began to lie and shift the blame. I began to get frustrated, I told him that I did not want to play games, just answer the question - it was a hard question - I asked what they were fighting about. He would not answer so instead of continuing the battle I walked away, he kept yelling so I went back to his room and put him back in his bed. It worked, it stopped the spiral of destruction* we were getting into where he yells, I yell louder and then I give him a consequence because I am the adult and I can do that. But that spiral teaches him nothing except that I am louder than he is and I can get what I want because I am the adult. It is not healing, it is not therapeutic, it does not foster attachment.

I do not do it often enough, Randall and I often get into the spiral of destruction because I forget that he is still healing. I forget that he is not his brother and they are not in the same place in terms of their attachment to me. I forget because the chinese water torture games that he plays with me do exactly what they are supposed to do, drive me crazy. Crazy Mama yells at him, crazy Mama loses her temper and freaks out which reinforces him that I do not love him and that he is not good enough to be loved.

We go through this almost every day, it gets exhausting. He pushes me into the spiral, I take the bait and down we go. There are times when I am successful as I was this morning, times when I can step away but more often than not he is back at dripping water on my forehead before the day is through.
I think I need to a shirt to go with my patient pants that say - end the spiral of destruction...

*my own personal super clinical term

Friday 21 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Reason 746

Yesterday after a particularly long day Calvin came to me while I was folding laundry and said " Mom I am feeling crappy, can I have a hug".

I gave him a hug and we talked a bit. I knew that he had a difficult day at school I also knew that he was overwhelmed by the amount of homework he because he has not been bringing it home and now was doing it all at once. After our quick chat he moved on, did his extra chore (which was a consequence) with a smile on his face and went off to play with his brother.

Pretty typical little boy dramas for a little boy who is finally at the stage where he is just a pretty typical little boy you know aside from the lying first, trying to get away with everything and threatening to kill people if they look at him the wrong way because he perceives them as a threat to his survival. But you know, other than that he is becoming a pretty regular kid.

Do we still need to parent him differently than the average kid?


Is worth it?

Absolutely it is and every time I see him make a big step like he did yesterday my heart swells with pride because this little boy (who so many people had given up on) is going to make a difference in the world.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Triggers

I have mentioned recently how well Kevin has been doing, how hard he has been working and just how very far he has come. Yesterday I saw a glimmer of the child I once knew and I was totally not expecting it.

T's foster family dropped her off at 1pm, we timed things very carefully so that we would be able to supervise her with the boys at at all times. We got it the car to head to the city and chatter started. Kevin chattered all the way to the city making up all sorts of tall tales about things he is doing and has done some of which I called him on and others I ignored. He kept chatting and making a point of saying Dad as often as he possibly could. He was clearly stressed and triggered by having his sister present and although I thought he would be I was surprised by the chatter.

While Kevin chattered non stop Randall withdrew into a book for the 40 minutes we were in the car. It was an interesting ride.

I was surprised at just how much being with T triggered Kevin. He has not been like this in the past but then again he has grown so much in the last 6 months and he knows just how much she is struggling to stay out of trouble. He loves her and he misses her but he understands how hard it is to make good choices and on deeply personal level that what she is missing is a family who will always love her. He can articulate that to me and he has begun to say that, it warms my heart to hear him talk about being happy to be adopted.

Once we got into the city things got better. We met E and his Mom and played a few games of laser tag with some friends to celebrate Randall and T's birthdays. The visit went well, T acted like a 14 year old girl with significant attachment issues and the boys all had a blast playing laser tag.

Kevin had managed to regulate himself by the time we were home and we enjoyed our shared meal with E's family. T did not stay for supper because we do not feel that we can provide the level of supervision required so that she is not constantly saying inappropriate things to the boys.

Bedtime was easy - gasp I know - and no one had a melt down.

Today was a different story but I will take one tantrum free day and run with it because it this is a new phenomenon around here and I kinda like it.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - How it looks now.

It's been just over three years since I became a parent, since I began loving two kids who really needed a family who was never going to give up on them.

There have been days when I want give up, yesterday was one of them.

My kids have stopped raging, they have stopped using bodily fluids as weapons of destruction, they have begun to learn to burst into tears when there emotions begin to overwhelm rather than beat the crap out of the closest person. It is progress but there are still days when the crazy lying, the sneaking and pushing me away dances on my last nerve. Yes even though things are better old habits and protective behaviours die hard.

Some of my kids choices are old habits but others are behaviours that are meant to protect them, behaviours that kept them alive when adults were not keeping them safe. For a long time my children were taught that adults would not meet their needs, they learned to fend for themselves and protect themselves at all costs, lying, stealing and sneaking were ways to be fed and to stay safe. Not investing in relationships with adults was a way to protect their hearts from the pain of the loss that they were certain would come if they began to care.

On one level my kids know they can trust me, but when they are  faced with a situation in which they feel threatened they often react in a way that will keep them safe no matter what. I would be lying if I told you that it does not make me crazy. I would by lying if I told you that I took it in stride every time that it happens and reacted to the behaviours in a calm and understanding manner.

The lying, stealing, sneaking and rejection makes me crazy in the moments when it occurs and sometimes I am able to take it in stride and talk the offending kid through the moment. Other times I react like many frustrated parents would and yell. The thing is, when I react like that we don't get anywhere because my yelling just triggers my kids and then we get caught in a circle where we argue with one another. It is really hard to be the adult in those moments, it is so hard to step back and be calm, to take a deep breath and talk through the moment without creating more drama.

Sometimes it helps to remember that these behaviours are way better than the behaviours I dealt with when I first began parenting. These behaviours pale in comparison to the places my kids used to go and if I can remember that in the moments when I need to I can be a better parent. I can be calmer and more therapeutic and that means that with time these behaviours will lessen just aa the other have and that will be a good really good thing.

I am going to put on my patient pants before I pick my boys up from school, hope they help.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Longing

E's family is about to get a baby to foster and I must say that I am jealous to say the very least. I have written about learning to be happy with the family I have, about it being enough and it is enough. In fact it is great but my heart still longs for more children and I am working on it.

I am frustrated by the fact that we were the right family for two very broken boys that no one else would take but that we can not be the right family for another child. I am feeling the sting of infertility as more and more people around me announce pregnancies and new babies and my life is destined to remain without a baby to nurture. It is hard, it hurts me to core and there is little to be done but to learn to cope with the pain and these feelings.

To be honest, I have had to learn to cope with a lot of things that were out of my control and it's crappy. It sucks to not be able to dictate how and when our family will grow or not. It is hard to watch other people get to nurture children from infancy while I know that I will likely never get that privilege and that is not to say that my children are any less fabulous but there is a part of me that longs to have a baby in my arms. Sometimes the realisation that it is unlikely to ever happen is hard to swallow and makes it hard to keep the tears in check as another person tells me their due date.

To add to my overwhelming feelings of loss I am also trying to wrap my brain around the fact that tomorrow is my last appointment with my therapist. With a woman who has journeyed  with me for 13 years and has seen me through more than anyone else. She has held my hand through serious depression, through loss and grief,  through joy and wonder. I am working on moving on, I have not seen her all summer on purpose, I have stayed away so that I can start to move on but saying good-bye to her tomorrow is looming large and yet it needs to happen, I need to close that door.

My grief at this moment is heavy, it is weighing me down and as if that was not enough I spent 30 minutes doing homework with Randall. I need you know that this alone would make anyone crazy let alone me given the way that I am feeling this week.

I know I will survive, I will learn to cope, to let this be enough, to let go of the dreams of more kids and babies in my arms, but it is hard and sadly I do not think that it is going to get any easier in the next day or two.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Big Emotions

Yesterday Randall and Kevin got caught trying to blow themselves up with a barbecue, well I am reasonably certain their goal was not to blow themselves up but it could of definitely been an outcome of playing with it. Regardless of what their motivation was they were in trouble, lots of trouble.

Kevin showed an appropriate amount of remorse, understood the problem ( cause dead is not really something you can come back from), apologized, accepted his consequence and moved on.

Randall not so much.

Randall wailed and gnashed his teeth and generally tried to convince us that we were being to hard on him. We were unmoved. He continued to wail and cry and then once the flood gates had opened the damn broke and the poor boy cried about all the things that he has been carrying around for the last little while.

He cried about his sister and why we could not adopt her, about why they were not together and how he had not seen her. I held him and the poor boy just kept on crying. He doesn't understand and there is no way to make it make sense to him because I can not make it make sense for me. T is clearly in crisis again and we are as usual, shut out, due to stupid rules about confidentiality and such. How do you explain that to a 9 year old who wants to see his sister.

Once we had heard about T for a bit he started to talk about how hard it is to wait for more kids, how he is trying to patient but he does not want to be patient anymore and he just wants it to happen already. You and me both buddy was about all I could say to that. I wish we could make this whole process easier but sadly that is not something I can control.

Then he just lay in my lap for awhile sniffling and sobbing. Randall carries everything so deep inside his heart, he is so afraid to talk about his feelings that when he finally does there is a flood of emotion that overwhelms all of us. It's hard.

We cuddled and then moved on with our night. He is still mad at us because we would not budge on our consequence and he might still be mad next week but oh well.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Oh Trauma

Oh trauma how I understand you ( sometimes) and how I wish more parents who were parenting hurt kids did as well.

Let me explain.

I just hung up the phone with T's foster father. She was recently moved again and she is not doing so well. The problem is that she has been moved so many times that no one pays any attention to any of the trauma triggers that are compounding her behaviour because no one is going to read the 10 inch thick file to find all the dates that might be issue for her.

The thing is, someone should.

Dates matter because even if a child is not able to vocalize their stress around certain events it is present and effects their behaviour. The fall is a particularly tough time for T, Kevin and Randall because it is when they got apprehended. Both Kevin and T remember it, blame themselves and associate being apprehended with T and Randall's birthdays.T's birthday is Thursday, Randall's is in 3 weeks, no wonder T is acting out.

To add to the stress at this time last year she successfully broke down a placement  by calling the cops and making false allegations against her foster parents.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out this is going to be a tough few weeks for her.
She has RAD, she is in her 4th home since she destroyed her relationship with her prospective adoptive parents because she was afraid to be loved. Her story is a tragic one and the hardest part for me is that her tragedy is also my kids tragedy because they love her and they want her to be a part of their lives but it is so hard to do when she is out of control.

She needs to be parented by people with training, she needs support and structure, she needs a lot more than she is getting and I know that she is not going to get it because the system is not equipped to deal with her. It is so frustrating to watch them fail her again and again, we offer help and support but everyone puts their fingers in their ears and pretends that this time they have found the right placement for her. They will not hear that there is no right placement for her  because they are not addressing her issues. She wants to go live with her birthmom and if they let her go back to birthmom things are not going to be any better because she is not any more equipped to deal with an angry teenager with attachment disorder than she was to deal with an angry kid with attachment disorder.

There is little I can do but watch the train crash.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Archived Post 2011 - 35

It was 35

It could of been 60 or 80 or 249 but it was only 35

35 what?


What was 35 minutes?

The tantrum that Kevin had last night because while he was at a birthday party I had the audacity to take his little brother out for a spontaneous play date with their little brother E and his Mom. We went bowling, it was fun and of course Randall had to tell Kevin all about it. Kevin was jealous, sad and angry.

Of course he could not tell me that he was feeling that way, he needed to be mad about something else instead. He started to fight with me, I knew what the reason was but I let him get all upset first and once had stopped hollering at me we talked through all his big feelings. In the mean time the rest of us went on with our evening routine because although Kevin was mad he was not raging or trying to hurt anyone and thus could be left to be angry and upset by himself.

Since no one goes to bed angry in this house he had to work it out and he did. He apologized, received some comforting hugs while he had a good cry about missing out on something and learned that sometimes having friends means you miss out on family things, it's a hard lesson to learn.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Could it be that easy?

I heard about a little girl yesterday, a little girl who needs a family, I am thinking we could be her family (I know your all shocked to read that), the thing is I do not know if I am up to the challenge.
We want more kids, we want to adopt again but we are struggling against a system that is not really ready to place kids in families that have younger children through adoption. It is crazy though because in one breath everyone says they need experienced parents for these kids and yet the best way to find experienced parents is to find people who have successfully parented kids like that in the past - which usually means they have kids in the home.

This little girl though, she will need a lot of love and patience and support because oh my goodness she has a had a rough start. All kids need all of those things but when you are parenting kids from trauma there needs to be more of it and I am not sure that I will have enough of all those things for her.

You see adding children to our family would be a challenge for all of us, we would all need to shift and change and grow but I would end up doing most of it. That is not a bad thing, it not something I want change, it just is our reality, that is how our family works. P has job and I am home,  it's the choice we made.

This little girl, she needs a really great family, she needs a family who gets her, who will love her unconditionally in spite of her many challenging behaviours. She needs people who are going to be there for the long haul and there is a huge part of me that thinks we could be that family, but there is also a part of me that thinks it might be to much. That being said, if I knew before we adopted the boys, what I know now about they needed I would of thought it was more than we could handle as well.

Does my expereince parenting children who have survived significant trauma make me more apprehensive about adopting again? Yes. Does that make me a better a parent? I think so.
The other piece of this puzzle is that this little girl  and I share a common history and on deeply emotional level I get it, I get it in a way that other people will not ever get it. Does that make me the right person to be her mother though - I wish I knew that.

You know like that big read easy button from that stationery store, could I just push that and be done with it.

Yeah I know there is no easy button, just wishing there was.

Since I don't have one I am packing a cooler and heading to the lake for a day of fun with some friends cause there are 0nly 12 more days till school is back

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Some of the reasons I wanted to adopt older kids

There are reasons I adopted kids from foster care. There are reasons that I wanted to do this rather than adopt internationally. There are reasons that I convinced Jack that this was the best way to grow our family even if it was not the easiest way.

One of those reasons died in tragic accident last week and I am,  in a word, devastated.

Let me explain.

Years ago I spent time working in another city, a city with a profoundly poor inner core where poverty, alcohol, drugs and gangs were common, so common in fact that it was not really safe to walk around at night. We did anyway, stuff happened but we survived to tell the tale.

It was a tough place.

I was 19, very idealistic and also incredibly naive.

The center I worked in was designed for families but my passion was the kids, I loved them all but I had some favourites  and as the years went by and I watched them grow up a few of them etched their names into my heart.

There was Sarah*, Paul and Jane, 3 kids whose Mom was working really hard to keep them out of the system. I helped her by watching them for free whenever she needed, I loved those kids, one day they did not come over and went home instead, Mom was not back from work yet. They sat down on the steps to wait for her, the neighbour called Family Services and the kids were apprehended. I kept track of them for awhile as they bounced around the system and then I lost them. It broke my heart.

There was Daisy and her 6 brothers and sisters, their Mom died of a drug overdose one Easter, Grandma kept the girls and the boys ended up in foster care. The boys lived in a hotel room with rotating care staff for months because there were not any foster homes open to take in 3 boys. When they were finally placed they were split up even though Wolf and Storm were twins. I lost track of them after that.

There was Nastia and her siblings, I loved them too. One night Mom left them alone to go to the bar and her little brother Timmy set the house on fire. They went into the system, we fought with her to get them back, she did, but looking back I wish things had been different. All of the kids ended up with serious addiction issues and another generation of children ended up in and out of foster care.

And then was the trio, they were three kids who lived almost across the street from us. There was Marin, the oldest, she took care of her younger brothers Simon and Bob. They lived on the edge of abject poverty and although their parents had few skills they really did do their best with what they had available. The kids came to our house constantly, they were dirty, they had lice and Bob always smelled awful but they worked their way into my heart. Bob used to come and poke his little head up into the front door window shouting "you open!". We were usually closed but for them we opened the door and gave them a snack because we knew they were hungry.

Over the years I watched Marin, Simon and Bob grow into adults from a distance. I heard about how they were working  to break the cycle of poverty they grew up in and although they still became teenage parents why had jobs and partners who stayed. They were young but they were creating families who were committed to one another and although they still made some less than stellar choices they were doing a much better job than what they had grown up with.

Bob died last week in a tragic car accident, it was a stupid teenage boy kind of accident, some alcohol and speed was probably involved and he left behind a pregnant partner and young child. He was changing his world, he was breaking the cycle of poverty and his life was cut short not because of drugs but because he did a stupid thing and it ended badly. Any middle class kid could of made the same mistake, it happens to teenagers, their judgement is not always so great.

Those kids, the ones who etched their names and smiles into my heart made me want to adopt from foster care, they made we want to help kids who through no fault of their own found themselves in a situation where they no longer had a family. They made me understand what it is like to be neglected, to be hungry, to be desperate for love and human touch.

Those kids are the reason I am the parent I am, they are the reason I put myself out their to be scrutinized by social workers, to be judged as a parent and as a person. I did it because those kids deserved to be loved and cherished, they deserved to well fed and clean, they deserved hugs and unconditional love. They deserved so much more than they got. Some of them made it, some did not, some broke the cycle while others are repeating it.

They system is not perfect, society is not perfect, the world is not perfect and neither are any of us, but while we wait for perfection children wait for families to love them.

*all names have been changed

Thursday 11 August 2011

Archived Post 2011 - The Club

I saw a member on the beach yesterday, her daughter was dancing on her last nerve and she finally started to holler at her to listen and obey. I stared along with every other person in earshot as she berated her daughter. There was a difference though, I wanted to walk over and give that mom a hug, I wanted to tell her that I understood and that she is not alone. She was clearly parenting a child who was not hers by birth, a child who was doing her best to make mount mama blow her top and it was working. I did not agree with the woman's parenting but I understood every single comment that she made to her kid.

I have been that parent yelling in public, in fact I yelled at both my kids yesterday and people stared, people who do not live the life we live judge us. It's hard to be judged and stared at, to know that of all the people who are staring there might, maybe be one person who gets what raising adopted kids with attachment issues is like. I am among the lucky few who have friends both virtually and in real life who get it but there are so many moms who are all alone and as I watched that Mom I wished there was a way to let her know that I understood without coming across as some crazy person putting my nose into someone else's business.

I longed for some sort of a signal, for a way to say hey I get it, you are not alone. I know that you hoped and dreamed for this child, you longed for her, you wanted nothing more than to be her mother and now there are days you wished you could roll back the clock and change the past. I also know that there are good moments, moments when it all seems as though it will get better, good days, maybe even good weeks and then there is a trigger and all hell breaks loose again. I wanted a way to say that but I did not have one and as I watched her leave to beach my heart ached for her.

So if you are a member of the club know that you are not alone and if you are here visiting Maine this week and you see me yelling at my kids as they dance on my last nerve at the end of a long day don't judge me cause I am doing my best.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Moving On

We have all survived the Mommy meltdown of summer 2011, it was not pretty, I regret saying the things I said and getting as angry as I did but a person can only be pushed so far. There is a part of me that does not regret letting my kids know that I am human too and if you poke me long enough I will burst. I explained that to them, I also explained that I am an adult and I should be able to walk away or find other ways to deal with my mounting frustration. I have been really angry at them before and being yelled at is nothing new but the things I said were and that was the problem. I will do my best not blow quite that spectacularly again.

Thanks to each and everyone who took the time to check on me and make sure I was ok, I appreciate it. Having this community of friends makes all the difference on a day like that, in fact it makes a difference most days.

In other news we are enjoying a quiet week at home this week and much of next week, I am slowly making some plans to do things with friends but my garden needs so attention and my yard looks like a scene out of Deliverance because we have still not got grass growing on much of after they dug it all up to  put in the new septic. It looked really great out there before they dug it up, now not so much.

So I have grass seed to spread and a garden to work and veggies to pick, wash and freeze. I have been doing this huge garden thing for a few years and it is a lot of work but I do enjoy it.

Just and FYI I have started to answer people in the comments cause this is WordPress and I can do that easily - yeah for WordPress.

Monday 8 August 2011

Archived Post 2011 - If I could turn back time

I would.

I have not been a very good Mom lately. I am tired, summer is dragging and my children, the ones I love to pieces, the ones that we adopted 3 years ago (from foster care) are still frequently trying their best to make me send them back.

I came dangerously close tonight, as one boy whispered to another, life would be better if we lived with birth mom, I lost it. I said things I regret, I spoke the cold hard reality of her mistakes in a way that I regret with every fiber of being. Then I spent hours picking up the pieces.

I am lucky Jack is an understanding man, he understood, he held me while I held back the tears, then he spoke to the children. He helped pick up the pieces without covering up the truths I had revealed in anger. Truths they deserve to know just not in the way that I told them.

Then I got the birthday calendar down off the wall and brought it to the couch where there were two crying boys. I talked to them about what the calendar was for and then I got a pen. As I wrote I read aloud, Aug 8, the night Mom lost it and decided to change.

After I yelled at my kids about how their life would not be better with their birth parents who neglected them, I admitted to them that I screwed up, that I made a  huge mistake and that I would do my best to never get that angry at them again.

Parenting is really hard for a lot people, we long for families and then when it happens it is not what we expected, it is harder, it is different, it is what it is.

When we adopted the boys I never knew that parenting kids with attachment issues ( among their alphabet soup of issues)  would be something that I would still be contending with 3 years into being a family. I never knew that I would still struggle with the constant testing, the crazy lying, stealing, pushing of buttons and comments about living elsewhere. Yes some of it is appropriate and kid stuff but some of it is not. I looked after and taught a lot of kids before I adopted mine and looking back I can see the ones who did not have solid attachment to caregivers/parents as young children, I see the differences, I see the behaviours my children exhibit.

If I knew then what I know now.... I would not change a thing except perhaps my temper, I would ratchet that way back.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Archived Post - Judgement

I spent my weekend running a camp at the university that both P and graduated from. This is the 4th year in a row I have been there for 4 days in the summer providing programming for the children whose parents are attending or presenting workshops. Many of the presenters of the workshops are people I studied with and they have kids now as well. It is like a family renunion every summer where proffessors, alumni and current students spend 4 days learning new things and being togheter. Most people seem to have a lot of fun, I spend four days chasing kids so mostly I am just exhausted. It is good too see my friends during meals and in the evenings though. We sit around and talk about our lives, about parenting, partners, marriage, we argue, we disagree but it's all good cause have been friends for years.

There is one huge difference between us though, glaring in fact and it causes me more trouble than my left leaning, gay marriage is a right, woman should be ordained views.

I have adopted children from foster care. I am the only one of us who is raising kids who experienced trauma and neglect, raising kids whose brains have been altered by the choices their first parents made.

When I am with them they judge me. They comment. They stare. They do not get it nor do they care to.

It's hard. It's hard to hear them joke about my being so strict and teasing me about not letting them out of my sight. It's hard to hear them tell me loosen up and let them be kids. Trust me, I would if I could.

Sometimes I try to take a step back, to see if the boys can do things that would be developmentally appropriate for a child their age and each and every time I do it fails. Why does it fail, it fails because they are not ready. They are not ready to have full control over what they take in the cafeteria line because they will take enough to feed four children and then refuse to eat it. They cannot share a bed in a hotel room because no one will sleep. If they are left alone for any length of time something will get broken or someone will get hurt. They cannot resolve their own conflicts because they do not yet have the skills needed to do so without hurting one another. They have to be reminded to use the washroom or they will wait until it is to late. Most statements that come out Kevin's mouth are lies and have to discussed at length to determine their accurateness. They have to be within arms reach of an adult they know really well at all times or something crappy is going to happen to someone nearby.

This is behaviour that pales in comparison to the what we used to deal with and yet the comments are still made. They still stare and snicker and tell me to back off. I'd like to tell them to shut up, I mean really I don't tell  you how to raise your kids. I don't comment on their appalling table manners or smart ass comments to adults whom they should respect. I do not mock your parenting or suggest that because you are raising your children in the way that you feel is right for your family that you are doing a less than perfect job.

Yet because I am raising my kids in the way that is best for them, that gives them the structure they need to be successful, I somehow appear to be in need of parenting advice from people who have never been here, have not walked a mile in my shoes and probably never will. It drives me crazy and although I know that it is not going to change I would really like to be able to educate the masses but really is there any point because it seems as though everyone thinks they are an expert on how I should be raising my kids.

This road that we walk, the one where we adopt kids who other people have damaged and try to make a family is a tough way to create a family and the next person who makes a smart ass comment might just get to kiss my fist. You  know or something like that.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Jerk

Randall  and I were at therapy yesterday, his therapist who is a skilled man challenged Randall to do something he did not really want to do. Randall begrudgingly did it, he was annoyed about doing it, then he was triggered, got mad and burst into tears. His therapist talked him through it or at least he tried to. It was sort of hard because Randall was busy scratching the work JERK into the skin on his arms and legs (with a freshly bitten finger nail) and then proudly showing off his handiwork. We ignored him and ended the session. When we were alone in the car I asked him why he did it and he didn't really have an answer.

It was interesting to me as he has never done anything like that before. I am not sure if it is the therapist or issue or just the kind of day he was having but it was a interesting reaction none the less. He has not mentioned it again and we will go back next week. This therapist is new to him but he is skilled so it will be interesting to see what happens next.

The fallout from therapy continued through out the afternoon while we were out with friends and ended when he completely ignored what I said about all 4 kids staying together on a bike ride and rode off  alone in a strange neighbourhood witha 6 year old in tow on foot who he then left behind. My head just about exploded when I found out. As a result of his choices he spending the morning sitting near me, not so near that I have to listen to him chatter but near enough that he can be seen by me as I attempt to get some work done. I get so frustrated when his defiance puts himself or other people at risk. It is not just ignoring me, it is a safety issue and so very frustrating.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Openess in older child adoption

I have been mulling over this idea for a few weeks and the best way to write about it because what I thought about openness before I adopted, soon after I adopted and now 3 years later are all really different. Last night read a post over at Roztime about Inclusive Foster Care and it got me thinking about how to write about openness and how I really should just say what I feel and think because maybe some others will have something to add to the conversation and that might give me some perspective.

I have never met my children's birth mother, I have read about her, I have made  judgments about her but I have never met her. She is mythical in my sons minds, she has a pretty high pedestal and that is okay. Kevin has started to vocalize how if he if he lived his birth mother she would never _______________ (fill in the blank for whatever consequence he has ). We usually burst that bubble for him pretty quickly, I remember longing for a family where I did not have to follow the rules as well.

That all being said my children have no contact with their birth mother which is a complicated matter because they have 2 sisters who do have contact. It is messy and frustrating and frankly way more detailed than I can get into here, it is also not all my story to tell.

When we first adopted the boys  we agreed to openness with both birth parants via letters twice a year. It was reasonable, the boys needed to write to her and to deal with the loss of her in their lives. They are still processing that loss but their need to communicate with her in that way has diminished a great deal as time has gone on. This year May came and went and they were not at all interested in writing to her. I respected that and guilty as I feel about it I have not written to her either. I have not written because I do not know what to say because we have stopped giving the boys her letters. We stopped last Christmas because they were just not appropriate and they tend to make the boys more upset than happy and that is hard for all of us. I have kept them and I have no doubt that the boys will be angry at me when they find out that I withheld them from them.

I think that a big part of the problem is that she has not processed her loss of them and so she writes to them as though they are just away at summer camp rather than moving on with their lives with another family. It is heartbreaking to see the pain she is in and yet I can not help but be angry at her for the choices that she made. She was given ample opportunity to learn to parent appropriately, the law was broken to give her more time, support was provided and yet she was unable to put her children first. I do not understand her choice, I do not understand why she was unwilling to change for them and yet then changed in order to parent a child who was born once the others were already in care.

In an ideal world I would like to be able to have a relationship with her in some way but I can not see how that is possible. I have learned in the last weeks that she is crossing all sorts of boundaries in other relationships and that concerns me. It worries me because I am afraid that she would undermine the work that we have done to help the boys heal from what happened to them as young children. It worries me because they deserve so much and yet at this time she has little to offer. Her family is of little help as they also continue to cross boundaries that are not theirs to cross and continue to try to have access to the boys in sneaky and inappropriate ways.

I think open adoption is a wonderful thing. I think that children who are growing up in adoptive homes are doubly blessed when they have birth families who can maintain healthy relationships with them. I think that when reunification is the goal it is great to inclusiveness   in foster homes. I think that there are lots of families who make all kinds of things work in all kind of situations. A part of me would really like to be one of those families.

But, regardless of what I think about what might be or what could be I am faced with a situation that is none of those things. I have talked to our adoption worker and she is going to speak to the boys birth mother (again) about what can and cannot be included in letters. She is going to let her know that the children have not been receiving her letters nor the money that her mother has been sending them. The worker is going to try to get birth mom to begin to work through this so that she can have a realistic relationship with our children. Yes they are ours, hers and mine (well not just mine), ours. I will not for a minute pretend that she is not important to them but at the same time I want to save them from the heartache that her empty promises cause for the boys.

It is complicated, I wish there was an easy answer.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Broken

In late April I learned about some boys who needed a family. We applied, it looked positive, it looked like it might happen, it looked like we might be parents to 4 really soon. Then last Friday we got a phone call that let us know that the "team" had decided to place the children in a family without other children because although we had all the skills needed to parent these boys they felt as though we would be unable to do so given that we already had kids.

I was devastated. I had tried to guard my heart against caring about them, I had tried to say it would be okay if it did not happen. Then when it did not happen it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I knew that they might not choose us, I knew that the fact that we already have adopted kids was seen as a strike against us, I knew that they might not understand why we wanted to do adopt again. But, I was hopeful that they would believe that we knew what we could and our kids could handle and that our worker who was supporting us would not say yes to something that we could not do.
Regardless of what I thought, they said no.

I now understand why people walk away from adopting from foster care in this country and go abroad instead. There is no reason that the system needs to work like this. We are qualified, we have a completed homestudy and we have room in our home and our hearts and yet we are waiting because we can not find a worker who will place an attachment challenged child in a home that has kids who had attachment issues.

Yes I just wrote, had attachment issues, they had them, they raged and broke things and rejected me but they are healing, they are learning to love and I am pretty hopeful that we can help other kids heal as well. I know that people do not understand why we would want to do this again, why we would mess with a good thing. Well, we will mess with a good thing because there are kids who need families, there are kids who need to heal and learn that the world is not just an unpredictable and scary place. There are kids who deserve better than they are getting now.

There are kids available, there are kids who have serious attachment issues and need therapeutic parents, parents with experience raising kids like them and yet they will not place those kids in families with other children. It seems to me that it would pretty hard to find parents who were experienced in raising kids with serious attachment issues if it was not something they had already done which would usually mean that there were kids in the home.  It's like desperately looking for an Macintosh apple but only looking Granny Smith trees, it is pretty much an impossible task.
When we began parenting our kids we had no idea how to be therapeutic parents, we had no idea how to make this work. I made a lot of mistakes, I still make mistakes, I am human but I have learned a lot and I am continuing to learn.

As hard as it I will continue to put my heart out there and fall in love with kids that might one day be ours so that eventually one will.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Archived Post 2011 - A love story

I have a story to share today, it is a good one, some of you have heard it before but I share it again because I love that it is our story. 

Twelve Septembers ago, in the fall of my third year of "higher education" I sat in a class at a university were the majority of the students were male ( I called them boys) and female students were few and far between. In this particular class, History of the First 5 Centuries, there were 4 other women. I sat with 2 of them at a table near the back next to the window. Behind me sat 2 men who I had yet to meet. One was my age with a babyface, the other older than I and quick to crack a joke. I took them in as just another couple of guys at a school where that was the norm. As it turned out they were both Roman Catholic seminarians in their first year of studies. 

The semester moved along and we joked with one another and made cracks about other students, professors and life in general. Fall led into Winter and I became friends with those "boys" who sat behind me. We had other classes together and began to meet in the cafe at coffee breaks. They were nice enough boys and the joker made me laugh. The joker began spending more time with me and a few of my friends, he fit right in with our left leaning liberal views and our deisre to change the world.   

3rd year turned into 4th and the joker and I had more classes together, I used to copy his notes when I skipped class. I confided in him about the boy I had a crush on as they were friends and I thought maybe he could hook us up. I invited him to parties at my house, including my 25th birthday party when he gave me a miniature telescope so that I could always see my dreams. He was great friend and I felt lucky to have him in my life. 

In my last year of univeristy I was on a different campus and didn't see him to often, we saw one another at parties and the occasional school function. That summer he and his teenage son helped me move and around the same time he decided that being a priest was not what he wanted and instead began a master's degree.

As I struggled to find a  teaching job we kept in touch and got together with other friends occasionally. When I decided to leave for Asia he stored my stuff, bought my TV and came to my going away party. We kept in touch over email. I confided in a number of friends that if I was older or he was younger I would marry him. He didn't seem interested though and so off I went to Asia with his email address and a miniature telescope.

We kept in touch while I was gone, I missed him but I missed everyone as I was so far away. I came home 18 months later and he was the first one to call and welcome me back. We saw each other soon after for coffee and then a few days later for dinner. I muttered to my friends about him and wondered if maybe I was missing something. Days turned into weeks and we were spending more and more of our free time in one anothers company.

Before I knew it I tripped, fell and was in love with the joker, the one who I told about all the other boys that I liked. The one who laughed at my corny jokes, drove me home on cold winter days and worried about me when I was overseas alone. Fall led into winter again and by the time Christmas came we were engaged.

We were married, enjoyed one another alone for 2 years and then adopted Kevin and Randall. I could not ever imagine doing this parenting dance with anyone else. He gets it, he understand it and more importatnly he is committed to being a therapeutic parent. 

Five years ago today we were married and so, to celebrate the fact that I love the man I married and that I have never been as sure of anything as in my life as I am about him I share with you. 

Friday 3 June 2011

archived post 2011 - Chaos

Randall thrives on chaos. I think that it makes him feel calmer inside to know that everything around him is turned upside down. He has spent a great deal of that last week of his life creating chaos both at home and elsewhere. I am worn out and close to the edge, I have yelled at him more times than is good and now I am paying the price because he knows that he is annoying me so he just keeps doing it.

Luckily for me Jack was home last night and this morning, I was in a good mood this morning and  we out crazied his crazy behaviour and moved on. He was going on and on about being yelled at even though no one yelled at him so I had him close his eyes, I spun him around, put his hands on his head, told him to stick out his tongue and say I love you. It worked, it broke the pattern but oh my he was making me crazy.

Last night he turned a little tiny thing into a huge 20 minute tantrum, it was really just a little thing that he did to annoy Kevin, no one was mad we just wanted him to repeat what he said... you would think that we pulled a gun on him the way he reacted to the simple request to repeat himself. Dinner was late, we listened to him yell, both boys were in tears and Jack and I just stood there looking at one another wondering when we got an invite to live in crazytown - who lives like this - trauma mamas and papas that's who.

I am a better parent when I have had enough sleep, caffeine, food and Jack is home. I can parent just fine without Jack but he helps keep things calm by dealing with Randall's increasing behaviours and at least 3 times this week I have needed him to deal with Randall because other wise I would just yell at him.

Randall can trigger my anger in a way that shocks and worries me. He knows how to push my buttons in a way that I have never encountered in a small person before. I know that, it helps that I know that because it allows me to process his behaviour and it also helps me to step away and let someone else deal with him.

Today when we were at the optometrist I sent Randall in to the exam room alone because I knew that if we were together I would just constantly be telling him to stop playing with things and fidgeting while the optometrist was going to be a whole lot more patient than I was. I sat in the waiting room and knit instead until I had to go in because he needs glasses, like his brother, which is a whole different post for a different day.

It has been hard to learn where my edge with Randall is, but I know now and whenever I can I pass the reigns to Jack. I  need to say that I commend single parents, I do not know how you do it, really I have no idea. I also need to say that Jack keeps me sane and makes me be a better parent. Sometimes we disagree but mostly we are on the same parenting page and that makes being a mother to my boys a whole lot easier.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Therapy

I don't go to therapy to find out if I'm a freak
I go and I find the one and only answer every week

And it's just me and all the memories to follow 

Down any course that fits within a fifty minute hour

And we fathom all the mysteries, explicit and inherent
When I hit a rut, she says to try the other parent
And she's so kind, I think she wants to tell me something, 
But she knows that its much better if I get it for myself...

 - What Do You Hear In These Sounds, Dar Williams. 

I went to therapy yesterday. I needed to go, I needed to talk and vent and be understood. It was good, great in fact, until I learned something that literally took my breath away. My therapist is retiring in November. 

After 13 years ( off and on)  of working with her she is leaving me. Yes I know that she is not just leaving me but that is how it feels, I am sure that all of her clients feel the same way.  She is going back to her own world, to her family, her grandkids and her hobbies. I am not sure that I know how I will cope with the loss of her in my life. I mean that. This woman, she saved me, she taught me to value myself and that I was worth it. She taught me to take care of me and ways to process all of the crap that happened in my life.

When I was the most depressed, the most vulnerable she held my hand, she gave me her home number, she talked me down off the virtual ledge more times than I can even count. She believed in me, a stranger who I was paying her to listen to me did much more than what was required in that 50 minute hour. She believed that I was worth all the extra time, the free sessions when I was broke, the reduced rates when I could not afford her, the late night phone calls on holidays from across the country. She made a commitment to me and my my healing. 

She believed in me. Yes that is her job but with a good therapist it is so much more than that. She is good at what she does and it can be really hard to find a person who gets you in the way that she gets me. I have known her longer than many of the people who exist in my world today including my husband. She has seen me through so much, helped me work  through so much and now she going. I am aware of the void this going to leave in my world, aware and scared.

I have the skills, I know how to cope but having her as a support makes it all a little easier. She gets me, she understands my triggers and issues and there is not need to re-explain things to her. I would have start again with another person, not at the beginning but it would take time and work to develop this type of relationship with another therapist. That is the hard part of working with someone for this long, it hurts when it ends. I always knew there would be a time when this would happen but I hoped it would not be so soon.

I will always encourage people to use therapy, it is an excellent way to deal with the crap that goes on in our lives. It helps, it makes a difference to have some support because sometimes just getting out bed in the morning is hard. As hard as this is for me to wrap my mind around her moving on, I must say that I happy she has given me this much notice because it will gives me time to get used to the idea. To decide what is next, to move on on my own or to look for someone to walk with me.

Friday 29 April 2011

Archived Post 2011 - It's not their fault.

"Hey Mom, sorry I had such a bad morning, I love you, have a good day" said Randall as he was rushing out the door this morning.
"That's okay buddy, it happens and it wasn't so bad" I said, keeping the grouchy mama voice inside my head.
"Nope, your right, I didn't spill anything, that would of made it worse" he replied and as he skipped off down the path he turned and signed I love you to me.
 My heart melted in that moment.

He had a bad morning, nothing new, what is new is that he saw that and moved on from it without yelling or arguing or blaming me for his mistakes. That is progress, it is also attachment.

Randall is moving forward in his attachment to me, he has been for awhile. That in and of itself it a WONDERFUL thing but  it is hard because I have been so hurt by the way he has treated me that sometimes I still feel as though it is all a carefully constructed facade.  Here he is moving along, making loving comments, looking for touch and reassurance from me because he is learning to trust me, learning to love me and there are times when I do not want him to. I don't want to be touched, or loved or spend time with him. I want to be hurt and bitter and angry because of the way he has treated me.

Don't worry, I am not playing favourites. It's not just Randall, sometimes I feel the same way about Kevin.

The thing is even though sometimes I feel that way I need to keep those very real and very normal feelings in check, I need to put on my happy face and fake it. It is not as hard to fake it as it was awhile ago. Some days are easier than others.

I need to fake it because it is not my children's fault that they are still attaching to me. It is not my children's fault that they do not trust adults to meet their needs. It is most certainly not their fault that they are in this situation, it is the fault of other adults, adults who did not meet their needs.

Lately when I ready to blow at one of them, when I do not want to be touched by them, when I am so far past frustrated with a rage or and tantrum or an argument, I hang on to that, I hang on to - it's not their fault, they did not ask for this. They have been shaped and formed and changed by what happened to them as young children.

I am not justifying all of their behaviour, but their past matters, it makes a difference, it changes things.

Yes they make choices, they do stuff that make things worse, they act like children and sometimes that drives me crazy. But at the end of the day some of it is not their fault and that it is very important thing to remember when parenting them.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Archived Posts - 2011 Mind If I Rant

It's been a long week. I need to rant a bit. If you are having a great day and don't want to listen to ranting that's ok.

Still here, thanks for being willing to read my ramblings.

In July the boys will of been with us for 3 years. That a few months longer than the amount of time that they spent in foster care. It is a long time. In my life a year no longer seems like a long time but in the life of a child it is an eternity. So if they have been forever ( or what feels like forever) why the hell can they not figure out that we will love them no matter and that the pushing and arguing and testing and creating chaos on purpose can stop anytime now.

Yesterday Kevin brought home a failed math test. He left huge portions of it blank not because he did not know the answers but simply because he was not interested in doing it.
Last night he cut things up and generally made a mess in the bathroom because rather than come upstairs with him while he was getting ready I dared to spend time talking to Jack who had just gotten home.
Randall just about knocked a boiling pot of water off the stove the other day in his crazy attempt to get me to pay attention to him rather than to the dinner I was trying to make.
Randall also can no longer remember how to set the table, clear the table, stack dishes, get dressed, chew with his mouth closed, feed the cat or bring his homework home.
Neither of them can remember that the kitchen is not a self serve take out bar and they need to ask before they help themselves to whatever it is that they feel like eating in that moment.
Kevin has decided that I can not go anywhere without him, if I do all hell breaks loose and Jack who is home with him gets the brunt of the behaviour.

We could be done with this anytime now, yesterday would of been a good day to start, tomorrow is equally good.... what do you think my chances are.

Stop laughing

I know it's not going to change anytime soon but a girl can dream can't she.

I am going to get a white chocolate mocha now because that will solve all my problems.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Archived Post 2011 - You know you are a therapeutic parent when ...

You know you are a therapeutic parent when you are confronting your son about his stealing and in the midst of the conversation a nugget of truth starts to emerge. Your partner pursues the questioning as he did not really catch the nugget of truth. You interrupt your partner and take over the questioning while holding one finger up to your husband and say...

Daniel Hughes

He gets where you are going immediately and lets you go there.

Your son admits he was trying to get your attention, he is understands how he could of done it differently and he moves into remorse without rage. Everyone goes to bed and no one is angry at anyone else any longer.

Read Daniel Hughes, it works.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

archived post 2011 - Confessions

I have a confession to make.
Monday was a bad day for me.
I was not a therapeutic parent on Monday night, I was not a good parent, in fact I was not even a good enough parent. I sucked at parenting on Monday.
I am okay with that.
Really I am and you should be to.

I am not perfect. I yell at my kids when they do things like scare the crap out of me by disappearing when they should be in the house, unpacking their backpacks because even though I am running a few minutes late and was not home when they got off the bus they know what to do and should be doing it.

I should not of yelled, I certainly should of not used some of the words I choose to use but I was scared and upset and then angry that they chose to ignore yet again. Once I calmed down a little and had settled my heart rate down to it's normal number of beats per minute I talked to them. I was still not therapeutic though. I may of not been yelling anymore but I was still mad and there was little that I said or did that night that could be considering good parenting when you are dealing with hurt kids (probably not for any kids in fact).

I regret what I said, but I am not perfect, things happen. It was not mean or belittling but it was about my expectations for them and in that moment my expectations for my kids were unrealistic because when my kids are scared they lie, when I yell at kids they get scared. My kids made a mistake, I yelled, they shut down and it spiralled out of control from there. I was upset for a long time but by bedtime we had managed to make it so that everyone was feeling calmer and more regulated.

My kids will survive, I will survive and we will move forward together.

If you are having a hard parenting day, if you just yelled at your kid or said something that was probably not the best thing to say or sent them to there room forever till they could behave like a civilized human being... know that you are not alone.

It's a good thing that Tuesday was a new day. It was better than Monday, not fantastic but better.

Friday 18 March 2011

Archived Post 2011 - It just makes me sad.

The boys have a visit planned with their sister today, I just hung up the phone with her foster Mom and my heart is breaking. Big Sister is having a hard time, she has begun talking about things that happened to her as a little kid and is cutting to help deal with her pain. My heart is aching for her. She has foster parents who get it and who are hearing her (thankfully) but that does not make it any less painful to see a child that you care about in so much pain. I am not sure how she is going to be today, I am not sure how being with her brothers will be for her but I just want to wrap her in my arms and make it all better for her.

I am wishing that I had a magic wand. I must say my feelings toward their birthmom in this very moment are less than loving because oh my goodness her inability to acknowledge her past mistakes and her role in her children's suffering is making my blood boil. Big Sister confronted her about some things and she denied them and refused to hear what her daughter was saying to her.

Oh and just to add to my day Randall is having a bad pain morning and given that his pain has been well controlled this week we planned on going to the wave pool today. It may not be such a good plan given that at this very moment he is lying on the couch trying to make the world dark because his eyes and his hip are hurting. He does not have another doctors appointment for 3 weeks, it might be a long 3 weeks.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Sometimes I do not want to to admit it...

Sometimes I do not want to admit it but there are days when Randall is the last person on earth I want to spend time with. There are days when I force myself to tell him that I love him. There are days when I put a smile on my face and say fake it till you make it lady, you can do this. There are days when I would like give up and stop trying to help him heal.

Being his Mom has been really hard for the last year.

Before that it was easy because Kevin took up all the space with his behaviours. Kevin was raging and yelling and hurting us and Randall was the complaint well behaved child. Then Kevin stopped raging and started attaching andRandall did not know what to do. It was his experience that Kevin's behaviours would cause them to move and so if Kevin was not raging and making life miserable for everyone then he better step in and fill that space.

He has done a stellar job at being a first class shit disturber for the last 10 months.

The difference between Randall and Kevin though is that Randall is not a rager, he is passive and he is smart and he works hard to push you right the the very edge and then he stops. He works hard to create chaos and make  people angry, I mean that, he really does work at it. His teachers comment on how he seems to be trying to push kids away at school and at home he is often sweet and caring towards his father and horrible to me. He is doing on purpose, he is trying to make himself unlovable because he believes that he not worthy of being loved.

We are working on changing that for him, we are working on getting him to heal but oh my goodness it is HARD.

When he is in trouble we always talk about the hows and whys of what we have done. His newest behaviour is to wait me out, he thinks that if he refuses to answer me for long enough eventually I will give in a yell at him. I have resolved within myself to not let him win this one and so I will not yell or do any of the other things that he would like me to do in order to feed into his negative self image. I just wait.

We had one of those waiting days yesterday, It literally took 4 hours before he would answer a simple question and out of respect for his privacy I am not going to get into what that conversation was about but needless to say after 4 hours I was pretty tired of waiting. I finally let him know as we got towards 9:30 that I was done for the day and that we could resume this conversation in the morning. I pushed a little and held out a carrot (or a threat depending on your point of view) about our plans for this afternoon that he did not know about and let him know that if we needed to continue this conversation tomorrow they would not be happening.  He started to cry, real tears, not the crocodile ones he does so well. I pushed a little harder and finally he answered.

"I (insert behaviour) because I like the way it makes me feel" he said. It was the truth, you could see the shame he felt about admitting to the fact that he was doing this on purpose in his eyes. He clearly had never been that honest about this before and he was taking a huge risk by saying it aloud

I just about jumped for joy, but I was tired and he did not need to see me jumping up and down because that would of confused the poor tired boy. The point is he was honest, it took four hours but he was honest about a choice that he made and honest about the reason that he was doing it.

That my friends is huge, a huge monumental step for a boy who is so very afraid of being loved. Randall trusted me enough to admit that he is doing something on purpose, doing it because he enjoys it regardless of it's impact to others. He trusted me enough to share something that he had probably never said aloud before even though he was terrified of what might happen when he spoke those words, he did, he said it.

I hugged him. That's what I did. Then we talked about the behaviour and how it needs to change. We talked about how sometimes even though we like something that does not make it ok. We went to bed and as I tucked him I said to him, you know it would of been a whole lot easier if we did not spend 4 hours getting here, he agreed.

Today he is in a good mood and is doing as he  is asked, well except at breakfast but that was not a big deal, just some poking to see what Mom is going to do when Dad is sitting right there. So I am going to keep on faking it on the days it is really hard and enjoy him on the good days and trust that he is going to attach, even if it does take a really long time.

Friday 25 February 2011

Archived Post 2011 - My word.

Kevin how you amaze me sometimes. As I type this he is spouting little known dinosaur facts at me from across the room. Things I clearly need to know like that a velocoraptor can do things no other dino can do.

I can die now, I know so many useless dino facts.

This would be the same child who threw a cork at me last week,  routinely tells me I am beautiful, that he hates me, that I do not care about him, that I am the best mother in the world and that he needs to misbehave to test my love for him. 

It can be confusing and hard to hear. It can also be called healing. I have seen more evidence of his ability to process and heal in the last week than I have in months.

Friday 18 February 2011

Archived Post 2011 - I hate you and other things that are hard to hear from my kid.

I hate you.
You're mean.
You don't care.
Leave me alone.
I don't want you to love me.
Go away.
You should send me back.
You can't love me.
I don't want to live here.
You will never understand.

I have been hearing these words a lot from Kevin lately, he is usually shouting them at me. Both last week and this week Thursdays have been really hard days. That being said though, how I deal with the words can either make or break our day.

Last Thursday he decided he was mad a the world and after a fight with Randall put himself to bed at 5 pm. I gave him some space and then went to his room to see if I could help him through the HUGE feelings he was clearly having that were a whole lot more complicated than the fight with Randall

He did not want to talk to me at all. In fact he did everything in his power to make me go away so that he would not have to talk to me. He yelled, he kicked, he insulted, I did not go away. I stayed and kept calm. He hid under his bed wrapped in a blanket refusing to engage in any of the conversations I was trying to have.

It would of been easy to walk away when he screamed that he hated me. It would of been easy to yell and give him a consequence when he kicked me. It would of been easy but it would not of been healing. Instead I stayed, I talked to him about all the big feelings he was having and about how very hard that must be for him. I talked about how if he was feeling scared and upset about his body hurting that would be a normal feeling for a kid to have. I talked and talked and I ignored the shouting. After about 20 minutes he came out from under his bed and lay down with me. I talked some more, he nodded or shook his head in response. We cuddled and tickled and got silly and after another 10 minutes he was ready to join us for supper.

His words do hurt me, his actions hurt me as well but he is 10 and the first years of his life were really tough for him. I can not expect him to be all better because I am taking care of his needs and I tell him that I love him everyday. I can not expect that he is going to regular kid overnight because I am not beating him or leaving him to fend for himself. It took a long time to do the damage that has been done to his brain and it will take a long time to heal that damage.

I see progress, each and every time he chooses to talk rather than rage I see progress and he is taking huge steps toward healing everyday.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Archived Post 2011 - I lose it too.

Over the winter break this happened in my house one day, I am sharing it because I know I am not the only one who has been there and plenty of parents beat themselves up after they lose it with their kids. I feel bad as well,  but after I have lost it I always make sure that I pick up the pieces and that helps.

"Kevin why did you steal that candy" I asked calmly

"I wanted it" he said with a mocking tone.

"Well, Kevin, I can appreciate that you wanted it but you knew that it was not yours to take. Can you tell me how you were feeling when you took it" said in my calm therapeutic Mama voice


"Kevin, how were you feeling?"

 He begins to shout " I was not feeling anything, I just wanted it!"

I calmly respond, "I can hear that you wanted it but you understand that sneaking around the house at night and taking things is unacceptable and you know what the consequence will be if you do, so I would like to know what you were thinking and feeling while all of this was happening last night. "

He continues to shout at me, " I was not thinking or feeling anything. I wanted it! Besides why should you care, you don't care about me anyway. You hate me."

"No Kevin I do not hate you, you might feel that way sometimes though. Right now we are talking about stealing though not about my love for you. Can you please tell me how you were feeling last night when you decided to get out of bed and sneak around the house?"

Repeat variations of these lines for about 30 minutes with him getting more angry and me doing my best to remain calm.

Finally I lost it. And screamed at him. I did not just yell from across the room, I got right in his face and yelled at him. I shouted about how he had pushed and poked hard enough and now I was yelling. I yelled about how hard it was to repeat the same things over and over again and about very frustrated I was. I yelled and yelled for a good 5 minutes or so. Then I informed him I was to angry to talk to him anymore I closed his door, set his door alarm and left the room.

It took me almost 2 hours to calm down enough to be able to talk to him calmly without being triggered by his yelling and button pushing.

Once I was calm and regulated and I knew that I could talk him all the way through the choices he had made and get to the feelings that caused them I went back to him. I apologised for yelling and explained what had happened for me and why I yelled. We talked about his choices and his behaviour and we got to a place where he said, " Sometimes I see something that I want and it is really tempting and I just feel like I have to take it. " That was so much better than " I wanted it" and it gave me somethings to work with and a way to talk about the act of stealing and about desiring things we could not have. It was a good conversation. Then we moved on to feelings and some of the things that motivate us and in the end we were able to move on a save the remainder of the day.

I yelled, then I cried and I apologised to my son. I am trying to stay regulated when he pushes me, I am not always successful but I am trying and doing my best and that is all I can offer.