Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's the little things

Having a child who lives elsewhere is hard. I think most people would agree and understand that it must be hard. But, like everything involving parenting a special needs child, I don't think most people really understand just how hard.

The day to day life that most parents take for granted is lost for a parent who parents remotely. Sometimes the staff and professional will understand that loss and work toward helping families remained connected, but often they don't see the need or don't think it's best... sometimes they even feel it's harmful.

This is especially complicated in the case of a child who has attachment disorder and doesn't get why he should tell you anything about his life because... well... it is *his* life after all. Without the help of the people in his life, we are left knowing nothing and having no input.

The losses pile up and snowball and hit you in the face, one by one...

Your child wears clothes that you have never seen, they give away clothes and gifts that you give them, they go to bed at night and rise in the morning without a good night or good morning from you. They read books and watch movies that you are never able to discuss with them. They learn, they see, the grow and they do and you never know.

Moment after moment races by without you knowing what fills them. Teachable moments, so many opportunities to pray with them, to talk to them, to share life and find joy and to nurture and show love.

So many other people coming and going in the child's life. So many other world views and perspectives. So many comments, so many values. So little input from you. Opportunities for growth and seeing family promoted as a priority are overlooked and lost.

Today I discovered that Middle's school picture day came and went without a word to me. His proofs were sent home to his FCP and whatever she did or didn't do happened without a word to me. The total disregard for us and our connection to our son is the heaviest burden to bear.

It is the little things that can not ever be repeated or replaced. Those things that a mother wants to know in her quest to know her child. It's the little things that knit hearts together and join lives. It's the little things that we grieve.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Visit four

We went into this visit still unrecovered from the surprise four-day weekend of the past week's visit. That probably didn't help...

Friday we four rose early and got ready to head out. We drove across the county to pick Middle up from school. On the way we called his FCP to ask where and how we would get his weekend meds. She was at work but told us that she had put them in his backpack. Great!

We checked Middle-one out of school and he arrives with a heavily frosted cupcake, no backpack. So we ask...

"Where is your backpack?"

"I didn't bring it"

"Why not?"

"Because it's got my clothes in it?

........................... (some things really don't need to be thought about too much)

"Isn't that why you should have brought it?"

"NO!....that's embarrassing!!!"

*we paused to breath deeply... we have learned that we should always make sure we have enough rest, hydration and breath to successfully face the day.

Mr. T called the FCP at work, AGAIN to ask when we might be able to get said backpack. She wouldn't be home at all until Saturday so we had to plan to drive an hour each way to obtain the clothes and meds that Middle had chosen not to bring. We verified with her that he had been instructed to bring the bag. She said yes. We began planning chores to provide him with money to pay for our gas and time....

Meanwhile, Middle contentedly ate his cupcake, in front of his brothers and got frosting all over himself and the van.

And we're off...

The therapy appointment was fine and is fully detailed in another post.

We headed home after therapy and did much of nothing. Mr. T went out later and got pizza and the movie Planet 51 and we all enjoyed a family evening in front of the TV.

Saturday morning was fairly peaceful and uneventful. We had breakfast and Mr. T took all three boys to drive over to FCP home and pick up the backpack. Then they all went grocery shopping... yes, sometimes I doubt his sanity, but never his love. I had the morning to do school work and soak in the peace.

The afternoon was spent doing chores and letting the boys play.

Middle and Bright-Eyes began to have some challenges. Unfortunately Middle-One wasn't working on processing so he argued and defended anytime we tried to help them resolve the issue. This just caused Bright-Eyes more stress and things began to snowball.

Bright-Eyes tried to walk away when things began to feel threatening... as instructed. Middle-One came to talk to us when things got frustrating... as instructed. But it all broke down there so we used parenting technique #408. It goes something like this... "If you two can't get along then you don't need to be together". You can see those years of intense therapy and parenting training shining through can't you? ;o)

Since they couldn't be together and Middle is challenged when given idol time, I made a debt log and began to find chores for him to work for gas money. To his credit he did work hard and worked of half of his debt. The rest will have to be completed during the next visit. Hopefully he won't add to it.

Sunday began with the usual petty challenges of just getting three boys up and ready for church on time. No one even needs special needs and emotional disturbances to feel that pain.

We got to church, attended church, left church and headed home all without event.

We balanced that out by including a jaunt to the emergency room later...

We managed to get through lunch and Bright-Eyes was playing... alone, because the sibling segregation continued... when we all heard the screaming. Bright-Eyes was on his knees with his bloodied hand over his eye. This was my cue to become the "weaker sex" and let Mr. T. sweep in and take charge, least I pass out cold. My knight ran to Bright-Eyes, and determined that his eye was safe and secure but he had punctured and stick through his face, just below his eyelid and it needed to be checked out and likely stitched up.

Looking back I am glad that Middle-One didn't come running with morbid fascination, wanting to see the blood and asking if his brother was going to die. I guess we have made progress.

Middle even began to collect his clothes and personal items when instructed because we thought we would have to take him back ... but we changed out plans when we realized Bright-Eye's face was still bleeding and Mr. T. decided to just get to the ER ASAP. We sent Ebear to sit with and comfort his brother, and Middle and I remained at the house.

Middle used the time wisely to play video games without interruption. Still no concern or compassion, but at least we didn't have to deal with the morbid fascinations... there is hope.

I called the FCP right away to explain that we had an emergency and would be later for drop off. She said she had a church service but would be home in the evening after 6:00. I asked her if she would be home all evening and she confirmed that she would... this is important.

Surprisingly, Mr. T called soon after they arrived at the ER to tell me they were already finished and on the way back. No stitches for Bright-Eyes this time and he had missed his eye completely so no damage. They glued the cut shut and sent him on his way.

Realizing I hadn't in a while, I took time to pause and breath deeply.

When they got home we decided that I would take all three boys to drop Middle off so that Mr. T. could study for his Science exam Monday morning.

As we headed out Middle wondered if he could take our fruit with him. I assured him that his FCP would feed him and provide food. :o)

We headed out at 6:30. I called the FCP's house to let her know that we were on the way. I got her voice mail and left a message.

The segregated boys were now together in tight quarters and grumpy. We didn't get a mile down the road before Middle became hostile toward Bright-Eyes every time he spoke. And Bright-Eyes wasn't in a forgiving mood since he was now sporting a wad of glue under his blackening swollen eye. I began pulling over to the side of the road to allow Middle to get quiet and stop harassing his brother. I stopped three times before we had even made it to the highway... I was having second thoughts about the wisdom of bringing them together but didn't want to admit defeat so we went on.

About halfway there Bright-Eyes tells me he is starting to hurt again and I realized that his pain killer was wearing off. I would need to drop Middle off and go to the store.

We arrived at the FCP's home about 7:30. No one was home. I called Mr. T to ask for her cell #. Mr. T said he would try also. We both called the cell phone and the home phone again. We left messages but there was no response.

The boys and I sat for about 20 minutes and I began to wonder what I should do. We had no idea where she was or why she wasn't at home like she had said she would be.

Bright-Eyes was in a lot of pain now so I left to find a store to buy some Ibuprofen, drinks and a snack. We headed back to the FCP's home ... still not there. It was nearly 8:00 at this point and I was considering just bringing Middle back home.

Should have been breathing deeply here... sometimes we just don't remember to take care of ourselves.

Just after 8:00 Mr. T. called and said that FCP had called the house and asked him what he wanted to do. Neither of us understood what that meant at the time. (Later we realized that she hadn't heard the VM messages and assumed that we still had Middle at our house. ) Mr. T. told her that we were at her home waiting and had been there for quite a while. She answered...

"Ok, well I'm at church"

Mr. T assumed that meant that she was on her way and told me that. We waited....

Middle and Bright-Eyes were getting more and more anxious having to wait for and unforeseen amount of time stuck together in a van. Middle-One was being oppositional which wasn't helping any of us to wait patiently.

It was close to 8:30 when a familiar van pulled up. It was familiar only to Middle and Ebear who had seen it before at past drop offs with Mr. T. It was the sister in law of FCP. They announced that they had come to pick Middle-One up.

We all transferred his belongings from one vehicle to another, I stopped him and told him that I love him, and he was gone.

Halfway home I received a call from his FCP who told me that she was sending someone to pick him up and that she was still at church... Ummmmmmm... yeah, they got him already.

And thus ended visit four.

I have all week to breath deeply.. inhale... exhale....

Random RADness

We were doing chores on Saturday afternoon. In typical fashion Middle-One was finding every creative way he could do what we said to do but without really obeying. It was frustrating and incredibly amussing at the same time.

Middle had been told to sweep the floor and to toss boxes onto the porch. He was busy and whenever we checked on him he appeared to be working hard. So we went on about our business.

"I'm done" he cried out... (no matter how hard we have tried to teach them to ask us to come and check to see if, in fact, they *are* done, he always just announces he is done... but I digress.)

Mr. T and I stepped in to the kitchen door to inspect his work and laying in the middle of the clean kitchen floor was a pair of dirty socks.

We just cracked up.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The heart of RAD

Nancy Thomas tells a story about being dragged out on the ice. For those who don't know it, it is a tale about a child who stepped out on the ice before it was completely frozen and fell through.

They were dying and no one came to help. They struggled and fought and screamed and yelled but not one helped. They gasped for breath and went under again and again... they were dying and no one helped. ...

finally they were able to somehow pull themselves out and to the shore on the other side of the lakes, where they lay catching their breath and regaining their strength until they could crawl away from the shore. They recovered there across the lake.

They could see people on the other side who were playing and having fun and eventually they even saw people on the ice. Some people came to them and tried to convince them to come back across. They told them the ice would hold them and they would not die... they told them the ice was strong and solid and could hold them up. The child did not believe... how could they. They had almost died and no one had helped. They could only trust themselves. The people tried and tried to convince them but they did not believe.

Then someone came across and said "I love you, you can not stay here alone you must come across the ice ... you will be ok, you will live. And they began dragging them across the frozen ice. The child kicked and screamed... their fear was immense and overwhelming because they knew they would surely die. The person kept saying "I love you, trust me... you will not die" and kept dragging them. The child fought and the grown up moved on.

If they keep going and do not stop the child will be on the other side and will know that the one who loved them spoke truth and did not lie and they did not die.

Nancy T. wrote that story about RAD kids and the fight of the mom.

Today the Lord showed me that I am the one across the ice (my ice is attempting to bring Middle-One back into our home again) and I am kicking and screaming because I have fallen in before and nearly died. HE is saying... "Trust me, I love you... and you must come across the ice"

Trusting is sooooooooo hard. I know.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Random RADness

*You RAD moms can smile and nod with me ;o)

This afternoon, after therapy, we were all at home seeking our paths to relaxation.. that meant I was at my computer ;o) The boys were going their separate way, much to Middle's displeasure because he was trying to find someone to tag along with. He asked me if he could go outside and I of course said sure. He walked in to the kitchen and I heard him opening the door and heard our little dog Precious skittling to the door to follow him when Middle called out to me

"Mommy, do you want me to let Precious out?"

I replied

"No, sugar and THANK YOU soooooo much for asking!!"

I was so excited that he had checked with me and thought about it first that I jumped up and raced in to the kitchen so he could see my smile.

I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw him standing outside holding the door wide open and Precious racing off across the yard.

A peek into Attachment Therapy appointment 2

Today we had our first full appointment in Middle-One's second round of Attachment Therapy.

We have been there, done that and got the t-shirt, poster and the limited edition, collector cup. Our AT tells me that I could probably do this therapy (I hope someday to do just that). Our healing kiddos have every event of the therapy emblazoned on their minds. But Middle-One had completely and conveniently forgotten every single detail... including the rules he was reminded of just last week.

So we began...

Middle-One walked in and stood right in the middle of the room. He had to sign some papers (because he is 14 now and that suddenly makes his able to make choices about his treatment) and then was instructed to remove his shoes and join us on the couch. He kicked off his shoes haphazardly and left them laying where they fell and sat in his dad's place on the couch. LOL

We all stopped, redirected him on where to put his shoes and where and how to sit on the couch. Begin again... He placed his shoes neatly to the side and lay down across my and Mr. T's laps. He let his head loll off my lap and complained about how uncomfortable he was. AT asked him what he could do about it and worked with him to remind him that he could ***ASK*** for what he needed and wanted. After a few attempts he finally was able to ask for help in finding a comfortable position.

Then it's back to the rules of therapy. AT asked him to tell her what the rules are.

"What rules"

"the rules of therapy... there are three, what are they"

"I don't know"

"Well you just broke one of them"


"Yes, three rules"


"What are the rules?"

"I don't know"

She expertly and humorously did manage to pry the rules from him.

Then AT asked him again if he wants to get better and have a family (she will keep re-establishing his participation this way). He again, said yes.

AT began..

"Tell me your life story?"

... Middle resumed his "Whose on first" routine...

"What's that?"

"The story of your life"

"What part?"

"All of it, from the beginning"

"When did it begin?"

"Well, I don't know, it's your life... when did it begin?"

"When I was four?"



"You were one when your life began?"

"I don't know"

This would get annoying if AT wasn't so good at injecting humor. She had us all laughing.

The probing went on while Middle-One insisted that he had forgotten his birthmom's name with more "I don't knows" and Mr. T and began to tickle him with every "I don't know" which worked out well because he responded by curling in toward us and laughing.

AT refused to believe that was even possible that birthmom's name had been forgotten, but I was somewhat convinced. But just as I was sliding into total belief, he grinned and said her name...... AT grinned back.

Then she dragged him through the reason he was removed from her care. It was so hard for him to vocalize that he had drugs in his system. So sad to have to face that truth. He mumbled the words but never really pronounced. Some things are so hard to admit... and mothers are not supposed to hurt their babies.

After he had established that he had been born to his birthmom and taken from her and kept a short time to recover form the drugs, we moved into all of the places he has lived.

Foster home, foster home, forever home, hospital, hospital, hospital, RTC (Residential Treatment center), RTC, forever home, hospital, RTC, foster home...

He listed those pretty well. I filled in times and dates as best I could.

Then she asked him why he left his forever home (us) at 6 years old to go to a hospital. He answered...

"I don't know"

*tickle & giggle*

"Well this is your life, what happened?"

"I don't know"

*tickle & giggle*

"There had to have been a reason for you to go to the hospital, what was it?"

I don't know"

*more tickle & giggle but
... he wasn't budging on this one. AT finally asked

"Who would know?"


So AT told him to ask me

"Mommy, why did I go to the hospital?"

I took a deep breath and said

"You were being very aggressive.."

AT stopped me and asked how he was being aggressive... what was he *doing*

She wanted me to be specific and I was using a word that was safe... that didn't really bring back the memories of that time.

I took another deep breath...

"Well, you were throwing things, hitting us, pushing us, biting, kicking... and telling us you were going to kill us"

This still left so much unsaid but all of it was playing out in my mind.


AT responded...

"Why were you doing these things to your family?"

Silence... she repeated...

"Why did you do those things to your family?"

"I don't know"

"You can't say I don't know, it's against the rules"

"I was mad" He whispered

"What were you mad at?"

"I don't know"

Things got more serious. AT began to discuss how serious these things were ... so serious that Middle had to leave and go somewhere else.

No emotion. No remorse. Just quiet matter of fact discussion.

AT moved into the close. She held up the list of places that Middle had been and the things he had done and asked him if he really wanted a family. Really truly wanted a family. She explained how we had been there, caring for him and trying to protect him all along, through each and every hospitalization and treatment facility stay... She told him that for him to be able to come home and join his family that he couldn't do these things and we needed to look at why he was so mad, then and now, so that he could deal with that and be a part of his family.

She asked him to name the family he wanted and he said our name.

Then she told him that his goal this week was that he had to listen and follow instructions. She had him repeat that for her, but he seemed to have trouble spitting out those words so he had to repeat it again and again until he could say it loud enough for his brothers to hear in the other room... it took awhile LOL

Then she dismissed him and he was out of there like a bullet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Visit three

It was Spring break and birthday weekend for both Middle-One and Bright-Eyes.

We picked him up Friday morning at 9:30 on the dot. He knew we were coming and headed directly to the therapy appointment but still got in the van and announced that he was hungry because they (foster family) hadn't given him breakfast and could we get him something to eat.

"No, I'm sorry you're hungry but it will have to wait until after our appointment"

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth but no one died.

He also entertained us with tales of dinner at a restaurant and a trip to a family fun center, with his foster fam, for his birthday. The other boys said not a word.

We went to the therapy appointment (another blog entry recounts that event) and then picked up two birthday cakes and headed home.

Friday we celebrated Middle-One's birthday. We had his dinner choice of BBQ ribs in the crockpot. I made his requested mashed potatoes and black-eyed peas. After dinner we had his cake and ice cream and he opened his gifts.

Saturday Middle-One got to be the "birthday-boy" for the day. This means that he did not have to do any chores and did get to be first to play video games. That evening we celebrated Bright-Eye's birthday. He chose meatballs and gravy, mac&cheese, green beans and salad for his dinner. Their dinner choices always confuse me... they can choose ANYTHING after all. After dinner we did Bright-Eyes cake, ice cream and gifts.

Having their birthdays back to back offers us a rare opportunity to compare their behavior in the same circumstances. It is both always a confirmation of Middle-One's mistrust and of Bright-Eyes attachment.

During Saturday the boys played outside while Mr. T and I watched from the kitchen. At one point, Middle-One came inside looking sad. We asked him what was going on and he asked if he could talk to us. He proceeded to explain to us that Bright-Eyes was saying things that hurt his feelings and he wanted him to stop. We asked him what his brother was saying and he explained that he was talking about the past. It turned out that Middle-One didn't like it being brought up that he had been aggressive and that Bright-Eyes was scared of him. We did our best to explain that this is Bright-Eyes past too and since it is the truth and we will be talking about it a lot, it is ok to discuss it. He went on to tell us that Bright-Eyes also mentioned that the reason Middle-One did the things he did was because his brithmom did drugs and alcohol before he was born. Middle-One seemed very offended at this statement about his birthmom. Both Mr. T and I said

"but it's true"

We explained that of course it is sad but that a mom who does drugs and drinks with a baby inside, hurts the baby. That *is* one of the reasons that he has a hard time with his behavior. We went on to reassure him that it was not ok for Bright-Eyes to be mean, but it was all true and nothing we should be ashamed of... after all they were not Middle-One's choice. They were the choice of his birthmom.

He began to cry and Mr. T and I both had a rare chance to offer comfort in sadness.

Sunday Bright-Eyes got to be the "birthday-boy" with no chores and first choice on games. Predictably Middle-One began to have trouble. The concept of someone else being preferred if a difficult one for him to grasp

We have been working on and encouraging Middle-One to learn to find things to do, on his own (without watching over every one's shoulder). So when he would not leave anyone alone and the other boys were desperately seeking us to entertain Middle-One, we decided to create some "quiet-time" lists.

I told Ebear ahead of time and asked for his help in setting an example of enthusiasm. I should have done the same with Bright-Eyes because he really struggled at first with the concept... but they both did get on board and sat down to make a list of at least 10 things that they can do alone and with no supervision. Middle-One was not as anxious to obey. He argued, whined, refused and debated... for about 20 minutes, then he sat down to struggle through the task. He got four things... then complained a while. Added 3 more for a total of 7 and asked if that was enough...

"No, we said 10"

I got the coveted glare of death ;o)

But, he eventually had 10... he did repeat one once but we'll let that go. ;o)
We hung the lists on the bulletin board in the kitchen and exuded praise and excitement about getting to use them.

Sunday afternoon while doing laundry in preparation of taking Middle back to his foster home, his foster care provider (hence forth known as FCP... because I have petty and immature issues sharing the role of parent) called. She asked if we could bring Middle-One back right now. I explained that we were not ready to go at the moment but asked what was going on and why she needed us to do that. She explained that she had to leave for work in 30 minutes............... ummmmmmm........ First of all, we live an hour away. This is known. I reminded her that we live too far away to be able to get there that quickly, even if we were ready to walk out the door right now... which we weren't.

"Oh" she said.

She then explained that the county didn't have school scheduled for the next day so we could keep him with us for another night. I swallowed hard and smiled and said

"Of course, I guess that's what we will do"

And that is how Middle-One got to stay and extra day. We did present this to the other boys on a positive and upbeat note. It didn't work.

Monday was not good.

We did not have Middle-One's meds and we did not have anything to keep him occupied. We had school and chores to do because it was no longer the weekend. Middle did not have school work. He did his chores but then was lost. I suggested that he use his "quiet-time" list (created the day before) he refused. He got increasingly disruptive and hyper throughout the day.

At about 3:00 Bright-Eyes lost it. Clenching his fists and doubling up crying and sobbing he wailed

"Why is he here, I want him to leave"

Too much brotherly togetherness me thinks.

I expressed to the FCP and SW later that if this should happen again we need to have some advance notice. But I am glad this happened. It revealed to us just how much we need to work on before Middle can come back home.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A peek into Attachment Therapy - Appointment 1

We have been through three rounds of Attachment therapy. First with Middle-one (not successful/no advancement), then with Ebear (very successful/healing) and are still in therapy with Bright-eyes (so far successful). Now we are also beginning again with Middle-one. I have decided to share it with the world ... well, at least with y'all ;o)

A brief intro to Attachment Therapy... It is very different than traditional talk therapy.

In traditional therapy or counseling, the counselor works toward building a trust based relationship with their client, they provide a private inviornment when the client can say anything they think and feel and not be concerned that the therapist will share that info. It is also client-led. The counselor will ask the client (in this case the child) what they have been doing, what they want to talk about, what problems they are having... they let the client introduce the issues and talk things out.

In attachment therapy the counselor doesn't encourage a relationship or trust with themselves and the client. In fact the client will often dislike the therapist. Instead the therapist facilitates bonding and attachment between the child and the parents. The therapist does not ask the client what the issues or problems are, they work with the parents and the clients history to find out what the issues have been and then present those to the client. It is totally therapist led.

Our 1st appointment: (10:30 AM - 2:30 PM)

We finished the intake paperwork with our Attachment Therapist who will be referred to as AT.

We had our "Family" session first. This part of the session is for Mr. T and I to discuss and work on our feelings and parenting. We usually talk about all of the boys and AT helps us to organize a plan to address the latest issues. She also works with us on our own fears and doubts... So at this session we discussed Bright-Eye's regression and fears. Middle-One's recent outburst at school and what that means to and for us. Which led to us discussing my fears of his return.

This was the first time in four years that all three of them were in the waiting room togther... alone. So we had a few interuptions to do crowd control and it took us a long time.

We brought Bright-Eyes in first. He sits between Mr. T and I. AT asked him how things were going. He admitted that they were not going well. She went on to discuss his fears and how he is trying to control everything in the house. She explained to him how he is the kid and not equipped to be in charge and that mom and dad can and are protecting him. We were surprised when he admitted that the reason he had begun sleeping on the floor of his bedroom was because he could see the shadows of anyone in the doorway and could watch... just in case Middle-One should try to get him in the night. It makes me so sad that he is so afraid. Then she asked him what his goals are and he told her his three goals (follow instructions the first time, make eye contact and talk about his feelings) AT dismissed him and asked him to send in Middle-One.

Middle -One came in and immediately took charge (not surprising for an anxious RAD)... He told us all that he was sitting in a chair to the side. He was told he wasn't, and that he needed to be on the couch with his mom and dad. So he sat on the edge. The AT asked him if he remembered therapy. He claimed he didn't (although he had been talking to us about it before the appointment). She asked him first if he wanted to get better and be a part of his family. He said he did. She then told him that in this therapy the kids are supposed to remove their shoes and lay across the laps of their mom and dad. He said

"I'm not laying on their laps, I'm almost 14!" ...

we LOL. She told him that some of her clients were 19 and 20 and they had to lay across their parents' laps too.... then she asked again

"Do you want to get better?"

He said he did and she said

"lay down".

He layed down in a silly way and she redirrected him to the correct position. He closed his eyes and crossed his arms. She explained that this was just a reintroduction to the therapy and that he needed to remember that this was how it was done. She then asked him if he remembered the three rules of therapy. He said no. She told him that he was expected to make eye contact with who ever was speaking, to answer questions with full sentances and he could not say "I don't know"... she asked him to repeat them. With eyes closed, he said


LOL... Great start! The second try wasn't any better and she had to help him remember how to move his mouth to talk. He did finally repeat the three rules and she let him get up and put his shoes back on.

Next week ought to be a lot of fun ;o)

Visit two

Well with our third visit nearly over I figured I better get something about the second visit posted before it got lost in time and space...

Our second visit was just an overnighter.

Ebear had just had shoulder surgery on Thursday and we had no idea how he was going to do or what we would need to plan for, so we had our therapist plan for a possible appointment on Friday that we may not make. We are blessed to have a therapist who will roll with the punches with us. She said whatever we were able to do was fine.

Middle-one called on Thursday evening to ask how his brother was and make sure he was ok... and to ask about the therapy appointment and his visit. He seemed very anxious. We explained to him... again... that we would have to take care of Ebear first and would come get him if we were able to.

Well, no one slept on Thursday night... Don't know why we didn't anticipate THAT! LOL. Obviously we would need to be up providing pain meds and helping Ebear.

Friday morning arrived and it was an easy decision to cancel the appointment fortunately we had told Middle-one that we would call him Friday, if we didn't pick him up from school.

Friday Ebear was doing ok and resting well so we decided to go get Middle-one on Saturday for an overnight. We told him that we would pick him up and settled in to take care of his brother.

Saturday Mr. T went to get Middle-one. Middle was in good spirits. He and Bright-eyes played well together... which was unusual and rather surprising. Ebear, however was mostly ignored. Even though he was centrally located in his dad's recliner, in the living room, Middle one all but ignored him. Never asked how he was or talked to him at all.

Middle-one had plenty to say to us however... to Mr. T and I he argued and defended, every chance he got.

And got mad at us because we would not let him eat all the Jambalaya (after he had seconds) and wanted to save some in case Ebear wanted more to eat. ... the same ole food battle. How do you teach a child who is only aware of his own needs and wants, that the family needs to eat TOO!!!

We were just happy to not have Bright-eyes be the target de' jour.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Birthday cake battle

I just spent over an hour of my life, standing in front of the WalMart bakery counter, battling a controlling, obsessive 10 year old, trying to order a birthday cake.

I ended up in tears and do not want to EVER do that again.

To say that Bright-Eyes has vision and solid expectations would be an understatement. He always knows, unwaveringly, just what he wants. Most years I work hard to bake and decorate the cake he envisions (that wrestling ring cake just about pushed me over the edge). This year the oven is broken and he found himself at the mercy or the WalMart bakery and our budget.

Going in I had done what I could to prepare him. I told him the size that we would be able to buy and tried to convince him that the WalMart bakers could probably *not* do a three layer, fudge-filled, custom Nerf gun cake...... Obviously he wasn't quite convinced.

To his credit he did hold it together when he realized the Nerf gun dream was not to be, though I think both of us were somewhat offended at the vast outnumbering of boys cakes by the endless princess and fairy cakes... but when he saw the size cake that I wanted to order he lost all ability to compromise.

I really can't say that I blame him much. The smaller cakes were just plain ugly. The icing was smeared, the decorating plain... It looked as if they had worked hard to make them unappealing so that parents would end up ordering the larger cakes... effective strategy.

At this point Bright-Eyes has reached the "lock-down" point. In this stage he can't compromise or even reason. Often he can't even hear the spoken word. He knows what he wants and would just as soon go without a birthday cake all together ( I don't want anything then!!! Can we just leave?). This would be fine if his was the only birthday we were celebrating, but, I had to order a cake for his brother (Middle-One) too. This delay gave Bright-Eyes time to try to figure out some way of salvaging his day.

That is actually a pretty good thing for him to do, though not a pleasant thing for me to experience. He was at least accepting that I wasn't able to get what he wanted... so he said he wanted donuts.

Ok, we walked over to the donuts and looked. I asked him if he was sure he wouldn't end up missing having a cake... No, he insisted, he wanted donuts. He went on to say that it is his birthday and he should be able to choose the treat and so could choose donuts instead of a cake if he wanted to........... *listening to the crickets chirping while biting my tongue*. I explained that we would have to wait then and pick them up on the day of his celebration because donuts get stale. He said ok... and I want *these* donuts and pointed to a box filled with half chocolate and half white... good choice. So I said ok and turned back to the cake counter to order Middle-one's cake and Bright-Eyes voice stopped me in my tracks with

"I think I want cupcakes"

Taking a deep breath and putting love in my eyes and getting my nurture on, I turned around slowly. ............................

"ok sugar, then let's look at the cupcakes"

The fact that this scene plays out like a bratty prima-Dona child playing puppet with mommy, is not lost on me at all. I do remember those years BEFORE adopting when I would have judged this scene up one side and down the other, and walked away with a smug "I won't let MY kids do that!". But, I am not that person any more and I knew where Bright-Eyes "high-anxiety" need for control came from. I knew that he was already stressed because his RAD brother would be home sharing his birthday weekend. I knew that his thoughts ran to "I wonder if my birthmom is thinking of me/loves me/wants to see me/regrets giving me away. I knew that this was a little boy who had a vision for his special day and was having to let go of it step by step and trust someone else with his dream.

We looked at the cupcakes... for about 3.7 seconds and he said

"no, I guess I'll just get donuts"

Things began to get blurry at this point ... must have been the love in my eyes. At some point I recall that Ebear (who is just one week post op) came up to me and took the cart and the list and said "I'll shop" And I realized then that we hadn't even gotten groceries!

We went back and forth on the cupcake/donut dilemma a couple of time before I was finally able to get Bright-Eyes to admit that he did really want a birthday *cake* but figured if he couldn't have a cake he would get something else.

Back to square one...

"Sugar, you *can* have a cake, just not the cake you wanted"

I asked him to tell me what he wanted. The Nerf cake... ok, I know!! but next, after the Nerf cake... He points to the huge-by-large cake displayed at the counter, with the toy jeep on it...

"That one"

..... ummmm... ok, not THAT one. It costs too much. Besides THAT one, which cake do you want? He walks over and points to an Easter cake with a cross.

"I want that cake"

"So you want a cake that size?"

..."No, that cake" ...

Somewhere in here I realized that Bright-Eyes is not getting that we can order a cake and have options for change. So I tell him that he can have a cake that size and we can have them put the jeep on it instead. There was a moment of understanding and I swear I heard angels sing.

....."OH!!!!!!!!.... ok, I want that cake *pointing to the Easter cake* with the jeep on it and Happy Birthday to me!" .......

*angels stopped......cue crickets*..............

*using all of my good communication skills I mirrored*

"So, this is what you want... THAT cake, with the flowers, chocolate frosting stars and cross, with a jeep, right?"

"No flowers"

..... Well, I felt that we were making progress.

I heard my phone ring and answered it to discover Ebear calling (for the third time) to ask what flavor of ice cream to get..... don't ask me why I did what I did next, I will never be able to provide any acceptable answer..... I turned to Bright-Eyes and asked

"What flavor ice cream do you want?"

................After much discussion, He chose cookie dough.

After more discussion he chose a medium sized cake, agreeing to pay the difference out of some birthday money so that he could have a larger cake than I could afford. He chose chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a black border. He asked them to write happy birthday to him on the bottom left side (I told you he has specific vision and expectations) and to leave room on the right side so that we can add army vehicles from the $ store. On the left top corner he asked for the sugar cross on the Easter cake.

"Sweetie?" I asked "Are you sure you want the cross... just because it's on the cake on display doesn't mean you have to have it"

He looked at me like I had grown a third eye and said

"It represents God... I love God"


The process was longer and more painful that having a root canal but it ended in success. ... I think. Because success isn't measured in winning but in moving one more step down the path.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A glimpse of the light

I'm still too annoyed to write about visit two so I'm going to write something that references the title and goal, of this blog. To focus and point to the "Light".

Throughout this time of transition, while we struggle with parenting Middle-one and comforting and protecting Bright-eyes, it becomes more obvious that Ebear is healing.

He is not pulled in by Middle-one's behaviors and attempts to create chaos. He aligns himself with us now, embracing our family's values. He reminds the other two that mom and dad are in charge and that they should listen/obey/stop etc.

We are not only able to let Ebear be our eyes and ears but he even politely offers to watch the younger boys if we are busy. He comforts us when we are sad and encourages us when we are getting frustrated. He is becoming a very healthy and stable young man who is learning how to have good relationships and communicate without manipulation.

I am watching this new dynamic with increasing gratitude and overcoming joy. Healing IS possible!!!!!!!!!

Reactive Attachment Disorder is...

Reactive Attachment Disorder is the result of God's plan for a child going horribly awry.

Now I know I'm rubbing some theologies the wrong way... that's ok, my blog, my opinion ;o) I know that God said HE knows the plans HE has for us. .. to prosper us, to give us hope and a future and not to harm us. I believe that God's plan for each child is to be loved, cherished, nurtured, held, looked at, seen, touched, rocked, fed, sung to, and protected.

I know that in the real world this doesn't always happen. In fact in my oldest boys' worlds it did not happen. Instead they were rejected, ignored, abandoned, starved, yelled at, left cold, passed around, exposed to danger, uncared for and forgotten. I believe that is more in line with the plans of the thief... that would be the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy.. It's just his typical MO.

So I believe in the absence of the plan of the Father Creator, the thief destroyed part of the spirits of these children.

In the same way I think that the lost world is the result of God's plan for the human race going horribly awry.

But HE is a redemptive God. He made a way for us humans to come to Him and to be made whole. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Trusting Him is hard.

For our kids, trusting us is hard... but there is a way to healing. It is possible! God can create a way out of brokenness.

We've seen Him do it.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tornado season

The return of the RADical one is much like the looming Spring tornado season in Alabama...

The absense of sun and warmth make the gentle weather feel nice after a long winter. We try not to think about what might lie ahead. We know that in the past, every time Spring has come to us, there have also episodes of tumultuous weather, some of it even dangerous.

There is no predicting where or when a threatening storm will occur, but we know for sure they will.

In an attitude of denial we embrace the mild weather and enjoy each sunny calm day as if it is our last.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Visit one

This weekend was the first "transition" visit with our son.

After 3 years and 4 months ...The plan, according to the ISP, is to visit and attend therapy every week and then move him home in June, after school is out.

Sounds easy enough...

However, we have 10 y/o ds in a PTS melt-down over the return of his brother,, alternately planning his escape and controlling every breath we take.

Friday morning was a comedy of errors! I had been immobilized by a stomach virus the day before so had missed the email from therapist about the delay of our appointment. Mr. T has risen early fighting his own queasy stomach, and gone to the other side of the county to pick our middle one up from school. We were supposed to check him out and take him to the therapy appointment then back home for a fun-filled weekend for five! The plan hit it's first snag right out of the starting gate when the school decided to look at the actual sign out card to see if the child's father was on it....... and he wasn't (so even though we had attended numerous meetings and had checked him out twice before, it was a no-go). At that point Mr. T became suspect number one in a one suspect child kidnapping ring and was the subject of great hostility and steely-eyeball stares until we could reach the foster parent so that she could come to the school and check out the child and hand him over the the would be kidnapper... enter snag two.... Where oh where has the foster parent gone, O, where O where can she beeeeeeeeee......... after a few tries it turned out she was in the next county but would be right there to check the unsuspecting victim out. Meanwhile, it has been decided to cancel the therapy appointment because we can't make it... so we cancel. Enter snag three... we are told that whileit really is no one's fault, our son has no medication and we must now ALSO go and get a prescription from the pharmacy... that is, unless we just want to go without medication for the weekend. So, Mr. T goes ahead and brings the middle one home and we begin our visit.

The rest of the day actually went pretty well. The boys played outside and some neighbor boys joined them.. well, until Bright-Eyes freaked out and got controlling and bossy and scared them off. That may have been three years worth of trustbuilding and social skill practice out the window. Time will tell.

Saturday was pretty much the same. But we began to see the usual tiring of routine that shows up about 24 hours after Middle one is home. He is bored and wants to watch everything everyone is doing and no one wants him hanging over their shoulder watching and he refuses to do anything on his own... it's a vicious cycle. Since we were celebrating Ebear's 16th birthday he didn't lose it, but let us know that he wasn't happy. Any talk of Ebears birthday was added to by Middle one's "self" talk. If Ebear talked about his birthday cake then Middle one talked about the bigger and better cake HE would have... if Ebear talked about his gift then Middle one talked about the bigger and better gift that HE would have (his announcement that we were getting him a car brought gails of laughter). As you can imagine, this tires one rapidly.

We had to one injury of the weekend on Saturday. Both the younger ones were playing outside and Mr. T was watching them... unrelentlessly and aggressively watching them... then they asked if they could go into the woods. Mr. T said yes, but just on the edge and he followed them to the edge and stood just feet away... then he turned his back. Just for a minute... and he was right there after all, but the screaming penetrated the house and I ran outside hearing Bright Eyes yell "STOP!!! STOP!!! STOP!!!!" Mr. T held up his hand and simply said "I've got it, it's fine"... it was a moment of deciding to choose the marriage and stuff the mother down into the nearest driveway rut. I swallowed, looked to the sky and said.... "umm... ok" and went back inside. A while later Bright eyes appeared with a bloody gash on the side of his head. I cleaned him up and bandaged as best I could. Mr. T told me what happened and I knew it could have easily had been me who was at the edge of the woods and him running out of the door.

Sunday was a different day. The boys were up at daybreak. Wandering the house and whispering until we woke up, long before the alarm was set to go off. They were playing video games, we told them "no", They were in the way so we told them "go". We had lost our proactive edge and were reacting and there was no getting ahead of them.

We did manage to get ready for church, eat breakfast and get on the road.

After Sunday School we were to meet up with the older boys for church. However I couldn't find the older boys. I located Ebear in the coffee shop and asked him where Middle was... he pointed and I saw my son at the counter about to purchase something... the world went into RADmotion... I asked "What is he doing?" Ebear replied that he was getting a hot chocolate... I asked "Where did he get money?"... Ebear pointed to another boy who innocently smiled at me and said "Don't worry, he didn't ask for the money, he (pointing to the other boy) just gave it to him"... the other boy nodded sweetly and I KNEW that I KNEW that I KNEW, with every fiber of my being that the poor child had just been had. I dashed to the counter just in time to stop the transaction and announce "No hot chocolate for him", to which the server looked up and asked me incredulously, with shock in her eyes... "He can't have a hot chocolate?"....... the whole coffee shop screeched to a silent halt and all stared at me as if I was the most horrible mother ever to walk the earth.... I could hear the whispers, feel the icy stares... I swallowed hard, met her questioning eyes and said "no". Retrieving the conned child's money we returned to the table where middle one reluctantly handed it back to the now confused boy and grudgingly followed me and Ebear from the coffee shop. Mom 1, Middle one 0... the game was on.