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.