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.